What We Learned From Week 2 Of The NFL

Now that we’re into the swing of things, we can finally relax and just write about the games and what happened, right?  NOPE.  Not here.  Here’s what we learned from Week 2, plus some notes on the other big headlines.

Peyton Manning’s games are limited

I was fired UP Friday morning.  One, I was pissed not because my Chiefs lost, but how they lost.  There was many ways that game could have ended, but a Jamaal Charles fumble wasn’t what topped my list.  It was so infuriating to see.

Thursday night’s game was a good one, but I’m gonna spotlight what was probably the biggest storyline out of that game besides the ending.

There was columns written like this, this, this, and even this.  Out of all those, I stand somewhere in the middle.  Friday morning at school, my mouth was spitting fire with hot takes.  I was still pissed about the game that night, so the anti-Peyton Manning side of me came out.  It also got to me at the end of the game the night before.

So yeah, those backfired.  Big time.  And I got KILLED the next morning for them.

Peyton Manning might have engineered the game-tying drive, but he didn’t play well for Denver Thursday, and he definitely didn’t win that game for the Broncos.  Manning went 26/45 with 256 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.  So yeah, those are okay stats.  His QBR was low, at 59.4, but QBR’s a great measurement because it doesn’t just look at the stats.  The bottom line with Peyton:  His stats were fine, his team played well, but the accuracy, the spin of the ball, and the arm strength just isn’t there anymore.  We had this conversation in the NFL preview.  I’d had doubts about how good Manning would be this year, but I wasn’t gonna believe it till I saw it.  I’ve seen it.  I’m concerned.  Broncos fans should be too, unless you’re ready for Brock Osweiler.

Buffalo definitely has flaws, but they’re still good

After Tyrod Taylor’s electric debut, he regressed against the Patriots Sunday.  While only throwing seven incompletions, Taylor threw for 242 yards and three interceptions.  Three touchdowns went along with it, but the picks dropped his QBR to a somber 32.6.  He still made plays with his feet, including a 23 yard rush.

Look, this can’t be shocking to anyone.  Everyone should have seen a regression coming with Tyrod Taylor.  He played against a great team, with the smartest coaches around.  New England knew how to make Taylor uncomfortable Sunday, and they did.  Buffalo fans still have a lot to look forward with this season.  A loss to the defending champions isn’t the end of the world.

A note on this game: I think it’s strange how Karlos Williams is the Bills red zone/3rd down running back, but he’s been really good in that role.  Maybe I’m just a pissed off LeSean McCoy fantasy owner.

PS:  I’m about to swing McCoy for Doug Martin and Sammy Watkins.  I’ve had enough of Karlos Williams. 


Alright, he only attempted 15 passes, but he threw two touchdowns, both bombs, and finished with a 75.5 QBR.  So, it wasn’t fantastic, but it was definitely impressive, and can only give Browns fans some hope.

Travis Benjamin was insane on Sunday.  The guy caught both of Johnny’s bombs, totaling him 115 yards off three receptions.

Tennessee probably has the better quarterback for the future, but for Cleveland, there hasn’t been a future in awhile.  Johnny’s probably not it, but for now, he’s all you could ask for.

0-2 teams worth panicking about

Through two weeks, there are nine teams that are 0-2.  Too figure out who we should freak about, let’s put these 0-2 teams into categories.

Are we really shocked?

  • Houston
  • New Orleans
  • Chicago
  • New York Giants

You’re just, sketchy

  • Detroit

Yeah, I’d be concerned

  • Seahawks
  • Eagles
  • Colts
  • Ravens

I had all four of these teams winning their division, and two games in, they’re all 0-2.

Seattle might be the most worrisome.  One would say that they’re still figuring it out with Jimmy Graham and the offense, but it’s not like he’s the only weapon.  Put it this way:  What’s there to figure out?  There’s nothing gone from this offense scheme wise; Darrel Bevel and Pete Carroll are still there.  I’ve been really confused with the Seahawks offense.  Marshawn Lynch is one of the best running backs in the league, Jimmy Graham is a great target, and Russell Wilson is really, really good.  Why is this happening?

I really think it’s the play-calling.  Jimmy Graham had one catch Sunday against the Packers.  Running the ball didn’t get them anywhere, which could be blamed on the offensive line that’s been very leaky this season.  Trading Max Unger for Graham doesn’t look great two weeks in.

Their defense has still been good, even without Kam Chancellor.  I never got to touch on that situation, which is now old news, and has been for awhile.  Look, I think Seattle’s gonna eventually realize they need him, no matter what their win-loss record is.  They’ll realize his impact, and they’ll pay up.

Philadelphia has been another team where play-calling has doomed the first two weeks of the season.  I’m not gonna flip totally out, since this division is a dumpster fire and they’ll probably win it anyways.  However, Philly has DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews, and Darren Sproles in their backfield, and Sam Bradford threw the ball 37 times.  The Eagles gained a grand total of seven rushing yards Sunday.  Bradford’s QBR was a 5.3.  5.3!

This is simply common sense.  Philly’s offensive line may not be great, but they have running backs good enough to make up for it.  They just aren’t calling the right plays.  Sam Bradford still doesn’t look like he’s comfortable throwing the ball, which honestly, is okay because of that running game.  But the running game hasn’t been used.  The last thing Philly has is a lack of talent.  What is lacking is common sense.

The Colts laid an egg last night.  There’s no other way to put it.  Andrew Luck threw three interceptions.  The running game never got going, though looked good in the first drive of the game.  Ryan Fitzpatrick put his Fitzmagic into full effect, compiling a 71.9 QBR.  Five turnovers plagued Indianapolis.

I have a bad feeling that moves the Colts made this offseason just aren’t gonna work out.  They brought in two veterans, who’re past their prime, and expected them to play big roles.  T.Y. Hilton was hurt and useless, which didn’t help out this offense either.

Really, Andrew Luck had nowhere to go last night, and I’m worried he won’t have anywhere to go in the future if Andre Johnson and Frank Gore don’t step up.

I’m actually not too worried about the Ravens.  They’ve had bad luck in two games, but I have to ask this question after Sunday’s game-ending turnover.  Is Joe Flacco an elite quarterback?

Hurt quarterbacks could land Robert Griffin lll on another team

As of now, RG3 hasn’t been moved.  He’s still on the Redskins.  However, we’ve got report after report out now.  If the Redskins are going to move him, this week is the week to do it.  And there’s teams that should be interested!


Week 3 isn’t exactly shaping up to be fun for fans of these four teams.  So why wouldn’t they call Washington and make a move for RG3?  It’d cost what, a 5th round pick?  Could RG3’s value be even less than that?

Look, I’m not sure what a trade would look like for RG3, and I’m not sure who’d actually do it.  However, the Bears should be ruled out immediately.  Why?  Well, what if RG3 starts in place of Jay Cutler and is better?  That’s a real possibility, right?

Quick hits other games:

  • I thought Ryan Mallet played really well against the Panthers even though he threw the ball 58 times (I’m literally not making that number up).  That game was somewhat of a crapfest, but it was close at the end.  The Texans are kinda just coasting right now.  Carolina is in the same position.  Final score: Carolina-24 Houston-17
  • The Steelers somehow are the best fantasy team in the NFL and Le’Veon Bell hasn’t played in either of their first two games.  That’s all I’ve got on this one.  Final score: Pittsburgh-43 San Francisco-18
  • I touched on Drew Brees above, but I wanted to hit this game one more time.  Jameis Winston, after a terrible debut, improved greatly Sunday.  He finished with a 85.3 QBR and a touchdown pass.  A nice completion percentage went along with it.  Look, it looks like a work in progress with Winston.  I’d had Marcus Mariota as the work in progress from the beginning.  I’m not ready to admit I was wrong yet, but I’m getting there.  Final score: Tampa Bay-26  New Orleans-19
  • After a pretty horrific loss to the 49ers, Minnesota rebounded Sunday.  Adrian Peterson ran for 134 yards, but fumbled a ridiculous three times.  Teddy Bridgewater only threw four incompletions.  Neither team played great, but for Minnesota, improvement was all you could ask for.   Final score: Minnesota-26 Detroit-16
  • As my Dad always says, just throw the ball to Larry.  The Cardinals did that Sunday, as Fitzgerald caught three touchdowns passes.  How dare you call him old and useless?  Final score: Arizona-48 Chicago-23
  • Are we sure this was a good game?  Yeah, it was close, but neither quarterback had a QBR above 70 and there were a lot of turnovers on both sides.  No fun. Final score: Cincannati-24 San Diego-19

Sucks To Be You: USC, Alabama, And A Whole Lot Of Other Fun

Saturday was one of those days that really made me think about why I love college football.  The amount of madness happening at once Saturday night was insane.  Just insane.  At one point we had two upsets in the making, plus a very fun BYU-UCLA game taking place.  Oh yeah, about those upsets.

I completely forgot to mention the Stanford-USC game in Friday’s column.  I think I was just scared to mention Stanford at all after what they’ve put me through already this season.  Even when I remembered that game was gonna take place, I didn’t have much confidence.  I had picked USC to make the Playoff (and win the Pac-12, duh).  That’s why Saturday’s game meant so much.  It just wasn’t supposed to happen.

The Cardinal wouldn’t have done it without Kevin Hogan, who’s 97.7 QBR barely beat out Cody Kessler’s.  He just kept making throw after throw, and big play after big play.  Hogan takes a ton of heat for “not being good enough”.  Saturday night shut those critics up.

Christian McCaffrey’s 115 yards were sneakily huge.  I say sneakily because his longest rush was only 14 yards, making him very consistent throughout the night.

USC’s loss dropped them to No.19 in the latest AP Poll.  Stanford’s upset moved them back in to No. 21.  The loss by the Trojans was unexpected, but it’s not like this isn’t a normal occurrence.  USC every year has had some kind of loss that either kills the season or is a setback.  Last year it killed the season, but so much had gone wrong before that.  It’s only Week 3, so “that” loss came earlier than usual.  For Trojans’ fans, that can only be a good thing.

Unlike USC’s loss, Alabama’s was expected.  At least by me.  From Friday’s column:

“Are you feeling it?  It’s that weird vibe I’m getting.  That… oh… that wonderful word.  Upset.  I’m getting an upset vibe.”

So yeah, I called it.  I also had Ole Miss by five points in the contest.  They won by six.

This game was one of the most insane things about Week 2.  Let’s first start with this:

I mean, when I saw the play happen, I started laughing.  Out loud.  I mean, for that play to go right in any way would have been a success for the Rebels, giving the way it began.  And then to pull off what happened after the snap was just insane.  It reminded me greatly of this Auburn play.

And somehow, Ole Miss’ play might have been greater.

This game lasted forever, and by forever, I mean, the 4th quarter took 71 minutes to complete.  This game kicked off around 8:15 PM CST Saturday, and didn’t end till around 12:30 AM.  But man, were those four hours were so fun.

Alabama really couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot.  They committed five turnovers, including three interceptions by the combination of Jake Coker and Cooper Bateman.  Coker made some terrible decisions with the football Saturday, backing up the point I’ve been making for quite some time that Alabama doesn’t have a true, reliable quarterback.  Ole Miss did.

Chad Kelly was phenomenal in this game.  He threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns, and made multiple big throws.  With his arm, we knew those throws were coming.  It was just a matter of whether the Tide could stop them.  As I said Friday, they weren’t gonna be able to.

Ole Miss’ win bumped them all the way to No.4 in the AP Poll, which is playoff position.  I’m not gonna get too far ahead of myself, because I do believe there is a better team in the SEC, but the Rebels have made it known they’re here to stay.

Quick Hits on other games:

  • Um, you’re gonna have to be better than that, Florida State and Clemson
  • BYU-UCLA was a thrilling game.  It kept me up till 12:30 AM.
  • I can’t believe I am but I’m writing off Auburn.  There’s not a lot of exciting things happening with that team anymore.
  • Close call Buckeyes!  Games like those are why it’s so nice to have the quarterback situation Ohio State does.
  • I need to see it one more time from Notre Dame.
  • AP Poll is in good shape besides the fact that it’s now turned into a power ranking poll.  Ole Miss and Alabama essentially switched places!

What To Watch For: College Football Week 3

This weekend’s slate has some games that have a ton of potential.  I can’t wait to see BYU against their first true test in UCLA, and also can’t wait to see Alabama fa-…. I’ll tell you later.

No.14 Georgia Tech vs. No.8 Notre Dame

Is it fair yet to compare these two teams on a “Who’s better basis?”.  Seriously, with all the injuries Notre Dame has suffered, this team is gonna start to drop.  Unless they beat the Yellow Jackets tomorrow.

Georgia Tech has rushed for 457.5 yards a game this season, and um, that’s pretty good.  Best in the country, actually.  The Yellow Jackets have scored an average of 67 points a game this year, and have allowed an average of eight.  Eight!  That ratio is insane!  And I don’t think Notre Dame’s gonna be able to stop it.

The Irish’s injuries are on the offensive side of the ball, for the most part.  That’s the good news.  However, this defense has not looked good this year.  The stats are still pretty decent, but this defense almost let Virginia score more points than them.  Granted, a lot of other things went wrong for Notre Dame last week.  But they’re supposed to be good.  I sound like someone complaining, even though I’m on the complete opposite end of complaining when it comes to this Irish team.

Bottom line: Notre Dame is gonna have to score, a lot, if they want to win this game.  That’s where the next problem is.

It’s not that I think DeShone Kizer isn’t good, because he had a great game last week when he came in.  It’s the fact that, that’s all we’ve seen.  I need to see it again, maybe twice more.  Kizer has a good skill set, but I haven’t seen enough from him to make me think he can win this game for Notre Dame.  They don’t have a lot else.  The Irish have lost their starting quarterback, running back, and tight end to injuries lately.  Kizer’s gonna have to be a one man show.

Pick: Georgia Tech-42  Notre Dame-30

No.18 Auburn vs. No.13 LSU

This could be one of the crappiest games of the week, but somehow both teams are ranked.

So let me get this straight…. LSU is No.13 because one game got rained out and they beat one the sketchiest teams in the whole country.  Oh, and they were ridiculously high in the Preseason Poll, which always helps.  Auburn beat a sketchy Louisville team, and barely hung on to avoid what would have been the greatest upset of all-time.  Yeah… there’s a lot of crappieness here.

LSU plays old fashion football.  Hammer the ball, and stop the run.  They have the running back and defense to do it.  I really think, if they stick to their style of play, they have this in the bag.

Auburn has nothing on their team that sticks out.  They just play and pray, really.  There’s not one spot on this team that I can really trust.  Maybe offensive weapons?  But do I really trust Jeremy Johnson?  Nope.  Not really.

That Tigers team(s) (Wait…. I just realized both these teams are the Tigers!  Ha!) that I had in the Fiesta Bowl is really no longer a threat for a New Years Six game.  There’s too many areas of concern already.

Pick: LSU-28 Auburn-17

No.15 Ole Miss vs. No.2 Alabama

Are you feeling it?  It’s that weird vibe I’m getting.  That… oh… that wonderful word.  Upset.  I’m getting an upset vibe.

The reason why this isn’t in the ‘Upset Alert’ category is because this game is between two ranked teams.  I’m really excited for this game.  Ole Miss’ offense has been insane this season.  Alabama’s defense hasn’t exactly been that.  It’s been pretty disappointing this season.  Ole Miss needs to come with the gameplan, thinking that they can attack them.

If they can do that, then this is gonna be the Rebels’ game.  Alabama’s offense goes through the running game, which won’t be enough to counter Ole Miss.  I don’t totally trust them anywhere else, and there’s no reason Ole Miss should either.  I think it’s pretty clear where the matchups differ in this game.  Ole Miss has to come in with that confidence.

Pick: Ole Miss-35 Alabama-30

No.19 BYU vs. No.10 UCLA

It never fails with BYU.  It doesn’t matter who their quarterback is.  Really, nothing matters with this team.  They just get it done.  UCLA’s probably their biggest test of the season.   That’s what could make this game the best of the week.

The Cougars are the 15th best passing team in the country.  Again, this team can do anything with anyone playing.  Tanner Mangum has been great since he stepped in, which isn’t a huge shocker since he’s been with the team awhile and was highly rated out of high school.

This game should be dominated by the pass.  The Bruins have a good secondary, but BYU’s high power offense could catch them off guard elsewhere, leading to collapses everywhere.  Like other teams this weekend, BYU just has to stick to their game and trust themselves.

I think BYU has the chance to really make themselves scary this weekend.  They’re still, somewhat, underrated.  There’s a lot of “Believe it when I see it” people with the Cougars.  This weekend is when those people see it with BYU.

Pick: BYU-42 UCLA-24

No upset alerts this weekend.  I already picked a big one.  Enjoy the weekend!

Predicting The MLB Division Races

With 19 days until Postseason baseball (And 20 days till hockey!), there’s still some sorting out to do.  Some divisions have their winners set already, but some have contests between two teams for the division title.  Here, we’re gonna break down those races, or at least what’s left of them, and then predict them.

Not every division will be written about, since not every division has a race.  They will be mentioned, however. 

The Races:

AL East

We knew coming into the season that this division would either A) Suck or B) Be great, and have a race within the final month.  It’s been sorta both.  We have a race, as the Yankees are sitting three games behind Toronto right now, and we have outliers.  Baltimore and Tampa Bay have had terrible runs lately, with the two 12-18 in the past 30 games.  The slide has booted both teams from the division race, and has them sitting behind Cleveland in the AL Wild Card race.

I’m gonna say something about Cleveland quickly.  Them and Boston have been amazing lately, with great win-loss records in their past 30.  While both teams have been out of contention for awhile, this at least makes my preseason prediction look better, as both teams were expected to be very good.  I had the Red Sox winning the AL East, and the Indians getting a Wild Card spot.  Unfortunately, there’s no time left for either.

As for the current race in the AL East, I mean, how much fun could this get?  Both teams have been good over the past month, and have both lost key guys.  Troy Tulowitzki cracked his shoulder blade, which will keep him out the rest of the regular season (Cliff Pennington spotting!).  The Yankees lost Mark Teixeria for the rest of the year (including playoffs) to a broken leg.  Teixeria’s put up a 3.8 WAR this season (FYI:  That’s only the 7th best WAR number of his career…. Talk about efficient).  Teixeria’s power, which has helped put the Yankees 3rd in Isolated Power this season, is now gone.  That doesn’t help considering the team their chasing has hit the most home runs in the MLB the 2nd half of the year.

The Yankees have managed top ten pitching by WAR this season, but the Blue Jays aren’t far behind.  Shorten that time scale to the 2nd half of the year, and Toronto has jumped up to 7th place, with New York in 12th.  Essentially flipping spots, pitching has been what’s pushed the Blue Jays ahead of the Yankees.  So will they keep the lead?

There isn’t much of a difference between the schedule strength of each team, so it’ll really come down to a huge, three games series September 21st-23rd.  It’s the 2nd to last series for each team.  I expect the Blue Jays to hold onto this division.  They’ve been on fire, and nothing has seemed to slow them down.  They just keep cranking out the wins.  New York will get the 1st AL Wild Card, as they’re already 2.5 games up on second place.

AL West

The AL West is the best case in the MLB for a three-team race.  As of now, anything over five games back is too much.  The Angels sit exactly five games back of Texas, currently, with the Astros in the middle of an insane race.

Los Angeles has had a slide lately, going 13-17 in their last 30 games.  They’ve been producing less and less offense as the year has gone on, and have dealt with a frisky bullpen.  That hasn’t helped, clearly and obviously, as their two division foes have only improved.  Texas has came out of nowhere lately, with the best Last30 record out of anyone (tied with Toronto) in the AL.

It truly is the the wild, wild, West…. Even though two of the teams play in Texas, which in my book is the Mid-West.

Enough about geography…. Who’s gonna win this division?

Houston and the Angels have two of the easiest schedules in the AL left, including a series against each other.  Los Angeles plays the Twins though, in what could be a huge series for the AL Wild Card.  Minnesota’s basically on a lifeline, as they’re 1.5 games back of the playoffs. But so are the Angels.

Los Angeles’ best hope is to win the division, because we know how much the Wild Card Game sucks for teams.  I don’t think I can name the Angels division champions.  Saying those words just give me a bad feeling.

As for the Rangers and Astros, and their chances to win this division, well, we’ll see on September 26th.

NL Central

It makes sense that the best divsion in baseball has a divsion race with three weeks left.  The Pirates, thanks to a 18-12 30 game run, are 4.5 games back of the Cardinals.  There’s nothing new with St. Louis.  They just keep winning and winning.  They’re the Cardinals!  Not much else to it.

This divsion is getting three playoff teams.  Whoever wins it between the Pirates and Cardinals, and the Cubs, who’re 7.5 games up on San Francsico for the 2nd Wild Card spot, makes the playoffs.  The Giants are out, but mostly due to the Cubs resillient rise.  You can thank Jake Arrieta for at least part of that.

So can Pittsburgh catch St. Louis with limited games remaining?  With the NL Central being the best division in baseball, every team has a pretty hard schedule left.  However, three of the four series left for St. Louis are against Cincinnati, Atlanta and Milwaukee, three of the worst teams in baseball.  The Pirates schedule is much tougher, with series against the Dodgers, Cubs, and Cardinals left.  There’s at least four losses within those series, and that’s being super optimistic.  Losing 3 out of 4 to the Cubs didn’t help Pittsburgh lately; Once again: St. Louis just continues to win.

The Cardinals are winning this division, but Chicago and Pittsburgh have easy routes to the playoffs with the NL Wild Card situation, setting up a division showdown on October 7th.

Quick Hits on other divisions: 

  • AL Central: Kansas City’s had this in the bag for awhile now, but the fun stuff lurks behind them.  Minnesota sits 1.5 games back of the AL Wild Card, and if the Angels (as I wrote about above) don’t shape up, Minnesota controls their own destiny.  The Twins, after a slide after the All-Star break, have been on a roll.  They know how much it means to their fans, and they know how special this season has already been.  If they miss it, they can only blame themselves.
  • NL East: They’re amazing, aren’t they?  The Mets have taken the whole league by storm, going on a tear through everyone in the Bigs.  There’s no stopping them.  Washington fell apart quickly, and as soon as they did, we knew to write them off.  New York has some good baseball teams playing right now.  To see the better one, you need a subway south.
  • NL West: The Giants have been limping to the finish, leaving the Dodgers to run away with this division.  Now let’s see if they can take that momentum to October, where they’ve had big time struggles before.

An Overreaction To The NFL’s First Week

Welcome back, NFL!  This year, I’m switching up the format for the NFL weekend wrap-up.  It’ll be something new every week.  This week, we’re overreacting to Week 1.  Here’s five overreactions first, then we’ll hit on all the other games.

The Cowboys are screwed

This really isn’t an overreaction.  Even with the exciting win Sunday night against New York, the Cowboys came out of that game as losers.  Why?  Because honestly, no one should have won that game.  It sucked.  It was terrible for 59 minutes, and awesome for one minute.

Dez Bryant somehow got dehydrated in the first quarter, then proceeded to leave the game.  The reason?  Broken foot, out 4-6 weeks (Honestly, I don’t know how long.  No one apparently does).  This comes after him signing a contract extension making him the 4th highest paid wide receiver in the NFL, on an annual average basis.

This is a killer blow for a Dallas team that I already had missing the playoffs.  Dez is Tony Romo’s top target, and with no true running game, the Cowboys have a lack of weapons. A serious lack of weapons, because Dez was really all they had on offense.  Jason Witten is great, but isn’t a every down player.  Tight ends aren’t used like that.

I have doubts that Dallas will be able to rely on their defense.  There’s so much uncertainty there.

It’s a total hot take, and isn’t an overreaction to the weekend.  Dallas has some big time doubts from my end.

Peyton Manning is old and sucks now

I tried to make this case in my AFC Preview, that Peyton Manning’s days are limited, as the end of last season showed us.  Sunday was what Broncos’ fans feared.  That Manning was gonna come out as a stinker on Sunday.  And he sure did.

With a 26.4 QBR, Manning completed only 24 of his 40 passes for 175 yards and an interception.  His arm strength, which was the most concerning thing in the offseason, seemed there, but it was the spin of the ball that was the biggest problem for Manning Sunday.  The deep throws were a little off, but there was no “perfect Manning ball”.

It’s only Week 1, so we can’t start calling for Brock Osweiler, or bench Manning in fantasy yet.  It’s an overreaction.  That’s what all these are, right?

Marcus Mariota is a future Hall-Of-Famer

In the battle of the top two picks, is was the Oregon product who prevailed once again.

Marcus Mariota only threw the ball 16 times, but he completed 13 of those passes, and four of them were touchdown passes.  He had no turnovers, which gave him an insane debut QBR of 95.7.  He didn’t run much, but was very mobile throughout the pocket.  Most of all, he was electric, which was the only thing the Titans and their fans could have wanted.

Mariota was fun to watch.  He had my eyes on him the whole time.  It wasn’t easy to look at the rest of the field.

Tyrod Taylor is the Bills quarterback for the future

As I said in my preview, I was pumped for Tyrod Taylor’s debut.  I thought there was possibility he’d be good.  Sunday was a good start.  Taylor was 14/19 with 195 yards and a touchdown, good for a 88.2 QBR in his first NFL start.  Oh!  And he had a 31 yard run.  Talk about impressive.

Like Marcus Mariota, Tyrod Taylor was fun to watch.  He was the only thing my eyes were on.  Taylor showed off his arm, legs, and vision Sunday.  He had it all on Sunday.  But can he keep it going?

Buffalo beat Indianapolis 27-14 Sunday.  The Colts are gonna be one of the best teams in the league this year.  Who saw this coming?  No one did.  Not even the people who liked Tyrod Taylor did.  The Bills didn’t use LeSean McCoy much on Sunday, which was supposed to be another big debut.  Really, they didn’t have to.  Tyrod made things happen against the Colts.  He was throwing balls in between Colts defenders, finding his receiving in the middle.  Those throws were impressive.  You’d think this guy had played at least a season.

It’s Week 1.  We’re all overreacting.  I can’t trust Tyrod Taylor 100% yet, but next Sunday could seal the deal for me.

The Rams are actually good

Watching this game was me and my Dad, talking continuously about the Nick Foles-Sam Bradford trade.  Even though Nick Foles’ QBR was a 57.3 Sunday, the Rams offense looked great.  There were many big plays being produced.  Nick Foles lost two fumbles, but the offensive line is a work in progress for the Rams.  Let’s blame it on that for now.

Most impressive about the Rams 34-31 OT win over Seattle was the defense, who sacked Russell Wilson six times Sunday.  Aaron Donald was a beast, which wasn’t very surprising to me.

The NFC West looks pretty good after Week 1.  But again, it’s only Week 1.

You could make the case the Rams got lucky in this game.  To start overtime, the Seahawks tried an onside kick, which failed.  That was only one of the many bad coaching decisions from this week.  The Rams kicked what was the game winning field goal with that drive.

There’s aggressiveness and there’s bad decisions.  Pete Caroll’s call here wasn’t great.  I know, I know, we’d be praising it had they gotten the ball.  But you know your getting the ball back if the Rams kick a field goal, why take the chance here?  Trust your defense, which oh by the way, is one of the best in football.

Quick hits on all the other games: 

  • Pittsburgh’s rally in the 2nd half of the season’s opener wasn’t enough, but made gamblers loose it as they barely covered.  The Steelers secondary had my concerns coming into the season, and Thursday’s game wasn’t a shock.  This should remind other teams to not use a linebacker on Rob Gronkowski.  Final score: Patriots-28 Steelers-21
  • The Bears really didn’t look half bad on Sunday.  Jay Cutler threw an interception, but should we really be surprised? His QBR was a somber 29.6, mostly due to a poor completion percentage.  Matt Forte lit it up, running for 141 yards.  I was shocked that I actually cared about this game in it’s later part.  This was a game for Bears fans to get a gauge on this season.  It may not be as bad they expect it to be!  Final score: Packers-31 Bears-23
  • Remember when we thought the Texans could improve with Brian Hoyer?  Wait, that never happened!  Because we all knew what Brian Hoyer is, and the Texans found out what he was after he threw 34 passes and an interception.  Hoyer was eventually benched for Ryan Mallet, who’s QBR was a 85.9 in the time he played Sunday.  Now, the Texans won’t name a starting quarterback for Week 2.  They’re gonna pull an Urban Meyer and just trot someone out before kickoff next weekend, I guess.  Final score: Kansas City-27 Houston-20
  • Josh McCown threw eight passes before getting suffering a concussion on Sunday.  We all knew what that meant.  Johnny Manziel finished with a QBR of 52.2, which, I guess.  See, here’s the thing with Johnny:  He’s either great and super entertaining, or not great and boring.  Sunday was not great and boring.  Sorry, but the Manziel hype/media train has derailed, for now.  Final score: NYJ-31 Cleveland-10
  • Haha this game was terrible.  Dolphins-Redskins was probably the worst game of the weekend.  I mean, neither quarterback had a QBR above 50.  It took three quarters for the Dolphins offense to get going.  Yeah… nothing more to see here.  Final score: Miami-17  Washington-10
  • Another really sucky game.  Blake Bortles wasn’t great, with a QBR of 25.4 and two interceptions.  Since last year was so bad, he could be on a shorter leash than we think.  It’s hard to imagine the 2014 No.3 overall pick being benched early in his 2nd season, but we know what head coach Gus Bradley’s leash is.  Bortles could be on a similar one.
  • I can’t wait to see Chris Johnson start for three games! Um, yeah right.  Johnson had 10 carries for 37 yards yesterday, and will be starting at least two games after Andre Ellington’s PCL sprain.  I thought Arizona used the passing game nicely on Sunday.  Also, HONEY BADGER.  He was an animal against the Saints.  Final score: Arizona-31  New Orleans-19
  • Lions-Chargers was great.  Remember that column I wrote about the Wisconsin-Nebraska game from last college football season, where I furiously defended Ameer Abdullah over Melvin Gordon? Yeah, they met again Sunday.  Both had similar stats, though Abdullah ripped off a beautiful 24 yard touchdown run.  Final score: San Diego-33 Detroit-28
  • Bengals-Raiders was an ugly game, and it only got worse for Oakland when Derek Carr hurt his hand and left the game.  Matt McGloin was okay in the backup position, but isn’t the guy you’d want starting in multiple games.  No one can give an accurate timeline on Carr, so there’s not much else to say.  You just gotta hope, Raiders’ fans.  Final score: Cincinnati-33 Oakland-13
  • I was pumped for the Monday Night Doubleheader.  Eagles-Falcons had all the storylines in the world, and the Vikings were getting Adrian Peterson back.  Little did we know, none of the storylines really took shape, besides the fact that the Eagles barely have any wide receivers and that the Vikings’ offensive line concerns could derail their season.
  • Jameis Winston’s debut wasn’t at all like Marcus Mariota’s .  He completed 16/33 passes, with two interceptions in the loss. Winston had some trouble holding onto the ball, which wasn’t a surprise giving how he was in college.  Based off Week 1, it looks like Winston is the project, and Mariota’s the instant stud.
  • Marcus Mariota had the highest QBR out of anyone this weekend.

Sucks To Be You: Upsets, Close Calls, And Malik Zaire’s Injury

While this past weekend had many good games, only two real upsets occurred.  We also had two very, very close calls.  Though both favorites prevailed in those, one of them came with a huge cost.

Upsets: Arkansas, Boise State

Holy Toledo!  This was not that great of a game, I mean, look at the score!  16-12?  Are you kidding me?

Perhaps the most ironic thing about this game was that, my grandparents were visiting this weekend.  They’re both from the Toledo area.  My Grandpa went to University Of Toledo, the team that defeated the No.18 Razorbacks.  When it happened, he couldn’t believe it.  It was a big deal.  He then went on to rant about how bad the football team was when he went there.

Anyways, Arkansas’ now gone from the AP Poll after the loss.  This was a weird game, with the scoring structure an odd one.  There was a missed two point conversions, and a safety at the very end, when it didn’t even matter to Arkansas.  Neither quarterback played great.  Brandon Allen’s QBR was 66.9… His interception and 53 pass attempts didn’t help.  The Razorbacks couldn’t really run the ball Saturday night; they’re leading rusher ran for 54 yards.

Toledo’s stats weren’t worth sharing either, but this was mostly about getting that win.  In this case, it wasn’t about how it was done for the Rockets.

BYU’s “upset” of Boise State can no longer be treated that way (notice the quotation marks).  It never fails with BYU.  They just get things done.  It doesn’t matter who their quarterback is.  After losing Taysom Hill in Week 1, Tanner Magnum put on a show Saturday night.  His QBR was low due to two picks, but Magnum passed for 309 yards and two touchdowns.  Mitchell Jurgens basically caught every ball (and attempted a pass!) as he finished the night with 172 receiving yards.

The Cougars beat the Broncos, they didn’t upset them.  BYU scored 21 points in the 4th quarter, compared to a grand total of zero by the Broncos.  Boise State’s turnover killed them, as Ryan Finley threw three interceptions.

This BYU team is now the non-Power 5 Playoff threat.  They’ve overtaken Boise State, and have sky rocketed above Notre Dame due to the Irish injuries (More on that later).  This is a dangerous team.  And they’re staring down UCLA next.

Close calls: Notre Dame, Auburn

I’m not gonna say a whole lot on Notre Dame, since I’m talking about them below, but boy, did they pull that one of out their butt.  The Irish were up 34-27 with 12 seconds left after a game-wining touchdown pass thrown by backup quarterback DeShone Kizer.  They barely got by Virginia Saturday, in a game where the Cavaliers almost pulled off the unthinkable.  They now drop to 0-2 this season.  Speaking of the (almost) unthinkable.

I first want to say I know nothing about Jacksonville State.  I had never heard of them till Saturday, when Auburn came in as 40 point favorites.  It was mostly poor play from Auburn that forced OT; the Tigers had three points after the 1st quarter.

In overtime, Jacksonville State made one bad play.  On 3rd and goal from the five yard line, desperately needing a score, Jacksonville State took a sack.  But not just any sack.  It costed them 16 yards, moving them all the way back to the Auburn 21 yard line for 4th and goal.  An incomplete pass ended the game.

Taking the sack cost Jacksonville State the greatest upset of all-time.  Yes, I believe this would have been greater than Appalachian State over Michigan in 2007.  While Jacksonville State would’ve needed to score again, a score on their first drive would’ve given them momentum.

The close call cost Auburn 12 spots in the AP Poll.

On Malik Zaire’s season-ending injury……

Even though Notre Dame snuck out of Virginia’s upset bid, it came with a cost.  Malik Zaire, their star quarterback, and their only hope (in my opinion) for a Playoff bid, fractured his ankle and was ruled out for the season.

It could have been much worse.  After the injury occurred, he was carted off, and according to the ESPN broadcast, his parents were escorted to the locker room.  The way the ankle turned wasn’t pretty, and there wasn’t much shock from me when the broken ankle news came about.

As for football, this kills Notre Dame’s season.  As I said above, BYU now has a better team than Notre Dame.  I was never high on Notre Dame with Malik Zaire this season, and his injury only makes the odds plummet.  It sucks football wise, I mean, Zaire is super fun to watch.  Not having him on the field makes Notre Dame somewhat unwatchable, or at least not interesting to me.

This just hasn’t been Notre Dame’s season from the start, with them losing their starting running back in Week 1.  Injuries can have different affects.  The Irish’s are just too unbearable.

What To Watch For: College Football Week 2

After not being available for the Week 1 games, What To Watch For and Sucks To Be You is back.  It’s the first of the season, and we have some good games to kick it off.

No.19 Oklahoma vs. No.23 Tennessee

This is game is gonna get so underrated due to the matchup below.  Both teams crushed their Week 1 opponents, though neither looked that strong.  The Sooners may or not may have an iffy quarterback situation coming into this game.  Baker Mayfield was pretty good last week, with a 69.7% completion rate and 388 yards thrown.  However, this is the first true test.

The Volunteers’ defense didn’t look too great last week, putting up one of the worst performances in the country against Bowling Green.  However, last season Tennessee was the 36th best defense in the country, and they’re returning most of their starters.  If the Sooners do have an iffy quarterback, then this will be the game it shows.

There’s something in me that thinks we could have an upset here.  How would that occur?  The Volunteers ran for a ton of yards last week, and that’s what they’ll continue to do throughout the season.  I don’t totally trust Oklahoma’s defense…. Their offense might be what got them ranked so high in the beginning.  I think, if Tennessee can find holes and burst through them, they can win this game.

My SEC hatred though, kinda gets in the way here.  As we saw with the latest AP Poll (which is a complete disaster in my opinion), there were 10 SEC team ranked.  There’s 14 teams in the SEC.  That’s 71% of the conference.  There’s no way everyone’s that good.  So yeah, sorry Tennessee.

Pick: Oklahoma-28  Tennessee-20

No.7 Oregon vs. No.5 Michigan State

Even though I had neither of these two teams in the College Football Playoff, this is a playoff caliber game.  It’s our first top ten matchup of the season.

The Spartans underwhelmed last week against Western Michigan.  Though they won by 13 points, I mean, it’s Western Michigan!  You should blow them out!  It’s a tad concerning, and that’s not good considering this matchup has me very worried about the Spartans.

There’s two areas of concern.  1): Can Michigan State control’s Oregon’s still-insane offense?  2):  If not, can the Spartans score enough?

  1. What makes Oregon’s offense so powerful is their run game.  The Spartans have the best run defense in the country.  This is the key matchup.  However, Oregon has a new weapon in Vernon Adams.  Using him more may catch the Spartans off guard, producing big plays.
  2. I don’t expect Michigan State to completely stop Oregon, but there will be stops, and that’s huge for the Spartans’ offense.  They have to do what they do, because trying new things against Oregon is risky.  They have the quarterback to do it.

Michigan State’s gonna keep this close for most of the game.  Really, this could come down to the wire.  However, Oregon’s creativity on offense is going to trick the Spartans.  Michigan State defense is great, but it’s too conventional.  Oregon will exploit that.

Pick: Oregon-51 Michigan State-40

No.14 LSU vs. No.25 Mississippi State

This just might be the “Wait, how are these teams ranked?” game.  OK, that’s a little harsh.  But seriously!  I have no clue how LSU got ranked so high in the preseason poll.  Then, after their first game got cancelled, held the same spot.  I want the Playoff Poll to start sooner!

Mississippi State got overlooked by everyone, and honestly, they should have been ranked prior to Week 1.  Still, this is not that great of a game.

It seems LSU is still figuring things out, which goes in the Bulldogs favor, but LSU is way more talented, which immediately wins games.  Dak Prescott was a Heisman contender for most of last season, let’s not forget.  He does everything for Mississippi State.  Dominance can kill a defense, and that’s what Dak does.

For LSU to really get going on offense, Leonard Fournette has to have a great game.  He disappointed last season.  This is his time to shine.  The Tigers’ have to rely on him throughout the year.  This is the game it starts.

There’s a good chance this game is pretty boring, and low-scoring, with lots of dumb things happening, but hey, if Leonard Fournette’s playing, I’ll watch.

Pick: LSU-20  Mississippi State-14


Upset Alert:

Fresno State vs. No.17 Ole Miss

Ayo!  Welcome back, you infamous Upset Alert!  You broke my heart last week, with two of my favorite teams losing in upset fashion.  This week, a SEC team could be the one to fall.  Perfect revenge.

This isn’t about Fresno State actually being good, but more about Ole Miss being much weaker.  Their defense is still strong, but Bulldogs running back Marteze Waller is a beast.  If he can get going, then Fresno State will stay in this.  Both teams are somewhat familiar with each other, as this is the 3rd meeting between the two since 2010.

The Rebels have an iffy quarterback situation, which is something Fresno State can only take to their advantage.  If the Bulldogs get enough pressure, this could turn their way.  However, it kinda seems like too many things have to go right.  I think Ole Miss will pull out in a close one.

2015-2016 NFL Prediction Column

It’s that time.  After previewing each conference with rankings, one liners, and the few hot takes, it’s time to make predictions.  As always, we’ll go divisions by division, then will pick the playoff seeds.  I don’t go further than that.  Another note you should know:  For the NFL, and the NFL only, I go through every schedule, team by team, and pick how many wins they’ll earn based on their opponent.  It’s not just a number I pick.

Since we started the preview with the AFC, we’ll make picks in the AFC East first.  Also, there are no more wrap up paragraphs at the bottom of the standings.  Those were annoying and felt too hot take-ish.


AFC East

  1. New England Patriots, 13-3
  2. Miami Dolphins, 8-8
  3. Buffalo Bills, 7-9
  4. New York Jets, 6-10

AFC South

  1. Indianapolis Colts, 12-4
  2. Houston Texans, 7-9
  3. Tennessee Titans, 6-10
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars, 3-13

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens, 11-5
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers, 10-6
  3. Cincinnati Bengals, 8-8
  4. Cleveland Browns, 2-14

AFC West

  1. Denver Broncos, 11-5
  2. San Diego Chargers, 9-7
  3. Kansas City Chiefs, 8-8
  4. Oakland Raiders, 4-12



NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles, 12-4
  2. Dallas Cowboys, 8-8
  3. New York Giants, 8-8
  4. Washington Redskins, 2-14

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons, 9-7
  2. New Orleans Saints, 8-8
  3. Carolina Panthers, 6-10
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 3-13

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers, 13-3
  2. Minnesota Vikings, 9-7
  3. Detroit Lions, 7-9
  4. Chicago Bears, 6-10

NFC West

  1. Seattle Seahawks, 13-3
  2. Arizona Cardinals, 10-6
  3. St. Louis Rams, 7-9
  4. San Francisco 49ers, 6-10


Playoff Seeds:


  1. Seattle Seahawks (Tiebreaker over Packers)
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Atlanta Falcons
  5. Arizona Cardinals
  6. Minnesota Vikings


  1. New England Patriots
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Denver Broncos (Tiebreaker over Ravens)
  4. Baltimore Ravens
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. San Diego Chargers

Let’s do some other fun stuff!


  1. Andrew Luck
  2. Tom Brady
  3. Adrian Peterson

Offensive Player Of The Year:

  1. Andrew Luck
  2. Tom Brady
  3. Adrian Peterson

Defensive Player Of The Year:

  1. JJ Watt
  2. Chris Long
  3. Justin Houston

Comeback Player Of The Year:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. Sam Bradford
  3. ———

Coach Of The Year:

  1. Chip Kelly
  2. Mike McCoy
  3. Gary Kubiak

Happy Kickoff Day!  

NFC Conference Preview

Welcome to Part 2 of this year’s NFL Preview.  Today we will look at the NFC Conference, and will break down everything.  I’m gonna run through a bunch of topics in this column, including rankings, hot takes, and one liners.

 Once both previews go up, you can guess my predictions.  Then you’ll see if you’re correct on Thursday.

Division rankings:

  1. NFC North
  2. NFC West
  3. NFC East
  4. NFC South

Even though the Bears won’t be great, the NFC North is the best division in the NFC.  We have possibly the best team in the NFL with Green Bay, and two teams who were very good last year.  The Lions and Vikings are both going to be good teams.  But one has to beat out the other…. More on that later.

The NFC West was the best division in football, but after two teams shifting their direction, it’s fallen behind.  They’ll still get two teams into the playoffs.

The next two divisions are clusters, but the NFC East has the better teams.  There’s more stability here.  We know what most of the teams are gonna be.   In the South, anything goes.  I honestly have no clue what will happen there.  There’s a case that all four teams could win the division.  Let’s hope that, whoever wins, has a record above .500.

Who’s gonna get fired first?:

  • Tom Coughlin
  • Jay Gruden
  • Sean Payton

Tom Coughlin is 69 years!  69!  Like, he’s old!  He may not be coaching long!  Maybe the Giants will get rid of him sooner than most expect.

This is a brink year for Coughlin.  New York hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011, when they won the Super Bowl.  They’ve been close since.  This team is always the one where we expect playoffs or we expect average.  They’re never bad, but never great.  Coughlin’s been running on the same level as Marvin Lewis, but Lewis has made the playoffs lately.  Coughlin hasn’t.  He has to this year, or his retirement will come earlier than he probably wanted.

I’m writing about the Washington Dysfunctionals (Hey!  We should change the name to that!  It represents the team itself and the city they play in!)  below, but Jay Gruden’s term as head coach might be a short one.  This organization obviously has no communication within, with visible riffs between owners, front office people, and Gruden himself.  It may not be the play of the team that forces Gruden out.

I don’t know about this next one.  I guess it’s possible, but as of now, it seems unlikely.  If the Saints are an absolute tire fire in Week 6 or so, then there could be major changes.  But for now, I think most of the big changes will come after the season.

QB Rankings:

  1. Aaron Rodgers
  2. Russell Wilson
  3. Matt Ryan
  4. Matthew Stafford
  5. Cam Newton
  6. Tony Romo
  7. Drew Brees
  8. Eli Manning
  9. Jay Cutler
  10. Colin Kaepernick
  11. Carson Palmer
  12. Teddy Bridgewater
  13. Nick Foles
  14. Sam Bradford
  15. Kirk Cousins
  16. Jameis Winston

One liners:

NFC East- The name itself is a headline

There’s a lot of mediocre divisions in the NFL, but the NFC East is the one mediocre division that 1) The media loves and 2) Always produces the headlines.  Literally, it seems almost every NFL head comes out of that division.  The Cowboys create headlines just because of the logo on their head.  The Redskins are a headline just because of the actual name of the team, which really isn’t that big of a deal, and have a never-ending QB controversy.  The Eagles are insane and may or may not have any clue what they’re doing, and the Giants have a quarterback with a famous last name and a stud young receiver, who just may be overrated because of one catch.  I mean, Good Lord!

The Packers will be fine

Jordy Nelson’s injury was catastrophic at first, and caused everyone (including me) to throw a fit about the preseason.  But once my Packer friends got over it (and everyone else), we all realized it wasn’t going to hurt Green Bay as much as we previously thought.

There had been an insane amount of injuries over the Summer, so everyone was already in a bad mood about the preseason coming along.  I remember at my fantasy football draft with my friends that I hosted, I said, after the draft was complete, that “You know, one of these guys that we just drafted will get hurt and be out for the season.”  Everyone moaned and groaned, but we all knew it was coming.  First went Kelvin Benjamin, 2nd was Jordy Nelson.

We can debate later whether the preseason is needed, but long story short:  Something needs to change.

My biggest takeaway from Nelson’s injury was “Man, how underpaid does Randall Cobb look now?”.  Cobb’s now the No.1 target for Aaron Rodgers with Nelson out, and re-signing him looks smarter than ever.  Green Bay also has 2nd year wide receiver Davante Adams, who’ll have more balls thrown his way, which should boost his production big time.  Jeff Janis could become a name people start to hear, as the Packers have been so good at finding good receivers out of nowhere.

The James Jones signing was pretty funny to me at first, because I thought he was a lot older than he actually was.  Turns out, I was thinking of NBA player James Jones.  I’m usually pretty good about not mixing names between sports, but they’re literally the exact same player, even though they’re in different sports!  I should write about this later…

Bottom line:  The Packers have Aaron Rodgers.  They have a really good running back, and plenty of weapons.  They’re gonna be fine.

The Rams will be good, but not good enough

I remember when all my 49ers friends were talking about how their team would be the first team to host the Super Bowl in the middle of 8th grade. Good times, aye?

Instead, they’ll be the worst team in the NFC West.  Yeah, I dropped that before the prediction column, but isn’t it pretty clear?

Seattle’s gonna be super, super good.  The Cardinals will be fine.  And St. Louis, well, there’s questions, but they could be good!  Here’s how:

Before I explain how good the Rams will be, I’m also gonna drop this:  Eight wins max for St. Louis.

After moving on from Sam Bradford, who never really did anything besides get paid a ton of money and blow out his knee every year, breaking Rams’ fans heart, St. Louis has gone in a new direction.  They got Nick Foles, who most people are skeptical on, but has the potential to be a viable starter while the Rams evaluate him more.  I don’t think Foles is the new face of the Rams, but he definitely has the reigns this year.  Foles won’t have to be great, but he’s gonna have to make some plays on offense.  I’m a tad worried about the St. Louis backfield, especially since they’re seriously injured heading into Week 1.  Tre Mason may not play.  Todd Gurley is out at least three games.  That’d leave Benny Cunningham starting, in what now looks like a train wreck of a backfield.

If the backfield, like I believe, underperforms, the Rams will have to rely on Foles and the defense to win games.  Oh yeah, on that defense.

Um, well, they’re pretty good!  Like, really, really good.  This defensive line, like Buffalo’s has backups that would start for the 49ers, who’s defensive line is atrocious.  Michael Brockers and Nick Fairley are listed at the same position on the depth chart.  They won’t play their line like that, but it shows you how deep they are.  The secondary could use some work, but this front seven will carry the load on defense.  Great defensive play will get this team to eight wins, but Nick Foles has to do more than we see coming if the Rams are gonna be better than I see them being.

By the Rams’ being good, I mostly meant that they’ll be so much better than last year.  Again, I don’t expect them to make the playoffs.

The NFC South is still a train wreck

What was the probably the worst division ever will be more of the same this season.  I don’t expect it to be as bad, but there’s a good chance the division winner wins 10 games or less.  No one’s strong enough!  Everyone has problems, and only a couple teams have true strengths.  Let’s figure them out!


Biggest strength: Running back

Biggest weakness: Defense

Drew Brees is a nice strength at quarterback, but this may be his last season in New Orleans due to their cluttered salary cap.  Plus, he’s got like one guy to throw to.  Trading Jimmy Graham was killer, especially for a team that had figured out how to correctly use him.  They got much needed offensive line help out the deal (plus they drafted Andrus Peat).  New Orleans is gonna pound the ball, and with Mark Ingram plus C.J. Spiller (who’s out for Week 1, FYI), it shouldn’t be a problem.

However, the Saints’ defense is filled with holes.  The linebacking core is shot, the secondary has a bunch of guys who’ve underperformed, and the defensive line has one good player.  There’s issues here, and they’re big enough to keep the Saints out of playoff contention.


Biggest strength: Offensive weapons

Biggest weakness: Linebacker

While there are issues at running back, the Falcons’ offense is loaded with talent.  Matt Ryan is the most underrated quarterback in the league.  He puts up great stats every year, even if his team wasn’t great.  Now, Julio Jones is locked up.  Roddy White is productive (but needs to stay healthy).  Devin Hester makes stuff happen, and Jacob Tamme has been reliable for a long time.

The Falcons won’t have to the run the ball as much this season, and that’s a good thing since the offensive line is a work in progress.  This will be the best offense in the division.


Biggest strength: Linebacker

Biggest weakness: Wide receiver, offensive line

The Panthers defense won’t be dominate like it has the past two seasons, but this linebacking core will be fun to watch, and will make necessary plays. No one else on this defense will.  I have complete confidence that Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis will destroy other team’s running games.  But that’s all this defense will be able to do.

Kelvin Benjamin’s injury was devastating, and is the biggest loss for any team this offseason.  That was Cam Newton’s No.1 target, and was supposed to be a breakout guy (again) this year.  That kills the Panthers’ offense.  Since the offensive line is a disaster, they won’t able to run the ball as well.  Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert are good, but aren’t good enough to survive with a bad offensive line.


Biggest strength: Wide receiver

Biggest weakness: Linebacker

The Buccaneers got their franchise quarterback, and I believe there will be some great signs that he’s the one this season.  However, Tampa Bay’s just not equipped yet to win this season.  Their weapons core will help Jameis Winston tremendously, but there’s other areas that are a ways away. The defensive line is good, but this linebacking core features a grand total of zero names I’ve heard of.  Yeah, that’s a problem.

You’ll see my official pick for this division tomorrow, but I think it’s pretty clear who I’m taking.

Lions or Vikings?

This question is the biggest one in this conference.  I believe the NFC is much cleaner than the AFC, with more teams that have cleaner outlooks on this season.  You know how I feel about the Rams, so that’s clears up one of the Wild Card spots.  This is the other discussion that shapes the Wild Card.  I’ll say it now, but one of these teams will get the final playoff spot.  Here’s the case for both:


Can we just start by saying that they have the best quarterback out of the 2014 NFL Draft?  Teddy Bridgewater was amazing last season, and beat everyone’s expectations.  This year, he has more to work with.  The Vikings don’t have to rely as much on their young QB either, since Adrian Peterson is back and ready to dominate.  Minnesota is gonna go with their running game first, and then transition to the pass with their new weapons.  Mike Wallace is fine, but is a big addition to a receiver core that was very weak last year.  The Vikings’ defense has the chance to be top ten in the NFL, and they addressed their biggest need in cornerback.  The Vikings are gonna be in contention all year long.  This is exactly what my friends wanted to hear.


OK, this isn’t exactly my case for the Lions to beat out the Vikings.  It’s basically the equivalent of a half court shot at the end of a basketball game.  I don’t have a lot of confidence in the Lions this year.  They lost one of the best defensive players in the league, which was only half of their dominate defensive line.  Nick Fairley left to go join the Rams, who really didn’t need him.  Haloti Ngata’s good, crap, Haloti Ngata’s great, but he can’t replace what they once had.

Detroit has a powerful offense, but doesn’t have a solid running back (yet; Ameer Abdullah showed great signs in the preseason though).  This offensive line is very inexperienced, which is the last thing you need when you’re gonna have trouble scoring.  The Lions will have to get great production out of Ngata to compete with Minnesota, and will have to finish top five in the NFL in scoring.  Yeah, talk about a long shot.

We have to wait to judge Chip Kelly’s moves

What Chip Kelly has done this offseason has been crazy, amazing, inspiring, confusing, stupid… You could use every adjective in the world to describe this offseason.  However, Kelly’s made moves based on what he believes in, and has made them with his vision.  I like some of the things he’s done, and hate some of them.  However, Kelly knows what he wants.  He knows how it’ll work.  We don’t.  So we should probably wait to judge it.

NFL Prediction Column coming tomorrow……. 

AFC Conference Preview

Welcome to Part 1 of this year’s NFL Preview.  Today we will look at the AFC Conference, and will break down everything.  I’m gonna run through a bunch of topics in this column, including rankings, hot takes, and one liners.

 Once both previews go up, you can guess my predictions.  Then you’ll see if you’re correct on Thursday.

Division Rankings:

  1. AFC North
  2. AFC West
  3. AFC East
  4. AFC South

The AFC North is always entertaining, whether it’s due to terrible teams who are never good, shaky quarterbacks, or teams that are always in playoff contention.

I see three playoff contenders in the AFC North, and it’s likely that all three of them could slip in.  However, the AFC, like last year, is much more cluttered than the NFC.  Tom Brady’s suspension getting overturned (Thank God) cleared some things up, but still, in 3/4 of the AFC divisions, there’s at least two playoff contenders.

The West is more clear than the East, but there’s one precedent that could flip the whole spectrum of it (more on that later).

The AFC South has sucked for so long.   The Colts will dominate again, but the Titans finally have some way of direction now.

Who’s gonna get fired first?:

This is no fun for me, but guessing what coach will get fired first in this conference is something I must do.  OK, it’s kinda fun.

SportsBooks’ odds have Mike Pettine as the most likely AFC coach to get fired first at +650.  That’s respectable, but could the Browns really do that when they don’t have actual NFL players? More on that later too…  Here’s my candidates to get fired first:

  • Joe Philbin
  • Gus Bradley
  • Marvin Lewis

I hate putting Gus Bradley in there, because he’s very likeable and is a defensive mastermind.  However, if Blake Bortles doesn’t show much improvement, even after Julius Thomas comes back from his injury, I could see Bradley heading out of town.

This is a huge year for Joe Philbin as head coach.  He has to meet expectations now.  The Dolphins know, especially after paying Ryan Tannehill, that he’s (Tannehill) not the problem anymore.  If there is one, it’s Philbin.

This shouldn’t be a problem early in the year though.  The Dolphins schedule is insanely easy the first seven weeks of the season (there is a bye in there; Week 5.)  Something catastrophic would have to happen for Philbin to be fired before the halfway mark; that’s excluding an injury.

I swear Marvin Lewis’ job security comes up every year.  It’s because that’s how this team has always been.  They like being good, but not good enough.  They’ve never been good enough.  The Bengals are basically the Dodgers of football.  They’re very good in the regular season and have lots of talent, then the postseason hits and it allcomes apart.

It seems that, if the Bengals make the playoffs, then everyone is safe.  That’s how it’s been forever.  And it’s likely that’ll continue.

QB Rankings:

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Andrew Luck
  3. Peyton Manning
  4. Philip Rivers
  5. Ben Rothlisberger
  6. Joe Flacco
  7. Andy Dalton
  8. Ryan Tannehill
  9. Alex Smith
  10. Derek Carr
  11. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  12. Marcus Mariota
  13. Brian Hoyer
  14. Blake Bortles
  15. Tyrod Taylor
  16. Josh McCown

One liners:

Could Cleveland suck any less?

Yeah!  Probably!  They’re the Browns, right?  First, swapping out Brian Hoyer for Josh McCown couldn’t be a more idiotic move.  Great role model for Johnny Manziel!

There’s nothing exciting about this offense.  They’ll struggle to put up points.  With a fill-in QB who’ll probably be hurt or benched by Week 6, an interesting but not-totally-sure-yet backfield, and no wide receivers, this team might be gaining yards like the Cardinals did in last year’s postseason.

Cleveland’s defense is more exciting.  The secondary is incredible strong, and is totally underrated due to the bad things revolving around this team.  Danny Shelton, the rookie nose tackle, is huge, and is destined to make contributions.  The weakest part is the defensive line, so Shelton should be quite a boost.

It’s unfortunate that an offensive this bad is going to kill this team.  There’s no way they win 8 games this year.  They downgraded almost every where on offense.  Maybe Johnny Football can provide some fun moments this season.

The Texans should tank

This was meant to be a column by itself… I’ve been saying this all Summer to certain people.  I even had a friend try to help me come up with ways the Texans could tank without it being too noticeable.  Before we get into that, let’s lay out why Houston should throw away this season.

The Texans’ defense is pretty good, and with additions made to the front seven this Summer, they’re great for fantasy.  I’m jealous of the guy in my fantasy league who has them.  There’s a big hole though;  The secondary has a lot of guys who are washed up, raw, or unheard-of names.  It’s gonna be awhile before this secondary becomes good.  Bottom line:  The defense may be good enough to salvage the season.

Arian Foster coming back sooner than expected (could be back for Week 4) is huge, because Alfred Blue is just not good at football.  I was talking to someone about fantasy football and they brought Blue up…. He was drafted in this person’s league.. Like, actually drafted.  Then I explained that Alfred Blue runs into the people trying to tackle him, not away from them.  Yeah, Blue starting for three games isn’t the best way to open the season.

There’s nothing any better at quarterback.  Brian Hoyer is the starter, Ryan Mallet isn’t good enough (and after throwing a tissy-fit about losing the job, he showed up late to practice the next day), and Tom Savage is very, very big question mark.  So Houston should be in the market for a quarterback in next year’s draft, right?  RIGHT?

Next year’s QB class has some very nice names in it, but there’s one that would be perfect fit for Houston, giving who their head coach is.  It’s Christian Hackenburg, who had an amazing freshman season at Penn State when Bill O’Brien was head coach.  You see what I did there?

Now, some would say that Houston wouldn’t need to tank to get Hackenburg.  He’s the 4th ranked QB in the 2016 Draft class, per CBS Sports’ rankings.  However, I’m expecting at least two quarterbacks to go in the top ten of next year’s Draft.  I feel like Hackenburg is gonna be one of them, and I think the Texans are gonna take him.

The Patriots are good, but so are the Colts

Whatever happened to Tom Brady was gonna shift my picks in this conference.  Had he been suspended, the AFC would probably been the Colts’ to lose.  Now that Brady is free (and even though I’m not a Patriots’ fan, I was on his side), New England is the team to beat.  Like always.

After demolishing the Colts in the AFC Title Game (the game that sparked the DeflateGate firestorm), and winning the Super Bowl, New England was sitting pretty.  The Colts though, were making moves.  Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, and Trent Cole all joined Indianapolis in the offseason.  They also drafted Philip Dorsett.  And let’s not forget, they have Andrew (The Giant!) Luck.

The Colts made moves this offseason to finally beat the Patriots in the AFC Conference Title Game.  And they’ll probably pay off over the course of the year.  Up until that title game.

I think it’s pretty clear the Colts are more talented than New England this season.  It’s like the Timberwolves this NBA season:  They’re super talented, but aren’t good enough yet to compete (the conference doesn’t help Minneosta).  Remember though: The Pats have Tom Brady, and he’s playing all 16 games.  It doesn’t matter what kind of team you have around him:  He’s Tom Brady.  He’s going to win at least 12 games a year.  And he’s going to kill everyone.  Especially this year.

So after putting some hope into Colts’ fans, I pretty much just ripped it away.  Indy’s division helps so much, and it could overrate them.  The Colts will make the playoffs, and’ll play deep in the playoffs.  But for now, the Patriots stand in the way.  And as long as Tom Brady’s there, they will be in the way.

Raiders, Titans on the road to competency

What?  Is this real life?  The Raiders and Titans are gonna be good, or at least watchable?!  What is happening?!

I was on the Jameis Winston side of things when the Draft came around.  I felt like both QBs would be good, but Winston would develop more quickly and would be more successful.  It was only the preseason, but if my thinking was judged off of it, I wouldn’t have looked so great.

Marcus Mariota was phenomenal during the preseason.  It wasn’t only how well he did, but how fun he is to watch.  Yes, the rookie appeal is there, but Mariota was the type of player that made me only focus on him.  I draw away from the play while watching sports;  Mariota didn’t make that happen to me.  He’s really entertaining, and if you’re the Titans, that’s what you want.

The Raiders have sucked for so long that I finally started feeling bad for all my Raiders friends.  But then these past two drafts happened and now I’m jealous.  The amount of young talent they have on offense is outstanding.  They’ve got guys at every skill position.  Derek Carr should take steps up this year.  Amari Cooper will be huge for Carr and the team itself, and I won’t lie:  Latavis Murray is very intriguing.

Oakland finally has some hope.  It’s still gonna take some time, but at least they’ll be watchable this year.  You’re almost there guys.

The Bills and Jets are a quarterback away

This is a sad, sad conversation to have.  It sucks that the AFC East could be the best division in football if these two teams had a quarterback we trusted and knew about.  That’s just not the case.

Due to Geno Smith’s broken jaw, in which was the stupidest story to happen in the NFL since DeflateGate (Oh wait!  That was only seven months ago!  This league is ridiculous.  Why do I care about this crap?), the Jets are gonna be starting Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB.  That’s fun.  I wrote extensively about what the Jets could do with a little Fitzmagic, or some Bryce Petty playing time.  But what could the Jets be with say, a Mark Sanchez?

To try and not bring back bad memories, we’ll use another QB.  How about this Jets team led by Jay Cutler?  Cutler’s clearly declined in the past two years, but he’s still okay.  In my NFC Preview coming tomorrow, he’s surprisingly high on the QB ranking list.  Why?  Because he’s good enough.  He’s a game-manager.  Ryan Fitzpatrick is not.  Fitzpatrick does things that makes his team lose.   Game managers do enough to win the game.  And with what the Jets have besides their QB situation, this would be a good enough team to win 10 games with a suitable QB. Unfortunately, that won’t happen this season.

The Bills are in a different situation.  They have plenty of options at QB, just none that are good enough.  A three man race in Training Camp led to Tyrod Taylor getting the starting job, and Matt Cassel, who was traded to the Buffalo from Minnesota in the Spring, getting cut.

I’ll be completely honest.  I’m pumped to see Tyrod Taylor play.  He was very fun to watch in the preseason.  He’s mobile and makes smart throws; that’s why he won the job.  The Bills saw what I saw:  The chance for a late round pick to make an impact.

However, I just can’t hop on yet.  We have to see what Taylor truly is.  And since we haven’t seem much of him, we can’t have high expectations.  It’s fun to speculate on what Taylor may be able to do in the NFL, but again, he hasn’t played meaningful games.  That step has to come first.

Besides the QB question, the Bills have an amazingly talented team.  They’ve got three young receivers, the 2nd best running back in the league, and a defensive line where the 2nd stringers would start for the 49ers.  Like, this team could be really good.  But I… ugh.. just can’t do it!  It kills me to say it; it really does.  I want to like this team so much due to the overload of talent.  But you have to have a quarterback to win football games.  That part of the Bills is the only one in question.

Broncos doubts

You saw above where I ranked Peyton Manning in the AFC quarterbacks.  He’s high, as he should be.  But I’m worried this could be the end for him.  We saw it at the end of last year.  16 games is tough for him to hold up for.  The arm strength just wasn’t there, and it’s why the Broncos exited the playoffs early.  I thought Manning was gonna retire after last season, and I guess the Broncos did too.

That should give you a good idea on how I feel about Denver this year.  My confidence isn’t too high.  I have this feeling that we’ll be in Week 9, and Denver will be struggling.  Their schedule is tough in those first 9 games (BAL, @KC, DET, MIN, @OAK, @CLE, GB, @IND), but they do have a bye in Week 7.  That should give Manning some much needed rest.

However, even with my doubts on the Broncos, I have to go into this season with the mindset of “Oh yeah, it’s Peyton Manning”.  It’s hard for me to believe he’ll be the Peyton Manning we’ve seen in the past, but I’m gonna treat it for now as a ‘See it and believe it” type thing.

NFC Preview coming tomorrow……