Tag Archives: 32in32

5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers, who finished in second place in the division last season, are the net AFC West team to preview as we near the end of our previews of all 32 NFL teams.

The Chargers will be entering the regular season a bit short-handed after getting hit by some big injuries in training camp. CB Jason Verrett and TE Hunter Henry are expected to miss the season with a torn achilles and a torn ACL, respectively. The Henry injury is particularly damaging, as the third-year player was expected to get the bulk of playing time at the position following the retirement of veteran TE Antonio Gates. After Henry suffered the season-ending injury, there was speculation that Gates may return to the team for 2018, but that has not yet happened.That leaves TE Virgil Green as the No. 1 guy on the depth chart in his first year with the team

The Chargers ranked fourth in the NFL with 6,026 yards, but they were 20th with 355 points. QB Philip Rivers threw for 4,515 yards and 28 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions. WR Keenan Allen had 102 receptions for 1,393 yards and six touchdowns, with WR Tyrell Williams adding 43 catches for 728 yards and four touchdowns. WR Travis Benjamin caught 34 passes for 567 yards and four scores. Green had just 14 receptions for 191 yards and a touchdown with the Broncos last season. RB Melvin Gordon was the team’s leading rusher, with 1,105 yards and eight touchdowns on 284 carries; he also had 58 receptions — the second most on the team — for 476 yards and four touchdowns. Rookie RB Austin Ekeler showed some promising signs in limited playing time, totaling 47 rushes for 260 yards and two touchdowns, with 27 receptions for another 279 yards and three touchdowns. The defense ranked 15th in yards allowed but gave up the third-fewest points in the league.

The Chargers begin their season at home against the Chiefs, then head to Buffalo to take on the Bills in Week 2. They return to Los Angeles in Week 3, but they’re the designated road team when they take on the Rams. The battle of L.A. is followed by home games against the 49ers and Raiders. The Chargers visit the Browns in Week 6, host the Titans in Week 7 and have their bye in Week 8. Coming out of the bye, they have road games against the Seahawks and Raiders in Weeks 9 and 10, respectively. They host the Broncos and Cardinals the following two weeks, then visit the Steelers in Week 13. The Chargers return home in Week 14 to take on the Bengals, then visit the Chiefs in Week 15. Their final home game comes in Week 16 against the Ravens, and they finish off their schedule at the Broncos in Week 17.

The Chargers’ 9-7 record last year was a four-game improvement over 2016 and they still have a good offense, but it’s not as good as it would be if Henry didn’t suffer his season-ending injury. Rivers has a good receiving core to throw to and Gordon is one of the best running backs in the league. I would expect Ekeler to be thrown into the mix more in the running game to save Gordon some reps. The tight end position is worrisome, though, with Green as the starter. He has never had more than 22 receptions in a season in his seven seasons with the Broncos. Overall, I think the Chargers still have a good enough team to finish around .500, possibly repeat their 9-7 record from a year ago. If things turn their way, the Chargers could compete for one of the wild cards in the AFC as they look to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Source: http://www.chargers.com, http://pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Kansas City Chiefs

The AFC West previews continue as we are nearing the end of our looks at all 32 NFL teams, continuing with the Kansas City Chiefs, who won the division last season.

The Chiefs made a change at quarterback this offseason, trading QB Alex Smith to the Redskins for CB Kendall Fuller and a draft pick. That opens up an opportunity for QB Patrick Mahomes to get his first shot at being a starting quarterback in the NFL. They already had some good receivers last season, but they added to the receiving core by signing WR Sammy Watkins this offseason. Other than those moves, the Chiefs’ offense remains mainly intact from last season, when they were 10-6, so Mahomes has a good team to lead onto the field in Week 1.

The Chiefs ranked fifth in the league with 6,007 yards and sixth with 415 points last season. Mahomes started the final game of the season in 2017, going 22-for-35 for 284 yards and an interception. Backup QB Chad Henne also didn’t see much playing time for the Jaguars last season, with just two pass attempts. TE Travis Kelce had 83 receptions in 15 games last season, totaling 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns. WR Tyreek Hill recorded 75 catches for 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games, including 13 starts. Watkins had 39 receptions for the Rams last season, gaining 593 yards with eight touchdowns in 15 games — 14 starts. RB Kareem Hunt had a strong rookie season, carrying the ball 272 times for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns; he also had 53 receptions for 455 yards and three touchdowns. The defense was in the bottom half of the league in yards allowed but was middle-of-the-pack in points allowed.

The Chiefs find themselves on the road for the first two weeks of the season, opening with a divisional contest against the Chargers, then flying across the country to do battle with the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 2. They host the 49ers in their home opener in Week 3, then visit the Broncos for the Monday night game in Week 4. The Chiefs host the Jaguars in Week 5 and visit the Patriots in Week 6. They then get consecutive home games for the first time, hosting the Bengals in Week 7 and the Broncos in Week 8. They head to Cleveland to take on the Browns in Week 9, which leads into a Week 10 home game against the Cardinals. The Chiefs are at the Rams in Week 11, then get a Week 12 bye before visiting the Raiders in Week 13. That is followed by back-to-back home games with the Ravens and Chargers. In Week 16, the Chiefs take on the Seahawks in Seattle and then wrap up their regular season with a Week 17 home game against the Raiders.

Mahomes is inheriting a pretty good team in his first season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, with pass-catchers who surpasses 1,000 yards last season and a running back in Hunt who had 53 receptions last season. Mahomes had a good pedigree coming out of Texas Tech when the Chiefs took him with the tenth overall pick in the 2017 draft. He probably won’t throw for more than 5,000 yards like he did his junior year in college, but he does have a better arm than Smith and can make some big plays. The Chiefs could have a strong offense behind Mahomes. If the defense can be better than it was last season, the Chiefs could be among the best teams in the AFC. As it stands, they’re probably the best team in the division and look like they’re on track for double-digit wins again in 2018.

Source: http://www.kcchiefs.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Denver Broncos

The AFC West is the next division up in our preview of all 32 NFL teams, beginning with the Denver Broncos, who finished in last place in the division last season.

The Broncos went 5-11 last season, which isn’t good but it did allow them to get the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft, which they used to select DE Bradley Chubb, one of the best defensive players in this year’s class. The Broncos also selected RB Royce Freeman in the third round of the draft. Early in the offseason, the Broncos made probably their most significant personnel moves of the offseason when they signed QB Case Keenum and later traded QB Trevor Siemian. Keenum, who was the top quarterback for the Vikings last season, is expected to be the starter entering the regular season. The Broncos will be without RB C.J. Anderson, last year’s leading rusher, who is now with the Panthers.

The Broncos ranked 18th in the NFL last season with 5,185 yards and they were 27th with 289 points scored. Keenum played in 15 games — 14 starts — with the Vikings last season, throwing for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns with seven interceptions. QB Paxton Lynch, who is No. 3 on the depth chart started two games for the Broncos last season, completing 30 of his 45 passes for 295 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. WR Demaryius Thomas had 83 receptions last season for 949 yards and five touchdowns. WR Emmanuel Sanders had 47 catches for 555 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games, including 11 starts. RB Devontae Booker ran the ball 79 times for 299 yards and a touchdown; he also had 30 catches for 275 yards. The defense ranked third in the league in yards allowed but was in the bottom third in points allowed.

The Broncos’ schedule begins with two home games, against the Seahawks in Week 1 and the Raiders in Week 2. They visit the Ravens in Week 3, then host the Chiefs in Week 4. The Broncos hit the road to take on the Jets in Week 5, then they return home to battle the Rams in Week 6. They visit the Cardinals and Chiefs in Weeks 7 and 8, respectively, and then host the Texans. Following a Week 10 bye, the Broncos visit the Chargers in Week 11 and host the Steelers in Week 12. The Broncos have two road games after that, taking on the Bengals and the 49ers. The Broncos host the Browns in Week 15, then end the season with two divisional games; they visit the Raiders in Week 16 and host the Chargers in Week 17.

The Broncos’ poor performance last year was due in part to inconsistent quarterback play. Signing Keenum should help solve that problem, but the depth chart behind him is thin if he gets injured. The current No. 2 is Chad Kelly — the nephew of Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly — who missed all of his rookie season with an injury and Lynch, who hasn’t had much success in his career, is behind him. The team also still lacks stars at key offensive positions. Booker is the starting running back, but he’s probably near the bottom of the league at the position. Freeman has a good chance to usurp Booker as the starter if he can perform well in his rookie season. Overall, the team should be better with Keenum under center, but the roster still isn’t great. The Broncos should see a slightly improved record this season and win six or seven games.

Source: http://www.denverbroncos.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Washington Redskins

We conclude our NFC East previews, part of our previews of all 32 NFL teams, with the Washington Redskins, who finished in third place in the division last season.

With QB Kirk Cousins moving on to the Vikings in free agency, the Redskins acquired QB Alex Smith in a trade with the Chiefs to turn to the veteran quarterback to take over the starting job. Among the pass-catchers he’ll be throwing to is WR Paul Richardson, who the Redskins signed this offseason. The Redskins were dealt a major injury blow in the preseason when RB Derrius Guice, the team’s second-round draft pick and expected starter, suffered a season-ending torn ACL. In the wake of that injury, the team signed veteran RB Adrian Peterson, who appears to be on track to be the Week 1 starter.

With Cousins leading the offense, the Redskins were middle-of-the-pack last season with 5,199 yards and 342 points scored, placing the team 16th in the NFL in both categories. In 15 starts with the Chiefs, Smith threw for career highs with 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns, with just five interceptions. WR Jamison Crowder led the team with 66 receptions for 789 yards, with three touchdowns in 15 games, including seven starts. TE Vernon Davis caught 43 balls for 648 yards and three touchdowns, while injury-prone TE Jordan Reed again missed significant time, playing in just six games in which he had 27 catches for 211 yards and two scores. With the Seahawks, Richardson had 44 receptions for 703 yards and six touchdowns. RB Samaje Perine was the team’s leading rusher, carrying the ball 175 times for 603 yards and a touchdown. RB Chris Thompson had 64 rushes for 294 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games; he also recorded 39 catches for 510 yards and four touchdowns. RB Robert Kelley played in seven games, with 62 carries for 194 yards and three touchdowns. In 10 games — seven starts — with the Saints and Cardinals, Peterson ran the ball 156 times for 529 yards and two touchdowns in what was a disappointing season for the 2012 NFL MVP. Defensively, the team was in the bottom half of the league in yards allowed and bottom five in points allowed.

The Redskins begin their season on the road at the Cardinals, then come home to host the Colts in Week 2. They have another home game — this time against the Packers — in Week 3, then have an early bye in Week 4. They get an extra day of rest coming out of the bye because they visit the Saints on Monday Night Football in Week 5, which is followed by a Week 6 home game with the Panthers. Two divisional games follow that, with a home game against the Cowboys in Week 7, then a road game at the Giants in Week 8. The Redskins have two NFC South opponents in Weeks 9 and 10, hosting the Falcons and then visiting the Buccaneers. The Redskins host the Texans in Week 11 before visiting the Cowboys in Week 12 and the Eagles for another Monday nighter in Week 13. A home game with the Giants is on the docket for Week 14, followed by back-to-back road games with the Jaguars and Titans. The Redskins end the regular season at home, when they take on the Eagles.

Smith has a reputation for being a game manager who doesn’t throw many interceptions but also doesn’t make many big plays with his arm. The lack of turnovers from the quarterback should help keep the offense on the field and limit the playing time for the defense, which struggled last year. The injury to Guice causes a bit of a problem at the running back position, especially if the Redskins turn to Peterson as the starter. He didn’t show many promising signs last season, but did put up decent numbers in his first preseason game with the team. The Redskins were 7-9 last season, and that is probably around where they’ll end up this year. They’re probably going to be in the six-to-eight range in terms of wins, which won’t be enough for them to make the playoffs.

Source: http://www.redskins.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Philadelphia Eagles

The next team up in our NFC East previews, part of our previews of all 32 NFL teams, is the Philadelphia Eagles, who won the division last season, going on to win Super Bowl LII.

Despite losing starting QB Carson Wentz late in the regular season last year, the Eagles managed to make it through the playoffs with QB Nick Foles and win the first Super Bowl title in franchise history, beating the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. They’ll look to defend their title with much of their championship team intact, along with the addition of WR Mike Wallace and TE Dallas Goedert, who the Eagles selected with their first-round pick in this year’s draft to essentially replace TE Brent Celek, who the Eagles released this offseason. They have also lost last year’s leading rusher, RB LeGarrette Blount.

The offense ranked seventh in the NFL with 5,852 yards and third with 457 points scored. Wentz started the team’s first 13 games in his second season in the league. He threw for 3,296 yards with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions before suffering ACL and LCL tears that ended his season early. Foles took over the starting job that point, appearing in seven games total in the regular season — including the three starts — and throwing for 537 yards and five touchdowns, with two interceptions. TE Zach Ertz hauled in 74 receptions in 14 games — 13 starts — to lead the team; those catches went for 824 yards and eight touchdowns. WR Nelson Agholor recording 62 catches for 768 yards and eight touchdowns, while WR Alshon Jeffery caught 57 passes for 789 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns. Wallace had 52 receptions for 748 yards and four scores in 15 games, including 14 starts, with the Ravens. After Blount, RB Corey Clement was the team’s second-leading rusher with 74 carries for 321 yards and four touchdowns. RB Jay Ajayi played in seven games for the Eagles after being traded there by the Dolphins. In those games, he totaled 70 rushes for 408 yards and a touchdown. The defense was fourth in the league in both yards and points allowed.

The Eagles’ title defense begins with the traditional Thursday night opener, with the Falcons coming to Philadelphia. After that, the Eagles visit the Buccaneers in Week 2 and return home to play the Colts in Week 3. A visit to the Titans follows in Week 4, and then the Eagles host the Vikings in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship. The Eagles play their first divisional game in Week 6 when they go to New Jersey to face the Giants. They play the Panthers in Week 7, then head overseas to take on the Jaguars in London. After a Week 9 bye, the Eagles return stateside to host the Cowboys. In Week 11, they play at the Saints and then host the Giants in Week 12. Two more divisional games follow that, with the Redskins coming to Philadelphia in Week 13 and the Eagles visiting the Cowboys in Week 14. The Eagles head to Los Angeles to play the Rams in Week 15 before flying back across the country to host the Texans in Week 16. Their regular-season finale has them on the road to take on the Redskins in Week 17.

With less than two weeks to go before the Eagles play their first game of the regular season, there is still some question about whether Wentz will be ready to take the field in Week 1. If he’s not, Foles will continue to start until Wentz is able to come back and take over the starting job. But that’s not the only injury concern for the Eagles. Jeffery continues to recover from offseason rotator cuff surgery, which could cause him to miss the beginning of the season. It is possible he could start the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, which would cause him to miss the first six weeks of the season. With those injury concerns and division rivals like the Giants and Cowboys expected to be better this season, I don’t think the Eagles will go 13-3 again this season. They’re still the best team in the division and should make the playoffs with 10 or 11 wins, but the Eagles will likely take a step backward from what they did during the regular season in 2017.

Source: http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: New York Giants

Continuing with the NFC East in our previews of all 32 NFL teams, it’s time for the New York Giants, who finished in last place in the division last season.

After going 11-5 in 2016, the Giants had a disappointing season in 2017 and won just three games, giving them their worst record since going 3-12-1 in 1983. One good thing about having that poor of a record was getting the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. The Giants used that pick to get Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, who was considered by many to be the best running back in the draft. The Giants have struggled at that position in recent years, so getting Barkley should help the offense. They also signed veteran RB Jonathan Stewart to serve as the backup to Barkley. Other players they added this offseason include OT Nate Solder, WR Cody Latimer and CB William Gay. They did lose a couple of veterans, though, when they traded DE Jason Pierre-Paul to the Buccaneers and cut WR Brandon Marshall.

The offense ranked 21st in the NFL with 5,028 yards and their 246 points put them ahead of just the winless Browns among the league’s 32 teams. QB Eli Manning had one of the worst seasons of his career, throwing for 3,468 yards and 19 touchdowns, with 13 interceptions, in 15 games. Rookie TE Evan Engram led the team with 64 receptions for 722 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games. WR Sterling Shepard played in 11 games, catching 59 balls for 731 yards and two touchdowns. WR Odell Beckham missed most of the season with an ankle injury; he played in just four games, recording 25 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns in his limited playing time. Latimer had 19 catches in 11 games with the Broncos, going for 287 yards and a touchdown. RB Wayne Gallman — who is now behind Barkley and Stewart on the depth chart — was the team’s second-leading rusher last year, carrying the ball 111 times for 476 yards in 13 games, but just one start; he also had 34 receptions for 193 yards and a touchdown. With the Panthers, Stewart carried the ball 198 times in 15 games, running for 680 yards and six touchdowns. The defense ranked near the bottom of the league in both yards and points allowed.

The Giants’ schedule begins at home against the Jaguars, then they hit the road to take on the Cowboys in Week 2’s Sunday night game. They play another game in Texas in Week 3, this time it’s at the Texans. The Giants host the Saints in Week 4, then play at the Panthers in Week 5, allowing Stewart to face his old team for the first time. They have their first of two games against the Super Bowl LII champion Eagles at home in Week 6 before visiting the Falcons in Week 7. A Week 8 home game against the Redskins is followed by the Giants’ bye in Week 9. After that, they head west to take on the 49ers in Week 10. They host the Buccaneers — and Pierre-Paul — in Week 11, then visit the Eagles in Week 12. The Giants host the Bears in Week 13, then have a Week 14 road game against the Redskins. The Giants face AFC South opponents after that, a home game with the Titans in Week 15, followed by a road game against the Colts in Week 16. The Giants wrap up their season at home against the Cowboys in Week 17.

The Giants only won three games last year, but they won’t be that bad this year. They’ll get Beckham back after he missed most of last season, and if Barkley can leave up to the hype that will give the team a star at a position where they have struggled to find a productive player in the last several players. There is still a question about how Manning will do this season as the 37-year-old quarterback is on the backside of his career. Manning and the subpar defense are why I think the Giants will have another losing record. They may win six or seven games, but I don’t think they’ll do much better than that in 2018.

Source: http://www.giants.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Dallas Cowboys

The NFC East is up next in our continuing previews of all 32 NFL teams, beginning with the Dallas Cowboys, who finished in second place in the division last season.

A year after QB Tony Romo retired, TE Jason Witten — one of his favorite targets — also called it a career to go into broadcasting. But Witten isn’t the only veteran pass-catcher to leave the Cowboys this offseason. The team released WR Dez Bryant, who has yet to sign with another team. The offseason wasn’t all about departures, though. The Cowboys signed DE Kony Ealy and WR Allen Hurns, in addition to trading a sixth-round draft pick to the Rams for WR Tavon Austin. In the draft, the Cowboys took LB Leighton Vander Esch in the first round and WR Michael Gallup in the third round, both of whom could have an impact on the team this season. Entering last season, much of the talk about the Cowboys was regarding the looming suspension for RB Ezekiel Elliott, but with that behind him Elliott can now focus on his performance for the upcoming season.

The Cowboys were around the middle of the NFL last season with 5,311 yards and 354 points. In his sophomore season, QB Dak Prescott had a big of a regression in his stats. He threw for 3,324 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions; he also had six rushing touchdowns on 57 runs. Aside from Bryant and Witten, WR Terrance Williams was the team’s top receiver, hauling in 53 receptions for 568 yards but not finding the end zone at all. WR Cole Beasley caught 36 balls for 314 yards and four touchdowns. Hurns had 39 receptions for 484 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games — eight starts — with the Jaguars. Elliott was limited to 10 games due to his suspension, and he carried the ball 242 times for 983 yards and seven touchdowns and RB Rod Smith scored four times on 55 carries. The defense finished in the top 10 in yards allowed and top 15 in points allowed.

The schedule kicks off on the road with a Week 1 contest against the Panthers. The Giants come to AT&T Stadium for the Cowboys’ home opener in Week 2. The Cowboys continue to alternate home and road games, visiting the Seahawks in Week 3 and hosting the Lions in Week 4. After that, they get a Sunday nighter at the Texans followed by a home game with the Jaguars in Week 6. The Cowboys visit the Redskins in Week 7, which takes them into their Week 8 bye. Out of the bye, the Cowboys have a Monday night home game against the Titans, then they visit the Super Bowl LII champion Eagles in Week 10’s Sunday night game. They visit the Falcons in Week 11, which is followed by three straight home games. The homestand starts with the middle game of the Thanksgiving tripleheader, with the Redskins visiting the Cowboys in Week 12. The Saints come to town for the Thursday nighter in Week 13, and the Cowboys host the Eagles in Week 14. The Cowboys visit the Colts in Week 15 and host the Buccaneers in Week 16 before ending the regular season at the Giants in Week 17.

Losing Witten and Bryant is a blow to the Cowboys offense, but Hurns could be a worthy replacement if he can play all 16 games and return to the 1,000-yard receiver that he was in 2015. And having Elliott for the whole season should also be a boost for Prescott and the offense. There has been a recent setback for the offense, though, when C Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that could cause him to miss the season. The Cowboys are the second best team in the division and should be in content to get a wild card in the NFC. They won nine games last year, and if the main players in their offense can stay healthy they may be able to get up to 10 or 11 wins this season, putting them in the midst of the playoff race.

Source: http://www.dallascowboys.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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