Tuesday, September 27, 2016

NFL - Week Three Review

The Philadelphia Eagles made a big statement with their 34-3 blowout win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.
Not only did they improve to 3-0 with the home victory, but they also boast the top scoring defense in pro football, allowing only 27 points through the first three games. Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns while the Eagles defense limited Pittsburgh to just 251 yards in offense while sacking Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger four times.
The Denver Broncos also went to 3-0 with a 29-17 road win at Cincinnati as QB Trevor Siemian (pictured right) had four TD passes to go with 312 pass yards to earn the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week. The Broncos defense forced two turnovers in the win.
The New England Patriots (3-0) served notice they are one of the top teams in the NFL with a 27-0 shutout victory at home last Thursday night over the Houston Texans (2-1) as they won without starting QB Tom Brady (suspended) and backup Jimmy Garoppolo (injury) as third string QB Jacoby Brissett scored a rushing touchdown and running back LeGarrette Blount scored two touchdowns while rushing for 105 yards in the rout.

                                                          Around the NFL  . . . . . . . 

The Dallas Cowboys rocked the visiting Chicago Bears, 31-17 on Sunday Night Football as rookie QB Dak Prescott had a scoring run and a TD pass to lead the way . . .   The Kansas City Chiefs smothered the visiting New York Jets 24-3 as the defense intercepted SIX passes by Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and scored twice, on a fumble return and a pick-six interception by Derrick Johnson . . .  The Washington Redskins surprised the host New York Giants, 29-27 to earn their first of the season as kicker Dustin Hopkins made five field goals and QB Kirk Cousins threw two TD passes. The defense intercepted Giants QB Eli Manning twice, including in the final minute to seal the win . . .  Green Bay won its home opener 34-27 against the Detroit Lions as QB Aaron Rodgers had four TD passes and withstood a furious second half comeback by Detroit, which trailed 31-3 at one point of the game. Lions QB Matthew Stafford had three TD passes in the loss  . . .  The Oakland Raiders (2-1) won at Tennessee, 17-10 behind a TD run by Latavius Murray and a TD pass by QB Derek Carr . . .  The Los Angeles Rams won on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 37-32 as Case Keenum (two TD passes) outlasted Bucs QB Jameis Winston (three TD passes, 405 pass yards) and the defense scored a touchdown . . .  Seattle throttled the visiting San Francisco 49ers, 37-18 as RB Christine Michael ran for 106 yards and two scores . . .  The Miami Dolphins won 30-24 in OT against the visiting Cleveland Browns as RB Jay Ajayi scored the winning touchdown with an 11-yard run . . .  The Minnesota Vikings knocked out the Carolina Panthers, 22-10 as their defense sacked Panthers QB Cam Newton EIGHT times and also intercepted three passes . . .   The Buffalo Bills blew out the visiting Arizona Cardinals, 33-18 as the defense picked off four passes and also scored a TD off a fumble return . . .  The Baltimore Ravens (3-0) survived in Jacksonville, 19-17 as kicker Justin Tucker nailed a game winning 54-yard field goal in the final minute . . .  The Indianapolis Colts won a back and forth game at home, 26-22 against the San Diego Chargers for their first win of the season. Colts QB Andrew Luck hooked up with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for a 63-yard scoring pass with just over a minute left in regulation to decide the game . . .  The Atlanta Falcons (2-1) blew out the host New Orleans Saints, 45-32 on Monday night as RB Tevin Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, QB Matt Ryan passed for two TDs, and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help Atlanta keep the Saints winless. Falcons RB Devonta Freeman rushed for 152 yards in the win.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

NFL - Week Three Preview

The action gets started tonight in the Thursday night tilt when the New England Patriots host the
Houston Texans in a battle of unbeaten teams.
The Patriots will be starting third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the wake of the injury to number-two QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who was starting while Tom Brady serves his four-game suspension.
Got all that?
Meanwhile, the Texans have held opponents to 13 points per game in their 2-0 start while giving up just under 275 total yards in offense. Houston's offense has sputtered so far, but they do what it takes to win, just like the Patriots.
Some of the other action this weekend includes Denver (2-0) at Cincinnati (1-1) which features two playoff teams from last season while the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles will have the "battle for Pennsylvania" in the city of Brotherly Love on Sunday.
All in all, the season is just getting going as Week Three unfolds and the season of Autumn begins.

For a closer look at all of the games on tap this week, the following offers the 'capsule style' previews along with the Heftyinfo picks for this weekend.

Houston (2-0) at New England (2-0) - Jacoby who?  Can the Pats find a way to beat one of the top defensive teams in the NFL with so many top players injured?

Arizona (1-1) at Buffalo (0-2) - Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan is feeling the heat.

Oakland (1-1) at Tennessee (1-1) - The Raiders got humbled last week in their home opener.

Cleveland (0-2) at Miami (0-2) - The Dolphins cannot lose at home to the Browns, can they?

Baltimore (2-0) at Jacksonville (0-2) - The Jags, the up and coming team in 2016,  could be 0-3 after this game.

Detroit (1-1) at Green Bay (1-1) - Both of these teams looking rather ordinary through first two games.

Denver (2-0) at Cincinnati (1-1) - This could be the game of the week.

Minnesota (2-0) at Carolina (1-1) - The Vikings without Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater are still 2-0 ... Carolina (Charlotte protests) is very tense right now.

Washington (0-2) at NY Giants (2-0) - Upset alert?  Nope. Take the Giants.

Los Angeles (1-1) at Tampa Bay (1-1) - The Bucs should win this game at home.

San Francisco (1-1) at Seattle (1-1) - What's up with the Seahawks offense?  15 points scored in two games.

NY Jets (1-1) at Kansas City (1-1) - This game could go down to the wire.  Take the Chiefs.

San Diego (1-1) at Indianapolis (0-2) - Colts are in desperate need of a victory ... Chargers QB Philip Rivers is the AFC's top rated passer through first two weeks.

Pittsburgh (2-0) at Philadelphia (2-0) - Can the Eagles soar again?  Not against the Steelers.

Chicago (0-2) at Dallas (1-1) - The Cowboys should roll the Bears in the SNF game.

Atlanta (1-1) at New Orleans (0-2) - These two teams always provide a very entertaining football game when they meet. This time it's on Monday night.

The Heftyinfo picks for Week Three . . .  (Home teams are listed in BOLD;  Lock of the Week is listed in BOLD CAPS.)

Houston over New England
Arizona over Buffalo
Tennessee over Oakland
Miami over Cleveland
Baltimore over Jacksonville
Green Bay over Detroit
Cincinnati over Denver
Carolina over Minnesota
NY Giants over Washington
Tampa Bay over Los Angeles
Seattle over San Francisco
Kansas City over NY Jets
Indianapolis over San Diego
Pittsburgh over Philadelphia
DALLAS over Chicago
New Orleans over Atlanta

Last Week's Record:  9-7


Lock of the Week Record:  2-0 

Monday, September 19, 2016

NFL - Week Two Review

The New England Patriots won again without starting quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski this weekend, 31-24 against the visiting Miami Dolphins as Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a shoulder injury after throwing for three touchdowns in the first half as the Pats built a huge lead.
The Patriots will go with reserve QB Jacoby Brissett until Brady returns from his four-game suspension in three weeks. New England running back LeGarrette Blount rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown to aid the win.
The other big story from the weekend was Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson leaving the game Sunday night with what appeared to be a severe knee injury. The Vikings won their home opener, 17-14 over the Green Bay Packers in the brand new US Bank Stadium.
Vikings QB Sam Bradford passed for 286 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the offense while the Vikes defense limited the Packers to 263 total offensive yards and sacked Aaron Rodgers five times.

                                          Around the NFL  . . . . . . .

The Denver Broncos rode the defense to a 34-20 win against the visiting Indianapolis Colts as they scored on a sack/fumble recovery return and an interception return for score by Aqib Talib . . .  The Atlanta Falcons surprised the host Oakland Raiders, 35-28 as QB Matt Ryan (396 passing yards) threw two TD passes . . .  The San Diego Chargers rebounded nicely from their Week One loss with a 38-14 trouncing of the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars behind four TD passes from Philip Rivers . . .   Carolina throttled the San Francisco 49ers, 46-27 as QB Cam Newton threw four TD passes, including two to WR Kelvin Benjamin . . .  The Arizona Cardinals blasted the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 40-7 as their defense intercepted four passes (one for TD) while the offense rolled up 416 total yards . . .   The Baltimore Ravens stormed back from a 20-point first quarter deficit to defeat the host Cleveland Browns, 25-20 as Joe Flacco had a pair of scoring passes and kicker Justin Tucker drilled three field goals . . .   Tennessee came back and knocked off the Detroit Lions, 16-15 for a road win as QB Marcus Mariota had two fourth quarter TD passes to make the difference . . .  The New York Giants beat the visiting New Orleans Saints, 16-13 in a surprising defensive struggle that saw the Giants scored on a blocked field goal return (65 yards by Janoris Jenkins) and three field goals from Josh Brown . . .  The Pittsburgh Steelers bested the Cincinnati Bengals on a rainy day in the Steel City as QB Ben Roethlisberger had three TD passes and the defense came up with a big fumble recovery late in the game to seal the win . . .  The Dallas Cowboys topped the host Washington Redskins, 27-23 as RB Alfred Morris burned his former team with a four-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter . . .   The Houston Texans won at home over Kansas City, 19-12 by shutting down the Chiefs offense (only four field goals) and riding a first quarter TD pass from Brock Osweiler . . .  The New York Jets got a road win in Buffalo last Thursday night, 37-31 as RB Matt Forte scored three touchdown and had 100 yards rushing to offset 297 passing yards and three touchdowns from Bills QB Tyrod Taylor . . . . .  In the Monday Night Football game, the Philadelphia Eagles knocked off the host Chicago Bears, 29-14 as Ryan Mathews rushed for two touchdowns and QB Carson Wentz added a TD pass while the Eagles defense came up with two turnovers in the win. Bears QB Jay Cutler suffered a sprained thumb on his throwing hand and left the game in the second half.

                                                     Heftyinfo NFL co-Players of the Week

Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Chargers QB Philip Rivers

Thursday, September 15, 2016

NFL - Week Two Preview

It's hard to get a feel for the new NFL season after just one game, but there were some surprises in the first weekend, along with huge disappointments, none bigger than the San Diego Chargers blowing a 21-point third quarter lead and losing the game to the Kansas City Chiefs, 33-27 in  overtime.
In addition, San Diego also lost their top wide receiver Keenan Allen for the season with a severe knee injury after an ACL tear.
Heading into Week Two, there are some big division matchups as the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC North tilt. Meanwhile, two of the top dogs in the NFC North go at it as the Minnesota Vikings face the Green Bay Packers in the Sunday night game as they open their new stadium in Minneapolis.
The action gets started tonight with the New York Jets traveling to play the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East battle. Both teams lost close games last week and they both boast solid defenses. This should be a game that goes down to the wire.

Here is a breakdown of the week's action (in capsule style previews) followed by the Heftyinfo predictions for Week Two.

NY Jets (0-1) at Buffalo (0-1) -  Flip a coin on this one... it's that close.

Cincinnati (1-0) at Pittsburgh (1-0) - Here we go Steelers here we go!

Tennessee (0-1) at Detroit (1-0) -  The Lions are looking to restore the roar and a 2-0 start would do wonders to make that claim more than just lip service.

Baltimore (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1) - No RG3 for the Browns this week, or for the next eight weeks.

Dallas (0-1) at Washington (0-1) - This game could be real exciting or could be a yawner.

New Orleans (0-1) at NY Giants (1-0) - These teams lit up the scoreboard a year ago when they met. Expect more of the same in this one.

San Francisco (1-0) at Carolina (0-1) - Panthers roll!

Miami (0-1) at New England (1-0) - The Dolphins gave Seattle all they could handle while the Patriots surprised Arizona on the road. Take the Pats.

Kansas City (1-0) at Houston (1-0) - A rematch of last year's playoff game, which the Chiefs won big.

Seattle (1-0) at Los Angeles (0-1) - Will the Rams get on the scoreboard this weekend?

Tampa Bay (1-0) at Arizona (0-1) - This could be a very entertaining game.

Jacksonville (0-1) at San Diego (0-1) - If the Chargers don't win this game (home opener), they may be in for a very looonnng  season.

Atlanta (0-1) at Oakland (1-0) - Are the Raiders back?  It's only the second game so calm down Raider Nation.

Indianapolis (0-1) at Denver (1-0) - The Colts blew a late lead while the Broncos hung on by the skin of their teeth last week. Should be a good one.

Green Bay (1-0) at Minnesota (1-0) - The Vikings open their new home and what better way than by playing the Packers.

Philadelphia (1-0) at Chicago (0-1) - The Bears are not the Cleveland Browns, so look for Philly rookie QB Carson Wentz to come back down to earth this week.

The Heftyinfo predictions for Week Two  . . . . .   (Home teams are listed in bold; Lock of the Week pick is listed in BOLD CAPS)

Buffalo over NY Jets
Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
Detroit over Tennessee
Baltimore over Cleveland
Washington over Dallas
NY Giants over New Orleans
CAROLINA over San Francisco
New England over Miami
Houston over Kansas City
Seattle over Los Angeles
Arizona over Tampa Bay
San Diego over Jacksonville 
Oakland over Atlanta
Denver over Indianapolis
Green Bay over Minnesota
Chicago over Philadelphia

Last Week's Record:  10-6


Lock of the Week Record:  1-0

Monday, September 12, 2016

NFL - Week One Review

Chiefs QB Alex Smith
The first weekend of action for the 2016 NFL season is in the books.
Hard to get a read on teams after just one week, but the San Diego Chargers showed once again why they are labeled as "chokers" as they coughed up a 21-point third quarter lead and lost 33-27 in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs as quarterback Alex Smith scored the winning touchdown on
a two-yard run.
For his comeback effort, Alex Smith is the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week as he had two TD passes (one INT) and the rushing touchdown while burning the Chargers for 363 passing yards. In the loss, the Chargers also lost WR Keenan Allen for the season with a knee injury (torn ACL) as their offense struggled after holding a 21-3 halftime lead.

Around the NFL . . . 

The Houston Texans defense had five sacks to lead the way to a 23-14 home win over the Chicago Bears ...  The Detroit Lions won on the road 39-35 against the Indianapolis Colts as QB Matthew Stafford had three TD passes while Colts QB Andrew Luck threw four TD passes in the loss ...  The Dallas Cowboys lost 20-19 at home to the New York Giants as QB Eli Manning had three TD passes, including one to WR Victor Cruz, who played for the first time in two years ...  The Oakland Raiders made Head Coach Jack Del Rio's gamble pay off as QB Derek Carr hit WR Michael Crabtree for a two-point conversion pass in the final minute to stun the host New Orleans Saints, 35-34 ...  The Minnesota Vikings won at Tennessee, 25-16 behind two defensive scores and four field goals by Blair Walsh ...  Cincinnati won a road game, topping the New York Jets, 23-22 as QB Andy Dalton had 366 passing yards and the defense intercepted Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to seal the win ...  The Green Bay Packers held off the host Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-23 behind two TD passes and a six-yard scoring run from QB Aaron Rodgers ...  The Seattle Seahawks escaped with a 12-10 home win against the Miami Dolphins when QB Russell Wilson threw a two-yard TD pass to WR Doug Baldwin ...  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won 31-24 against the Atlanta Falcons with QB Jameis Winston throwing four TD passes ...  The Baltimore Ravens topped the visiting Buffalo Bills, 13-7 as their defense limited the Bills to just 160 yards in total offense ...  The Philadelphia Eagles got a great effort from rookie starting QB Carson Wentz (278 yards and two TD passes) as they blasted the Cleveland Browns, 29-10 ...  The Denver Broncos opened their season last Thursday night with a 21-20 win against the Carolina Panthers as QB Trevor Siemian had a TD pass and the defense held off the Panthers late while recording three QB sacks ...  The New England Patriots (without QB Tom Brady) beat the Arizona Cardinals on the road, 23-21 as QB Jimmy Garoppolo had a TD pass and Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzero missed a 47-yard field goal (bad snap and hold) in the final seconds ...  The Monday Night Football game (s) saw the Pittsburgh Steelers blast the host Washington Redskins, 38-16 behind three TD passes from Ben Roethlisberger (two to WR Antonio Brown) and 143 rushing yards and two TD by DeAngelo Williams ...  The San Francisco 49ers shut out the visiting Los Angeles Rams 28-0 behind two rushing touchdowns by Carlos Hyde and the defense limiting the Rams to just 185 yards in total offense.

Week One Scores
Denver 21, Carolina 20
Houston 23, Chicago 14
Minnesota 25, Tennessee 16
Detroit 39, Indianapolis 35
Oakland 35, New Orleans 34
Kansas City 33, San Diego 27 (OT)
Tampa Bay 31, Atlanta 24
Seattle 12, Miami 10
Cincinnati 23, NY Jets 22
NY Giants 20, Dallas 19
Philadelphia 29, Cleveland 10
Green Bay 27, Jacksonville 23
Baltimore 13, Buffalo 7
New England 23, Arizona 21
Pittsburgh 38, Washington 16
San Francisco 28, Los Angeles 0 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

NFL - Week One Preview and 2016 Season Predictions

The 2016 NFL season kicks off tomorrow night in Denver as the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos host the Carolina Panthers in a 're-match' of last season's Super Bowl teams, which Denver won 24-10 in Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning's final NFL game.
This season, the Broncos have a new quarterback as Manning retired and Brock Osweiler signed with the Houston Texans in the off-season. Trevor Siemian is the Broncos starting quarterback for the season opener.

Meanwhile, the Panthers are focused on getting back to the big game again and this time winning it all.
What better way than to exorcise the demons of failures past as they face the Broncos and will have to watch them and the rabid fans in the Mile High City celebrate the Super Bowl 50 title.
Carolina QB Cam Newton was the regular season Most Valuable Player for the 2015 season and after the lemon he had (due in big part to the Broncos' defense) in the Super Bowl, you just know he is chomping at the bit to set the right tone for this season.
It looks to be a very interesting Week One around the NFL this weekend as the top rookies get their chance to shine (or not in Rams' QB Jared Goff''s case) in the opening game.
There are many questions to be answered as the season unfolds week by week.
Will Tom Brady have revenge on his mind after he serves his four-game suspension for the now nearly two-years old "deflate gate" case?  How about 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and his one man crusade against standing for the National Anthem prior to the start of the games? Can the Broncos and Panthers get back to the Super Bowl?
All in all, it should be exciting as the teams battle for playoff position week by week. After all, that is why the play the games.
So here goes nothing as Heftyinfo make the fearless forecasts for the 2016 season.

NFL division race predictions
(Wild card teams in bold italics)

East - 1. Patriots  2. Jets  3. Bills  4. Dolphins
North - 1. Steelers  2. Bengals  3. Ravens  4. Browns
South - 1. Colts  2. Texans  3. Jaguars  4. Titans
West - 1. Chiefs  2. Raiders  3. Broncos  4. Chargers

East - 1. Giants  2. Cowboys  3. Redskins  4. Eagles
North - 1. Packers  2. Vikings  3. Bears  4. Lions
South 1. Panthers  2. Saints  3. Buccaneers  4. Falcons
West - 1. Seahawks  2. Cardinals  3. Rams  4. 49ers

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Chiefs over Texans;  Bengals over Colts
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Packers over Cowboys; Cardinals over Giants

AFC Divisional Round - Patriots over Bengals;  Steelers over Chiefs
NFC Divisional Round - Seahawks over Cardinals; Panthers over Packers

AFC Championship -  Steelers over Patriots
NFC Championship -  Seahawks over Panthers

SUPER BOWL 51Steelers over Seahawks 

Regarding the above picks for the upcoming season, we shall see.
Now for the WEEK ONE  Heftyinfo picks (Home teams listed in BOLD type and Lock of the Week is listed in BOLD CAPS.)

Carolina over Denver
Green Bay over Jacksonville
Baltimore over Buffalo
Houston over Chicago
Philadelphia over Cleveland
Tampa Bay over Atlanta
Minnesota over Tennessee
NY Jets over Cincinnati
New Orleans over Oakland
Kansas City over San Diego
SEATTLE over Miami
Indianapolis over Detroit
NY Giants over Dallas
Arizona over New England
Pittsburgh over Washington
Los Angeles over San Francisco

Last Year's Record:  173-83
Lock of the Week Record:  13-4

Sunday, September 4, 2016

WASHINGTON REDSKINS - 2016 Season Preview

WASHINGTON REDSKINS                                                                               

2015 Record:  9-7-0

Head Coach:  Jay Gruden

New Faces for 2016 -  CB Josh Norman, CB Greg Toler, TE Vernon Davis, LB Terence Garvin, DL Kendall Reyes, DB David Bruton

OFFENSE:  Quarterback Kirk Cousins is coming off a huge season in which he passed for 4,166 yards with 29 touchdowns and eleven interceptions. Colt McCoy will back up again this season.
The running game now features Matt Jones as the primary back after Alfred Morris, the Redskins leading rusher in 2015, left for the Dallas Cowboys. Jones ran for 490 yards (3.4 ypc average) and scored three touchdowns. Chris Thompson (216 rush yards with 6.2 ypc and 35 receptions with two TD) will be the backup.
The wide receivers are DeSean Jackson (30 receptions for 528 yards and four TD)  and Pierre Garcon (72, 777, six TD) along with Tight End Jordan Reed, who led the team with 87 receptions for 952 yards and eleven touchdowns.
Jamison Crowder (59, 604, two TD), Andre Roberts (11, 135) and top rookie draft pick Josh Doctson (TCU) will be ready when needed.

DEFENSE:  Kedric Golston is the nose tackle in the 3-4 set while the ends are Chris Baker (six QB sacks) and Kendall Reyes. Providing depth up front are Stephen Paea, Jerrell Powe and Ricky Jean Francois.
Playing linebacker are Preston Smith (eight sacks) and Ryan Kerrigan (9 1/2 sacks) on the outside along with inside backers Will Compton and either Perry Riley (two interceptions) or Mason Foster. Usual starter Junior Galette is out with injuries so providing depth to the unit will be Martrell Spaight, Trent Murphy and rookie Su'a Cravens (USC).
The secondary was bolstered by the addition of cornerback Josh Norman (free agent from Carolina who had four interceptions, including two for touchdowns), who will start along with Bashaud Breeland, who made two picks.
The safeties are 13-year veteran DeAngelo Hall and Duke Ihenacho. Backups include Quinton Dunbar, Greg Toler, rookie Kendall Fuller (Virginia Tech), Will Blackmon (two INT), David Bruton and Kyshoen Jarrett.

OUTLOOK:  After a dream season, quarterback Kirk Cousins is looking for an encore performance to lead the Redskins back to the playoffs.
He has the weapons in the passing game with a solid trio of receivers, including tight end Jordan Reed, who had 11 TD receptions a year ago. The running game will be a question mark as the 2016 season begins as Matt Jones takes over for Alfred Morris, who left in free agency in the off-season. Jones needs to pick up the paltry 3.4 ypc average he had last year to help balance the offense, which ranked 17th overall (354 yards per game) but was 20th in rushing, averaging 98 yards per game.
The defense finished near the bottom of the NFL in all three areas, winding up 28th overall, allowing 381 yards per game and giving up 24 points per game. The 'Skins did amass 38 QB sacks and made eleven interceptions, and are looking for All-Pro CB Josh Norman to help bring that total upward this season.
Head Coach Jay Gruden fought off critics for his relegating QB Robert Griffin III (now with Cleveland) to the bench in favor of Cousins, who had a breakout season, including four come-from-behind wins. As long as Cousins doesn't backslide this year, the Redskins could be in line for a second consecutive playoff appearance.
The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys look to be the primary contenders in the NFC East this year, but the Redskins (4-2 vs. NFC East in 2015) know that in order to win another division title, they must win their divisional games.
Washington benefited from a lot of fortunate breaks last year, so there is little room for error. The playoffs are a possibility again this season, so Cousins and company must play to the abilities they did last year, especially with the NFC East race so wide open.

Fearless forecast -  7-9 this year

Week 1 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 2 - vs. Dallas
Week 3 - at NY Giants
Week 4 - vs. Cleveland
Week 5 - at Baltimore
Week 6 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 7 - at Detroit
Week 8 - at Cincinnati (London, England)
Week 9 - BYE
Week 10 - vs. Minnesota
Week 11 - vs. Green Bay
Week 12 - at Dallas
Week 13 - at Arizona
Week 14 - at Philadelphia
Week 15 - vs. Carolina
Week 16 - at Chicago
Week 17 - vs. NY Giants

Saturday, September 3, 2016

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - 2016 Season Preview

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS                                                                       

2015 Record:  6-10-0

Head Coach:  Dirk Koetter

New Faces for 2016 - CB Brent Grimes, LB Daryl Smith, DL Robert Ayers

OFFENSE:  Entering his second season, Jameis Winston (4,042 passing yards with 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, including six rushing TD) is the starting quarterback. The backup is Mike Glennon.
Doug Martin had his best season since 2012, going for 1,402 rushing yards (4.9 ypc average) and scored six touchdowns. He leads the running attack while Charles Sims (529 yards, 4.9 ypc) is the primary backup. Sims also caught 51 passes out of the backfield, including four touchdowns.
The wide receivers have Mike Evans (74, 1,206 yards and three TD) and Vincent Jackson (33, 543, three TD in 10 games). Adam Humphries (27, 260, one TD) and Kenny Bell are also in the mix. The tight end is Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who had 21 catches for 338 yards and four touchdowns.

DEFENSE:  Roberts Ayers (9 1/2 QB sacks with the NY Giants in 2015) and either rookie Noah Spence (Eastern Kentucky) or Jacquies Smith (seven QB sacks) will play the end spots in the 4-3 set. The tackles will be Gerald McCoy (8 1/2 sacks) and Clinton McDonald. Howard Jones (five sacks), George Johnson, William Gholston and Noah Spence will spell the starters.
The linebacking unit has Kwon Alexander (two interceptions) in the middle along with Daryl Smith (three sacks) and Lavonte David (three INT) on the outside. Also on hand are Josh Keyes, Jeremiah George and (rookie from Oklahoma) Devante Bond.
The secondary features cornerbacks Brent Grimes, who will team with either Johnathan Banks or rookie Vernon Hargreaves (Florida). Grimes had four interceptions with Miami a year ago.
The safeties are Chris Conte (two picks) and Bradley McDougald. Alterraun Verner, Keith Tandy and rookie Ryan Smith (N. Carolina Central) will provide backup.

OUTLOOK:  After five consecutive losing seasons, the Buccaneers are ready to make a move upward and new Head Coach Dirk Koetter feels confident about quarterback Jameis Winston and the offense taking the next steps forward to make it happen.
The offense has talent and is diverse as Doug Martin leads the ground attack after finishing second in the NFL in rushing last season. The passing game should only get better as Winston begins his second season.
The defense finished tenth overall last year, giving up 340 yards per game and was strong against the run, allowing just over 100 yards per game (11th in NFL). However, too many big plays happened against the Bucs as they allowed 26 points per game, which ranked near the bottom of the league. The secondary must improve as the team had just eleven interceptions last year.
The NFC South has Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans and the Bucs split their six division games last season. If they want to make a move upward in 2016, they must play more consistently on both sides of the ball. The team is hoping the free-agent signings on defense will provide improvement there.
A lot rests on the shoulders (and legs) of Winston and Martin on offense while the defense has to get better against the pass and not give up so many big plays. The Bucs only had four one-score losses a year ago while giving up 30-plus points six times.

Fearless forecast -  6-10 this year

Week 1 - at Atlanta
Week 2 - at Arizona
Week 3 - vs. Los Angeles
Week 4 - vs. Denver
Week 5 - at Carolina
Week 6 - BYE
Week 7 - at San Francisco
Week 8 - vs. Oakland
Week 9 - vs. Atlanta
Week 10 - vs. Chicago
Week 11 - at Kansas City
Week 12 - vs. Seattle
Week 13 - at San Diego
Week 14 - vs. New Orleans
Week 15 - at Dallas
Week 16 - at New Orleans
Week 17 - vs. Carolina

Thursday, September 1, 2016

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS - 2016 Season Preview

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS                                                                                  

2015 Record:  10-6-0

Head Coach:  Pete Carroll

New Faces for 2016 -  CB Brandon Browner, DL Chris Clemons, OL J'Marcus Webb, DL Tavaris Barnes, TE Brandon Williams, DL Silver Siliga, OL Bradley Sowell

OFFENSE:  After passing for 4,024 yards with 34 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, Russell Wilson is ready for another season as the starting quarterback. Wilson also rushed for 553 yards (5.4 ypc average) and scored one rushing touchdown. Trevone Boykin will likely be the backup.
Thomas Rawls (830 yards, 5.6 ypc, four TD) takes over as the featured running back after Marshawn Lynch retired following the 2015 season. Christine Michael is back for a second tour of duty with the Seahawks and he averaged 4.9 yards per carry in limited action last season. Rookie C.J. Prosise (Notre Dame) adds even more depth to the backfield.
Doug Baldwin (78 receptions for 1,069 yards and 14 TD) and Jermaine Kearse (49, 685, five TD) will be the primary receivers along with tight end Jimmy Graham, who made 48 grabs for 605 yards and two touchdowns while missing five games. Tyler Lockett (51, 664, six TD), Paul Richardson and backup TE Luke Willson (17, 213, one TD) will also be in the fold this season.

DEFENSE:  Up front in the 4-3 set are tackles Jordan Hill and Ahtyba Rubin along with the ends, Michael Bennett (10 QB sacks) and Cliff Avril, who registered nine sacks. Frank Clark (three sacks), rookie Jarran Reed (Alabama), Chris Clemons and Sealver Siliga will spell the starters.
The linebackers feature Bobby Wagner in the middle along with outside men Mike Morgan and K.J. Wright. Backing up will be Brock Coyle, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Tavaris Barnes.
The secondary has Richard Sherman (two interceptions) and Jeremy Lane (two INT) at the corners along with safeties Kam Chancellor (two picks) and Earl Thomas, who led the team with five picks. Brandon Browner is back with Seattle in the secondary and will fill in where needed along with DeShawn Shead, Kelcie McCray and Steven Terrell.

OUTLOOK:  After falling short of a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance in 2015, the Seahawks carry a big chip on their collective shoulders after seeing Arizona romp past them to the NFC West division title a year ago.
With Russell Wilson leading the offense, Seattle should be solid once again. They averaged 26.4 points per game a year ago (4th in NFL) and finished fourth in total offense (379 yards per game) while finishing third in rushing, averaging 142 yards per game. That's where Rawls, Michael and perhaps rookie C.J. Prosise come into the picture to keep that going in the 2016 season to balance the offense.
On defense, Seattle has no peers around the league as they once again led the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 17 points per game. They were also number one against the run, giving up 82 yards per game while finishing second overall in total defense (292 yards per game allowed). Seattle finished with 37 QB sacks and 14 interceptions and were a plus-seven in the turnover category.
Head Coach Pete Carroll saw the team have the Super Bowl loser "hangover" last year after the last minute debacle of the "decision" to pass instead of giving the ball to "Beast Mode" from the 1-yard line in Super Bowl 49 defeat against New England.
In fairness, Seattle had injuries to key personnel on both sides of the ball last year, not to mention not having defensive leader Kam Chancellor in the fold as the season began due to a contract dispute.
As long as the defense plays well again and the offense continues to hum along with Wilson being a dual threat passing/running the football, expect the Seahawks to be in the mix when the NFC playoffs begin in January.
Another Super Bowl appearance and possible Super Bowl title could very well happen this season.

Fearless forecast -  12-4 this year (playoff team)

Week 1 - vs. Miami
Week 2 - at Los Angeles
Week 3 - vs. San Francisco
Week 4 - at NY Jets
Week 5 - BYE
Week 6 - vs. Atlanta
Week 7 - at Arizona
Week 8 - at New Orleans
Week 9 - vs. Buffalo
Week 10 - at New England
Week 11 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 12 - at Tampa Bay
Week 13 - vs. Carolina
Week 14 - at Green Bay
Week 15 - vs. Los Angeles
Week 16 - vs. Arizona
Week 17 - at San Francisco