Projecting the Next 5 Super Bowl Matches

Projecting the Next 5 Super Bowl Matches

MJ of Sports Fan Entertainment recently made a video of his predictions for the next five Super Bowls, and I’ve seen various other online articles do this sort of thing as well.  I thought I’d offer thoughts on who I think will be future super bowl participants and winners, and also give a synopsis of where I think each team is heading in the future.

Super Bowl LII: Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots.  Ah, a rematch of last year!  Now, before the season, I had the Giants (my favorite team) making the Super Bowl.  After 3 weeks, it definitely looks as though that’s not happening.  The Falcons appear to not care about the whole “Super Bowl hangover” mentality, as they have started hot.  Meanwhile, we knew the Pats would bounce back after that ugly Week One loss.  This team is just too talented, and will once again reign supreme in the AFC.  Will they win for the sixth time?  Well…

The Winner: Atlanta Falcons.  They’re hungry for revenge, and they will win this highly publicized rematch of what was a crazy Super Bowl last year.  I read an article by Matt Ryan called “The Hangover”, and in the article, he described just how shocking that loss was.  However, I think he’s put in the work to win once and for all (as has the rest of this Falcons team).  They win the franchise’s first championship.

Image result for atlanta falcons

Image Credit: Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports

Super Bowl LIII: Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers.  As much as I hate the Cowboys, they’re probably going to a Super Bowl within the next 5 years.  This is when Dak and Zeke will be in their third year, and their big pieces on the o-line will still be in their prime.  Add in some more defensive pieces during the next draft/free agency period, and you’ve got yourself a Super Bowl contender.  Meanwhile, this will be Big Ben’s last hurrah as the Steelers QB, as the stacked offense around him will perform up to their expectations.  In addition, their young defense will begin to hit their prime.  This will be considered an intriguing matchup, due to the fact that this is the 4th time these juggernaut franchises have met in a Super Bowl. so who wins?

The Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers.  When I said Big Ben’s last hurrah, I meant it.  He will retire after this game as a 3-time Super Bowl winner, having led the Steelers to their 7th Lombardi trophy (2 more than any other team).  Their offense + playoff experience will ultimately be too much for Dallas to handle.

Image result for pittsburgh steelers killer b's

Image Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Super Bowl LIV: Oakland(?) Raiders vs. Green Bay Packers.  Aaron Rodgers finally makes it back to the Super Bowl, but not after the Packers’ front office puts in some work.  Ty Montgomery is interesting, but he’s not a legit RB, and the defense still has some question marks.  Meanwhile, the year 2020 may seem late for the Raiders to reach the first Super Bowl of the Derek Carr era, but I had to let the classic AFC juggernauts (Pats and Steelers) get one more shot.  In a matchup of two great QBs, who wins?

The Winner: Green Bay Packers.  In what may be their final season in Oakland, the Raiders don’t get their first Super Bowl since 1983.  Aaron Rodgers has to have another Super Bowl before he retires, and on February 2, 2020, he gets it.

Image result for green bay packers

Image Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Super Bowl LV: Las Vegas Raiders vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  In what could be their first season in Vegas (either that or it’s their second), the Raiders are back in the big game.  Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Khalil Mack are still in their prime.  Meanwhile, Jameis Winston finally leads his Bucs to an NFC title, with an offense led by Mike Evans and O.J. Howard (Desean Jackson is likely gone by now).  The on-the-rise QBs of 2017 meet in 2021 for a championship.  Who wins?

The Winner: Las Vegas Raiders.  The Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 1996.  Why do I bring up a seemingly random fact?  Because they won that championship the year they relocated, and I think the Raiders will do the same thing.  It ultimately comes down to this, Derek Carr appears to be a better QB than Jameis Winston.

Image result for derek carr and amari cooper

Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports

Super Bowl LVI: Los Angeles Rams vs. Tennessee Titans.  The teams that made a huge trade with one another in the 2016 draft will meet in the Super Bowl less than a decade later.  Not to mention, the Jeff Fisher teams, and also the teams that met in the “one yard short” Super Bowl.  I wanted to push the Titans to an earlier Super Bowl date, but I think competing with the Patriots now and the Raiders later will make their Super Bowl aspirations delayed.  As for the Rams, I am convinced that Jared Goff is the franchise QB.  He will turn 27 in 2021, which will probably be the midst of his prime.  Sean McVay seems to have been a great hire.  Aaron Donald will reach his 30s, but should still wreak havoc on the d-line.  I like where L.A. is heading (not the Chargers).  Question is, who wins?

The Winner: Tennessee Titans.  While the wait for the first Super Bowl in franchise history may be long, this time they don’t come up one yard short.  Marcus Mariota gives Tennessee the Super Bowl ring they have long awaited… in 2022.  Also, I actually have the Rams having “Super Bowl homefield advantage” here, as this game will be played in Inglewood, California.  Titans win anyway.

Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports

10 Other Teams I Think Could Easily Make The Super Bowl (in the next 5 years):

Jacksonville JaguarsI actually think if they build a defense around Bortles (which they already have built a pretty nice one), they can win a Super Bowl.  If Trent Dilfer and old man Peyton Manning can win Super Bowls, so can Bortles.  But the defense has got to be menacing.

Indianapolis Colts: It all depends on whether or not they actually build a team around Luck… and if Luck can stay healthy.  But if those things happen, they can definitely win a Super Bowl within the next 5 years.

Kansas City Chiefs: Next 5 years?  More like the next 2 years.  However, Alex Smith looks like he can finally lead a good offense (thanks to Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill).  And that defense will force turnovers as usual.  If they want to win a championship, Kansas City better get it done quick.

Carolina Panthers: Reaching another Super Bowl really depends on whether or not Cam Newton has his “swag”.  If he does, the man is dangerous, and the Panthers are flung back into Super Bowl contention.

Houston Texans: We all know the defense is elite (and probably will retain that status over the next 5 years).  The question is whether or not Deshaun Watson is the answer.  If he is, then the Texans could easily be representing the AFC in a Super Bowl soon (and winning it).

Detroit Lions: Detroit gave Matthew Stafford that contract for a reason, he’s one of the best QBs in the NFL.  But will they build up more elite players on that defense?  And can the Lions actually win a playoff game to begin with?

Minnesota Vikings: With Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford, who knows what their QB situation will be like?  What we do know is that Minnesota has a great defense, and if they make a Super Bowl in the next 5 years, that will be why the made it.

Philadelphia Eagles: Young QB?  Check.  Talented defense?  Also check.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles made the Super Bowl in the next 5 years.

Denver Broncos: This team will go as far as their defense can take them.  If they carried old man Peyton to a Super Bowl, they can certainly do the same with Trevor Simeian.

Chicago Bears: Hear me out, guys.  If Trubisky is legit and they give him some weapons through high draft picks, this team could sneak in a Super Bowl run towards the tail end of the next 5 years.

10 Teams Trending in the Wrong Direction:

Cincinnati Bengals: Questions about their offense have emerged, and this is the team that has held on to Marvin Lewis for what seems like an eternity.  If that doesn’t change, then I can tell you Cincy isn’t heading to the Super Bowl anytime soon.

Miami Dolphins: Just when Ryan Tannehill was making his mark on the franchise, he tears his ACL and Jay Cutler has to come in for a year.  Miami is still a talented team, so it’s not so much they’re heading in the wrong direction.  It’s just that they have to compete with New England now, and Oakland and Tennessee later.  Good luck with that, you’re gonna need it.

Buffalo Bills: They appeared to have begun a tank this year (though they’ve started 2-1).  Still, the front office is all dramatic with Tyrod Taylor, and they traded away two of their best players.  I simply don’t like where this team is going, and they won’t be making a Super Bowl anytime soon (their first goal should be to make the playoffs).

Baltimore Ravens: While they have a GM in Ozzie Newsome who can build a promising team within the next 5 years, I just don’t see it happening.  The offense has very few weapons, and Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle will soon be on the wrong side of 30 (if they aren’t already).

Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer looks like he’s done after this season, and so the Cards will likely start from scratch by drafting a QB in 2018.  And while that 2018 draft class looks exciting, look out for the retirement of Larry Fitzgerald, and possibly even Bruce Arians if he has health issues.  I like the defense, but I don’t like this team’s chances in the next 5 years.

New Orleans Saints: The dilemma with the Saints is that even though Drew Brees is still balling, their defense still stinks.  The moment the defense gets decent is probably when Drew Brees retires, which will mean they have to get a QB, then develop him.  This team is arguably the most likely candidate to not be contending anytime soon, especially playing in a strong NFC South.

Los Angeles Chargers: Phillip Rivers is getting old, and while I like Melvin Gordon and Joey Bosa, is there really many other things to like?  Besides, the whole team seems to suffer from general bad luck, with injuries or special teams miscues seeming to lead to their demise year after year.  I can’t blame the citizens of L.A. for not showing up to Chargers games.

Washington Redskins: The Kirk Cousins fiasco may keep them from contending, as they might be looking for a new QB in the 2018 draft.  Also, good luck competing with the Eagles and Cowboys.  Speaking of competing with those two teams…

New York Giants:  When they finally build a decent o-line is when Eli Manning probably hangs up the cleats for Davis Webb (or some other guy) to take over.  This is the dilemma for my beloved Giants.  Not to mention, all the talented guys on defense that they got from that free agency spending spree will soon exit their prime, as they were on other teams before New York, so naturally, they’re older dudes.  Also, Ben McAdoo sucks and should be fired.

Seattle Seahawks: Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor will soon enter their 30s.  Earl Thomas has already considered retirement.  Feast mode isn’t the answer at RB.  The o-line is the worst in the league, and needs serious rebuilding.  And that is why Seattle won’t be in any Super Bowls the next five years, folks.  They had a nice run.  That run is over.

The 3 Remaining Teams, A.K.A. “The Long Term Rebuilders”

New York Jets: Like the other 3 teams in this section, I think the Jets can compete for a Super Bowl.  I just don’t see it happening within the next 5 years.  It’s something you simply can’t project.  However, with a young piece like Jamal Adams at safety, and possibly drafting a QB in 2018, the Jets could be competitors after 2021.

San Francisco 49ers: If San Fran does indeed land Kirk Cousins next year, it will make their task of competing for a championship a lot easier.  However, their offense is still a major issue, with a total lack of weapons.  Not to mention, the o-line is pretty bad aside from Joe Staley, and Staley is 33.  Thought the defense has promising pieces, work needs to be done there as well, particularly in the secondary.

Cleveland Browns: Jokes are made about Cleveland as the team that’s been “rebuilding since 1964”, as their streak of QB incompetence since 1999 has been one of incredible sadness for Browns fans.  With that being said, Deshone Kizer could be the man that ends the curse.  Can he though?  And is that defense with Myles Garrett, Christian Kirksey, Jabrill Peppers, and Jamie Collins going to be as good as advertised?  These are all questions that we simply don’t have an answer to.

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The SFE Team’s NFL Week 4 Predictions 2017

  • The SFE writing team is back to give you their week 4 predictions and picks.

Participants: Munya “MJ” Jumbi, Daniel Hutchinson-Kausch, Brian Ingamells, Scott Riley, Alan Huston, Jon Schinker, Kevin Vicinus, Harun Muhammed, Brandon Morales, Caprio “Caps” Michel

Aaron Rodgers tried to stay on sis feet while being dragged by a defender.

Image Credit: Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

Thursday, Sept. 28

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:25 p.m.

Bears: Alan, Caps

Packers: MJ, Jon, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Brian, Harun. Kevin

Sunday, Oct. 1

New Orleans Saints at Miami Dolphins, 9:30 a.m.

Saints: MJ, Jon, Alan, Brandon, Brian, Caps, Harun, Kevin

Dolphins: Daniel, Scott

Buffalo Bills at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Bills: Alan, Caps

Falcons: MJ, Jon, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Brian, Harun, Kevin

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 p.m.

Steelers: Jon, Alan, Brandon, Caps, Harun, Kevin

Ravens: MJ, Daniel, Scott, Brian

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Bengals: MJ, Jon, Daniel, Scott, Brian, Harun, Kevin

Browns: Alan, Brandon, Caps

Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys, 1:00 p.m.

Rams: Alan

Cowboys: MJ, Jon, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Brian, Caps, Harun, Kevin

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m.

Titans: MJ, Alan, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Caps, Harun, Kevin

Texans: Jon, Brian

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m.

Lions: Brian, Caps, Kevin

Vikings: MJ, Jon, Alan, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Harun

Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m.

Panthers: Alan

Patriots: MJ, Jon, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Brian, Caps, Harun, Kevin

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m.

Jaguars: MJ, Jon, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Brian, Caps, Harun, Kevin

Jets: Alan

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m.

49ers: MJ, Jon, Alan, Brandon, Kevin

Cardinals: Daniel, Scott, Brian, Caps, Harun

Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.

Eagles: MJ, Jon, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Brian, Caps, Harun

Chargers: Alan, Kevin

New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:05 p.m.

Giants: Alan, Scott, Brian, Caps, Harun

Bucs: MJ, Jon, Daniel, Brandon, Kevin

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m.

Raiders: Alan

Broncos: MJ, Jon, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Brian, Caps, Harun, Kevin

Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks, 8:30 p.m.

Colts:

Seahawks: MJ, Jon, Alan, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Brian, Caps, Harun, Kevin

Monday, Oct. 2

Washington Redskins at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:30 p.m

Redskins: Alan

Chiefs: MJ, Jon, Daniel, Scott, Brandon, Brian, Caps, Harun, Kevin

Last Week:

MJ Daniel Brian Scott Alan Jon Kevin Harun Brandon Caps
7-9 8-8 9-7 10-6 7-9 9-7 9-7 7-9 8-8 6-10

 

Overall:

MJ Daniel Brian Scott Alan Jon Kevin Harun Brandon Caps
29-18 29-18 32-15 30-17 27-20 31-16 31-16 29-18 29-18 29-18

 

Big Division Match Ups Highlight Week Four

Week four of the 2017 NFL season features tantalizing division match ups. Below is a look at this week’s most compelling match ups and predictions of who comes out on top.

Chicago Bears (1-2) @ Green Bay Packers (2-1)

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers

Photo Credit Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Thursday Night Football features the all-time series tie breaker in this longstanding rivalry. The record sits at 93-93-6, with the winner of tonight’s contest earning a one-game lead with another meeting schedule later this season. The Packers swept Chicago last season, winning both 2016 bouts. The last time the Bears played football in Lambeau, Aaron Rodgers and company came away with a 26-10 win.

Chicago is one week removed from an upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers for their lone win of the season. The Bears have been somewhat of a mystery thus far. John Fox’s team nearly upset the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons in the week one opener. In week two, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers steamrolled Chicago. The Bears always play the Packers tough, but they will need a solid performance to knock of Green Bay.

The Packers opened their season with a week one win against a tough Seattle Seahawks team. The following week, a slow start in Atlanta led to Green Bay trailing 24-7 at half time. The final score of 34-23 made the game look more competitive than it was, with 13 Packer points coming in the final quarter. Rodgers and the rest of the Pack had their hands full against the Cincinnati Bengals. The winless Bengals took the Packers into overtime, and Rodgers was able to earn his first career victory over Cincy, the only team he had yet to defeat (outside of obviously the Green Bay).

Chicago always plays Green Bay tough and, despite being swept last season, usually splits the season series. Rodgers should not underestimate the Bears. Chicago could go into Lambeau and steal a win. A Bears win could make the NFC North even more interesting four games into the year. Rodgers finds a way to get it done.

GB 24 – CHI 17

Detroit Lions (2-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (2-1)

Minnesota Vikings Detroit Lions

Photo Credit Rick Osentoski Associated Press)

Another heated rivalry in the NFC North with both teams sitting at 2-1. The Lions edged out the Vikings twice last season, completing the sweep. Both teams have looked tough four games into the season. The winner of this match up could be in sole possession of first place depending on the outcome of Chicago-Green Bay.

Detroit lost a heart-breaking, controversial finish against Atlanta. The Lions could easily have entered this game without a blemish on their record. Wins against Arizona and the New York Giants don’t hold a tremendous amount of weight, but a victory over the Falcons would have. Quarterback Matt Stafford usually performs well against the Vikings. In the past 11 meetings, his touchdown to interception ratio sits at 17/4. He’ll aim to keep the offense moving and scoring.

Defensively, Detroit continues to impress. Last week, safety Glover Quin took an errant Matt Ryan pass to the house. Teammate Darius Slay recorded two picks last week, and has picked off Vikings signal callers twice in the last four contests. The defense will look to disrupt Minnesota’s Case Keenum, who is preparing to start in Sam Bradford’s absence.

The Vikings have fluctuated week to week, but remain in first place. After spoiling Adrian Peterson’s homecoming in a Saints uniform, Minnesota was embarrassed in Pittsburgh. Last week, the Vikings throttled a hot Buccaneers team. The wide receiver combination of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen currently sit second and third in total receiving yards. Diggs had a phenomenal game against Tampa. Thielan and Diggs will continue to stretch the field and make Keenum look good, while rookie running back – and leading NFC rusher – Dalvin Cook continues to rumble out of the backfield.

This one will be close, which is usually the case. The Lions will likely get the win as Keenum may not be able to have a repeat performance against a tougher Detroit defense.

DET 20 – MIN 17

Oakland Raiders (2-1) @ Denver Broncos (2-1)

Denver Broncos Oakland Raiders

Photo Credit Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

This game features two contending teams in arguably the best division in the NFL. Every win matters in the AFC West. Both teams are coming off seemingly stunning upsets. Not many anticipated either the Washington Redskins nor the Buffalo Bills of beating teams in the AFC West, as neither was facing the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Raiders earned a hard-fought win against the ascending Tennessee Titans in week one. Oakland followed that with a dismantling of the New York Jets in which the best highlight featured Beast Mode’s best dance moves. Washington didn’t care, and the defense completely shut down Oakland’s offense.

Both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper were M.I.A. Marshawn Lynch absorbed a thunderous shot by D.J. Swearinger. The Raiders defense could not stop Kirk Cousins and company. Redskins Chris Thompson torched the Oakland defense, who did not look like contenders Sunday night. Defensively, Khalil Mack has historically been a problem for Denver. In the past three meetings, Mack has amassed seven sacks and two forced fumbles. The Broncos offense must do what they can to keep Trevor Siemien upright.

Denver already has one division win under their belt, as they took care of the Chargers in week one. The Broncos destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in the second game in the Mile High City. As Shannon Sharpe famously stated, “When you go to the Mile High, that’s where dreams go to die”.

There is truth to Sharpe’s words. Denver is a much different team at home. Last week proved that. The Broncos were stunned by the Bills in Buffalo. The Oakland offense has more quality talent, although that didn’t seem so last week. The Broncos beat a Carr-less Raiders team in week 17 of the 2016 NFL season, 24-6.

The “No Fly Zone” will aim to do what Washington did and eliminate the effectiveness of Oakland’s top pass catchers. The “Orange Wall” will prepare to tame the Beast in the backfield, similar to how they ripped Zeke Elliott’s heart right out of his chest. Stud linebacker Von Miller is known to be a thorn for the silver and black. He will strive to wrap up Carr and to lay a thump on the Beast. That will be difficult, as Lynch can sometimes be heartless when carrying the rock.

Denver will hand Oakland their second straight loss and keep the AFC West race close.

DEN 28 – OAK 24

Tennessee Titans (2-1) @ Houston Texans (1-2)

Texans Clowney vs Titans Lewan

Photo Credit Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably the two best teams in the AFC South face off Sunday. Houston could easily be 2-1, but lost on a time-expiring touchdown pass from the arm of who many believe to be the G.O.A.T., Tom Brady. Tennessee is in first place of the AFC South and looks to acquire another division win against the defending division champions.

The Texans already have one division loss on their resume. Houston’s week one performance paved the way for berth of “Sacksonville”. The Jacksonville Jaguars, simply put, beat up the Texans. The Jaguars followed their 22 points win over Houston with a 21 point loss to Tennessee, who silenced the noise of “Sacksonville” through physical domination.

In rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson’s first career start, his play through the air and on the ground helped the Texans in the jungle. After watching his soul leave his body on a thunderous Geno Atkins blow, watching zig-zagged his way for a huge touchdown run that ended up being the difference in the ball game.

Watson was polarizing against New England last week, as his rookie growing pains flashed throughout. His two touchdowns passes accompany his two interceptions. It will take more than a season for Watson to work out the kinks in his game, but he has shown some promise. Nearly beating Brady & Bill Belichick in his first meeting would have really been something.

The Texans achilles heel remains their offensive line. Offensive linemen Duane Brown continues to holdout, with no deal close to being reached. The rest of the line has struggled immensely. The poor play caused originally starting quarterback Tom Savage to lose his job halfway through the first game. If not for Watson’s mobility, he too would have had to choose between paper or plastic often.

Defensively, Houston features some tremendous talent, highlighted by J.J. Watt. His 2017 season stat sheet does not do his play justice. Just because he may not have the sack numbers doesn’t mean he isn’t being a nuisance in the trenches. With Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus foaming at the mouth, Tennessee’s offensive line will definitely have their hands full.

For the Titans, facing a tough defense isn’t something new. In fact, the last two weeks have featured games against teams whose defense is the strength. Jacksonville, who worked Houston, was manhandled by Tennessee’s mauling trench-warriors. Last week, the bullies of the NFC West were bullied by the Titans. Two dominating victories over two highly touted defenses provide the Titans with a sense of confidence.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota continues to find the flow of the offense. His slow starts have ended with sharp finishes. This week, he faces Watt for the first time in his career. His two-tone blue bodyguards will do what they can to postpone Watt-Mariota meeting until the post game handshake. In the meanwhile, Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray are both eager to introduce themselves to Watt. Murray is no stranger. In the past three meetings against Houston, he’s totaled 330 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.

The Titans offense will be the difference in this game. Texans lose to Tennessee for the first time at home since 2011. The Titans will sit comfortably atop the AFC South mountain.

TEN 34 HOU 20

Other Notable Division Games

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (PITT), Cincinnati @ Cleveland (CLE), San Francisco @ Arizona (SF)

Stats referenced at NFL.com

 

 

Grayzee’s Week 4 Predictions and Week 3 Recap

Week 3 was full of many upsets, and I think many people had a tough week.  However, I managed to do okay, going 8-8 when a lot of people dipped below .500 with their predictions.  Let’s get into the games.

LA 41 – SF 39.  Man, I didn’t give this matchup enough credit.  The Rams and 49ers played a very exciting game, and I have to say, Jared Goff doesn’t look like a bust.  This Rams team still has lots of work to do (like beating teams that are not the Luck-less Colts and the 49ers).  However, I think they could possibly contend for the division by next year.  As for the 49ers, they played a close game, and shoutout to Carlos Hyde for helping my fantasy team.

JAC 44 – BAL 7.  So I figured I’d start the week off 2-0 and that the Ravens would get an easy win.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Blake Bortles threw for 4 TDs and no INTs, which is definitely not a prototypical Blake Bortles stat-line.  My words before this game “Their (The Ravens) defense will be way too much for a QB like Bortles to handle”.  Nope.

BUF 26 – DEN 16.  Another shocker, as a team that I thought was tanking, beat the red-hot Broncos and is starting 2-1.  Trevor Siemian went from hero to zero, throwing 0 TDs and 2 INTs, as the 2nd of many upsets occurred.

CHI 23 – PIT 17 (OT).  No one was probably expecting the Steelers to lose to the Mike Glennon-led Bears.  However, that is precisely what happened.  Jordan Howard went back to his rookie season form, rushing for 138 yards and 2 TDs.  At least AB had a decent day for me in fantasy.

NO 34 – CAR 13.  The Saints weren’t going to get off to another 0-3 start, and they practically kept their season alive with a nice win over Carolina.  It was probably a nice sight for Saints fans to see their defense show up on the road, and their offense had a nice, balanced attack to get a convincing W.

MIN 34 – TB 17.  If I had known Sam Bradford was out, I probably would’ve picked the Bucs to win this game.  However, I picked Minnesota, and Case Keenum rewarded my pick with probably the best game of his career (369 yards and 3 TDs).

IND 31 – CLE 28.  This was a game where a lot of people picked the Browns to get a W due to Luck’s injury (me included).  I thought Kizer would win the QB battle against Jacoby Brissett, but Brissett proved me wrong, rushing for two touchdowns and adding another one through the air.

NYJ 20 – MIA 6.  The upsets keep rolling out, as the Jets apparently don’t know how to tank right.  Their defense held Miami to just 6 points, proving that they will be the true strength of this Jets’ team going forward.

NE 36 – HOU 33.  I don’t think anyone expected this game to be this close, as this almost was yet another L for most people in their picks.  Tom Brady did more Tom Brady things, tossing 5 TDs against a great Texans defense.  It looks like losing Julian Edelman won’t be an issue for their offense.

ATL 30 – DET 26.  I bought into the Lions at home here, as Matthew Stafford had a decent game against my Giants despite his poor stat line, and the defense did great as well.  However, the Falcons offense is quite a bit better than the Giants, and Matt Ryan won the battle of the elite QBs named Matt.

PHI 27 – NYG 24.  A rookie kicker made a 61-yard field goal to win the game, Odell acted like an idiot again, and the defense (the supposed strength of the team) choked when the offense actually showed up for once.  Eli Manning unleashed his 2011 form in the 4th quarter, but he derped around with 2 interceptions and 0 points in the first 3 quarters.  As a Giants fan, I’m already sick of this season.  McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese should be out of the building, and a mini-rebuild has to take place.

TEN 33 – SEA 27.  A lot of people were picking the Seahawks here, and I’m not sure exactly why.  They BARELY beat the 49ers the week before, and the Titans had home-field advantage in this game and were coming off a great win.  Their offense continues to look good (despite Corey Davis’s injury).  As for Seattle, Russell Wilson looked like a beast, so there’s that.

KC 24 – LAC 10.  The Chiefs simply handled business against a team that was better than them, in a typical Chiefs style win.  Also, the Chargers in L.A. is an absolute embarrassment to the NFL.  https://www.sbnation.com/2017/9/24/16359006/chiefs-chargers-chant-los-angeles

GB 27 – CIN 24 (OT).  Here’s another game many people didn’t see being this close.  I was watching this one when the Bengals got up 21-7, and I thought “Is the NFL on drugs today?”.  However, the Pack won in the end, avoiding a terrible embarrassment at home.

WAS 27 – OAK 10.  Pulling through with that upset of the week!  In reality, there were about 5 upsets more shocking than this one.  However, the Raiders were indeed favorites.  I thought Kirk Cousins playing at home against a pedestrian Raiders defense would work to his favor, and that’s what happened.

DAL 28 – ARI 17.  This was an entertaining game to watch for most of it, but picking the Cards to upset here didn’t work.  Dallas appeared to recover smoothly from last week, as the Cardinals rushing attack was very limited with David Johnson’s injury.

Now, let’s get into my Week 4 picks.

CHI @ GB.  This should be an easy one, but the Packers won in a game they could’ve easily lost last week, and the Bears beat the Steelers.  However, I’m playing it safe.  The Packers are playing at Lambeau, and in a matchup between Aaron Rodgers and Mike Glennon.  The Packers will win 31-17.

NO @ MIA (London).  The Dolphins got embarrassed last week by the Jets, and the Saints got a great win against the Panthers.  Since this game is at a neutral site, I’ll go with the team that is riding it hot.  I definitely trust Drew Brees over Jay Cutler anyway, and they win 28-23.

CAR @ NE.  The Pats were nearly beaten by Houston last week, but they should rebound against a team that struggled mightily last week without a top player in Greg Olsen.  Tom Brady tears up yet another defense, and New England wins 35-27 in my lock of the week.

JAC @ NYJ.  Feels weird to say the Jaguars will start off 3-1, but I think they do just that.  After a resounding win against the Dolphins, the Jets will probably realize this season’s mission statement again: Tank.  I’m banking on the talented Jags defense to be too much for Josh McCown to handle, as you can’t really rely on Blake Bortles to put up the numbers he did last week.  Jacksonville wins 24-13.

TEN @ HOU.  Make no mistake, the AFC South should be the Titans’ division this year.  However, playing at Houston in a bump along the path.  Their defense is going to rebound, even while playing another talented QB.  Corey Davis has been ruled out again, and while Rishard Matthews is nice, I’m going to pick Houston to win 27-24.

PIT @ BAL.  Both the Steelers and Ravens come off humiliating losses, and I’ll pick the home team here to redeem itself.  I was not exactly worried about Pittsburgh “playing down” to their opponents after their slim victory against the Browns in Week One.  But then they lost to the Bears two weeks later.  Give me the Ravens to beat their rivals 23-21 (JTuck kicking those field goals).

CIN @ CLE.  In a battle of the two 0-3 Ohio teams, give me the Bengals.   I trusted the Browns to win last week, and they let me down.  The Bengals almost beat the Packers at Lambeau, as they finally appear to have some offensive attack going.  Cincy will win 28-24.

DET @ MIN.  The Lions were oh-so-close to winning, while the Vikes were led to a blowout victory by… Case Keenum?  It’s still questionable whether Bradford or Keenum will start this week, but I think this Lions team is angry after last week and has a road win in them.  Give me Detroit to win 30-24, no matter who is starting for Minnesota.

LAR @ DAL.  The Rams’ two wins this year came against less than stellar competition.  Playing in Jerry World isn’t going to be easy for this young team, but I think Jared Goff can have a decent game against that Dallas secondary.  But Dak Prescott will just be better.  Dallas wins 30-24.

BUF @ ATL.  The Bills got a crazy upset week last week, while the Falcons were one Golden Tate knee away from losing.  However, the Falcons are just a much better team than Buffalo, and they are playing at home.  Give me the Falcons to win in a 37-14 blowout.

PHI @ LAC.  The Chargers just aren’t winning games.  Many people had them as an AFC Wild Card sleeper, but I knew these guys would be the same old Chargers.  And against the Eagles, they just don’t have much of a chance.  Give me the Eagles to win 31-21.

SF @ ARI.  The 49ers just aren’t a good team, but they’re trending upwards.  The Cardinals may be a shell of their offense with David Johnson, but like I said, they’re a better team and they’re playing at home.  Give me the Cards to win 27-21.

NYG @ TB.  As a Giants fan, I hedged my bets last week by picking Philly.  But I need one upset of the week, and in this desperate situation for the Giants, I’m picking them to not start 0-4.  The Giants may be 3 point underdogs, but their offense seemed to finally come alive last week.  And against a team that gave up 34-points to the Keenum-led Vikings, give me the Gmen to win 27-24.

OAK @ DEN.  The Broncos’ home field advantage has worked for them the first two weeks.  Despite a bad L last week, I think the Broncos can get a nice win against Oakland, who had a very disappointing loss last week.  That Broncos defense will be too much for Derek Carr to handle.

IND @ SEA.  I’ve mentioned many times in my posts that I’m not a big fan of Seattle this year, but at home against Jacoby Brissett?   Yeah, give me Seattle to win 34-24.  Russell Wilson looked good last week, so he can definitely repeat that success against the Colts’ D.

WAS @ KC.  The Chiefs are 3-0, and appear to be a legit competitor in the AFC.  While I picked Washington to get it done last week, and they did indeed do that, I think playing on the road against that defense will be too much for Kirk Cousins.  Give me Kansas City to win 24-20.

My Pick Record This Season: 30-17.

My Lock of the Week, “A.K.A. Survivor Pick” Record: 2-1.  (Those freakin’ Dolphins.)

My Upset of the Week Record: 2-1.

Breaking Down the Surprise-Filled Sunday

Breaking Down the Surprise-Filled Sunday

Well, it looks like we can all scratch this week as an L for our weekly picks.

Sunday’s matchups were filled with surprises, but it also taught us a few things that were not necessarily true last season. Today, we’ll break down the most surprising performances, the most shocking losses and the biggest takeaways.

Surprising Individual Performances

Blake Bortles

Who would have thought Blake Bortles might actually turn out OK?

The fourth year pro has shown signs of progression and regression throughout his bumpy career, but while playing in London, he showed that he belongs in this league.

Against the Ravens, Bortles went 20/31 for 244 yards and 4 passing touchdowns, earning him a 128.2 passer rating.

Bortles has struggled a lot throughout his career, but perhaps he’s showing signs that he can at least be a game manager, which is exactly what the Jaguars need to compliment with their dominant defense.

Quarterback Blake Bortles about to throw a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Josh McCown 

The Jets won a game, ladies and gentlemen.

The Jets are still terrible, but it looks like their plan to “Scam for Sam (Darnold)” won’t work, since veteran QB Josh McCown showed that he can win some games for this football team.

McCown went 18/23 with 249 passing yards and 1 touchdown, eclipsing a 126.3 passer rating.

At age 38, McCown obviously isn’t New York’s long term option, so they will inevitably have to draft someone or finally get something out of Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty, both of which looks less than likely.

Quarterback Josh McCown throwing a pass in preseason action against the Tennessee Titans.

Jake Elliott

Not many kickers can say they’ve had a walk off 61 yard field goal, let alone as a rookie.

Elliott isn’t a perfect kicker, by any means.

He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft and was placed on the team’s practice squad after losing the kicker competition to Randy Bullock. The Eagles acquired him after their kicker Caleb Sturgis went down with a hip injury, forcing him to go to the IR.

So far, Elliott is 4/6 in field goal attempts, but his 61 yard dinger on Sunday to defeat the division rival New York Giants definitely solidifies himself a job for at least another week.

Kicker Jake Elliott celebrates walk-off field goal against the New York Giants.

Surprising Losses

Jacksonville Jaguars defeat the Baltimore Ravens 44-7

Watch out–Duval is on the rise.

The Jacksonville Jaguars took the trip across the pond at Wembley Stadium, where they dominated the Baltimore Ravens 44-7.

One of the biggest surprises was Blake Bortles looking like he actually knew what he was doing, as well as Ravens QB Joe Flacco playing as poor as ever.

Maybe it was Jacksonville’s experience playing in a different timezone and at that venue, but 44-7 tells a compelling story about Jacksonville’s dominance.

It will be interesting to see what adjustments the Ravens make for their Week 4 matchup against the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers.

Joe Flacco visibly upset after a loss.

Chicago Bears defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-17

Now, this margin isn’t huge, but we’re talking about the Chicago Bears.

Watching this game, I really liked the Bears’ offensive plan going into this: shove the ball down their throats.

Stud running back Jordan Howard and the emerging Tarik Cohen made life difficult for the Steelers front seven, who was without defensive playmakers Stephon Tuitt and T.J. Watt.

Quarterback Mike Glennon only threw the ball 22 times on Sunday, compared to the 45 attempts against the Buccaneers in Week 2 and the 40 attempts against the Falcons in Week 1. This is proving to be effective for Chicago, and their Week 4 game against the Green Bay Packers could be just as successful, since two of Green Bay’s starting front seven members (Mike Daniels and Jake Ryan) are likely to be sidelined with injuries. The NFC North just got that much more interesting.

Running back Jordan Howard rushing with the ball.

Washington Redskins defeat the Oakland Raiders 27-10

Marshawn isn’t dancing this week.

The Oakland Raiders were handed their first loss against the Washington Redskins by a score of 27-10.

Derek Carr was 19/31 with 118 passing yards, with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Both receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper were highly limited because of stout play by cornerback Josh Norman.

This is certainly a wake up call for the so far successful Raiders, and they’ll try to bounce back next week against the rising Denver Broncos.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins attempts to complete a pass.

Biggest Takeaways

The Bears have an Excellent One-Two Running Back Punch

Exit: Jeremy Langford. Enter: Tarik Cohen.

Jordan Howard now has a suitable partner in the Bears’ backfield in running back Tarik Cohen. The rookie from small school North Carolina A&T made his presence known on Sunday, having 12 rushing attempts for 78 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

His partner, however, absolutely obliterated the Steelers. Howard had 23 rushing attempts for 138 yards, averaging 6 yards per carry, with 2 TDs added onto that.

The Howard-Cohen partnership reminds me of the Atlanta Falcons’ version of that, which features Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

The Bears may be muddy at quarterback and wide receiver, but their ground game makes them dangerous. Watch as the Bears may compete for a wild card spot.

Running back Tarik Cohen rushing with the ball.

Is the Jaguars Defense Elite?

To answer this question: they definitely made a compelling case against the Baltimore Ravens, but not quite.

However, I am comfortable in saying that the Jags are a top 10 defense in this league. The teams they’ve played thus far haven’t had strong offenses; the only exception being the Tennessee Titans, who put up 37 points against them.

The good news is that the Jags will have the chance to display their dominance in the next three weeks, as they play the Jets, Browns and Rams. By then, many may already label them elite.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey taunting someone on the offense.

The Tennessee Titans are the Best Team in the AFC South

It seems as though there’s one team who’s taking full reign of the uncertain AFC South.

Aside from their Week 1 loss to the Oakland Raiders, the Tennessee Titans have asserted their dominance as the best team in the AFC South with their 33-27 win against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Jaguars are close and so are the Texans, but since the Titans beat Jacksonville and the Texans are 1-2, I have to give it to Tennessee. The Colts aren’t that far off, either, but it’s hard to forget the 46-9 pounding they took to the Rams.

A lot can change throughout this season, but for now, the Titans have earned the right to be kings of the AFC South.

The Tennessee Titans offense.

One Draft Prospect At Each Position Whose Stock Is On The Rise


One Draft Prospect at Each Position Whose Stock Is On The Rise

Offense:


Sue Ogrocki/AP

QB – Baker Mayfield, Senior, Oklahoma

I had Mayfield ranked as my Number 5 QB entering the season. Since opening the season against UTEP, Mayfield has looked phenomenal and as a result, has seen his draft stock rise. He powered OU to a historic win against Ohio State and has been very efficient throwing the ball. He has looked patient in the pocket, scanning the whole field routinely to find the open target. His quick recognition of defenses, pre and post snap, has been excellent and is another reason he has been such an efficient passer. For the most part, his footwork looks improved. Last year, he would throw off his back foot a lot and not transfer his weight through the throw. Whilst this area of his game looks largely improved, he will still throw off his back foot when throwing touch passes. Many knock Mayfield for a lack of arm strength. I do not share this concern. Whilst he doesn’t have a Pat Mahomes type of arm, he throws with plenty of velocity and the ball arrives with good energy on it.
He doesn’t have the ideal size, but his play this season has been hard to ignore and subsequently, he is moving up my draft board.

RB – Rashaad Penny, Senior, San Diego St.

Behind record setting RB Donnel Pumphrey, Penny ran for over 1,000 yards and 11 TDs last season. An impressive haul for an understudy. Since taking over as the starter this season, Penny has looked unstoppable. He’s rushed for 716 yards (7 TDs), caught 12 passes for 87 yards and has returned a kick for a TD. His ability to contribute as a runner, receiver and return man will make him incredibly valuable to an NFL team. A patient runner, Penny maximizes every rushing opportunity with great vision and feel for holes opening up. At 5’11”, 220lbs Penny has a well-built frame with some real strength in his lower body. This allows him to run through contact and break tackles.
Despite not having the desired lateral quickness, Penny is an effective runner who can contribute in the passing game and as a returner. His stock is on the rise and he could wind up as Top 5 RB in the 2018 draft class.

WR – Darren Carrington, Senior, Utah

Carrington’s stock hit rock bottom after being dismissed from Oregon. He found a home in Utah and was able to play immediately as a graduate transfer. Prior to him being dismissed form Oregon, I had a 3rd round grade on the speedy receiver. Since arriving at Utah, Carrington has been torching defenses. Listed at 6’3″, 205lbs, Carrington possesses the size necessary to be an impact receiver in the NFL. This year, he has shown he is a true deep threat who can also produce over the middle. He does a good job bringing the ball in with defenders around and doesn’t break focus. Elusive after the catch, Carrington does a good job slipping tackles, however I have some concerns about the way he carries the ball outside of his frame. He’s a solid blocker and is quick out of his breaks.
Carrington has really salvaged his draft stock with a dominant start to the season.

TE – Adam Breneman, Senior, UMASS

Breneman has gotten off to an incredible start to the season. Going into the season, I had a 3rd round grade on the UMASS pass catcher. Breneman may have the surest hands in the entire draft class. He is a natural hands catcher, can adjust to poorly thrown balls and shows the body control to make contested catches. Has some decent change of direction ability and runs precise routes, allowing him to separate at all levels. This season, UMASS has looked to get him the ball as often as possible and he has proven what a reliable target over the middle he can be.
His stock is on the rise and I expect him to be in Top 5 TE conversation come draft day.


OL – Chukwuma Okorafor, Senior, Western Michigan

During the off season, I was intrigued by the raw tools Okorafor possessed. I wanted to see how he put all of those tools to work this season. The early returns are encouraging and he currently ranks as my No. 4 OT. In his biggest test of the season, USC, he dominated against highly touted EDGE defenders Porter Gustin and Uchenna Nwosu. He mirrored both well in pass pro and showed the ability to deal with speed, despite being a bigger OT (6’6″, 330lbs). The leg drive and hip snap he showed in the run game was also impressive against USC and he drove NFL calibre defenders back all day. Since that game, he has continued to open huge lanes for his running backs and has looked much improved in pass protection, timing up his punch better and maintaining a more balanced base.
I love the upside of Okorafor and think he has an incredibly high ceiling. As he continues to convert raw tools to dominant on field performances, his draft stock will continue to rise.

Defense:


Kim Klement/USA TODAY


DL – Andrew Brown, Senior, Virginia

Brown has been a disruptive force for Virginia to start the season. He’s been strong at the point of attack against the run and sheds well to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. What I like most about Brown, is his versatility as a pass rusher. Whether he is lined up inside or outside, he wins with quick hands, flexibility in his hips and solid upfield burst.
I gave Brown a 2nd/3rd round grade heading into the season, but through the first 4 games, he has shown he is a complete defensive lineman with the versatility to line up on the edge or inside. His stock should continue to rise throughout the season.

EDGE – Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Senior, Oklahoma

I highlighted Okoronkwo as a draft sleeper going into the season. Safe to say, he is no longer flying under the radar. He put on a show against Ohio State and the Buckeyes could not find an answer for him the entire game. One of the weaknesses I highlighted in Okoronkwo’s game going into the season, was his inconsistency against the run. However, so far this season he has looked much improved against the run. He is setting the edge well and has shown improved hand usage to shed blocks in the run game. I still don’t really trust him in coverage, but as a pure pass rusher there are few better in the 2018 class. His upfield burst and ability to change direction and hit blockers with an inside move is incredible.
Much improved against the run, Okoronkwo is showing he can be more than simply a pass rush specialist.

LB – Josey Jewell. Senior, Iowa

Jewell has been a consistent presence for Iowa this season, both against the run and pass. He is a high effort player who will always end up around the ball due to his non stop motor and relentless pursuit. He diagnoses plays well and does a great job attacking downfield. Always comes to balance before firing into a tackle. In coverage, he looks improved from last season. He is recognising routes early and closing on the receiver well. He had an INT against Penn State and should have had one against Wyoming.
I have loved watching Jewell play this season, he is an ultra competitive dude and always gets to the ball. He has moved into my top 50 prospects and NFL teams are going to love this guy when they turn on the tape.

CB – Duke Dawson, Senior, Florida

Graded as a 1st/2nd rounder going into the season there wasn’t much room for Dawson’s stock to grow. Yet, he has had a fantastic start to the season and as a result has seen his stock rise. He has firmly established himself as one of the top 3 CBs in this class and could easily emerge as the number 1 CB with more great performances. Dawson shows the ability to play in both off man and press coverage. He is very physical and has good play strength. Will get physical with receivers without getting overly handsy and called for penalties. I love how he keeps his feet moving at the line to mirror receivers on the release and then flips his hips to run with the receiver. A defender who is very hard to shake in man coverage, this comes from rarely being beat off the line of scrimmage and not allowing early separation. So far this season, he has shown he can be a playmaker in the defensive backfield with 2 INTs, one returned for a TD and has shown he can play on the outside or inside.
He played a lot of Nickel over the slot last season, so seeing him step in and dominate as an outside CB has resulted in a rise up my draft board.

S – Marcus Allen, Senior, Penn State

Allen didn’t have an interception going into his senior season at Penn State. Against Georgia State, he anticipated a throwing lane nicely and got his hands on the first INT of his college career. Allen is a true in the box safety, he hits with authority and takes good angles to the ball carrier. He accelerates into contact, but always comes to balance and strikes through the thighs. I think he has looked a little better in coverage this year and he has shown the ability to capably run with TEs in man.
Allen has been a tackling machine this season and his improvement in coverage has led to his draft stock rising.

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Digging Deeper with Daniel 9/17-9/24 Lamar Jackson QB1 and Weird NFL week

Digging Deeper with Daniel 9/17-9/24 Lamar Jackson QB1 and Weird NFL week

Lamar Jackson QB1

I have officially jumped on the Lamar Jackson QB1 train. The reigning Heisman winner has shown great ability as a pocket passer to do just about anything a passer can be asked to do. Jackson has shown the ability to read defenses and has very good pocket presence despite a terrible Louisville offensive line. Jackson also has shown good not great accuracy and placement and has all the arm talent anyone can ask for. Factor in Jackson’s game-breaking athletic ability and you have one HELL of a quarterback prospect. Unless something significant changes, Lamar Jackson is my QB1 in this draft. Check out where MJ has him mocked for the draft.

Saquon Barkley is insane

Not a huge surprise here, but Saquon Barkley made his case to be a top pick in April this Saturday with over 300 yards from scrimmage and some insane highlights. Check out where the SFE team mocked Barkley here.

Weird Week in the NFL

The NFL had a very bizarre week this week in which the Patriots nearly got beat by the Texans, The Jets DOMINATED the Dolphins, the Jaguars obliterated the Ravens behind a great performance from Blake Bortles (Yes Blake Bortles did actually do something good), the Bears beat the Steelers in overtime, Case Keenum led the Vikings over the Buccaneers, the Bills beat the Broncos, the Colts won a game, and the Raiders were dominated by the Redskins. The only thing that was somewhat normal this week was the Titans beating the Seahawks in Nashville and the Chiefs and the Falcons staying undefeated. Congrats MJ. Speaking of the Falcons, many people believe that they were given the game after a controversial review overturned a last second Golden Tate touchdown. The jury is still out on most teams after a weird week in the NFL. There is still a chance for most teams to make the playoffs at this point.