Thursday, August 30, 2018


PHILADELPHIA EAGLES                                                                      

2017 Record - 13-3-0

Head Coach - Doug Pederson

2017 Offensive Ranking - 7th (366 ypg, 28.6 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 4th (307 ypg, 18.4 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Carson Wentz will be the starting quarterback once again after a superb season (3,296 yards passing, 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions) was cut short by a knee injury. Nick Foles (537 yards passing, five TD and two INT) is an excellent backup QB and showed it by leading the Eagles offense all the way to the Super Bowl victory.
Jay Ajayi came over in a mid-season trade and rushed for 408 yards (5.8 ypc average) and will be the primary back, especially with LeGarrette Blount leaving via free agency. Corey Clement (321 yards, four TD) and Darren Sproles will be factors on offense as well.
Wide receivers include Alshon Jeffery (57 receptions, 789 yards, nine TD), Nelson Agholor (62, 768, eight TD) and Mike Wallace (52, 748, four TD with Baltimore). The tight ends are Zach Ertz (74, 824, eight TD), Richard Rodgers (12, 160, one TD with Green Bay) and rookie Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State). 

DEFENSE - Brandon Graham (9 1/2 QB sacks), Fletcher Cox (5 1/2 sacks), Derek Barnett (five sacks) and Chris Long (five sacks) form a strong pass rushing presence up front while Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett will bring experienced depth. Linebackers include Nathan Gerry, Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham.
In the secondary will be corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, who each had three interceptions. The safeties are Malcolm Jenkins (two INT) and Rodney McLeod, who had three picks. Corey Graham (two INT) adds depth and rookie draft pick Avonte Maddox (Pittsburgh) will look to make an impact.

OUTLOOK - The defending Super Bowl champions will have a very large target on their collective backs this season and Head Coach Doug Pederson knows it won't be easy to get back to another Super Bowl.
However, having Carson Wentz back healthy at quarterback is big, especially with Nick Foles in reserve. There is good speed and ability at the wide receiver spot and tight end Zach Ertz is deadly for opponents when the Eagles reach the red zone.
The running game should be solid with Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement forming a solid one-two punch and if veteran third-down back Darren Sproles returns to his old form coming back from injury, it adds even more to the potent attack.
Defensively, the Eagles led the NFL in rushing defense, allowing just 79 yards per game while also having the ability to get after opposing quarterbacks. The secondary can be hit-and-miss as they did intercept 19 passes last year, but also allowed 227 yards per game. A big plus was in the turnover category, where the Eagles were a plus-11, which was fourth best in the league.
As long as the Eagles have either Wentz or Foles at quarterback, they should continue to score points and the defense has some added depth with some free agent pickups in the off-season.
As long as they stay healthy and play up to their capabilities, the Eagles should get back to the playoffs. An 11-5 record should be enough to win the NFC East again and how far they go in the playoffs will depend on their desire to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions in 14 years.

Week 1 - vs. Atlanta
Week 2 - at Tampa Bay
Week 3 - vs. Indianapolis
Week 4 - at Tennessee
Week 5 - vs. Minnesota
Week 6 - at NY Giants
Week 7 - vs. Carolina
Week 8 - at Jacksonville (in London)
Week 9 - Bye
Week 10 - vs. Dallas
Week 11 - at New Orleans
Week 12 - vs. NY Giants
Week 13 - vs. Washington
Week 14 - at Dallas
Week 15 - at LA Rams
Week 16 - vs. Houston
Week 17 - at Washington

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS                                                                      

2017 Record - 13-3-0

Head Coach - Bill Belichick

2017 Offensive Ranking - 1st (394 ypg, 28.6 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 29th (366 ypg, 18.5 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback Tom Brady returns for his 19th season as the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, having passed for 4,577 yards with 32 touchdowns and only eight interceptions last season. Brian Hoyer continues to hold the clipboard.
Running backs are James White (171 yards on the ground along with 56 receptions for 429 yards and three touchdowns), Rex Burkhead (264 yards and five TD), Mike Gillislee (383 yards, five TD) and rookie Sony Michel (Georgia).
The wide receivers include Chris Hogan (34 receptions for 439 yards and five TD), Malcolm Mitchell, Julian Edelman, Cordarrelle Patterson (31, 309 with Oakland) and perhaps rookie 6th round draft pick Braxton Berrios (Miami, Florida). Edelman and Mitchell both missed last season with injuries and Edelman is suspended for the first four games this season as well.
Rob Gronkowski is the tight end and was the leading receiver for New England a year ago, hauling in 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. Dwayne Allen (10, 86, one TD) is the other tight end.

DEFENSE - Trey Flowers (6 1/2 QB sacks), Malcom Brown, Deatrich Wise (five sacks) and Adrian Clayborn man the front lines while linebackers include Dont'a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy (5 1/2 sacks) and Elandon Roberts.
The secondary features safeties Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon, who had four interceptions. The corners are Stephon Gilmore (two picks) and Jason McCourty. New England had 42 QB sacks and twelve interceptions last season, but their pass defense gave up 251 yards per game, which ranked 30th in the NFL.

OUTLOOK - As long as Head Coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady are around, the Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC East division as well as the conference.
As usual, there was plenty of personnel turnover this off-season, but the Pats always seem to roll with the changes and keep winning football games.
Brady will have his favorite targets (Gronkowski and a healthy Julian Edelman) back this season, along with reliable wideouts as well. The running game will have to make adjustments as the leading rusher from 2017 (Dion Lewis) is gone via free agency. James White has shown he can be a difference maker in big games, so he will be ready to go along with Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee.
The defense must play better this season after ranking 29th overall (which included 20th against the run and 30th against the pass), giving up 366 yards per game. New England did well on scoring defense though, yielding 18.5 points per game, which was fifth in the league. In addition, the Patriots were a plus-6 in the turnover category.
Whether the Patriots can return to the Super Bowl for the third consecutive year is another question. It's possible, but eventually age and bad breaks have to catch up with this team, right?
Another AFC East title should happen, barring injury to Brady or other key players along with a 12-4 record. If the team is clicking on all cylinders in January, another Super Bowl title could very well be in the making.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


WASHINGTON REDSKINS                                                                      

2017 Record - 7-9-0

Head Coach - Jay Gruden

2017 Offensive Ranking - 16th (325 ypg, 21.4 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 21st (348 ypg, 24.2 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - The quarterback will be Alex Smith, who comes over from the Kansas City Chiefs after passing for 4,042 yards with 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions. In addition, Smith ran for 355 yards with one touchdown. Backing him up will either be Colt McCoy or Kevin Hogan.
Samaje Perine (603 rushing yards with one TD), Chris Thompson (294, two TD and 39 receptions, 510 yards and four TD) and rookie Derrius Guice (LSU) will be the primary running backs. Free agent Adrian Peterson recently signed with the team and could contribute in the backfield as well.
The wide receivers are Paul Richardson (44 receptions, 703 yards, six TD), Jamison Crowder (66, 789, three TD) and Josh Doctson (35, 502, six TD). Tight End Jordan Reed (27, 211, two TD) played just six games least season and is flanked by 13-year veteran Vernon Davis, who had 43 receptions for 648 yards and three touchdowns.

DEFENSE - The defensive front includes Jonathan Allen, Ziggy Hood and Matt Ioaniddis, who had 4 1/2 quarterback sacks last season. Rookie Da'ron Payne (Alabama) and Stacy McGee provide depth.
Linebackers Ryan Kerrigan (13 QB sacks), Preston Smith (eight sacks and two interceptions) and Pernell McPhee (four sacks with Chicago) can get after opposing quarterbacks.
The secondary has cornerbacks Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar, along with safeties D.J. Swearinger (four interceptions) and Montae Nicholson. The Redskins had 42 sacks and picked off 16 passes last season while ranking in the NFL's top ten against the pass.

OUTLOOK - The Washington Redskins have been no better than a mediocre team the last three seasons and Head Coach Jay Gruden would like to see that change in a big way.
So, out with quarterback Kirk Cousins (now with the Minnesota Vikings) and in with 14-year veteran Alex Smith, who had perhaps his best statistical season with Kansas City a year ago.
The offense was middle of the pack and so was the defense, although the pass defense did rank ninth overall last season. The Redskins running game must get better after averaging just 90 yards per game last year, which ranked 28th in the NFL.
If Smith can show he is the quarterback from last year, the Redskins could be better offensively as they look to get back to the post-season for the first time in three years.
The NFC East looks to be a battle once again, but the Philadelphia Eagles separated themselves from the pack a year ago and if the Redskins want to be competitive, they must have a balanced offense and show they can stop the run after finishing at the bottom of the league, allowing 134 yards rushing per game.
A 6-10 season is likely unless all things come together on both sides of the ball. The Redskins are in a zone of mediocrity and that is likely to be the case once again this season.

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

Monday, August 27, 2018

Manu Ginobili Retiring From NBA

The Big Three - Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili announced his retirement from the NBA after 16 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, which included four NBA Championships.
Along with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, Ginobili helped form  "The Big Three" core of the Spurs teams which won 50 or more games for 14 straight years they played together. Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich always has run a system style offense, but Ginobili's improvisation on the basketball court helped make it even better through the years.
No doubt Ginobili will be in the Hall of Fame along with Duncan and Parker down the road.

Congratulations on a great career Manu Ginobili - one of the best ever to lace 'em up.

BALTIMORE RAVENS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

BALTIMORE RAVENS                                                                         

2017 Record - 9-7-0

Head Coach - John Harbaugh

2017 Offensive Ranking - 27th (305 ypg, 24.7 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 12th (325 ypg, 18.9 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Joe Flacco returns as the starting quarterback after passing for 3,141 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last year. Rookie Lamar Jackson (Louisville) is a dual threat who will likely be the backup to Flacco. Robert Griffin III is attempting a comeback with the Ravens and could get a roster spot as well.
Alex Collins rushed for 973 yards and scored six touchdowns and is the top running back. Javorius Allen (591 rushing yards, four TD and 46 receptions, including two receiving TD) is a solid number two runner.
There is a new group of wide receivers this year as Michael Crabtree (58 receptions, 618 yards and eight touchdowns with Oakland), John Brown (21, 299, three TD in only 10 games with Arizona), Chris Moore and Willie Snead will be the targets for Flacco. The tight end is Nick Boyle, who had 28 receptions for 203 yards.
Rookies Jaleel Scott (New Mexico State) and Jordan Lasley (UCLA) along with rookie tight ends Hayden Hurst (South Carolina) and Mark Andrews (Oklahoma) will be ready when needed.

DEFENSE - Linebackers Terrell Suggs (eleven QB sacks), Matthew Judon (eight sacks) and C.J. Mosley (two interceptions) lead the defense, which ranked 12th overall last season. Up front are Michael Pierce, Brent Urban and Brandon Williams.
The secondary is a solid unit with corners Jimmy Smith (three interceptions) and Brandon Carr (four picks) and safety Eric Weddle (six interceptions and one sack). Tony Jefferson and Marion Humphrey (two INT) add depth. Baltimore led the NFL with 22 interceptions and had 41 QB sacks while leading the league with a plus-17 in the turnover category.

OUTLOOK - The Ravens just missed the playoffs last year and are looking to re-tool the offense on the fly as QB Joe Flacco has many new weapons to throw to this season.
Head Coach John Harbaugh would like to see more consistency in the passing game, which ranked 29th overall (189 yards per game) last season. With the turnover in personnel at wide receiver, it could take some time to mesh, but Flacco has shown in the past he can get things done.
The defense is still very good, implementing the bend, but don't break approach. The Ravens finished sixth in the NFL in scoring defense (18.9 points allowed per game) while ranking 12th overall, giving up 325 yards per game.
After splitting the six division games last season, Baltimore has to do better if they want to overtake the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC North crown. A playoff spot is possible, but another 9-7 season is looming unless the offense picks it up from last season to take some pressure off the defense.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2018

NEW YORK GIANTS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

NEW YORK GIANTS                                                                               

2017 Record - 3-13-0

Head Coach - Pat Shurmur

2017 Offensive Ranking - 21st (314 ypg, 15.4 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 31st (373 ypg, 24.2 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Eli Manning returns for his 15th season at quarterback. Last season, he passed for 3,468 yards with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Davis Webb and rookie draft pick Kyle Lauletta (Richmond) will be the backups.
The running game will see top rookie pick Saquon Barkley (Penn State) leading the way and former Carolina Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (680 rushing yards and six touchdowns) as the primary backup. Wayne Gallman (476 rushing yards and 34 receptions) is another option.
Odell Beckham, Jr. saw his 2017 season end after four games played with a broken ankle, but he is looking to regain his All-Pro form after 25 receptions for 302 yards and three touchdowns. Sterling Shepard (59, 731, two TD), Roger Lewis (36, 416, two TD) and tight end Evan Engram (64, 722, six TD) are the other receivers.

DEFENSE - This once proud unit finished 31st in the NFL last year, registering just 27 QB sacks and 13 interceptions. Up front are Kerry Wynn, Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson. The linebackers are Olivier Vernon (6 1/2 QB sacks), Alec Ogletree (two sacks), Kareem Martin, B.J. Goodson and rookie Lorenzo Carter (Georgia).
Defensive backs include Jarious Jenkins (three interceptions), Landon Collins (two INT), Darian Thompson and Eli Apple. Veteran William Gay provides depth.

OUTLOOK - The Giants suffered through a miserable 2017 season and will look to rebound in the NFC East division, where defending Super Bowl Philadelphia looms large.
New Head Coach Pat Shurmur has some weapons with the offense as QB Eli Manning may still have some magic left and Odell Beckham and rookie running back Saquon Barkley will be heavily relied upon this season. More balance on offense is a must as the team averaged just 97 rushing yards per game.
The defense must return to the old ways if the team wants to be taken seriously as a playoff contender. Last year's sack leader Jason Pierre-Paul left via free agency and the secondary was torched regularly last season, finishing 31st in the NFL by allowing 252 pass yards per game. A fierce pass rush had been the trademark as well for the defense, so only 27 sacks a year ago isn't getting it done.
The Giants were 1-5 in divisional games so improvement there could bolster their chances to move up in the standings. The key will be the defense showing improvement while the offense attempts to have more success in the red zone. The Giants averaged a paltry 15.4 points per game, which was second worst in the league.
A 6-10 finish would double their win total from the 2017 season. The playoffs are definitely a reach, but who knows because in today's NFL, quick turnarounds happen pretty regularly. It won't be easy, but the Giants should do better than last season. With Barkley and OBJ in tow, they should at least be more fun to watch.

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

Saturday, August 25, 2018

NEW YORK JETS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

NEW YORK JETS                                                                              

2017 Record - 5-11-0

Head Coach - Todd Bowles

2017 Offensive Ranking - 28th (305 ypg, 18.6 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 25th (352 ypg, 23.9 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Rookie Sam Darnold (USC) is vying for the starting quarterback spot along with Josh McCown (2,926 passing yards, 18 TD, nine interceptions) and Teddy Bridgewater, who came over from the Minnesota Vikings after missing nearly two full seasons because of injuries.
Running backs include Isaiah Crowell (853 yards, two TD with Cleveland) and Bilal Powell, who led the Jets last season in rushing with 772 yards and five touchdowns.
Jermaine Kearse (65 receptions, 810 yards, five TD), Robby Anderson 63, 941, seven TD), Terrelle Pryor (20, 240, one TD with Washington) and tight ends Jordan Leggett and rookie Chris Herndon (Miami, Florida) comprise the receiving corps.

DEFENSE - Steve McLendon and Leonard Williams (two QB sacks) man the front line while linebackers include David Bass (3 1/2 sacks), Darron Lee (three sacks), Avery Williamson and Jordan Jenkins (three sacks).
In the secondary will be corners Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne along with safeties Marcus Maye (two interceptions), Jamal Adams and Terrence Brooks, who picked off two passes last year. The Jets had just eleven interceptions overall and ranked near the bottom of the league with 28 sacks.

OUTLOOK - After back-to-back 5-11 finishes, the Jets are looking to move up in the AFC East race and Head Coach Todd Bowles knows the offense must improve if that is to happen.
Veteran journeyman QB Josh McCown was decent last season and will have a battle with rookie Sam Darnold for the starting spot. The passing game averaged just under 200 yards per game last season and no matter who the starting quarterback is, those numbers have to improve as the Jets scored only 18.6 points per game.
Defensively, there are changes in the front seven with free agent signings and departures from a year ago. The run defense allowed 118 yards per game (24th in NFL) and the pass defense gave up 234 yards a game. The team needs to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks as well after getting just 28 takedowns in the 2017 season.
There is much work to be done with the overhaul of the Jets this season and facing the mighty New England Patriots in the AFC East is always an ominous task. A 4-12 season would be no surprise this year as the Jets could fair worse than the previous two seasons unless things click in a hurry on both sides of the ball.

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

Friday, August 24, 2018

MINNESOTA VIKINGS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

MINNESOTA VIKINGS                                                                                

2017 Record - 13-3-0

Head Coach - Mike Zimmer

2017 Offensive Ranking - 11th (357 ypg, 23.9 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 1st (276 ypg, 15.8 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - There is a complete change at the quarterback position this season in Minnesota. Gone are all three quarterbacks from last season (Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater) and the starter is Kirk Cousins, who had 4,093 yards passing with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with the Washington Redskins last year. Backing him up will be Trevor Siemian (2,285 pass yards, 12 TD, 14 INT with Denver).
Dalvin Cook is looking to return from a knee injury that knocked him out in the fourth game last season. Cook had 354 yards and two scores with a 4.8 ypc average at the time. Latavius Murray did a good job filling the void, going for 842 yards and eight touchdowns.
The wide receivers include Stefon Diggs (64 receptions, 849 yards, eight TD), Adam Thielen (91, 1,276, four TD), Kendall Wright (59, 614, one TD with Chicago) and Laquon Treadwell, who had 20 receptions for 200 yards. Tight End Kyle Rudolph had 57 catches for 532 yards and eight touchdowns.

DEFENSE - The league's top rated defense returns Everson Griffin (13 QB sacks), Danielle Hunter (seven sacks) and nose tackle Linval Joseph, who had 3 1/2 sacks. Sheldon Richardson joins the defensive line this year after playing for Seattle. The linebacking unit includes Anthony Baar, Eric Kendricks and Ben Gedeon.
In the secondary is Harrison Smith (five interceptions) and fellow safety Andrew Sendejo. The corners are Xavier Rhodes (two picks) and Trae Waynes, who also had two interceptions. Rookie corner Mike Hughes (Central Florida) was selected in the first round of the draft and will look to make contributions. The Vikings ranked second against both the run (84 ypg allowed) and the pass, giving up 192 yards per game and finished first in overall and scoring defense.

OUTLOOK - The Vikings rolled to the NFC North crown in 2017 and then won a thrilling game against New Orleans in the divisional round before getting blown out by eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game.
This season, it's being billed as Super Bowl or bust for Minnesota.
Head Coach Mike Zimmer is known as a defensive guru and the Vikings do have a tremendous defense. They would like to see the sacks total go up along with the turnovers. Minnesota had 14 picks last year and registered 37 sacks (both middle of the pack) while allowing just under 16 points per game, which was tops in the NFL.
The offense is being revamped at quarterback where Kirk Cousins takes over after six seasons with the Washington Redskins, which included one playoff appearance in the 2015 season.
The running game is pretty solid and should get better as long as Dalvin Cook can stay healthy this season. Along with Latavius Murray, Cook provides the Vikes a solid one-two punch on the ground and the wide receivers are reliable targets. Tight End Kyle Rudolph is a great red zone target as he hauled in eight scoring passes last year. 
An 11-5 record is likely with a very tough schedule, but the Vikings are confident they can go further this post-season. If Cousins can deliver at quarterback and the running game stays solid, the offense should be better than last season. Combine that with the best defense in the NFL and the recipe could be a Super Bowl appearance and possibly a Super Bowl title for the Vikings.

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

Thursday, August 23, 2018

BUFFALO BILLS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

BUFFALO BILLS                                                                              

2017 Record - 9-7-0

Head Coach - Sean McDermott

2017 Offensive Ranking - 29th (303 ypg, 18.9 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 26th (355 ypg, 22.4 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback A.J. McCarron was injured recently in the pre-season, so it looks like rookie Josh Allen (Wyoming) could be the starter when the season starts. Nathan Peterman (252 passing yards, two touchdowns, five interceptions) is another possibility.
Running back LeSean McCoy (1,138 rush yards, six TD and 59 receptions for 448 yards and two TD) is back for another season along with journeyman back Chris Ivory, who rushed for 382 yards with a touchdown and had 21 receptions with Jacksonville last year.
Wide receivers include Kelvin Benjamin (48, 692, three TD), Zay Jones (27, 316, one TD), Kaelin Clay, Jeremy Kerley (22, 217, one TD with NY Jets) and Andre Holmes (13, 210, three TD). The tight ends are Charles Clay (49, 558, two TD) and Nick O' Leary (22, 322, two TD). Rookies Ray-Ray McCloud (Clemson) and Austin Proehl (North Carolina) are looking for their chance to play as well. 

DEFENSE - Up front for the Bills is Jerry Hughes (four QB sacks), Star Lotulelei, Kyle Williams, Trent Murphy, Shaq Lawson (four sacks) and rookie Harrison Phillips (Stanford). Linebackers include top rookie pick Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech), Lorenzo Alexander (three sacks) and Matt Milano.
Defensive backs Tre'Davious White (four interceptions), Vontae Davis, Jordan Poyer (five INT) and Micah Hyde (five picks) lead a solid unit that intercepted 18 passes last season while allowing 231 yards passing per game. Rookies Siran Neal (Jacksonville State) and Taron Johnson (Weber State) will add depth.

OUTLOOK - The Buffalo Bills ended an 18-year playoff drought last year and lost a tough defensive game to Jacksonville in the Wild Card round of the AFC playoffs. Head Coach Sean McDermott would like to see the team make it two years in a row in the post-season.
Tyrod Taylor left the Bills following the 2017 season, leaving A.J. McCarron as the heir apparent to start at quarterback this season. But an injury may sideline McCarron for possibly the entire season, so now it's either first-round draft pick Josh Allen or Nathan Peterman looking at the starting QB spot.
The offense struggled last season, relying too much on the running game so even with Kelvin Benjamin at wide receiver, the Bills have to improve in that area in the 2018 season. Buffalo finished 31st in the league last year, averaging only 177 passing yards per game.
The defense is decent, but lacks real pass rushing pressure, evidenced by a meager 27 QB sacks last season. Opponents also ran all over the Bills (29th ranked in NFL) as they allowed 125 yards rushing per game.
The Bills got hot down the stretch last season (going 3-1) to get into the playoffs, but this year they will not take any teams by surprise. They have a tough schedule in 2018, so getting back to the playoffs will be a bigger challenge, especially with the question marks at the quarterback position.
Look for a 7-9 finish this year for the Bills as they look to the future with new talent at quarterback and improvement in the passing game.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

GREEN BAY PACKERS - 2018 NFL Season Preview

GREEN BAY PACKERS                                                                          

2017 Record - 7-9-0

Head Coach - Mike McCarthy

2017 Offensive Ranking - 26th (306 ypg, 20.0 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 22nd (349 ypg, 24.0 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is looking to return from an injury riddled 2017 season in which he played only six games, passing for 1,675 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Brett Hundley (1,836 passing yards with nine TD and twelve interceptions and 270 rushing yards with two TD) and DeShone Kizer (2,894 passing yards with eleven TD and 22 INT along with 419 rushing yards and five TD with Cleveland) will compete for the backup spot.
Aaron Jones (448 rushing yards, 5.5 ypc average and four TD), Ty Montgomery (273 yards, three TD) and Jamaal Williams (556 yards, four TD) will look to be the running backs.
The wide receiving corps will be without Jordy Nelson (now with Oakland) this season, but still has Randall Cobb and Devante Adams in the mix. Adams snared a team high 74 receptions for 885 yards and ten touchdowns last season while Cobb had 66 receptions for 653 yards and four touchdowns.
Geronimo Allison (23, 253), rookie J'mon Moore (Missouri) and DeAngelo Yancey are also available. The tight end will be Jimmy Graham, who comes over from Seattle and had 57 catches for 520 yards and ten scores.

DEFENSE - Linebackers Nick Perry (seven QB sacks) and Clay Matthews (7 1/2 sacks) lead the way along with defensive linemen Mike Daniels (five sacks), Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenny Clark, who had four sacks.
In the secondary is safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (three interceptions) and cornerback Tramon Williams (two picks with Arizona) along with Kevin King and Josh Jones. Rookies Jaire Alexander (Louisville) and Josh Jackson (Iowa) are cornerbacks looking to make an impact this season along with third round pick (linebacker) Oren Burks from Vanderbilt.
The Packers picked off eleven passes and had 37 QB sacks last season.

OUTLOOK - If Aaron Rodgers can stay in one piece this year, the Packers can definitely contend for the NFC North crown, where the Minnesota Vikings are the defending champions.
Having an All-Pro caliber tight end in Jimmy Graham will definitely help the pass offense as he is a solid red zone target. The running game needs to get back in gear and may go with a three-pronged attack unless one of the backs takes charge as the season gets going.
The defense allowed 24 points per game last year and finished 22nd overall, allowing 349 yards per game, including 237 passing yards allowed per game. Getting a more consistent pass rush would work wonders as well as take pressure off the secondary.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy has come under scrutiny in recent years as the Packers are looking to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2010 season.
There is talent on the roster and as long as Rodgers does his thing and is protected well (Packer quarterbacks were sacked 51 times in 2017) this team can score points with the best of them.
A bounce back 10-6 season looks to be ahead for the Packers, which could be enough to get them back into the post-season. How far they can go from there is on Rodgers and the defense.

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


PITTSBURGH STEELERS                                                                       

2017 Record - 13-3-0

Head Coach - Mike Tomlin

2017 Offensive Ranking - 3rd (378 ypg, 25.4 points per game)

2017 Defensive Ranking - 5th (307 ypg, 19.2 points allowed per game)

OFFENSE - Ben Roethlisberger is back for his 15th season as the starting quarterback. Last season Big Ben passed for 4,251 yards with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Running back Le'Veon Bell has been holding out, but the "franchise tag" player is expected to be ready this season. Bell rushed for 1,291 yards and scored nine rushing touchdowns last season and also had 85 receptions for 655 yards and two scores. James Conner and Stevan Ridley are slated to be the backups.
Antonio Brown (101 receptions, 1,533 yards, nine TD) leads a talented wide receiver corps along with JuJu Smith-Schuster (58, 917, seven TD), rookie pick James Washington (Oklahoma State) and tight ends Vance McDonald (14, 188, one TD) and Jesse James, who had 43 grabs for 372 yards and three touchdowns.

DEFENSE - Four premier pass rushers spearhead this defense that accumulated a league leading 56 quarterback sacks a year ago.
Cameron Hayward had 12 sacks while linebackers T.J. Watt (seven sacks), Vince Williams (eight sacks) and Bud Dupree (six sacks) put the pressure on opposing quarterbacks as well.
The secondary was solid with 16 interceptions and will have corners Artie Burns and Joe Haden along with safeties Sean Davis (three interceptions) and Morgan Burnett. Rookie pick Terrell Edmunds (Virginia Tech) is a safety who will look to help out and cornerback Mike Hilton (two picks) adds depth.

OUTLOOK - The Steelers were a strong contender for the Super Bowl a year ago before being surprised by Jacksonville in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs.
With Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell back in the fold in Pittsburgh's offense, expect them to continue to roll up the yardage and score points. Head Coach Mike Tomlin knows the offense is solid and would like to see the defense take another step forward this season.
Pittsburgh finished in the top ten in both run (106 ypg) and pass (201 ypg) defense a year ago while leading the NFL in sacks and also ranked ninth with 16 picks.
Losing linebacker Ryan Shazier to a serious neck and back injury hurts, but the five-year veteran is walking again and making progress. There is plenty of talent on both sides of the ball and if the Steelers can run the table again in the AFC North, they should cruise to another division crown.
Barring any major injuries to their core players, expect Pittsburgh to finish 12-4 and make the playoffs again. From there, they must avoid the mistakes that have plagued them the past two years as they seek to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time in eight years. It could very well happen for them this season, including a Super Bowl title.

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

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. C.J. Anderson (1,007 yards and three TD with Denver) will be in the fold as well in the backfield.
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