Monday, August 20, 2018

DETROIT LIONS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

DETROIT LIONS                                                                            

2017 Record - 9-7-0

Head Coach - Matt Patricia

2017 Offensive Ranking - 13th (338 ypg, 25.6 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 27th (356 ypg, 23.5 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Matthew Stafford is back for another season at quarterback. Last season, he passed for 4,446 yards with 29 touchdowns and just ten interceptions.
Theo Riddick (286 rushing yards, three TD and 53 receptions for 444 yards, two TD) and Ameer Abdullah (552 yards, four TD) return to the backfield and will be joined by LeGarrette Blount (766 yards, 4.4 ypc average, two TD with Philadelphia) and rookie draft pick Kerryon Johnson (Auburn).
Wide receivers Golden Tate (92 receptions, 1,003 yards, five TD) and Marvin Jones (61, 1,101, nine TD) are the primary targets for Stafford in the passing game. The tight end is Luke Willson, formerly of Seattle, who had 15 catches for 153 yards and four touchdowns.

DEFENSE - The Lions have Ezekiel Ansah (12 QB sacks) Anthony Zettel (6 1/2 sacks) at the defensive end spots. Kerry Hyder is back in the fold after missing last season with an Achilles injury. Sylvester Williams is a tackle who will take the place of Haloti Ngata, who left as a free agent.
The linebackers are Devon Kennard, Jarrad Davis and Christian Jones. The secondary features corners Darius Slay (league leading eight interceptions) and Nevin Lawson. Safeties are Glover Quin (three picks) and Tavon Wilson.
Also in the mix is Quandre Diggs (three INT), rookie Tracy Walker (Louisiana-Lafayette) and free agent DeShawn Shead. The Lions picked off 19 passes a year ago and had 35 sacks.

OUTLOOK - The Lions have a new Head Coach as Matt Patricia takes over for the 2018 season after serving as Defensive Coordinator for the New England Patriots.
The defense is an area the Lions need to improve as they finished in the bottom third in two of the three categories last season. While Detroit did intercept 19 passes, they were also scorched, allowing 243 yards per game (27th) and gave up 23.5 points per game, which was 23rd overall.
On offense, Stafford leads the charge with two talented wide receivers in the passing attack, which ranked sixth last year (261 ypg) but the running game must get it going after finishing dead last in 2017 with a paltry average of 76 yards rushing per game. That is why LeGarrette Blount was signed from the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to bolster the attack.
If the defense can be improved with Patricia's strategy and the offense continues to put points on the board (Detroit averaged 25.6 points a game) perhaps this team can get back to the playoffs for the third time in five years.
Figure on an 8-8 season unless nearly everything clicks on both sides of the ball. The Lions have the talent, but they have to show they can play consistent all season long.

Week 1 - vs. NY Jets
Week 2 - at San Francisco
Week 3 - vs. New England
Week 4 - at Dallas
Week 5 - vs. Green Bay
Week 6 - Bye
Week 7 - at Miami
Week 8 - vs. Seattle
Week 9 - at Minnesota
Week 10 - at Chicago
Week 11 - vs. Carolina
Week 12 - vs. Chicago
Week 13 - vs. LA Rams
Week 14 - at Arizona
Week 15 - at Buffalo
Week 16 - vs. Minnesota
Week 17 - at Green Bay

Sunday, August 19, 2018

CLEVELAND BROWNS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

CLEVELAND BROWNS                                                                 

2017 Record - 0-16-0

Head Coach - Hue Jackson

2017 Offensive Ranking - 24th (309 ypg, 14.6 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 14th (328 ypg, 25.6 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Tyrod Taylor came over from Buffalo in the off-season and will be the starting quarterback. Taylor passed for 2,799 yards with 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions last year. He also ran for 427 yards (5.1 ypc average) and scored four times. Number one draft pick Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) will be waiting in the wings.
Running backs include Carlos Hyde (938 yards, eight TD and 59 receptions with San Francisco), Duke Johnson (348 yards, 4.2 ypc, four TD) and Matthew Dayes and rookie Nick Chubb (Georgia).
The wide receivers are Jarvis Landry, who led the NFL with 112 receptions (987 yards, nine TD) with Miami. Corey Coleman (23, 305, two TD), Josh Gordon (18, 335, one TD), Ricardo Louis (27, 357) and rookie Antonio Callaway (Florida) will also be available. The tight ends are David Njoku (32, 386, four TD) and Seth DeValve, who had 33 catches for 395 yards and one score.

DEFENSE - Defensive End Myles Garrett (seven QB sacks) anchors the defensive front and is supported by Emmanuel Ogbah (four sacks) and linebackers James Burgess (four sacks) and Christian Kirksey (3 1/2 sacks).
The defensive backfield will have first round rookie pick Denzel Ward (Ohio State) and either Terrance Mitchell or T.J. Carrie at cornerback. The safeties include Jabril Peppers and Damarious Randall along with Derrick Kindred. The Browns intercepted just seven passes last season along with a total of 34 QB sacks.

OUTLOOK - After going winless last year and 1-15 in  the 2016 season, the Browns have to do better this season, right?
With the influx of new talent and some solid looking draft picks, they should get in the win column, perhaps even more than once as Head Coach Hue Jackson enters his third season in Cleveland.
Tyrod Taylor takes over as the number one quarterback and Baker Mayfield will be ready to go when needed should there be any issues with the offense, which averaged only 14.6 points per game last season. With a new starting halfback in the fold, perhaps the Browns will improve in that area (107 yards per game in 2017) as the passing game looks to take flight as well.
The defense wasn't bad against the run (98 yards per game allowed) but the pass defense was torched regularly, allowing 230 yards per game while the the Browns allowed 410 points overall, which was second worst in the NFL. Four rookies and four free agents will look to help out this season to improve those numbers.
The AFC North is looking to perhaps be a two team race (Pittsburgh and Baltimore) this season, but the Browns are aiming for the future with the rebuilding process they are in. Anything is possible in today's NFL with quick turnarounds, but a 4-12 record would be a nice improvement after three straight seasons of 13-plus losses.

Week 1 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 2 - at New Orleans
Week 3 - vs. NY Jets
Week 4 - at Oakland
Week 5 - vs. Baltimore
Week 6 - vs. LA Chargers
Week 7 - at Tampa Bay
Week 8 - at Pittsburgh
Week 9 - vs. Kansas City
Week 10 - vs. Atlanta
Week 11 - Bye
Week 12 - at Cincinnati
Week 13 - at Houston
Week 14 - vs. Carolina
Week 15 - at Denver
Week 16 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 17 - at Baltimore


Friday, August 17, 2018

CHICAGO BEARS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

CHICAGO BEARS                                                                               

2017 Record - 5-11-0

Head Coach - Matt Nagy

2017 Offensive Ranking - 30th (287 ypg, 16.5 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 10th (319 ypg, 20.0 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Mitch Trubisky (2,193 yards passing, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions) is the quarterback after an up and down rookie season. Chase Daniel or Tyler Bray will be the backup.
Jordan Howard (1,122 yards, nine TD) and Tarik Cohen (370, two TD and 53 receptions for 353 yards and one TD) form a strong running back tandem.
The wide receiving corps gets a makeover this season as Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel (33, 378, one TD with Atlanta) look to be the starters. Rookie draft pick Anthony Miller (Memphis) has gained a lot of attention in pre-season training camp. Also in the mix is Kevin White, who has played just a handful of games in his first three seasons after a wide variety of injuries.
The tight end is Trey Burton (23, 248, five TD with Philadelphia) and Dion Sims (15, 180, one TD) and Adam Shaheen (12, 127, three TD) provide depth.

DEFENSE - The front line has Akiem Hicks (8 1/2 QB sacks), Eddie Goldman and Jonathan Bullard along with linebackers Danny Trevathan (two sacks), Leonard Floyd (4 1/2 sacks), Sam Acho (three sacks) and top rookie pick Roquan Smith (Georgia), who finally signed a contract with the team recently.
The secondary is manned by corners Kyle Fuller (two interceptions) and Prince Amukamara. The safeties include Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson, who had two picks. Bryce Callahan also had two interceptions. The Bears had just eight total interceptions in 2017 while getting 42 sacks, which did rank them among the top ten in the league.

OUTLOOK - After four consecutive seasons finishing in last place in the NFC North division, the Bears have nowhere to go but upward.
New Head Coach Matt Nagy comes along with a fresh approach and has given the offense a new look with Trubisky at quarterback. The second year signal caller has a solid backfield with Howard and Cohen and a plethora of (new) different wideouts to target this season.
The defense gets a shot in the arm with the addition of rookie linebacker Roquan Smith, who was an All-America standout at Georgia. If he lives up to the hype, it will take pressure off some of the veterans in a solid unit. The Bears ranked in the top ten a year ago defensively, including seventh overall against the pass.
If Trubisky can make strides this season in the more aggressive system Nagy is implementing and the running game continues to do well, the offense should improve from the anemic 16.5 points per game average of a year ago.
Whether that adds up to more victories remains to be seen, but the defense should keep the team in games. The Bears must improve in the divisional battles, where they were winless last season. Look for a 7-9 finish this season from the Bears as they aim for improvement and future success.

Week 1 - at Green Bay
Week 2 - vs. Seattle
Week 3 - at Arizona
Week 4 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 5 - Bye 
Week 6 - at Miami
Week 7 - vs. New England
Week 8 - vs. NY Jets
Week 9 - at Buffalo
Week 10 - vs. Detroit
Week 11 - vs. Minnesota
Week 12 - at Detroit
Week 13 - at NY Giants
Week 14 - vs. LA Rams
Week 15 - vs. Green Bay
Week 16 - at San Francisco
Week 17 - at Minnesota

Thursday, August 16, 2018

CINCINNATI BENGALS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

CINCINNATI BENGALS                                                                     

2017 Record - 7-9-0

Head Coach - Marvin Lewis

2017 Offensive Ranking - 32nd (281 ypg, 18.1 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 18th (339 ypg, 21.8 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback Andy Dalton is entering his eighth NFL season, coming off a mediocre type season in 2017, when he passed for 3,320 yards with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Matt Barkley is the likely backup this season.
Running back Joe Mixon (626 yards, four TD) will share the ball with Gio Bernard, who ran for 458 yards and two scores. Bernard is still an able third down type back as well, getting 43 receptions for 389 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie Mark Walton (Miami, FL) could get a chance to play this season.
The wide receiving corps are led by A.J. Green (75 receptions, 1, 078 yards and eight TD). Brandon LaFell caught 52 passes for 548 yards with three touchdowns. Tyler Boyd (22, 225, two TD) provides depth. The tight ends are Tyler Kroft (42, 404, seven TD) and Tyler Eifert, who missed nearly the entire season.

DEFENSE - Geno Atkins (nine QB sacks), Carlos Dunlap (7 1/2 sacks) and Carl Lawson (eight sacks) are the mainstays on the defensive front seven. Outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict is another key defensive player when he's on the field.
In the secondary are corners Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard (two interceptions) and William Jackson. Shawn Williams and George Iloka are the safeties. Rookie picks included defensive backs Darius Phillips (Western Michigan), Davontae Harris (Illinois State) and Jessie Bates (Wake Forest), linebacker Malik Jefferson (Texas) and defensive end Sam Hubbard (Ohio State). Cincinnati had 41 QB sacks last season while intercepting only eleven passes.

OUTLOOK - Head Coach Marvin Lewis is the second longest tenured man with the same team in the league since his hiring in 2003. He always seems to be mentioned as being on the "hot seat" but yet he will look to get his team back to the playoffs for the sixth time in the last eight years.
The offense must improve this season after finishing last in the NFL with a paltry average of 281 yards per game. Scoring more is also a must as the Bengals averaged just 18 points per game last year.
That's not gonna get it done in the NFL.
If Dalton can get some big plays from his receivers and the running game can improve (31st in NFL last year) to produce more scoring, perhaps the team can win some more games and be competitive again in the AFC North.
The defense is decent enough to keep the team in games, allowing just 21 points per game a year ago. More turnovers would help as they had just 14 for the season while rating a minus-9 in that area.
A 5-11 record looks to be on tap in the 2018 season. A strong schedule and having to face division foes Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice won't be an easy task. A lot will have to go right for this team to get over the .500 mark for the first time in three years.

Week 1 - at Indianapolis
Week 2 - vs. Baltimore
Week 3 - at Carolina
Week 4 - at Atlanta
Week 5 - vs. Miami
Week 6 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 7 - at Kansas City
Week 8 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 9 - Bye
Week 10 - vs. New Orleans
Week 11 - at Baltimore
Week 12 - vs. Cleveland
Week 13 - vs. Denver
Week 14 - at LA Chargers
Week 15 - vs. Oakland
Week 16 - at Cleveland
Week 17 - at Pittsburgh 

Aretha Franklin - The Queen of Soul

Rest In Peace Aretha Franklin - The Queen of Soul.
Here she is in a clip from "The Blues Brothers",  singing the song "Think."

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS                                                                   

2017 Record - 11-5-0

Head Coach - Sean Payton

2017 Offensive Ranking - 2nd (391 ypg, 28.0 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 17th (337 ypg, 20.4 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback Drew Brees is back for his 13th season in New Orleans after throwing for 4,334 yards last season along with 23 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
The running back tandem of Mark Ingram (1,124 yards 4.9 ypc average, 12 TD) and Alvin Kamara (728 yards, 6.1 ypc, eight TD and 81 receptions, 826 yards and five TD) is perhaps the best in pro football.
The wide receivers include Michael Thomas (104, 1,245, five TD), Ted Ginn, Jr. (53, 787, four TD) and Cameron Meredith, who missed all last season with a knee injury. Also in the mix this season is rookie Tre'quan Smith (Central Florida). Benjamin Watson (61, 522, four TD with Baltimore) and Josh Hill (16, 125, one TD) are the tight ends.

DEFENSE - Cameron Jordan (13 QB sacks), Alex Okafor (4 1/2 sacks) and Hau'oli Kikaha (four sacks) are back on the defensive front, along with Tyeler Davison and Sheldon Rankins. Top draft pick Marcus Davenport (UTSA) will look to make an impact.
Linebackers include Demario Davis, A.J. Klein, Alex Anzalone, Craig Robertson (two interceptions) and Manti Te'o.
The secondary has Marshon Lattimore (five interceptions) and Marcus Williams (four INT) as well as Patrick Robinson (four INT with Philadelphia), Vonn Bell, P.J. Williams (two picks) and Ken Crawley. The Saints intercepted 20 passes last year.

OUTLOOK - After winning the NFC South last year and then losing on a miracle play to Minnesota in the NFC Playoffs, the Saints are chomping at the bit to make atone for the way the 2017 season finished.
Head Coach Sean Payton has a solid offense led by Drew Brees along with a pretty good defense that amassed 42 QB sacks and picked off 20 passes last year.
The running game will be without Mark Ingram (PED suspension) for the first four games, but rookie of the year Alvin Kamara burst onto the scene in 2017 and (barring injury) should have another banner season. The Saints have a very balanced offense and ranked fifth in the league in both running and passing.
Along with Atlanta and Carolina, the Saints made the playoffs and will likely battle those two teams again for the NFC South title.
As long as no key players are lost to injury for any significant amount of time in 2018, the Saints should once again be Super Bowl contenders. An 11-5 season is a strong possibility again as they look to move further in the post-season this time around.

Week 1- vs. Tampa Bay
Week 2 - vs. Cleveland
Week 3 - at Atlanta
Week 4 - at NY Giants
Week 5 - vs. Washington
Week 6 - Bye 
Week 7 - at Baltimore
Week 8 - at Minnesota
Week 9 - vs. LA Rams
Week 10 - at Cincinnati
Week 11 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 12 - vs. Atlanta
Week 13 - at Dallas
Week 14 - at Tampa Bay
Week 15 - at Carolina
Week 16 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 17 - vs. Carolina 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS                                                                     

2017 Record - 4-12-0

Head Coach - Frank Reich

2017 Offensive Ranking - 31st (285 ypg, 16.4 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 30th (367 ypg, 25.2 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - After not playing pro football in nearly two years because of shoulder injuries, Andrew Luck is back as the starting quarterback. Jacoby Brissett was the starter last season, but will now be the reserve quarterback.
The running game will have a new look this year as well. The Colts leading rusher Frank Gore is gone and Marlon Mack is the heir apparent this season. Mack ran for 358 yards in 2017 and scored three touchdowns along with 21 receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown. Rookie draft picks Nyheim Hines (N.C. State) and Jordan Wilkins (Mississippi) will get their chances as well.
The top wide receiver is T.Y. Hilton (57 receptions, 966 yards, four TD) and is flanked by Ryan Grant (45, 573, four TD with Washington), Chester Rogers (23, 284, one TD) and tight end Jack Doyle, who led the Colts with 80 receptions for 690 yards and four touchdowns.

DEFENSE - Defensive End Jabaal Sheard (5 1/2 QB sacks) leads the front seven. Hassan Ridgeway (three sacks), nose tackle Al Woods and linebacker John Simon (three sacks) are other stalwarts on defense. Three rookie draft picks include linebacker Darius Leonard (South Carolina State), DE Tyquan Lewis (Ohio State) and edge rusher Kemoko Turay (Rutgers).
The secondary features corners Quincy Wilson and Kenny Moore along with safeties Malik Hooker (three interceptions) and Matthias Farley, who had two picks.

OUTLOOK - The Colts had a terrible season in 2017 and now look to get back to better days with QB Andrew Luck returning. In addition, new Head Coach Frank Reich comes over from the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was Offensive Coordinator for the Super Bowl champions.
If Luck is fully recovered and displays the ability he showed his first four seasons, a quick turnaround could happen. The running game will be dependent on three unproven players, but the passing game has two solid targets in T.Y. Hilton and tight end Jack Doyle.
The defense needs to improve over last year's results as well after finishing 30th overall while getting torched by opposing passing attacks. The Colts had just 13 interceptions and 25 QB sacks a year ago.
The key will be whether Luck can re-ignite the offense while the defense will attempt to allow less scoring. Only two teams allowed more points than Indy did last year.
Playing winning football in the AFC South will be another factor for success. Jacksonville appears to be the team to beat while Tennessee is coming off a playoff appearance as well. The schedule doesn't appear difficult on paper, so if things break the Colts way, perhaps a big turnaround is possible. The outlook this season looks to be a 7-9 finish as they look to rebuild toward the future.

Week 1 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 2 - at Washington
Week 3 - at Philadelphia
Week 4 - vs. Houston
Week 5 - at New England
Week 6 - at NY Jets
Week 7 - vs. Buffalo
Week 8 - at Oakland
Week 9 - Bye
Week 10 - vs. Jacksonville
Week 11 - vs. Tennessee
Week 12 - vs. Miami
Week 13 - at Jacksonville
Week 14 - at Houston
Week 15 - vs. Dallas
Week 16 - vs. NY Giants
Week 17 - at Tennessee

Monday, August 13, 2018

ATLANTA FALCONS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

ATLANTA FALCONS                                                                           

2017 Record - 10-6-0

Head Coach - Dan Quinn

2017 Offensive Ranking - 8th (365 ypg, 22.1 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 9th (318 ypg, 19.7 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Coming off his MVP season of 2016, quarterback Matt Ryan saw his numbers dip last season to 4,095 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Matt Schaub backs him up.
Running backs are Devonta Freeman (865 yards, seven TD) and Tevin Coleman (628 yards, five TD).
The wide receivers are led by Julio Jones, who caught 88 passes last season for 1,444 yards and three touchdowns. Others include Mohammed Sanu (67, 703, five TD) and Justin Hardy (20, 221, three TD) along with top rookie pick Calvin Ridley (Alabama). The tight end is Austin Hooper, who had 49 receptions for 526 yards and three touchdowns.

DEFENSE - The defense lost sacks leader Adrian Clayborn to free agency, but will see Vic Beasley return to his normal position on the end spot. Beasley had five quarterback sacks last season, but led the NFL with 15 1/2  take downs two years ago. Also up front is end Takkarist McKinley (six sacks) and DT Grady Jarrett, who had four sacks. Duke Riley, Deion Jones (three interceptions) and De'Vondre Campbell are the linebackers.
In the secondary is Desmond Trufant (two picks) and Robert Alford at the cornerback spots. Rookie Isaiah Oliver (Colorado) and Brian Poole are also available. The safeties are Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal.

OUTLOOK - After a heart breaking Super Bowl loss two years ago, the Falcons got back to the playoffs last year, beating the L.A. Rams in the wild card round before losing a tight game to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Therefore, heading into the 2018 season, Head Coach Dan Quinn knows there is reason for optimism once again as Ryan and the offense look to get back on track when they led the NFL in scoring in the 2016 season.
The running game needs to step up and outside of Jones, the other receivers must improve for the offense to be effective enough to keep opponents honest. The Falcons had a top ten offense last season, but the running game was down from the year before.
The defense held opponents down as far as yardage and scoring was concerned, but improving on takeaways is a must. In 2017, the Falcons had only eight interceptions and eight fumble recoveries.
Playing in the strong NFC South makes things even more difficult. Three teams (Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans) made the playoffs last year, so it will be a challenge for the Falcons to regain the division title they had two years ago.
Four of their first five games are against playoff teams (including the season opener at Philadelphia, the reigning Super Bowl champions) so a good start would be a huge plus for Atlanta.
If Ryan and company get it going again, another Super Bowl appearance could happen. The likelihood is another 10-6 finish this year, which could be enough to get back to the playoffs for a third straight season.

Week 1 - at Philadelphia
Week 2 - vs. Carolina
Week 3 - vs. New Orleans
Week 4 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 5 - at Pittsburgh
Week 6 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 7 - vs. NY Giants
Week 8 - Bye
Week 9 - at Washington
Week 10 - at Cleveland
Week 11 - vs. Dallas
Week 12 - at New Orleans
Week 13 - vs. Baltimore
Week 14 - at Green Bay
Week 15 - vs. Arizona
Week 16 - at Carolina
Week 17 - at Tampa Bay

Sunday, August 12, 2018

TENNESSEE TITANS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

TENNESSEE TITANS                                                                            

2017 Record - 9-7-0

Head Coach - Matt Vrabel

2017 Offensive Ranking - 23rd (314 ypg, 20.9 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 13th (328 ypg, 22.2 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback Marcus Mariota is entering his fourth season after passing for 3,232 yards with 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last year. He gained 312 yards on the ground (5.2 ypc average) and scored five touchdowns. His backup will likely be Blaine Gabbert. Luke Falk (Washington State) was taken in the NFL draft.
Derrick Henry gained 744 yards rushing with five touchdowns and is the primary running back. He will team with former New England Patriot Dion Lewis (896 rushing yards, six TD and 32 receptions with three TD) this season.
The wide receivers are Rishard Matthews (53 receptions, 795 yards, four TD), Corey Davis (34, 375), Michael Campanaro (19 receptions, one TD and one punt return TD) and Taywan Taylor (16 receptions, one TD). The tight end is Delanie Walker, the Titans' leading receiver in 2017, who had 74 receptions for 807 yards and three scores.

DEFENSE - The front seven is solid with linebackers Brian Orakpo (seven QB sacks), Derrick Morgan (7 1/2 sacks), Wesley Woodyard (five sacks) and rookies Rashaan Evans (Alabama) and (LB/edge rusher) Harold Landry (Boston College) leading the way. Up front is DT Jurrell Casey (six sacks) and DaQuan Jones, who had 3 1/2 sacks. The Titans totaled 43 sacks last season.
The secondary has safety Kevin Byard, who tied for the league lead with eight interceptions last season. Along with Byard are Kendrick Lewis, Brynden Trawick and corners Adoree' Jackson, Malcolm Butler (two picks with New England) and Logan Ryan.
Safety Johnathan Cyprien is out for the season with a knee injury, so rookie Dan Cruikshank (Arizona) and free agent Kenny Vaccaro are also available. 

OUTLOOK - The biggest change in the off-season for the Titans was naming Matt Vrabel as Head Coach, replacing Mike Mularkey.
The Titans finished 9-7 for the second straight season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2008, so they are looking to challenge Jacksonville for the AFC South title again this season.
Mariota and the offense need to step it up after ranking in the bottom third of the NFL last season. The passing game averaged just 199 yards per game. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis should be a solid one-two punch in the backfield and Mariota adds to that with his running abilities.
The defense is pretty good and ranked fourth in the NFL against the run, giving up only 89 yards per game. The pass defense needs improvement after allowing 239 yards per game. The Titans had only 12 interceptions last season. That's why Butler was brought over from the Patriots after a fallout that resulted in his being benched for the Super Bowl.
There is talent on both sides of the ball and if Mariota and company can put more points on the board, it would ease the pressure on the defense.
The Titans will battle for the division title with Jacksonville, while Houston and Indianapolis look to rebound after poor seasons. Another 9-7 finish is a good possibility this season, which might not be enough to get back to the playoffs.

Week 1 - at Miami
Week 2 - vs. Houston
Week 3 - at Jacksonville
Week 4 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 5 - at Buffalo
Week 6 - vs. Baltimore
Week 7 - at LA Chargers (in London)
Week 8 - Bye 
Week 9 - at Dallas
Week 10 - vs. New England
Week 11 - at Indianapolis
Week 12 - at Houston
Week 13 - vs. NY Jets
Week 14 - vs. Jacksonville
Week 15 - at NY Giants
Week 16 - vs. Washington
Week 17 - vs. Indianapolis

Saturday, August 11, 2018

CAROLINA PANTHERS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

CAROLINA PANTHERS                                                                     

2017 Record - 11-5-0

Head Coach - Ron Rivera

2017 Offensive Ranking - 19th (324 ypg, 22.7 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 7th (317 ypg, 20.4 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback Cam Newton passed for 3,302 yards last season along with 22 TD passes and 16 interceptions. He also ran for 754 yards and scored six touchdowns.
The running game will look to feature second year player Christian McCaffrey more this season after the departure of longtime RB Jonathan Stewart. McCaffrey rushed for 435 yards while scoring two touchdowns and he led the team with 80 receptions for 651 yards and five scores.
The wide receivers are Devin Funchess (63 receptions for 840 yards and eight TD), Torrey Smith (36, 430, two TD with Philadelphia), Jarius Wright (18, 198, two TD with Minnesota), Damiere Byrd (10, 105, two TD), Curtis Samuel (15 receptions) and top rookie draft pick D.J. Moore (Maryland). The tithe end is Greg Olsen, who was injured for most of last season.

DEFENSE - Defensive linemen Mario Addison and Julius Peppers each had 11 quarterback sacks and lead the defense. Kawaan Short amassed 7 1/2 sacks. Linebackers Luke Kuechly (injuries) and Thomas Davis (suspension) missed time last season and will look to have big bounce back seasons. Kuechly had three interceptions last season.
The pass defense should get a boost with two rookies joining this year as cornerback Donte Jackson (LSU) and safety Rashaan Gaulden (Tennessee) will play along with Mike Adams (two INT) and James Bradberry, who had two picks as well. Carolina intercepted just ten passes a year ago and the pass defense allowed 229 yards per game.

OUTLOOK - Head Coach Ron Rivera saw the team make the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons a year ago, so the expectations are pretty lofty again heading into the 2018 season.
As long as Newton stays healthy, he is always a dual threat on the offense. McCaffrey impressed in his rookie season and should only get better. The receivers are decent, though the team lacked a real burner on the outside after the trade of Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo midway through last season. Having tight end Greg Olsen back will be huge.
The defense played decent a year ago and will look to have a healthy Luke Kuechly back along with Thomas Davis at linebacker. The Panthers had 50 QB sacks last season and stuffed the run (88 yards allowed per game which ranked third in the NFL) consistently.
Along with New Orleans and Atlanta, the Panthers gave the NFC South three playoff teams in 2017. They can make it back to the post-season again as long as the offense clicks and the defense continues to play well. A 9-7 record is more likely this year and whether that is enough to get a wild card spot is doubtful.
Don't sleep on this team though because they have proven through recent years they can compete and seem to do better when their collective backs are against the wall. The outcome of the 2018 season probably will come down to the final three weeks when they play division rivals Atlanta and New Orleans twice.

Week 1- vs. Dallas
Week 2 - at Atlanta
Week 3 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 4 - Bye
Week 5 - vs. NY Giants
Week 6 - at Washington
Week 7 - at Philadelphia
Week 8 - vs. Baltimore
Week 9 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 10 - at Pittsburgh
Week 11 - at Detroit
Week 12 - vs. Seattle
Week 13 - at Tampa Bay
Week 14 - at Cleveland
Week 15 - vs. New Orleans
Week 16 - vs. Atlanta
Week 17 - at New Orleans

Thursday, August 9, 2018


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS                                                                    

2017 Record - 10-6-0

Head Coach - Doug Marrone

2017 Offensive Ranking - 6th (366 ypg, 26.1 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 2nd (286 ypg, 16.8 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback Blake Bortles is looking to continue his upward swing after coming through in the playoffs last year. Bortles passed for 3,687 yards and 21 touchdown passes last season and was intercepted 13 times. Bortles also rushed for 322 yards and two touchdowns.
Leonard Fournette led the Jaguars in rushing in his rookie year, going for 1,040 yards (in 13 games) and scored nine touchdowns. T.J. Yeldon gained 253 yards and scored twice on the ground.
The wide receivers include Marqise Lee (56 receptions, 703 yards, three TD), Keenan Cole (42, 748, three TD), Dede Westbrook (27, 339) and Donte Moncrief (26, 391, two TD with Indianapolis). Rookie pick D.J. Chark (LSU) is also looking to get his chance. The tight end is Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who had 50 receptions for 357 yards and three touchdowns with the New York Jets last season.

DEFENSE - The second ranked defense in the NFL has sack master Calais Campbell (14 1/2 QB sacks) at defensive end along with Yannick Ngakoue (12 sacks) leading the way along with Dante Fowler, Jr. (eight sacks) and Malik Jackson (eight sacks). The linebackers are led by Telvin Smith (three interceptions) as well as Myles Jack and Blair Brown.
The secondary is stacked with two solid cornerbacks in Jalen Ramsey (four picks) and A.J. Bouye (six INT). The safeties are Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson, who each had four interceptions. Jacksonville picked off 21 passes last season and amassed 55 sacks while leading the NFL in pass defense, allowing just 170 yards per game.

OUTLOOK - The Jaguars nearly pulled off the shocker of the season last January in the AFC Championship Game, narrowly losing to the New England Patriots on the road.
Head Coach Doug Marrone knows his team is built to win now and they had a taste of it last year after years of futility.
Are they hungry enough this year?
The defense is solid and adds two top rookie picks (DT Taven Bryan - Florida and safety Ronnie Harrison - Alabama) to the mix this season. With a forceful defensive front and the best secondary in the game, the Jags should be in every game they play.
The offense is the concern, especially at quarterback where Blake Bortles frustrated the team with his inconsistent play a year ago. Entering his fifth season, Bortles is coming off a good playoffs performance and is hoping to see that continue into the 2018 season.
If that happens, the offense could be even better after averaging 26.1 points per game (5th in NFL) last season. Leonard Fournette is a hard runner and the receivers are decent, potentially giving the team a passing attack that balances the league's top running game.
This could be a big season for the longtime lowly Jaguars. An 11-5 finish should be enough to win the AFC South division again. Whether or not the Jags can go further in the playoffs will depend on the play of Bortles. The Super Bowl is a reality.

Week 1 - at NY Giants
Week 2 - vs. New England
Week 3 - vs. Tennessee
Week 4 - vs. NY Jets
Week 5 - at Kansas City
Week 6 - at Dallas
Week 7 - vs. Houston
Week 8 - vs. Philadelphia (in London) 
Week 9 - Bye
Week 10 - at Indianapolis
Week 11- vs. Pittsburgh
Week 12 - at Buffalo
Week 13 - vs. Indianapolis
Week 14 - at Tennessee
Week 15 - vs. Washington
Week 16 - at Miami
Week 17 - at Houston

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS                                                                       

2017 Record - 5-11-0

Head Coach - Dirk Koetter

2017 Offensive Ranking - 9th (364 ypg, 20.9 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 32nd (378 ypg, 23.9 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Jameis Winston is back for his fourth season the Buccaneers' quarterback. Last season, he passed for 3,504 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Ryan Fitzpatrick (1,103 yards passing, seven TD, three INT) will likely be the backup again this year.
The running game will feature Jacquizz Rodgers (244 yards in 2017), Peyton Barber (423 yards, three TD) and rookie Ronald Jones (USC). The Bucs averaged just 91 yards rushing per game last season.
Mike Evans (71 receptions, 1,001 yards, five TD) and DeSean Jackson (50, 688, three TD), along with Adam Humphries (61, 631, one TD) are the wide receivers. Tight ends Cameron Brate (48, 591, six TD) and O.J. Howard (26, 432, six TD) form a nice tandem and are huge red zone targets.

DEFENSE - Gerald McCoy (six QB sacks), Jason Pierre-Paul (8 1/2 sacks with NY Giants), Vinny Curry (three sacks with Philadelphia) and rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea (first round pick from Washington) will form the defensive front.
The linebacking corps has Kendell Beckwith, Kwon Alexander (three interceptions) and Lavonte David along with Cameron Lynch.
In the secondary is cornerback Brent Grimes (three INT) and safety Justin Evans (three picks). Ryan Smith and Keith Tandy round out the defensive backfield. Three rookie draft picks include corner men M.J. Stewart (North Carolina) and Carlton Davis (Auburn) and safety Jordan Whitehead (Pittsburgh)

OUTLOOK - The Buccaneers can score points and their offense ranked among the top ten in the NFL a year ago, so Head Coach Dirk Koetter would like to see the defense improve to get the team back into the fold in the rugged NFC South division, which had three playoff teams last season.
The Bucs' secondary was the worst in the NFL last season, giving up 261 pass yards per game and the team chose three defensive backs with the first six picks in the draft. The run defense wan't much better, ranking 23rd while giving up 117 yards per game.
With some agile veterans and perhaps the infusion of young talent via the draft, the hope is the defense will be better in the 2018 season. That will be the key to a successful season --  improvement on defense.
The likelihood is a 5-11 finish once again as the schedule is one of the tougher ones in the league this season. Can Tampa Bay prove they are up to the challenge? 
If everything comes together, this team can contend in the division battle. But if the offense falters or the defense again allows opponents to have it easy, it will be another losing season for the Bucs.

Week 1 - at New Orleans
Week 2 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 3 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 4 - at Chicago
Week 5 - Bye 
Week 6 - at Atlanta
Week 7 - vs. Cleveland
Week 8 - at Cincinnati
Week 9 - at Carolina
Week 10 - vs. Washington
Week 11 - at NY Giants
Week 12 - vs. San Francisco
Week 13 - vs. Carolina
Week 14 - vs. New Orleans
Week 15 - at Baltimore
Week 16 - at Dallas
Week 17 - vs. Atlanta

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

MIAMI DOLPHINS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

MIAMI DOLPHINS                                                                                       

2017 Record - 6-10-0

Head Coach - Adam Gase

2017 Offensive Ranking - 25th (308 ypg, 17.6 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 16th (336 ypg, 24.6 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is coming back from the knee injury that kept him out all of last season. Brock Osweiler and David Fales will be ready in reserve.
Kenyan Drake (644 yards, 4.8 ypc average, three TD) and Frank Gore (961 rush yards, three TD with Indy Colts in 2017) will be the primary ball carriers this season.
The wide receivers include Kenny Stills (58 receptions, 847 yards, six TD), DeVante Parker (57, 670, one TD) and Danny Amendola, who caught 61 passes for 659 yards and two touchdowns with New England last year. The tight end position is wide open as A.J. Derby, MarQuies Gray and rookies Mike Gesicki (Penn State) and Durham Smythe (Notre Dame) look to contribute to the passing attack.

DEFENSE - Defensive End Cameron Wake (10 1/2 QB sacks) spearheads the defense while Robert Quinn (8 1/2 sacks with LA Rams) comes over for this season. Andre Branch (4 1/2 sacks) is another factor for the Dolphins on the defensive front.
Kiko Alonso, Stephone Anthony and Raekwon McMillan are the linebackers and rookie Jerome Baker (Ohio State) and Mike Hull will provide depth.
Reshad Jones and Bobby McCain each had two interceptions for a secondary that had only nine interceptions last season. Rookie safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) was a first round pick and might step right in this season.

OUTLOOK - Last season was a wash as Tannehill never played a down while since re-retired Jay Cutler is gone after attempting to fill the role in 2017.
Tannehill has shown he can get the job done and has decent wide receivers and what looks to be a solid duo in the backfield with Kenyan Drake and 14-year veteran Frank Gore.
The defense was respectable last season and with Wake and Quinn looming large on the defensive line, perhaps that will enable more turnovers from the defense, especially in the secondary. Miami was a minus-14 in the turnover category and Head Coach Adam Gase would like to see that change.
Playing in the AFC East is never easy, especially with the New England Patriots dominating year after year. If the Dolphins are to improve this season, the offense has to step up and the defense must come through in crunch time.
Tannehill remaining healthy is the key for this season and success is possible, but the likelihood is a 7-9 finish for the Dolphins as they reload and try to recover from last season's debacle.

Week 1 - vs. Tennessee
Week 2 - at NY Jets
Week 3 - vs. Oakland
Week 4 - at New England
Week 5 - at Cincinnati
Week 6 - vs. Chicago
Week 7 - vs. Detroit
Week 8 - at Houston
Week 9 - vs. NY Jets
Week 10 - at Green Bay
Week 11 - Bye
Week 12 - at Indianapolis
Week 13 - vs. Buffalo
Week 14 - vs. New England
Week 15 - at Minnesota
Week 16 - vs. Jacksonville
Week 17 - at Buffalo

Monday, August 6, 2018

LOS ANGELES RAMS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

LOS ANGELES RAMS                                                                          

2017 Record - 11-5-0

Head Coach - Sean McVay

2017 Offensive Ranking - 10th (362 ypg, 29.9 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 19th (340 ypg, 20.6 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Third year quarterback Jared Goff returns after a big improvement last season from his rookie season. Goff passed for 3,804 yards with 28 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions.
Running back Todd Gurley also enjoyed a huge bounce back season as he rushed for 1,305 yards (4.7 ypc average) and 13 touchdowns while also leading the team with 64 receptions (788 yards) and six touchdowns.  Malcolm Brown (246 yards, one TD) is the backup.
The wide receivers are Robert Woods (56 receptions, 781 yards, five TD), Cooper Kupp (62, 869, five TD) and Brandin Cooks, who comes over from the New England Patriots after one season in which he caught 65 passes for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns. The tight ends are Tyler Higbee (25, 295, one TD) and Gerald Everett (16, 244, two TD).

DEFENSE - Aaron Donald (11 QB sacks) anchors the front seven in the Rams defense and will have Ndamukong Suh (4 1/2 sacks) along side him this season. Linebackers include Matt Longacre (5 1/2 sacks) and Mark Barron (three interceptions).
The secondary should get a big boost with cornerbacks Marcus Peters (five picks with Kansas City in 2017) and Aqib Talib (one INT with Denver) coming over in free agency. Nickell Robey-Coleman (two INT), Sam Shields and Kevin Peterson (two picks) are also in the secondary.

OUTLOOK - The Rams won the NFC West last year and made the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons under first year Head Coach Sean McVay.
This season, the roster has been bolstered, especially on the defense with numerous free agents coming over. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks joins a talented group and of course, the bread and butter players on offense are QB Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley.
As long as the team can continue the flow of the offense implemented by McVay and his staff, Goff should enjoy another big season. The Rams led the NFL in scoring last season. The running game was also top ten in the league, averaging 122 yards per game.
The defense struggled against the run, but with Suh coming into the fold, that should improve from last season when the Rams ranked 28th in that area.
The stage is set for another division title for the Rams as Seattle looks to be in transition while Arizona and San Francisco are looking to compete after making some off-season moves.
As long as Goff and Gurley are healthy and doing their thing and the defense shows improvement with the influx of talent this off-season, the Rams could go further in the playoffs this time around.
Another 11-5 finish is likely and perhaps (if things break just right) a trip to the Super Bowl is possible.

Week 1 - at Oakland
Week 2 - vs. Arizona
Week 3 - vs. LA Chargers
Week 4 - vs. Minnesota
Week 5 - at Seattle
Week 6 - at Denver
Week 7 - at San Francisco
Week 8 - vs. Green Bay
Week 9 - at New Orleans
Week 10 - vs. Seattle
Week 11 - vs. Kansas City (in Mexico City)
Week 12 - Bye
Week 13 - at Detroit
Week 14 - at Chicago
Week 15 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 16 - at Arizona
Week 17 - vs. San Francisco

Sunday, August 5, 2018

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS                                                                          

2017 Record - 10-6-0

Head Coach - Andy Reid

2017 Offensive Ranking - 5th (375 ypg, 25.9 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 28th (365 ypg, 21.2 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Patrick Mahomes takes over the starting quarterback this season after Alex Smith left for the Washington Redskins. Mahomes played very little last season, passing for only 284 yards.
The running game is solid with NFL rushing leader Kareem Hunt, who amassed 1,327 yards (4.9 ypc average) and eight rushing touchdowns. He also caught 53 passes for 455 yards with three touchdowns. Four players backing up Hunt include Charcandrick West (four TD last year), Damien Williams (181 yards with Miami in 2017), Kerwynn Williams (426 yards and one TD with Arizona) and Spencer Ware, who is looking to return from a serious knee injury that kept him out all of last season.
The wide receivers include Tyreek Hill, who had 75 receptions for 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago. Also in the mix is Sammy Watkins (39, 593, 8 TD with LA Rams), Chris Conley (11, 175) and Demarcus Robinson (21, 212). The tight end is Travis Kelce, who led the team with 83 receptions, gaining 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns.

DEFENSE - Linebacker Justin Houston had 9 1/2 QB sacks last year while defensive end Chris Jones had 6 1/2 sacks. Linebacker Dee Ford (two sacks) and defensive back Eric Berry (coming off Achilles injury) are other key players on defense.
Gone is All-Pro cornerman Marcus Peters (free agent signee with LA Rams), along with linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, so the Chiefs need play makers to step up this season. Newcomers include free agent defensive backs David Amerson, Kendall Fuller and Robert Golden, along with LB Anthony Hitchens.
Five rookie draft picks on defense include linebackers Breeland Speaks (Mississippi) and Dorian O'Daniel (Clemson), DT Derrick Nnadi (Florida State) and defensive backs Armani Watts (Texas A & M) and Tremon Smith (Central Arkansas).

OUTLOOK - Head Coach Andy Reid is a master at getting the most from his team's talent and this year he will have his work cut out, especially with so many defensive replacements. The biggest one will be at quarterback where Mahomes takes over for Alex Smith.
The Chiefs have plenty of weapons both at running back and with the receiving corps, so scoring points and putting up big numbers shouldn't be a problem. Kansas City ranked sixth last season in the NFL in scoring and fifth overall, averaging 375 yards per game and just under 26 points per game.
The defense is what will determine whether or not this team can win a third consecutive AFC West title and return to the playoffs, where they failed once again in the Wild Card round last year.
If all goes well, this team can make a deep playoff run, but if they struggle on defense and/or both sides of the ball with the first year signal caller, it could be a rough ride.
Look for a 9-7 season and a possible wild card berth if that is what it takes to make it to the post-season in the AFC this year.

Week 1 - at LA Chargers
Week 2 - at Pittsburgh
Week 3 - vs. San Francisco
Week 4 - at Denver
Week 5 - vs. Jacksonville
Week 6 - at New England
Week 7 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 8 - vs. Denver
Week 9 - at Cleveland
Week 10 - vs. Arizona
Week 11 - at LA Rams (in Mexico City)
Week 12 - Bye
Week 13 - at Oakland
Week 14 - vs. Baltimore
Week 15 - vs. LA Chargers
Week 16 - at Seattle
Week 17 - vs. Oakland

Saturday, August 4, 2018

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS                                                                    

2017 Record - 9-7-0

Head Coach - Pete Carroll

2017 Offensive Ranking - 15th (330 ypg, 22.9 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 11th (323 ypg, 20.8 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 3,983 yards last year while throwing 34 touchdown passes with 11 interceptions and also rushed for 586 yards (6.2 ypc average) to lead the team and scored three touchdowns.
The running game needs a shot in the arm this season and on hand to carry the ball are Chris Carson (208 yards in four games), C.J. Prosise, Mike Davis (240 yards in six games) and top rookie pick Rashaad Penny (San Diego State).
Doug Baldwin (75 receptions for 991 yards and eight TD) is the primary wide receiver. Tyler Lockett (45, 555, two TD), Jaron Brown (31, 477, four TD with Arizona) and Marcus Johnson are the other targets for Wilson to throw to. The tight end will be Ed Dickson, who caught 30 passes for 437 yards and one score as the team looks to fill the void left when Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson went to other teams.

DEFENSE - Seven different players are gone from last season's defense, including big names such as Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson.
Leading the way this year will be linebackers Bobby Wagner (two interceptions) and K.J. Wright, along with safety Earl Thomas, who also had two picks last season.
Up front is Defensive End Frank Clark, who led the Seahawks with nine quarterback sacks last season. Rookie Rasheem Green (USC) will look to prove himself on the line.
In the secondary along with Thomas is Byron Maxwell, Shaquill Griffin, Justin Coleman (two INT) and Bradley McDougald.

OUTLOOK - Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll knows this season will present big challenges as the team looks to get back to the post-season following last year's 9-7 finish that kept them out of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
As long as QB Russell Wilson remains healthy (he was sacked 43 times last year) and continues to perform at Pro Bowl level, the offense should be fine. However, at least one running back has to emerge to take pressure off Wilson, who does it all for the Seattle offense.
The defense will see many new faces looking to fill the holes of perennial All-Pro players, so the challenges of facing a new season will loom large for the 'Hawks in the 2018 season.
The "Legion of Boom" days are over and the Seahawks are no longer considered the big dogs of the NFC West after finishing second to the Los Angeles Rams, so they will be out to prove the doubters wrong this season.
Whether or not they can get back to form and make the playoffs will depend on Wilson leading the way for the offense. The defense should still be pretty good, just not the best in the NFL. Seattle would do well to get back to the playoffs, but the reality of the game figures to see the Seahawks finish 6-10 as they look to reload/rebuild on the fly.

Week 1 - at Denver
Week 2 - at Chicago
Week 3 - vs. Dallas
Week 4 - at Arizona
Week 5 - vs. LA Rams
Week 6 - at Oakland (in London)
Week 7 - Bye
Week 8 - at Detroit
Week 9 - vs. LA Chargers
Week 10- at LA Rams
Week 11 - vs. Green Bay
Week 12 - at Carolina
Week 13 - vs. San Francisco
Week 14 - vs. Minnesota
Week 15 - at San Francisco
Week 16 - vs. Kansas City
Week 17 - vs. Arizona

Friday, August 3, 2018

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS                                                                 

2017 Record - 9-7-0

Head Coach - Anthony Lynn

2017 Offensive Ranking - 4th (377 ypg, 22.2 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 15th (328 ypg, 17.0 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Entering his 15th NFL season and 13th as starting quarterback is Philip Rivers, who last season passed for 4,515 yards with 28 touchdowns and ten interceptions.
Running back Melvin Gordon rushed for 1,105 yards and scored 12 touchdowns (eight rushing, four receiving) to go along with 58 receptions for 476 yards. Austin Ekeler (260 rushing yards, 5.5 ypc average, two TD) spells Gordon adequately.
The receiving corps is led by Keenan Allen, who had 102 receptions last season for 1,393 yards and six touchdowns. Mike Williams (11 receptions while limited by injuries), Tyrell Williams (43, 728, four TD) and Travis Benjamin (34, 567, four TD) provide more weapons for the passing attack, which led the NFL in 2017 by averaging 277 yards per game. Tight End Hunter Henry was lost for the season in an off-season injury, as was the backup tight end, leaving the Chargers scrambling to fill the void as training camp opened. Virgil Green (14, 191, one TD with Denver) might start at that spot.

DEFENSE - The Chargers have two extraordinary pass rushers with Joey Bosa (12 1/2 QB sacks) and Melvin Ingram, who had 10 1/2 sacks. Overall, the 'Bolts totaled 43 sacks last season while intercepting 18 passes and ranking third overall against the pass.
The run defense was another story as opponents averaged 131 yards per game against the Chargers. Not surprisingly the team drafted four defensive players with their first four picks. Safety Derwin James (Florida State) was the teams' top pick this year. Linebackers Uchenna Nwosu (USC), Kyzir White (West Virginia) and DT Justin Jones (NC State) will look to make an impact this season.
Veteran linebackers Denzel Perryman and Kyle Emanuel back defensive ends Bosa and Ingram along with Corey Liuget in the trenches.
In the secondary, Jason Verrett was lost for the season as camp started with an Achilles injury. But this area is deep and corners Casey Heyward (four interceptions) and Trevor Williams (two INT) along with Adrian Phillips (two picks) have ball hawking abilities.

OUTLOOK - After a poor start (0-4) with three nail biting losses included, the Chargers made a late run to finish 9-7, but fell short of the playoffs again.
Head Coach Anthony Lynn enters his second season looking to end the four-year playoff drought for the Chargers. The offense is capable of putting up big numbers and Rivers continues to be the face of the franchise and will be counted on once again to lead the way. As long as he continues to perform and Melvin Gordon remains healthy and produces in the backfield, the team should be solid on offense.
The Chargers can get after enemy quarterbacks and defend the pass, but the run defense must improve if the team is to be considered a real threat to New England and Pittsburgh in the AFC.
The AFC West looks to be more wide open this season as the Kansas City Chiefs are revamping their team and both Oakland and Denver are looking to rebound after poor seasons. The Chargers can win the division if they stay healthy and play the kind of football they showed in the second half of last season.
Look for an 11-5 finish and a playoff appearance for the first time since 2013 for the Chargers this season. How far they can go in the playoffs will depend on Rivers' play in January and the defense being consistent.

Week 1 - vs. Kansas City
Week 2 - at Buffalo
Week 3 - at LA Rams
Week 4 - vs. San Francisco
Week 5 - vs. Oakland
Week 6 - at Cleveland
Week 7 - vs. Tennessee (in London) 
Week 8 - Bye
Week 9 - at Seattle
Week 10 - at Oakland
Week 11 - vs. Denver
Week 12 - vs. Arizona
Week 13 - at Pittsburgh
Week 14 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 15 - at Kansas City
Week 16 - vs. Baltimore
Week 17 - at Denver 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers - 2018 NFL Season Preview

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers                                                                     

2017 Record - 6-10-0 

Head Coach - Kyle Shanahan

2017 Offensive Ranking - 12th (349 ypg, 20.7 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 24th (352 ypg, 23.9 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Jimmy Garoppolo takes over as the starting quarterback after a strong finish last year with the team following a trade from New England. Garoppolo passed for 1,560 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. C.J. Beathard (1,430 yards, four TD, six INT) is the backup.
Jerick McKinnon (570 rushing yards, three TD and 51 receptions for 421 yards with two TD with Minnesota) takes over from Carlos Hyde as the primary running back. Matt Breida (465 yards, 4.4 ypc average, two TD) will share duties with McKinnon.
Pierre Garcon (40 receptions for 500 yards), Marquise Goodwin (56, 962, two TD), Aldrick Robinson (19, 260, 2) Trent Taylor (43, 430, 2) and rookie Dante Pettis (Washington) will form the wide receiving corps. The tight ends are George Kittle (43, 515, 2) and Garrett Celek, who had 21 receptions for 336 yards and four touchdowns.

DEFENSE - Richard Sherman will join Ahkello Witherspoon at the corner spot in the secondary and that is the big off-season news for the defense. Sherman is a former All-Pro cornerback who suffered through an injury marred season in 2017 and was cut loose by the Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers defense had just 10 interceptions last season, including two by Witherspoon. Sherman also had two picks last year.
Up front, DeForest Buckner (three QB sacks) will team with Arik Armstead, Earl Mitchell and Solomon Thomas while Malcolm Smith leads the linebackers. Also in the fold might be Reuben Foster, who is facing disciplinary action from the league. If he is able to contribute in 2018, it will bolster the San Francisco defense, which allowed 352 yards last season (24th in the NFL).

OUTLOOK - There is reason for optimism in San Francisco entering this season as the team improved to 6-10 after going 2-14 the year before. A big reason is quarterback Jimmy G (as he is called by fans) who helped the team finish 2017 with a five-game winning streak.
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan knows he has some budding talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage and would love to see the improvement continue forward in the 2018 season. Another key to the team possibly making a run at the playoffs for the first time in five years is McKinnon in the offensive backfield and a contingent of decent wide receivers.
The defense needs to show improvement with the pass rush (only 30 sacks last season) and getting more turnovers, evidenced by just 10 interceptions. Sherman will be counted on to help improve that number.
Whether or not the late season surge of 2017 was just a fluke remains to be seen, but if Garoppolo and company can keep the magic carpet ride going strong this year and the defense steps it up, the 49ers could be dark horses to make the playoffs. An 8-8 finish is more likely this season as the team makes improvements toward the future.

Week 1 - at Minnesota
Week 2 - vs. Detroit
Week 3 - at Kansas City
Week 4 - at LA Chargers
Week 5 - vs. Arizona
Week 6 - at Green Bay
Week 7 - vs. LA Rams
Week 8 - at Arizona
Week 9 - vs. Oakland
Week 10 - vs. NY Giants
Week 11- Bye
Week 12 - at Tampa Bay
Week 13 - at Seattle
Week 14 - vs. Denver
Week 15 - vs. Seattle
Week 16 - vs. Chicago
Week 17 - at LA Rams

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

OAKLAND RAIDERS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

OAKLAND RAIDERS                                                                                  

2017 Record - 6-10-0

Head Coach - Jon Gruden

2017 Offensive Ranking - 17th (324 ypg, 18.8 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 23rd (350 ypg, 23.3 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback Derek Carr slipped in 2017, passing for 3,496 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He is back for his fifth season in Oakland. E.J. Manuel is the backup.
Marshawn Lynch came out of his one-year hiatus and rushed for 891 yards last season for the Raiders, averaging 4.3 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns. Doug Martin (406 yards, 2.9 ypc, three TD) comes over from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season to help the running game.
Wide receivers include Amari Cooper (48 receptions for 680 yards and seven TD), Seth Roberts (43, 455, one TD) and newcomers Martavis Bryant (50, 603, three TD with Pittsburgh) and Jordy Nelson, who had 53 receptions for 482 yards with six touchdowns with Green Bay. The tight end is Jared Cook, who snagged 54 passes for 688 yards and two touchdowns.

DEFENSE - All-Pro Defensive End Kahlil Mack (10 1/2 QB sacks last season) is a holdout at this point in time and there is uncertainty if he will play for the Raiders this season. He is the main cog of the defense.
Defensive End Bruce Irvin (eight sacks) anchors the front line along with Mack, so it may fall on him to lead the way this season along with Justin Ellis, Eddie Vanderdoes and possibly rookie draft pick P.J. Hall (Sam Houston State) up front.
In the secondary, Rashaan Melvin (cornerback) and Marcus Gilchrist (safety) come over via free agency to join Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph to bolster a pass defense that allowed 241 yards per game last year while intercepting a league low five passes.

OUTLOOK - The Raiders brought back Jon Gruden to be the Head Coach with a huge contract and are hoping he can work his magic from many year's past to get the team back to the playoffs after a poor 2017 season.
The key will be QB Derek Carr returning to his 2016 form when the Raiders made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. If he can get on target with a decent set of wide receivers and the running game (with veterans Lynch and Martin) can get things rolling, then perhaps Oakland can get more points on the scoreboard.
The defense has to improve against the pass and create more turnovers to take the pressure off the offense. If Kahlil Mack is a no show this year, look for the Raiders defense to struggle even more than last season, when they finished 23rd overall.
If things fall into place and Gruden can inspire the team to a higher level, the playoffs cannot be ruled out of the question. That might be a bit of a reach because there is age in key spots for the offense. The Raiders would do well to improve on last season's record by going 8-8. Anything better would be a definite bonus.

Week 1 - vs. LA Rams
Week 2 - at Denver
Week 3 - at Miami
Week 4 - vs. Cleveland
Week 5 - at LA Chargers
Week 6 - vs. Seattle (in London)
Week 7 - Bye 
Week 8 - vs. Indianapolis
Week 9 - at San Francisco
Week 10 - vs. LA Chargers
Week 11 - at Arizona
Week 12 - at Baltimore
Week 13 - vs. Kansas City
Week 14 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 15 - at Cincinnati
Week 16 - vs. Denver
Week 17 - at Kansas City

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

ARIZONA CARDINALS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

ARIZONA CARDINALS                                                                         

2017 Record - 8-8-0

Head Coach - Steve Wilks

2017 Offensive Ranking - 22nd (314 ypg, 18.4 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 6th (311 ypg, 22.6 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - After a shakeup at quarterback with Carson Palmer retiring, the Cardinals brought in Sam Bradford to be the starter for the 2018 season. Also in the fold will be Mike Glennon and rookie Josh Rosen (UCLA). Bradford passed for 382 yards with three touchdowns in very limited action with Minnesota last season while Glennon suffered through a miserable 2017 outing with the Chicago Bears (833 pass yards with four TD and five interceptions). Rosen is the quarterback for the future, possibly sooner than expected if things get rough this year.
The running game should get a huge boost provided David Johnson is back healthy after missing nearly all of last season with a wrist injury. Johnson had a huge 2016 season and will be counted on to carry the load.
The wide receivers have 15-year veteran Larry Fitzgerald leading the way after making 109 receptions for 1,156 yards with six touchdowns a year ago. J.J. Nelson (29, 508, two TD) is the deep threat while Brice Butler (15, 317, three TD with Dallas) and rookie draft pick Christian Kirk (Texas A & M) will be in the fold. Tight Ends Jermaine Gresham (33, 322, two TD) and Ricky Seals-Jones (12, 201, three TD) will look to contribute in the passing attack.

DEFENSE - Defensive End Chandler Jones (17 QB sacks) had a huge season and is flanked by Olsen Pierre (5 1/2 sacks), Corey Peters and Markus Golden. Linebackers include Josh Byne, Scooby Wright, Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick.
Cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Marcus Williams man the secondary along with safety Antoine Bethea, who had five interceptions last year.

OUTLOOK - The Cardinals have a new Head Coach in Steve Wilks and he will look to get the team back to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Arizona had a good defense but the offense has a lot of questions to be answered as Bradford takes over at quarterback. David Johnson is coming off injuries and the team needs him to get back to his old form.
Another area to be looked at is wide receiver, where Fitzgerald continues to play well in spite of his advanced age. The other receivers have to step up in 2018, evidenced by the steep drop off from 109 catches by Fitzgerald to only 33 for the next leading receiver in tight end Gresham.
If Bradford can make the plays and the running game gets back on track (only 87 yards per game in 2017) to boost the scoring, the Cardinals can be competitive. The NFC West has the Los Angeles Rams looking strong while San Francisco looks to be climbing. Arizona should battle Seattle for third place in the division this year while possibly finishing 8-8 once again.

Week 1 - vs. Washington
Week 2 - at LA Rams
Week 3 - vs. Chicago
Week 4 - vs. Seattle
Week 5 - at San Francisco
Week 6 - at Minnesota
Week 7 - vs. Denver
Week 8 - vs. San Francisco
Week 9 - Bye
Week 10 - at Kansas City
Week 11 - vs. Oakland
Week 12 - at LA Chargers
Week 13 - at Green Bay
Week 14 - vs. Detroit
Week 15 - at Atlanta
Week 16 - vs. LA Rams
Week 17 - at Seattle

Monday, July 30, 2018

DENVER BRONCOS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

DENVER BRONCOS                                                                                          

2017 Record - 5-11-0

Head Coach - Vance Joseph

2017 Offensive Ranking - 17th (324 ypg, 18.1 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 3rd (290 ypg, 23.9 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - The Broncos will have a new quarterback in town this season as Case Keenum comes over from the Minnesota Vikings after a dream season in which he threw for 3,547 yards along with 22 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions. Paxton Lynch will be the backup.
The running game is also getting an overhaul as Devontae Booker (299 yards, one TD), De'Angelo Henderson and third round pick Royce Freeman (Oregon) will carry the ball this season following the release of C.J. Anderson, who led the team in rushing last year.
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are the top wide receivers again this season. Thomas had 83 receptions for 949 yards and five touchdowns last season while Sanders grabbed 47 passes for 555 yards and two scores. The tight ends are Jeff Heuerman (9, 142, two TD) and Jake Butt. Rookie draft picks Courtland Sutton (SMU), DaeSean Hamilton (Penn State) and tight end Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin) will look to make an impact as well.

DEFENSE - Linebackers Von Miller (ten QB sacks) and Brandon Marshall (three sacks) lead the way for this top flight unit, which was third in the NFL a year ago, giving up just 290 yards, including a meager 89 rushing yards per game. Derek Wolfe, Domata Peko and Shelby Harris (5 1/2 sacks) man the front line.
Look for first round pick Bradley Chubb (North Carolina State) to make an impact on the end spot/outside linebacker. He should be a big help as an edge rusher to aid Miller.
Darian Stewart had three interceptions and Chris Harris had two picks and head up the secondary.

OUTLOOK - After finishing in the basement of the AFC West last season, Broncos Head Coach Vance Joseph will look to the new faces on offense to make an immediate impact as they seek to get back to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Quarterback Case Keenum will be the key after a huge season with Minnesota, in which he helped lead them to the NFC Championship Game. The new running backs will have to prove themselves to help take the pressure off the passing game.
The defense is solid and should be even better with rookie Chubb coming on board to help All-Pro linebacker Von Miller put the heat on opposing quarterbacks.
The division is a tough one as Kansas City, the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland all have the means to win the crown. Denver has to score more this year as only four other teams scored less in the 2017 season. The reality for this season is likely no playoffs again and a struggle to get out of the division cellar. Look for a 6-10 finish this season.

Week 1 - vs. Seattle
Week 2 - vs. Oakland
Week 3 - at Baltimore
Week 4 - vs. Kansas City
Week 5 - at NY Jets
Week 6 - vs. LA Rams
Week 7 - at Arizona
Week 8 - at Kansas City
Week 9 - vs. Houston
Week 10 - Bye
Week 11 - at LA Chargers
Week 12 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 13 - at Cincinnati
Week 14 - at San Francisco
Week 15 - vs. Cleveland
Week 16 - at Oakland
Week 17 - vs. LA Chargers

Sunday, July 29, 2018

DALLAS COWBOYS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

DALLAS COWBOYS                                                                               

2017 Record - 9-7-0

Head Coach - Jason Garrett

2017 Offensive Ranking - 14th (332 ypg, 22.1 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 8th (318 ypg, 20.8 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - The Cowboys will have Dak Prescott back at quarterback for the third season in a row. Prescott had 3,324 yards passing in 2017 along with 22 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. He also had six rushing touchdowns.
The running game is headed up by Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 983 yards (in 10 games) and scored seven touchdowns. He also caught 26 passes with two scores. Behind Elliott is Rod Smith (232 yards, four TD).
The wide receiving corps is completely different from a year ago as Dez Bryant was released after leading the Cowboys in receiving last year. The mainstays look to be Allen Hurns (39 receptions for 484 yards with two TD with Jacksonville) and Cole Beasley (36, 314, four TD). Tavon Austin comes over from the Rams, where he caught 13 passes a year ago while also rushing for 270 yards in a dual role. Rookie Michael Gallup (Colorado State) was a third round pick and will look to contribute. The tight ends are Geoff Swaim and Rico Gathers, who will replace retired Jason Witten.

DEFENSE - DeMarcus Lawrence (14 1/2 QB sacks) and David Irving (seven sacks) lead the defense up front while Kony Ealy (DE) and Sean Lee (outside linebacker) will also have key roles for the NFL's eighth ranked defensive unit last season.
Top draft pick Leighton Vander Esch (linebacker from Boise State) may crack the starting unit in the middle while being flanked by Lee and Jaylon Smith.
In the secondary are Jeff Heath and Anthony Brown leading the way. Heath picked off three passes a year ago while Brown intercepted two passes. Overall, the 'Pokes had only ten interceptions while giving up 214 yards passing per game.

OUTLOOK - The Cowboys slipped to 9-7 a year ago and missed the playoffs while Elliott served a six-game suspension and Prescott was up-and-down in his second season as the starting quarterback.
Head Coach Jason Garrett once again is in the hot seat as the team looks to get back to the post-season. The key will be Prescott and Elliott returning to the form they displayed as rookies two years ago. If that happens and the revamped receiving corps comes along, the Cowboys could find themselves back in the playoffs.
The defense is pretty solid as they were a top ten unit in 2017 and look to continue that success again this season. Linebacker Sean Lee needs to stay healthy as he is the leader of the unit and wreaks havoc against opponents.
The first five weeks of the schedule could bode well for Dallas as only Carolina was a playoff team last year. A good start would definitely be huge for them in the NFC East division where the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles loom large.
There are a lot of questions facing the team, especially at wide receiver, but a playoff appearance is not out of the question for the Cowboys this season. But they have to do better than 9-7, which is more likely to happen again in 2018 than enough improvement to get them back to the playoffs.

Week 1 - at Carolina
Week 2 - vs. NY Giants
Week 3 - at Seattle
Week 4 - vs. Detroit
Week 5 - at Houston
Week 6 - vs. Jacksonville
Week 7 - at Washington
Week 8 - Bye
Week 9 - vs. Tennessee
Week 10 - at Philadelphia
Week 11 - at Atlanta
Week 12 - vs. Washington
Week 13 - vs. New Orleans
Week 14 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 15 - at Indianapolis
Week 16 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 17 - at NY Giants