Saturday, August 31, 2019

Major League Baseball - Week In Review

Exciting playoff races and a rookie for the Cincinnati Reds sets a Major League Baseball record for home runs in a single month. Those are the top happenings around baseball this past week.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino has hit 14 home runs in the month of August, which set a MLB record for rookies for most home runs in a single month. The Reds have slipped out of the National League Central race and the wild card chase as well, but the future looks brighter with the likes of Aquino in the lineup.
As for the pennant chase as the calendar turns to September this weekend, the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers are battling for the best record in all of Major League Baseball, which guarantees home field advantage throughout the post-season.
The Yankees took two out of three from the Dodgers in L.A. last weekend, with Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge slamming three home runs in three games (one in each game) to lead the way. The Dodgers continue to run away with the N.L. West as they have an 18-game lead over the second place Arizona Diamondbacks, who are battling for a wild card playoff spot.
The Yankees lead the Tampa Bay Rays by ten full games while the Houston Astros command the A.L. West with a nine game lead over the Oakland A's. The Minnesota Twins lead the A.L. Central by 4 1/2 games as they have won six straight games while the Cleveland Indians have cooled off and are just 5-5 in their last ten games. The Tribe also lost slugger Jose Ramirez for the remainder of the regular season with a broken hand.
In the National League, the Atlanta Braves continue to fend off the sizzling hot Washington Nationals, who swept the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field last weekend. The Braves and Nats both have gone 8-2 in the past ten games. Washington got a walk off 7-6 victory on Friday night against the Miami Marlins as Anthony Rendon delivered a two-run single to win it.
In the N.L. Central, the St. Louis Cardinals have been rolling, winning eight of ten games and are in first place with the surging Chicago Cubs just a game back. The Cubs rebounded after being swept at home last weekend against Washington by sweeping a three-game set from the Mets in New York, which included a rout of the Mets against ace pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who was shelled for nine earned runs in three innings on Wednesday evening.
The Cubs also blasted the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-1 at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon as OF Nick Castellanos blasted two home runs to pace the easy win. The Brewers have fallen six games back in the division chase and are also five games back in the wild card race.
The National League wild card race still has Washington leading the way with the Cubs in the second spot. From there, the Philadelphia Phillies are 3 1/2 games out of the final spot while the Diamondbacks are 4 1/2 games back. The Mets and Brewers are both five games back.
The A.L. wild card spots currently belong to the Cleveland Indians and Oakland A's with the Tampa Bay Rays just one game behind Oakland. The defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox are 5 1/2 games off the pace for the remaining playoff spot.

AL STANDINGS (through August 30)                            NL STANDINGS (through August 30)
East                                                                                     East
New York 88-48                                                                 Atlanta 82-54            
Tampa Bay 78-58                                                               Washington 75-58
Boston 73-62                                                                      Philadelphia 69-64
Toronto 54-82                                                                     New York 68-66
Baltimore 45-89                                                                  Miami 48-86

Central                                                                                Central
Minnesota 83-51                                                                  St. Louis 73-59
Cleveland 79-56                                                                   Chicago 73-61
Chicago 60-74                                                                      Milwaukee 68-66
Kansas City 47-89                                                                Cincinnati 63-70
Detroit 39-93                                                                        Pittsburgh 58-77
West                                                                                     West
Houston 88-48                                                                      LA Dodgers 88-49
Oakland 78-56                                                                      Arizona 69-66
Texas 66-70                                                                          San Francisco 66-68
LA Angels 64-72                                                                  San Diego 62-72
Seattle 57-79                                                                         Colorado 59-77   

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Major League Baseball - Week In Review

The "Dog Days" of August are winding down and with just over five weeks remaining in the regular season, the pennant races around Major League Baseball are heating up, especially in the wild card chases in each league.
The division races remain pretty much the same in both leagues as the New York Yankees continue to roll along in the American League East, leading the Tampa Bay Rays by eight games after they hit five home runs in a 10-2 rout of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team with the best record in Major League Baseball.
The Houston Astros continue to dominate the A.L. West as they are 7 1/2 games in front of the Oakland A's, who currently are tied with the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card spot with Tampa Bay being the top wild card. The Boston Red Sox are hanging around, but trail the A's and Tribe by 6 1/2 games for that final playoff position.
In the A.L. Central race, the Minnesota Twins have a 2 1/2 game edge over the Cleveland Indians. The Twins lost two of three (at home) to the Chicago White Sox earlier in the week while the Indians were being swept on the road in a three game set against the New York Mets. On Friday, the Indians topped Kansas City, 4-1 while the Twins lost at home to the lowly Detroit Tigers by a 9-6 score.
In the National League, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves have been the hottest teams. Both teams have gone 8-2 in their last ten games played. The Braves have won six consecutive games, including a 2-1, 14 inning victory on Friday night in New York against the Mets. The Nationals pasted the host Chicago Cubs, 9-3 on Friday afternoon for their third straight win.
The Cubs' loss dropped them back into second place in the N.L. Central (1/2 game behind St. Louis) as the Cardinals defeated the visiting Colorado Rockies, 8-3 on Friday night. The Milwaukee Brewers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-1 in Beer Town to stay within three games of the Cubs for the second wild card spot in the National League.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets are right there as well in the wild card chase. The Mets are two games behind the Cubs and the Phillies are just 2 1/2 games back for that wild card spot. Washington has the top wild card spot and they trail the Braves by six games in the division race. The Los Angeles Dodgers are simply playing out the schedule as they continue to dominate the N.L. West (20 game lead) and hold a seven game lead over Atlanta for the National League's best record.

AL STANDINGS (through August 23)                            NL STANDINGS (through August 23)
East                                                                                     East
New York 84-46                                                                 Atlanta 78-52            
Tampa Bay 76-54                                                               Washington 71-57
Boston 69-61                                                                      New York 67-61
Toronto 52-79                                                                     Philadelphia 66-61
Baltimore 41-88                                                                  Miami 46-81

Central                                                                                Central
Minnesota 77-51                                                                  St. Louis 69-58
Cleveland 75-54                                                                   Chicago 69-59
Chicago 59-69                                                                      Milwaukee 66-62
Kansas City 45-84                                                                Cincinnati 60-67
Detroit 39-87                                                                        Pittsburgh 53-75
West                                                                                     West
Houston 83-47                                                                      LA Dodgers 85-45
Oakland 74-53                                                                      Arizona 64-65
Texas 63-67                                                                          San Francisco 63-65
LA Angels 63-68                                                                  San Diego 59-68
Seattle 55-74                                                                         Colorado 58-71   

Thursday, August 22, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - OAKLAND RAIDERS

OAKLAND RAIDERS                                            

2018 Record - 4-12-0

Head Coach - Jon Gruden

Newcomers for 2019 - Antonio Bryant (WR), Tyrell Williams (WR), Vontzae Burfict (LB), Landry Jones (QB), Mike Glennon (QB), Trent Brown (OL), Lamarcus Joyner (DB)

Keys on Offense - Derek Carr is back to play quarterback this season after throwing 19 touchdown passes last season along with 4,049 yards and ten interceptions.
Rookie Josh Jacobs (Alabama) is looking to be the starting running back while last season's team rushing leader Doug Martin (723 yards, 4.2 ypc and four TD) is also on hand. Jalen Richard (259 yards, 4.7 ypc, one TD along with 68 receptions for 607 yards) is another backfield option.
Antonio Brown (104 receptions, 1,297 yards and 15 TD) comes over from the Pittsburgh Steelers via trade and will be the primary wide receiver. Tyrell Williams (41, 653, five TD with L.A. Chargers) signed on as a free agent and provides a legitimate deep threat.
Other wideouts include J.J. Nelson, Ryan Grant and either Dwayne Harris or Marcell Ateman. The tight ends are Darren Waller and Foster Moreau, a rookie from LSU.

Keys on Defense - Top rookie pick Clelin Ferrell (Clemson) is expected to start at defensive end along with Josh Mauro and/or Arden Kay. Maurice Hurst (four QB sacks), Justin Ellis and Johnathan Hankins are the tackles.
Free agent Vontaze Burfict joins the linebacking corps and will team with Brandon Marshall and Tahir Whitehead. The secondary features corners Gareon Conley (three interceptions, one for a TD) and Daryl Worley and safeties Lamarcus Joyner, Karl Joseph (two sacks), Erik Harris (two INT) and rookie Johnathan Abram (Mississippi State).
Oakland had the worst scoring defense in the NFL last year (29.2 points per game allowed) and also finished 26th overall, allowing 381 yards per game (141 rushing, 241 passing) while only getting a league worst 13 sacks. The Raiders did intercept 14 passes last season.

OUTLOOK - The Raiders suffered through a miserable season under their new Head Coach Jon Gruden last year and so they spent money in free agency, drafted nine players in the NFL Draft and traded for Antonio Brown, one of the premier wide receivers in the game, during the off-season.
Will all of that add up to a better record than the 2018 season?
It all depends on how things mesh with all of the new talent and how well they adapt to Gruden and the coaching staff's game plan.
The offense must perform better, as the Raiders averaged just 18.1 points per game a year ago while finishing 23rd on offense, gaining 336 yards per game. The running game will look to get a boost from (rookie) Josh Jacobs, who will team with Doug Martin carrying the ball. Carr will have three new primary targets in the passing game as the two starting wideouts and tight end from last year are no longer with the team.
The Raiders passing game should thrive with the new talent on board this season. As long as Brown can keep his ego in check (the whole helmet fitting issue and the cryogenic frost bitten feet) and just play football, he will definitely help the offense. Tyrell Williams is a good complement to Brown after a breakout season with the Los Angeles Chargers. Better pass protection for Carr would be a plus as well after he was sacked 52 times last season.
The defense must also step it up after allowing the most points in pro football. A better pass rush is a must and with a revamped front seven, the Raiders should get to enemy quarterbacks more often this year.
The Raiders definitely face an uphill challenge playing in the AFC West, where the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers both are coming off strong seasons. A 6-10 record would be an improvement from the 2018 debacle and the Raiders could beat out Denver for third place. Anything better would definitely be a bonus in the 2019 season.

Week 1 - vs. Denver
Week 2 - vs. Kansas City
Week 3 - at Minnesota
Week 4 - at Indianapolis
Week 5 - vs. Chicago (in London)
Week 6 - BYE
Week 7 - at Green Bay
Week 8 - at Houston
Week 9 - vs. Detroit
Week 10 - vs. LA Chargers
Week 11 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 12 - at NY Jets
Week 13 - at Kansas City
Week 14 - vs. Tennessee
Week 15 - vs. Jacksonville
Week 16 - at LA Chargers
Week 17 - at Denver

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS                                      

2018 Record - 12-4-0

Head Coach - Anthony Lynn

Newcomers for 2019 - Tyrod Taylor (QB), Thomas Davis (LB)

Keys on Offense - Quarterback Philip Rivers is entering his 16th NFL season and put up solid numbers again last season, passing for 4,308 yards with 32 touchdowns and twelve interceptions.
The wide receivers are Keenan Allen (97 receptions, 1,196 yards, six TD) and Mike Williams, who caught 43 passes for 664 yards and ten touchdowns. Tight End Hunter Henry missed last season with a knee injury, but is ready to go this year. Virgil Green is the other tight end and he made 19 receptions for 210 yards with a touchdown last season.
The running game is looking to have Austin Ekeler (554 rushing yards, 5.2 ypc, three TD and 39 receptions for 404 yards and three TD) and Justin Jackson (206, 4.1 ypc, two TD) as the main backs while Melvin Gordon is holding out for a new contract. Gordon ran for 885 yards and had 50 receptions (490 yards) last season while missing four games and scored 14 total touchdowns, including ten rushing scores.
The Chargers finished eleventh overall in total offense, gaining 373 yards per game (117 rushing, 256 passing) and scored 26.8 points per game, which was sixth in the NFL.

Keys on Defense - Melvin Ingram (seven QB sacks) and Joey Bosa (5 1/2 sacks) are the leaders on the front line as the edge rushers. Isaac Rochell (five sacks) is an emerging defensive line player along with nose tackle Brandon Mebane and Justin Jones. Top rookie pick Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame) is in the mix as well.
Linebackers include Denzel Perryman (coming off injuries), Jatavis Brown, Uchenna Nwosu (3 1/2 sacks) and Thomas Davis, the 15-year veteran coming over from the Carolina Panthers.
In the secondary, All-Pro safety Derwin James suffered a broken foot in camp and will most likely be out of action until late November. As a rookie, James had 3 1/2 sacks and three interceptions.
Starting in his place will be Adrian Phillips, who will play along with Rayshawn Jenkins and corners Michael Davis and Casey Hayward, Jr. while Trevor Williams and Desmond King provide depth. King had three picks last season and also returned a punt for a touchdown on special teams.

OUTLOOK - The Chargers have a team loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and third year Head Coach Anthony Lynn would like to see the team take the next step and get to the Super Bowl after being eliminated by the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs last year.
Philip Rivers isn't getting any younger and he is anxious to get to a Super Bowl before calling it a career. The passing game is among the best in pro football and the 'Bolts offense would like to continue to have a good balance with a solid running game like last year. However, Gordon's holdout could present problems unless Ekeler and Jackson show they can continue to step forward. Gordon missed four games in 2018 and with so many play makers, the Chargers didn't miss a beat and won them all.
On defense, Ingram and Bosa wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks as the Chargers totaled 38 QB sacks last season. The run defense is solid, allowing 106 yards per game last year (9th in NFL) while the pass defense also ranked ninth in the league, giving up 228 yards per game and getting 13 interceptions. The Chargers finished ninth in total defense as well, giving up 334 yards per game while allowing an average of 20.6 points per game.
After getting to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, the Chargers won a road playoff game at Baltimore before being blown out by the Patriots. So the big question is how far can they go provided they make the playoffs again this season?
As long as they stay healthy and Rivers shows he can continue his brilliant play while the defense does its job, there is no reason to doubt the Chargers can go 11-5 and challenge the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West division title. It's not out of the question. The potential is there for this team to finally make a run to the Super Bowl.

Week 1 - vs. Indianapolis
Week 2 - at Detroit
Week 3 - vs. Houston
Week 4 - at Miami
Week 5 - vs. Denver
Week 6 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 7 - at Tennessee
Week 8 - at Chicago
Week 9 - vs. Green Bay
Week 10 - at Oakland
Week 11 - vs. Kansas City (in Mexico City)
Week 12 - BYE
Week 13 - at Denver
Week 14 - at Jacksonville
Week 15 - vs. Minnesota
Week 16 - vs. Oakland
Week 17 - at Kansas City 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS                                      

2018 Record - 12-4-0

Head Coach - Andy Reid

Newcomers for 2019 - Emmanuel Ogbah (DL), Tyrann Mathieu (DB), Carlos Hyde (RB), Bashaud Breeland (DB), Frank Clark (DL), Alex Okafor (DL)

Keys on Offense - Quarterback and 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes had a season for the ages a year ago, passing for 5,097 yards with 50 touchdown passes and twelve interceptions. He also rushed for 272 yards and scored two touchdowns.
The running backs look to be Damien Williams (256 yards, 5.1 ypc, four TD) and Carlos Hyde, who gained 189 yards while he played sparingly with Jacksonville last season.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill avoided suspension from the league due to off field issues, so that is a big plus for the Chiefs. Hill had 87 receptions for 1,479 yards and twelve touchdowns. He is also a threat to break one for a score on kicks and he took a punt back 91 yards for a touchdown last season. Sammy Watkins (40, 519, three TD) is the other wideout.
Others in the mix include DeMarcus Robinson (22, 288, four TD) and rookie Mecole Hardman (Georgia), who has shown flashes in the pre-season. Travis Kelce is the tight end and had another All Pro season in 2018, catching 103 passes for 1,336 yards and ten touchdowns.

Keys on Defense - Up front will be Chris Jones (15 1/2 QB sacks) and Frank Clark, a free agent signee from Seattle, who had 13 sacks last year. Alex Okafor (four sacks with New Orleans) and Derrick Nnadi round out the front four. Linebackers include Reggie Ragland, Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson.
The secondary has "The Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu (two interceptions with Houston) playing safety along with Daniel Sorensen. The cornerbacks are Kendall Fuller (two INT) and Bashaud Breeland, who had two picks with Green Bay last season, including one for a score. Rookie Juan Thornhill (Virginia) is high on the depth chart in pre-season. 
The Chiefs defense was pretty woeful last season, allowing 406 yards per game (31st in NFL) and gave up 26.3 points per game. The run defense allowed 132 yards per game (27th) and 274 passing yards per game, which ranked 31st overall. The Chiefs led the NFL with 52 QB sacks last season and had 15 interceptions.

OUTLOOK - Head Coach Andy Reid certainly has a talent laden roster to work with yet again this season. The question is whether the Chiefs can overcome their playoff shortcomings.
The Kansas City offense was the best in the NFL last season, averaging 426 yards per game and also led the league in scoring, putting up 35.3 points per game. The passing offense was third overall (310 ypg) and the rushing attack was 16th, gaining 116 yards per game.
As long as the rest of the league doesn't catch up with Mahomes, look for him to have another big season, especially with Hill back in the fold at wide receiver. The Chiefs have so many weapons on offense, it's ridiculous.
Tight End Travis Kelce could be considered the best in the NFL now that Rob Gronkowski is retired. Add in potential big play rookie WR Mecole Hardman and Mahomes' improvisation in the passing game and this team could be even better than last year on offense.
The defense has many new faces coming in as some players departed from Kansas City in the off-season as well. There are question marks when that happens, so it could be another bumpy season for the Chiefs defense. Kansas City can get after enemy quarterbacks, so if they are consistent in that area again, perhaps it will take some pressure off their beleaguered secondary.
Will the Chiefs have enough to beat out the Los Angeles Chargers in the  AFC West again? Can they finally knock off the New England Patriots and reach the Super Bowl? As long as Mahomes stays in one piece and Hill can stay focused, this team will score points and win games. Another 12-4 season is a strong possibility. Once the playoffs start, anything is possible. The Chiefs very well could win it all this season.

Week 1 - at Jacksonville
Week 2 - at Oakland
Week 3 - vs. Baltimore
Week 4 - at Detroit
Week 5 - vs. Indianapolis
Week 6 - vs. Houston
Week 7 - at Denver
Week 8 - vs. Green Bay
Week 9 - vs. Minnesota
Week 10 - at Tennessee
Week 11 - at LA Chargers (in Mexico City)
Week 12 - BYE
Week 13 - vs. Oakland
Week 14 - at New England
Week 15 - vs. Denver
Week 16 - at Chicago
Week 17 - vs. LA Chargers

Monday, August 19, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - DENVER BRONCOS

DENVER BRONCOS                                             

2018 Record - 6-10-0

Head Coach - Vic Fangio

Newcomers for 2019 - Joe Flacco (QB), Kareem Jackson (DB), Bryce Callahan (DB), Ja'Wuan James (OL), Jake Brendel (OL)

Keys on Offense - Quarterback Joe Flacco joins the team after eleven seasons in Baltimore. Flacco passed for 2,465 yards with twelve touchdowns and six interceptions a year ago. Rookie draft pick Drew Lock (Missouri) will be the backup quarterback.
Phillip Lindsay led the team in rushing last season, going for 1,037 yards (5.4 ypc average) and scored nine touchdowns along with 35 receptions for 241 yards and a touchdown. Royce Freeman rushed for 521 yards (4.0 ypc) and scored five times.
Emmanuel Sanders led the team in receptions last year, catching 71 passes for 868 yards and four touchdowns. Courtland Sutton had 42 receptions for 704 yards and four touchdowns. DaeSean Hamilton (30, 243, two TD) is another wideout. Tight ends include top rookie pick Noah Fant (Iowa) and Jeff Heuerman, who had 31 receptions for 281 yards and two scores.

Keys on Defense - Von Miller (14 1/2 QB sacks) and fellow linebacker Bradley Chubb (12 sacks) lead the way for the Broncos defense. Adam Gotsis (three sacks), Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris man the front line.
In the secondary are corners Chris Harris, Jr. (three interceptions) and Kareem Jackson, who picked off two passes with the Houston Texans last season. Bryce Callahan (two INT with Chicago) is another ball hawk at the corner position. The safeties are Justin Simmons and Will Parks.
Denver intercepted 17 passes last season and totaled 44 QB sacks while giving up 21.8 points per game, which was 13th in the NFL. The Broncos finished 22nd in total defense, allowing 365 yards per game.

OUTLOOK - New Head Coach Vic Fangio built a top notch defense in Chicago and now he finally gets his chance as the top man in Denver.
The Broncos defense was opportunistic in 2018 (a plus-7 in the turnover category) but gave up too many big plays. They were in the lower third overall defensively in the NFL against both the run and pass. Miller and Chubb bring the pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but the rest of the defense needs to turn it up a notch this season, especially against divisional foes Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers high powered offenses.
The Broncos offense was middle of the pack a year ago (119 yards rushing per game and 231 passing yards) while finishing 19th on offense with 350 yards per game. Denver averaged 20.6 points per game. This season they will have a new quarterback as Joe Flacco takes over. The 12-year veteran was benched last season as (Ravens) made a late season run to the post-season with a rookie quarterback leading the offense.
The big question is whether Flacco still has the mojo to bolster the offense to higher point totals. If so, this team could contend for a playoff spot. If not, then perhaps rookie QB Drew Lock will get the chance to show he can do the job.
The Broncos will likely finish third in the AFC West again this season as they attempt to overtake the Chiefs and Chargers, which is a tough task. They did battle Kansas City tough both times (losses) last year (one score games) and split their two games with Los Angeles and Oakland. A repeat of last year's 6-10 record appears likely for the Broncos as they reset things on offense and Fangio looks to recharge the once dominant defense.

Week 1 - at Oakland
Week 2 - vs. Chicago
Week 3 - at Green Bay
Week 4 - vs. Jacksonville
Week 5 - at LA Chargers
Week 6 - vs. Tennessee
Week 7 - vs. Kansas City
Week 8 - at Indianapolis
Week 9 - vs. Cleveland
Week 10 - BYE
Week 11 - at Minnesota
Week 12 - at Buffalo
Week 13 - vs. LA Chargers
Week 14 - at Houston
Week 15 - at Kansas City
Week 16 - vs. Detroit
Week 17 - vs. Oakland

Sunday, August 18, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS                                               

2018 Record - 10-6-0

Head Coach - Pete Carroll

Newcomers for 2019 - Mike Iuoati (OL), Paxton Lynch (QB), Ziggy Ansah (DL), Jason Myers (PK), Cassius Marsh (DL)

Keys on Offense - Russell Wilson is the quarterback and the leader of the team with the off-season deals taking place the past few seasons. Wilson threw for 3,448 yards last season with 35 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. He also rushed for 376 yards (5.6 ypc average) but was sacked 51 times. Paxton Lynch is in camp looking to be the backup this year.
The running game had its first 1,000 rusher for the team since Marshawn Lynch in his prime as Chris Carson ran for 1,151 yards (4.7 ypc) and scored nine touchdowns. Also in the backfield is Rashaad Penny, who had 419 rushing yards (4.9 ypc) and two touchdowns.
The wide receivers include Tyler Lockett (57 receptions for 965 yards and ten TD), David Moore (26, 445, five TD), Jaron Brown (14, 166, five TD) and rookies D.K. Metcalf (Mississippi) and Gary Jennings (West Virginia). The tight ends are Will Dissly and Ed Dickson.

Keys on Defense - Jarran Reed (10 1/2 QB sacks), Cassius Marsh (5 1/2 sacks with 49ers), Quinton Jefferson (three sacks), Ziggy Ansah (four sacks with Detroit) and rookie L.J. Collier (TCU) will make up the front four while veteran Bobby Wagner leads the linebackers. K.J. WrightMychal Kendricks and rookie Cody Barton (Utah) round out the linebacking corps.
In the secondary, it continues to be a different looking group with Shaquill Griffin (two interceptions) and Tre Flowers playing the corner spots while Bradley McDougal (three picks) and rookie Marquise Blair (Utah) are likely to be the starting safeties. Hard hitting safety Tedric Thompson is also in the fold.
Seattle ranked 15th in total defense last year (353 ypg allowed) while giving up 21.7 points per game, which put them at eleventh in the NFL. They also had 43 QB sacks and picked off twelve passes.

OUTLOOK - The Seahawks returned to the NFL Playoffs for the first time in three years last season, but will be hard pressed to beat out the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC West division title. Head Coach Pete Carroll has a definite franchise QB with Russell Wilson, who is coming off another solid season.
The offense has a good balance and led the NFL in rushing last year, averaging 160 yards per game. Carson and Penny are a good one-two punch and Wilson also is still a threat to take off downfield when things break down in the passing game. Seattle averaged 193 passing yards per game in the 2018 season and scored 26.8 points per game, which was sixth overall in the league.
Defensively, the Seahawks were adequate and have some new faces coming in this season via free agency and the NFL draft. Gone is long time secondary leader Earl Thomas, the last remaining member of the famed "Legion of Boom" defense as he left for Baltimore via free agency.
If the defense can play consistently and not give up the big plays while remaining opportunistic (the 'Hawks led the NFL with a plus-15 turnover ratio), this team can contend for the playoffs again. The schedule is tough, so a 9-7 finish is most likely this year, which might not be enough to get a wild card spot, but with some breaks, Seattle cannot be counted out.

Week 1 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 2 - at Pittsburgh
Week 3 - vs. New Orleans
Week 4 - at Arizona
Week 5 - vs. LA Rams
Week 6 - at Cleveland
Week 7 - vs. Baltimore
Week 8 - at Atlanta
Week 9 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 10 - at San Francisco
Week 11 - BYE
Week 12 - at Philadelphia
Week 13 - vs. Minnesota
Week 14 - at LA Rams
Week 15 - at Carolina
Week 16 - vs. Arizona
Week 17 - vs. San Francisco

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Major League Baseball - Week In Review

Fasten your seat belts baseball fans of the Central divisions of both the National and American leagues. It looks like those two races will go down to the wire this season, unlike the East and West divisions in each league.
The St. Louis Cardinals once again leap frogged the Chicago Cubs for first place in the N.L. Central by walloping the Cincinnati Reds, 13-4 on Friday night while the Cubs woeful bullpen blew another game in a 3-2 setback at Pittsburgh. On Thursday in Philadelphia, the Cubs bullpen coughed up a 5-0 lead in the final two innings of a 7-5 loss to the Phillies, thanks to outfielder Bryce Harper's walk off grand slam.
In the A.L. Central, the Minnesota Twins fell out of first place earlier this week for one day, but then rebounded to take back the top spot from the Cleveland Indians as they beat the Texas Rangers on Thursday and did the same Friday night (4-3 win) while Indians lost to the New York Yankees, 3-2 just a day after crushing them, 19-5.
The New York Mets were cooled off this week after winning 15 of 16 ball games. It started last Sunday when the Washington Nationals knocked off the Mets in the finale of their weekend series. From there, the Atlanta Braves took two of three from the visiting Mets. Meanwhile, the Phillies and Nationals got things rolling in a positive direction to put a little distance between themselves and the Mets for the wild card spots.
There are still seven teams within four games of each other for the two wild card spots in the National League. The Nationals and Cubs are the top two for now, but the Phillies are just a half game back of Chicago (Phils swept the Cubs in a three game set this week) while Milwaukee is 1 1/2 behind and the Mets 2 1/2 games back. The Giants (3 GB) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (4 GB) are within striking distance with roughly 40 games left to play in the regular season.
The wild card chase in the American League has the Cleveland Indians leading the way with the Tampa Bay Rays holding the second position. The Oakland A's are only one-half game behind Tampa Bay while the Boston Red Sox are 6 1/2 behind the final playoff spot.

AL STANDINGS (through August 16)                                  NL STANDINGS (through August 16)
East                                                                                     East
New York 82-42                                                                 Atlanta 72-52            
Tampa Bay 71-52                                                               Washington 66-55
Boston 65-59                                                                      Philadelphia 64-58
Toronto 52-73                                                                     New York 62-60
Baltimore 39-83                                                                  Miami 45-76

Central                                                                                Central
Minnesota 74-48                                                                  St. Louis 64-56
Cleveland 73-50                                                                   Chicago 64-58
Chicago 55-66                                                                      Milwaukee 63-59
Kansas City 44-78                                                                Cincinnati 57-64
Detroit 37-82                                                                        Pittsburgh 51-70
West                                                                                     West
Houston 78-45                                                                      LA Dodgers 82-42
Oakland 70-52                                                                      San Francisco 62-61
Texas 60-62                                                                          Arizona 61-62
LA Angels 60-64                                                                  San Diego 56-65
Seattle 50-73                                                                         Colorado 55-67   

Friday, August 16, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - SAN FRANCISCO 49ers

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers                                       

2018 Record - 4-12-0

Head Coach - Kyle Shanahan

Newcomers for 2019 - Jason Verrett (DB), Tevin Coleman (RB), Jordan Matthews (WR), Dee Ford (DL), David Mayo (LB), Kwan Alexander (LB)

Keys on Offense - Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (knee injury) played in only three games last season, passing for 718 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. The offense revolves around him. Nick Mullens (2,277 passing yards, 13 TD, 10 INT) is an adequate backup.
Running back Tevin Coleman comes over from Atlanta, where he led the Falcons last year with 800 rushing yards (4.8 ypc average) and four touchdowns. Coleman also had 32 receptions for 276 yards and five touchdowns. Jerick McKinnon is expected back this season after missing all of 2018 with a knee injury. Matt Breida (814, 5.3, three TD and 27 receptions for 261 yards and two TD) is another option in the backfield.
Tight end George Kittle led the team with 88 receptions for 1,377 yards and five touchdowns. The wideouts include Dante Pettis (27, 467, five TD), Jordan Matthews (20, 300, two TD with Philadelphia), Marquise Goodwin (23, 395, four TD) and rookies Deebo Samuel (S. Carolina) and Jalen Hurd (Baylor).

Keys on Defense - The Defensive Ends will be Dee Ford (13 QB sacks with Kansas City last year) and top rookie draft pick Nick Bosa (Ohio State) while DeForest Buckner (team high 12 sacks) is back at defensive tackle. Ronald Blair (5 1/2 sacks) is another top player up front.
Linebackers include Fred Warner, Malcolm Smith and newcomers David Mayo (Carolina) and Kwon Alexander, who is coming back from a knee injury while with Tampa Bay last season.
Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon look to be the corners again, but Jason Varrett is in camp this year after playing with the Los Angeles Chargers in recent years. Safeties are Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Marcell Harris.
The 49ers defense was middle of the pack last season, ranking 13th overall (347 ypg allowed) but ranked 28th in the NFL by giving up 27.2 points per game. They had 37 sacks, but only two interceptions all season.

OUTLOOK - With only ten wins in his first two seasons, Head Coach Kyle Shanahan may be feeling the heat if the team doesn't show improvement this season in the rugged NFC West, where the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks loom.
Getting Garoppolo back at quarterback should help, but he didn't show the brilliance from the latter part of 2017 prior to getting injured for the remainder of the season. He is the key to the offense and with two rookie wideouts in the mix this season, things could get interesting in the passing game, which ranked 15th (242 ypg) in 2018.
Two solid running backs (McKinnon and Coleman) should help improve the running game, which averaged 119 yards per game last season (13th in NFL). The 'Niners averaged 361 yards per game in total offense, which was 16th in the league while scoring 21.4 points per game (21st).
The defense is decent, but the secondary has to be able to get more interceptions after that ridiculously low number from last season.
Two interceptions?
If this team is going to move forward and challenge the Rams and Seahawks in the NFC West while trying to get to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, a lot has to happen. Those challenges on both sides of the football could be answered with the new faces on the field this season. The call for the 49ers this year is a 7-9 finish, which would be their best record since the 2014 season.

Week 1 - at Tampa Bay
Week 2 - at Cincinnati
Week 3 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 4 - BYE
Week 5 - vs. Cleveland
Week 6 - at LA Rams
Week 7 - at Washington
Week 8 - vs. Carolina
Week 9 - at Arizona
Week 10 - vs. Seattle
Week 11 - vs. Arizona
Week 12 - vs. Green Bay
Week 13 - at Baltimore
Week 14 - at New Orleans
Week 15 - vs. Atlanta
Week 16 - vs. LA Rams
Week 17 - at Seattle

Thursday, August 15, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - LOS ANGELES RAMS

LOS ANGELES RAMS                                                

2018 Record - 13-3-0

Head Coach - Sean McVay

Newcomers for 2019 - Clay Matthews (LB), Blake Bortles (QB), Eric Weddle (DB)

Keys on Offense - Quarterback Jared Goff put up some big numbers last season, passing for 4,688 yards with 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Running back Todd Gurley rushed for 1,251 yards (4.9 ypc average) and scored 17 rushing touchdowns. He also had 59 receptions for 580 yards and four touchdowns, giving him a total of 21 touchdowns last season. Malcolm Brown (212 rushing yards, 4.9 ypc) and rookie Darrell Henderson (Memphis) will spell Gurley in the backfield.
The Rams triplets of wide receivers Robert Woods (86 receptions for 1,219 yards and six TD), Brandin Cooks (80, 1,204, five TD) and Cooper Kupp (40, 566, six TD in ten games) are among the best in the entire NFL. Tight ends Gerald Everett (33, 320, three TD) and Tyler Higbee (24, 292, two TD) for a solid duo for Goff to throw to.

Keys on Defense - NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald had a league high 20 1/2 QB sacks last season and leads the front line at defensive tackle. Linebacker Cory Littleton had four sacks and three interceptions (including one for a touchdown) and will play alongside Samson Ebukam, Dante Fowler, Jr. and Clay Matthews, who joins the team after ten season with the Green Bay Packers.
The secondary is stacked with corners Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters (three INT, one for TD) and safeties John Johnson (four picks) and 13-year veteran Eric Weddle, who comes over from Baltimore this season. Troy Hill (two INT) is another defensive back along with nickel back Nickell Robey-Coleman the team counts on. Rookie Taylor Rapp (Washington) will get time at safety as well.
The Rams had 41 sacks last season and picked off 18 passes while having a plus-11 in the turnover category. They ranked 19th in total defense last season, giving up 359 yards per game while ranking 20th in scoring defense, giving up 24 points per game.

OUTLOOK - After making it to the Super Bowl (although in a controversial manner in their NFC Championship Game victory at New Orleans involving a non call on obvious pass interference in the closing minutes) the Rams want to get back there and win the game this time.
Head Coach Sean McVay is entering his third season with the team and they showed big time improvement last season after a disappointing finish to the 2017 season in the playoffs.
Jared Goff put up big numbers last year and with a healthy (RB) Todd Gurley in tow this year along with (WR) Cooper Kupp (knee injury limited him to ten games in 2018) joining the other two wideouts, the Rams offense could once again be nearly unstoppable. As long as the main players are healthy, this team will once again light up the scoreboards all season long.
Los Angeles averaged 32.9 points per game last season (second in NFL) while also finishing second in total offense, averaging 421 yards per game. The Rams averaged 139 yards rushing (3rd) and 282 passing yards per game, which ranked fifth in the NFL.
The defense needs to play more consistently after allowing more than 30 points in a game six times last season. Getting (LB) Matthews and (DB) Weddle into the mix with a core of veterans should strengthen the defense, which played well in the Super Bowl loss to New England, holding the high powered Patriots offense to only 13 points.
All in all, look for the Rams to win the NFC West again while finishing 11-5 this time around as the schedule looks to be much tougher, especially in the early going. The Super Bowl is not out of reach for this team and if they do get there, they might just win it all this time.

Week 1 - at Carolina
Week 2 - vs. New Orleans
Week 3 - at Cleveland
Week 4 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 5 - at Seattle
Week 6 - vs. San Francisco
Week 7 - at Atlanta
Week 8 - vs. Cincinnati (in London)
Week 9 - BYE
Week 10 - at Pittsburgh
Week 11 - vs. Chicago
Week 12 - vs. Baltimore
Week 13 - at Arizona
Week 14 - vs. Seattle
Week 15 - at Dallas
Week 16 - at San Francisco
Week 17 - vs. Arizona

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


ARIZONA CARDINALS                                              

2018 Record - 3-13-0

Head Coach - Kliff Kingsbury

Newcomers for 2019 - Terrell Suggs (LB), Jordan Hicks (LB), Marcus Gilbert (OL), J.R. Sweezy (OL), Robert Alford (DB), Charles Clay (TE), Darius Philon (DL), Kevin White (WR)

Keys on Offense - The top pick in the NFL draft is quarterback Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) and he will be the starter this season. Brett Hundley or Chad Kanoff will be the backup QB for the Cardinals.
David Johnson is the top running back as he seeks to regain the form he had a few years back. Johnson rushed for 940 yards last year (3.6 ypc average) and scored seven rushing touchdowns. He also made 50 receptions for 446 yards and three more scores. Chase Edmonds (208 yards, 3.5 ypc, two TD) is also available.
The ageless Larry Fitzgerald is still the top wide receiver for this team and he caught 69 passes for 734 yards and six touchdowns last season. Christian Kirk (43, 590, three TD), Kevin White and rookies Hakeem Butler (Iowa State) KeeSean Johnson (Fresno State) and Andy Isabella (UMass) will all be looking to be in the fold this season. The tight ends are Ricky Seals-Jones (34, 343, one TD) and Charles Clay, who had 21 receptions with Buffalo last season.

Keys on Defense - Outside linebacker Chandler Jones (13 QB sacks) is a main cog for the defense, which struggled mightily against the run last season, giving up a league worst 155 yards per game. Jones spearheads a solid pass rush, which accumulated 49 sacks a year ago while the Arizona pass defense ranked fourth overall, allowing 204 yards per game. Defensive ends Rodney Gunter and Robert Nkemdiche each had 4 1/2 sacks while LB Haason Reddick had four sacks. Free agent DE  Darius Philon (four sacks with Chargers) joins the team and veteran linebackers Terrell Suggs and Jordan Hicks (three sacks with the Eagles) will add depth in that area.
Patrick Peterson had two interceptions while manning one corner spot. Robert Alford and rookie draft pick Byron Murphy will also play cornerback. D.J. Swearinger and Budda Baker are the safeties.

OUTLOOK - The Cardinals cleaned house after last year's disaster and new Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury has a potentially exciting player for his starting quarterback in Kyler Murray, who can do damage with both his arm and legs.
The rest of the offense will follow suit with Murray under center and it could be a magic carpet ride or a rough learning experience this season as far as that goes. There will be numerous targets for the rookie QB to throw the football to and running back (David) Johnson is an additional weapon in the passing attack.
The offense was really bad last year with former (rookie) QB Josh Rosen taking most of the snaps. He was traded away in the off-season. The Cardinals averaged 14.1 points per game in 2018, which was dead last in the NFL. They also finished last in rushing (84 ypg) and passing (158 ypg) for a meager 242 yards per game (which was 32nd in NFL) in total offense. In addition, Cardinals quarterbacks were sacked 52 times.
As long as the defense can shore up the damage by opposition rushing attacks, the Cardinals should be vastly improved to perhaps keep games closer this season. The Cards were outscored by a near two-to-one margin a year ago. They also need to get more turnovers as they were a minus-12 in that area and only had seven interceptions.
With some breaks in this obvious rebuilding year, Arizona could finish with a 5-11 record, but even that could be a stretch. This team will look to Murray and the offense to steadily improve as they look to the future.

Week 1 - vs. Detroit
Week 2 - at Baltimore
Week 3 - vs. Carolina
Week 4 - vs. Seattle
Week 5 - at Cincinnati
Week 6 - vs. Atlanta
Week 7 - at NY Giants
Week 8 - at New Orleans
Week 9 -vs. San Francisco
Week 10 - at Tampa Bay
Week 11 - at San Francisco
Week 12 - BYE
Week 13 - vs. LA Rams
Week 14 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 15 - vs. Cleveland
Week 16 - at Seattle
Week 17 - at LA Rams 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - NEW YORK JETS

NEW YORK JETS                                                 

2018 Record - 4-12-0

Head Coach - Adam Gase

Newcomers for 2019 - Le'Veon Bell (RB), Jamison Crowder (WR), C.J. Mosley (LB), Trevor Siemian (QB), Brian Poole (CB), Ty Montgomery (RB), Kelechi Osemele (OL)

Keys on Offense - Second year quarterback Sam Darnold will be back after passing for 2,865 yards with 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season. The running game will have Le'Veon Bell this season as he comes over after a year long holdout in Pittsburgh.
The wide receivers include Robby Anderson (50 receptions for 752 yards and six TD), Quincy Enunwa (38, 449, one TD), Jamison Crowder (29, 388, two TD with Washington) and tight end Chris Herndon, who had 39 receptions for 502 yards and four touchdowns.

Keys on Defense - The Jets selected Quinnen Williams (Alabama) with the third overall pick in the NFL draft and he will be the likely starter at nose tackle. Henry Anderson (seven QB sacks) and Leonard Williams (five sacks) are the defensive ends.
Jordan Jenkins (seven sacks) and Brandon Copeland (five sacks) are the outside linebackers with C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson (three sacks) playing inside. The secondary has cornerback Trumaine Johnson (four interceptions) leading the way.
The Jets defense slipped to 25th overall in 2018, giving up 380 yards per game (126 rushing and 254 passing) while allowing 27.6 points per game, which was 29th in the league.

OUTLOOK - The Jets hired Adam Gase as their new Head Coach for the upcoming season after his three year stint in Miami came to an end. They also have a new Defensive Coordinator (Greg Williams) who will look to instill a more aggressive style.
The Jets offense should receive a shot in the arm with Bell in the backfield this season. Bell is an excellent runner and can be counted on to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield. The big key will be the further development of QB Sam Darnold in his second season and how well he does with Gase's new offensive system. New York averaged 20.8 points per game a year ago (23rd) while finishing 29th in the NFL in total offense (299 yards per game).
The defense must improve against both the run and pass as well as getting to opposing quarterbacks more often. The Jets had 39 sacks last season and 13 interceptions and finished at minus-10 in the turnovers category last year.
A tough schedule awaits them right out of the gate in the first six games as the Jets will face division foe New England twice, Dallas, Philadelphia and Cleveland after the home opener against Buffalo in Week One.
If they can have some early success, the Jets could build some momentum in the second half of the season. Getting out of the AFC East basement is a good possibility this season and the Jets could finish as high as second in the division. A 6-10 record this season would be an improvement from 2018. After all, the Jets are a retooled team with a new coaching staff, so they likely will not make the post-season, but with some breaks a .500 finish is not out of the question.

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

Monday, August 12, 2019


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS                                  

2018 Record - 11-5-0

Head Coach - Bill Belichick

Newcomers for 2019 - Benjamin Watson (TE), Michael Bennett (DL), Maurice Harris (WR), Demaryius Thomas (WR), Matt LaCosse (TE), Brandon Bolden (RB), Mike Pennel (DL)

Keys on Offense - Quarterback Tom Brady is back for his 20th season and showed no signs of slowing down last year, passing for 4,355 yards with 29 touchdowns and eleven interceptions.
Running back Sony Michel (931 rush yards, 4.5 ypc average and six TD) is the top back and James White (425, 4.5 ypc, five TD along with team leading 87 receptions for 751 yards and seven TD) plays a vital role as both a runner and receiver out of the backfield.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman (74, 850, six TD) was the Super Bowl MVP and is the favorite target of Brady. Other receivers who will contribute to the Patriots offense include Phillip Dorsett (32, 290, three TD), Demaryius Thomas (23, 275, two TD with Houston), Maurice Harris (28, 304 with Washington) and rookie draft pick N'Keal Harry (Arizona State). Benjamin Watson (35, 400, two TD) is looking to be the starting tight end after coming over from New Orleans. Matt LaCosse (24, 250, one TD with Denver) is another option for tight end.

Keys on Defense - Michael Bennett (nine QB sacks) comes over from Philadelphia and will play Defensive End. Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise (4 1/2 sacks) and Mike Pennel round out the front line. Linebackers include Dont'a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy (3 1/2 sacks), Elandon Roberts and Ja'Whaun Bentley.
In the secondary is Stephon Gilmore (two interceptions), Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon (four picks), Jason McCourty, Patrick Chung, J.C. Jackson (three INT), Jonathan Jones (three INT) and Joejuan Williams.
The Patriots defense ranked 21st overall (359 ypg allowed) but was seventh in scoring defense, giving up 20.3 points per game. New England had 18 interceptions and 30 QB sacks last season.

OUTLOOK - Brady and Belichick.
This team just keeps on getting it done year in and year out and that is a credit to Head Coach Bill Belichick and the system they play. Of course, having Tom Brady playing quarterback helps big time.
The Patriots won the Super Bowl last year and it was their third consecutive appearance in that game. Unless another team steps up in the AFC this season, just go ahead and pencil in the Patriots once again for the Super Bowl. Kansas City and perhaps the Los Angeles Chargers come to mind as teams that could dethrone the champs, but they both lost to the Patriots in the AFC Playoffs.
The offense just keeps humming along, ranking fifth in total yardage (393 ypg) last season, including fifth in rushing (127 ypg) and sixth in passing (266 ypg) while averaging 27.2 points per game, which was fourth in the NFL.
On the other side, the defense once again played the bend but do not break style that wears on teams and keeps the Pats in so many games. Doing the little things that makes the difference is what sets this team apart. New England was a plus-10 in the turnover category as well.
As long as Brady stays healthy and the players around him do their part (Edelman, White, Michel, etc.) expect this team to be playoff bound once again and one of the favorites to win it all. Brady won't have (retired TE) Rob Gronkowski this season, so that could be a slight chink in the armor but the Patriots have the knack for being able to adjust minus big time players. They have been doing it in the Brady-Belichick era since 2001.
Another AFC East title appears likely in 2019 as the Patriots should go 12-4 and perhaps get to and win yet another Super Bowl.
Stay tuned.

Week 1 - vs. Pittsburgh
Week 2 - at Miami
Week 3 - vs. NY Jets
Week 4 - at Buffalo
Week 5 - at Washington
Week 6 - vs. NY Giants
Week 7 - at NY Jets
Week 8 - vs. Cleveland
Week 9 - at Baltimore
Week 10 - BYE
Week 11 - at Philadelphia
Week 12 - vs. Dallas
Week 13 - at Houston
Week 14 - vs. Kansas City
Week 15 - at Cincinnati
Week 16 - vs. Buffalo
Week 17 - vs. Miami 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - MIAMI DOLPHINS

MIAMI DOLPHINS                                                 

2018 Record - 7-9-0

Head Coach - Brian Flores

Newcomers for 2019 - Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB), Dwayne Allen (TE), Ricardo Louis (WR), Eric Rowe (DB), Chris Reed (OL), Clive Walford (TE)

Keys on Offense - The Dolphins will have both Ryan Fitzpatrick (2,366 passing yards with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions with Tampa Bay last season) and Josh Rosen, who threw for 2,278 yards with 11 TD passes and 14 interceptions in his his rookie year with Arizona, vying for the starting job.
Kenyan Drake (535 rushing yards, 4.5 ypc average and four TD along with 53 receptions for 477 yards and five TD) will be the primary running back this season. Also in the mix is second year player Kalen Ballage, who showed flashes last season, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
The wide receivers include Kenny Stills (37 receptions, 553 yards and six TD), DeVante Parker (24, 209, one TD), Albert Wilson (26, 391, four TD) and Brice Butler. The tight ends are Mike Gesicki (22 receptions) and Dwayne Allen.

Keys on Defense - Lining up front this year will be Jonathan Woodard and Charles Harris on the end spots while Davon Godchaux and top rookie pick Christian Wilkins (Clemson) will be the tackles. Jerome Baker (three QB sacks) and Kiko Alonso (three interceptions) lead the linebacking corps.
The secondary features corners Bobby McCain and Xavien Howard, who led the AFC with seven interceptions last season. Safeties Rashad Jones and T.J. McDonald each had three picks and Minkah Fitzpatrick had two interceptions for a team total of 21, which was second only to Chicago (27 INT) for most in the NFL.
The Dolphins are rebuilding the defense this season after finishing 29th overall, allowing 391 yards per game in 2018. The run defense gave up 145 yards per game (31st in NFL) and the pass defense also finished in the bottom half of the league, giving up 246 yards per game and the scoring defense was 27th overall, allowing 27.1 points per game.

OUTLOOK - It's definitely a rebuilding season for Miami in 2019 and first year Head Coach Brian Flores (coming over from New England as Defensive Coordinator) wants to see the revamped defense, which is going younger, turn things around after allowing the most yardage in team history last season.
On offense, it could be "Fitz Magic" time in south Florida as journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick comes along after most recently playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fitzpatrick has shown a knack for getting his team off to a quick start in recent years as the starting QB before falling off.
He is likely to start, but will also serve as a mentor to young Josh Rosen, who struggled in his rookie season in Arizona a year ago. The running game said goodbye to veteran Frank Gore and will go with Drake and perhaps Ballage this year.
Miami averaged 109 yards per game rushing last season and only 181 yards passing (30th in NFL) while scoring 19.9 points per game, which was 26th overall. The offense should be better this season, but the offensive line must better protect the passers after allowing 52 sacks a year ago.
The Dolphins appear to be over matched heading into the 2019 season in the AFC East, where the New England Patriots are king of the hill until proven otherwise. Buffalo and the New York Jets look to be upgraded this year and Miami (4-2 in divisional play last season) will do well to compete to stay out of the basement.
The first four weeks of the schedule looks to be rough as well, but the Dolphins will have plenty of home cooking with four home games in the first six weeks. All in all, the team will likely take its lumps this year and finish 4-12 as they look toward the future with the rebuild.

Week 1 - vs. Baltimore
Week 2 - vs. New England
Week 3 - at Dallas
Week 4 - vs. LA Chargers
Week 5 - BYE 
Week 6 - vs. Washington
Week 7 - at Buffalo
Week 8 - at Pittsburgh
Week 9 - vs. NY Jets
Week 10 - at Indianapolis
Week 11 - vs. Buffalo
Week 12 - at Cleveland
Week 13 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 14 - at NY Jets
Week 15 - at NY Giants
Week 16 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 17 - at New England

Saturday, August 10, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - BUFFALO BILLS

BUFFALO BILLS                                                   

2018 Record - 6-10-0

Head Coach - Sean McDermott

Newcomers for 2019 - Frank Gore (RB), T.J. Yeldon (RB), Cole Beasley (WR), Andre Roberts (WR), John Brown (WR), Kevin Johnson (DB), Ty Nsekhe (OL), Mitch Morse (OL)

Keys on Offense - Quarterback Josh Allen enters his second season and showed abilities as a dual threat, passing for 2,074 yards with ten touchdowns and twelve interceptions. He also rushed for 631 yards to lead the team (7.1 ypc average) and scored eight touchdowns.
Veterans LeSean McCoy (514 rushing yards, 3.2 ypc average and three TD) and Frank Gore (722, 4.6 ypc average with Miami) are the running backs along with T.J. Yeldon, who rushed for 414 yards (4.0 ypc) and one score and also caught 55 passes for 487 yards and four touchdowns last season in Jacksonville.
Wide receivers include John Brown (42, 715, five TD with Baltimore), Zay Jones (56, 652, seven TD), Cole Beasley (65, 672, three TD with Dallas) and tight end Jason Croom, who had 22 receptions.

Keys on Defense - Defensive End Jerry Hughes (seven QB sacks) and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (6 1/2 sacks and two interceptions) lead the front seven of the Buffalo defense, which finished second in the NFL in yards allowed (294 per game), including a league best in pass defense, giving up only 179 yards per game last year. Linebacker Matt Milano had three interceptions and LB Tremaine Edmunds had two picks while DE Shaq Lawson totaled four sacks.
In the secondary, safety Jordan Poyer intercepted four passes and Micah Hyde and Tre'Davious White each had two picks. Levi Wallace and free agent Kevin Johnson will provide depth to an already strong defensive backfield. The Bills intercepted 16 passes in 2018 and had 36 QB sacks.

OUTLOOK - While the Bills defense shined last season, the offense was very lackluster with first year QB Josh Allen under center, averaging just 16.8 points per game, which was 31st in the NFL.
Head Coach Sean McDermott will have quite a bit of new talent surrounding his young quarterback in 2019 as no less than five veteran free agents come on board. The Bills were 30th overall on offense, gaining 299 yards per game (124 rushing, but only 175 passing) and that must improve if the team wants to contend for a playoff spot, which they accomplished in the 2017 season.
Allen did have some growing pains in his rookie year, but showed a lot of grit and a knack with his running abilities. Running back LeSean McCoy must also bounce back after what was his worst season as a pro. Veteran Frank Gore will team with McCoy in the backfield this season.
If things mesh on the offense and the defense plays like it did a year ago, there is no reason to think the Bills won't be in the mix for at least a wild card spot this season. The New England Patriots, until proven otherwise, are the top team in the AFC East and the Bills must contend with them and what looks to be an improved New York Jets team (on paper) as well. The call here is for a 7-9 finish in Buffalo this season.  

Week 1 - at NY Jets
Week 2 - at NY Giants
Week 3 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 4 - vs. New England
Week 5 - at Tennessee
Week 6 - BYE
Week 7 - vs. Miami
Week 8 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 9 - vs. Washington
Week 10 - at Cleveland
Week 11 - at Miami
Week 12 - vs. Denver
Week 13 - at Dallas
Week 14 - vs. Baltimore
Week 15 - at Pittsburgh
Week 16 - at New England
Week 17 - vs. NY Jets