2019 NFL Mock Draft: Who Takes the QB of Their Future?

Welcome to my 2019 NFL Mock Draft!  Today, I’ll be sharing a one-round NFL mock draft with trades.  I have also predicted what the rest of the New England Patriots’ draft will look like (Rounds 2-7).  There’s always a handful a QB prospects who are lined up to be future starters.  But while there’s a lot of teams that could use a young QB on the roster, most teams would do alright without one.  Even the Giants, who have been rumored to replace Eli Manning since the start of 2018 could make do with just Manning, Kyle Lauletta (drafted later last year), and Alex Tanney.  But I do see a few teams making their move this year, some in the first round, and some waiting till later rounds.  Who will they be?  Keep reading to find out what I think.

Let’s begin with the Arizona Cardinals.  They own this year’s first overall pick and are likely close to making a decision.  But I cannot see them trading down.

1.  With the 1st overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals select…

Kyler Murray

QB

Oklahoma

I don’t typically predict something in a mock draft solely based on rumors, but all signs have pointed to Arizona taking Kyler Murray #1 after Kliff Kingsbury’s statement a year ago about taking Murray #1 if he ever had the chance.  If they do decide to stick with Josh Rosen at QB (who they drafted last year), they can take edge rusher Nick Bosa #1, who could definitely help this defense.  I have them trading Rosen to the Giants for a second or third round pick.  This will allow the Giants to use their first rounder to improve the team around Rosen while Arizona moves on to Kyler.

 

2.  With the 2nd overall pick, the San Francisco 49ers select…

Nick Bosa

DE/OLB

Ohio State

The 49ers could use Bosa as an OLB or a DE.  At whichever position they don’t put Bosa at, they can start the recently acquired Dee Ford.  The Niners definitely improved their front seven this off-season, but they could still benefit from more depth on the outside.  They can wait on a wide receiver, their biggest need, thanks to the deep WR class.

3. NYJ With the 3rd overall pick, the New York Jets select

Josh Allen

OLB

Kentucky

New York signed ILB C.J. Mosley this off-season, but after a failed attempt to add OLB Anthony Barr, the Jets are left with a gaping hole at outside linebacker.  Their 3-4 scheme is a perfect fit for Allen, who will fill a need and significantly boost the pass rush.  Allen totaled 17 sacks in his senior year at Kentucky, which nearly tops Nick Bosa’s college career total of 17.5.  The Jets have been rumored to trade down, but the outside linebacker class isn’t very deep.  They should take advantage of the 3rd overall pick here.

 

4.   With the 4th overall pick, the Oakland Raiders select…

Quinnen Williams

DT

Alabama

The Raiders have been linked to Ed Oliver frequently, and if Williams is taken Top 3, the Raiders should consider taking Oliver.  But if Williams is available, this pick is a no-brainer.  The Raiders still have a gaping hole at defensive tackle despite drafting Maurice Hurst in 2018.  Williams is one of the best prospects in this draft and should definitely fill that hole playing next to Hurst.  The Raiders could also snag ILB Devin White or CB Greedy Williams, but it would be smart to take Quinnen while he’s still available, and who knows, Greedy might still be available at #24.

 

5.  With the 5th overall pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…

Rashan Gary

DE

Michigan

Though the Bucs drafted Noah Spence a couple years back at this position, they would still benefit from drafting another edge rusher.  They have been linked frequently to Devin White since Kwon Alexander’s departure, but I don’t see it happening and trust Kendell Beckwith as the starting middle linebacker in his 3rd NFL season.  The Bucs also added Deone Bucannon, who can play on the outside or inside.  So rather than drafting a linebacker, they’ll draft Rashan Gary for additional d-line depth.

 

6.  NYG With the 6th overall pick, the New York Giants select…

Jonah Williams

T

Alabama

There has been a lot of Top 10 buzz surrounding T Jawaan Taylor, but I still think Williams, the Alabama product is the best o-lineman in this draft class.  The Giants finally released T Ereck Flowers in 2018, so Williams can start on the right side in Flowers’ former spot..  The G-men will stick with Nate Solder at left tackle for now.

 

7. JAX With the 7th overall pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars select…

Noah Fant

TE

Iowa

A lot of people have projected TE T.J. Hockenson in the Top 10, but the Jags are the only team I could see drafting a tight end in this Top 10.  My personal belief is that Fant is the better of the two Iowa TEs, and I have the Jags taking him over Jawaan Taylor or T.J. Hockenson.  The Jags don’t really need Jawaan Taylor even though they’ve been linked to him.  Though Hockenson outperformed Fant at the Combine, Fant has scored double the TDs Hockenson has scored in their final two years at Iowa.  With Fant off the board, Hockenson may fall to the latter portion of Round 1.

8.  With the 8th overall pick, the Detroit Lions select…

Montez Sweat

OLB

Mississippi State

If I were Detroit’s GM, I would be concerned about Sweat’s heart condition and consider Brian Burns instead.  But the Lions seem to like Sweat, who could fit in as a defensive end next to Trey Flowers or fill a gaping hole at outside linebacker.  Also, Sweat’s heart condition is not as concerning as DT Maurice Hurst’s.  Sweat’s was just noticed at the Combine, while Hurst couldn’t participate in the Combine at all.

 

9.   With the 9th overall pick, the Buffalo Bills select…

Brian Burns

OLB

Florida State

The Bills may like Ed Oliver as a prospect, but it’s too early to give up on 2018 2nd round pick Harrison Phillips at DT.  Instead, I have the Bills drafting someone on the outside in this defense-heavy draft.  This draft is flooded with elite edge rushers, and the Bills need help at both outside linebacker and defensive end.  Burns can help fill both of those needs, but they’ll need some pass rushers in the later rounds or free agents to support Burns.

 

10.  With the 10th overall pick, the Denver Broncos select…

Ed Oliver

DT

Houston

The Broncos could still use a QB despite upgrading in consecutive off-seasons.  Denver went from starting Trevor Siemian to starting Case Keenum to starting Joe Flacco in the span of two seasons.  But the Broncos don’t need a rookie QB in Round 1 as they should be able to trust Flacco as this year’s starter.  Plus, waiting will allow them to take advantage of the elite d-line class.  The Broncos have needed d-line help ever since Sylvester Williams left in free agency.  They could reunite with Williams, who is once again a free agent.  But if DT Ed Oliver is available at #10, it would be a no-brainer for Denver to take him.  In general, I feel that Denver should wait and see how the draft goes before making a move on any more free agents.

 

11.  With the 11th overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals select…

Dwayne Haskins

QB

Ohio State

Andy Dalton has definitely declined in the last few years, and he has been inconsistent throughout his career.  It’s a shame that the Bengals couldn’t hold onto A.J. McCarron as a backup.  But it’s time to move on and draft another QB.  They’ll have plenty of options here with Haskins, Drew Lock, and Daniel Jones all available.  But Haskins would be the best QB left on the board.  It’s easy to forget that he threw 50 TDs in 2018 alone at Ohio State, and he could learn a few things backing up Dalton.
12.  With the 12th overall pick, the Green Bay Packers select…

D.K. Metcalf

WR

Ole Miss

After dominance at the Combine, Metcalf has proven himself as the best receiver in this draft class.  People have overrated his Combine performance, but it’s not too crazy to mock him at #12.  This would be a smart pick for Green Bay, who would add a solid WR2 with WR1 potential.  Metcalf would not have as much pressure on him in Green Bay as he plays next to star WR Davante Adams.
13.   With the 13th overall pick, the Miami Dolphins select…

Drew Lock

QB

Missouri

The Dolphins weren’t smart to trade away Ryan Tannehill so soon, especially to the Titans, who didn’t need a starting QB.  Tannehill will be forced to battle with Marcus Mariota for a starting job.  Meanwhile, in Miami, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the best QB left on the roster.  He’s a respectable bridge QB, but he is not meant for a full time starting job.  The Dolphins should draft Lock behind Fitzy if Murray and Haskins are off the board.

 

14.  With the 14th overall pick, the Atlanta Falcons select…

Devin Bush

OLB

Michigan

With Vic Beasley in the 4-3 defensive end slot, Atlanta has a big hole at outside linebacker.  They don’t really need another edge rusher, but Bush is a quality outside linebacker who recorded 161 tackles and 10 sacks in his last two seasons combined at Michigan.  He can add depth to Atlanta’s defense, allowing Beasley to play defensive end full time.
15.  With the 15th overall pick, the Washington Redskins select…

Devin White

ILB

LSU

White falls to #15 since there are very few teams with a gaping hole at inside linebacker like Washington’s.  It’s very rare that linebackers of White’s ability level enter the draft, but unfortunately, there aren’t many teams in the Top 10 that need to draft someone like White.  He falls to the Redskins, who look to replace the released Zach Brown.  It’s a steal for the Redskins, who fill their #1 need in the 1st round.
16.  With the 16th overall pick, the Carolina Panthers select…

N’Keal Harry

WR

Arizona State

The Panthers may miss out on Metcalf if Green Bay or Washington drafts him.  But I think their need at WR is desperate enough for them to snag N’Keal Harry if Metcalf is drafted and Harry is still available.  They could also draft a tackle to replace Matt Kalil, and Cody Ford would be available.  But I think it’s more important for them to have a top line receiver than a top line tackle.

 

17. NYG With the 17th overall pick, the New York Giants select…

Clelin Ferrell

DE

Clemson

Ferrell doesn’t fit the Giants’ defensive scheme as well as some other prospects, but would fill a huge hole for New York and would be the best d-line prospect remaining by far.  Ferrell recorded 11.5 sacks last season, leading a stacked Clemson defense.  Hopefully, New York can adapt their defense to be favorable for prospects of different backgrounds, because they may need to start a lot of rookies on defense this season.

 

18.  With the 18th overall pick, the Minnesota Vikings select…

Christian Wilkins

DT

Clemson

Wilkins has been targeted by Tennessee aggressively.  Though the Vikings do need a defensive tackle to replace Sheldon Richardson, the Titans haven’t even thought about trying to trade up and could be left shocked if the Vikings snagged Wilkins one pick before them.  Defensive tackle is Minnesota’s top need in my eyes, so I’d have them taking Wilkins regardless of who was up next.  But preventing Tennessee from snagging him is an added bonus.

 

19.  With the 19th overall pick, the Tennessee Titans select…

Greedy Williams

CB

LSU

With Wilkins off the board, I have the Titans signing free agent DT Ndamukong Suh rather than reaching for a defensive tackle.  They will think about their other positional needs with this pick.  They could use another WR, and Kelvin Harmon would be available.  But if Greedy Williams is still available at #19, the Titans cannot pass up on him.  The Titans are deep at corner, but don’t really have a true #1 CB.  Greedy wouldn’t be their #1 right away.  He may even start on the bench as the #4 CB.  But he has the upside to eventually fill that #1 slot, which is what the Titans are looking for.

 

20.  With the 20th overall pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers select…

Cody Ford

T

Oklahoma

Nothing against Alejandro Villanueva, but it’s a problem if Villanueva’s the only viable starting tackle on a roster.  If the Steelers add Ford to the mix, they should be able to trust Ford and Villanueva as starters.  The Steelers will have to figure out which of the two pays left tackle, but with this pick, they at least fill the hole Marcus Gilbert left them with and draft their 2nd viable starting tackle.

 

21.  With the 21st overall pick, the Seattle Seahawks select…

Byron Murphy

CB

Washington

With S Earl Thomas out of Seattle, the Legion of Boom’s entire core has left Seattle’s active roster.  It’s time to begin rebuilding this secondary.  They already added Shaquill Griffin in the 2017 NFL Draft, but they still have a huge hole at safety and could use another CB.  There’s no safety in this draft class I would take #21, but Murphy would be a steal at #21.  Murphy caught 4 interceptions in his final year at Washington, which is more than any Seahawks current corner has caught in their entire career.

 

22.  With the 22nd overall pick, the Baltimore Ravens select…

Kelvin Harmon

WR

North Carolina State

The Ravens don’t really have a #1 receiver right now, so wide receiver is by far their biggest need.  Harmon posted back-to-back 1000 yard seasons at NC State.  He should quickly obtain the WR1 role playing alongside Willie Snead IV, Seth Roberts, Chris Moore, and others.  The Ravens may need to add another receiver later in the draft for depth, but the NC State product will at least help make the WR corps look respectable.

 

23. HOU With the 23rd overall pick, the Houston Texans select…

T.J. Hockenson

TE

Iowa

Houston has plenty of tight ends on the roster after adding Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins in 2018.  But there is no clear #1 TE, so tight end is still one of Houston’s biggest needs.  Hockenson should be better than any tight end on this Texans roster from Day 1, so it would be smart for Houston to draft him, especially at #23.

 

24.  With the 24th overall pick, the Oakland Raiders select…

DeAndre Baker

CB

Georgia

With Devin White off the board, Mack Wilson would be the top inside linebacker available here, and Wilson is not Round 1 material in my eyes.  It would be smarter for Oakland to take a corner here.  There are plenty of corners who are Round 1 material.  I’m not ready to trust Nick Nelson or Daryl Worley (who has off the field issues) as Oakland’s #2 corner.  Even Gareon Conley, Oakland’s #1 CB has off the field issues of his own.  Baker will provide stability to this secondary, and should eventually become the reliable #1 corner they have needed for a while.

 

25. TRADE ALERT (see details after pick #32): With the 25th overall pick,            the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…

Josh Jacobs

RB

Alabama

Tampa reportedly has significant interest in making Jacobs their starting RB, but with the Raiders interested in drafting Jacobs at #27, there’s no guarantee the Bucs can draft Jacobs unless they trade up and leapfrog the Raiders.  It might be smarter to trade with a team who picks before Oakland’s #24 pick, but I can’t see them taking a RB until #27, so I don’t know if that’s necessary.  If the Bucs miss out on Jacobs, they could always sign Jay Ajayi to be their new RB1, but Jacobs wouldn’t just give them a 2019 RB1.  Jacobs gives them long term stability at running back, where Tampa has had issues since Doug Martin (now a free agent) began to decline.  Jacobs rushed for 640 yards and 11 TD in just 120 attempts during his junior year at Alabama, where he played as a part of a committee alongside fellow draft prospect Damien Harris.  Imagine what Jacobs could do as a full time NFL starter.

 

26.  With the 26th overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts select…

Dexter Lawrence

DT

Clemson

The Colts will take another Clemson d-lineman here.  Cornerback is probably their #1 need this year, but the CB class is pretty deep, and they should be able to wait until the #34 pick they acquired from the Jets to draft a corner.  Their current d-line is made up of washed-up, borderline starters, so Lawrence will bring some livelihood to Indy’s front seven if they draft him.

 

27.  With the 27th overall pick, the Oakland Raiders select…

A.J. Brown

WR

Ole Miss

With Jacobs off the board, I have Oakland drafting A.J. Brown, a teammate of D.K. Metcalf who actually outperformed Metcalf at Ole Miss.  Even with Metcalf healthy all season in 2017, Brown totaled 1252 yards while Metcalf, then a redshirt freshman totaled just 646.  Metcalf will be drafted before Brown as his Combine performance and play style boost his draft stock.  The stats aren’t everything when it comes to NFL scouting.  But don’t discount Brown’s back to back 1000 yard seasons at Ole Miss.  He should still be a top 5 receiver off this draft board, and the Raiders could still use another WR for depth despite adding Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams.

 

28.  With the 28th overall pick, the Los Angeles Chargers select…

Jerry Tillery

DT

Notre Dame

The Chargers finally released injury prone DT Corey Liuget this off-season, but it would be smart to draft a young, healthy DT in Round 1, filling the hole Liuget left behind.  Tillery was a big contributor to Notre Dame’s dominant defense in 2018 as he led the team in sacks (7).  He would make a strong Chargers defense even stronger as he competes for a starting d-line job.

 

29. KC With the 29th overall pick, the Kansas City Chiefs select…

Garrett Bradbury

C

North Carolina State

Kansas City would have also benefitted from drafting Jacobs here, but there is no other RB I see as first round material, and they have a bigger hole at center anyway.  Bradbury should be able to fill this hole if they draft him.  Bradbury played parts of his college career at other positions (tight end, guard), but should fit in as a center in Kansas City.  If he wanted to go back to playing guard, the Chiefs could use some depth there as well.

 

30.  With the 30th overall pick, the Green Bay Packers select…

Deionte Thompson

S

Alabama

This year’s safety class wasn’t the greatest even before Thompson’s draft stock began to fall after an underwhelming Combine.  But I still see Thompson as the best safety in a weak class; the best of the worst.  I wouldn’t have a problem with safety-needy teams like Green Bay drafting Thompson later into Round 1.  The Alabama product caught 2 interceptions in his senior year.

 

31. LA With the 31st overall pick, the Los Angeles Rams select…

Dre’Mont Jones

DT

Ohio State

With Ndamukong Suh on the open market, the Rams will need a new defensive tackle to play next to Aaron Donald.  They could draft an interior offensive lineman here, but Bradbury is the only interior lineman I’d feel comfortable drafting in the first round.  Defensive tackle is LA’s next biggest need after Suh’s departure.  Only sophomore DE Chase Young had more tackles for a loss and sacks for Ohio State than Jones in 2018.  He could be a quality supplement to Donald in a strong Rams d-line.

 

32.  With the 32nd overall pick, the New England Patriots select…

Irv Smith Jr.

TE

Alabama

Fant and Hockenson may be off the board at #32, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins can fill in as New England’s starting tight end.  But I still think the Pats should draft their TE of the future in Round 1 after Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.  They could also go for WR Marquise Brown or DT Jeffery Simmons here, but the TE class is not as deep as the WR and d-line classes in this draft, so it’s important they draft one early.  Smith caught 44 balls for 710 yards and 7 TD in his final season at Alabama and in my eyes, he’s the best tight end on the board that wasn’t an Iowa Hawkeye.

 

TRADES:


 

TB acquires: 2019 1st rounder (#25)

PHI acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#39), 2019 5th rounder (#145)

 

NYG acquires: QB Josh Rosen

ARZ acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#37), 2020 4th rounder

 

(FOR PATRIOTS MOCK DRAFT BELOW)

NE acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#60)

LAC acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#64), 2019 6th rounder (#205)


 

Patriots Mock Draft (Rounds 2-7)

I will not be a sharing a full seven round NFL Mock Draft, but as a Patriots fan, I figured I’d share my later round Pats’ predictions.  I have them drafting TE Irv Smith Jr. at #32 (as seen above), but what will they do after that?  Read below to find out what I think:

I have the Pats drafting the QB of their future on Day 2 so he’s ready to start by the time Brady retires.  It will be easier to find viable starters at WR and in the d-line than at QB, and the WRs the Pats would be willing to draft here will probably already be off the board.

Winovich led the Wolverines in tackles for a loss (15.5) in 2018.  He should boost the New England pass rush and fit in New England’s 4-3 scheme after the release of Adrian Clayborn.

Jelks’ draft stock has fallen of late, but he is still a good third round investment for the Pats, who could seek an upgrade over Elandon Roberts and another linebacker in the mix in case the injury prone Dont’a Hightower misses time in 2019.  The Ducks installed a 4-3 defense in 2018, so Jelks should be used to New England’s 4-3 schemes.

Copeland will replace Malcom Brown, who left for the Saints via free agency.  He should   be able to compete for the starting job next to fellow DT Lawrence Guy.

Though he will be the last of the four Clemson 2018 starting d-lineman to be drafted, Bryant will add more depth to the Patriots d-line.  He will join Michael Bennett, Winovich, and Deatrich Wise Jr. on the Pats defensive end depth chart.

So long as he is healthy, Demaryius Thomas should serve in the WR2 role for the Pats.  But if Thomas is hurt and Josh Gordon remains suspended, the Pats are left with Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and who else?  That’s why they should still draft a receiver at some point.  However, they should be okay to wait till Day 3 due to the deep WR class.  Guys like Mitchell and DaMarkus Lodge should still be available come Round 4.

New England owns one of the best interior o-line trios in the league, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another guard for additional depth.  Ted Karras is their best backup at guard, but injuries are frequent in this league, and if Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason both get hurt, there could be a slot open for Gray.

.

A lot of times, Round 7 is solely about taking some of the better available options and adding depth to shallow positions.  Saunders would be drafted to add more depth at DT in case Copeland or Guy struggles.

One of New England’s biggest questions headed into 2019 is whether Isaiah Wynn can be trusted as Trent Brown’s replacement, especially after missing all of 2018 with an injury.  Frantz will provide New England with another option at tackle in case Wynn or Marcus Cannon isn’t doing his job.

This pick will add more depth to the WR corps if they keep Hardman on the roster.  Hardman will likely compete with 2018 late round pick Braxton Berrios for the #6 or #7 WR slot.  Matthew Slater will most likely remain on the roster for his special teams abilities though.


 

That’s all for my 2019 NFL Mock Draft. Stay tuned for Patriots draft grades and possibly other teams’ draft grades after the draft!  On a side note, New England’s schedule has come out.  I will be posting NFL Predictions and Pats Game-by-Game Predictions sometime before the season.

 

 

2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Welcome to the first article of my 2019 NFL free agency prediction series!  Today, I’ll be sharing my predictions for where offensive skill position players (QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs) end up signing.  Where will Le’Veon Bell be headed after a year away from football?  Where will Nick Foles find himself a starting job?  Keep reading to find out what I think, and you check out my tentative schedule for the entire series below.  In later articles, I will include links to the previously posted articles:

Image result for nfl logos

2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions

Series Schedule

Monday, March 4: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Wednesday, March 6: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 2: Linemen

Saturday, March 9: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 3: Linebackers and Defensive Backs

 

QB

In my eyes, Foles is the only viable starter that’s currently on the free agent market. Blake Bortles or Ryan Tannehill could eventually be released/traded, but for now, the choice is targeting Foles or waiting for the draft. Unlike other QB needy teams, the Jags could easily return to the playoffs with the right QB leading them. That being said, a veteran QB makes sense. The Giants, Redskins, and others will go for a combo of a rookie and a veteran mentor.

For Washington, Alex Smith will not be able to serve as a veteran mentor considering his severe knee injury in 2018. Colt McCoy isn’t a viable starter in my eyes either. However, Teddy Bridgewater is a free agent who has experience starting, so he could serve as Washington’s bridge starter (no pun intended) until their young QB, whether it be Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, or someone else, has time to develop.

The Bucs and Dolphins will also be on the lookout for veteran backups. Look for them to resign their 2018 backup QBs, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brock Osweiler. The Bills could also use some depth at QB behind Josh Allen, so bringing back their former QB, Tyrod Taylor, could be smart.

That would leave Josh McCown as the best free agent QB left. I have him going to LA to backup Philip Rivers until they draft Rivers’ successor.

RB

Viable Starters

Bell might be the best player on the open market in a long time. The Steelers refused to pay him what he wanted. But who will be up to pay him? He reportedly wants $25 million annually. I don’t think anyone will give him that, but I think he’d settle for $20 million/year if he ever wants to play again. If the Eagles free up enough cap between Foles’ departure and a release or two, they will be willing to pay for him for some answers at RB. Right now, they have a surplus of RBs, but no clear cut starter.

I see Ajayi, Philly’s last starting RB, leading a refined RB committee in Tampa. Expect an aging Adrian Peterson to do the same in Indianapolis. On the contrary, Ingram and Coleman will leave RB committees to become full time starters on RB needy teams. Coleman will replace Kareem Hunt, while Ingram will replace Marshawn Lynch (I see him retiring). The Ravens’ backfield is getting pretty crowded after the emergence of Gus Edwards, but I think Alex Collins will wind up back in Baltimore.

RB2 Options

The 49ers may have Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida at RB, but a veteran mentor like 3-time Super Bowl champion LeGarrette Blount could be helpful if they resort to an RB committee.  Yeldon will serve a similar role in Green Bay, playing alongside young RBs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.  The Steelers could also use a veteran in their backfield behind new starter James Conner, and I think Martin could be a good fit.  Despite leading the Rams in the playoffs, Anderson may have to settle for a backup/committee role as well.  He could be a good replacement for Coleman in Atlanta.  Murray was successful in Minnesota, and there’s room for him in the backfield, so I see him coming back.  With Coleman headed to Kansas City, the Chiefs will move on from Spencer Ware as he heads to Dallas to backup Ezekiel Elliott.

WR/TE

Top Tier WRs

Sam Darnold showed flashes of talent in his rookie year.  I think a better RB and a #1 receiver could make all the difference for him.  They should chase after Tate aggressively if they cannot land Antonio Brown (I have him going to San Fran).  Bryant barely played last year, but he still could serve as a WR1.  The Bills could be a fit, but if they pass up on Bryant, they could also take D.K. Metcalf in Round 1 of the draft.

Cobb looks to be leaving Green Bay, and the Steelers may seek depth options at receiver after Antonio Brown leaves.  Cobb could be a fit to play across from JuJu Smith-Schuster.  The Lions have no clear cut WR1 after Tate’s departure, but if they sign a lower tier option like John Brown, Matthew Stafford could look evenly split targets among Brown, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay.

Moncrief and Wallace aren’t viable #1 receivers at this point, but they could still be a big help for WR needy teams.  Moncrief could be a good option for the Pats, rather than overspending for Golden Tate.  I have Wallace returning to the Eagles to play alongside Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.  This trio never played together despite being lined up as Philly’s top 3 receivers on the depth chart in 2018 training camp.

WR Depth Options

The Bills need more than just Bryant or Metcalf – maybe they can pair up Bryant with Beasley, his former teammate.  The Ravens could also use some more depth at WR.  Funchess isn’t a top tier option, but if they cannot land or draft someone top tier, he will have to do.  Maybe they can pair Funchess with a rookie WR1.  The Chiefs may not bring in anyone new, but they could bring back Conley to play behind Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.

The Colts could use some more experienced options across from T.Y. Hilton – Matthews could be a good choice.  They could always draft someone to split time as the #2 receiver with him.  Williams upped his value this season, but I still cannot see many teams paying him WR1 money.  The Jets could use another depth option behind Tate, especially if Robby Anderson leaves.  The Patriots need all the quality WRs they can afford, so Dorsett could be a good option to bring back considering his developing chemistry with Tom Brady.

Top Tier TEs

Eifert has a concerning injury history, and I think it’s time for Cincinnati to move on.  But Detroit could pair him with a drafted TE to ensure security at the position.  Kroft will return to Cincy with Eifert on his way out.  Kroft will return to Cincy with Eifert on his way out.  The Saints could also use a veteran TE alongside the young Dan Arnold, and Cook might be the most consistent veteran on the market.  It would be smart for the Texans to target Noah Fant or T.J. Hockenson in the draft, but signing a veteran in the meantime couldn’t hurt, and James could be a good mentor for their new TE.

Lewis and Rodgers are not cut out to be a team’s #1 tight end at this point.  But they can provide depth as a TE2, with Lewis backing up Vance McDonald and Rodgers backing up Chris Herndon IV.

WR/TE Depth Options

Darnold needs more consistent receivers, so I could see the Jets moving on from Robby Anderson.  Anderson could be a good depth piece in Cleveland, serving as the WR2 over Antonio Callaway.  Humphries is also going into free agency expecting WR2 money.  But I think he will have to settle for a little less, and if his price drops, the Pats may be willing to pay for him for additional depth.  He is a good fit in New England.  Despite a disappointing 2018, I could still see Benjamin contributing behind Davante Adams in Green Bay.  They’ll need to draft a younger receiver to play alongside them though.

If the Lions sign anyone else at TE besides Eifert, I don’t think it will be their 2018 tight end Luke Willson.  Josh Hill has a slightly better track record and could be a good bargain for the Lions.  I see Willson returning to Seattle to compete for playing time with Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, and others.  Kendricks was the most consistent of Green Bay’s tight ends this year, so look for them to retain him alongside Jimmy Graham.

 

Wow, that’s a lot of quality free agents.  The madness will begin in a little over a week.  Stay tuned for more predictions later in the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 NFL Week 13 Picks & Previews: Lots of Crucial Divisional Matchups Occur

Welcome to my NFL Week 13 picks and previews.  Last week, I went 11-4, putting my overall record at 96-78-2 (96-79-2 including Week 13 TNF).  I am still ahead of 1 CBS Sports expert. This week, a lot of divisional matchups occur, with many of them having playoff implications.  The Eagles and Redskins play for 2nd place in the NFC East, and the loser may be knocked out of contention. The Colts visit Jacksonville hoping to increase their chances at a wild card spot.  Who will win these divisional games? Keep reading to find out what I think, and feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

Look for dominance from the Rams defense in the first shutout of the NFL season.  The revamped duo of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters won’t give up anything to Detroit’s depleted WR corps, and DT Aaron Donald and company will shut down QB Matthew Stafford and the run game.  The Rams will not need more than a couple touchdowns for a Rams clinic victory thanks to the strong defense. Meanwhile, The Lions will begin to miss RB Kerryon Johnson and WRs Golden Tate and Marvin Jones in a shutout loss.  

Upset of the Week

The Panthers are coming off two frustrating last-minute losses, and the Buccaneers are coming off a much-needed victory.  Look for QB Jameis Winston to ride the momentum and put up his best performance yet against Carolina. The Bucs D will still give up plenty to QB Cam Newton and his versatile offensive core.  But a 3 or 4 TD game from Winston should be enough for the Buccaneers to pull the upset.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night; Actual Score: 13-10 Cowboys)

QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense will be slowed down significantly by the improving New Orleans defense.  Meanwhile, QB Drew Brees and WR Michael Thomas will lead the Saints to victory despite the Dallas defense’s shut down of the Saints RB duo.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for Miami to hold on for a home victory against a young Bills defense that is not great but can be pesky at times.  QB Ryan Tannehill will lead the Dolphins here, even without WR Danny Amendola. QB Josh Allen and his offense will perform better than they usually do, but expect them to just fall short in Miami against a mediocre, but not putrid Dolphins defense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for the Atlanta defense to step it up against rookie QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, especially with RB Alex Collins on IR.  QB Matt Ryan won’t have an amazing game against this strong Baltimore D, but it will be enough thanks to the improving Falcons defense.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Broncos will ride the momentum to a third straight win as the defense dominates against a banged-up Cincinnati pass offense that will miss QB Andy Dalton, especially since WR A.J. Green is not 100%.  The Broncos will be alright offensively without TE Jeff Heuerman, as QB Case Keenum finally begins to rely on his receivers more in the Denver victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect QB Deshaun Watson to put up another strong game against the inexperienced Browns defense.  Meanwhile, the Texans D will do a respectable job in shutting down QB Baker Mayfield and this young Browns offensive core.  The Texans will win triumphantly as they play strong football all around.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect the Jaguars to win by a surprisingly large margin as they host the Colts.  They came close in Indy, so I expect a win in Jacksonville. QB Cody Kessler will also help the Jags improve as he outperforms QB Blake Bortles.  QB Andrew Luck and his receivers will struggle to handle the Jags strong D, but they’ll still manage to score a couple TDs.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Eli Manning will have to dig into New York’s WR depth here to even score a TD against this improving Chicago defense.  The Giants’ experienced defense will limit the QB Chase Daniel-led Bears offense, but Daniel will still throw multiple TDs in the victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Packers should manage to win at home here, but as they nearly blow it, the “fire Mike McCarthy” campaign will just get louder.  QB Aaron Rodgers will rely on his younger receivers as they just barely get by the Cardinals. QB Josh Rosen will find his receivers more easily against a struggling Green Bay secondary, but it won’t quite be enough.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

QB Josh McCown should struggle regressively as his receivers are out done by a Titans secondary that is no more than average.  This will highlight the Jets’ flaws as the Titans win by multiple TD. A strong all-around offensive game as well as a clutch defensive performance will help Tennessee in the home win.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

The Chiefs won’t be at full strength after the release of RB Kareem Hunt.  But QB Patrick Mahomes II will still lead the Chiefs to victory though, with 3 TD and 0 INT.  The Raiders will come close though as QB Derek Carr relies on his younger receivers (since WR Jordy Nelson is struggling).
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

Neither offense will be up to full speed here as both defenses thrive.  But QB Tom Brady will lead the Pats to get by at home as he uses his WR depth, something New England has at full health.  The Vikings will make this close, led by QB Kirk Cousins and his receivers.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

The Seahawks will be able to get by here, but the 49ers will come close to an upset and play the better all around game, as young QB Nick Mullens throws multiple TD against the young Seattle D.  The Seahawks, however, will find a way to win thanks to veteran QB Russell Wilson.
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

The Steelers offense will look good here, as QB Ben Roethlisberger tosses multiple TD.  But even without RB Melvin Gordon, QB Philip Rivers and his deep WR corps will be too much for the Pittsburgh D to handle as they outperform the Steelers significantly.  The Chargers will be able to handle Pittsburgh’s offense a little easier, helping their case in a road primetime victory, handing the Steelers their second straight loss.
Sunday, 8:15 PM EST

Expect the Eagles to win in a shootout thanks to the strong game by QB Carson Wentz and his receivers.  QB Colt McCoy will outperform his expectations though, tossing multiple TD and making this close. But the Eagles will still get past McCoy’s Redskins as their run game thrives in addition to the pass offense.

That’s all for today’s picks.  Stay tuned for more posts soon, including Part 3 of my MLB free agent predictions.

 

2018 NFL Week 12 Picks & Previews: Contenders Arise

Welcome to my Week 12 NFL Picks and Previews.  On Thanksgiving Day, I went 3-0, putting my overall record at 88-74-2.  However, I am still only ahead of 1 expert from CBS Sports, and none from ESPN.  This week, I think we will see the biggest contenders besides the Rams and Chiefs (who both take a bye after last week’s shootout) will rise to the top with victories this week.  Meanwhile, teams that had snuck into the playoff picture despite an underwhelming season will fall. With the playoffs approaching, this week it will begin to become clear who’s really here to stay.

Lock of the Week

Look for the Panthers to shut down Seattle’s run game here.  This will put a lot on QB Russell Wilson and his receivers, and I don’t think they’ll put up enough for Seattle to make this close in Carolina.  They will fail to step it up in the place of the run game. Meanwhile, QB Cam Newton and his receivers will be all over the Seahawks’ young secondary as Carolina dominates in a blowout victory.

Upset of the Week

The return of QB Ryan Tannehill will give the Dolphins offense a big boost.  Expect Tannehill to throw multiple TDs and shock the Colts in Indy.  The Colts will make it close thanks to dominance by the combo of QB Andrew Luck and WR T.Y. Hilton.  But the Colts will fall short against Miami’s revamped offense, and the weak defensive game will not help matters.

The Other Games

Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect the Jets young, but underrated defense to limit the abilities of QB Tom Brady and his offense.  But the Patriots should find a way to score in New York. Meanwhile, Jets QB Josh McCown will struggle regressively against an improved New England defense.  This will lead to a Patriots blowout victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Jaguars D will get back on task in Buffalo, holding QB Josh Allen and the Bills to just 1 TD.  Meanwhile, QB Blake Bortles will improve against a mediocre Bills defense, throwing 2+ TD. This will lead to a Jaguars road win in a surprisingly easy game.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Lamar Jackson will thrive again here, utilizing Baltimore’s strong run game and tossing multiple TD.  The Ravens will struggle to win the turnover battle against an Oakland D that has forced a surprising number of turnovers.  But the Ravens will come out on top after a very strong offensive game and another clutch defensive performance.  Expect the Ravens to hold the new-look Raiders offense under 20 in the victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for QB Andy Dalton and his receivers to find a way here without WR A.J. Green.  The Browns offense will look alright, but I don’t see it being enough against the stingy Bengals D.  This will allow Cincy to prevail despite an underwhelming offensive game.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect a big game from QB Carson Wentz as he throws 3 TD against a washed-up Giants D.  Giants QB Eli Manning should continue his multi-TD game streak here and look better than usual.  But it won’t be enough against the high-powered Philly offense. The Eagles’ hopes of winning the division will be restored in this divisional victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for the Bucs to catch a break at home against the Jimmy Garoppolo-less Niners.  The Tampa Bay run game could look surprisingly strong against San Francisco’s young defense.  If not, QB Jameis Winston will perform better than QB Ryan Fitzpatrick did. It won’t be perfection, but it would be enough for the Bucs victory.  QB Nick Mullens and his receivers will make this close against a struggling Bucs D, but it won’t be enough against the strong Buccaneers offense.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

Look for a surprisingly low scoring game here despite a battle of two strong offenses.  Both defenses will thrive in the red zone, as only 4 total TDs are scored in 10+ opportunities.  QB Josh Rosen and RB David Johnson will lead a strong Arizona offense, but expect them to fall short against QB Philip Rivers and the high-powered Chargers offense.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

The Denver offense may struggle after the Demaryius Thomas trade.  But the Broncos defense will make up for it, silencing Pittsburgh’s typically dominant offense by holding them TD-less in Denver.  The Steelers will continue to miss RB Le’Veon Bell after a tough loss in Denver.
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

Against a strong Vikes secondary, QB Aaron Rodgers will struggle to find his receivers, especially with TE Jimmy Graham injured.  Expect a Vikings victory thanks to the strong defense as well as a strong, multi-TD game by QB Kirk Cousins. This will cause the Packers to begin worrying that their wrath in the NFC North is over.
Monday, 8:15 PM EST

Expect QB Deshaun Watson to utilize his newfound WR duo in a home victory.  The young Tennessee defense will do a good job imitating Houston’s shut down D, but they won’t quite get up to Houston’s level.  The Texans will come out victorious in primetime as they play complimentary football.

That’s all for my picks this week.  Stay tuned for more posts soon, including Part 2 of my MLB free agency predictions.

2018 NFL Midseason Report: Who’s Contending and Who’s Pretending

Welcome to my 2018 NFL Midseason Report.  Today, I will show you my Power Rankings for the first half of the 2018 season and show you my revised season predictions.  Comment below with your midseason Super Bowl prediction and keep reading to find out mine.

Part I: Updated NFL Power Rankings (Posted to Instagram Earlier this Week)

Note: Jaguars should say 3-5, not 5-3; otherwise records are as of 11/7.

Before the season, I was not that confident in the Chiefs, Saints, or Rams.  But all three have lost just one game in the first nine weeks, so I couldn’t disregard that fact.  They all rank Top 4 here, alongside the Patriots, who are riding a 5-game win streak and have dominated offensively week after week since WR Josh Gordon joined the team.  I base these Power Rankings not just on performance so far, but ability to continue to thrive, the Pats clearly have that ability.

The Chargers, Panthers, Texans, and Vikings have also been off to strong starts.  The Texans started the season 0-3, but have been able to overcome the slow start and win six straight.  The Vikings’ record isn’t looking as good as we expected, but their early-season schedule was very difficult.  Things should be smooth sailing from here.  The Vikes really only had one disappointing loss, and that was to the Bills in one crazy game.  The Vikings have not let one embarrassing loss derail them.

In the middle of the pack, you’ll see teams like the Steelers (started slow but have picked up the pace), Bengals, Bears, and Redskins (who surprised early), and teams like the Packers, Eagles, Titans, Falcons, and Jaguars.  They have been off to shaky starts, but I expect them to rebound, especially Philly, who does not have that difficult of a schedule remaining.  The Eagles and Vikings, last year’s NFC Championship opponents, have struggled early thanks to a tough schedule, but should rebound from it.  I could even see them pulling upsets to meet in the NFC Championship again.

The Ravens, Dolphins, Buccaneers, and Broncos are on a down-trend and fall just below this middle group.  The Seahawks, Lions, and Cowboys have rode easy schedules to early success, so don’t expect much more from them.  I see the down-trending teams as far better than this group.  At the bottom, we have the teams that are likely out of contention: the Cardinals, Browns, Colts, Bills, Raiders, Giants, and 49ers.  These teams have really struggled early and it will be hard for them to rebound.  The Colts may be 3-5, but their wins came against the Raiders, Bills, and Redskins.  That’s not a very impressive resume.

Part II: Updated Season Predictions

AFC East

  1. new_england_patriots New England Patriots (13-3, 1st Seed in AFC)
  2. Dolphins-logo Miami Dolphins (8-8)
  3. Jets-Logo New York Jets (5-11)
  4. Buffalo_Bills Buffalo Bills (3-13)

They may have started 1-2, but the Patriots have been dominant since Week 4’s match-up against Miami.  They should keep on rolling and finish with a 13-3 or 12-4 record, only losing 1-2 more games thanks to offensive dominance.  The Dolphins may have started strong, but they should level off now that QB Ryan Tannehill has been hurt for several weeks and their win streak is over.  This offense is good but they cannot compete with the top teams in the AFC.  QB Sam Darnold and the Jets should win a couple more games, but the injuries they’ve sustained will prevent them from making any kind of playoff run.  I don’t see the Bills improving much consdering the QB situation they are in.

AFC North

  1. pittsburgh-steelers Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1, 4th Seed in AFC)
  2. cincinnati-bengals Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)
  3. Baltimore_Ravens_Logo Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
  4. cleveland-browns-brown Cleveland Browns (3-12-1)

The Steelers should end up winning the division, but they won’t be the playoff powerhouse they usually are if RB Le’Veon Bell keeps holding out.  They may manage to make it this year, but could this be the beginning of the end of the Steelers?  The Bengals and Ravens have had decent seasons and are knocking on Pittsburgh’s door.  Meanwhile, the Browns are still not very good, but they’ve clearly improved from last season and could be on the rise in years to come.

AFC South

  1. hou-texans Houston Texans (12-4, 2nd Seed in AFC)
  2. jacksonvile-jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6, 6th Seed in AFC)
  3. tennessee-titans. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
  4. indianapolis-colts Indianapolis Colts (3-13)

The Texans may have started off slow, but they had a very tough early schedule, and the season only gets easier from here.  They should cruise into a Top 3 playoff spot.  The Jaguars struggled without RB Leonard Fournette, but I think Fournette’s return should make a difference as the Jags rebound and snag a Wild Card.  The Titans aren’t quite as good as they were in 2017, but should still compete for a playoff spot.  If I’m wrong about Jacksonville, the Titans may sneak in to the playoffs.  The Colts should not win many more games with one of the worst defenses in the league.  They’ve only beat one team above .500, and QB Andrew Luck may lead them to another victory or two, but no more than that.

AFC West

  1. kansas-city-chiefs-logo Kansas City Chiefs (12-4, 3rd Seed in AFC)
  2. San_Diego_Chargers Los Angeles Chargers (12-4, 5th Seed in AFC)
  3. denver-broncos-logo Denver Broncos (8-8)
  4. oakland-raiders Oakland Raiders (3-13)

The Chiefs have dominated offensively thanks to the breakout of QB Patrick Mahomes II.  Alex Smith left Mahomes with a strong offensive core surrounding him, so the Chiefs should keep rolling.  However, the Chiefs have been known for late season plummets and chokes after strong starts.  Something tells me their inconsistent defense is going to cost them late in the season.  The Chargers may catch up; they’ve only lost to Kansas City and the Rams so far, and it’s hard to beat the same team twice.  Denver has looked alright so far with Case Keenum at QB, and the improved offense and strong defense should lead them to a smooth sailing 2nd half.  However, I’ve lost hope in the Raiders at this point.  Jon Gruden is a good coach.  The Raiders just need some defensive talent and a better QB.  That won’t come before the end of 2018.

NFC East

  1. philadelphia-eagles-logo Philadelphia Eagles (10-6, 4th Seed in NFC)
  2. washingtonredskins2 Washington Redskins (6-10)
  3. dalcowboyslogonew Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
  4. new-york-giants-logo New York Giants (4-12)

Look for QB Carson Wentz and the Eagles to dominate the second half.  The Golden Tate trade was a good move, and that will help them jump right back into contention, especially considering their easier 2nd half schedule.  They may face the Saints and Rams, but don’t have any other tough match-ups.  The Redskins, on the other hand, don’t have it so easy.  They’ll face the Texans, Jaguars, and Titans down the road.  The Cowboys will improve after the Amari Cooper trade, but I don’t see it being enough.  The Giants should win a few more games, as I expect QB Eli Manning to improve slightly in the 2nd half.  But they aren’t going anywhere in the NFC East.

NFC North

  1. min-vikings-logo2 Minnesota Vikings (11-4-1, 3rd Seed in NFC)
  2. gbpackers2 Green Bay Packers (10-5-1, 5th Seed in NFC)
  3. chicago-bears-logo Chicago Bears (7-9)
  4. Related image Detroit Lions (5-11)

The Vikes had a tough schedule early on, but the Patriots are their only remaining opponent with a current record above .500.  Things should be smooth sailing from here, especially with RB Dalvin Cook back.  The Packers should also make the playoffs.  I cannot imagine a healthy Aaron Rodgers missing the playoffs, even with the lack of talent around him.  The Bears still face the Vikings twice and the Packers and Rams once each, so I could see them fall out of the playoff picture.  I don’t see the Lions winning many more games either after giving up WR Golden Tate.  They’re an okay team, but they need defensive help and they play in such a tough division.

NFC South

  1. nosaints New Orleans Saints (13-3, 1st Seed in NFC)
  2. carolina-panthers-logo Carolina Panthers (10-6, 6th Seed in NFC)
  3. tampabaybuccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
  4. atlfalcons Atlanta Falcons (8-8)

The Saints have been off to a strong start.  They added Eli Apple on defense, and they may have a lack of offensive depth, but Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and Michael Thomas alone have led them to a strong season.  Carolina should put up a fight for the division as well.  Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey have dominated, and the defense has definitely improved despite giving up 52 points to the Steelers.  The Bucs might be out of contention, but they do look better than before.  They have a deep offense and a young, rising defense that should help them turn it around in the 2nd half.  In this tough division, the Falcons will fall behind.  They are dominant offensively but the defense has been painfully inconsistent.

NFC West

  1. Related image Los Angeles Rams (13-3, 2nd Seed in NFC)
  2. seattle-seahawks Seattle Seahawks (6-10)
  3. az-cards Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
  4. sf-49ers San Francisco 49ers (5-11)

Until their loss in New Orleans, the Rams were undefeated.  So I’ll admit I was wrong about the Rams being overrated.  I was also vastly wrong about the Cardinals.  They clearly have potential, but QB Josh Rosen needs a couple years to develop.  Maybe he’ll have a second-year breakout like Jared Goff did.  The Seahawks have been alright so far, but they should also plummet due to a difficult upcoming schedule.  The Niners are likely also out of it now that QB Jimmy Garoppolo is done for the year.  But QB Nick Mullens should win them a few more games.

Playoff Predictions

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I could see a lot of upsets in these playoffs.  Look for the Eagles and Vikings to make runs despite rough starts.  In the AFC, I think the Pats will see the Chargers in the Championship game.  I think the Chiefs will be upset by Jacksonville in the first round.  I think it will be a Patriots-Vikings Super Bowl, with the Pats winning in the end.

That’s all for my NFL Midseason Report.  Stay tuned for more news soon.

 

2018 NFL Week 9 Picks & Previews: Contenders Keep Going with Close Wins

Welcome to my Week 9 NFL Picks & Previews.  Last week I went 7-7, putting my overall record at 68-51-2 (69-51-2 including Week 9 TNF).  I am ahead of 3 ESPN experts and 1 CBS Sports expert.  Look for a lot of the borderline contenders to prove themselves this week with important wins.  I think the Ravens will shut down the Steelers for the 2nd time this year, the Vikings will silence the Lions, and the Chargers will dominate the 4-3 Seahawks coming off the bye week.  The Chargers had put a 4-game win streak together prior to the bye.  Although some of these contenders will win, some will be upset. Who will fall in a shocking upset?  Who will remain elite?  Keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

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Expect LA’s explosive offense to embarrass the young Seattle D in a blowout.  With WR Brandon Marshall a free agent, QB Russell Wilson will also struggle to find reliable open men.  Meanwhile, QB Philip Rivers will lead the Chargers to a blowout victory with 4+ TD.  

Upset of the Week

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I don’t think WR Amari Cooper will make much of a difference for QB Dak Prescott and the troubled Dallas pass offense.  Their big week against Jacksonville is a sign of big things to come, but it won’t happen this week as Tennessee’s secondary steps it up.  The Titans will bounce back from a rough October with a triumphant Monday Night victory coming off the bye as they shock the Cowboys in their first home loss of the season.  

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter on Thursday Night; Actual Score: 34-3 49ers)

img_2250

 

Even with their third-string QB starting, I think this young 49ers offense can put together a big game considering how bad the Oakland D has been without DE Khalil Mack.  Oakland’s season will begin to fall apart despite looking okay on offense.  I don’t think they will win many more games with RB Marshawn Lynch out and WR Amari Cooper gone.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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QB Brock Osweiler somehow led for the Dolphins to victory in Week 7.  But I don’t see him winning against the Jets elite secondary.  Expect multiple interceptions here, even on Osweiler’s home turf.  QB Sam Darnold will step it up to secure a Jets victory on the road.  QB Ryan Tannehill spoiled New York’s home opener.  Darnold will look for revenge with Tannehill injured for the third straight game.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

img_2265

Look for Chicago’s defense to lead them to victory against another banged-up AFC East team in the Bills.  Buffalo will have to settle for Nathan Peterman at QB, although they did add another weapon in Terrelle Pryor Jr. for him.  I think Peterman will look better than usual and make this close, but there’s no way he leads the Bills to victory against this Bears defense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Pittsburgh was starting to look alright without RB Le’Veon Bell.  But there’s no way they get past this versatile Ravens run defense without their star running back.  This will make it hard for Pittsburgh to outscore Baltimore.  I don’t see the Steelers defense performing any better than usual against this deep Ravens receiving corps.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Against a rebuilding Browns defense, QB Patrick Mahomes II should be dominant as usual.  I could even see him throwing 4 TD in this game. The Chiefs defense will slip a little against QB Baker Mayfield and an improved Cleveland offense, but Mahomes’ field day will be enough for them here.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

img_2268

Look for the Redskins to play complimentary football here in an all-around strong game.  They will utilize their versatile roster as they win at home. Atlanta’s washed-up defense will also struggle to contain QB Alex Smith’s deep receiving corps.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

img_2269

Look for serious regression from Detroit’s offense as they face one of the league’s best defenses without WR Golden Tate.  I have the Vikes holding them under 10 here. QB Kirk Cousins and his receivers won’t look much better, but they should manage to get by.  Don’t expect many more losses by the Vikes either. With RB Dalvin Cook healthy, things should be smooth sailing.  They’ve really only had one concerning loss this whole season.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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QB Cam Newton and the Panthers offense should ride the momentum they gathered in Week 8 to beat the Bucs in Carolina.  They should not be concerned about facing a Buccaneers D that has struggled all season. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will not be enough to lead Tampa to victory here as Carolina shuts down Tampa’s run game.  That puts a lot of pressure on Fitzpatrick, which could cause him to struggle.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

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Houston will struggle offensively, as WR Demaryius Thomas doesn’t provide much of an upgrade over WR Will Fuller.  Plus, Denver’s secondary knows Thomas very well and will be able to shut him down. The Broncos will edge out a victory in a low scoring game as WR Courtland Sutton steps it up with Thomas flipping sides.  Don’t expect much scoring though. This is a battle of two of the AFC’s best defenses.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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The Rams will stay undefeated with a road win over New Orleans.  Their elite defense will come ready to shut down QB Drew Brees, RB Alvin Kamara and the Saints offense.  Even with WR Cooper Kupp back, the Rams won’t be at full speed on offense. But they should get past the Saints thanks to elite defense and a last minute, victory-securing TD.  
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

img_2273

If RB Sony Michel and TE Rob Gronkowski are healthy, this will be a blowout.  Otherwise, it could be close.  QB Aaron Rodgers will struggle to find open men here, as the Patriots secondary will keep Rodgers’ small number of dependable receivers well covered.  The Pats offense will be back to dominance if they have Gronk and Michel.  But after New England’s hiccup without them last week, I don’t think the offense would be the same without them.  I think they will be able to play, but I’m not an injury expert. Either way, New England should win and remain undefeated at home.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for more NFL posts soon, including my mid-season report (I usually post it after Week 8, but have delayed it until after Week 9 to the chaotic playoff picture we have right now).  Hopefully, Week 9 will settle some things.

2018 NFL Week 8 Picks & Previews: Could be Exciting Sunday with Many Close Games

Welcome to my NFL Week 8 Picks and Previews.  Last week I went 8-6, putting my overall record at 61-44-2 (62-44-2 including Week 8 TNF).  I’m hoping for at least 9 or 10 wins this week to get ahead of the ESPN and CBS Sports experts I am trying to compete with.  I am ahead of just 1 expert from each website.  This week, expect a lot of close, exciting games.  Even Vegas is predicting this, as many of their NFL point spreads this week are under 4.  But with lots of close games comes lots of surprises.  Who will pull a shocking upset?  Who will stand strong and win as expected?  Read below to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week (MNF)

Stay tuned for a potential video preview closer to the game!

There are not many locks this week, but the Patriots should be able to take down the QB Josh Allen-less Bills with ease.  It doesn’t matter if it’s in Buffalo, and it doesn’t matter that it’s Monday Night Football.  Expect QB Tom Brady and the Pats to dominate here, taking an early lead and running with it.  The Patriots defense isn’t going to go from shaky to shut down in a week, but it should hold a struggling, banged-up Bills offense to 20 or less points. One thing this offense does have on the New England is a strong run game.  New England has continued to struggle against strong run games this year.  But I don’t expect much else from the Bills offense, and the Pats should end up winning by 10 or more.

Upset of the Week

This would be a shocker given Kansas City’s performance in Denver and Denver’s tendency to perform far better at home.  But it’s hard to beat the same team twice, especially when they are riding the momentum of a 45-10 victory including a spectacular defensive game.  I understand that it was the Cardinals, but momentum is momentum. Thanks to this momentum, I think Denver’s D will do surprisingly well in stopping Kansas City’s dominant offense.  This all-offense Chiefs team will struggle against a Broncos offense that has improved from 2017. TE Travis Kelce will catch Kansas City’s lone TD as the rest of the offense is overwhelmed by the Denver D in an upsetting loss.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night)

Expect a low scoring game as the Texans shut down defense overwhelms QB Brock Osweiler and the young Miami pass offense.  Expect the Dolphins backfield to struggle as well, with Houston’s defense holding them under 50 yards combined. I don’t see the Texans dominating on offense, but it will be enough thanks to a strong game by WR DeAndre Hopkins and the front seven’s performance.
Sunday, 9:30 AM EST (Posted to Twitter before the game)

I don’t think Jacksonville’s defense will look as sharp as usual in London, especially after 4 Jaguars defenders were arrested last night.  But they will improve from the surprising struggles of the last couple weeks.  Look for QB Blake Bortles to regroup and rebound after being replaced last week, leading the Jags to a surprising London victory.  But Philly should keep it close with strong run defense against the troubled Jags run game.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

In this battle of two of the league’s rising defenses, don’t expect much from either young QB.  QB Mitch Trubisky and his receivers will put up a dud against New York’s amazing secondary. But the Jets offense won’t be looking any better with RB Bilal Powell and most of their best receivers hurt.  Chicago’s defense should come up clutch, holding the Jets under 10 and saving Chicago the game.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Browns tied the Steelers in Cleveland, but don’t expect as close a game in Pittsburgh.  The Steelers will make up for RB Le’Veon Bell’s continued absence with a dominant day by WRs Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.  Pittsburgh’s D should also appear surprisingly better, holding the Browns young offense under 20.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for QB Jameis Winston and his TE duo to lead Tampa to victory against a Bengals defense left with holes after losses in free agency.  QB Andy Dalton and his receivers should make this close, but the defensive problems will begin to stab them in the back. The Bucs will win on the road thanks to another big day on offense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect a strong game out of QB Cam Newton and the Panthers offense.  But the Ravens versatile defense should slow them down significantly.  However, Baltimore’s receivers will still struggle to keep up as Newton’s multi-TD game is enough to lead Carolina to victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

 

I know most people would call me crazy for expecting 34 points out of the Giants.  But this is a team that beat the 5-3 Houston Texans.  I don’t think the G-Men are really as bad as they seem.  Even the GM has given up.  But I think the Giants will turn it around and win a few games before the season ends.  They have a talented, star-studded offense.  All they need is a QB who can manage that.  If QB Eli Manning cannot, maybe another QB on the roster is the answer.  WR Odell Beckham Jr. will be kept busy against CB Josh Norman, but you can expect strong games out of RB Saquon Barkley and New York’s other offensive weapons. The Redskins will make this close with a clutch offensive performance, but I have them falling just short.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for Matt Patricia’s Lions to win another one on home turf as they begin to look like legitimate contenders.  The Seahawks should be able to overwhelm the Lions D, one of Detroit’s biggest flaws this year.  But QB Matthew Stafford’s 3 TD game should be enough for a Lions home victory.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

The Colts should make this close with a surprisingly strong offensive performance led by QB Andrew Luck and WR T.Y. Hilton.  They will take advantage of a weak, rebuilding Raiders D.  But expect Oakland to shine on offense against Indy, who has one of the worst defenses in the league.  It doesn’t matter if WR Amari Cooper is here or not. The Raiders will miss Cooper and injured RB Marshawn Lynch, but should still manage to win. If they can beat the Browns in Oakland, they can do the same to Indy.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST
I was tempted to pick the Packers in an upset as the Rams offense struggles without injured WR Cooper Kupp.  But this versatile Rams defense is just too good to allow 20+ points to a Packers offense that lacks WR depth despite an amazing QB in Aaron Rodgers.  Defense will win the Rams this game as they remain undefeated.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

Arizona’s only win so far this year was in San Francisco.  I think they can beat the QB Jimmy Garoppolo-less 49ers again in Arizona.  They will be led by strong games out of young QB Josh Rosen and RB David Johnson.  The Niners should look decent on offense and make this close.  But I think the Cardinals will hold on on home turf.
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

 

I think Minnesota’s offense will be slowed by a young Saints D that just added CB Eli Apple.  But the Vikings defense should look even better, holding the Saints under 20 points and to just 1 TD.  This shut down defensive performance should lead the Vikes to victory.

That’s all for my picks and previews this week.  Stay tuned for more NFL posts soon, including my midseason report next week.