Tag Archives: AFC South

My NFL Picks Week 3: Rams look to stay undefeated in a battle of L.A.

As is usually the case in the NFL, there are some surprising teams after the first two weeks of the season, including the Dolphins leading the AFC East at 2-0 and the Buccaneers, who are undefeated with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick filling in for suspended QB Jameis Winston, sitting atop the NFC South. Among the notable games this week are a NFC South battle between the Saints and Falcons in Atlanta, the Chargers facing the undefeated Rams in a battle of Los Angeles, and the Seahawks looking for their first win of 2018 when they host the Cowboys. The Monday nighter features the 0-1-1 Steelers looking to finally get in the win column as they head to Tampa looking to deal the Bucs their first loss. I went 6-10 last week, giving me an overall record of 15-17 for the season. As always, I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red

Thursday Night Football

Jets at Browns (-3.5) – The Thursday night game isn’t the most compelling contest of the season, with two mediocre teams facing off in Cleveland. Rookie QB Sam Darnold looks to lead the Jets to their second win of the season against a Browns team that traded WR Josh Gordon to the Patriots earlier in the week. This game could go either way, so I’m going to take the Jets and the points but I think the Browns may pick up their first win since 2016.

Sunday 1PM games

Saints at Falcons (-3.5) – The Saints were barely able to hold off the Browns in Week 2 to get the win, QB Drew Brees had a strong performance. On the other side, the Falcons came back from a disappointing Week 1 defeat to beat the Panthers last week. Falcons QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones will need a big game to hold off the Saints’ offense. And they’ll be doing it with RB Tevin Coleman filling in for Devonta Freeman for a second-straight week. I think the Saints have the better offense, so I’m taking the points on the road.

Bills at Vikings (-16.5) – Through their first two games, the Bills have looked like potentially the worst team in the league, and now they’re heading on the road to take on QB Kirk Cousins and the Vikings. The Vikings are almost certainly going to win the game, so this is a question of what the margin of victory will be. Winning by 17 is a lot to ask of any NFL team, so even though the Bills aren’t good I have to go with the road dog for the third straight game.

Bengals at Panthers (-2.5) – The Bengals are 2-0 and QB Andy Dalton has looked good so far this season, but RB Joe Mixon was injured in Week 2 and underwent a surgical procedure this week that will cause him to miss this week’s game, leaving RB Giovani Bernard to get the start in the backfield. That puts the Bengals at a disadvantage against a Panthers offense that is led by QB Cam Newton and RB Christian McCaffrey. I might pick differently if Mixon was healthy, but because he’s not I’ll give the points with the Panthers.

Broncos at Ravens (-4.5) – These are two teams who I think have overperformed so far through the first two weeks of the season. I think the Ravens are the better team, so I think QB Joe Flacco will lead them to a victory but I expect a close game so I’ll go with the Broncos getting 4.5 points.

Packers at Redskins (+2.5) – The Redskins looked good in Week 1, beating a bad Cardinals team, but they took a step backward in Week 2 when RB Adrian Peterson had a disappointing game after a stronger effort in Week 1. The Packers, meanwhile, are coming off of a tie against the Vikings. Though QB Aaron Rodgers still isn’t 100%, the Packers are the better team in this game and are getting RB Aaron Jones back from his two-game suspension, which should only help the offense. I’m going with the road team to win and cover.

Titans at Jaguars (-7.5) – The Titans beat the Texans last week despite starting backup QB Blaine Gabbert. QB Marcus Mariota was close to playing in Week 2, so he should get the nod on Sunday but he will be facing a Jaguars team that just beat the Patriots a week ago. RB Leonard Fournette missed that game for the Jaguars but, like, Mariota, there was some thought that he might be able to play so he may be in the lineup for Jacksonville this week. Regardless, the Jaguars are the better team and I think they’ll cover.

Colts at Eagles (-6.5) – The Eagles are expected to get starting QB Carson Wentz back from his knee injury this week when they host Andrew Luck and the Colts. That should give them a boost, but the news isn’t as good for RB Jay Ajayi, who suffered an injury in Week 2’s win that could cause him to miss this week’s game, which would force RB Corey Clement to carry the bulk of the workload in the running game. Luck has done better than many people expected in the early part of this season, but the Colts have a bad defense that should allow the Eagles to put points on the board on the way to winning the game, and I think they’ll cover the 6.5 points.

49ers at Chiefs (-6.5) – Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has thrown 10 touchdown passes in the first two games of the season, helping them get out to a 2-0 start. He has some playmakers helping him on the offense, namely WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce and RB Kareem Hunt. The 49ers’ offense isn’t nearly as good as the Chiefs have been through two weeks and it will be tough for them to keep up with the home team on the scoreboard, especially if WR Marquise Goodwin misses his second game in a row with a quad injury. I’ll go with the Chiefs and give the points.

Raiders at Dolphins (-3.5) – The Raiders are still looking for their first win under returning head coach Jon Gruden, and if they want to get it this week they’ll have to do it after a cross-country trip and against an undefeated Dolphins team. The Raiders only lost to Dolphins by a point in Week 2 and facing an overachieving Dolphins team could be what they need to pick up their first win of the season. I think the Raiders will win the game outright, so I’ll take the points on the road.

Giants at Texans (-5.5) – A couple of 0-2 teams are looking to avoid a three-game losing streak to start the season. Both teams’ offenses have been subpar in the first two weeks, with the Texans losing to Gabbert and the Titans. If the Texans have their offense performing well, they probably have the better unit with QB Deshaun Watson compared to Giants QB Eli Manning. As Watson continues to recover from his knee injury that cost him the second half of 2017, I think he’ll continue to improve, and I think he’ll have a good game along with WRs DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. I’m hesitant to give this many points with the Texans, but I’m going to. The Giants will have to rely on rookie RB Saquon Barkley to lead the way offensively if they want to get their first victory of the year.

Sunday 4PM games

Chargers at Rams (-6.5) – The Rams have outscored their opponents 67-13 in their first two games and look like one of the best teams in the league, thanks to an offense led by QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley and a wide-receiving corps headed up by Brandin Cooks. The Chargers have done well this season, too, but I don’t think they’re much of a match for the Rams at this point. I think the spread is a little higher than I’d like, but I’ll give the points.

Bears at Cardinals (+4.5) – The Cardinals look like they’re going to be in competition with the Bills to determine the worst team in the NFL this season. They don’t have much of an offense, so LB Khalil Mack and the Bears defense should make easy work of them. The Rams just shut the Cardinals out last week, and Arizona probably won’t do much better than that this week. Bears easily cover.

Cowboys at Seahawks (-2.5) – Even though the Seahawks are at home, I’m surprised they’re the favorites in this game because they haven’t looked good this season. With WR Doug Baldwin out, QB Russell Wilson doesn’t have anyone good to throw to, and the running game is virtually nonexistent. I think RB Ezekiel Elliott will lead the Cowboys to a road victory to improve to 2-1.

Sunday Night Football

Patriots at Lions (+6.5) – Under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Patriots typically follow-up a loss with a good performance in their next game. So I expect the Patriots to have a strong performance after losing to the Jaguars last week. I’ll give the points.

Monday Night Football

Steelers at Buccaneers (+1.5) – This game pits the so-far-poor Steelers defense against the surprising play of Bucs backup QB Jameis Winston. With the Bucs playing as well as they have been and at home,m I think they could win the game outright, so I’ll take the 1.5 points.

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My NFL Picks Week 2: Patriots-Jags AFC Championship rematch on tap

Week 1 is always a tough one to pick games because you don’t know what to expect from teams coming out of the gate when many stars don’t play much during the preseason. Given that, I did respectably last week with a 9-7 record against the spread. This week has a couple of big games on tap, including the Vikings visiting the Packers — and a potentially-not-100% Aaron Rodgers — in a battle of teams that should compete for the NFC North title and an AFC Championship rematch with the Patriots heading to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars, who will be likely without star RB Leonard Fournette. The Sunday night game features an NFC East rivalry as Odell Beckham and the Giants visit Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys. As always, I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red

Thursday Night Football

Ravens at Bengals (+0.5) – The Ravens looked impressive in Week 1 with a 47-3 victory over the Bills, but QB Andy Dalton and the Bengals will pose a greater challenge, especially with home-field advantage in Cincinnati. Bengals RB Joe Mixon last week looked like he’s poised for a breakout season and if he can have a similar performance this week, it’ll make it that much harder for the Ravens to go 2-0. I’m still not necessarily buying into the Ravens. I’m going to take the Bengals at home on a short week.

Sunday 1PM games

Panthers at Falcons (-5.5) – The Falcons didn’t look good last week, losing to QB Nick Foles and the Eagles in the season opener. Falcons QB Matt Ryan couldn’t get the ball to star WR Julio Jones in the end zone, which was also an issue for the pair last season. The Panthers beat the Cowboys in Week 1 but struggled offensively, scoring just 16 points behind QB Cam Newton. The Panthers are without TE Greg Olsen, who suffered a foot injury in Week 1 that will keep him out of action for several weeks.  I think this will be a close game, so I’ll take the Panthers and the points but the Falcons could win the game.

Chargers at Bills (+7.5) – That’s a big number for a West Coast team to give on a cross-country trip to the northeast, but the Bills really didn’t look good last week. The Bills have announced that after one start from QB Nathan Peterman they have decided to go with rookie QB Josh Allen for his first NFL start in Week 2 as the Bills have decided to go in another direction under center. The Chargers are coming off a loss to the Chiefs, but the Bills appear to be one of the worst teams in the league and I don’t trust either of their quarterbacks, so I’ll give the 7.5 points.

Browns at Saints (-8.5) – The Browns may not have won last week, but they didn’t lose either, so their tie with the Steelers ended their losing streak but extended their winless streak. They’re still looking for their first win since 2016, but I don’t think they’ll get it this week. The Saints’ defense looked bad against the Buccaneers last week, but they still have a good offense led by QB Drew Brees and RB Alvin Kamara, which should be able to outscore the Browns to pick up New Orleans’ first win of the season. This is another big number that’s giving me pause, but i think the Saints will barely cover it, so I’ll go with the Saints at home.

Vikings at Packers (-0.5) – Rodgers is unlikely to be at full strength for this game after dealing with an injury in Week 1 against the Bears. That will hurt the Packers against a good Vikings defense. If I knew Rodgers was fully healthy, I’d probably go with the Packers, but I don’t think he is so I’m going to go with the road team at Lambeau.

Texans at Titans (+2.5) – The Titans were dealt a couple of injuries in Week 1, with TE Delanie Walker suffering a season-ending ankle injury and QB Marcus Mariota dealing with an elbow injury. Mariota’s status for this week’s game is unknown, which opens up uncertainty about how the Titans will perform if backup QB Blaine Gabbert draws the start. The Texans didn’t look great in their Week 1 loss to the Patriots, but QB Deshaun Watson is coming back from an injury of his own that caused him to miss the second half of the 2017 season. I think the Texans will win the game whether Mariota or Gabbert plays, but the chances of a Texans win goes up if Gabbert starts.

Colts at Redskins (-5.5) – The Redskins looked better than expected last week in beating the Cardinals 24-6. RB Adrian Peterson surprised by gaining nearly 100 yards on the ground, and QB Alex Smith had a good start in his team debut. The Colts had an early lead against the Bengals but ended up losing after being outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter. It’s that subpar defense that gives the Redskins an advantage and leads me to think the Redskins will win the game and cover the 5.5 points.

Chiefs at Steelers (-5.5) – The Steelers were without RB Le’Veon Bell last week as he continues his holdout, but RB James Conner had a good showing in Bell’s absence. It wasn’t enough to beat the Browns, though, as the teams ended up tying. The Chiefs present a much bigger challenge for Pittsburgh, and I think the Chiefs could win the game outright so I’ll take them with the points.

Dolphins at Jets (-2.5) – The Jets put up 48 points against the Lions in Week 1, so they may be better than people gave them credit for entering the season, but they’re not that good. After throwing a pick-six with his first career pass, Jets QB Sam Darnold ended up throwing a couple touchdown passes to his teammates and RB Isaiah Crowell had a good showing on the ground, running for more than 100 yards and a couple touchdowns. After that showing last week, I think the Jets can beat Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins, covering the spread in the process.

Eagles at Buccaneers (+3.5) – Like the Jets the Buccaneers overperformed last week, but i’m buying it even less with the Bucs than I did the Jets because of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been a fairly pedestrian quarterback throughout his NFL career. While Foles, who also isn’t great, is expected to get another start for the Eagles I think the defending Super Bowl champions are the better overall team than the Bucs, so I’ll go with them to cover on the road.

Sunday 4PM games

Lions at 49ers (-5.5) – After giving up more than 40 points to the Jets at home in Week 1, the Lions are hitting the road to take on QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers. Last week’s results notwithstanding, the 49ers have a better offense than the Jets and should provide another tough challenge for the Lions defense. Lions QB Matthew Stafford needs to play better than he did last week to keep his team in it. I’ll give the points with the home team.

Cardinals at Rams (-12.5) – I’m all-in on the Rams this season — I even picked them to win Super Bowl LIII — and I fully expect them to win this game against a Cardinals team that struggled last week in their first game with QB Sam Bradford. But I always have a hard time giving a lot of points, like the 12.5-point spread in this game. So I’m going to go with the Cardinals and hope Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and the rest of the Rams offense don’t go off too much in a blowout.

Raiders at Broncos (-5.5) – Neither team looked very impressive last week and I don’t have high hopes for either team this season, so I think it’ll be a pretty close game. I don’t have a strong opinion either way, but I’ll take the points since I think it’ll be close.

Patriots at Jaguars (+2.5) – This AFC Championship rematch likely won’t be as competitive as it otherwise might have been if Fournette can’t play, which I don’t think he will. That means RB T.J. Yeldon will get the bulk of the work on the ground, which should be a big workload considering the team usually likes to limit the amount of passing plays for QB Blake Bortles. On the other side of the field, the Patriots defense looked good in Week 1, and combine that with QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski and the rest of the offense, and I don’t think this game is going to be particularly competitive. I’ll give the points on the road.

Sunday Night Football

Giants at Cowboys (-2.5) – Neither offense looked good last week, so this could be a low-scoring game. While I don’t think Eli Manning is a good quarterback anymore, I think the Cowboys have two of the best offensive players in this game with Beckham and rookie RB Saquon Barkley. The Cowboys don’t have any good receivers after losing TE Jason Witten and WR Dez Bryant in the offseason. They’ll have to rely on Elliott if they want to have much success. I think the Giants will win the game outright, so I’ll take the points.

Monday Night Football

Seahawks at Bears (-3.5) – This is a matchup of teams that fell just short of winning last week, with the Bears losing a 20-0 lead in the second half of their game with the Packers. Since I don’t have much faith in either team, I’ll take the home team and hope QB Mitch Trubisky can get something going for the Bears.

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My NFL Picks Week 1: Can we expect any surprising results?

Thursday night saw the first of the 256 games that will be played this season in the NFL, with the Super Bowl LII champion Eagles — without QB Carson Wentz — beating the Falcons in a sloppily played, weather-delayed 18-12 contest. I thought the Falcons would be able to beat the champs without Wentz, so I’m 0-1, both straight-up and against the spread, to begin the season. But I have 15 more chances to get back on track with the rest of this weekend’s slate. Some of the highlights include the Texans — who are getting several key players, including QB Deshaun Watson and DE J.J. Watt, back from injury — visiting Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots, a Sunday nighter featuring Aaron Rodgers and the Packers hosting Khalil Mack and the Bears in one of the NFL’s longest-running rivalries, and Jon Gruden returning to coaching in the second half of the Monday night doubleheader when the Rams meet the Raiders in Oakland. As has been the case in years past, I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight-up, non-ATS) is in red.

Sunday 1PM games
Bills at Ravens (-5.5)

Bengals at Colts (-3.5)

Steelers at Browns (+6.5) – I think the Steelers win the game but the Browns cover

Titans at Dolphins (+1.5)

49ers at Vikings (-5.5)

Texans at Patriots (-6.5) I think the Patriots win the game but the Texans cover

Buccaneers at Saints (-9.5) I think the Saints win the game but the Bucs cover

Jaguars at Giants (+2.5)

Sunday 4PM games
Chiefs at Chargers (-3.5)

Cowboys at Panthers (-2.5)

Seahawks at Broncos (-2.5)

Redskins at Cardinals (-0.5)

Sunday Night Football
Bears at Packers (-8.5) I think the Packers win the game but the Bears cover

Monday Night Football
Jets at Lions (-6.5)

Rams at Raiders (+2.5)

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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: Tennessee Titans

As our previews of all 32 NFL teams continue, we conclude our look at the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans, who finished in second place in the division last season.

Despite finishing 9-7 and making the playoffs last season, the Titans made a change at head coach, replacing Mike Mularkey with former Patriots LB Mike Vrabel. As far as player movement, the Titans signed RB Dion Lewis to fill the void left on the depth chart following the release of RB DeMarco Murray. They also signed G Xavier Su’a-Filo and backup QB Blaine Gabbert. They focused on helping their defense in this year’s draft, selecting LBs Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry with their first two picks. They lost WR Eric Decker in free agency.

The offense ranked in the bottom half of the league last season with 5,024 yards and 334 points. QB Marcus Mariota led the way with 3,232 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 15 games, with another five rushing touchdowns on his ledger. TE Delanie Walker led the team with 74 receptions, going for 807 yards and three touchdowns. WR Rishard Matthews added 53 catches for 795 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games  — 11 starts — and rookie WR Corey Davis caught 34 balls for 375 yards in 11 games, including nine starts. RB Derrick Henry ran the ball 176 times for 744 yards and five touchdowns. With the Patriots, Lewis had 180 rushes for 896 yards and six touchdowns, adding 32 receptions for 214 receiving yards and three scores. The defense was around the middle of the league in both yards and points allowed.

The Titans open the season on the road against the Dolphins, then face the Texans in their home opener in Week 2. Another divisional game follows in Week 3 when the Titans visit the Jaguars. The Titans host the defending champion Eagles in Week 4. They continue to alternate home and road games by visiting the Bills in Week 5, hosting the Ravens in Week 6 and heading to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in Week 7. The Titans’ bye follows that game, with a visit to the Cowboys on deck in Week 9. The Titans host the Patriots in Week 10 and then have two straight divisional games on the road when they take on the Colts and Texans in Weeks 11 and 12, respectively, Their second game against the Jaguars comes in Week 14, and that’s followed with a Week 15 game at the Giants. The Titans conclude the regular season with consecutive home games against the Redskins and Colts.

The Titans find themselves in a potentially tough position in 2018 with a quarterback who threw half as many touchdowns last year as he did in 2016 and a rookie head coach in Vrabel.They’re in a tough division with a Jaguars team that almost played in the Super Bowl last season and teams in the Texans and Colts that should be better this season as they get back stars who were injured for much — or all — of last season. On paper, the Titans appear to be the worst team in the AFC South and with tougher competition expected in the division, they’ll probably finish with a worse record than last year, unless Mariota has a breakout season. The Titans are probably looking at about a 7-9 mark, with a best-case scenario of 8-8.

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

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Jacksonville Jaguars

Moving on with the AFC South in our continuing previews of all 32 NFL teams over the course of 32 days, today it is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who won the division last season.

Many people predicted a breakout season for the Jaguars last year, and that came true with the Jags not only winning the division and making the playoffs for the first time in a decade, but they made it to the AFC Championship game, losing to the Patriots by just four points. Their defense was what carried them last season, so they focused on adding offense this offseason. Among the signings were TEs Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul — with veteran TE Marcedes Lewis being released as a result — and WR Donte Moncrief, who came over from the division-rival Colts. The team traded for QB Cody Kessler from the Browns to serve as Blake Bortles’ backup.

The offense ranked sixth in the NFL last season with 5,855 yards and fifth with 417 points last season. Bortles continued his downward trend last season, throwing for 3,687 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. WR Marqise Lee was his leading receiver, with 56 catches for 702 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games. Rookie WR Keelan Cole started six of his 16 games, totaling 42 receptions for 748 yards and three touchdowns, and WR Allen Hurns had 39 catches for 484 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games, including eight starts. With the Colts, Moncrief had 26 receptions for 391 yards and two scores in 12 games, while Seferian-Jenkins played in 13 games with the Jets, catching 50 balls for 357 yards and three touchdowns. RB Leonard Fournette led the ground game in his rookie season, carrying the ball 268 times for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games; he also had 36 receptions for 302 yards and a touchdown. RB T.J. Yeldon, who is No. 2 on the depth chart following the release of RB Chris Ivory, had 49 rushes in 10 games last season, running for 253 yards and two touchdowns with 30 catches for 224 yards through the air. The defense was second in the league in both yards and points allowed, behind only the Vikings.

The Jaguars open up the defense of their division title with a road game at the Giants in Week 1. Then it’s an early-season AFC Championship rematch when the Patriots come to Jacksonville. The Jaguars remain at home in Weeks 3 and 4, taking on the Titans and Jets, respectively. They hit the road after that, visiting the Chiefs and Cowboys. Their next divisional game comes in Week 7 with a home game against the Texans, followed by another home contest with the Eagles the Week 8 opponent. A bye is on the docket for Week 9, then the Jaguars visit the Colts in Week 10 and host the Steelers in Week 11. They play the Colts again in Week 13, this time at home, and then head to Nashville to take on the Titans. The Jaguars host the Redskins in Week 15 and visit the Dolphins in Week 16 before hosting the Texans in Week 17, which could be an important game for both teams’ postseason hopes.

With CBs A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey leading the way, the Jaguars should have a dominant defense again in 2018, but they still have a subpar quarterback under center. Fournette helped mitigate that last year with a strong rookie season and he’ll have to be the key cog in the offense again this season with Bortles likely remaining a tier below the league’s top quarterbacks. The Jags will probably not have as easy of a road to the division title this season, though, with the Colts and Texans getting back the likes of Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. That should make for a tight race at the top of the AFC South, with the Titans also having a chance to compete. I think it’ll be a two-way race between the Jaguars and Texans, though, with those two teams the most likely in the division to be in the range of nine to 10 wins in 2018.

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

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Indianapolis Colts

Next up in the AFC South as part of our continuing preview of all 32 NFL teams over the course of 32 days leading up to the start of the 2018 season is the Indianapolis Colts, who finished tied for third place last season.

The Colts’ biggest question mark entering the 2018 season is at the most important position on the field. QB Andrew Luck hasn’t thrown a pass in a regular-season game since Week 17 of the 2016 season as he has continued to recover from shoulder surgery he underwent that offseason. He is expected to be ready to play in Week 1 and reportedly looks good in camp, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll do well in an actual game. QB Jacoby Brissett is Luck’s backup and could see a lot of playing time if Luck isn’t 100% or reinjures his shoulder. The team added to its offense this offseason, signing TE Eric Ebron, WR Ryan Grant and RB Christine Michael, who will add depth to a running game that will be without veteran RB Frank Gore, who signed with the Dolphins in free agency.

The Colts finished next-to-last in the NFL with 4,553 yards, and their 263 points ranked 30th in the league. Brissett threw for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns, with seven interceptions, in 15 starts last season. TE Jack Doyle led the team with 80 receptions, totaling 690 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games. WR T.Y. Hilton had a team-high 966 yards with four touchdowns on 57 catches. With the Redskins, Grant caught 45 balls for 573 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games — seven starts — and Ebron had 53 receptions for 574 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games, including nine starts, with the Lions. Gore was the team’s leading rusher, but rookie RB Marlon Mack was behind him with 93 carries for 358 yards and three touchdowns. The defense wasn’t much better than the offense, finishing in 30th in the league in both yards and points allowed.

The Colts’ schedule begins with a home game against the Bengals, followed by a road game against the Redskins in Week 2. The Colts stay on the road in Week 3, taking on the defending champion Eagles in Week 3. They have their first divisional game in Week 4, a home contest against the Texans. The Colts then play a couple of games in the Northeast, at the Patriots and Jets in Weeks 5 and 6, respectively. The Colts visit the Raiders in Week 8, followed by their bye in Week 9. The Colts host the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins the following three weeks. That homestand is followed by back-to-back divisional games on the road, at the Jaguars in Week 13 and the Texans in Week 14. The Colts’ final home games come in Weeks 15 and 16, against the Cowboys and Giants, respectively, before ending the regular season at the Titans.

Luck’s health is obviously the key to success for the Colts. Without him, the offense was among the worst in the league last season. If he can return to form of how he played prior to his injury, that would be huge for the Colts. If not, the team could be looking at winning just a handful of games again this season, especially with the subpar defense. They’re in a winnable division without a team that’s clearly better than the rest, but without their quarterback the Colts wouldn’t be able to compete with their division foes.

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

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