How to fix the Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns have been the embarrassment of the NFL for years now and things don’t look any better after going a terrible 0-16 in 2017. There is hope however and I’m here to tell you how I think the Browns could be fixed.

  1. Fire Hue Jackson

This may seem like an odd proposition as consistency at the head coach position is vital to a good team. The problem is however that Jackson is not what the Browns need. Jackson proved this in his completely incompetent handling of DeShone Kizer this season. Constantly benching and starting Kizer badly hurt his confidence, and even when he let Kizer play, he put him in terrible situations. For most of the season Kizer had to deal with what was by far the worst receiving core in the league. On top of this, Jackson’s play calling had Kizer throwing the ball deeper than 90% of the quarterbacks in the league on average. This is not how to help develop a young talented quarterback. This also was relying on an offensive line that has talent, but just flat out didn’t play well for most of the season. Jackson also made poor decisions on when to run the ball. He ran the ball very little against some of the worst run defenses in the league this year in games where the Browns’ run defense was producing on a high level. Jackson’s incompetence proved that he is not worthy if the Browns head coaching position.

2. Give Deshone Kizer another season

Kizer is a very talented player who showed promise at points during the season. Giving him another season not only allows the Browns to fully evaluate whether he can be there guy, but also allows them to build more offensive talent around whatever their long term quarterback end up being. Kizer’s numbers look bad, but let it be noted that around mid-season Kizer had already thrown 5 interceptions and lost 363 yards due to receiver drops, and those numbers have only gone up since then. This was showcased in the final game of the season where Kizer impressively escaped a sack on 4th and 2 in the 4th quarter and delivered a dime to Corey Coleman for what would’ve been a first down and a significant gain with a chance to win and Coleman dropped it after it hitting both of his hands. Take away receiver error and Kizer looks much more statistically acceptable as a quarterback. Next season the Browns should also have a much better offense even with Hue Jackson still there with the talent of Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman hopefully on the field more, David Njoku improving off of a promising rookie year, Joe Thomas returning, Duke Johnson still being a nice weapon, and perhaps some drafted talent. With this talent, Kizer will have every opportunity to show he can be the guy and if he doesn’t show that, then there will be no regrets about drafting a quarterback in what appears to be a talented 2019 QB draft class.

3. Draft Saquon Barkley at Number 1 and build your secondary in the first round

Photo Credit/www.mcall.com

Drafting Saquon Barkley is a no-brainer if you want to keep Kizer. Isaiah Crowell is not a good running back and Barkley appears to be a generational talent that could be a top back in the league. The Browns secondary is bad and need help. If I were the Browns’ GM, I would draft cornerback Joshua Jackson out of Iowa with their second first round pick. Jackson is a big-time play-maker with incredible ball skills. Jackson is good in coverage as well and has great explosive athleticism and length to be a prototype cornerback in the NFL. I would project him as a Marcus Peters type player with better coverage skills. This would allow Jabrill Peppers to have his opportunity to prove himself and give the Browns a big-time defensive back.

See what Harun, Jon, and I did in our most recent mock draft here

4. Improve the offense in the second round and later

The Browns’ top receivers have not been able to be on the field enough in the last two years and they have some important offensive lineman that are aging. Adding talented depth at receiver and offensive line could have a massive positive impact on the offense both immediately and long term. The receivers particularly could be used immediately and both could provide competition.

5. Free Agency

This one is simple: KEep Josh Gordon and go after Jarvis Landry or Allen Robinson.

Reasons for hope

I don’t believe in Hue Jackson, but it’s possible that if my other suggestions are followed or something similar is done that he could put whatever quarterback he has in a position to succeed. The Browns have lots of talent and are only going to get better. If this talent can be used competently, the Browns can turn around in a relatively short amount of time. That’s a big if though.

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Grayzee’s Week 17 Picks + Week 16 Recap

Grayzee’s Week 17 Picks + Week 16 Recap

The playoffs are upon us soon, and most of the playoff teams have cemented themselves in the postseason.  Week 17 is usually irrelevant for all but a few teams, but it’s fun to pick the games anyway.  But first, let’s recap Week 16.

BAL 23 – IND 16.  The Ravens are now likely a playoff team, after beating the Colts and seeing the Titans and Bills lose.  Because the Steelers can never beat the Pats on the road, and the Jags have no playoff experience, the Ravens may very well be the 2nd biggest threat in the AFC.  As for the Colts… we’ll see what they do with that high draft pick.

MIN 16 – GB 0.  The Vikings beat a Rodgers-less squad to practically lock up a first-round bye.  They wouldn’t have home-field advantage if they played the Eagles in the NFC Championship, but those guys don’t have Carson Wentz.  This could finally be the year for the Vikings.  No playoff meltdowns.  As for the Packers, they may have to release Aaron Rodgers for the way they handled his injury situation.  That would be disastrous, though it’s unlikely.  http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/21863467/teams-complain-nfl-green-bay-packers-violated-ir-rule-think-aaron-rodgers-released

LAR 27 – TEN 23.  The two Jeff Fisher squads met up, with the Rams once again winning.  Todd Gurley looks like an absolute beast, and he will truly be a weapon heading into the playoffs.  The Rams secured the NFC West this week, while the Jags secured the AFC South.  The Titans will have to sneak in as a 9-7 Wild Card team and beat the Jags.

NE 37 – BUF 16.  Well what do you know, another call went in favor of the Patriots.  Still, it looked like the Bills could win until late in the third quarter, when the Pats began an onslaught of their divisional “rival”.  I knew picking Buffalo was stupid.  Still, the Bills have a decent chance of making the postseason for the first time in my lifetime.  They have to beat the Dolphins, and two of these three teams need to lose (Titans, Ravens, Chargers).  It can happen.

CHI 20 – CLE 3.  This game had some folks saying “Here’s where the Browns finally win one”.  I wasn’t buying it.  The Browns are now one game away from the 0-16 parade hitting Cleveland, or as clevelandbrowns.com put it “Browns hope to avoid wrong side of history”.  http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/news/article-5/Browns-hope-to-avoid-wrong-side-of-history-after-loss-in-Chicago/8713a72f-b6dc-436d-a7a5-ebda8f1628da

NO 23 – ATL 13.  The Saints marched into the playoffs, though it’s between them and the Panthers to see who wins the NFC South division title.  The duo of Ingram and Kamara is working flawlessly for the Saints, as they’re the first team since 1975 to have two running backs make the Pro Bowl the same year.  Having a “butt-ception” from Marshon Lattimore helps, too.  As for the Falcons, your playoff hopes are still strong, but the Seahawks are in if they win and you lose.  This week 17 madness happened to the Jets two years ago, so don’t let it happen to you.

Image result for marshon lattimore interception

Photo courtesy of: Butch Dill/AP.

CIN 26 – DET 17.  While it sure looks like Marvin Lewis is heading out of Cincy, maybe it’s time for the Lions to fire Jim Caldwell.  They need a new coach to lead them, as the NFC appears to be strong for years to come.  As of now, they’re pretenders, not contenders.  Cincy is now 6-9, and appears to be heading for back-to-back disappointing seasons.  They need o-line help in the draft/free agency.  Cedric Ogbuehi is a bust.

CAR 22 – TB 19.  While it looked like Tampa may have played spoiler, the Panthers locked up a playoff berth and rebounded from a disappointing 2016 season.  I have said it a few times in my previous articles; look out for the Panthers.  They’re playing in an NFC with little playoff experience, while they have put together a Super Bowl run before.  As for the Bucs, congrats for keeping it close.  But you need to fire Koetter, much like the Giants fired Ben McAdope.

KC 29 – MIA 13.  The Chiefs are now AFC West champions, as they defeated the Dolphins, who had negligible playoff aspirations heading into the game.  Kansas City defeated the Pats in Foxborough early in the season, and if they want a shot at the Super Bowl, they’ll likely have to do it again.

WAS 27 – DEN 11.  In what may be the last home game of Kirk Cousins’s Washington career, he had a good game against a woeful Broncos squad.  Both these teams could be among the 8 to 10 squads looking for a QB in round 1 of the 2018 draft.  It’s gonna be wild.

LAC 14 – NYJ 7.  The Chargers won ugly against the Bryce Petty-led Jets.  Petty’s passer rating is below 50 in both of the full games he’s started since McCown went down.  As for the Chargers, you still have a 31% chance of making the playoffs, according to fivethirtyeight.com.  The Bills starting Nathan Peterman against you may ultimately come back to haunt them.

SF 44 – JAC 33.  There’s a reason I was hesitant to pick the Jags, and that reason was Jimmy Garoppolo.  Jimmy G may have completely screwed over a high draft pick for the Niners, but he has given them plenty of hope for the future, as Garoppolo tore up one of the league’s best defenses.  Garoppolo is so great, he helped make this game achieve “Scorigami”.  https://twitter.com/NFL_Scorigami/status/945089922599473153

SEA 21 – DAL 12.  Dez Bryant has gone from arguably a top 5 wide receiver in the NFL to a clown.  The Cowboys need to get rid of him this offseason and find a new WR in the draft/free agency.  Dak Prescott throwing an ugly pick 6 didn’t help either, and Dallas is officially out of the playoffs.  Seattle is still alive in the postseason chase, as they recovered from an ugly L last week.  They should be able to take care of business against the Cards, but will the Panthers go on the road to beat Atlanta?

ARZ 23 – NYG 0.  I was out with my family on Christmas Eve, and the restaurant I was at was playing the Cowboys-Seahawks game.  I didn’t even bother to ask them to turn on the Giants game (even though I am a NY Giants fan).  What was the point?  I went home and saw they lost 23-0.  Just another terrible chapter in a disastrous Giants season.  Larry Fitzgerald tore up the Giants secondary, and I really hope he gets to play another year.  He’s one of my favorite players in the NFL.

PIT 34 – HOU 6.  I had the Steelers winning 34-14 in my prediction article, but the Texans continued to suffer injuries, to the point where there QB was a guy I had never heard of.  At least you have this catch, Texans fans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AS7VihegrhU

PHI 19 – OAK 10.  While the Eagles may have held on to victory here, Nick Foles looked less than stellar against a defense that wasn’t the Giants.  However, the Eagles defense stepped up and carried them to victory.  Either way, the Eagles have worries on both sides of the ball heading into the postseason.

Now, time to get into my last non-playoff picks of the year.

GB @ DET.  Well, both teams are out of playoff contention and the game is relatively meaningless.  Give me the Lions to win it 27-16 I suppose.

CHI @ MIN.  The Vikings still haven’t completely locked up the #2 seed, as the Panthers have a very slight chance of taking it.  Minnesota will need to take care of business against a lesser team here, and they should do just that.  Vikings win 23-17.

HOU @ IND.  Both teams have had rough years where they saw their teams get demolished by injuries at the QB position.  However, I’m picking the Texans solely because of how awesome DeAndre Hopkins can be with anyone throwing him the ball.  Because the Colts are 6 point favorites, this is my upset of the week.  Houston wins 21-20.

CLE @ PIT.  Well, it looks like the Steelers are having some sympathy for their Ohioan rival by resting their starters.  http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000900079/article/ben-roethlisberger-leveon-bell-to-rest-for-steelers                                                                                                                          All 3 of the killer Bs will be out of this game.  Does that mean the Browns win a game?  No, it doesn’t.  Steelers win 26-20, Browns get a special place in history with the ’08 Lions.

NYJ @ NE.  While they may have a first-round bye locked up, if the Steelers beat Cleveland and the Pats lose to the Jets, Pittsburgh has the #1 seed.  The Pats obviously want the playoffs to go through Foxborough, and so it appears they’re playing their starters today.  That means they should beat the Jets quite easily, 30-16.

WAS @ NYG.  Hopefully my Giants can stay at #2 in the draft here and appreciate the art of tanking.  Rumor has it that new GM Dave Gettleman will accept a big trade for what should be a very valuable pick.  Anyway, the Skins should win here 28-20.  The Giants releasing Bobby Hart and benching Ereck Flowers shows that guys in the locker room have quit, and this team just needs a complete overhaul next year.  2018 can’t come soon enough.

DAL @ PHI.  The Eagles look like they’re going to be playing most of their starters, for at least a portion of the game.  A 14-2 season would be quite an accomplishment for Philly, and I feel like they’ll still be playing to win today.  Eagles win 26-23.

JAC @ TEN.  Jacksonville is probably frustrated after losing to the Niners last week, and though this game has no effect on their playoff destiny, they should want to take down a division rival in the Titans.  If the Titans still make the playoffs despite a loss in this game, it sure seems like they’d be a one and done team.  I trust Jacksonville’s defense to take down a struggling Tennessee offense, and the Jags should win this one 21-16.

BUF @ MIA.  The Bills have a shot at postseason football, and they will be playing for that today.  While Miami was able to stun the Pats, I trust Buffalo to take down Smokin’ Jay and the Phins.  Give me the Bills to win 26-16.

CIN @ BAL.  The simplest scenario for the Bills to make the postseason is for them to win and for Baltimore to lose.  They’ll certainly be looking up at the “out of town” scoreboard for this game.  However, the Ravens should be able to take care of business against Cincinnati.  While the Bengals may have won last week, they’re still a mediocre team that needs an overhaul.  Baltimore wins 28-23.

OAK @ LAC.  The Chargers are another team fighting for their playoff lives.  The team that they’re playing against scored 10 points last week, as their offense has failed to meet expectations this year.  Against a great pass rush like the Chargers, the Raiders will take an L here.  Bolts win 27-21.

ARZ @ SEA.  My general formula for picking teams that can effect their playoff destiny this week is that I pick them to win (Tennessee has been the exception, as they are on an ugly losing streak).  While Arizona may have gotten their first shutout win since the 90s last week, that was against the freaking Giants.  Seattle should take care of business here, 30-20.

SF @ LAR.  It looks like Sean McVay will be resting his starters this week, which means that Jimmy G has a golden opportunity to continue his undefeated streak as the Niners starter.  San Francisco should win here under the guidance of Garoppolo, and win 28-17.

CAR @ ATL.  The scenario is simple for Atlanta, they win and they’re in.  The bad news is they’re playing a Carolina team that is on fire.  The good news is they’re playing at home, and the scenario where the Panthers claim the second seed will likely already be dashed by a Vikings win earlier in the day.  The Falcons want to redeem themselves, and will sneak into the playoffs, winning 30-24.

KC @ DEN.  Even if the Chiefs lose this game, they would still have the division locked up at 9-7.  They seem to be aware of this, and they’re seeing what they got in Patrick Mahomes.  While the Broncos offense may stink, Mahomes is going up against a tough Denver defense.  In a low-scoring game, the Broncos should win 13-10.

NO @ TB.  Simply put, the Saints still want to lock up the division, and they should be able to do that against the Bucs.  Their running attack and defense have been a great compliment to Brees all year, and they should win 30-17 in my lock of the week.

My Pick Record Last Week: 13-3

My Pick Record This Season: 151-90

Grayzee’s Week 16 Picks + Week 15 Recap

Grayzee’s Week 16 Picks + Week 15 Recap

I went 12-4 last week with my picks, and I actually predicted an upset correctly.  Let’s go over the games.

DEN 25 – IND 13.  Fun fact: The Colts have had the #1 pick in the NFL Draft a total of 7 times.  That “honor” will be bestowed on the Browns next year, but this game is proof that the Colts are the masters of the tank.  At 5-9, the Broncos are still learning how to master this art.

DET 20 – CHI 10.  The Lions did enough on Saturday’s game to stay in the playoffs.  However, their 14% chance to make it in (from fivethirtyeight.com) isn’t exactly favorable.  As for the Bears, John Fox probably won’t be saving his job.  The Bears need an offensive-minded coach to work with Trubisky.  It worked for the Rams this year.

KC 30 – LAC 13.  Well then, it looks like the Chargers reverted back to the way they played in September.  Phillip Rivers threw 3 interceptions, and the game eventually became out of reach for the Bolts.  The Chiefs just established themselves as the likely AFC West winner.  A team that couldn’t beat the Giants and lost 6 of 7 at one point will be heading to the playoffs.  Hooray for the AFC.

PHI 34 – NYG 29.  Speaking of the Giants, they actually managed to keep things competitive against Philly.  If the Giants special teams didn’t suck (they had a field goal and an extra point blocked!), they would’ve scored 30 points for the first time since January 3, 2016.  Yes, Tom Coughlin was coach the last time the Giants scored 30+ points.  As for the Eagles, Nick Foles is the least of your worries.  Sure, he tore up a pathetic Giants defense, but I think he can totally pull a Jeff Hostetler and lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl.  The question is, how is that defense going to fare against Tom Brady or Big Ben in that Super Bowl?  If you gave up 29 to the Giants, I would guess that they won’t perform well.

MIN 34 – CIN 7.  I picked the Vikings to win 34-10 in my prediction article last week.  Wow, I was a field goal off!  The Vikings continue to win with Case Keenum.  It’s starting to look more and more like they can be playing the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

BAL 27 – CLE 10.  The Ravens won as expected, and their playoff hopes are alive and well.  They may be on the outside looking in now, but the Titans have been looking bad.  Tennessee’s next two opponents are tough ones in the Rams and Jags (feels weird to type that).  The other wild card team, the Bills, are facing the almighty Pats this week.  As for the Ravens, they’re playing the Colts and Bengals at home.  Time to punch your ticket to the playoffs.  As for the Browns, time to punch your ticket to the 0-16 parade, despite what center J.C. Tretter might say.  https://wtop.com/life-style/2017/12/browns-looking-for-win-hoping-to-ruin-plans-for-0-16-parade/

WAS 20 – ARI 15.  Congrats Redskins, you won a meaningless game against another mediocre NFC team.  In reality, the Cardinals aren’t mediocre, it’s just that they’ve been decimated by injuries.  It’s impressive that they were actually technically alive in the playoffs one week ago.  These are two teams that have uncertain futures at the QB position.  It should be interesting to see what they do in a stacked 2018 draft.

CAR 31 – GB 24.  As I predicted, the Panthers would dash the Packers playoff hopes here.  Aaron Rodgers didn’t look like himself, throwing three picks.  He’ll be out the rest of the year, and the Packers will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.  The Packers roster has been exposed this season as being not that good without Rodgers.  As for the Panthers, they’ve won 6 of 7.  The NFC needs to look out for them (after all, they beat Minnesota, and there is now questions surrounding Philly).

NO 31 – NYJ 19.  As expected, the Saints won and retained their division lead.  Hey Jets, look on the bright side.  You covered that 15 point spread.  Bryce Petty only threw 2 interceptions.  That’s something, right?

BUF 24 – MIA 16.  The Bills playoff hopes are at 36% (even though they’re currently in as the 6th seed).  Why is that?  Well, they’re facing New England next week.  The good news for them is anything can happen within the division (the Dolphins certainly proved that 2 weeks ago).  And Tommy Terrific has looked a little rusty so far in December (2 TDs to 4 INTs).  As for the Dolphins, your playoff hopes now sit a 3%.  Five thirty eight is probably being generous with that number.

JAC 45 – HOU 7.  The Jags made the playoffs in style, demolishing Houston and demanding the NFL respect them.  I certainly do respect them as the 3rd best team in the AFC, but only the 4th most likely team to make the Super Bowl from that conference (Baltimore has far better playoff experience).  It’s been a long time for the Jags, as I was an elementary school student the last time they made the postseason.  As for the Texans, 2018 will certainly be interesting.  You may have dealt your first rounder to the Browns, but if your team can stay healthy, they might be Super Bowl contenders next year.

LAR 42 – SEA 7.  I picked the Rams to get an upset win here, and they destroyed their division rival in epic fashion.  It now appears that Seattle will miss the playoffs, as their locker room has been a complete mess.  I predicted Seattle to miss out on postseason football (which is about the only prediction I got right when it came to the NFC this year, and even then it’s not certain).  The Rams have truly shocked the world at 10-4.  Under Sean McVay, this team could be a winner for years to come.

SF 25 – TEN 23.  Jimmy G has been screwing up the Niners draft position one game at a time, and his undefeated streak as an NFL starter continues.  In any case, they’ve likely found their QB of the future, and their moves in 2018 will be interesting.  The Titans, meanwhile, look like they could be collapsing.  They still have a 63% chance of making the postseason, but momentum isn’t on their side.

NE 27 – PIT 24.  Even though I picked the Patriots, I was rooting strongly for my 2nd favorite team to finally beat their Patriot overlords.  When JuJu Smith-Schuster had that crazy catch & run, I thought to myself “They’re actually gonna pull it off!”.  Then Jesse James got robbed of a TD because of a stupid rule (it was the right call, just a bad rule in my opinion), and of course the Pats ended it like they did against Seattle.  You will suffer a similar fate in the Championship game, Pittsburgh.

DAL 20 – OAK 17.  The Raiders have gone through the Immaculate Reception, the Tuck Rule Game, and now the Index Card game.  They’ve now been all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, while the Cowboys are still barely in the hunt at 8-6 (that’s the difference between the NFC and AFC).

ATL 24 – TB 21.  The Falcons held on to victory here, but the Bucs kept it close.  It’s good that Atlanta didn’t fall into the trap game, as their chances to make the playoffs are now at a strong 84%.  As for the Bucs, time to forget about this disappointing year and move on.

Now, let’s get into Week 16.

IND @ BAL.  The Ravens will be playing with more urgency, as they want to get into the playoffs.  Not to mention, they’re a far better team.  They’ll win 24-17.

MIN @ GB.  The Vikings are fighting for playoff football in their home stadium, while the Packers are out of the playoffs and have Brett Hundley at QB.  You can probably guess who I’m picking.  The Vikes win it 30-21.

LAR @ TEN.  After these past few weeks, I just find it hard to trust the Titans.  With that being said, they’ll probably find a a way to win.  Nonetheless, I expect this game to go similar to Super Bowl XXXIV, with the Titans once again coming up a yard short.  Rams win 30-24.

BUF @ NE.  I’d like to think the Bills will be playing tough football, trying to keep themselves in the Wild Card chase.  And another thing going in their favor is that Brady hasn’t looked that great this month, as I mentioned earlier.  I’m picking… the Bills!  Is this smart?  Absolutely not.  But, the Pats lost against Miami, and I think they could be on upset alert again.  I think the Pats being 12 and a half point favorites is disrespectful towards Buffalo, and I’ll pick the Bills to win in a shocker, 29-27.  Upset of the week!

CLE @ CHI.  People everywhere are saying the Browns will experience deja vu, winning again on Christmas Eve, “improving” their record to 1-14 for 2 straight seasons.  However, I’ve picked the Browns two times this year, which is already too many times for my liking.  The Bears will win 23-20.

ATL @ NO.  The Saints want to wrap this division up, and playing at the Superdome will certainly help them beat Atlanta.  Losing Alvin Kamara truly hurt them in their last game against Atlanta.  He’s back, so the Saints should be able to win this one 31-27.

DET @ CIN.  The Lions want to keep their playoff hopes alive, and the Bengals are essentially waiting for Marvin Lewis to get out of town (can’t believe I picked the Bengals to make the playoffs, don’t look back at my preseason prediction article).  The Lions will win 26-20, as they have something to play for.

TB @ CAR.  Carolina is a good, playoff team, Tampa Bay isn’t.  Of course, I picked Tampa to win their division.  Once again, don’t look back at my season prediction article.  Carolina wins 27-17.

MIA @ KC.  The Dolphins are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, while the Chiefs want to take the final steps towards securing the AFC West crown.  They’re playing at Arrowhead, and the Chiefs are going back to their winning formula from their first 5 weeks of the season.  Give me Kansas City to win 27-23.

DEN @ WAS.  The Broncos may have won their last two games, but make no mistake, their team still stinks.  The Redskins may be mediocre, but they’re playing at home and will be playing for more pride than the Broncos.  The Skins will win 26-17.

LAC @ NYJ.  The Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives, the Jets are starting Bryce Petty.  You can probably guess who I’m picking.  Chargers win 24-13.

JAC @ SF.  Jimmy GOAT-oppolo may be undefeated as a starter and have two super bowl rings, but his offensive line is offensively over-matched against the best defense in the NFL.  The Jags will make this game a nightmare for him, and Jacksonville will win a close, defensive struggle 19-13.

SEA @ DAL.  The Seahawks put up a nightmarish performance last week, embarrassing themselves in front of their home crowd.  There’s now drama in the locker room, and it appears the Rams will have overtaken them as NFC West champions.  As for the Cowboys, they look to be playing with more urgency for the playoffs.  They’ll win 27-20.

NYG @ ARI.  Drew Stanton will be back at QB for the Cards.  His task: Defeat the NY Giants.  Should be easy enough.  Cards win 24-17.

PIT @ HOU.  Football fans can spend more time with their family on Christmas, knowing that this game won’t be close.  Steelers win 34-14 in my lock of the week.

OAK @ PHI.  Though it may have been against a pathetic Giants defense riddled with injuries, Nick Foles still looks good.  He and Derek Carr will get into a shootout, with the Birds winning 34-30.

My Pick Record This Season: 138-87

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Pre-Bowl Edition

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Pre-Bowl Edition

As the NFL and college football seasons come approach their end, information on team needs and draft prospects are becoming more clear, reflected by this mock draft (collaboration between Daniel, Harun, and Jon).

Photo Credit/www.tucson.com

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Cleveland has been clamoring for a QB, and they get one in “The Rosen One”.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Saquon Barkley very well might be the #1 prospect in this class. He is a multi-use player that is a threat to score on any touch and is scheme-versatile. Assuming Carlos Hyde is not retained, Barkley is the pick here.

 

3. New York Giants: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Giants desperately need offensive line help and Connor Williams can be a stud at the tackle position. The Giants will need a quarterback and Lamar Jackson is there, but you have to build an offense before you bring in a young quarterback.

 

4. Denver Broncos: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

The Broncos have an aging defense and have been missing a solid safety. Minkah Fitzpatrick can revitalize this defense and provide a star presence in the defensive backfield for years to come.

 

5. Indianapolis Colts: Arden Key, EDGE, LSU

The Colts are 2nd last in the league in sacks with 20. The selection of a high ceiling edge rusher in Arden Key significantly boosts a team lacking in pass rushing talent, plugging him in across from Jabaal Sheard. He has the potential to thrive as a double digit sack man for years.

 

Photo Credit/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

6. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Bears have been in desperate need of a receiver and the appear to have a good one in Cameron Meredith, but they are still talent starved on the outside and they need to give their young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky a chance to succeed. Ridley appears to be a good receiver and fits the need here.

 

7. LA Chargers: Derwin James Jr., S, Florida State

The Chargers add a potential star to a loaded secondary. James is capable of playing many roles in the defense; whether in the box, back deep, or as a nickleback, James can make a big impact.

 

8. Cincinnati Bengals: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Joe Mixon is a very promising young running back and looks like the long term answer for the Bengals at the position. However, they’ve struggled to fill void at right guard left by Kevin Zeitler. Quenton Nelson is an elite prospect at guard, and can help Cincy by making life easy for Mixon.

 

Photo Credit/Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

9. Oakland Raiders: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

The Raiders defense has been lacking a solid true linebacker in the middle for years now. Malik Jefferson looks like he could be a stud and with the Raiders in dire need of a linebacker, this is match made in heaven.

 

10. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Josh Mauro has not played well on the Arizona D-line and Robert Nkemdiche already looks like a huge whiff at 23 years old, not at all living up to his first round draft billing. Christian Wilkins is the anti-Nkemdiche, playing with a nonstop motor.

 

Photo Credit/www.uhnd.com

11. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans): Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

In order for a young QB to succeed in the NFL, it is important that he has all the weapons necessary. Equanimeous St. Brown has a skill set reminiscent of Bengals star A.J. Green. By inserting him into a Browns team with Josh Rosen, Josh Gordon, and Corey Coleman, it allows them to maximize each other’s’ sky-high potential. Gordon and Coleman have also had issues staying on the field, and adding St. Brown gives them leeway if something were to happen.

 

12. New York Jets: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Lamar Jackson is the best quarterback in the draft in my opinion and the Jets would be foolish to pass up on him at 12. Josh McCown has been good this year but at age 38 he isn’t the long term solution at QB. With the emergence of Robby Anderson as a good receiver and a decent running back in Bilal Powell, the Jets have the weapons to accommodate Lamar. The Jets have also used McCown as almost an air raid quarterback and this shows that the Jets coaching staff has the ability to change their offensive scheme to fit their quarterback, so given the nuclear weapon that is Lamar Jackson and a young solid defense, this could be a fun team to watch and Jets fans may not have to wait long for success.

 

13. Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

The Redskins need offensive weapons and Guice could be a great RB for them. Kirk Cousins may leave, but whatever QB they have will need some help from a solid running game.

 

Photo Credit/Jamie Squire, Getty Images

14. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Roquan Smith has flown up draft boards with his spectacular play. There is great value in an athletic linebacker that can plug gaps, run sideline-to-sideline, and cover at a high level. Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons have been liabilities in the middle of the Dolphins defense. With Raekwon McMillan returning from an injury in 2018, Smith and McMillan would be a stout LB duo for years to come.

 

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

It’s early, but Josh Jackson is my top rated corner in the class. He has the size necessary for the NFL, good coverage skills, and is an absolute ball-hawk playmaker on the back end. The Bucs have been searching for a playmaker in the secondary and they may have found it here with Josh Jackson.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

The edge rushers for the Cowboys finally look set, with DeMarcus Lawrence due for a massive contract extension, the improvement of Taco Charlton, and Charles Tapper returning from injury in 2018. However, the interior could use a boost and Dallas gets maybe the steal of the draft in Payne.

 

17. Buffalo Bills: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Depending on what they do with Tyrod Taylor, the Buffalo Bills may be in full rebuild mode. It’s time to capitalize with their load of draft picks. Rashaan Evans gives them a piece to build around on defense. Evans is a pass-rushing menace with a motor that runs wild.

 

18. Green Bay Packers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Alexander has struggle with injuries this season, but that doesn’t change that he looks like a stud. Height is a bit of a concern, but Alexander has been a leader and a big-time playmaker for Louisville’s defense which was noticeably worse with him off the field. The Packers have a desolate secondary and have to jump on the opportunity to land a highly talented corner to shore up their defense.

 

Photo Credit/www.ndinsider.com

19. Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Despite the heroic play of Russell Wilson, the complete lack of talent and competent play on the offensive line has finally caught up to Seattle. McGlinchey could provide a stalwart at the tackle or guard position for the Seahawks to build around.

 

20. Detroit Lions: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

The Lions go best player available at a position of need. Harrison can come in and immediately make his mark as a versatile safety that impacts the air and ground game. Putting him next to Glover Quin, an elite safety in the NFL, only accelerates his growth.

 

Photo Credit/Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

21. Baltimore Ravens: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

The Ravens have been missing true weapons on offense for years now and whether or not you think Joe Flacco is good, the Ravens need to build some semblance of offensive talent for whatever quarterback they choose to go with. Love had a good season at Stanford and came in second in Heisman voting. He appears to have the ability to be effective in the run game and the pass game. This is a good fit for Baltimore at 21.

 

22. Tennessee Titans: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State

The Titans have all the talent they need on offense, they just need to make use of it. Their defense however has played above it’s talent level this season. That being said, this defense desperately needs more talent and Chubb could be a steal at this point in the draft.

 

23. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs): Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Based on their acquisitions of Jordan Matthews and Kelvin Benjamin, the Bills seem quite interested in wide receivers that struggle to separate. Look no further than Courtland Sutton; he uses his big frame and long arms to create space that isn’t there. No matter who is back taking the snaps for Buffalo in 2018, Sutton could be a big time playmaker for them.

 

24. Atlanta Falcons: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

Mohamed Sanu has been a decent number 2 for Atlanta, but without any needs that jump off the page for me, Pettis would be a nice playmaker to add to an Atlanta defense that has struggled this season. Pettis has speed to burn, looks very polished, and might be the greatest college punt returner of all time. The Washington product would be a stud for the Falcons.

 

Photo Credit/www.orlandosentinel.com

25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

Jacksonville’s defense has been nothing short of incredible this season and has led them to the playoffs. Calais Campbell isn’t getting any younger and the Jags should make sure that their strength stays a strength by adding a defensive stud in Landry.

 

26. LA Rams: Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

It is uncertain if the Rams will bring back Trumaine Johnson. They take a similar style of player here in Tarvarus McFadden. McFadden is very talented, and his combination of size, length, and fluidity is hard to ignore.

 

27. Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

The Panthers have a complete lack of youth at the defensive end position with their top 3 three being Julius Peppers, Charles Johnson, and Mario Addison, all of which are quite old. Ferrell flashes brilliance coming off the edge and would be a scary addition to an already potent Panthers’ defense.

 

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

William Gay isn’t any younger, and they should be looking for his replacement. Ward has been excellent this season for the Buckeyes, and could become a top-notch slot corner in the pros.

 

Photo Credit/www.orlandosentinel.com

29. New England Patriots: Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State

Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia get their hands on a freak athlete that needs some refinement. Playing in New England could accelerate Sweat’s development and help him reach his insane ceiling.

 

30. Minnesota Vikings: Maurice Hurst Jr., DT, Michigan

The sad truth is that Sharrif Floyd’s career has likely seen its end. However, Hurst has flashed shades of Floyd, with his burst, leverage, and array of disengagement moves. The rich get richer, they say.

 

31. New Orleans Saints: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State

The NFC South features some good between-the-tackles runners. With his explosive athleticism, Jones could be extremely disruptive.

 

Photo Credit/Justin Edmonds, Getty Images

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

The Eagles have yet to see Sidney Jones play and although they have had pretty good play on the outside this season, adding a very talented young corner in Oliver at the end of the first round is a good option for them.

Prospects to Watch in this Week’s Bowl Games (12/16-12/20)

The first edition of “prospects to watch” beginning with this week’s bowl games. With this first edition, I’ll try to talk about guys I have yet to mention.

 

Photo Credit/www.troytrojans.com

Blace Brown, CB, Troy

New Orleans Bowl: Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 @ 1:00 PM ET

Brown has flew under-the-radar, playing on a smaller school team in Troy. However, he is a very skilled CB prospect oozing with potential. Brown has the ideal combo of height (6’0″) and length, weight (186), and speed. Combined with his excellent ball skills and hands (5 interceptions this season, 6 in 2016), the redshirt junior could experience a meteoric rise up draft boards with a good Combine and Pro Day performance.

 

Photo Credit/www.idahopress.com

Cedrick Wilson Jr., WR, Boise State

Las Vegas Bowl: Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 @ 3:30 PM ET

The son of a former NFL wide receiver, Wilson has gained popularity throughout the draft community, and rightfully so. He is a true vertical threat, displaying body control and plenty of long speed to separate and as a weapon after the catch, with great open-field elusiveness. He has the potential to be a big play machine in the NFL.

 

Photo Credit/www.dailyemerald.com

Jalen Jelks, DL, Oregon

Las Vegas Bowl: Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 @ 3:30 PM ET

In his redshirt junior season, Jelks has broken out, putting up 15.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 7 pass deflections, and 46 pressures, tops at his position in FBS football, on the year. He’s a long-armed, fleet-footed defensive lineman built like an edge rusher (6’6″, 268) that effectively uses his length to neutralize blockers and rejecting passes at the line of scrimmage. Like any other prospect, Jelks has room to grow, but it is hard to ignore his intriguing skill set.

UPDATE: It has been announced that Jelks will remain at Oregon for the 2018 college football season.

 

19 September 2014: SMU Mustangs wide receiver Courtland Sutton (#16) goes up for a catch over TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Torrance Mosley (#3) during the college football game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the SMU Mustangs at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU won the game 56-37.

Photo Credit/www.todaysu.com

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Miami Beach Bowl: Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 @ 8:00 PM ET

The big-bodied playmaking WR has been one of the biggest names in the draft, going back to his redshirt freshman season in 2015. Sutton has proved to be an absolute menace in the red zone. He possesses an immense catch radius (huge wingspan, 33 ½ inch vertical) and size that allows him to shield DBs and can make catches outside of his body. Sutton is also quite hard to bring down after the catch, using some nifty moves to evade defenders. Sutton very well might be the first receiver off the board in a very strong class at the position.

 

Other prospects:

  • Oregon QB Justin Herbert
  • Wyoming QB Josh Allen
  • Mid. Tenn. St. EDGE Walter Brady
  • Arkansas State EDGE Ja’Von Rolland-Jones
Grayzee’s Week 15 Picks + Week 14 Recap

Grayzee’s Week 15 Picks + Week 14 Recap

Sorry I couldn’t make an article last week, I had some things going on in my personal life.  I still made picks though, but went a very underwhelming 8-8.  Let’s look back at those game, shall we?

ATL 20 – NO 17.  I started this week off with a W, but barely.  Matt Ryan had a really bad game, but Drew Brees didn’t perform so well either.  Losing Alvin Kamara truly hurt the Saints here, and now the Falcons and Panthers are creeping up on them in the division.  It will be interesting to see who wins the South.

GB 27 – CLE 21 (OT).  I learned this lesson a while ago: Don’t pick the Browns.  I honestly believe they’re going 0-16.  When I was following along the little scoreboard in the early afternoon games, I saw the Browns were up 21-7.  I thought to myself, they’ll still lose since they’re the Browns.  They did.  New GM John Dorsey needs to establish a winning culture with this franchise.  Coach Hue Jackson’s 1-28 record may be laughable, but former GM Sashi Brown was the main culprit of this disaster.  As for the Packers, they need to run the table to make the playoffs.  The bad news?  You barely scraped by the Browns.  The good news?  #12 is back.

DET 24 -TB 21.  I did pick Detroit here to win this game, as they probably had more urgency to keep any playoff hopes alive.  FiveThirtyEight only gives them a 16% chance of making postseason football in a highly competitive NFC, and if they defy the odds and make it… they’ll still probably have a first round exit.  As for the Bucs, you guys are one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments.  Not THE biggest one, as that of course belongs to my favorite team, the Giants.

KC 26 – OAK 15.  The Chiefs were on an ugly losing streak, and I picked the Raiders to get it done at Arrowhead.  Unfortunately, the Raiders didn’t show up, and their season is just about over now.  As for the Chiefs, they got a much needed W and will face the Chargers next week, in a game that will likely decide the division winner.

CAR 31 – MIN 24.  The Vikings were on quite a winning streak, and I just couldn’t pick against them.  Well, the Panthers finally snapped Minnesota’s streak.  Is Cam Newton consistent?  No.  But a strong running game and defense helped Carolina win, as Case Keenum finally started to look like Case Keenum again.  The NFC needs to look out for the Panthers, as many of them have experience making a Super Bowl run.

SF 26 – HOU 16.  I took San Francisco to win here, as Jimmy G continues to help the Niners ruin their draft position.  It looks like San Fran has found their franchise QB with Jimmy, so that does however allow them to have some flexibility in the draft (they don’t have to trade up for a QB).  The Texans meanwhile, need Deshaun Watson.  It’s that simple.

BUF 13 – IND 7 (OT).  In a snowy game filled with cheap ticket prices and very little offense, the Bills pulled out a win and still have some playoff hopes.  FiveThirtyEight only gives them a 21% chance to break their infamous streak, but it’s a chance nonetheless.  At the time I’m writing this article, it looks like Tyrod Taylor will be back next week.  As for the Colts, you’re a mess.  Time to forget about this season and think about 2018.

CHI 33 – CIN 7.  I picked the Bengals here, simply thinking the home team would pull it off.  It’s safe to say they didn’t.  The Bears looked good here, shutting down a sputtering Bengals offense in what has been a bad season for them.  As for the Bears, to me they can be the Rams of next year if they get rid of Fox, and get an offensive coach that works well with Trubisky.

DAL 30 – NYG 10.  I picked my Giants to get it done here, powered by the emotion of having Eli back.  I should’ve gone against those emotions, as Dallas was obviously the better team.  However, New York did keep it competitive for three quarters, and for once we didn’t have a clown answering questions at the post-game presser.  The next three weeks are big for Coach Spags.  If he keeps the team competitive, the interim may keep his job (we’ve seen this happen with Doug Marrone and Jason Garrett).  As for Dallas, you kept your playoff aspirations alive, but according to FiveThirtyEight…your aspirations of a postseason birth have a 4% chance of happening.  It’s been a disappointing season for you as well.

ARZ 12 – TEN 7.  The Titans disappointed here in a major way, losing to the Cardinals in a defensive battle.  Marcus Mariota has had quite a disappointing season, but usually he’s done just enough to get a win.  That wasn’t the case in this game.  As MJ of SportsFanEntertainment said, it’s not time to hit the panic button quite yet for Tennessee.  But if they lose next week to San Fran, then it’s panic time.  As for the Cardinals, congrats to you guys and especially Blaine Gabbert.  He got some big praise from Coach Bruce Arians: http://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/261541/bruce-arians-blaine-gabberts-smarts-comparable-to-manning-luck

DEN 23 – NYJ 0.  The Broncos were another one of those teams on an ugly losing streak.  Their last win before this game was on October 1st, and so I picked the Jets to keep their bleak playoff hopes alive.  Well, they suffered a disappointing loss, and Josh McCown has been added to the list of good QBs who have been injured this year.  Yes, I said it.  He played like a good QB this season.  A 2:1 TD to INT ratio isn’t great, but it sure is good.  As for the Broncos, congrats.  You finally won, but you may have screwed up your draft position.  Not to mention, Coach Vance Joseph is already on the hot seat after this first year.  That’s not a good sign.

LAC 30 – WAS 13.  The soccer stadium, 0-4 team that was once the laughingstock of the league is now 7-6 with a very legitimate shot of winning their division.  They dominated the bumbling Redskins, as Phillip Rivers and the defense both had very good games.  As for Washington, you’re 5-8 and out of the playoffs.  Does Kirk Cousins hit the open market this offseason?  It seems more and more likely.

JAC 30 – SEA 24.  I picked Jacksonville to win, and they got the job done.  They truly have been one of the feel good stories of the NFL this year.  Just as people were finally saying “You know what, I don’t believe the offseason hype around Jacksonville”… they’re 9-4 and virtually guaranteed a ticket to the playoffs.  Blake Bortles had a decent game.  When he doesn’t turn the ball over, the Jags win.  It’s a simple as that.  As for Seattle, your chances at winning the division are still pretty solid after the Rams lost, but your next game against the Rams will be huge.  Also, the brawl at the end of this game was completely stupid and a bad thing for the NFL.

PHI 43 – LAR 35.  The Eagles were probably the favorite to win the NFC before the Wentz injury.  Now, the door is wide open.  While many people will probably want to dismiss the Eagles’ chances in the playoff, I totally think there’s a chance Nick Foles pulls a Jeff Hostetler and lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl.  If you don’t know who/what I’m talking about, look up Jeff Hostetler.  As for the Rams, this loss hurts, and having Eagles fans completely invade your stadium and make you look like the other LA team is quite bad as well.  But your playoff hopes also got a little better with the Wentz injury.

PIT 39 – BAL 38.  Pittsburgh playing down to their competition, what else is new?  However, they’re 11-2 and will probably have the AFC’s #1 seed if they manage to take down New England next week.  Both teams played great offense, but injuries on defenses contributed to this.  Of course losing Ryan Shazier was devastating for the Steelers, and we’re all hoping he recovers.  But not having Jimmy Smith allowed the Steelers to tear up a normally good defense, and ultimately win the game.

MIA 27 – NE 20.  WOW.  This is why I mentioned that the Steelers should lock up the #1 seed if they beat New England next week.  They would be two games ahead of the Pats, and have the tiebreaker of beating the Pats as well.  No one expected Jay Cutler to outduel Tom Brady, but he did indeed do that.  It’s New England though, and this losing surely will not persist.  As Coach Belichick would probably say “We’re on to Pittsburgh”.

With Week 14 out of the way, let’s predict Week 15.

DEN @ IND.  Yawn.  So this game gets prime time, but Packers-Panthers, Rams-Seahawks, and Steelers-Pats don’t?  I say it a lot, this is why you’re losing ratings NFL.  I guess I’ll pick the Colts to win, as they’re the home team.  They’ll win 19-14.

CHI @ DET.  Once again, teams that are playing to keep their playoff hopes alive should usually win.  The Lions need to stay alive, and they can’t let the Bears upset them.  The Bears may have looked great last week, but the Lions should win this one 27-23.

LAC @ KC.  In the 2nd of two Saturday matchups, we have what will essentially decide the AFC West.  While the Chiefs finally snapped their losing streak last week, the Chargers got a big win and are clearly the hot team here.  I’ll pick the Chargers to win 28-24.

PHI @ NYG.  Maybe Spags will keep the Giants competitive, maybe he won’t.  I’ll choose the latter option.  The Giants will fall to 2-12 in this disastrous season, and the Eagles will win 35-13.  Time to focus on 2018.

CIN @ MIN.  Yeah, the Bengals suck and this should be a nice bounce back week for the Vikings.  They will win 34-10 in my lock of the week.

BAL @ CLE.  Don’t let the Browns play spoiler, Ravens.  Your playoff aspirations still look good even after that loss to Pittsburgh, and we know that Joe Flacco is the AFC’s version of Eli Manning when it comes to postseason football.  The Ravens will win here 24-20, as the Browns did almost win last week.

ARZ @ WAS.  It’s another ugly game here, between two mediocre NFC teams that are out of playoff contention.  Give me the Redskins to win at home, as they have the better QB.  They’ll win 30-20.

GB @ CAR.  While it may look like it’s time for one of those Aaron Rodgers “run the table” kind of runs, I’m picking Carolina to send the Packers packing.  This is a Carolina team that has won 5 of their last 6, and I think they are possibly gearing up for another Super Bowl run.  The Panthers will win 34-30.

NYJ @ NO.  The Jets were a long shot to win this game even with Josh McCown at QB.  Now with Bryce Petty at the helm, they’re 15 point underdogs.  I’ll pick the Saints to win 35-21, just so the Jets do enough to cover the spread.  Why not?

MIA @ BUF.  As I mentioned earlier, the Bills are still in the playoff chase at 7-6, while the Dolphins are a long shot to make it at 6-7.  The Bills will once again use the cold weather to their advantage (after all, the Dolphins play in Florida).  Buffalo will win this one 24-20.

HOU @ JAC.  The Jaguars will seal their ticket to the playoffs, and probably even the AFC South crown with a win here against the Texans.  They can’t let this be a trap game in their pursuit of postseason football, as their defense and run game should once again get them a W.  They’ll win 28-24.

LAR @ SEA.  Even before the Rams were good, they had a tendency to upset the Seahawks.  Their most disappointing game was a loss at home to Seattle this year.  I think the losses of Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman will hurt Seattle here, and LA will get revenge on the road.  The Rams will win 27-23 in my upset of the week.

TEN @ SF.  I’m picking the Titans to win, but I can’t exactly say that with confidence.  After all, it’s been brought up that Jimmy G is undefeated as a starting QB.  But his first loss should come here, as the Titans will be playing with more urgency.  Tennessee will win 20-17.

NE @ PIT.  Tom Brady has got to be angry after that loss to the Dolphins.  And that’s not a good sign for Pittsburgh.  The Steelers may be playing at home, but the Pats have a tendency to own the Steelers (Pittsburgh is 3-10 against the Pats in the Brady-Belichick era).  That will go down to 3-11, as the Patriots will win 34-20.

DAL @ OAK.  It’s another disappointing prime time matchup, as both teams have very bleak playoff hopes.  I suppose I’ll pick the Raiders to win as they are the home team.  Dallas may have won last week, but that was against one of the league’s laughingstocks.  Oakland will win 26-23.

ATL @ TB.  The Falcons may be on upset alert here, as the Bucs will want to play for pride and to spoil their division rival’s playoff hopes.  However, the Falcons are simply a better team and will be playing with more urgency.  They’ll win 29-27, as the Bucs will keep it close.

My Picks the Last Two Weeks: 21-11

My Picks this Season: 126-83

What John Dorsey must do to make the Browns relevant

What John Dorsey must do to make the Browns relevant

John Dorsey is the new General Manager in Cleveland, and he’s got a lot of work to do.

Since I can remember, the Browns have always been a mess. Yes, there are issues at QB, but the execution of this team is mind-boggling. They are often non-committal on prospects and give them no chance to develop. They will have one decent draft and then botch the next year’s draft. Cleveland needs an attitude change before anything else.

I don’t think hope should be lost in the Dawg Pound, though. Yes, quarterback Deshone Kizer has been shaky this season, but many good QBs have a rough rookie campaign (heck, look at Jared Goff!). When listening to Kizer being interviewed, you get the sense that he’s a smart kid who’s willing to learn.

So, with that being said, let’s identify three things the Browns must do in order to compete.

Make Deshone Kizer’s Life Easier

It’s not to say that Kizer has a poor offense. Running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson make an electric duo, and the receivers are average, but serviceable. Let’s not forget–if Josh Gordon reaches full form once again, Kizer is in for a treat.

I like the move of releasing Kenny Britt, but the Browns still need to focus on getting deeper at the wide receiver position. Taking a receiver in the first three rounds will be a goal they should have.

As for protecting Kizer, former GM Sashi Brown created a solid foundation in bringing in Kevin Zeitler and J.C. Tretter, as well as extending Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio. When healthy, this is a very good offensive line. However, the right tackle position remains a liability. Thomas is also aging and coming off his first injury ever as a pro, so maybe they focus on getting an offensive lineman early in the upcoming draft.

In making this offense one that helps Kizer succeed, this team can start its transition from dreadful to being in contention for relevancy.

Browns QB Deshone Kizer talking with Head Coach Hue Jackson.

Make the Defense a Bully

As the old saying goes, defense wins championships. The Browns should look no further than the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have made themselves into legitimate contenders with focusing on the defense.

I wouldn’t say that the Browns defense is bad, but there are definite holes in this unit. They need two more quality linebackers, a safety and a corner in order to become a competitive defense. They have a good mix of veterans such as Jason McCourty and Jamie Collins and talented young players, such as Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah. I like that they extended Christian Kirksey, too.

If Cleveland is able to add just a few more pieces and ensure they extend some key players on defense (such as Danny Shelton and Briean Boddy-Calhoun) then their climb to legitimacy becomes that much easier.

Browns defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Jamar Taylor celebrating.

Build on the Existing Foundation

The best teams are the most well-rounded teams, but contenders also share another thing in common: they have depth. The Browns have a promising defensive line, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t add another one.

Take the Jets for an example (yes, they aren’t good, but if we rewind to 2015, they made a smart move). In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Jets had the sixth pick. They had a few needs, mainly QB, but since Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were already selected, that wasn’t an option. The best prospect of the draft, Leonard Williams, was available for the Jets to take. Remind yourself that this defensive line consisted of the dominant trio of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison. They added Williams, which ended up being a brilliant pick. Wilkerson and Richardson regressed thereafter, and Harrison signed with the Giants in the offseason. Now, Williams is the focal point of the defensive line.

Now, for the Browns, their defensive line is young, but talented. They don’t need to invest a first round pick in a defensive lineman, but assuring that this unit has depth and security is important. That’s the kind of move that will build a championship team.

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett celebrating.

The rebuild of the Browns is not an easy task, but John Dorsey has the opportunity to change a team with a losing culture and make them a winner.

First and foremost, it starts with getting the right guys; the people who are hard-working and dependable. Then, ensure that everyone has the same goal in mind. Lastly, go execute your game plan. Do those things, and the narrative surrounding the Cleveland Browns is bound to change.