Tag Archives: Dolphins

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: Oakland Raiders

We’re up to the third team in the AFC West as we continue our previews of all 32 NFL teams, continuing with the Oakland Raiders, who finished in second place in the division last season.

The Raiders made the playoffs last year for the first time since the 2002 season, but a late-season injury to QB Derek Carr ended any realistic shot they had of making it out of the first round. The biggest addition the Raiders made this season was acquiring RB Marshawn Lynch from the Seahawks as he comes out of his one-year “retirement” to play for his hometown team. Other additions this offseason including signing WR Cordarrelle Patterson, TE Jared Cook and QB EJ Manuel to serve as Carr’s backup. RB Latavius Murray left the Raiders and signed with the Vikings.

In the 15 games he played before his injury, Carr completed just under 64% of his passes for 3,937 yards and 28 touchdowns, with just 6 interceptions. WR Michael Crabtree had 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and 8 touchdowns, and WR Amari Cooper had 83 catches for 1,153 yards and 5 touchdowns. With the Packers last season, Cook had 30 catches for 377 yards and 1 touchdown, and Patterson had 52 receptions for 453 yards and 2 touchdowns with the Vikings. Murray was the team’s leading rusher last year, but backup RBs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard had decent numbers in limited work. Washington had 87 carries for 467 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Richard had 83 rushes for 491 yards and 1 touchdown. In his last season with the Seahawks in 2015, Lynch had 111 carries for 417 yards and 3 touchdowns in seven games. The Raiders’ offense scored the seventh-most points in the league last season, but the defense was 20th in the NFL in points allowed.

The passing attack should be the best part of the offense with a good quarterback in Carr and some solid receiving options. Cook should help give the team more production at tight end, as the Raiders didn’t get much out of the position last year. The running game, on the other hand, isn’t as clear-cut as the passing game. Lynch took last season off and played less than half of the season in 2015. Will he play up to the standards people are used to from him after the long layoff? If given the opportunity to play, I actually think one of Washington or Richard could play better than Lynch, who is likely to be given the bulk of the running workload as long as he stays healthy.

The Raiders open the season on the road at the Titans in Week 1 before coming home to play the Jets in Week 2. Next, the schedule takes them on two road games, visiting the Redskins for the Sunday night game in Week 3 and then playing at the Broncos in Week 4. The Raiders host the Ravens and Chargers in Weeks 5 and 6, respectively, then host the Chiefs on Thursday night in Week 7. The Raiders visit the Bills in Week 8, then take their talents to South Beach when they play the Dolphins in Week 9’s Sunday nighter. After a Week 10 bye, the Raiders are the designated home team when they play the Patriots in Mexico City, the second straight year the Raiders are playing there. Upon returning to the States in Week 12, the Raiders host the Broncos, then they host the Giants in Week 13. A game at the Chiefs follows, then the Raiders play the Cowboys at home on Sunday night in Week 15. A Christmas night game at the Eagles follows that, and a visit to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in Week 17 ends the Raiders’ regular season. I think the Raiders could win 11 or 12 games this year, potentially matching last season’s 12-win total. Whether they win the division or not, the Raiders should make a return trip to the postseason.

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

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

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

For the second straight season, an NFL team is moving to Los Angeles. This time, it’s the Chargers, who are making the short trip north from San Diego. Until the new stadium they’ll be sharing with the Rams is complete, they’ll be playing their home games at the 27,000-seat StubHub Center in nearby Carson, Calif. Although the team’s city is changing, on the field will look familiar without any major changes to the roster this offseason, other than the departure of RB Danny Woodhead, who barely played last year as an injury limited him to two games. In the draft, the team used the seventh overall pick on Clemson WR Mike Williams and selected Western Kentucky OG Forrest Lamp in the second round. The coaching staff, on the other hand, is changing with Anthony Lynn taking over head-coaching duties and Gus Bradley now the defensive coordinator; offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt returns from last season.

QB Philip Rivers threw for 4,386 yards and 33 touchdowns, with 21 interceptions — representing the second-highest touchdown total of his career and the most interceptions. His leading receiver was WR Tyrell Williams, who nabbed 69 receptions for 1,059 yards and 7 touchdowns. WR Dontrelle Inman caught 58 balls for 810 yards and 4 touchdowns, and TE Antonio Gates had 53 catches for 548 yards and 7 touchdowns in 14 games. Rookie TE Hunter Henry added 36 catches for 478 yards and 8 touchdowns in 15 games. The leading rusher was RB Melvin Gordon, who ran for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns on 254 carries in 13 games, adding 41 catches for another 419 yards and 2 touchdowns. The offense scored the ninth-most points in the NFL last season, and the defense was fourth-worst in the league in points allowed by tied for the league with 18 interceptions.

Rivers needs to cut down on the interceptions, but even being in his mid-30s put up yardage and touchdown totals that were among the best in the league among quarterbacks last season.  One reason for that is he has some strong options in the receiving core, including one of the best tight ends in league history with Gates and a young tight end who showed promising signs as a rookie and looks to be even better as he should start to get more work in his second year in the league. Rivers also gets back WR Keenan Allen, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 last year. While he’s a good receiver when healthy, he’s only played a total of nine games over the last two seasons. If he can stay on the field, though, he is a solid addition to an already-good receiving core. There are more question marks in the running game, with Gordon — who has yet to play a full 16-game season in his career — leading the way and RB Branden Oliver, who hasn’t played since 2015, his backup.

The Chargers’ schedule begins in the final game of Week 1, visiting the Broncos in the second game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader. They play their first regular-season games at StubHub Center over the next three weeks, taking on the Dolphins in Week 2, followed by the Chiefs and Eagles. Week 5 takes the Chargers to New Jersey to take on the Giants, and they follow that with a Week 6 road game against the Raiders. They host the Broncos in Week 7, then face the Patriots on the road. A Week 9 bye leads into a Week 10 contest at the Jaguars. After hosting the Bills in Week 11, the Chargers visit the Cowboys in Week 12. They host the Browns and Redskins in Weeks 13 and 14, respectively, then visit the Chiefs for the Thursday night game in Week 15. After visiting the Jets in Week 16 for their second visit to MetLife Stadium, the Chargers end the season against the Raiders at home. I think the Chargers could be within a game of being a .500 team, which would be an improvement over last year.

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

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4th 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’ main offensive additions this offseason came through the draft, selecting Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes II with the 10th overall pick and taking Toledo RB Kareem Hunt in the third round. That latter pick, in particular, could prove to be helpful to the team after RB Spencer Ware, who was expected to be the starter, tore his PCL in the team’s third preseason game and will require season-ending surgery, leaving the rookie Hunt as the likely starter to begin the regular season. Mahomes, on the other hand, will sit behind QB Alex Smith on the depth chart. The team signed NT Bennie Logan to join the likes of LBs Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston on the defense. One player the team will be without is WR Jeremy Maclin, who signed with the Ravens.

Smith played in 15 games last season, putting up his usual serviceable but not impressive numbers. He completed 67.1% of his passes for 3,502 yards and 15 touchdowns, with 8 interceptions. TE Travis Kelce was the team’s leading receiver, with 85 receptions for 1,125 yards and 4 touchdowns. WR Tyreek Hill caught 61 passes for 593 yards and 6 touchdowns. WR Chris Conley had 44 catches for 530 yards. Ware carried the ball 214 times in 14 games last season, running for 921 yards and 3 touchdowns, to go along with 33 receptions for 447 yards and 2 touchdowns. Backup RB Charcandrick West ran the ball 88 times for 293 yards and 1 touchdown. The offense scored the 13th-most points in the league last season, and the defense was seventh-best in the NFL in terms of points allowed and was tied for the lead with 18 interceptions.

With Ware out for the year, Hunt is likely to see the majority of the action at the running back position, with West also getting in some work. Depending on how Hunt performs, he could keep the starting gig for the entire season. With Hunt being a rookie, though, you never know how he’ll perform with a heavy workload and West could usurp him during the year. Veteran RB C.J. Spiller is also on the team and should get into the mix in the running game. Mahomes probably won’t see much action under center in his rookie season, but he doesn’t have one of the league’s top quarterbacks ahead of him, so if the Chiefs fall out of the playoff race they may turn to Mahomes late in the year to see find out what they have in him. Hill and Kelce are strong receiving options for Smith, but losing Maclin hurts the passing game. Conley, who is expected to be the starter opposite Hill, and WR Albert Wilson will have to take their games to the next level to make up for the production lost with Maclin’s departure. On the defense, Houston is coming off an injury that caused him to miss all but five games last season, so if he plays the full season that’ll give the defense a boost.

The Chiefs open their season on a big stage, taking on the Super Bowl LI champion Patriots in the season-opening game next Thursday. Ten days later, the schedule gives them their first home game when they take on the Eagles. They face the Chargers on the road in Week 3, then head home to take on the Redskins in the Monday night game in Week 4. A Sunday nighter follows in Week 5 when they visit the Texans. The Steelers come to Kansas City in Week 6, then the Chiefs head to Oakland to take on the Raiders, who are probably their biggest competition to win the division, on Thursday night. The Chiefs get extra time to prepare before their Week 8 game against the Broncos, which is a Monday night contest at home. They visit the Cowboys in Week 9, then get their bye before visiting the Giants in Week 11. After a home game with the Bills, the Chiefs take on the Jets on the road in Week 13. The Chiefs’ final three home games are up next, as they take on the Raiders, Chargers and Dolphins in Weeks 14, 15 and 16, respectively. They finish the regular season on the road, taking on the Broncos. I think the Chiefs regress from last year’s 12-win season and are probably in the range of nine or 10 wins in 2017.

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

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4th 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 third place in the division last season.

The Broncos are learning that it’s not easy to replace a Hall of Fame quarterback like Peyton Manning. When the Broncos drafted QB Paxton Lynch in the first round of last year’s draft, they probably expected him to have taken over the starting job by now, but he wasn’t impressive in the three games he played last year, including two starts, and there was a quarterback competition in the preseason, with 2015 seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian winning it to be named the team’s starter for Week 1. The team has a new coaching staff, with Vance Joseph taking over head-coaching duties from Gary Kubiak, Mike McCoy replacing Rick Dennison as offensive coordinator, and new defensive coordinator Joe Woods taking over for Wade Phillips. While the coaches are different, the majority of the players are the same without any major changes to the offense this offseason other than the signing of veteran RB Jamaal Charles, who has been limited to playing in a total of eight games over the last two seasons due to knee injuries.

Siemian made 14 starts last season, completing just 59.5% of his passes for 3,401 yards and 18 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions. Lynch, by comparison, completed 59% of his throws for 497 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 1 interception. WR Demaryius Thomas caught 90 of their passes fr 1,083 yards and 5 touchdowns, and WR Emmanuel Sanders had 79 receptions for 1,032 yards and 5 touchdowns. There was a big drop-off after them, with RB Devontae Booker claiming the team’s third-best receiving numbers, with 31 catches for 265 yards and 1 touchdown. TE Virgil Green 22 catches for 237 yards and 1 touchdown in 12 games. Booker led the running game with 174 rushes for 612 yards and 4 touchdowns. That was partially because RB C.J. Anderson missed time with injury, playing in only seven games. When he was on the field, Anderson had 110 carries for 437 yards and 4 touchdowns. Overall, the offense was ranked 22nd in the NFL in points scored, but the defense did better in giving up the fourth-fewest points in the league.

Siemian will get the first chance at starting games over center, but neither he nor Lynch showed many promising signs last season so Lynch could get a chance to take over the job if Siemian doesn’t impress and the team gets off to a slow start in terms of wins and losses. The team could also use better production in the receiving game from guys other than Thomas and Sanders. When healthy, Anderson is the team’s No. 1 running back and Booker is dealing with injury issues that could cause him to miss the first couple weeks of the regular season. Charles is someone to look out for to take over the No. 2 role behind Anderson. He has played well in the preseason and with Booker not expected to be ready for the regular season, Charles could overtake him on the depth chart with good performances in the first couple weeks of the season. Before his injuries the last two seasons, Charles had three straight seasons in which he rushed for more than 1,000 yards — including a 1,500-yard season in 2012. If the defense continues to shine as it did last year, the team will be able to stay in games, but the offense needs to do better to improve upon the Broncos’ 9-7 record from last season, which caused them to miss the playoffs just a season after winning Super Bowl 50.

They’ll begin their season in the last game of Week 1, hosting the Chargers in the second game of the Monday night doubleheader. They stay at home in Week 2, with the Cowboys in Denver. The schedule then puts the Broncos on the road for Week 3 when they take on the Bills. Week 4 is a tough battle with the Raiders at home. The Broncos’ bye week follows in Week 5, then they return to action with a Sunday night game against the Giants at home. They have three straight road games after that, starting with the Chargers in Week 7, then a Monday night game at the defending division champion Chiefs in Week 8 and a visit to Philadelphia in Week 9 to do battle with the Eagles. Week 10 gives us a battle of the last two Super Bowl winners when the Broncos host the Super Bowl LI champion Patriots in the Sunday nighter. The Broncos visit the Raiders in Week 12, then head to Miami to play the Dolphins in Week 13. After a home game with the Jets, the Broncos visit the Colts in Week 15’s Thursday night contest, followed by a Week 16 visit to the Redskins. The Broncos finish their regular season at home against the Chiefs. The Broncos won nine games last year and I think they’ll be around that number again this season, likely missing the playoffs again.

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

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