Tag Archives: NFC East

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: Washington Redskins

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

The Redskins’ offseason could be described as tumultuous. They were unable to sign QB Kirk Cousins to a long-term contract, instead inking him to a one-year franchise tag for the second straight year. They also parted ways with GM Scot McCloughan, citing his issues with alcohol for the firing. Coming off a 8-7-1 season, their receiving core was depleted in the offseason when WRs Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson signed with the 49ers and Buccaneers, respectively. To counteract those losses, they signed WR Terrelle Pryor, who had a breakout season with the Browns last year. They also signed WR Brian Quick to add some depth at the position. Defensively, they selected DE Jonathan Allen with their first-round draft pick. Oft-injured TE Jordan Reed, who played in 12 games last year, was recently removed from the PUP list and should be ready to go for Week 1.

Cousins completed 67% of his passes last season, throwing for 4,917 yards and 25 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions. Of players returning to the team this season, the team’s leading receiver was WR Jamison Crowder, who had 67 receptions for 847 yards and 7 touchdowns. In his 12 games, Reed hauled in 66 catches for 686 yards and 6 touchdowns. Backup TE Vernon Davis added 44 catches for 583 yards and 2 touchdowns. With the Browns, Pryor had 77  receptions for 1,007 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first full season as a receiver after converting from a being a quarterback. The Redskins’ rushing leader was RB Robert Kelley, who carried the ball 168 times for 704 yards and 6 touchdowns in 15 games. Although RB Chris Thompson only carried the ball 68 times for 356 yards and 3 touchdowns, he had 49 receptions for 349 yards and 2 touchdowns. The offense scored the 12th-most points in the league last season, and the defense was middle-of-the-pack in points allowed.

It’ll be hard for Cousins to duplicate the nearly-5,000 yards he threw for last season, but he should be in the range of 4,500 yards 25 touchdowns this season if the past couple years are any indication, although losing Jackson and Garcon will hurt. Pryor will help if he can continue the success he had in 2016, and if Reed can play a full season — he’s never been on the field for more than 14 games — it would be a big boost for the offense because, when healthy, he is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. Kelley became the starter during the course of the season last year, starting just hine games, so he could be on track for a 1,000-yard season if he remains the No. 1 back for the full season.

In Week 1, the Redskins host the Eagles before the schedule takes them to Los Angeles in Week 2 to take on the Rams. The Redskins host the Raiders on Sunday night in Week 3, then visit the Chiefs in Week 4. Their bye comes in Week 5, which is followed by a home game with the 49ers. In Week 7, they get an extra day to prepare for their Monday night game at the Eagles, then return home for the first of two against the Cowboys. The Redskins head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in Week 9, then host the Vikings in Week 10. Another road game — at the Saints — follows in Week 11. The Redskins host the Giants on Thanksgiving night in Week 12, and they have another Thursday night game the following week, at the Cowboys. They’re at home in Weeks 15 and 16, taking on the Cardinals and Broncos, respectively, before heading to New Jersey to take on the Giants in Week 17, which could be a key game with playoff implications. I think the Redskins will win nine or 10 games, slightly better than last season and it should put them right on the edge of making the playoffs.

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

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4th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Philadelphia Eagles

The next team up in our NFC East previews, part of our previews of all 32 NFL teams, is the Philadelphia Eagles, who finished in last place in the division last season.

The Eagles are coming off of consecutive 7-9 seasons and looking to get back in the thick of the race in the NFC East. This offseason they signed WR Alshon Jeffery and RB LeGarrette Blount to one-year contracts to try to give the offense a boost. More recently, they traded WR Jordan Matthews to the Bills in exchange for CB Ronald Darby, who should slot into the starting lineup. Just days ago, they released RB Ryan Mathews after he had a couple of disappointing seasons on the team.

In his rookie season, QB Carson Wentz threw for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions. His best receiver was TE Zach Ertz, who totaled 78 receptions for 816 yards and 4 touchdowns in 14 games. RB Darren Sproles, whose specialty is catching passes out of the backfield, had 52 catches for 427 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also ran for 438 yards and 2 touchdowns on 94 carries. With the Patriots last season, Blount had 299 carries for 1,161 yards and a NFL-best 18 touchdowns. With the Bears, Jeffery had 52 receptions for 821 yards and 2 touchdowns in 12 games. Overall, the Eagles’ offense ranked right in the middle of the league in points scored and the defense allowed the 12th-fewest points in the league.

Wentz had a good yardage total last year but he needs to increase his touchdown output to keep the team in more games. That may be tough to do with Matthews gone. Jeffery needs to stay healthy, which he hasn’t done since 2014, because he is now the team’s No. 1 receiver other than maybe Ertz. Third-year WR Nelson Agholor needs to step up his game as he has not yet gained more than 365 receiving yards in a season. In the ground game, regression should be expected for Blount when it comes to scoring. Prior to the 18 he scored last season, he never scored more than 7 rushing touchdowns in a season. He will likely be closer to the 10-12 range, at best, than the 18 he had last year. I’m not convinced the Eagles are going to have a great offense this year. I expect it to be worse than it was a year ago.

The Eagles open their schedule with back-to-back road games, at the Redskins in Week 1 and at the Chiefs in Week 2. They host the Giants in their home opener in Week 3, then hit the road again for a game against the Chargers. The Eagles host the Cardinals in Week 5 and visit the Panthers on Thursday night in Week 6. Three straight home games follow, beginning with a Monday night battle with the Redskins in Week 7. After that, the 49ers and Broncos come to Philadelphia in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively. Following a Week 10 bye, the Eagles visit the Cowboys on Sunday night in Week 11. The Eagles have another Sunday night game scheduled in Week 13, at the Seahawks, followed by road games with the Rams and Giants. The Eagles host the Raiders on Christmas night, and they close out the regular season with a home game against the Cowboys. I think the Eagles will likely win five or six games, a game or two worse than 2016.

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

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4th 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 second place in the division last season.

Coming off an 11-5 season in Ben McAdoo’s first year as head coach, the Giants are hoping to be able to replicate that success this year. The team’s big free-agent signing was WR Brandon Marshall, a veteran who has performed well throughout his career. He joins a receiving core that is led by WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. The team drafted TE Evan Engram in the first round, providing another offensive weapon for QB Eli Manning. The significant losses for the offense we oft-injured WR Victor Cruz and RB Rashad Jennings.

Manning threw for 4,0272 yards and 26 touchdowns, with 16 interceptions. Beckham was his top receiver, with 101 receptions for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns. Shepard added 65 catches for 683 yards and 8 touchdowns. TE Will Tye caught 48 balls for 395 yards and 1 touchdown. With the Jets, Marshall had 59 receptions for 788 yards and 3 touchdowns in 15 games. The running game wasn’t as successful as the passing attack, with the leading rusher being Jennings. Next best was RB Paul Perkins, who had 112 carries for 456 yards and 14 games. The offense scored the seventh-fewest points in the NFL last season, but the defense was much better by giving up the second-fewest points in the league.

The offense should be improved this season with the addition of Marshall, who had a down year last season, but that could be attributed — at least in part — to the quarterbacks that he had throwing him the ball.Manning should be an improvement over those guys. But at 33 years old, Marshall is on the backend of his career and may not be able to put up seasons with 1,000-plus yards anymore. Beckham is one of the top receivers in the game, but an ankle injury that he suffered in the Giants’ second preseason game could cause him to miss the team’s season opener. The Giants don’t have a star in the running game, and they are counting on getting a breakout season from one of their backs — Perkins, Shane Vereen or Orleans Darkwa.

The Giants begin their season at the Cowboys in the Sunday night game in Week 1. The schedule then gives them a Monday night game in Week 2 at home against the Lions. They visit the Eagles in Week 3, then head to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers in Week 4. The Giants head back home to take on the Chargers in Week 5, then go to Denver for a Sunday night meeting with the Broncos in Week 6. They take on the Seahawks at home in Week 7 before getting their bye in Week 8. After the week off, they host the Rams in Week 9 and visit the 49ers in Week 10. The Giants host the Chiefs in Week 11, then visit the Redskins in Week 12 for the Thanksgiving night game. They head to Oakland to take on the Raiders in Week 13 and host the Cowboys in Week 14. They get another home game in Week 15, against the Redskins, before playing at the Cardinals in Week 16 and hosting the Redskins to end the regular season in Week 17. I think the Giants will be right around what they did last year and will likely win 10 or 11 games this season to compete for a Wild Card spot in the NFC.

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

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4th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Dallas Cowboys

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

The big news for the Cowboys entering the 2017 season is the suspension of RB Ezekiel Elliott, who is appealing a six-game domestic violence suspension. If it is not reduced, he will be not be eligible to play until Week 8 because the team’s bye falls during the first six weeks of the season. He had a big rookie season last year and is expected to follow-up with more good numbers this year, but he’ll have to wait a while to take the field. In his absence, RBs Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris are expected to handle the bulk of the rushing workload, with McFadden likely serving as the lead back during Elliott’s suspension. QB Dak Prescott will probably be forced to throw the ball more with the lesser running backs on the field. He also is looking to avoid a sophomore slump after a successful rookie season during which he helped lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, their best mark since 2007.

Prescott, who was named the starter last year after now-retired QB Tony Romo suffered an injury in training camp, completed 67.8% of his passes, throwing for 3,667 yards and 23 touchdowns, with just 4 interceptions. WR Cole Beasley was the team’s leading receiver, grabbing 75 receptions for 833 yards and 5 touchdowns. WR Dez Bryant played in 13 games, catching 50 balls for 796 yards and 8 touchdowns. Veteran TE Jason Witten had 69 receptions for 673 yards and 3 touchdowns. Elliott racked up 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns on 322 rushes, adding 32 receptions and 1 receiving touchdown in 15 games. Morris played in 14 games, no starts, and carried the ball 69 times for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns. McFadden took the field in just three games, running for 87 yards on 24 carries. Behind Prescott and Elliott, the Cowboys scored the fifth-most points in the NFL last season and the defense was also fifth in points allowed.

Prescott had a good rookie season so if he can improve upon that, that will be helpful for a team that is slated to play its first six games without its starting running back. He has some good targets to throw to with Bryant and Witten, although Witten is on the downside of his career in his 15th year in the league. McFadden, who has been injury-prone in his career, and Morris probably can’t come close to matching the production Elliott put up last year, which will put the Cowboys behind the eight-ball to begin the season. The defense will have to repeat the performance they had last year to prevent the offense from having to get involved in high-scoring games when Elliott is out.

As has often been the case in recent years, the Cowboys upon the season against the Giants in Week 1, this time it’s at home on Sunday night. Up next on the schedule is back-to-back road games. The Cowboys travel to Denver to take on the Broncos in Week 2, then they have a Monday night contest at the Cardinals in Week 3. The Cowboys host the Packers in Week 5, then get a Week 6 bye that leads into a Week 7 road game against the 49ers. The Cowboys then fly across the country to take on the Redskins in another road tilt in Week 8, which is when Elliott is first eligible to play if the six-game suspension is upheld on appeal. After that, the Cowboys host the Chiefs in Week 9 and visit the Falcons in Week 10. Week 11 features another Cowboys primetime game, this one on Sunday night against the Eagles. The Cowboys host their traditional Thanksgiving game in Week 12, with the Chargers in town for the second game of the holiday tripleheader. Another Thursday game follows in Week 13, with the Redskins at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys hit the road for Weeks 14 and 15, taking on the Giants and Raiders, respectively, with the latter being a Sunday nighter. The Cowboys’ final home game of the regular season is in Week 16, with the Seahawks visiting before a season-ending battle with the Eagles in Philadelphia in Week 17. Even with Elliott missing time, I think the Cowboys should win 11-12 games, a bit of a step back from last season but probably still good enough for a second straight division title.

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

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