NFL 2017 Predictions: Pats Are Only Getting Better

It’s that time of year.  Training camp is approaching.  Soon enough the NFL season will be getting started.  This year, football will return with a boom.  After a somewhat disappointing 2016 NFL season, I expect this league to bounce back and have an exciting year.  Divisions will come down to the wire.  Many teams will compete in a tight wild card race.  Then, the playoffs will give us thrills, comebacks, and strong victories.  Who will win it all?  Keep reading to hear my thoughts.

AFC East

  1. new_england_patriots New England Patriots 13-3
  2. Dolphins-logo Miami Dolphins 10-6
  3. Buffalo_Bills Buffalo Bills 5-11
  4. Jets-Logo New York Jets 2-14

The Pats won the Super Bowl, and now they’ve gotten better.  There’s no way they’ll lose the AFC East.  Tom Brady has so many good receivers to throw to.  This team even added Brandin Cooks and Dwayne Allen.  They will be unstoppable.  The Dolphins still have a strong offense, and finally revamped their TE depth chart.  The defense will also be tough to play against.  They could make the playoffs again.  The Bills just don’t have the depth offensively or defensively to be good.  They have so few quality receivers for Tyrod Taylor to throw to.  Taylor has good potential, but please Buffalo, don’t leave him with this slim an offense again.  But if you think the Bills are bad, wait till you see the Jets.  They have no quality receivers at all, and no strong QB.  The defense isn’t as good either.  They have earned the title of worst team in the NFL.

AFC North

  1. pittsburgh-steelers Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
  2. cincinnati-bengals Cincinnati Bengals 7-9
  3. Baltimore_Ravens_Logo Baltimore Ravens 6-10
  4. cleveland-browns-brown Cleveland Browns 4-12

The only strong team in this division is the Steelers.  They have one of the best offenses in the NFL, so they should win a good amount of games.  They may be one of the biggest threats to the Patriots this year.  Not the biggest, but one of the biggest.  They don’t have the best defense, that is their downfall.  The defense is good enough, but not great.  The Bengals and Ravens are starting to fall out of contention.  Both of these teams had something last year that they don’t have now.  The Ravens had a much better front seven last year, and the Bengals had a more productive offense.  The Bengals are depending on a couple rookies to lead their offense now.  A.J. Green is the only player locked in for a strong year.  The Browns are slowly starting to improve, but they’re not even close.  They aren’t at the bottom of the NFL, but they really don’t have a good offense, defense or special teams.  The offense has improved slightly though.

AFC South

  1. tennessee-titans. Tennessee Titans 10-6
  2. indianapolis-colts Indianapolis Colts 9-7
  3. jacksonvile-jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars 8-8
  4. hou-texans Houston Texans 7-9

The Titans have got this.  Corey Davis was a really nice draft selection, and Eric Decker will help out offensively.  Mariota finally has the tools to succeed.  A good o-line, two strong receivers, a good running back, and a dominant tight end.  The Colts are also looking better.  The defense finally has the tools to succeed.  That will make it easier for Andrew Luck to win games for the Colts.  Good defense leads to good offense.  I don’t know if I should give in to the Jags’ intriguing off-season again.  I’d say they’re a .500 team, a decent offense, and an improving defense.  They just don’t match up to playoff contenders yet.  The Texans are also in a bad position.  Without a good QB, this offense will not succeed, and without a decent offense, this defense can’t win games alone.

AFC West

  1. oakland-raiders  Oakland Raiders 11-5
  2. kansas-city-chiefs-logo Kansas City Chiefs 10-6
  3. San_Diego_Chargers Los Angeles Chargers 8-8
  4. denver-broncos-logo Denver Broncos 7-9

The Raiders are the most intriguing team in this division.  They signed Marshawn Lynch, they have a powerful young QB with many receiving weapons, and the defense has gotten better.  Even though the Chiefs defense is better, the Kansas City offense isn’t great.  Sure, Spencer Ware is a strong running back and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are tough to guard, but the Raiders are a better all-around team.  On the other hand, the Chargers have a strong young offense, but their defense will hold them back.  With the kind of defense they have, they are a .500 team at most.  The Broncos have a strong defense as well, but without Manning and Osweiler, this offense just isn’t doing it.  The running game needs a boost.  They need a better QB and tight end despite a strong receiving game, and they won’t contend until those things happened.

NFC East

  1. new-york-giants-logo New York Giants 11-5
  2. dalcowboyslogonew Dallas Cowboys 9-7
  3. philadelphia-eagles-logo Philadelphia Eagles 9-7
  4. washingtonredskins2 Washington Redskins 6-10

The Giants should win this tight division.  They’ve had a strong offense for several years, and now their defense is just as good.  I don’t think the Cowboys can top last year, and the defense is lacking depth, so I don’t see them making the playoffs.  The Eagles have an intriguing roster, and Alshon Jeffery and LeGarrette Blount will boost this team, but the defense is still only mediocre, and it’ll be a couple years before the Eagles return to the playoffs.  They will do much better this year though.  With the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys on top of the division though, the Redskins will not succeed.  They’ve lost the great receiving game they had last year and the defense is still not great.

NFC North

  1. gbpackers2 Green Bay Packers 12-4
  2. Image result for lions logo Detroit Lions 8-8
  3. min-vikings-logo2 Minnesota Vikings 7-9
  4. chicago-bears-logo Chicago Bears 3-13

The Packers are in line for another strong season.  They signed tight end Martellus Bennett to improve their receiving game.  They could use another running back but I believe in Jamaal Williams.  Although the defense has some bad times, I think the Packers will be led by an overall all-around team.  The Lions also have a good offensive core, but the defense is holding this team back.  They need to improve defensively if they want any chance at a playoff berth.  The Vikings tried to improve their offense this off-season, but I just don’t see them contending with the receiving game they have.  The defense is good, but the offense is a problem.  Don’t even get me started with the Bears.  They have no defense, and barely any offense.  They will be one of the worst this year.

NFC South

  1. IMG_0445 Carolina Panthers 11-5
  2. IMG_0448 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6
  3. atlfalcons Atlanta Falcons 10-6
  4. nosaints New Orleans Saints 6-10

The Panthers may have had defensive problems last year, but they improved their defense, and their running and receiving game.  I’m expecting them to bounce back.  The Bucs also improved this off-season.  DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans will be a dynamic receiver duo, and the defense has the power to improve this year.  The Falcons will also be a contender in this strong division.  Their defense isn’t as good and has some fatal flaws, but the offense is strong as ever.  The Saints also have a good offense, but their defense needs help.  A lot of help.

NFC West

  1. seattle-seahawks Seattle Seahawks 10-6
  2. az-cards Arizona Cardinals 8-8
  3. Image result for rams logo Los Angeles Rams 4-12
  4. IMG_0457 San Francisco 49ers 3-13

This division isn’t what it used to be.  The Seahawks still have a strong defense and a good offense, but they’re the best of the worst.  They get an easy division win.  The Cardinals are almost as good, but they don’t have the best offense anymore, and the defense is subpar, nothing compared to Seattle’s.  The Rams have no offense, despite a decent defense, they can’t put up a good amount of points.  The Niners just need to rebuild.  They need receiving help, QB help, and defensive help, despite some strong pieces of their team.

 NFL Playoffs
AFC

  1. New England Patriots 13-3
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
  3. Oakland Raiders 11-5
  4. Tennessee Titans 10-6
  5. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6
  6. Miami Dolphins 10-6

NFC

  1. Green Bay Packers 12-4
  2. New York Giants 11-5
  3. Carolina Panthers 11-5
  4. Seattle Seahawks 10-6
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6
  6. Atlanta Falcons 10-6

Wild Card Round
Dolphins @ Raiders
The Dolphins have a strong all-around team. They have a good running game and receiving game, and pretty good defense. But the Raiders will be hard to beat. Derek Carr is really blossoming into a strong QB, and he has multiple good receiving targets. If Marshawn Lynch is still Marshawn Lynch this year, the Raiders will have a great running game that is difficult to cover. Their defense is no more than mediocre, but this offense will be overwhelming for even some of the best defenses. I don’t think the Dolphins will be able to handle this Raiders offense.  
Dolphins: 20

Raiders: 27

Chiefs @ Titans
The Chiefs have one of the best defenses in the league. But the Titans really improved their offense this off-season. Marcus Mariota will have a huge game, he has plenty of people to throw to and good protection. The Chiefs offense just doesn’t match-up. They don’t have enough receiving options or a good enough QB. The run game is okay but might be stopped by an improved Titans defense. I’ve got the Titans winning this one.  
Chiefs: 23

Titans: 26
Falcons @ Panthers 
The Falcons almost won the Super Bowl last year. They have a dominant offense, and a defense good enough for a playoff team. The defense has declined from last year though, and the Panthers are in line for a bounce back year. Their defense is headed in the opposite direction and I like the changes they made to their offense. Carolina is honestly the better team at this point. In a high scoring game, I have the Panthers winning.  

Falcons: 30

Panthers: 31
Buccaneers @ Seahawks
The Bucs are getting better. With an improved defense and a strong offensive core, they should be going places. Winston will be boosted by his new dynamic receiving duo to throw to. The Seahawks still have one of the best defenses in football, but their offense hasn’t been taking them far lately. Eddie Lacy is a nice addition, but they still haven’t filled Lynch’s hole. They could also use another receiver, but Jimmy Graham has been a strong receiving tight end for them. Honestly, although the Seahawks have a nice offense and powerful defense, the Bucs have made some nice moves, and have built a better team this year, one that can top the Seahawks.  
Buccaneers: 23

Seahawks: 16
Divisional Round
Titans @ Patriots
The Titans are building a nice offense, but I don’t know if Mariota’s bunch can top the offense of Tom Brady’s Pats. The Titans have a better running game, but the Pats have two Top 20 receivers and a Top 5 tight end. The Patriots offense will kick butt, starting with the Titans. The Titans defense just isn’t built enough to stop Brady and crew. The Patriots should easily win this game, no matter how much Decker and Corey Davis are in red zone situations.  
Titans: 26

Patriots: 28
Raiders @ Steelers 
This is going to be a close game. The Steelers have the best offense in the NFL. But the Raiders have an elite young offense that will compete with the Steelers. This will be an offensive shootout with two of the best offenses but just mediocre defense. This is about which team will outscore the other. Carr has Marshawn Lynch, Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook and Amari Cooper, while Big Ben has Bell, Brown and Bryant. Who will win this tight game? It will be close, but I’m going to say the young Raiders pull away.  
Raiders: 28

Steelers: 20

Buccaneers @ Packers
The Buccaneers will compete in this game. They have the strong offense to. They have the rebuilt defense to. But the Packers are just too good for them. I know they have a serious problem at running back, but they at least have Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams at the position. They also have a lot of receiver depth. Jordy Nelson, Martellus Bennett and others will make a big impact in this game. The Packers have another weakness, defense, but their defense is decent enough for them to win this game. The Packers should control this game.  
Buccaneers: 27

Packers: 30
Panthers @ Giants
The Panthers may have improved from last season, but look what they did last year. They can’t be that much better. They have some nice offensive pieces, but the Giants’ team is just more solid. Strong defense, solid offense, and not many weak spots. The Giants are going far this year. I think they can beat a Carolina team that’s still working on improving their entire team.  
Panthers: 23

Giants: 24

AFC Championship
Raiders @ Patriots
The Raiders have some great young offense, but the Pats have a very powerful all around team. This defense may be strong enough to slow down the Raiders, and the Patriots offense should definitely outscore them. The difference in this game may be because the Pats have added Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and other receiving targets this offseason. The Pats just have so much depth at the position, and Gronk should be healthy too. When he’s healthy, he’s a beast at this time of year.  
Raiders: 19

Patriots: 27
NFC Championship
Giants @ Packers
The Giants may have this nice all around team, but the Packers are dominant in the receiving game. They will put up a lot of points although the Giants defense will be able to slow them down. The Giants have a strong offense as well, but their passing game is not nearly as good as Green Bay’s. The Packers should dominate this game as well, and this is where the Giants will go down for good.  
Giants: 21

Packers: 24

Super Bowl LII
Patriots vs. Packers
This could very well top Super Bowl LI as the best Super Bowl ever. Brady vs. Rodgers. The battle of two league leading, future hall of fame QBs. Although Aaron Rodgers may have as good of a receiving game than the Pats, if not better, neither team, especially the Packers can effectively run the ball. The Patriots have so much depth though, at running back and receiver. That’s what Green Bay is missing. Offensive depth. Offensive depth is the reason that Brady will win the Pats their 2nd straight Super Bowl.  
Patriots: 31

Packers: 27

Well, the Pats have only gotten better, so why wouldn’t I predict them as Super Bowl LII Champions after last year’s win?  

 

Ultimate Super Bowl LI Preview: Video, Prediction and More

The Super Bowl is almost here.  The snacks are ready and the Pats and Falcons are about to face off in a great game.  So, it’s time to look a little bit deeper.  Who will win the big game on Sunday?  Keep reading to find out what I think!

Here’s my video preview for the big game:

 

 

I also have an iMovie trailer, check it out!

 

Okay, that gave you a brief preview, but it’s time to go deeper.  This may be one of the greatest Super Bowls ever.  Either team has a shot to win.  

The Case for the Pats

The Patriots are four time champions looking for a fifth.  One thing that will come to their advantage is their depth.  They have so many options on offense, and rotate the defense very frequently.  Tom Brady is on fire, and the defense is first in scoring defense and has the power to slow down and overwhelm Matt Ryan.

If the Pats win, Brady will be known as the G.O.A.T, and Bill Belichick will be known as the greatest head coach ever.  I think things are looking good for the Pats.  I really think that the Patriots were meant to win this season.  

The Case For The Falcons

Matt Ryan is trying to win the Falcons their first Super Bowl, and I think he has a good chance. The Falcons have an awesome QB-RB-WR combo.  The Falcons don’t have the best defense, but Matt Ryan and his offense have had an MVP caliber season.  The Falcons may not have the awesome past of the Patriots, but they can overwhelm a defense, and they actually looked really good this season.  I think they have a legitimate chance.  

Super Bowl Fast Facts

  • The Patriots have not lost a Super Bowl when they’ve had a Top 10 defense, they are first this year.  
  • However, the Pats have not faced a Top 10 passing QB this season, Matt Ryan is number 1.
  • Matt Ryan has won against 5 of 6 winning QBs in 2016.  
  • However, the Falcons have scored 540 points this season.  No team to score 540 points or more in a season has ever won the Super Bowl.  
  • The Patriots are 17-0 when Dion Lewis plays.  Lewis will play in Super Bowl LI.
  • The Patriots have only thrown 2 turnovers, fewest in the NFL
  • Despite ranking 25th in offensive yards per carry, they only allow 3.85 to opponents.  
  • The last 7 MVP winners to make the Super Bowl have lost

The Final Pick

Typically, I just predict the score. But it’s the Super Bowl, so I went a little deeper.  I simulated the entire game based on my basic score prediction.  Below are the final score and stat predictions I came up with.  

Patriots, 30, Falcons, 23

I think the Patriots will win by a touchdown.  The Falcons just don’t have the depth to cover the Pats offense.  Their defense is terrible in the red zone and will let the Pats score on them.  Although Brady will do strongly and throw for 2 TDs, I think we will also see a Patriots rushing touchdown.  Both these teams went from having a desperate running game to an amazing backfield.  The Falcons will also score at least 1 rushing TD.  

However, this is number one offense (Falcons) against number one defense (Patriots).  Who won the last match-up like that?  The Broncos did, they had the number one defense.  Defense wins games, and the Pats defense will pressure Matt Ryan well, and the whole Falcons offense will be messed up by it.  The Falcons have only faced three really good defenses this year, the Seahawks (twice), Broncos and Chiefs.  They went 2-2 in those match-ups, one of their wins at home.  In the Super Bowl, it’s a neutral match-up, and unlike those other teams, the Patriots have amazing offense.  They also have depth that Atlanta lacks.  So, after a grand effort by both teams, I see the Patriots edging this one out.

Stat Projections (Passing, Rushing and Receiving)

Patriots

Passing

Tom Brady, 34/54, 348 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks

 

Rushing

LeGarrette Blount, 17 rush, 76 yards, TD

Dion Lewis, 6 rush, 28 yards

James White: 7 rush, 24 yards

 

Receiving

Julian Edelman, 8/11, 96 yards

Malcolm Mitchell, 6/14, 68 yards, TD

Martellus Bennett, 8/8, 66 yards, TD

Chris Hogan, 6/10, 65 yards

Danny Amendola, 3 /4, 30 yards

Michael Floyd, 2/ 3, 19 yards

Dion Lewis, 1/1, 4 yards

Matt Lengel, 0/1, 0 yards

 

Falcons

 

Passing

Matt Ryan, 31/50, 314 yards, TD, 1 INT, 4 sacks

 

Rushing

Devonta Freeman, 23 rush, 113 yards, TD

Tevin Coleman, 10 rush, 41 yards

Patrick DiMarco, 1 rush, 2 yards

 

Receiving

Julio Jones, 13/22, 139 yards

Mohamed Sanu, 8/11, 68 yards, TD

Austin Hooper, 6/6, 62 yards

Taylor Gabriel, 4/10, 45 yards

Levine Toilolo, 0/1, 0 yards

 

The Super Bowl is almost here.  The food is ready (hopefully).  The game is recorded, and my Super Bowl Sunday is planned.  All that’s left is the wait.  Are you ready for the Big Game?

2016 AFC Draft Grades: Determining The Winners and Losers

The NFL draft has concluded, and as usual, my mock draft sucked because of trades.  But now it’s time to reflect on the draft.  Below I have graded every pick made by each AFC team and given each team an overall draft grade.  Undrafted free agents will not affect these grades.

 

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

buf.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1           19          Shaq Lawson              DE     Clemson    A

2            10         Reggie Ragland          OLB    Alabama   A-

3            17      Adolphus Washington   DT    Ohio St.    A-

4           41          Cardale Jones                QB     Ohio St.    B

5           18       Jonathan Williams          RB     Arkansas  B+

6           17         Kolby Listenbee              WR    TCU           A-

6          43          Kevon Seymour             CB      USC            A-

Overall Grade: A-

What They Did Right: This is one of the better teams in this draft.  As usual, Rex Ryan and Doug Whaley went straight for defense.  They could’ve mixed it up and went after offense early in this draft, but I think Whaley & Ryan  actually took the right approach this time.  They had a serious need for pass rushers after losing Kiko Alonso, Nigel Bradham, and Mario Williams the last two off-seasons.  Intriguing prospects like Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland going that late in the draft was a big steal for Buffalo.  Why did they draft a DT then?  Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus aren’t going to last forever, and the Bills already filled their urgent needs in rounds 1 and 2.  I also liked their late round selection of Kolby Listenbee.  He can develop behind Robert Woods and eventually be a companion to Sammy Watkins.  This draft just made an already scary defense better, but their offense may still need work, especially if Jonathan Williams isn’t ready for Week 1.

What They Did Wrong: After taking solid, safe, large school pass rushers in the first three rounds, their fourth and fifth round selections seemed off to me.  Since when is E.J. Manuel not an acceptable backup?  I guess they didn’t think of him when they took Cardale Jones.  Sure, Jones might not be ready to start, but I’m sure he was ready to at least be an NFL QB’s understudy.  Unless Manuel gets cut and ends up at rock bottom, Jones won’t see a game until Tyrod Taylor or Manuel is gone.  Yes, they needed a running back, but that was a pretty urgent need with Anthony Dixon gone.  Jonathan Williams, really?  He missed all of last season with a torn ACL.  There’s no telling when and if he’ll come back from that.  But guess what, Manuel might be released, and Williams might come back.  This draft has high upside, and with a safe group of picks chosen in days 1 and 2, the Bills look to be a team that will be highly impacted by this draft.  This class can win Rex Ryan games.  No more 8-8 seasons?  That is highly possible.

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins-logo.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1           13            Laremy Tunsil           OT     Ole Miss    C

2           7              Xavien Howard         CB      Baylor        A-

3           10             Kenyan Drake           RB     Alabama    B+

3           23             Leonte Carroo           WR   Rutgers       A-

6           11              Jakeem Grant            WR   Texas           B

6          29              Jordan Lucas             SS       Penn St.    B+

7           2               Brandon Doughty   QB   West Kentucky   B+

7          10              Thomas Duarte        TE        UCLA        B

   Overall Grade: B-

What They Did Right: The Dolphins may have wasted some of their picks, but the important thing is they addressed all of their main urgent needs at some point during the draft.  Kenyan Drake is an efficient RB option that will split time with sophomore player Jay Ajayi, and Xavien Howard fills the need at cornerback across from Byron Maxwell.  They got Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant to mix into the current wide receiver group, and they got an acceptable backup for Ryan Tannehill that will play ahead of Matt Moore.  What they did wrong is they picked the wrong guys at the wrong time.  They took Howard when Top 5 corner Mackensie Alexander was still on the board, and he was expected to go in Round 1.  They took Drake without recognizing that DeVontae Booker and Kenneth Dixon were much better prospects left.

What They Did Wrong: Really, an offensive tackle in Round 1?  Really, picking Laremy Tunsil after his Twitter got hacked and a video of him taking marijuana got posted?!!  They could’ve let him slide a little further and gone after a corner, or Kevin Dodd, who ended up out of Round 1.  This means that Ja’Wuan James will have to either fill the smaller need at guard, start ahead of Tunsil or Branden Albert, or lose his starting job.  Tunsil has so many off the field issues, and it was not necessary to pick him, even if he was best available.  The late round picks had the opposite issue of the Day 2 ones, good players at inconvenient positions.  Jordan Lucas and Thomas Duarte are great guys. But the Dolphins are fine at tight end. They could have used that pick on a pass rusher or something like that, and unless Reshad Jones plays free safety this season or Jordan Lucas switches positions, they’re all set at strong safety.  The Dolphins had an efficient draft as they filled the holes, but may have taken the wrong players at the wrong times, and completely blew their first round pick.

 

New England Patriots

New_England_Patriots.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

2           29           Cyrus Jones                CB     Alabama    B-

3            15            Joe Thuney                OG     N.C. State   A-

3            29           Jacoby Brissett         QB      N.C. State   B

3            34            Vincent Valentine   DT     Nebraska      B

4            14             Malcolm Mitchell    WR    Georgia       A-

6            33             Kamu Grugier-Hill  OLB   East Illinois  B

6             39             Elandon Roberts        ILB      Houston     A-

6              46            Ted Karras                    OG         Illinois      B+

7                4             Devin Lucien               WR        Arizona St.  B-

Overall Grade: B

What They Did Right: Belichick and crew had another efficient draft.  They filled most of their major needs.  Joe Thuney is in to replace Ryan Wendell.  Malcolm Mitchell will join the deep wide receiver rotation.  I just don’t see why they A) Drafted multiple guys at one position and B) Passed on quality running backs and defensive ends early.  I also like how they drafted a possible Brady replacement in case Brady’s suspension is upheld or he declines.  TB12 won’t last forever, but Brissett when Dak Prescott, Connor Cook and RBs Kenneth Dixon and DeVontae Booker available?  Bad idea.  They also took a lot of long shots, for example, Vincent Valentine, but he took far down players for a reason.  Valentine’s the size of Vince Wilfork.

What They Did Wrong: Where’s the franchise RB?  Blount’s on the decline, and Dion Lewis is coming off a torn ACL.  They took a corner, they took two guards and two receivers, and no running back?  Come on Pats.  You’re better than that.  I also don’t like how after they had gotten up to 12 total picks, traded some big ones away.  They needed those picks if they wanted to win a title.  I like who the Patriots picked, but I think they may have used picks in an unnecessary way and left out certain areas of need in this draft, especially the need in the backfield.

 

New York Jets

Jets-Logo.png

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1            20          Darron Lee                 OLB   Ohio St.     A-

2            20         Christian Hackenberg  QB   Penn St.  A-

3            20         Jordan Jenkins           OLB     Georgia    A-

4            20        Juston Burris                 CB     N.C. State  B

5             21        Brandon Shell                OT    S. Carolina  A-

7              14        Lac Edwards                   P    Sam Houston St   A-

7             20         Charone Peake           WR     Clemson     B+

 

Overall Grade: B+

 

What They Did Right: This was a pretty strong draft for the Jets.  Almost all of their needs were filled, and their picks (most of them, at least) were under the radar.  They went with some of the safest guys at their needed positions on Days 1 and 2 including Darron Lee and Christian Hackenberg.  On days 1 and 2 they did a pretty amazing job, their only problems were taking two OLBs instead of an OLB and an ILB, and ignoring their need at OT.  They filled it later with Brandon Shell, and minor needs at WR, corner and punter were filled, also mostly with under the radar picks, they were at least considered that for how late they went.

What They Did Wrong: The Jets had a great draft, but their grade goes down significantly for one reason.  They still need an ILB!  Taiwan Jones is the best they’ve got at ILB, and unless also inconsistent Lorenzo Mauldin moves over, they have a serious issue.  A near perfect draft class has its flaws, this is the biggest one.  Next time, don’t draft Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins unless you know an efficient linebacker that can move to the interior.

 

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore_Ravens_Logo.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1             6          Ronnie Stanley          OT    Notre Dame   A+

2            11          Kamalei Correa        OLB    Boise St.        B+

3             7           Bronson Kaufusi       DE        BYU               A-

4             6           Tavon Young              CB        Temple       B-

4             9           Chris Moore                WR     Cincinnati    B-

4            32          Alex Lewis                   OT      Nebraska        A

4            34           Willie Henry              DT      Michigan        A-

4            36           Kenneth Dixon         RB      LA Tech          A-

5             7           Matt Judon                 DE     GV State           A-

6             7           Keenan Reynolds     RB     Navy                 A

6            34         Maurice Canady         CB     Virginia           A-

Overall Grade: A-

 

What They Did Right: The Ravens filled most of their major needs and got some real good players in the process.  They may have gone for many long shots, but they really upgraded their weakest spot, the line of scrimmage.  Ronnie Stanley and Alex Lewis will really help the offensive tackle depth chart.  Bronson Kaufusi, Willie Henry, and Matt Judon will bolster the defensive line and add to an already scary pass rush.  The Ravens also had some big steals.  They snagged Kenneth Dixon after falling to late Round 4.  They also got intriguing Navy RB Keenan Reynolds, and after drafting long-shot corner prospect Tavon Young, they snagged Maurice Canady soon before the conclusion of Round 6.  What a draft class!

What They Did Wrong: This was a great draft class full of steals and studs, but every near-perfect thing has its flaws.  For Baltimore, the biggest flaw is too many long-shots.  A long-shot pick could always be good if you know what you’re doing, but in great numbers, it gets out of hand.  They needed a wide receiver and drafted Chris Moore, but he’s not the future of this franchise for when Steve Smith and Mike Wallace get old.  Each long shot pick comes with risk, and you want to have a lot of safe selections.  You don’t want your whole draft class to become busts, even for a 4th or 5th rounder, where 3 of their 5 picks made are guys I would consider long-shots.  They additionally never filled their need at inside linebacker, and a few other long-term needs.  This team is good now, but what has happened to their future?  The Ravens will know what I mean when they are desperate for a starting wide receiver a couple of years from now.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

cincinnati-bengals.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1          24            William Jackson III    CB     Houston   B

2          24             Tyler Boyd                    WR    Pitt            A

3          24             Nick Vigil                      ILB    Utah St.   B+

4         24              Andrew Billings          DT     Baylor       A

5          24             Christian Westerman  OG    ASU          B+

6         24              Cody Core                        WR   Ole Miss  B

7         24              Clayton Fejedelem         SS       Illinois    A

Overall Grade: B+

 

What They Did Right: This is a good and deep draft class with very high potential.  This class had many late round steals.  Andrew Billings, expected to go in the first two rounds, fell to Cincy in Round 4.  Christian Westerman fell to them in Round 5 after being projected as a 3rd rounder.  They also filled their biggest needs by far, safety, and wide receiver.  William Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Clayton Fejedelem will all battle for the left corner and strong safety spots.  Nick Vigil will be an understudy for Rey Maualuga, and Andrew Billings will split time with Domata Peko.  Tyler Boyd will be an efficient WR2 or WR3, and Cody Core will fill the depth beyond the top 3 receivers.

What They Did Wrong: They didn’t do too much wrong.  This was a pretty good draft, but let’s go over a few small things that affected certain picks in a different way than it did to the overall grade.  For example, drafting a corner in Round 1 over wide receiver Michael Thomas wasn’t a great pick.  They had a burning need at receiver, and a deep receiver class to fill it with.  The secondary was more of a Day 2 issue.  They did fill the receiver position later.  Then, they didn’t fill the need at safety in Round 3 but instead went for a non-urgent selection of an inside linebacker.  Just something to keep in mind, a little shuffle of positions taken each round would’ve helped this class majorly.

Cleveland Browns

cleveland-browns-brown

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1            15           Corey Coleman          WR    Baylor        A

2              1           Emmanuel Ogbah       DE    Oklahoma St.   A

3              2           Carl Nassib                    DE      Penn St.     A

3             13         Shon Coleman                OT     Auburn      A

3             31         Cody Kessler                    QB       USC         A-

4                1         Joe Schobert                   OLB     Wisconsin    A+

4                16      Ricardo Louis                    WR     Auburn       A-

4               31        Derrick Kindred               S         TCU          A

4                40        Seth Devalve                  TE        Princeton   B+

5                 15         Jordan Payton                WR         UCLA        A

5                  31         Spencer Drango            OG        Baylor       A

5                  35           Rashard Higgins         WR    Colorado St.  A

5                  36           Trey Caldwell               DB     LA-Monroe     A-

7                 29            Scooby Wright III       ILB    Arizona          A+

Overall Grade: A

What They Did Right: Almost everything.  What a draft class.  I loved how the Cleveland Browns plotted their draft day.  First, a trade back to let the Titans snag an OT and drafting wide receiver Corey Coleman (great fit, by the way!).  Then they get DE Emmanuel Ogbah in Round 2 and steal DE Carl Nassib in Round 3.  That already makes their defensive line and receiving game a whole lot better.  In Round 3 they also snagged offensive tackle Shon Coleman and went for a QB late in the round.  They filled their hole at just about every position of need, with a quality pick and pulled the steal of the draft when they took Scooby Wright III (projected for Rounds 3-4) with the 29th pick of Round 7.

What They Did Wrong: I can’t stop complementing at this amazing draft class, but it does have a couple minor issues.  First of all, filling the need at receiver is great, but four receivers?  That can fill an entire depth chart.  I bet Ricardo Louis will be cut before Week 1, and Coleman, Brian Hartline, Higgins, Andrew Hawkins and Payton will fill the depth chart.  They probably should have spent a couple of those receiver picks on more defensive help, especially at linebacker and in the secondary.  They also drafted a couple too many long shots.  Cody Kessler won’t have a chance to compete with RG3, and that’s their biggest need.  I couldn’t even find Trey Caldwell or Seth Devalve in CBS Sports’ 2016 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings.  However, between all the good picks, all the huge steals, all the positions filled, this was an amazing draft class.

Pittsburgh Steelers

pittsburgh-steelers.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1            25           Artie Burns                  CB      Miami      A-

2           27           Sean Davis                    CB      Maryland   B-

3          26            Javon Hargrave           DT          SC State   B

4          25          Jerald Hawkins             OT           LSU         A-

6            45          Travis Feeney               OLB      Washington  B

7              8            DeMarcus Ayers          WR           Houston    B-

7              25          Tyler Matakevich      ILB             Temple      B

Overall Grade: B

What They Did Right: The Steelers came into this draft with a few major needs.  They focused solely on those needs and drafting the perfect players to fill them.  They didn’t necessarily pick the biggest prospects, but they did an outstanding job filling most of their major needs.  They received two strong corners, an offensive tackle to replace Kelvin Beachum, and a pass rushing  defensive tackle.  They have good fits for a lot of the guys they drafted, and that led to an acceptable draft.

What They Did Wrong: They may have drafted perfect fits, but the prospects that were taken weren’t as appealing to most scouts.  Sean Davis was a risky pick, he just recently shot up draft boards, and another slightly safer guy like him, Artie Burns, was drafted ahead of him.  Still risky for their biggest need.  They also forgot about a safety in the process.  Travis Feeney and DeMarcus Ayers are also risky picks, and Ayers is a real long shot.  Although I did like their strategy, I just think they picked the wrong set of prospects.

AFC South

Houston Texans

hou-texans.png

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1            21           Will Fuller                   WR    Notre Dame   A

2            19          Nick Martin                  C      Notre Dame    B

3           22          Braxton Miller            WR   Ohio St.    B+

4           21          Tyler Ervin                    RB  San Jose St.    C+

5             22         K.J. Dillon                     SS     West Virginia   B+

5             29         D.J. Reader                   DT    Clemson      B

Overall Grade: B

 

What They Did Right: The Texans had a great draft, with lots of good picks.  However, they failed to fill their major needs precisely.  They got a lot of good prospects and did go after guys at positions of need.  This draft class has a ton of potential, but it needs to find a place to fit in.  There may be concerns unless D.J. Reader can shift to edge rusher, they can find some undrafted FAs to finish off the secondary, and Nick Martin can learn to play not just center but also guard at an NFL level.

What They Did Wrong: As I said before, they did not cover their main needs precisely!  Several examples are shown above.  Why’d the Texans take Tyler Ervin when they could’ve had their hands on Kenneth Dixon or DeVontae Booker?  Ervin likely won’t see a start, Booker or Dixon would’ve competed with Alfred Blue to be a handcuff to Lamar Miller.  They didn’t draft enough for the secondary and drafted two very good receivers when they had depth beyond the WR2 position, now filled by Will Fuller.  Braxton Miller was a bit of a waste after that selection in the first round.  Although they came close and drafted many high upside prospects, those prospects are also high risk, and some don’t fit into the Houston scheme.

Indianapolis Colts

indianapolis-colts.png

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1              18          Ryan Kelly                    C     Alabama    A-

2              26          T.J. Green                    FS    Clemson     A

3              19          Le’Raven Clark          OT      Texas Tech  B

4                18        Hassan Ridgeway     DT      Texas          B-

4               27         Antonio Morrison    ILB     Florida       B-

5                17         Joe Haeg                       OG     NDSU          A

7                 18       Trevor Bates                 LB       Maine        B

7              27        Austin Blythe               C         Iowa         A

Overall Grade: B+

What They Did Right: The Colts’ draft was a roller-coaster ride.  One pick was amazing, the next pick, risky or off.  What I liked is that they went right for the biggest missing pieces first.  They started by rebuilding the offensive line.   Ryan Kelly and Joe Haeg will compete for starting jobs.  Le’Raven Clark has some time to develop at tackle, but may be able to get some starts at guard.  T.J. Green can fill the hole at safety and possibly even switch back to a receiver in the NFL, his old position.  Not bad for filling the top needs.  But the Colts really wasted their other picks.

What They Did Wrong: Okay, I understand if they wanted d-line insurance, but the Colts wasted two picks on linebackers!  That’s their strong position!  They have D’ Qwell Jackson, Robert Mathis and Nate Irving playing LB!  They don’t need any more help there.  I also think a tackle was unnecessary, their needs for the offensive line had no more to them than just the interior.  Not a bad draft in filling the needs with safe players, but the same draft class wasn’t great in overall efficiency and doesn’t fit with the team.

Jacksonville Jaguars

jacksonvile-jaguars.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1             5             Jalen Ramsey           CB/FS    Florida St.   B+

2            5              Myles Jack                OLB         UCLA            B

3             6              Yannick Ngakoue   DE        Maryland      A-

4           5               Sheldon Day              DT      Notre Dame   B

6         6                Tyrone Holmes       OLB       Montana     A-

6         26                Brandon Allen        QB        Arkansas    B+

7          5                 Jonathan Woodard    DE    Central AR     B-

Overall Grade: B

What They Did Right: The Jags may have had some issues with this draft, but overall, between free agency and the draft they really boosted their defense.  They added to what they already had in 2015 with DT Malik Jackson, DT, Sheldon Day, DEs Yannick Ngakoue and Jonathan Woodard and linebackers Myles Jack and Tyrone Holmes.  The biggest upgrade was in the secondary, which already had Jonathan Cyprien.  They added with two strong corners, Jalen Ramsey and Prince Amukamara and safety Tashaun Gipson.  The Jags defense is among the most improved units in the NFL.

What They Did Wrong: They went after the right positions, but they took the wrong guys at the wrong positions at the wrong times.  They also had some late round shockers that I didn’t like. I did like how they stole Myles Jack in Round 2, but he’s risky, and they only drafted Tyrone Holmes behind him at the position.  They should’ve taken a better DE like DeForest Buckner.  They additionally wasted some picks on extra positions like DT and QB instead of drafting a center or safer LB.

Tennessee Titans

tennessee-titans..jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1            8            Jack Conklin             OT    Michigan St.   A-

2            2          Kevin Dodd                DE     Clemson        A+

2            12        Austin Johnson        DT       Penn St.       B+

2            14         Derrick Henry          RB      Alabama       C+

3              1          Kevin Byard              SS       Mid Tennessee  B

5             1           Tajae Sharpe           WR      UMass             B-

5             20        LeShaun Sims          CB        South Utah   B-

6             18         Sebastian Tretola    OG       Arkansas      B

7               1           Aaron Wallace          OLB        UCLA        A-

7             32           Kalan Reed                 CB       South Miss   B

Overall Grade: B+

What They Did Right: The Titans, at some point in the draft addressed most of their major needs.  They filled holes at OLB, defensive end, defensive tackle/nose tackle and offensive tackle.  What were their major needs going into the draft?  Offensive lineman and pass rusher. They got Sebastian Tretola as well to fill those needs, a sixth-round steal who can play guard and center.  They even planned for the future a little bit, taking another receiver in this draft, and drafting two mediocre corners late (even though Kalan Reed is technically considered Mr. Irrelevant).

What They Did Wrong: The Titans had the same issue as the Jags.  They were fine in the first couple rounds but after those rounds things got out of hand.  They drafted a running back, safety, and receiver before a guard or linebacker!   Oh, and the biggest problem with this draft?  DERRICK HENRY!!!  For crying out loud, this team just acquired DeMarco Murray!!!  Why did they set that plan on fire to draft Derrick Henry, and if Murray still is starting running back, why did the Titans draft the 2nd best running back, in Round 2, ahead of a linebacker just so he could be DeMarco Murray’s handcuff?!!!  They had a handcuff for him.  Remember Antonio Andrews, that guy who suddenly worked his way up to starting running back?  He’s still relevant, as a handcuff at least.  From what I’ve heard, Derrick Henry is a lot like DeMarco Murray.  That’s not good considering the fact that you could end up with two busts on one team.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

denver-broncos-logo.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1             26          Paxton Lynch             QB      Memphis    A-

2           32            Adam Gotsis             DT      Georgia Tech   B-

3           36            Justin Simmons       FS       Boston College   B

4           38            DeVontae Booker    RB            Utah         B

5            5             Connor McGovern   OG          Missouri    A

6           1                Andy Janovich        FB            Nebraska    B

6           44              Will Parks                S              Arizona     B-

7            7              Riley Dixon              P        Syracuse         C+

Overall Grade: B

What they Did Right: The Broncos filled some major holes in this draft, and they may have failed to fill all their needs, but they drafted some pretty convincing players when they were filling holes.  Paxton Lynch was a pretty good pick on Denver’s part, and they didn’t need to trade up, but it was worth it to secure such a good pick.  I also really liked their selections of running back DeVontae Booker and guard Connor McGovern.  They didn’t just fill those three holes, they made sure they had a relevant player there, a rookie who can be a Week 1 starter.  Paxton Lynch may need some time, but Mark Sanchez can be the placeholder.  DeVontae Booker will grow behind two strong running backs, and Connor McGovern should be able to work into the system right away, linemen typically develop faster from what I’ve seen.

What They Did Wrong: The Broncos may have locked up some of their needs, but they slipped up on a few of their other picks, they could’ve just filled their minor needs with those picks rather than trying to pull the shocker of the draft, or draft the biggest sleeper.  I just don’t understand why they went for positions like safety and punter.  Even their pick of DT Adam Gotsis was questionable.  Not a bad draft in terms of upside, but not a great draft in terms of making sure they don’t have any major holes.

Kansas City Chiefs

kansas-city-chiefs-logo.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

2            6           Chris Jones                 DT     Missippi St.    B-

3           11             KeiVarae Russell      CB    Notre Dame   A-

4            7             Parker Ehinger         OG    Cincinnati      A-

4           8              Eric Murray                CB      Minnesota    B-

4          28             DeMarcus Robinson   WR     Florida     B

5          25             Kevin Hogan               QB       Stanford    B+

5             28          Tyreek Hill                   WR     West Alabama   C

6              3             D.J. White                CB       Georgia Tech   A-

6             28             Dadi Nicholas             DE     Virginia Tech    B+

Overall Grade: C+

What They Did Right: The Chiefs had a pretty efficient draft.  They have Marcus Peters’ new partner in crime.  They have a guard to fill in the hole.  They have a new backup QB, and they got defensive line help.  In terms of filling the holes, this draft was great for the Chiefs.  Most of their major needs were filled, some by very high upside players.  I like Chris Jones, I like Kevin Hogan, and although I was questioning some of the picks, I like a lot of the players in this draft class.

What They Did Right: Okay, they had some picks with high upside.  Some of the rest were long shots and busts.   Had you ever heard of Tyreek Hill or Eric Murray before reading this article?  Well, I would be shocked if you did, you would have to be either a college football fanatic or draft guru.  They did fill the holes, but some of their picks were big risks, might not fill them yet or won’t fill them very long.  Only a few picks were in the A-range on my grading scale.  Therefore, I have to give this team a pretty low grade compared to what I’ve given to everybody else.

Oakland Raiders

oakland-raiders.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1             14           Karl Joseph                 FS      West Virginia    B+

2            13             Jihad Ward                 DE     Illinois           B

3             14              Shilique Calhoun     DE   Michigan St.  B+

4             2               Connor Cook             QB    Michigan St.  B-

5           4               DeAndre Washington   RB  Texas Tech    B-

6         19             Cory James                         OLB     Colorado St.  C+

7         13              Vadal Alexander                 OG          LSU       B

Overall Grade: C+

What They Did Right: The Raiders definitely got some players at positions of need, even if they might not be the right guys.  They filled the hole at defensive end, outside linebacker (partially) and free safety.  They picked the right positions in the right rounds, the draft was supplemental and filled their major needs and they drafted somewhat intriguing picks, whether they were surprises, steals or expected picks.  What did the Raiders do wrong?  Just about everything else.

What They Did Wrong: The Raiders seriously wasted a good number of their picks.  DeAndre Washington is not an efficient RB.  Cory James?  Connor Cook?  Those picks also caught me off.  They took Karl Joseph and Jihad Ward too early, and that leaves the Raiders without any guaranteed rookie starters this season.  Why Karl Joseph when they had the chance to take Kevin Dodd?  Why Jihad Ward over A’Shawn Robinson?!!  Some aspects of this draft class are crazy, and the things that make sense could’ve been done better.

 

San Diego Chargers

San_Diego_Chargers.jpg

Round   Pick        Name                          Pos.  College  Grade

1            3            Joey Bosa                     DE     Ohio St.     B

2            4            Hunter Henry           TE      Arkansas    B

3           3              Max Tuerk                   C          USC          B

4            4           Joshua Perry              OLB       Ohio St.    B

5            38         Jatavis Brown            OLB       Akron       B

6             4        Drew Kaser                    P        Texas A&M   B+

6            23       Derek Watt                   FB       Wisconsin    B-

7               3       Donovan Clark             OG      Michigan St.  C+

Overall Grade: B

What They Did Right: I actually really liked this draft class.  I’m a huge fan of Joey Bosa and Hunter Henry and even like Max Tuerk.  All three could be Opening Day starters.  This draft class has a lot of depth, with a high-potential player picked almost every round.  The class also fills the Chargers needs pretty well.  There were no wasted picks, a reason behind each, and almost all of these guys could see significant playing time in 2016 and many years to come.

What They Did Wrong: What’s not to like about this class?  None of their picks went after the hottest players available giving the Chargers a potential steal, and they drafted some players at unnecessary positions.  Sure, guys like Derek Watt and Joshua Perry are good players, but they might not see significant playing time, a long-time veteran will likely be starting instead for this class’ first few years.  But overall, well done San Diego.  You got yourself the draft class I would love to have as an NFL GM.

Catch my NFC Draft Grades coming soon.  Who do you think aced the draft?  Comment below.

Brady vs. Manning: The End of an Era: AFC Championship (Patriots at Broncos) Preview

This is the 17th time Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will face off, possibly the last.  Between the Colts and the Broncos, Manning knows are team too well.  He knows Brady, he knows Belichick, so we have to play are game, but run a couple plays that we don’t normally do.  The New England Patriots take on the Denver Broncos at Mile High.  In November, we went to Denver and they came back to win 30-24, but it was Brock Osweiler under center last time, Manning was out with plantar fasciitis.

NFL Roundtable: The Best Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning Game
Tom Brady face off for the 17th time in the AFC Championship but this might be the last if Manning retires.

My Prediction: Patriots, 27, Broncos, 23

So, who has the advantage in this game?  You saw in Week 12, it will be a close game, tough match-up and very physical game.  So, lets break it down.  Injuries had way more of an impact in Week 12 than now, Edelman was out, DeMarcus Ware was out, Gronk left, Hightower, Collins and Amendola sat too.  Now, we have a team at decent health, so does Denver.

Denver has a dominant front seven: Sylvester Williams, Malik Jackson, Derek Wolfe, DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, Brandon Marshall, Danny Trevathan and Shane Ray.  That’s EIGHT GUYS, you can only start 7!!  Their secondary also includes star corners Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. plus T.J. Ward and Bradley Roby.  Steven Jackson, Brandon Bolden and James White better be ready to bull through the defense and find space between the stars, and I trust that they can.  I also think that the secondary isn’t strong enough to guard Gronk, Edelman, Amendola, Chandler, LaFell and Keshawn Martin.  I think 2 of these 8 will score: Jackson, Bolden, Edelman, LaFell, Amendola, Gronk, Chandler.  My original prediction was Gronk and Chandler but now I’m thinking maybe Jackson, Bolden or a receiver will score.

Now Denver’s offense.  The Broncos even without Peyton Manning would have an overpowered offense.  C.J. Anderson usually really shows up this time of year, while Ronnie Hillman continues to do his thing.  Plus the receiving game didn’t just use DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders last time.  They used Vernon Davis, Owen Daniels, Cody Latimer and Andre Caldwell, who had a TD, too.  But the young Patriots secondary will have to try and stop Denver’s pass, they should be able to double cover Thomas, and contain Sanders and Daniels on one man coverage.  Vernon Davis, Virgil Green and those sleep receivers, may let loose.  They also need to do a better job containing the running game.  But in the end, despite facing to more overpowered defense, and being the road team, I think the Pats have the edge with their offense’s match-up and will win by a nose.

 

Keys To The Game

Patriots

  1. Even against a ferocious front seven, the Patriots run game needs to keep it up.  Tom Brady might not have the protection he needs, and he’ll have to depend on his backfield. They have the individual players to do it, the questions are: Do they work together enough to?,  Is the match-up against the defense in their favor?
  2. The Broncos run game is revamped too with CJ Anderson at his best.  The Patriots have struggled to stop the run all year.  This game, they need to excel at it.
  3. The young Patriots secondary needs to contain a large number of Broncos receivers that make up its offense’s core.  Last time, sleep receiver Andre Caldwell caught the TD that brought the game to overtime, where CJ Anderson had a long run for a touchdown.

Broncos

  1. The Patriots have just as good of receivers when healthy.  The Broncos secondary isn’t quite as good as their pass rush, and they might have trouble keeping the receivers from doing much.  Between Edelman, LaFell, Amendola, Keshawn Martin, Gronk and Chandler, there’s plenty of guys to cover.
  2. CJ Anderson needs to pick up the pace.  Between some big games, he’s still been somewhat consistent unlike late last year, even when Manning’s super bowl hopes got crushed in the Divisional Round last year Anderson made an impact.
  3. The Broncos need to use their receiving depth to their advantage.  Unleash all their sleep receivers and play like the Pats haven’t seen them play yet.

Injury Report

New England Patriots (13-4)

 

Out

​G Tre’ Jackson – Knee (LP)
OL LaAdrian Waddle – Shoulder (LP)

 

Doubtful

NONE

 

Questionable

WR Danny Amendola – Knee (LP)
TE Scott Chandler – Knee (LP)
LB Jamie Collins – Back (LP)
DB Nate Ebner – Hand (LP)
WR Julian Edelman – Foot (LP)
LB Darius Fleming – Back/Shin (LP)
LB Jonathan Freeny – Hand (LP)
TE Rob Gronkowski – Knee/Back (LP)
LB Dont’a Hightower – Knee (LP)
DE Chandler Jones – Abdomen/Toe (LP)
DE Rob Ninkovich – Shin (LP)
WR Matthew Slater – Shin (LP)
C Bryan Stork – Ankle (LP)
OT Sebastian Vollmer – Ankle (LP)

 

Probable

QB Tom Brady – Ankle (FP)
S Patrick Chung – Foot (FP)
OL Josh Kline – Shoulder (FP)
WR Brandon LaFell – Foot (FP)
S Devin McCourty – Ankle (FP)

 

Denver Broncos (13-4)

 

Out

NONE

 

Doubtful

NONE

 

Questionable 

NONE

 

Probable
S Josh Bush – Shoulder
TE Owen Daniels – Knees
ILB Todd Davis – Shoulder
G Max Garcia – Groin
CB Chris Harris Jr. – Shoulder
QB Peyton Manning – Foot
ILB Brandon Marshall – Ankle
QB Brock Osweiler – Knee
S Darian Steward – Hamstring
S T.J. Ward – Ankle
OLB DeMarcus Ware – Knee
CB Bradley Roby – Quadricep

Gronk and Edelman Rebound, Patriots Trump Chiefs

It has been a roller coaster ride, this week, this season, and this 2015 for the Patriots.  From DeflateGate, to the Super Bowl.  From the suspension to the banners revealing.  From a crazy week to an awesome win in the Divisional Round.  The Pats outscored the Chiefs 27-20.  The game broke many records.  Gronk now leads all tight ends in playoff touchdowns, and all Pats players in playoff receptions.  He has never been on a team that has not advanced to the AFC Championship.  It’s also Tom Brady’s 30th playoff game, the most by any NFL player in history!!  This is also only the 2nd time a team has gone to 5 straight conference championships, tying the record set by a 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers squad.

 

Now let’s talk about the exciting ending first.  The Pats led 27-13 after 2 30-40 yard field goals by Stephen Gostkowski.  The Chiefs had difficulty managing the clock.  They blew about 5 minutes.  They were hesitating, taking their time on play after play.  They had blown it with 1 minute to goal on 3rd and goal when there was a flag.  Pass interference on the Pats.  It reset to 1st and goal.  On 2nd down, they scored.  It was now 27-20.  The Pats just needed one first down.  2nd and 12.  Brady threw.  The ball bounces of a defender’s hip.  Tamba Hali misses it and Edelman makes the first down catch!!!!  All TB12 had to do was take a knee 3 times and it was over!  Well, how did we get there.  It all started opening drive.

It was 3rd down.  Brady had struggled on 3rd down conversions ever since Edelman got hurt.  But he was back.  He proved it.  Brady threw to his favorite receiver, and Edelman, he caught it, for a first down!  Next play went to Edelman for 13 yards again!!!!  Then 16 yards to Amendola the very next play!!!   They were doing hurry-up offense, just pass after pass after pass to Brady’s best slot receivers.  Healthy and dominant as they could be.   Then he got to third down again, and got to Gronk for 32 yards!!!   He jumped over defenders and broke tackles, but he got there.  Two plays later, touchdown Gronk!!!  That was all on the 1st drive.  5 minutes, 11 plays, 80 yards and a touchdown!!!!

The following drive ate up 8 minutes of clock, and ended with a 34 yard field goal.  7-3 Pats.  It ended the 1st quarter at that score.  The 2nd quarter started with 3 short drives, ending in punts.  After a quick first down to Edelman, then a 5 yard penalty.  Brady threw an amazing pass, Edelman bobbled it, but lost it!!!  But Keshawn Martin was wide open right in front of him and he caught it!!!!  A 42 yard pass!!!  The offense was booming!!!  They slowly got through to the red zone from the 50, and it was first and goal.  Tom Brady ran it in for 10 yards and thought it was a touchdown but it was called out of bounds at the 1!!!  Belichick challenged, but lost as the call stood.  No worries, he had a QB sneak up the middle for a TD!!!  14-3. The following drive was a field goal again.  14-6 Pats.  The pattern was, touchdown Pats, and the next drive, the Chiefs would score a field goal.  “If they keep scoring touchdowns, and the Chiefs keep scoring field goals, you know who will win”, I said to my dad right then.

“I can live with that”, he said.  The half ended soon after.  The Chiefs got the ball, they had won the toss and deferred.  They were marching down the field, but on 2nd and 8, Knile Davis fumbled and Dont’ a  Hightower got it!!!  The offense did its thing.  Gronk for 18 yards.  Edelman runs for as many yards as his own jersey number!!!  14 yard pass to Edelman!  10 yards to James White.  Then Gronk scrambled for his second TD of the night, this time for 16 yards, double the yards of #1.  That’s when he broke the record.  He didn’t spike it, he was so happy, he just danced.  But next drive, things changed.

The Chiefs went to Jason Avant for 26 yards!!!  This is a former Eagles second-string who is now and old and washed up Chiefs sleep receiver.  He had 2 receptions for 69 yards.  Then 13 yards to Kelce.  They were slowly marching down the field, Alex Smith doing his usual thing of lots of short plays for big total yardage.  He went for it to Chris Conley, but was incomplete.  But after a 5 yard penalty on the Pats, they easily went to Albert Wilson for a touchdown.  They had broke the pattern.  It was now 21-13 Pats.  Next drive though, James White caught a 29 yard pass.  Then he went to Edelman for 14.

The quarter ended, and they lost their momentum but managed a 40 yard field goal, a solid one.  24-13.  After a quick Chandler Jones sack, the Pats got the ball back at like the 30.  On 4th down, Duron Harmon’s so-called interception was called back for an incomplete pass and turnover on downs, but thankfully it saved us 30 yards.  Keshawn Martin got a 15 yarder, but they had to settle for a 32 yard field goal.  27-13.  We led by two touchdowns.  Then the Chiefs scored their TD after horrible clock management, and Brady finished the game.

Tomorrow the Broncos and Steelers play.  The winner plays us.  What do you think.  Will we host a banged up Steelers team or go to Denver against the dominant Broncos, where we lost in Week 12?  Comment what you think.  Whoever we play, “We’re on to the AFC Championship.”

Star Of The Game: Rob Gronkowski

Gronkowski scoring his 2nd TD in a nice win over the Chiefs.

Of course Gronk earned this.  Two touchdowns, eight total in the playoffs any year, most by a tight end in playoff history.  Also, Gronk leads the Pats in playoff receptions ever.  Gronk had several deep passes, which he is not known for and despite back trouble and knee troubled, he also caused Chiefs trouble.  He also had some good blocks to help Edelman star in his return.  He led the Pats to revenge for an ugly game.

NFL Third Quarter Report: Playoff Scenarios For All 32

For the first quarter, I cleared up a wacky start.  For the second quarter, I predicted the remainder of the season from scratch.  By the third quarter, playoffs is where it’s at.  There are only 5 games left for every team.  Some of these games could decide key playoff scenarios.  Here are the current playoff pictures.

AFC

unknown_10

In The Hunt

unknown_4

NFC

unknown_9

In The Hunt

unknown_6

Done For

San Diego Chargers, 3-8
Chargers Remaining Schedule

unknown_7
This schedule spells disaster.  Any win over Denver is doubtful.  Denver  likely will dominate up until January.

The Chiefs are practically on fire.  They should’ve beaten them when they had the chance.  They could’ve beat the Chiefs in San Diego, but on the road, it will be extremely difficult.  They’re even hotter now.

Unless the Raiders collapse before Week 16, the Chargers will lose that too.  They lost to them at home, they should lose to them on the road.  The only winnable game is hosting the AFC East’s Miami Dolphins.  Miami is placed last in the AFC East, and the Chargers play them in San Diego.  But one more win only gets them to
4-12.  You need AT LEAST, like 7 to go to the playoffs, and that rarely even happens, although it might to another team this year.

Tennessee Titans, 2-9

Titans Remaining Schedule

unknown_8

This is actually a decent schedule, but it has a tough two weeks in the AFC East.  One at the Jets, another against the mighty, but injury plagued New England Patriots.  The Jaguars and Texans games are winnable, although the game at the Colts could also be tough.

But besides the Pats, unlike San Diego, there aren’t many dominant teams they face.  But what draws me away from this team is their performance so far.  When you’re 2-9, even three or four wins isn’t enough for playoff contention, and that’s even highly questionable.

Honorable Mentions

San Francisco 49ers, 3-8 – What do they have?

Cleveland Browns, 2-9 – Potential, but are practically mathematically out from previous performance

Baltimore Ravens, 4-7 – Too injury-filled to survive.

 

Watch Out

New Orleans Saints, 4-7

Saints Remaining Schedule

unknown_2

This is a pretty easy schedule, but there are a couple of games that I wouldn’t quite say are locks.  The Panthers are 11-0, and even beating them in New Orleans will be tough.  The Bucs are getting better and are actually in the playoff hunt now, led by Jameis Winston.  They beat the Saints in New Orleans, Week 2.

The Lions and Jags aren’t as bad as we originally thought, and the Lions are red hot.  And against such a feast or famine team, the Falcons could easily win.  So, the Saints could win the rest (9-7) or even lose the rest (4-12).

Philadelphia Eagles, 4-7

Eagles Remaining Schedule

unknown_5

The Eagles have a winnable schedule, but they only have a shot at the playoffs if they play really well and have some good luck.  I think the home games vs the Bills and Redskins could easily be wins.  They will likely lose this week, but if they win those two, plus crucial grudge matches vs the Cardinals and Giants, which will be tough if they keep playing how they’re playing, they won’t do, they’ll have a shot.  But to make the playoffs, you need to be Carroll and make sure to win at leat four of the remaining games, (hopefully the loss is to the Pats ☺️).

Honorable Mentions

Dallas Cowboys, 3-8 – Tony Romo keeps this team hanging, and he’s done

Detroit Lions, 4-8 – Heating up, but really need to take it to the next level

Miami Dolphins, 4-7 – Beginning to blow it, but still have a shot in best case scenario

Jacksonville Jaguars, 4-7 – Improving, but still will likely miss playoffs

 

Somewhat Shot

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 5-6

Buccaneers Remaining Schedule

unknown_3

The Buccaneers do definitely have potential, and that’s why they’re all the way up here.  But overall, this is a tough schedule.  St. Louis is still decent, Jay Cutler is looking young again, and Carolina is on an undefeated campaign that may never be stopped.  The best chance at wins are the next two weeks (vs ATL and NO).  Both of those teams are utterly struggling.  They could also beat the Bears in Tampa.  They won’t necessarily win all three of those.  They need to to even have a shot.

St. Louis Rams, 4-7

Rams Remaining Schedule

unknown_1

The Rams do have a pretty respectable schedule.  The issue is,they have to win almost all of these to get a spot.  It’s a good schedule.  If they can upset Arizona this week, and win 3 of the 4 games after that.  They may have some tough trips, but it’s do-able.

Honorable Mentions

Chicago Bears, 5-6 – Jay Cutler and Forte are dominating, John Fox is a great coach, they have a chance

Oakland Raiders, 5-6 – They just need to revamp the offense

Buffalo Bills, 5-6 – Come on, keep on fighting!!!  You have a legitimate shot!

 

Fighting For A Spot

Atlanta Falcons, 6-5

Falcons Remaining Schedule

unknown_11

This will be a tough schedule to overcome.  It includes two meetings with the 11-0 Panthers, an easier home game vs the Saints, and semi-tough games in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.  They may be able to defeat the Panthers at home, but doing it in Carolina will be hard.  With the way this team is struggling, I get Tampa and the Jags will beat them, while they beat the Saints, and maybe Carolina if they’re lucky.

Indianapolis Colts, 6-5

unknown_12

The Colts have a somewhat easy schedule, but they have to take it like the schedule says @NE 5 weeks in a row.  The Texans, Jaguars and Steelers are improving and could easily knock down Indy.  Normally, at this point in the season, the Colts would be top contenders, but they lost their groove somehow this year.  The Dolphins game could even be tough.  But winning 2 or 3, which they can easily do, can win them this weak AFC South.  So, don’t overlook this schedule, and still try hard.

New York Giants, 5-6

Giants Remaining Schedule

unknown

The Giants were NFC East leaders a couple weeks ago, but a tough late season schedule has slowed them down, and the Redskins, hopefully temporarily, have stolen their throne.
Home games against the Eagles and Jets could be among THE EASIEST games to win for the Giants.  I also think they can bull over Carolina and prevent an undefeated season.  But if those are the easiest, what is the toughest?  Oh no.  Vikings in Minnesota, Dolphins in Miami.  Those could be dangerous games.  They could win anywhere between 1 and 4 games, and for a 5-6 team, they need to be on the higher side of that, even in such a weakling division.

 

Honorable Mentions

Seattle Seahawks, 6-5 – Beginning to get it together

Houston Texans, 6-5 – Brian Hoyer is back in good hands

Kansas City Chiefs, 6-5 – Red hot, who can stop them?

Pittsburgh Steelers, 6-5 – Despite some injuries, are still relevant with Baltimore done

New York Jets, 6-5 – If what happened in Week 12 continues, they can regain their groove

Washington Redskins, 6-5 – Suddenly just stole the NFC East

 

Near Clinching

For these teams, rather than looking over the schedule, we’ll break down clinching scenarios

New England Patriots, 10-1

The Pats can clinch the division by simply winning, and making sure the Giants beat the Jets.  As Pats fans, we yes, have to root for Tom Coughlin’s New York Giants.  To clinch a playoff berth, they need to win, and the Bills need to win.  Come on Giants, don’t blow it just because you’re doing us a favor.

 

Arizona Cardinals, 9-2

If the Cardinals beat the Rams, and Seattle loses to the Vikings, all Arizona needs to clinch a spot is the same thing next week or a win when they host Seattle in Week 17.  But beating the Rams today could be a challenge.  Remember, the Rams are also still in the playoff hunt, and when the Cardinals hosted them, they knocked down a 3-0 undefeated season to happen.  They’ve only lost one game since!!!  You think it’ll be easy in St. Louis, and despite the worse record, with Todd Gurley already discovered?!!!  That’s a real challenge for Arizona.  So they better try hard to do well these next couple weeks if they want to ink the division.

 

Denver Broncos, 9-2

I think that Denver will clinch the AFC West today.  I bet they’ll beat the Chargers up, and the Raiders get an easy win over Kansas City.  They have the tiebreaker over Oakland, so that’s not an issue either.  The playoffs are near for Denver and four other great teams.

 

Honorable Mentions

Carolina Panthers, 11-0 – Can clinch NFC South with win or Falcons loss

Cincinnati Bengals, 9-2 – Could easily clinch a playoff berth, in a lock match-up

Minnesota Vikings, 8-3 – Getting there, just need a couple more wins

Green Bay Packers, 8-4 – If they keep it up, they could be back in clinching mode in no time.

 

So, that’s how the playoff scenarios are looking.  What do you think will happen? Tell me in comments.

Broncos Thrill Pats In OT, Pats Unbeaten No More

It was 3rd and 1.  The Broncos were on their first drive in overtime.  The Pats had won the toss and tragically gone 3 and out.  Then Osweiler handed it to C.J. Anderson.  He swerved to the left and just kept going and going.  He had just scored the game winning touchdown.

C.J. Anderson as he heads to the end zone for the game winning TD in OT

The Broncos were the first to beat the once undefeated Patriots this season, with a 30-24 overtime win.  It was a very exciting, back and forth game, but it ended with the Broncos putting an end to the regular season portion of the Revenge Tour.  If they win a super bowl, then they still get vengeance on Roger Goodell.

The Broncos went 3 and out on their first drive.  A horrible punt got the Patriots started in Broncos territory.  This was turning into a field position game.  The Pats marched down the field, and Gronk scored a touchdown.  Gronk had already had a nice pass earlier in the drive, lasting 2:07, with 4 plays for a whopping 47 yards!!!!  They started at the opposing 47 and easily scored a TD.

The great defense continued.  The Broncos went 3 and out again, and even the Pats did it after starting around the 50.  Still a field position game.  On the next drive, the Broncos were on 4th down & inches, and Brock Osweiler ran a QB sneak for the first down. They didn’t challenge the spot, even though it was clearly 4th & 2.  On the next set of downs, Osweiler got sacked, knocking Denver out of field goal range.  When Brady got the ball back, they sacked him in return.

A good punt keeps Denver starting at their own 10.  The Pats were thinking safety, but as Osweiler progressed down the field, they had other plans.  Sheard knocked the ball from Osweiler, and Chandler Jones caught it in the air for and interception.  The Pats marched down the field and Chandler was wide open as Brady threw to him for the touchdown.  14-0 Pats.  It was now the 2nd quarter.

A couple of drives later, the Broncos progressed down the field, and Ronnie Hillman went beast mode and got a 19 yard TD, making it 14-7.  Th next couple minutes before the half were slow, as the Pats failed to score before getting the ball back in the 2nd half.  In the first drive after halftime, Gronk caught a 22 yard pass, but it wasn’t enough as the Pats punted it away.

The Broncos were near safety territory again on the next drive, but quickly marched down the field to escape.  But they didn’t get far away enough.  They were in field goal range, but Brandon McManus had to attempt a 47 yarder.  It was way off.  The field goal was no good, and it was still 14-7 Pats.  The remainder of the third quarter was a snooze-a-thon.  But things got exciting in the 4th quarter.  The Pats went into it with the ball.  They had just started a drive before the end of the 3rd.  On the first play of the quarter, they threw to Bolden.  He had no problem catching it, but the real thriller was what happened next.  He took off, and soon the defenders were nowhere to be found.  Brandon Bolden kept on running and running, until he got to the end zone.  He had just scored a 63 yard touchdown!!!!

It was now 21-7 Pats.  They had a two TD lead.  The Broncos went 3 and out, but on the punt, Chris Harper fumbled in the attempt to return the punt, and the Broncos recovered it.  That was his only noticeable play of the night.  He ended up with -2 fantasy points.  NEGATIVE TWO!!!  The Broncos got to start at around the opposing 40.  They marched down the field and Anderson scored a touchdown.  So technically, CHRIS HARPER is the reason the Pats lost.  Otherwise, we would’ve had a 24-17 win.  The Pats couldn’t do anything because of some stupid penalties.

Denver got the ball around the 50 and they marched down the field.  They slowed down in the red zone, and had to settle for a field goal.  It was now 21-17 Pats.  Our lead was not very secure.  On the next drive, we couldn’t do anything because Gronk was called for offensive pass interference!!!  It was a stupid call!!!  Just stupid!!!!  What were those refs doing?!!!  Are they just out to get us for “DEFLATE GATE”?!!!!  On our next drive, we threw a nice pass to Gronk, but it was followed by a heart-breaker. Brady threw to Gronk for an incomplete pass, but it was worse than that.  Gronk had tripped over someone, and fell on his right knee.  When the staff came over, to look at it, he was screeching in pain.  He was carted off the field, and they are fearing a torn right MCL.    On a late 4th quarter drive, DeMaryius Thomas caught a 36 yard pass, followed by an Emmanuel Sanders 39 yarder.  Osweiler through the much needed TD pass to Andre Caldwell, giving them a 24-21 lead.

The next drive was the last of the regulation playing time, and it was filled with some nice passes, but it wasn’t enough to score the game winning TD.  However, Stephen Gostkowski did attempt a 47 yard field goal, and it was good!!!  It was tied, 24 all.  This game was going to overtime.  Then, the next heart-breaker occurred.  The Pats won the toss, went 3 and out in a horrible drive.  They had no weapons, and Brady was too worried about his teammate to focus.  Then Anderson did his thing, and it was game over. However, the Pats can still earn home field advantage.  Denver plays Cincy in Week 16, so one of those teams will lose again.  If we can go 4-1 on the following schedule:

vs PHI

@HOU

vs TEN

@NYJ

@MIA

Then they can still do it.  For now, we’re on to Philadelphia.