Tag Archives: Cardinals

My NFL Picks Week 3: Giants, Saints among teams looking for first wins

We’re two weeks into the NFL season and there are, as usual, some surprising teams — both good and bad — in the league. Among those on the negative side are the Giants and Saints, who are 0-2, while the Broncos offense has looked surprisingly good en route to a 2-0 start. Some of the highlights of the Week 3 schedule include the Falcons visiting the Lions in a battle of 2-0 teams and the Titans hosting the Seahawks in a game of two teams who have hopes of making the postseason. I went 12-4 last week, giving me an overall record of 18-13 for the season. 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

Rams at 49ers (+2.5) – Not the most exciting game to start the week as two NFC West teams play each other. The Rams are the better team and I expect them to win the game. I’m not usually comfortable picking a road favorite on a short week, but the 49ers aren’t a good team so I’ll take the Rams.

Sunday 9:30AM game (London)

Ravens at Jaguars (+4.5) – The Ravens look to remain unbeaten when they play the Jaguars in the first London game of 2017. I’m still not sold on QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense being good, but the defense has looked good in the first two weeks of the season. The defense should be able to hold down Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, so I think RB Leonard Fournette will have to have a big game for the Jaguars to have a chance to win it. Give me the Ravens.

Sunday 1PM games

Falcons at Lions (+2.5) – Barring a tie, one of these teams will be 3-0 after the game while the other will have suffered its first defeat of the season. Falcons QB Matt Ryan has led a success Falcons offense, which is coming off of a big win against the Packers last week, while the Lions aren’t as good and last beat the a not-so-impressive team in the Giants. Lions QB Matthew Stafford isn’t as good as Ryan and the visiting team’s running backs are clearly better than the Lions’ so I’ll take the points with the Falcons, who I expect to in by at least a field goal to cover the spread.

Broncos at Bills (+3.5) – The Broncos have one of the best defenses in the league, as expected before the season started. What wasn’t expected, though, was how well QB Trevor Siemian and the offense have been performing through their first two games of 2017. The BIlls offense isn’t that good and the team’s lone win came against the lowly Jets in Week 1. The Broncos should easily win the game and cover the spread on the road.

Steelers at Bears (+7.5) – Another game that appears to be a mismatch with the Steelers being better on both sides of the ball, although QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le’Veon Bell haven’t looked like themselves through the first two games. On the other side, QB MIke Glennon is leading an offense that has been ravaged by injuries, including RB Jordan Howard, who suffered a minor injury last week. After a strong Week 1 performance, RB Tarik Cohen came back to Earth a bit in Week 2. I fully expect the Steelers to win the game, it’s just a question of by how much. I’ll give the points.

Browns at Colts (+0.5)This matchup of 0-2 teams is a toss-up according to the 0.5-point spread. With QB Jacoby Brissett filling in for injured QB Andrew Luck, the Colts don’t have a good offense, but the Browns also don’t have much of an offense to speak of, and WR Corey Coleman broke his hand last week so he’ll miss a few weeks. Neither team is good so I’ll take the home team, which I think is slightly better.

Dolphins at Jets (+6.5) – The Dolphins went to the West Coast and beat the Chargers in their season opener last week, while the Jets got blown out by the Raiders. The Jets did score more points than the Dolphins, though. The Dolphins are clearly the better of the two teams, but they don’t exactly have an explosive offense behind QB Jay Cutler so I think the Jets will be able to keep it relatively close. The Dolphins win the game, but I’ll take the 6.5 points with the Jets.

Buccaneers at Vikings (-2.5) – I’m surprised the Vikings are favored because QB Sam Bradford was inactive last week and there’s a question about whether he can play this week. If he can’t and QB Case Keenum gets another start, I think the Bucs win the game easily. Even if Bradford plays, the Bucs have a good chance of winning. If I’m getting points with Tampa, I’ll take them and count on QB Jameis Winston and WR Mike Evans to take care of business in Minnesota.

Texans at Patriots (-13.5) – That is a big spread for the Patriots against a team that nearly beat them in the playoffs last season. The Patriots offense looked better in Week 2 after a disappointing opening game against the Chiefs. But TE Rob Gronkowski left the last game early with a groin injury, which could call into question his availability for this game. The Texans have a good defense, led by DE J.J. Watt, so I think they will keep the game within two touchdowns. Patriots win the game but I’ll take the points.

Saints at Panthers (-6.5) – The Saints are off to an 0-2 start after dropping their first two games to the Viking and Patriots with their defense giving up 29 and 36 points, respectively, in those games. The Panthers’ offense isn’t as formidable as those teams, which should give the Saints a chance to stay in the game, even with a subpar defense. With the lack of offense for Carolina behind QB Cam Newton — especially with TE Greg Olsen now on IR — I think the Saints have a chance to win the game outright so I’ll take the points.

Giants at Eagles (-5.5) – The Giants offense has not looked good in the team’s first two games, with the lack of a running game one of the team’s weaknesses. QB Carson Wentz has looked good for the Eagles in the early part of the season. With the Giants defense not living up to expectations so far this season, I don’t think this game will be all that close. I think the Eagles win, and I’ll give the points.

Sunday 4PM games

Seahawks at Titans (-2.5)The Seahawks have a bad offensive line that has limited the team’s offensive output early in the season. The Titans have also been underperforming compared to what I thought they would do, but with the way the teams are currently playing I think the Titans win the game.

Bengals at Packers (-9.5) – After playing two games, the Bengals are still waiting to score their first touchdown of the season. Normally, I would expect this to be a blowout, but the Packers are dealing with injuries that caused their offense to suffer last week. That will likely continue in Week 3 if WR Jordy Nelson can’t play. The Packers will still win the game, but I’m not sure they can cover the nearly double-digit spread if Nelson is out. I’ll take the points with the Bengals.

Chiefs at Chargers (+3.5) – The Chiefs are 2-0 while the Chargers have lost a couple of close games in the first two weeks of the season. RB Kareem Hunt and QB Alex Smith have been successful in leading the Chiefs’ offensive attack through Week 2. The Chargers can’t compete with the Chiefs on offense so I’ll take the visitors to remain undefeated and cover the 3.5 points.

Sunday Night Football

Raiders at Redskins (+3.5) – The Redskins offense has struggled a bit in their first two games, while QB Derek Carr has led the Raiders to a 2-0 start, thanks in part to a Raiders defense that so far has been improved over last season. Even though the Raiders are traveling to the East Coast, it’s a night game so it’s not an early start for the Raiders and they’re the better team so I’ll take them to win.

Monday Night Football

Cowboys at Cardinals (+3.5) – The Cowboys are coming off a blowout loss to the Broncos, while the Cardinals needed overtime to beat a bad Colts team without Luck. Regardless of how badly they lost last week, I still trust QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys offense more than the Cardinals, so I’ll go with Dallas here.

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My NFL Picks Week 2: Packers-Falcons open Mercedes-Benz Stadium

With one week in the books, I went just 6-9 last week, getting me off to rough start for the 2017 season. The highlight of the week is the Sunday night game, with the Falcons opening Mercedes-Benz Stadium, their new stadium, against the Packers as two of the NFC’s best teams meet. Other notable games include the Patriots visiting the Saints, as QBs Tom Brady and Drew Brees look to avenge their Week 1 losses, and the Steelers hosting the Vikings in an interconference battle of potential playoff teams. 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

Texans at Bengals (-4.5) – These teams had two of the worst offensive performances of Week 1, with the Texans putting just seven points on the board against the Jaguars and the Bengals getting shut out by the Ravens. The Texans will likely start QB Deshaun Watson after benching starting QB Tom Savage and putting Watson in after halftime of their game in Week 1. Bengals QB Andy Dalton threw four interceptions last week. The Texans didn’t look good last week, but they at least scored. I find it hard to pick a team that didn’t score last week that’s favored by 4.5 points. I’ll take the underdogs on the road.

Sunday 1PM games

Bills at Panthers (-7.5) – The Panthers looked good against the 49ers last week, but I think the Bills have a better offense than them. Even if he doesn’t have a great game passing, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor can pick up yards running and I don’t think Panthers QB Cam Newton is 100% healthy yet. I’ll take the points in this one.

Bears at Buccaneers (-6.5) – The Bucs are coming off of a Hurricane Irma-induced bye so this will be our first look at them this season. The Bears did play last week and they lost another wide receiver for the season, with WR Kevin White suffering a season-ending collarbone injury just weeks after WR Cameron Meredith went out for the season during the preseason. Bears RB Tarik Cohen had a good showing in Week 1, but QB Mike Glennon is running out of receivers to throw the ball to. I don’t think this game will be close so I’ll give the points.

Browns at Ravens (-7.5) – Both of these teams played better than expected last week, with the Browns staying competitive against the Steelers until late in the game. While the Ravens beat the Bengals, RB Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury that will likely keep him out of game action for at least several weeks. After the way the Browns stayed in the game last week with the Steelers, I think they can do the same this week. The Ravens should win the game but give me the points.

Titans at Jaguars (+1.5) – The Jaguars were one of Week 1’s most surprising teams — in a good way. RB Leonard Fournette had an impressive NFL debut, but QB Blake Bortles still isn’t good. And his top weapon, WR Allen Robinson, suffered a season-ending ACL injury that won’t help Bortles’ game. The Jaguars played well last week but I still think the Titans are better so I’ll take them.

Cardinals at Colts (+8.5) – The Colts have ruled QB Andrew Luck out for this game, and they are not a good team without him. QB Jacoby Brissett will likely get the start. He’s probably better than QB Scott Tolzien, who’s started in Week 1, but he’s still not good. The problem is Cardinals QB Carson Palmer performed poorly last week and Cardinals RB David Johnson — one of the best players in the league — is expected to miss two to three months after dislocating his wrist last week. Neither of these teams are at full strength and I think the Cardinals will win the game, but I’m not confident giving 8.5 points in this game so I’ll take the Colts and the points.

Eagles at Chiefs (-4.5)Chiefs QB Alex Smith had one of the best games of his career last week against the Patriots and RB Kareem Hunt had a great game in his debut as the Chiefs pulled off the upset. He’ll look to repeat that success against QB Carson Wentz and the Eagles. I think the Chiefs are the better team so I’ll give the 4.5 points.

Vikings at Steelers (-6.5) – The Vikings looked good on Monday night with QB Sam Bradford throwing three touchdowns, including two to WR Stefon Diggs while WR Adam Thielen had nearly 150 receiving yards. That was against a bad Saints defense, though. It won’t be as easy to move the ball against the Steelers D. And RB Le’Veon Bell likely wants to have a strong game for Pittsburgh after not doing much last week. I’m not confident in this pick, but I’ll go with the Steelers to cover.

Patriots at Saints (+5.5) – The Patriots’ offense was surprisingly subpar against the Chiefs last week and the best cure for an offense looking to bounce back from a poor outing could be playing the bad Saints defense. That’s what QB Tom Brady gets this week. I expect the Pats to have a good game this week. Patriots cover.

Sunday 4PM games

Jets at Raiders (-14.5)It’s a big number, but the Raiders are good on both offense and defense, and the Jets aren’t. I don’t normally like picking a team favored by that much, but I think the Raiders can do it in this case so I’ll give the 14.5 points.

Dolphins at Chargers (-3.5) – The Dolphins are the other team who ended up getting a Week 1 bye when Hurricane Irma postponed their scheduled home game. Between having to deal with the hurricane back home and having to travel across the country, combined with QB Jay Cutler having not played since last November, I think the Dolphins could struggle in their first game of the season. I’ll take the home team.

Cowboys at Broncos (+1.5) – The Broncos have a good defense but the Cowboys have a strong offense, especially with RB Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension postponed indefinitely. That’s why I think the Cowboys will present a bigger challenge for the Broncos than the Chargers did in Week 1. The Cowboys are favored by less than a field goal, and I think they can cover that.

Redskins at Rams (-3.5) – This is a tough one to pick. The Redskins are coming off a tough loss to the Eagles while the Rams put more than 40 points on the scoreboard last week against the Andrew Luck-less Colts. I can’t buy Rams QB Jared Goff being much improved over last season until I see it more than once. So I think Cousins will outplay Goff. Give me the points on the road.

49ers at Seahawks (-12.5) – The Seahawks are clearly a better team than the 49ers and will almost certainly win this game, but I think a 12.5-point spread is a little on the high side. The Seahawks only scored nine points against the Packers, who don’t have a top-tier defense, last week so I’m not going to give that many points the 49ers. I’ll take the underdogs. 

Sunday Night Football

Packers at Falcons (-2.5) – This is a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship and the two teams could meet in that game again this season. This time, though, they’re meeting in Week 2 as the Falcons play their first regular-season game at their new stadium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The question is whether they can open their new home with a win, or will the Packers avenge their loss from January? Both teams have good offenses but not-so-good defenses. I think Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is still better than Falcons QB Matt Ryan. I think the Packers have a chance to win the game outright, so if they’re getting points I”ll take them.

Monday Night Football

Lions at Giants (-4.5) – This line surprises me. The Giants only managed to score a field goal without WR Odell Beckham Jr. against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Even if he plays, I’m not sure the Giants’ offense is good enough to beat the Lions. I expect the Lions to win the game so I’ll take the points.

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My NFL Picks Week 1: Seahawks-Packers — NFC Championship preview?

The first of the 256 games that will be played in the NFL this season resulted in the Chiefs pulling the upset of the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. Though I didn’t pick the Chiefs to win the game, I did take them to cover the spread so I’m off to a 1-0 record against the spread to start the season. There are 14 more games left to play this weekend — the BuccaneersDolphins game was postponed to Week 11 due to Hurricane Irma — with some big games on the schedule, including a potential NFC Championship preview in Green Bay between the Seahawks and Packers. Also on the Week 1 slate, the Giants visiting the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football and RB Adrian Peterson, now with the Saints, returning to Minnesota to take on his former team the Vikings in the first game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader. 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
Falcons at Bears (+7.5) – This is the first meaningful game the Falcons are playing since blowing the 28-3 lead to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI back in February. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Falcons will win the game behind the offensive output of QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones. The question is if they’ll cover the spread of more than a touchdown. The Bears are led by QB Mike Glennon and don’t have a proven No. 1 wide receiver after WR Cameron Meredith suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. I think the Falcons are able to cover.

Jets at Bills (-6.5) – These teams should be two of the worst offenses in the league this year. I think the Bills win the game but I don’t think they’ll win by a touchdown so I’ll take the points with the Jets.

Ravens at Bengals (-2.5) Ravens QB Joe Flacco was dealing with an injury in training camp and preseason which didn’t allow him to get in much practice time. That concerns me in Week 1 as it’ll probably take him a couple games to rid of the rust so even though I’m not big on QB Andy Dalton and the Bengals, I’ll take them to win the game and cover.

Steelers at Browns (+9.5) – My thinking on this game is similar to the Falcons-Bears. It’s not a question of if the Steelers will win but rather how much they’ll win by. QB Ben Roethlisberger has one of the best running backs and wide receivers — Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, respectively — in the league while the Browns will be starting rookie QB DeShone Kizer, who likely won’t have much success against a good Steelers defense. I think Pittsburgh can win by double digits so I’ll give the points.

Cardinals at Lions (-2.5) – Both teams have a good offense but I think the Cardinals’ defense is slightly better. I’m expecting a big season from QB Carson Palmer and the rest of the Arizona offense. They have a good running back in David Johnson and I’m skeptical about how much success the Lions’ backs will have in the game. That gives the Cardinals enough of an advantage that I’m picking them to win the game outright, so I’ll definitely take the points.

Raiders at Titans (+0.5)The line indicates that this game is a toss-up and I had a hard time picking it. Raiders QB Derek Carr and Titans QB Marcus Mariota are both ascending in their careers. I think the Titans have a slightly better team overall, though, particularly on defense. I’ll take the home team to win so I’ll take the half-point.

Eagles at Redskins (-2.5) – In the first of two NFC East battles on Sunday, I’m not confident that the Redskins offense will be at the top of its game. WR Jamison Crowder is questionable to play, leaving newly signed WR Terrelle Pryor Sr. as QB Kirk Cousins‘ top target behind TE Jordan Reed. They may not have good chemistry together in their first regular-season game as teammates. I’ll take the points with the visitors.

Jaguars at Texans (-4.5)I’m not expecting much from the Jaguars offense this season behind QB Blake Bortles, who almost lost the starting spot to journeyman QB Chad Henne. The Texans’ offense likely isn’t great, either, with QB Tom Savage beating out QB Deshaun Watson as the starter. Houston’s offense should be better than Jacksonville’s, and I think the Texans’ also have the defensive advantage behind DE J.J. Watt and LB Jadeveon Clowney. The Jaguars’ defense should be improved this season after signing free-agent CB A.J. Bouye away from the Texans, but I don’t think it’ll be enough this week. I’ll take the points.

Sunday 4PM games
Colts at Rams (+3.5)With Andrew Luck ruled out for at least Week 1, Scott Tolzien will begin the season as the Colts’ starting quarterback. Given that, I’m surprised the Colts are favored in this game. I think the Rams win the game outright so I’ll take the points.

Seahawks at Packers (-2.5)This was my projected NFC Championship game when I made my playoff predictions yesterday and the teams are starting the season against each other as well. These are two of the best offenses in the league behind QBs Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. The Seahawks’ running game could be an issue without a true No. 1 running back. I think the Packers have the advantage there with WR-turned-RB Ty Montgomery, who performed well after being converted to the position in the second half of last season. I think that could be the difference in the game. Give me the home team.

Panthers at 49ers (+5.5)I’m going against the grain with this pick, but I think QB Cam Newton and the Panthers will struggle a bit on the road in Week 1 unless RB Christian McCaffrey has a big game in his NFL debut. The Panthers will win the game, but I think 49ers QB Brian Hoyer could keep it close so I’ll take the points with the 49ers.

Sunday Night Football
Giants at Cowboys (-4.5)For much of the preseason, it was thought that Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott would start serving his six-game suspension in Week 1 and miss this game. Now, though, not only will he play in the team’s opener but he could play for the whole season as his appeal works its way through the legal system. I’m worried about the Cowboys’ defense, but I think the Elliott and QB Dak Prescott can put enough points on the board to overcome any deficiencies on the other side of the ball. The Cowboys lost both games against their divisional rivals in 2016 and I don’t see the Giants winning three in a row. I’ll take the Cowboys and give the points.

Monday Night Football
Saints at Vikings (-3.5)Longtime Vikings running back Peterson goes against his old team in his first game with his new team. I don’t think it’ll be a good homecoming for him, though, as I expect the Vikings to win the game. The Saints ave one of the worst defenses in the league so QB Sam Bradford won’t have trouble moving the ball down the field and scoring. Vikings cover the spread.

Chargers at Broncos (-3.5)I think the Broncos’ defense will be able to keep the Chargers’ defense in check in the final game of Week 1. Their offense worries be, but Chargers QB Philip Rivers isn’t exactly the best quarterback in the league either so I’m banking on Denver’s defense controlling the game. I’ll take the home favorites.

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4th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Seattle Seahawks

We finish our previews of all 32 NFL teams with the Seattle Seahawks, who won the NFC West last season.

QB Russell Wilson had some injury issues that limited his rushing performance last season, but the Seahawks still finished with 10 wins and won the division for the third time in four years. Their big addition this offseason was signing free-agent RB Eddie Lacy, who is expected to be part of a running back by committee with RBs Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise. And at the beginning of the month, they traded WR Jermaine Kearse to the Jets for DT Sheldon Richardson, who should help the defense. The team will be without RB Christine Michael, who was the Seahawks’ leading rusher last season.

Despite his injuries, Wilson played in all 16 games last season, though he didn’t finish all of them. He set a career high with 4,219 yards but threw for a career-low 21 touchdowns, with the 11 interceptions being the most he’s thrown in the first five seasons of his career. WR Doug Baldwin led the team with 94 receptions for 1,128 yards and 7 touchdowns. TE Jimmy Graham had 65 catches for 923 yards and 6 touchdowns. WR Tyler Lockett added 41 receptions for 597 yards and 1 touchdown, and WR Paul Richardson caught 21 balls for 288 yards and 1 touchdown. Rawls had 109 carries for 349 yards and 9 touchdowns in nine games and Prosise ran the ball 30 times for 172 yards and 1 touchdown in six games. With the Packers, Lacy ran the ball 71 times for 360 yards, without a touchdown, in five games of an injury-plagued season. The Seahawks were tied for 18th in points scored last season, and the defense ranked third in the league in points allowed.

Assuming Wilson is healthy, he should be more productive this season as he is likely to return to his typical running game, which helped him get 6 rushing touchdowns in 2014 and more than 500 yards each season from 2013-2015. As for the rest of the running game, it’ll be a three-pronged attack with Lacy, Rawls and Prosise. Rawls is currently listed as the No. 1 back on the depth chart, which is an indication that he should see the bulk of the carries if his performance warrants it. If he can’t put up good numbers, though, the team probably won’t hesitate to increase the workload of the other running backs. And seventh-round draft pick RB Chris Carson is a dark-horse candidate to see an increased workload as the season progresses as the guys ahead of him on the depth chart don’t have a great history of staying healthy. Richardson is expected to see more work in the receiving game as the expected starter across from Baldwin, with Graham also continuing to be a big part of the passing game as long as he can stay on the field, as he was able to do last season after missing give games in 2015. The defense was already good last season and adding Richardson should solidify it further.

The schedule gives the Seahawks a tough road contest to begin the season, taking them to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers in Week 1. Things look to get easier in Week 2 when the Seahawks host the 49ers. A road game at the Titans follows in Week 3, with the Colts — potentially without QB Andrew Luck — coming to Seattle on Sunday night in Week 4. The Seahawks visit the Rams, then have a Week 6 bye, which leads into a road game with the Giants. The Seahawks host the Texans and Redskins in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively, then they visit the Cardinals in Week 10’s Thursday night game. They host the Falcons on Monday Night Football in Week 11, then visit the 49ers in Week 12. After that, the Eagles come to town for another Sunday nighter, and the Seahawks visit the Jaguars in Week 14. A home game with the Rams is on tap in Week 15, followed by a Week 16 contest at the Cowboys, and the Seahawks host the Cardinals to finish out the regular season in Week 17. The Seahawks have a lot of tough games ahead of them, but with their offense and defense I see them potentially winning 10-11 games, possibly even 12.

And that concludes this year’s look at all 32 NFL teams. Tomorrow, we’ll have a preview of the ChiefsPatriots season opener, with our Week 1 picks, and season and playoff predictions coming up through the weekend.

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

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4th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: San Francisco 49ers

Next up for the NFC West in our previews of all 32 NFL teams is the San Francisco 49ers, who in last place in the division last season.

Kyle Shanahan is the new head coach in San Francisco as he replaces Chip Kelly, who lasted just one season at the helm of the 49ers, the team’s second straight head coach who was one-and-done. Kelly’s departure could have something to do with the team’s 2-14 record, which matched a franchise-worst mark that last happened in 2004. The new regime in San Francisco had a busy offseason, signing QB Brian Hoyer, WRs Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin, RBs Tim Hightower and Kyle Juszczyk, and LB Elvis Dumervil, among other lesser players. Hoyer is expected to be the starter under center, with Garcon and Goodwin expected to lay big roles in the receiving game. Early in the offseason, the team waived WR Torrey Smith and recently traded TE Vance McDonald to the Steelers for a draft pick, making rookie TE George Kittle — the team’s fifth-round draft pick — the likely starter at the position.

Neither of last year’s quarterbacks — Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert — are on the roster this year. Hoyer played in six games with the Bears last season, throwing for 1,445 yards and 6 touchdowns, with no interceptions. QB Matt Barkley, who will serve as Hoyer’s backup, was also with the Bears in 2016 and played in seven games, totaling 1,611 passing yards and 8 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions. WR Jeremy Kerley was the team’s leading pass-catcher with 64 receptions for 667 yards and 3 touchdowns. With the Redskins last year, Garcon had 79 receptions for 1,041 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Goodwin caught 29 passes for 431 yards and 3 touchdowns in 15 games in Buffalo. RB Carlos Hyde led the 49ers with 217 carries for 988 yards and 6 touchdowns in 13 games. With the Saints, Hightower ran the ball 133 times for 548 yards and 4 touchdowns. In all, the 49ers offense scored the sixth-fewest points in the league last season and the defense allowed opponents to score the most points in the NFL.

The offense should be improved this season. Hoyer isn’t going to get a team to a Super Bowl, but he’s a veteran who can put up decent stats and doesn’t throw many interceptions. The team gave him some nice offensive weapons in the offseason with Garcon and Goodwin, who should have significantly better numbers in this offense than he did with the Bills a year ago. When healthy Hyde is a good running back, but he’s never played a full season and is just two years removed from a 2015 season in which he played in just seven games. Given his history, he’s likely to miss at least a game or two, with Hightower having to carry the bulk of the rushing work in those games. Of course the defense is a major issue. Even though the 49ers offense should be better than last year, it won’t necessarily be good and it won’t be able to keep up in shootouts that are caused by the defense allowing teams 40-plus points, as they allowed four times last season.

The 49ers open the season with a home game against the Panthers, then head up the coast to take on the Seahawks in Seattle. Next on the schedule is a Thursday night home game with the Rams. Three road games follow that, beginning in Week 4 against the Cardinals and continuing with visits to the Colts and Redskins. In Week 7, the 49ers host the Cowboys, then take on the Eagles in Philadelphia. Weeks 9 and 10 have the 49ers taking on the Cardinals and Giants, respectively, both at home. Their bye comes in Week 11, and after that is a home game with the Seahawks. The 49ers visit the Bears in Week 13, then take on the Texans in Houston. Weeks 15 and 16 bring two more AFC South games as the Titans and Jaguars come to San Francisco. The 49ers finish their campaign in Los Angeles in Week 17 to take on the Rams. I expect the 49ers to win three or four games this season.

Source: http://www.49ers.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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4th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Los Angeles Rams

Up next in our previews of all 32 NFL teams is the Los Angeles Rams, who finished in third place in the NFC West last season.

In their first year back in Los Angeles, the Rams went 4-12 and fired longtime head coach Jeff Fisher. This season, they’ve replaced him with former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay in his first head-coaching job. The Rams added a couple of former Bills receivers to their roster this offseason, signing free-agent Robert Woods and trading DB E.J. Gaines for Sammy Watkins. They also signed OT Andrew Whitworth and LB Connor Barwin. In the draft, they spent a third-round pick on Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp, who is expected to see quite a bit of action in his rookie season.

QB Case Keenum, who is now with the Vikings, got most of the reps at quarterback last season before rookie QB Jared Goff took over in Week 10. Goff completed just 54.6% of his passes for 1,089 yards and 5 touchdowns, with 7 interceptions in his seven games. WR Tavon Austin had 58 receptions for 509 yards and 3 touchdowns, which was second on the team behind now-departed WR Kenny Britt. With Buffalo last year, Watkins had 28 receptions for 430 yards and 2 touchdowns in eight games, and Woods caught 51 passes for 613 yards and 1 touchdown in 13 games. On the ground, RB Todd Gurley ran the ball 278 times for 885 yards and 6 touchdowns. The offense scored the fewest points in the NFL last season — thanks, in part, to five games in which they scored fewer than 10 points — and the defense ranked in the bottom third of the league in points allowed.

It goes without saying but the Rams need an improved offense to have any chance of winning many games this season, and I don’t think they’ll get it. Goff didn’t show many promising signs in the time he was on the field last season and they don’t have a clear-cut top receiver. Austin’s 58 receptions last season was a career high for him, Watkins tends to miss time with injuries and has only played a full 16 games in his rookie season, and Woods has never caught more than 65 passes in a season. If he comes out of the gate strong in his rookie year, Kupp could end the season as the team’s best receiver. And Gurley had a sharp decline in production from his rookie season in 2015 to last year, when he had fewer yards and touchdowns despite carrying the ball 49 times more than the previous year.

Looking at the Rams’ schedule, they start the season with home games against the Colts and Redskins. In Week 3, they head out on the road to take on the 49ers on Thursday night, then they take on the Cowboys in Arlington in Week 4. They host the Seahawks in Week 5 and visit the Jaguars in Week 6. After that, a home game with the Cardinals leads into a Week 8 bye. Coming off the bye, the Rams travel to take on the Giants before coming home to battle the Texans in Week 10. A road game with the Vikings is on tap in Week 11, then the Rams return home to take on the Saints. The Rams visit the Cardinals in Week 13 and host the Eagles in Week 14. The Rams have road games in Weeks 15 and 16 against the Seahawks and Titans, respectively, before finishing the season at home with the 49ers. With the poor offense the Rams have, I can’t see them winning more than about two or three games this year.

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

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4th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Arizona Cardinals

The NFC West is the final division in our previews of all 32 NFL teams, and the first team we’re previewing in the division is the Arizona Cardinals, who finished in second place in the division last season.

The Cardinals had a disappointing 7-8-1 record last season after winning a franchise-record 13 games in 2015. They didn’t have any significant injuries but QB Carson Palmer regressed a bit from his 2015 performance. The team didn’t make many moves of note this offseason, with the main signing being QB Blaine Gabbert, who sits at third on the depth chart behind Palmer and QB Drew Stanton. The team selected Temple LB Haason Reddick with its first-round draft pick, hoping he can help a defense that wasn’t overly impressive last season.

The veteran Palmer played in 15 games last season, throwing for 4,266 yards and 26 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions. WR Larry Fitzgerald had 107 receptions for 1,023 yards and 6 touchdowns. RB David Johnson was the next best player in the receiving game, making 80 catches for 879 yards and 4 touchdowns. WR John Brown caught 39 balls for 517 yards and 2 touchdowns, with TE Jermaine Gresham adding 37 receptions for 391 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR JJ Nelson caught 34 passes for 568 yards and 6 touchdowns. In addition to his receiving work, Johnson ran the ball 293 times for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns, giving him one of the best performances among all players last season. The offense scored the sixth-most points in the NFL last season, but the defense was more middle-of-the-pack, giving up the 14th-most points in the league.

With all the key pieces of the offense returning this year, the Cardinals shouldn’t have a problem scoring points. The offensive unit may even get better if the likes of Brown and Nelson step up their game and are able to catch more passes from Palmer. One issue is age, with Palmer being 37 and Fitzgerald having just turned 34. As they get older, the likelihood of regression increases. The team can’t really rely on Johnson more than last year since he already carried the ball nearly 300 times in 2016 and put up more than 2,000 total yards between running and receiving. With that in mind, the defense needs to be better this year to give the team a better chance of winning games. Last year the Cardinals lost a game 48-41, which shouldn’t happen to a team that has playoff hopes, like they did last season.

The Cardinals are on the road for the first two weeks of the season, with games at the Lions and Colts. The Cowboys come to Arizona in Week 3 for the Cardinals’ home opener on that Monday night, with the 49ers coming to Glendale in Week 4. The schedule sends the Cardinals on the road again in Week 5, visiting the Eagles. A Week 6 home game with the Buccaneers leads into a game in Los Angeles against the Rams. The Cardinals have their bye in Week 8, then visit the 49ers in Week 9. Next up is a home Thursday night game against the Seahawks, then a road tilt at the Texans in Week 11. The Cardinals host the Jaguars in Week 12, followed by more home games with the Rams and Titans. The Cardinals visit the Redskins in Week 15, host the Giants in week 16 and end the regular season in Seattle for a final battle with the Seahawks. I think the Cardinals could win 10 or 11 games this season, putting them in the hunt for a playoff spot.

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

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