NFL Week 3 Previews and Predictions

San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Buffalo Bills (2-0):

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During the first two weeks of the young season, the Bills and Chargers are the two biggest surprises in the NFL. The Bills are the most surprising team to start 2-0 as they defeated two quality teams, @Bears and Dolphins. While the Chargers lost week 1, they came back with vengeance and defeated the defending Super Bowl Champions, Seattle Seahawks, 30-21. After a shaky week 1, Philip Rivers had one of his best games of his career as he threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns against the Legion of Boom. Due to the Bills’ average secondary, Rivers should have another solid game, especially with the reemergence of former All-Pro Antonio Gates. The Bills are building around a new, young, and explosive nucleus of EJ Manuel, CJ Spiller, and Sammy Watkins. The trio’s performance significantly improved last week, but the experience and skill of Rivers and company will likely be too much for the Bills at home.

Chargers win 27-20

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-1):

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After losing both their first games in embarrassing fashion, the Boys and Rams were able to obtain their first win of the season in impressive fashion. The Cowboys’ offense looked as explosive as advertised with DeMarco Murray rushing for 167 yards and a touchdown. The Rams’ tenacious defense was able to contain the Bucs and their solid offense to only 17 points. This week, the story-lines will revolve around the Cowboys’ high flying offense and the Rams’ deep and talented front four, but it will likely be their weaknesses that determine the outcome of the game. The lack of talent and experience on the Rams’ offense will ultimately cost them the game in a low scoring, close affair.

Cowboys win 20-17

Washington Redskins (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-0):

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The Eagles have been one of the strangest teams in the NFL yet they have the best record in the league. During the first half of their first two games, they have been outscored by 31 points, but outscore their opponents by 48 points in the second half. This unique circumstance can be attributed to their cutting edge fitness and technology, which has them significantly fitter than their opponents. The talent on offense and the underrated players on the Eagles’ defense make it an extremely challenging matchup for the Redskins this weekend. After a disastrous week 1 and start to week 2 with RG3, Kirk Cousins took the reins of the offense and led them to a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although Cousins has provided the Redskins with new energy, enthusiasm, and stability at quarterback, their defense cannot match the Eagles’ speed and playmakers out of the backfield, McCoy and Sproles, at Lincoln Financial Field.

Eagles win 31-17

Houston Texans (2-0) at New York Giants (0-2):

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While Houston has surprised fans around the league with their efficient passing game and impressive running attack, the Giants have struck little fear into their opponents. During the first two games, Eli has resembled his ineffective 2013 season as he has thrown 4 interceptions and only 3 touchdowns. Along with Eli’s inefficient play, the offensive line has been disastrous, which has led to countless pressure on Eli and the running game as been virtually non-existent.  Although Ryan Fitzpatrick has been known for his inaccuracy, he has yet to throw an interception compared to three touchdowns. The Texans’ offense has been successful because Bill O’Brien has decided to put the ball in the hands of their best playmakers, Foster (55 carries), Johnson (12 catches), and Hopkins (7 catches). Along with their impressive offense, the defense should contain the Giants’ offense to under 17 points with studs like JJ Watt, Brian Cushings, and Jonathan Joseph. Although O’Brien has stated that he wants to limit Foster’s carries, they will continue to run the ball in order to set up the play action pass and have one-on-one match-ups on the outside.

Texans win 24-13

Minnesota Vikings (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-2):

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The Saints have lost their first two games in heartbreaking fashion, but will finally return to one of the best home field advantages in sports to play the disjointed Vikes. This season, Drew Brees has started very well and should continue his hot play on the turf in the Superdome. The Saints hope that their fifth ranked defense last season will return to past form against the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings. For the second straight week, the Vikings will be without their best player due to the ongoing controversy about him and his son. Last week, the Vikes were a disaster on offense as Matt Cassal was forced into making numerous throws into tight windows and threw 4 interceptions. Like the game against the Patriots, this one should be over at the half, if the Vikings are lucky.

Saints win 34-10

Tennessee Titans (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-0):

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The Bengals entered the season as one of the favorites to win the AFC and have not disappointed so far. Over the past two weeks, the Bengals have shown that they can win in a multitude of ways: passing, rushing, and defense. Although AJ Green may be hampered this week with a toe injury, the Bengals have more than enough weapons, Gio Bernard, Mohammed Sanu, Jeremy Hill, to score enough points and win the game. Similar to the Dallas Cowboys last week, Andy Dalton should have an efficient day and the Bengals should march up and down the field against the Titans. After an impressive win at Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs, the Titans were handled by the Cowboys’ atrocious defense at home. Jake Locker and company will need to take their game to another level this weekend if they are even going to reach 20 points against one of the most talented defenses in the league.

Bengals win 26-17

Baltimore Ravens (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-1):

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Amid the Ray Rice controversy and saga, the Ravens were easily defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers at home last Thursday night.  The Ravens were able to have success because they established a ground game with Bernard Pierce, Joe Flacco was able to hit on 21 of his 29 passes for two touchdowns, and the defense played a great game against a talented Steelers’ offense with Bell and Brown. Although the Ravens surprised many experts, nobody saw the Browns giving the Saints their second loss of the season last week. Due to the late game heroics of Brian Hoyer and the emergence of a running game, the Browns scored a game winning field goal on the final play of the game. The victory over the Saints quieted the Johnny Manziel chatter for at least another week, even though he came into the game to throw an incompletion. Dealing with another week of the Ray Rice saga, may eventually wear on the Ravens as they play their first game away from M&T Bank Stadium.

Browns win 24-21

Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Detroit Lions (1-1):

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After losing to the Seahawks on opening night and falling down 21-3 against the Jets in the first half, the Packers nearly fell to 0-2. However, Aaron Rodgers was able to make a connection with Jordy Nelson and the Packers finished the game on a 28-3 run to collect their first win of the season. Although the Pack were able to win, they have yet to establish a running game with second year back Eddy Lacy, although they have played two of the best rush defenses in the league. This week, Green Bay is set to play another ferocious front four at Detroit’s Ford Field. After the first week of the season, the Lions looked like one of the best teams in the NFL as they overpowered the Giants on defense and the connection between Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson seemingly could not be stopped. However, they were unable to find the same success in Cincy. Playing again at home against a soft Packers’ secondary should allow Stafford to throw for big numbers against their NFC North division rival. However, the Pack seem like a hotter team after a great second half and should continue their hot play this week.

Packers win 37-33

Indianapolis Colts (0-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2):

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In a competition between 0-2 teams, the Colts need to add a 1 in the win column, if they are going to win the AFC South division. The Colts played one of the hardest schedules through the first two weeks of the season, @Broncos and Eagles. Although Luck has become one of the seven best quarterbacks in the league, they have not reached great heights on offense because the running game is simply non-existent. During the first half of last week’s game, the Colts were able to run effectively and are hoping to create a stable rushing attack this week against the Jags. Although the Jaguars started the season with a 17-0 lead at the start of the second half against the Eagles, they have been outscored by by 65 points in the last game and a half. While the Colts’ running game is poor, the entire Jaguars’ offense is horrible because Henne is an incompetent quarterback, Toby Gerhart has not met expectations, and the offensive line allowed 10 sacks last week. The Colts’ offense should be able to overpower the lackluster Jaguars and claim their first win of the season.

Colts win 28-13

Oakland Raiders (0-2) at New England Patriots (1-1):

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The Pats started the season with a disappointing loss against the Dolphins, but rebounded last week to romp the Minnesota Vikings. Although the Patriots scored 34 points, the offense was not very intimidating. The Pats’ defense recorded four turnovers and blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown. The Pats have enforced a conservative offensive attack as Tom Brady has thrown for only 400 yards and 2 touchdowns on 55% passing. While the Brady-led offense has underachieved, Oakland’s offense is absolutely horrible. For example, the current leading rusher is quarterback Derek Carr with 57 yards on 5 carries. As a passer, Carr has not been impressive, but has not thrown away games for the Raiders. However, the experienced Patriots secondary will record at least two picks against the young signal caller. The Patriots have been a great home team since Belichek and Brady joined forces and will continue their dominance.

Patriots win 27-13

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0):

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The Cardinals are 2-0 this season, but are at risk of falling out of playoff contention, if Carson Palmer does not return from injury. The Cards will able to defeat the Giants on the road last week behind their physical defense and rushing attack. However, the Cardinals will have an extraordinarily difficult time scoring with Drew Stanton at quarterback in the future when they play some of the toughest defenses in the NFC. Unfortunately, the Cards have two of the best defenses in the league in their division and one of those teams are the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers seemed to lock in another win last weekend against the Bears before they blew at 20-7 lead in the fourth quarter. The 49ers are attempting to dread water on defense until they can return some of their injured and suspended players on defense. On offense, the 49ers paid Colin Kaepernick big money, but they should remain a ground and pound team with Frank Gore, a great offensive line, and Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin on the outside. The 49ers will answer the challenge from Jim Harbaugh and defeat the Cardinals in a physical slugfest on the road this Sunday.

49ers win 17-14

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1):

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In the marquee matchup of the weekend and probably the season, Peyton Manning and the Broncos will attempt to achieve revenge against the Super Bowl champion at CenturyLink Field. The Broncos have won their first two games, but have not shown the same dominance on offense, especially in the second half. Although the Peyton Manning has thrown for 6 touchdowns and zero interceptions, he has not posted the same yardage and Montee Ball has not been able to replicate the performance of the departed Knowshon Moreno. Although the Broncos’ defense has not been dominant, it has been clutch as they have stopped two game winning drives the past two weeks against Andrew Luck and Alex Smith. The defense will need to continue their clutch play, if they are going to slow down the Seahawks at home. The Seahawks’ home field advantage is the best in sports, which makes the Broncos’ task even more difficult. Although the Seahawks lost last week and many are questioning the legitimacy of the Legion of Boom, they have always been known to answer their critics during the most important games. On offense, the Seahawks will attempt to put the ball in the hands of their best playmakers, Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin.

Seahawks win 27-17

Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at Miami Dolphins (1-1):

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After starting the year 9-0 last season, the Chiefs have underachieved and their team does not look as explosive or intimidating. On offense, the Chiefs took a major hit when Jamaal Charles went down due to an ankle sprain. Although Kniles Davis filled in admirably last week, Charles is one of the best running backs in the game because he can catch the ball out of the backfield, runs with power, and has elusiveness to make opposing defenders miss their tackles. Without Charles, Alex Smith may need to expand his repertoire and throw deeper throws to Dwayne Bowe and the other playmakers on the outside. Along with their lackluster offense, the defense has not forced as many turnovers or set fear into opposing offenses as last season. Although the Dolphins played a fantastic game against the New England Patriots in week one, they were horrible against the Buffalo Bills last week. The Dolphins were unable to reproduce their offensive success and the defense could not stop one of the youngest and least effective offenses. In one of the least entertaining match ups this weekend, the Chiefs will win their first game of the season and reproduce the same success as last year.

Chiefs win 24-17

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (2-0):

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After playing a great first half against the Browns, the Steelers’ last game and a half has been horrible. The trio of Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger, and Antonio Brown make the Steelers incredibly dynamic and explosive on offense. On defense, the Steelers have not been the same physical unit as the dominant defenses in the past decade. While the Steelers’ defense has steadily declined, the Panthers’ defense continues to improve. Behind Luke Keuchley and Charles Johnson, the Panthers were able to hold the great Lions’ offense to only 7 points and Calvin Johnson to 83 yards and no touchdowns. The Panthers should be able to slow down the Steelers offensive attack and move to 3-0 on the young season.

Panthers win 24-16

 

Pics and Stats from ESPN.com

How Good Can Buffalo Be In 2014?

By: Brad Carrion of FanDuel

Out of all the 2-0 teams in the NFL right now, the biggest surprise without question has been the Buffalo Bills. They have taken on two very tough teams in the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins, and they have been able to score at will. The defense has been strong as well, making this a very good team so far in 2014. The question is, can this franchise actually be a playoff contender despite their flaws?

In the 1st week of the regular season, Buffalo faced a daunting task by going to Soldier Field and taking on the Chicago Bears. All they were able to do was put up some pretty nice points at the most opportune times, and that led to an overtime victory. They showed their composure, which is pretty impressive considering that they have a pretty young offense right now that they are relying on.

Chicago is not exactly a team that has a very tough defense, so some people wondered just how good they would be in week 2 when they would face the Miami Dolphins. Remember, Miami was coming off a very impressive win of their own in week 1 against the New England Patriots. Even though they were traveling to Buffalo, quite a few people thought that Miami was the better team on paper. It ended up being a blowout, as Buffalo scored 29 more points and held the Dolphins to just 10.

The naysayers will say that Miami was at a disadvantage once Knowshon Moreno went down with a pretty significant elbow injury that will keep them out for a few weeks. While missing their best fantasy football player definitely handicapped them a little bit, Buffalo was able to dominate on both sides of the ball for most the game. This was not a close contest, and all of a sudden Buffalo looks like the real deal.

Sammy Watkins was probably the most impressive player on offense for Buffalo, as he had his 1st and looked overwhelmed at times. In week 2, he was able to finish with 117 yards and a touchdown at wide receiver. Buffalo traded up to get him this draft, so they feel like he is going to be a focal point of the offense for the next several years. As long as he develops a very strong relationship with EJ Manuel, the 2 players can certainly benefit each other.

Special teams were also very strong for Buffalo in the week to contest against Miami. Every single part of special teams is playing well, and it looks like Buffalo made the right moves during the summer to improve compared to a year ago. CJ Spiller had the highlight of the day by taking off for a 102 yard kickoff return in the 2nd effectively ended the chances for Miami as they had a little bit of momentum going.

New England is still going to be considered the favorite in the AFC East and so they are dethroned. However, Buffalo has shown that they can go up against some of the best teams in the NFL and have success. After a 2-0 start, it probably is not time to go out and regular performance at the NFL level. In week 1, he was a bit banged up half. His play try to purchase playoff tickets just yet. However, this team is starting to come together able but sooner than some people thought. With a strong defense and in improving offense, this team could be very dangerous all season long as a playoff contender.

Denver Broncos 2014-2015 Season Preview

Offseason Storylines

The Denver Broncos’ offense is coming off of the best statistical season in the history of NFL. The Broncos were great because Peyton Manning posted the greatest season for a quarterback in NFL history. Although they had the best offense in history, they were physically abused during the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. Along with Manning’s success, he was surrounded by an elite offensive line, talented wide receivers, and a quality running back. Although the Broncos’ offense should be stacked this season, they lost a few pieces during the offseason. Manning will be without his second wide receiver, Eric Decker, running back, Knowshon Moreno, and possibly slot receiver, Wes Welker, if he can not return from his concussion injury. Although they lost solid players, they will still have a do it all running back in Montee Ball and solid receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer. The two young receivers and the returning stars should keep the Broncos as the best offense in the league and lead the Broncos into the playoffs.

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While the Broncos were solely praised for their offensive skill, they possessed an above average defense. Similar to the offense, the Broncos’ defense was exposed for its lack of physicality against the Seahawks. Although the Broncos did not have a lot of cap room this offseason, they were able to enhance their secondary and pass rushing ability. Through the draft and free agency, the Broncos were able to add Bradley Roby, former Patriot corner Aqib Talib, former All-Pro DeMarcus Ware, and physical safety TJ Ward. Although the foursome has dealt with injuries throughout their career, they are coming into the season healthy and should make a positive impact on the Broncos. With Roby and Talib in the secondary, the secondary possess one of the most talented, but raw corners in the league. Along with the flashy corners that will force turnovers, the Broncos will return stud defensive end Von Miller alongside of former All-Pro outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

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Offensive X-Factor

In order for the Broncos to maintain their status as the one of the best offenses in history, Denver will need one of their young receivers to step up and become legitimate threats on the outside. Even without the injury to Wes Welker, the Broncos needed to replace Eric Decker, who has been one of the most consistent wide receivers the last few seasons. With the head injury to Welker, the Broncos do not know if he will return or if he will be the same player when he comes back to the field. The Broncos attempted to prepare for the departure of Decker with the addition of Latimer and Sanders. Over the past few seasons, Sanders has steadily improved as a receiver while he has moved up the ranks as part of the Steelers’ offense. Unlike Latimer, Sanders has experience playing in a pass happy offense, played in numerous big games, and caught passes from a star quarterback.  Along with the talent of Sanders, many believe that Cody Latimer has a great chance of becoming a solid number 2 on a championship caliber team. During his years at Indiana, Latimer quietly posted great stats with a below average supporting cast.

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Defensive X-Factor

The defensive X-Factor for the Broncos this season will be DeMarcus Ware. The former Cowboys’ legend and All-Pro has been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL over the pas decade. For the first time in his career, Ware did not play 16 games and it resulted in the lowest sack total in his career, 6. Before last season, Ware had a streak of 7 straight seasons in which he recorded at least 11 sacks. Ware will have the opportunity to regain his sack numbers as he will play opposite of Von Miller. Although Miller is coming off a bad knee injury, he is still one of the best pass rushers in the league. Due to his age and skill, many teams will opt to double team Miller, which will leave Ware one on one for the first time in his career. Last season, only one Bronco totaled double digit sack numbers, Shaun Phillips. The lack of pressure on opposing quarterback made Denver one of the worst teams against the pass. Ware should provide consistent pressure on quarterbacks and add physicality to a defense that needs improvement.

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Projections

The Broncos have won the AFC West the past two seasons and are predicted to remain the top team. As long as Peyton Manning is the quarterback of the Broncos, they will be contenders to win the conference. On offense, the unit should remain the best in the league because they have too many weapons for opposing defenses. Whether it is Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, or Montee Ball, they have the ability to break big plays and score 6 points. Last season, the offense averaged 38 points per game, 10 more than any other team in the league. Although it is unlikely that they will repeat their historic season and Manning will break every passing quarterback record in NFL history, the offense should post 30-35 points per game. Although the offense is set to take a step backward, the defense should become more than an average defense. Although a lot of their stats are inflated because of their great offense, their defense should be an above average defense. If the Broncos are going to win the Super Bowl this season, the Broncos need to play with physicality and convert turnovers like the current Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

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Record: 13-3

First in AFC West

Fantasy Pick

Last season, Knowshon Moreno took the fantasy world by storm when he finished fifth among running backs. The replacement for Moreno will be Montee Ball. Many expect that Ball has a chance to be a top ten running back because he has more talent than Moreno. If Ball can learn to block for Peyton Manning, he will stay on the field for 85% of the plays and take almost all of the touches. Along with running opportunities, the former Wisconsin Badger star can catch the ball out of the backfield.