Gonk Knocks S1 E3 – Coach’s Update #1 (After Day 4)

After the first day of practice in shoulder pads, varsity football Head Coach Taylor Allen gives an update on the team.  Watch Episode 3 below to hear what he has to say.  You can find all Gonk Knocks coverage here.

Upcoming Key Dates for the Tomahawks Football Team

  • Wednesday, 8/22 @ 5 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #5
  • Thursday, 8/23 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #6 (First in full pads)
  • Friday, 8/24 @ 4 p.m.: Varsity Football Preseason Practice #7
  • Saturday, 8/25 @ 10 a.m.: Scrimmage #1 @Clinton High School vs. Clinton & Bartlett
  • Friday, 8/31 @ 6 p.m.: Scrimmage #2 @Franklin High School vs. Franklin
  • Friday, 9/7 @ 7 p.m.: Regular Season Game #1 at Home vs. Worcester North

Gonk Knocks: Training Camp with the Algonquin Tomahawks

More Gonk Knocks coming soon!

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NFL Playoffs: Bracket and Wild Card Weekend Picks

Welcome to my NFL playoff predictions and Wild Card picks. I finished the regular season with a 150-108 record. Below are my wild card weekend picks. How will I do this week? Keep reading and comment with your thoughts.

Before we begin, I’m going to reveal my playoff bracket:

I have the Patriots topping the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. A lot of people have said the Vikings will make the Super Bowl in their home stadium. If they did that, they would be practically invincible. But I think RB Todd Gurley will lead the Rams past them in Minnesota, and the Rams will fall short in Philly, allowing Philly to advance to Super Bowl LII, losing to New England.

Now here are my picks for this week:

(5) Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs (4)

Saturday: 4:35 PM EST on ESPN

Titans, 30, Chiefs, 27

Titans QB Marcus Mariota and his group of versatile receivers will be dominant against the Chiefs secondary, who is still without S Eric Berry. But the Chiefs will make it close. They will shut down Titans running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, and they will be competitive offensively. WR Tyreek Hill will outsmart the young Titans secondary, as well as star TE Travis Kelce. But in the end, Mariota will lead the Titans to victory, as the Chiefs fall just short.

(6) Atlanta Falcons @ Los Angeles Rams (3)

Saturday: 8:15 PM EST on NBC

Rams, 31, Falcons, 23

Atlanta will fall short in LA. RB Todd Gurley will overtire the Falcons front seven in a dominant game. QB Jared Goff will also do well, tossing a trio of touchdowns. The Rams defense will also help, shutting down Atlanta’s running back duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. WR Julio Jones will have a good game, but it will not be enough in Los Angeles.

(6) Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3)

Sunday: 1:05 PM EST on CBS

Jaguars, 31, Bills, 26

The Jaguars defense will dominate here, slowing down a strong group of Bills receivers with their young, elite secondary. They will also slow down star running back LeSean “Shady” McCoy. The Jaguars will also contribute offensively although QB Blake Bortles will be under a lot of pressure. RB Leonard Fournette will do well against the Bills defensive front though, and Jacksonville’s young receivers will outdo the Bills stingy secondary.

(5) Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints (4)

Sunday: 4:40 PM EST on FOX

Saints, 30, Panthers, 19

QB Drew Brees and his versatile receivers will lead the Saints to victory here. They will dominate against the young, inexperienced Carolina secondary although the tough Panthers front seven will shut down the Saints RB duo. But the New Orleans defense will also do well, overwhelming QB Cam Newton, shutting down the strong Carolina run game, and holding Carolina to just one TD. The Saints defense has significantly improved since last season. They support the dominant offense, and that will bring New Orleans a successful playoff run as they win here at home.

That’s all for my playoff Predictions and wild card picks. Check back next week for my updated divisional round picks. In addition, stay tuned for my predictions on where the top free agents and players on the trade block will land. I will also be releasing more recaps on the Patriots and my middle school’s basketball teams, so check back soon.

NFL Week 17 Picks

Welcome to my Week 17 Picks.  Last week I went 10-6, putting my overall record at 144-101.  With playoff contention and seeding on the line, who will come out on top this week?  Read below to find out, and comment on your thoughts.

Note: Due to continuous technical difficulties with one of my editing apps, I was not able to include the score images.

Lock of the Week

Redskins, 30, Giants, 0

Led by QB Kirk Cousins, I expect the Redskins to rout and shutout the Giants in New York.  The Giants will be without WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram due to injuries, and they are still missing WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall.  Without those four receiving weapons, the Giants will fail to challenge the Redskins D.  That will make it easy for Cousins to lead the Redskins to victory, causing the problematic, injury-riddled Giants to finish 2-14.

Upset of the Week

Panthers, 31, Falcons, 27

I see the Panthers winning in a shootout here.  QB Cam Newton will connect with his favorite target, TE Greg Olsen to help lead Carolina.  RB Christian McCaffrey will also make major contributions to their victory.  The Falcons will challenge them though, as they figure out how to outsmart the Panthers secondary.  WR Julio Jones will dominate, and I think he’ll catch at least 2 TD from QB Matt Ryan.  Their run game will also contribute, but it will not be enough as Carolina snags a victory.

The Other Games

Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Patriots, 23, Jets, 16

Expect a better performance out of the Pats front seven.  They will pressure QB Josh McCown and slow down the Jets run game as new LB James Harrison leads them.  I expect him to come through as he is seeking revenge on his old team, the Steelers.  I also think QB Tom Brady will find his receivers against the young Jets secondary and will avoid being picked off for the first time in weeks.

The Pats secondary will also have a big game in my opinion.  They will also be motivated to beat the Steelers.  They will make it hard for McCown to find his receivers and slow down the rhythm of the Jets offense.  This motivated Pats team will play complementary football and win the game.

 

Steelers, 28, Browns, 20

The Browns will try to grab their first victory of 2017, but will not succeed against the playoff-bound Steelers, who are fighting for a chance at the #1 seed.  The Browns offense will actually look decent here, but the Steelers offense will top that, even without WR Antonio Brown.  QB Ben Roethlisberger will find other options with Brown hurt.  Pittsburgh should grab a victory with ease, even without Brown, as the Browns go 0-16.

 

Colts, 23, Texans, 21

I think Texans QB T.J. Yates will actually look decent against the weak Colts defense, but he won’t be able to do as much without his #1 receiver, DeAndre Hopkins.  The Texans run game will also do well, as the duo of Lamar Miller and Dont’a Foreman will score two of the three Houston touchdowns.  But the Colts offense will get the edge as QB Jacoby Brissett tosses 2 TD and leads Indy to victory.

 

Eagles, 30, Cowboys, 27

The Eagles will top Dallas, but it will not be as high scoring as last time.  QB Nick Foles will have a decent game, but he will not be able to do the same thing that star QB Carson Wentz was able to do.  But the Eagles offense will still do well, and they will also use their run game to their advantage.  The Eagles defense will also do well, holding off Dallas as Philly wins, going 14-2 on the season.

 

Lions, 27, Packers, 6

Unfortunately, I think the injury-riddled Packers will end up finishing the season in shambles, losing to the Lions in 2017 season finale.  Lions QB Matthew Stafford will throw a trio of TD to take the early lead, and Green Bay will fail to fight back.  The Lions will win with ease as the Packers start focusing on next season, hoping to come back healthy in 2018.  This year, they were devastated by injuries to their QB, Aaron Rodgers among other stars.  This week, Rodgers is out, and so are wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams.

Vikings, 28, Bears, 9

Expect the Bears offense to struggle against the tough Vikes defense.  Their run game will be shut down, and QB Mitch Trubisky won’t be able to start an offensive rhythm as there is a lack of receiving weapons in Chicago right now.  On the other hand, the Vikings offense will continue to strive as the Vikes win, led by dominance on both sides of the ball.

Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

Bills, 27, Dolphins, 24

The WR trio of Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Jordan Matthews will help lead the Bills to victory in Miami against the young, struggling Dolphins secondary.  The Dolphins will be able to slow down RB LeSean McCoy, but not the Bills’ receiving trio.  The Miami receiving trio will also do well, but their lack of a run game will cost them as Buffalo wins.

Ravens, 20, Bengals, 13

The Ravens defense will be dominant in this game, shutting down Bengals QB Andy Dalton and holding him to just 1 touchdown.  The Ravens offense will also thrive, even without starting WR Jeremy Maclin and even against a tough Bengals defense.  They will be led by their other starting WR Mike Wallace.  Baltimore will win in a low scoring game after a strong performance on both sides of the ball.

 

Titans, 23, Jaguars, 20

The Titans will edge out the Jaguars in a relatively low scoring game.  The Jags defense will slow down Titans RB Derrick Henry, and the Titans will fail to run the ball with Henry well covered and RB DeMarco Murray out.  However, the Jags will fail to do the same against the versatile group of Titans receivers.

The Jaguars will struggle to perform offensively without some of their key weapons like receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee.  But they will come close to spoiling the Titans’ chances, led by their younger receivers like Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole.   In the end, the Titans will grab the victory.

 

Chiefs, 16, Broncos, 13

The Chiefs offense will not be the same with WR Tyreek Hill resting up for the playoffs, and the Broncos defense will be able to hold the, down early.  But TE Travis Kelce, the run game, and other receivers will help the Chiefs take the lead later on.  Denver will also struggle offensively without a definitive starter at QB and with both WR Emmanuel Sanders and WR Cody Latimer hurt.  But the combo of QB Trevor Siemian and WR Demaryius Thomas will grab the lead early.  However, they will blow it later on as the Chiefs make an effort to come back and succeed.

 

Chargers, 45, Raiders, 34

The Raiders will make a good effort here.  They will target the Chargers’ weakness in the secondary by going with a pass-heavy offense.  QB Derek Carr will dominate, throwing for 350 yards and 4 TD.  But it won’t be enough against the dominant Chargers offense.  LA’s offense will electrify as they play for one last shot to make the playoffs.  With playoff contention on the line, the Chargers will score 5 or more offensive touchdowns, led by QB Philip Rivers as well as their TE duo among others.  The Chargers will win in a shootout as Oakland cannot keep up despite Carr’s huge game.

 

Saints, 30, Buccaneers, 26

QB Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense will come close against the Saints, but the powerful New Orleans secondary will slow them down as they play great red zone defense.  The Saints will also put up another strong offensive performance as Brees tosses 3 TD, leading the Saints to victory.

 

Seahawks, 27, Cardinals, 24

Despite a strong effort by the Cardinals with WR John Brown, the Seahawks will comeback to win at home.  The Seahawks defense will not be able to shut down the Cardinals receivers without CB Richard Sherman, but the TE Jimmy Graham and the Seahawks offense will lead Seattle to victory.

 

Rams, 34, 49ers, 27

The success of new 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will not be enough against the powerful Rams offense.  The 49ers offense will come close though, as Garoppolo connects with multiple receivers for touchdowns.  But it still will not be enough, as RB Todd Gurley, QB Jared Goff and WR Sammy Watkins lead LA to victory in a close game.

 

That’s all for my Week 17 Picks.  If my predictions are right, according to the ESPN Playoff Machine, the playoff seeding will look like this:

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Stay tuned for more NFL preview videos and picks coming soon.  In addition, with MLB free agency kicking into gear, my prediction article is coming soon.  Also stay tuned for my article about 2017 in sports as we ring in 2018 tonight.

NFL Week 6 Picks: Contenders and Pretenders

Welcome to my NFL Week 6 Picks.  Last week I went 6-8, placing my overall record at 36-41.  How will I do in this week’s slate of games?  Read below and comment with your thoughts.  This week is when the contenders start to separate themselves from the pretenders.  Who will come out on top?

Teams on Bye: Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks

Note: In the images, the team on the top is the road team, and the team on the bottom is the home team.  

Lock of the Week

The Jets have been on a pretty good run but all will come to an end against the Patriots.  I think the Patriots defense will continue to see improvement in this game.  Their secondary will shut down the depleted Jets receiving corps, even without CBs Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe.  Expect the Pats defense to force lots of turnovers as well, giving the potent New England offense more scoring chances.  In addition, I think Pats TE Rob Gronkowski will have a strong return from a leg injury that held him out last week.  He will dominate against the Jets D in this game.  Pats win with ease.

Upset of the Week 

The Lions have had a surprisingly strong start to the season.  I expect that to continue against an aging Saints team.  Lions QB Matthew Stafford will have a huge game as the Saints defense struggles to put pressure on him, giving the strong Lions receivers more time to get open.

Expect the Saints offense to struggle to run the ball effectively against the Lions D, especially after trading away RB Adrian Peterson.  Peterson was not making the biggest impact in New Orleans, but he provided the Saints with options in the run game.  If Saints RB Mark Ingram starts to look off his game, who do they turn to?   Lions pull off the upset.

 

TNF (Posted to Twitter on Thursday before the game)

After last week’s big victory, the Eagles offense is beginning to gain some momentum.  Expect that to continue against the Panthers as they put up 30+ points.  I also think the Eagles receivers will have another huge day against a rebuilding Carolina secondary.  Even though Panthers QB Cam Newton has gotten back in the swing of things, I think Newton will be the next victim of the Eagles defense.  Newton will be hammered in this prime time match-up.

Sunday’s Games

The Falcons are well rested coming off their bye week and their dominant offense should shine in this match-up.  Falcons WR Julio Jones will not be stopped by CB Byron Maxwell and the rest of the Dolphins secondary.  On defense, LB Vic Beasley and the Atlanta pass rush will not allow Jay Cutler to get into a rhythm.  Jay Ajayi could also have another rough day against a tough Atlanta run defense.  Atlanta will win easily at home.

The Ravens will win but it won’t be easy.  After facing two tough defensive fronts in Weeks 4 & 5, Ravens QB Joe Flacco should have an easier time this week against a weak Bears secondary.  I also expect Ravens WR Mike Wallace to lead the Ravens to victory with another 100 yeard game like last week (133-yard).

However, the Bears will also look a little better offensively with rookie QB Mitch Trubisky under center.  In addition, WR Kendall Wright will be targetted more with injured receiver Kevin White out again.   But things won’t be easy against a tough Ravens defense.  It will be close but I have the Ravens holding on in a tight one.

The Texans front seven will be challenged this week after losing defensive stars DE J.J. Watt and LB Whitney Mercilus for the season.  Expect Browns RB Isaiah Crowell to have a strong game.

On offense, the Texans will continue to do well with rising star rookie QB Watson.  They’ve put up a total of 91 points over the last two weeks (45.5 PPG)!  The Browns had the chance to draft Watson and after this game may wish they did.  Texans offense will deliver again at home.

This will be a blowout because other than Niners WR Pierre Garcon, I don’t believe there’s anyone else that could step it up for San Francisco offensively.  Redskins QB Kirk Cousins and his receivers will thrive against the rebuilding Niners secondary.  They will lead the Redskins to an easy win.

Over the last three weeks, the Packers have averaged 32.3 PPG.  Expect their offensive success to continue, even against a tough Vikings defense.  The Vikings secondary will fail to hold back a stacked group of talented Packers receivers.  Packers receivers Nelson, Cobb, and Adams are all at full health this week so expect the Vikes D to have a rough day.  I think the Vikings run game could struggle without starting RB Dalvin Cook.  They’ll also be without WR Stefon Diggs.  Packers win as the Vikings struggle to get into an offensive rhythm.

The Rams have gained some momentum over the last few weeks but it’s never easy to win on the road.  The Jags have been off to a pretty strong start as well and their defense could put a stop to Ram’s run.  They will contain LA’s playmakers, making it tough for QB Jared Goff to play like he has for most of this season.

However, this win won’t be easy for the Jags.  Blake Bortles will be under pressure but I see him having enough success to lead the Jags to a win.  He will have to because I believe the Rams will slow down Jas star running back Leonard Fournette.  In the end, the Rams won’t produce enough offensively and they’ll fall short against the Jags.

As the Bucs defense finally starts to make its way back to full health, I think they’ll lead Tampa Bay to bounce back win after a tough Thursday night loss to the Pats at home.  I expect Cards QB Carson Palmer to take a lot of hits like Tom Brady did last week against an aggressive Bucs defensive front.  I don’t think Palmer has much left in the tank as he has struggled this season to help AZ put points on the board.  However, young Bucs QB Jameis Winston will thrive in this game, rebounding from a rough game last week against the Pats.  His receiving corps will create match-up problems against the strong Arizona secondary as Winston will buy his receivers more time with his elusiveness.  The Bucs will win the game with strong performances on both sides of the ball.

The Chiefs are the only remaining undefeated team and the Steelers have been inconsistent losing 2 of their last 3 games to teams they should have beaten, the Bears and the Jags.  Before I pick the Steelers to win again, they need to play more consistently.

Steelers QB Big Ben and RB Le’Veon Bell will struggle against the tough KC front seven that has shut down some top RBs and QBs during their 5-0 start.  The Steelers will also struggle defensively against speedster WR Tyreek Hill and one of the leagues best TE, Travis Kelce.  Big games from both Hill and Kelce will be just enough for KC to win by a Field Goal.

The Raiders offense should be back to full strength this week with star QB Derek Carr, WR Amari Cooper, and WR Michael Crabtree all healthy.  I think they’ll put up 30+ points against a weak Chargers defense.  The Chargers defense has cost LA many of their games as Chargers have averaged 19.8 PPG but are only 1-4.  The Chargers offensive success will bring them close but the Raiders offense will be too much in this shootout.

SNF

The Giants lost their top three receivers to serious injuries last week.  None of them will play in this game and the Giants will likely struggle offensively especially since RB Paul Perkins will also be out with an injury.  The Broncos arguably have the best defense in the league and will pressure Giants QB, Eli Manning all day.  Denver will pull away with the win even with their own offensive struggles.  The Broncos defense will carry them to a victory in a low scoring Sunday Night game at Mile High.    

MNF

This game will be a thrilling high scoring game that will be much more fun to watch than the Sunday Night defensive battle between the Broncos and Giants.  The Titans offense should score with ease against the struggling Colts defense, scoring 5+ TDs.  But this isn’t going to be a blowout.  Jacoby Brissett has led the Colts offense to win two of their last four games as they have scored over 22 points a game in the last 4.  Brissett will hit his star receiver T.Y. Hilton often as he will have a big game against the Titans secondary.  But in the end, the Titans’ offensive dominance will be too much for the Colts on the road and carry them to victory on Monday Night.  

That’s all for this week.  What do you think will happen this Sunday?  Feel free to comment with your thoughts.  This season has been full of surprises so you should expect more.

NFL Week 2 Match-Up Preview

Another week of exciting football is almost here!  But unless you’re a fantasy football fanatic like me, watching NFL RedZone from 1-8 each week, or are a diehard fan of one team that plays at an off time, the one thing you don’t know is which games to watch!  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.   Who’s ready to dig in?

Each week, I will go over five of my favorite matchups. I will provide detail about each matchup so you know which game is for you. It’s an extended preview beyond my NFL Picks for my five favorite games.

 Sunday, 9/17/2017, 1:00 PM, CBS

The Jaguars absolutely dominated the Texans last week and the Titans fell short at home against Oakland.  Week 1 showed the Titans aren’t necessarily up there with teams like Pittsburgh, Oakland, and Kansas City, and it also shows that the Jaguars are legit.  Will the Jaguars be a fluke as the Titans show what they can do, or will Jacksonville continue to thrive in the AFC South?

Keys to a Win

Titans

  1. The Titans can’t let the Jaguars defense control them.  They have a very good offense, led by QB Marcus Mariota and RB DeMarco Murray.  But they will continue to struggle if they let defenses contain them.
  2. They also need to take advantage of the fact that the Jags lack depth at receiver.  Allen Robinson is out for the season.  If nobody steps up in his place, the Jags will have an ugly season.

Jaguars

  1. The Jags need someone to step up at receiver.  They have no good tight ends, and right now Allen Hurns looks like their only viable option at receiver.  They need somebody to step up.  Maybe Marqise Lee will?  If he doesn’t, who will?  Dede Westbrook is on IR.
  2. They also need to stop the run.  Tennessee has a great run game.  But if the Jacksonville front seven can get in their heads, they will struggle.

3 Burning Questions

  1. With Dede Westbrook on IR, who will assist Allen Hurns at receiver for the Jaguars?
  2. What is the weak spot of Jacksonville’s D and will the Titans take advantage of it?
  3. The Titans have a lot of good players, but who will play like their superstar this week?

The Jags are running out of options here.  Could Max McCaffrey do big things?  If not, can Marqise Lee be their guy this season?  Hopefully, they can survive until Westbrook returns.  It’s hard to find a weak spot in this improving Jacksonville D, but the Titans should look to take advantage of the Jags d-line.  The Titans have plenty of budding stars on their team, but this week, I think veteran tight end Delanie Walker will be their go-to guy.

Key Injuries

Jaguars

  • Allen Robinson – WR (Knee) – IR
  • Calvin Pryor – SS (Ankle) – Out
  • Jalen Ramsey – CB (Ankle) – Questionable

Titans

  • Johnathan Cyprien – SS (Hamstring) – Out

Bold Prediction: With the receiving game lacking depth, the Jags score 2 rushing TDs as Fournette and Ivory will combine for 250 rushing yards

Leonard Fournette could be the Jags’ biggest weapon this week.  Chris Ivory will also continue to get touches.  I think both of them could be in for big games today.  It’s a pretty good match-up for them, the Titans lack a good front seven aside from defensive tackle Jurrell Casey.

The Pick

jacksonvile-jaguars

  Sunday, 9/17/2017, 1:00 PM EST, FOX

This could be a very good game.  The Eagles looked great after a blowout over the Redskins, and the Chiefs look like one of the best teams in the AFC after pulling an upset over the Pats.  Will Carson Wentz and his offense keep flying, or will the Chiefs bring them back down to earth?

Keys to a Win

Eagles

  1. Carson Wentz can’t let the Chiefs pressure him too much.  The Chiefs defense knows how to rush the passer.  If Wentz can’t overcome a pesky Chiefs defense, the whole Eagles offense could fall apart.
  2. The Eagles can’t allow any 75-yard TDs like the Pats did.  Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill can be very dangerous for defenses.  They are both very fast.  Fast enough that they can speed past the entire defense.

Chiefs

  1. Whatever Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill had going last week will need to continue this week.  The Chiefs may be lacking offensive depth, but they don’t need it as much if Hill and Hunt can supply them with all the offense they need.
  2. With Eric Berry hurt, the Chiefs need to find a new defensive leader.  Justin Houston is a sack machine, but will he thrive in a defensive leadership role?

3 Burning Questions

  1. Will the Chiefs miss Jeremy Maclin after this week?
  2. Who will emerge as Carson Wentz’ favorite target?
  3. Which defense will have the better game?

I think the Chiefs will miss Maclin pretty soon.  I don’t care if Hill and Hunt are superstars, they will burn out eventually.  I think new receiver Alshon Jeffery will have a big week and emerge as Wentz’ favorite target this season.  Lastly, I think the Eagles defense will have the better game.  The Chiefs defense need a new leader.  The Eagles have a dangerous front seven that could really make Kareem Hunt look like a fluke if they do well.

Key Injuries

Eagles

  • Ronald Darby – CB (Ankle) – Out
  • Corey Graham – FS (Hamstring) – Questionable

Chiefs

  • Eric Berry – FS (Achilles) – IR
  • Parker Ehringer – G (Knee) – Doubtful
  • Reggie Ragland – OLB (Knee) – Doubtful
  • Ron Parker – SS (Ankle) – Questionable
  • Kevin Pierre-Louis – OLB (Illness) – Questionable

Bold Prediction: Carson Wentz will throw for 350+ yards, 3 TDs

Wentz really looked like an elite QB last week, and I expect that to continue throughout the season.  I think he will really develop as a QB this season.

The Pick

UPSET ALERT

philadelphia-eagles-logo

  Sunday, 9/17/2017, 1:00 PM EST, CBS

This could actually be a close game.  Both these teams are coming off wins, but they were both against bad teams.  This game will really test if these teams are for real or not.  Who’s the contender in this match-up, or are both teams really pretenders?

Keys to a Win

Bills

  1. The Bills need to take advantage of the Panthers’ biggest weakness: their secondary, but do they have the receivers to do it?
  2. The Bills also need to keep Greg Olsen covered well.  His performance can really decide how the Panthers offense does.

Panthers

  1. The Panthers need to look out for LeSean McCoy.  They have a great front seven so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
  2. They also need Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel to be at their best.  The rookies on this offense could be the difference in who wins this game.

3 Burning Questions

  1. Who will lead the Panthers in receiving this week?  Will anyone have a 100-yard game?
  2. Will LeSean McCoy be able to score a TD against this Panthers defense?
  3. Will the Bills defense cost them the game if they can’t keep the Panthers offense under control?

Greg Olsen is going to have a big week for Carolina, I think he leads in receiving.  On the other hand, I don’t think LeSean McCoy will be able to score on Luke Kuechly and the Panthers front seven.  Lastly, I think there’s a chance the Buffalo offense will be able to save them in this case but it’s very unlikely.

Key Injuries

NONE

Bold Prediction: The Panthers will rush for 250+ yards 

Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey are both great running backs, but they’re not the only ones I see having big rushing games.  Curtis Samuel and Cam Newton can both run the ball so it won’t be as hard as it seems to rush for 250 yards.

The Pick

carolina-panthers-logo

 

 

 Sunday, 9/17/2017, 4:05 PM EST, CBS

The Dolphins will make their debut away from home as they visit the Chargers in LA.  With Tannehill out for the year, the Dolphins are not as sharp as they have been.  In the meantime, the Chargers could be in line to be better this season if they stay healthy.  In the end, these two things could combine to make this a very close game.  Who will come out on top?

Keys to a Win

Dolphins

  1. With Tannehill out, running back Jay Ajayi needs to step it up.  The Chargers defense isn’t that good so it might not be as hard as it usually is this week.
  2. The Dolphins need to rush the passer.  They have a great defense, and stopping Philip Rivers is the key to slowing down the LA offense.

Chargers

  1. The Chargers need to mix up who they throw it to.  They have so many good receivers and they can confuse the Dolphins secondary by doing this.
  2. They also need to contain Jay Ajayi.  Ajayi was a machine at times last season and he might be even more effective with Tannehill out.

3 Burning Questions

  1. Will Jay Cutler make a good connection with DeVante Parker like he did in the preseason?  If this happens, will Jarvis Landry struggle?
  2. Which third-year running back will have a better day, Jay Ajayi or Melvin Gordon?
  3. Do the Chargers have enough depth at receiver without Mike Williams?

I think Cutler will continue to connect with Parker, and Landry will not benefit from this.  In my opinion, Jay Ajayi will have the better day, but this is all about the match-up.  Melvin Gordon is facing one of the better run defenses in the league.  Lastly, between Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, and Tyrell Williams, I think the Chargers have plenty of receiving options.  Mike Williams will just add to that when he returns.

Key Injuries

Dolphins

  • Rey Maualuga – ILB (Hamstring) – Out
  • Jarvis Landry – WR (Knee) – Questionable

Chargers

  • Jason Verrett – CB (Knee) – Out
  • Mike Williams – WR (Back) – Out
  • Jeremiah Attaochu – DE (Hamstring) – Questionable
  • Dontrelle Inman – WR (Groin) – Questionable

Bold Prediction: Philip Rivers throws for 400 yards and 4 TDs

I think Rivers is set up for success if he takes advantage of the Dolphins’ weak secondary and his great group of receivers and tight ends.

The Pick

San_Diego_Chargers

  Sunday, 9/17/2017, 8:30 PM EST, NBC

Sunday Night Football tonight could very well be the game of the week.  This is a clash of two great offenses that just faced off in the 2016 NFC Championship.  Each of the last two times these teams clashed, the Falcons won.  Will the Falcons make it a streak, or will the Packers give them a rude awakening?

Keys to a Win

Packers

  1. The Packers need to find their run game and avoid being stopped by Vic Beasley and the Falcons front seven.  Hopefully, they’ll still be able to score rushing TDs without Eddie Lacy, James Starks, and Christine Michael.
  2. They also need to pressure Matt Ryan.  Matt Ryan isn’t the same elite QB when he’s pressured well.  With how inconsistent he is, it’s doubtful he’ll win MVP for the second straight year or even come close.

Falcons

  1. Whatever the Falcons had going on offense last year needs to continue.  Last year’s Falcons offense was one of the best in the league.  Will that continue into this season?
  2. The Falcons secondary needs to keep Jordy Nelson and Martellus Bennett covered.  Aaron Rodgers has some great receivers that could score multiple times if they aren’t covered well.

3 Burning Questions

  1. In their first real challenging match-up, will the Falcons offense look better, worse, or the same as they did last season?
  2. Which receiver will make a big impact for the Pack in this game?
  3. How will the Green Bay run game look?

I think the Falcons offense will be about as good as they were last season, not much better, not much worse.  They should be good enough to get them into the playoffs but not as far as they did last season.  I think both Nelson and Bennett will make a big impact for the Packers in this game, especially if the Falcons fail to cover them.  I don’t think the Green Bay run game will look that bad, and I’ll explain why in my bold prediction.

Key Injuries

Packers

  • Jason Spriggs – T (Hamstring) – Out
  • Ahmad Brooks – OLB (Concussion) – Doubtful
  • David Bahktiari – T (Hamstring) – Questionable
  • Kentrell Brice – SS (Quadricep) – Questionable
  • Bryan Bulaga – T (Ankle) – Questionable
  • Mike Daniels – DT (Hip) – Questionable

Falcons

NONE

 

Bold Prediction: Jamaal Williams will break out for 150 yards and a TD

He’s the reason why the Packers run game won’t be all that bad.  I think he’s a very intriguing rookie RB, one of many in the league.  By the end of this game, he will have stolen the starting job instead of Ty Montgomery.

The Pick

atlfalcons

 

 

That’s all for this week.  Comment what your favorite match-up of the week is.  Stay tuned for more NFL and Pats articles, including a recap of today’s Patriots game.

 

NFL Divisional Round Picks: Seahawks Win Again, Pittsburgh, Green Bay Just Lose

The playoffs have began to unfold, and at this point we have gotten to the Divisional Weekend.   This is the weekend that decides the final four teams, and the top 28 teams, maybe top 27 if the Pats lose, draft picks.  But I doubt it’ll be 27 because the Pats have the biggest lock of any favorite and seek revenge on the team that blew them out in 2014 like they did to the Texans last week.  Here’s an overview of all my score predictions.  Then I’ll talk about each individual game’s match-up.

NFL Postseason Schedule

Divisonal Round Playoffs Time (ET) Stadium TV
Sat, Jan 16
4:35 PM
Kansas City Chiefs
(11-5)
@ New England Patriots

(12-4)
Gillette Stadium CBS
Sat, Jan 16
8:15 PM
Green Bay Packers
(10-6)
@ Arizona Cardinals

(13-3)
University of Phoenix Stadium NBC
Sun, Jan 17
1:05 PM
Seattle Seahawks
(10-6)
@ Carolina Panthers

(15-1)
Bank of America Stadium FOX
Sun, Jan 17
4:40 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers
(10-6)
@ Denver Broncos

(12-4)
Sports Authority Field at Mile High CBS

Patriots, 30, Chiefs, 23

NEvsKC.jpg
Minitron stars and the defense steps up as the Pats get revenge on the Chiefs.

 

 

 

 

The last time these two teams played, the Pats lost to the Chiefs by 27 points.  But things are different this time.  First the rosters.  The Pats have gone younger, the Chiefs are without Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe (gone now) and newbie Jeremy Maclin (questionable with injury).  Second, the place.  The game was in KC last time, but the Pats host them at Gillette this time around.  Third, the environment.  It was the regular season on Monday Night Football last time, this year it’s a 4:30 playoff game on a Saturday.  Fourth, the conditions.  It may be rainy again, but it will be colder, with more of sleet-ish showers.  The other difference is that it’s winter.  That all completely changes the game.

The Chiefs have plenty of offense, Charcandrick West, Travis Kelce, Albert Wilson, Knile Davis and Jeremy Maclin if he play, but this is a defense based team with an offense that has good individuals, but lack overall depth.  The Pats defense should be good enough to contain the Chiefs offense at least they can’t fully emerge and pick off Alex Smith, or return fumbles for touchdowns.  They’re good enough to limit them to 20 or 25 points.  The question is, is Tom Brady protected enough by a weak o-line and is the offense healthy enough to outscore that?

Some keys to the Pats offense doing well are the o-line providing enough protection, with or without Sea Bass.  They also need all their best receivers in the game, like Gronk and Edelman, to improve how the Pats do on 3rd down conversions and increase how often they score to what it was before the injuries got to this point of severity.  That is how they can get revenge.  Also, I could easily see that happening because the Pats are pumped up.  Belichick probably showed the tape from these two teams’ last meeting.  They want revenge and Belichick explained to them how to do it and had guys like Jimmy Garroppollo try to mimic Alex Smith and the Chiefs’ play style for the defense while backups on defense likely mimicked Justin Houston and Tamba Hali for the o-line and Brady to prepare.

Cardinals, 30, Packers, 26

GBvsARZ.jpg
The Packers try their hardest, but the Arizona offense and defense steps up and works as a team to win them the game.

Injuries have made a big impact on the playoffs.  I originally went with the Cards.  When I first broke it down, I changed my mind and went Packers.  But with Davante Adams out, I now have Arizona again, because I had Adams scoring the go-ahead touchdown.  Yup, injuries can decide a lot.  This game is a rematch of the ugly match-up in Week 16, when the Cards blew Green Bay out.  Aaron Rodgers struggled as the Arizona defense attacked him  Last week, Rodgers really shined.  Now he has a move on going and they might actually have a legitimate chance.  The Packers’ other issue though, is their own defense.  They have a ton of minor names that you may know but they don’t do much, like Damarious Randall, Sam Shields and Micah Hyde.

Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense can surely score on them.  They have the weapons, Fitzy, Michael Floyd, John Brown, David Johnson and Andre Ellington, despite injuries and they have the teamwork.  Meanwhile, the Packers offense has began to really get a move on.  Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, James Starks, James Jones and Richard Rodgers struggled at one point but are all on their highest end of their seasons.  But the Cardinals defense, in some ways, can match up to them.  They got the RBs with a good rush D, but don’t have quite that good a secondary without Tyrann Mathieu healthy, not enough to even guard both Randall Cobb and Richard Rodgers, unless guys like Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers step up, but for those reasons, the Cardinals will slip away and prevail.

 

Seahawks, 33, Panthers, 24

SEAvsCAR.jpg
Marshawn Lynch leads the Seahawks offense in his return and gets them the win.

 

If I was still doing lock and upset of the week, the Pats would be my lock, while this would be my upset.  But I say Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks keep rolling.  Lynch being back will really help.  Despite the fact that the Panthers beat the Seahawks, the Panthers only beat one other team with a record above .500.  The other 13 were against pretty bad teams.  So I thought they were the most likely to go one and done.  The Panthers have a pretty good offense,but the Seahawks defense matches up with them and will hold them up.  The Panthers defense is really good too, but I really think the Seahawks are bouncing back from a rough start and they will outlast the Panthers.  Even with Jonathan Stewart back, Beast Mode is too, and Beast Mode is boss.  He’s really good.  Top 5 running back in the league.  So Beast Mode leads the Seahawks offense and they earn a nice win.

 

Broncos, 27, Steelers, 20

PITvsDEN.jpg
The Broncos offense could struggle a bit, but the Steelers offense is too banged up and the Broncos defense is good enough anyways.

Again, injuries make an impact.  I would have went Pittsburgh if Antonio Brown was playing, Big Ben could even be out.  But the Steelers are battling a seriously banged up offense, and their offense is what took them to the playoffs.  Especially against an amazing, healthy Denver defense, the Steelers offense I don’t think will have enough power to score that much.

But the Denver offense is a little banged up itself, and it is very feast or famine, especially with Peyton Manning back in the mix.  Risk of them struggling is high, even against such a weak defense.  But I think the Denver offense has just enough in the tank to edge the Steelers.

 

So those are my picks for the Divisional Round.  Comment with your thoughts.

NFL Week 15 Match-Up Breakdown

Week 15 is a week full of playoff scenarios, grudge matches and more.  Below are some of my favorite match-ups of the week, and analysis on each of them.

carolina-panthers-logo.jpg AT  new-york-giants-logo

The Panthers take on the Giants in New York.  The Panthers fight to stay undefeated, while the Giants fight to stay relevant in playoff contention.  I personally think the Giants are still relevant and can win this game.  If games were only 58 minutes long, the Giants would be 11-2!  But unfortunately, they have to play those last two minutes, and they’ve blown 5 games in that span, including losses to the Falcons, Saints, Patriots, Redskins and Jets.  So they have to be at 6-7.  Here are some factors to a win.

Keys To A Win

Panthers

  1. Put pressure on Eli Manning.  If he can’t do well, how can this powerful offense argue?
  2. The defense needs to stay aware of not just a good passing game, but an underrated run game.  Keep those running backs in the pocket.
  3. The Panthers offense needs to look out for an underestimated Giants defense.  It’s no Panthers lock.

Giants

  1. The Panthers secondary is better than you might think.  Keep the receivers away from them, and make sure Eli doesn’t throw picks.
  2. The Giants have so many good weapons on offense.  Take advantage of that and use lots of different players on the offensive lineup.
  3. Watch out, Cam Newton can run.  He has the 6th most rushing TDs in the entire NFL.  Put some extra LBs on Newton to stop him when he runs with the ball.

Pick A Winner!

Me      My Dad     Jill

new-york-giants-logo.jpg     new-york-giants-logo.jpg       carolina-panthers-logo

chicago-bears-logo.jpg  AT Minnesota_Vikings_Logo

The Vikings try to stay relevant against the Bears today.  This actually brings a real challenge for Minnesota.  Despite the Bears’ 5-8 record, the Beras are just 1-6 at home, but 4-2 on the road, like today.  The Vikes are only 4-2 at home, despite being 8-5 overall.  Can the Bears challenge the Vikings to this division and defeat them?  Here’s how each of the teams can grab a victory.

Bears

  1. Don’t think the Vikings defense is a weakling defense.  Keep your eye out for a young, powerful monster of a defense.
  2. The backups on this offense have potential, despite having a weaker set of starters.  Split the offense equally between all players.

Vikings

  1. Stop that rush!!!  Running backs Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford have too much strength not to attract defensive attention.  Keep your eye out for those Chicago Bears running backs.
  2. Pass!!  A young but full Bears secondary will even be overwhelmed by the receiving depth this team has, including Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison, MyCole Pruitt, Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson.  AP is really the only good player in the backfield.  Pay more attention to Teddy Bridgewater and his receivers than the running game.
  3. Pressure Jay Cutler.  Cutler’s monster season has got to stop.  He struggles under pressure.

 

Pick A Winner!

Me    My Dad    Jill

Minnesota_Vikings_Logo      Minnesota_Vikings_Logo  Minnesota_Vikings_Logo

green-bay-packers-logo.jpg AT   oakland-raiders.jpg

The Packers take on the Raiders in Oakland.  The Packers fight to keep the division lead, while the Raiders fight to stay in playoff contention.  The Packers are favorites, but can the Raiders stay relevant and pull the upset handle?  There was a point when the Raiders were legit playoff contenders, above .500.  Can they go back to that or is it too late?  Keys to a win are below.

Packers

  1. The receivers, especially Davante Adams and James Jones, need to catch the darn ball.  Make sure that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t overthrow or underthrow the football too often, or this duo will fail to function.
  2. Keep Derek Carr and the rest of the Raiders offense under good pressure.  When this offense is pressured, they do absolutely nothing.
  3. Use the running game more frequently.  Eddie Lacy has potential to be a star again, and James Starks is developing into a solid player as well.

Raiders

  1. Get Derek Carr out of the pocket, and make sure he has open receivers.  That’s the Raiders’ offensive winning formula.
  2. Keep the defense ready, this Packers offense has lots of potential, yet it’s already really good.

Pick A Winner!

Me    My Dad    Jill

green-bay-packers-logo   oakland-raiders    green-bay-packers-logo

 

denver-broncos-logo.jpg  AT  pittsburgh-steelers-logo.jpg

The Broncos battle for a first round bye in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.  The Patriots can clinch a first round bye if Denver loses, so us Pats fans must root for the Steelers again, but do the Steelers have a shot?  Meanwhile, the Steelers are attempting to sneak into the playoffs.  Keys to each team’s victory is below.

Broncos

  1. Keep an eye out for not just Antonio Brown, but the rest of this strong receiving game.  Don’t focus this powerful defense too much on just the superstars.
  2. Brock Osweiler needs to keep doing whatever he’s doing.  His magic formula has made the Broncos go 3-1 under his command.

Steelers

  1. Use not just receivers, but DeAngelo Williams and the run game.  Williams has still been underused this season.
  2. The defense needs to stop the power of the Denver offense.

 

Pick A Winner

Me   My Dad   Jill

pittsburgh-steelers-logo  pittsburgh-steelers-logo      pittsburgh-steelers-logo

az-cards.jpg   AT  philadelphia-eagles-logo.jpg

Battle of the Birds!!!  The Cardinals aim for a first round bye while the Eagles fight to stay in the NFC East race.  This Sunday Night game could be a lock, upset or grudge match!  Who will win?  See the keys to a win below.

Eagles

  1. Keep Carson Palmer in the pocket to prevent too far of passes and keep him under pressure.
  2. The Cardinals secondary is more dangerous than you might think.  Keep some extra receivers open on all passing plays.
  3. Don’t underestimate the Cardinals defense in general.  Treat it like the 2013 Seattle defense.

Cardinals

  1. Also don’t underestimate the weak but young Eagles defense.
  2. Use the running game too, even though the Eagles have a weaker secondary than running game.

Pick A Winner!

Me       My Dad     Jill

philadelphia-eagles-logo.jpg   az-cards.jpg       az-cards.jpg

Want to talk about your favorite match-ups of the day?  Tell me in comments.