Tag Archives: Super Bowl LI

My NFL Picks Week 7: Super Bowl rematch, Packers start life without Aaron Rodgers

In Week 5, a couple NFL superstars suffered season-ending injuries, with Texans DE J.J. Watt and Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. out for the season. In Week 6, it was one of the league’s best quarterbacks that probably suffered that same fate when Packers QB Aaron Rodgers left the game against the Vikings with a collarbone injury that will likely cause him to miss the rest of the season. The Packers are at home this week for their first post-Rodgers game, taking on the Saints in what is expected to be a shootout. The game of the week is the Sunday nighter, featuring a Super Bowl LI rematch when the Falcons visit the Patriots. I went 6-8 last week, giving me an overall record of 50-41 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

Byes: Lions, Texans

Thursday Night Football

Chiefs at Raiders (+2.5) – Coming off their first loss of the season, the Chiefs look to get back to their winning ways on a short week when they visit the Raiders, who are a disappointing 2-4 on the season. Raiders QB Derek Carr returned from his injury last week, but that didn’t help the offense like people thought it might. Facing the Chiefs defense won’t help the Raiders put points on the board. Give me the Chiefs.

Sunday 1PM games

Buccaneers at Bills (-2.5) – The Buccaneers may be heading to Buffalo with veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starter with QB Jameis Winston day-to-day with a shoulder injury. The Bills are coming off their bye, giving them plenty of rest for this game at home. I’ll take the Bills.

Panthers at Bears (+3.5) – The Bears needed overtime to beat the Ravens on Sunday, and they now face a more potent offense in the Panthers. QB Mitch Trubisky has helped improve the Bears offense since being named the starter, but I don’t think the Bears have enough weapons to compete with QB Cam Newton and the Panthers. I’ll give the points.

Titans at Browns (+5.5) – The Browns are still winless on the season, and I think that will continue after this game. QB Marcus Mariota came back in Week 6 after missing the previous game and played well despite his hamstring injury limiting his production on the ground. I fully expect the Titans to win the game, it’s just a question of whether they cover the spread. The Browns offense is so bad I think they will. Give me the Titans.

Saints at Packers (+5.5) – This was expected to be a matchup of two of the game’s best veteran quarterbacks with Drew Brees leading the Saints and Aaron Rodgers the Packers. With Rodgers sidelined with his injured collarbone, though, it’ll be QB Brett Hundley leading the Packers against an offense that put up 52 points last week. While they probably won’t score that much again, I don’t think Hundley will be able to keep up with the Saints offensively. Saints win and cover.

Jaguars at Colts (+2.5) – The Colts don’t have many weapons on offense, and Jaguars QB Blake Bortles isn’t very good. The Jags do have the best offensive player in the game with RB Leonard Fournette and a much better defense, so I give them the edge in this one. I’ll give the points.

Cardinals at Rams (-3.5) – RB Adrian Peterson played better in his first game with the Cardinals last week than he did all season with the Saints before being traded to Arizona. It seemed to invigorate a Cardinals offense that had been struggling of late  with QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald putting up good numbers. I expect this to be a close game that I expect the Rams to win, but I think the Cardinals to keep it close enough that I’ll take the points.

Jets at Dolphins (-2.5) – The Jets only scored 17 against a bad Patriots defense last week while the Dolphins overcame a deficit to beat the defending NFC champion Falcons. Neither Jets QB Josh McCown nor Dolphins QB Jay Cutler — both former Bears — is great at this point in their careers, so I’ll go with the team with the best running back, which would be Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi, who I think will lead his team to the win. Dolphins cover.

Ravens at Vikings (-5.5) – The Ravens’ offensive struggles continued last week, losing to the Bears. The Vikings, on the other hand, has continued to perform decently with QB Case Keenum filling in for injured QB Sam Bradford. I expect the Vikings to win the game, helped in part by RB Jerick McKInnon, but I don’t think they cover so I’ll take the Ravens with the points.

Sunday 4PM games

Cowboys at 49ers (+6.5) There was some uncertainty early in the week over whether Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott would be able to play this week or if he’d begin serving his six-game suspension. He will play, which helps the Cowboys offense coming off the bye. They’ll win the game, and I think they cover the spread.

Bengals at Steelers (-5.5) The Steelers are coming off an impressive win against the Chiefs that came a week after QB Ben Roethlisberger had a five-interception game. RB Le’Veon Bell had his best game of the season for Pittsburgh last week, and I think the offensive momentum continues on Sunday at home against the division-rival Bengals. Give me the Steelers.

Broncos at Chargers (-1.5) – The Chargers are looking to rebound from a surprising loss to the Giants on Sunday night in which they only scored 10 points. I expect the offense to play better this week, but the Broncos will still rely on the defense to keep them in the game this week. I think the defense will be able to do that against the Chargers, I’ll give the minimum points.

Seahawks at Giants (-5.5) – The Giants are looking to start a winning streak after picking up their first win of the season on Sunday night. It’ll be tough to do against a strong Seahawks defense and with the Giants offense still not at full strength. WR Sterling Shepard may be back this week, but QB Eli Manning still doesn’t have many other weapons in the passing game to throw to. The Seahawks should win the game, and I think it’ll be close as to whether they cover. I think they’ll barely cover, so I’ll take Seattle.

Sunday Night Football

Falcons at Patriots (-3.5) – The Falcons seek revenge against the Patriots, who overcame a 25-point deficit to beat them in Super Bowl LI in February. This year’s Falcons team isn’t the same team that came within minutes of winning the Super Bowl, as the offense has struggled this season. The good news for them is the Patriots defense isn’t as good as what last season. That’ll give QB Matt Ryan a chance to shine, but I don’t think he’ll be able to outplay Patriots QB Tom Brady, which he’ll likely have to do if he wants to lead his team to victory. I’ll give the points.

Monday Night Football

Redskins at Eagles (-4.5) – The Eagles may be the best team in the NFC with Rodgers likely out for the year in Green Bay. QB Carson Wentz has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league this season. It’s never easy to beat a division rival, but it’s a home game for the Eagles, and I think they’ll be able to continue the success they’ve had this season. I think they’ll win to improve to 6-1 on the year, and I’ll give the points again.

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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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Previewing NFL Kickoff 2017: Chiefs at Patriots

It’s been seven months since the Patriots beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, the first time the game went to overtime. With the championship, the Patriots earn the honor of hosting the first game of the NFL regular season, with the Thursday night Kickoff game before the rest of the teams play on opening weekend. With the Falcons on New England’s home schedule this season, there was a possibility of starting the season with a Super Bowl rematch for the second straight year, but the league chose to save that game for later in the season. Instead, the Chiefs will face the Patriots as they open the season at Gillette Stadium.

Both teams will be without a key member of the offense. For the visitors, RB Spencer Ware suffered a season-ending knee injury in the team’s third preseason game. That was the same week that Patriots WR Julian Edelman tore his ACL, ending his season before it could begin. Rookie RB Kareem Hunt is expected to get the bulk of the work at running back for the Chiefs, while a number of players could see more action on the field for New England to fill in for Edelman, with WR Chris Hogan among the likely possibilities.

QB Alex Smith isn’t the flashiest quarterback in the league, but he is a game manager who doesn’t turn the ball over, averaging fewer than 10 interceptions per season in his career. TE Travis Kelce had more than 1,100 receiving yards last season on 85 yards, but there wasn’t another pass-catcher who surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. WR Tyreek Hill was the closest, with 593 yards. He needs to step up his game this season, and a primetime showcase against the Patriots is a fine time to show that he is able to take the next step in his career in 2017. Having the rookie Hunt as the likely bellcow in the backfield could pose problems for the Chiefs. He’ll have to face a strong Patriots defense in his first career game. Even before Ware’s injury, people thought Hunt would play a role in the offense — but not necessarily in Week 1. It’ll be a tough challenge for him to have a good showing in his debut performance. RBs Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller could also see some time on the field.

The Patriots, of course, have one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL in Tom Brady. While losing Edelman takes away Brady’s top pass-catching option, he still has plenty of other players who he can throw to, led by TE Rob Gronkowski, whose biggest weakness is being able to stay healthy on the field. That won’t be a problem in Week 1, though, barring an in-game injury. Expect a monster game from Gronk. The running game is a bit of a mess for New England, with Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis and James White all expected to be a part of it. I think Burkhead will have the best stats of the group by the end of the season, but there’s no telling what could happen with the running backs in Week 1.

Both defenses finished in the top 10 of points allowed last season, with the Patriots No. 1 in the category and Kansas City ranking seventh. The Chiefs were in the bottom 10, however, in yards allowed while the Patriots were eighth in the league. The Patriots are clearly the better team on both sides of ball. Both teams have question marks in the run game, but I think the Patriots’ group of veterans can outperform the Chiefs’ rookie. Andy Reid is a good coach but not as good as Bill Belichick. All signs point to the Patriots being the better team in this game.

The over/under is 42.5; I’ll take the over on that number.  The Patriots are 8.5-point favorites, according to ESPN’s Pigskin PIck’em. While I like the Patriots to win, I’ll take the Chiefs to keep it within the spread.

Stay tuned later in the week for my season and playoff predictions, along with the rest of my Week 1 picks.

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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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4th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: New York Jets

The New York Jets, who finished last in their division last season, are up next in our previews of all 32 NFL teams as we conclude our look at the AFC East teams

The Jets went 5-11 last season, and they’re almost certain to finish worse than that this season. They are currently in a rebuilding mode — with some people accusing them of tanking in an attempt to end up with the No. 1 draft pick in 2018 — and that’s easy to see by taking a look at their roster. They terminated the contracts of C Nick Mangold and WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Then they got unlucky when their expected No. 1 WR Quincy Enunwa suffered a neck injury earlier this month that is likely a season-ending injury. That leaves inexperienced WRs Robby Anderson and Jalin Marshall at the top of the depth chart, and Marshall is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. The team has yet to name a starting quarterback — that announcement is expected after this weekend’s third preseason game — and QBs Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg are competing for that title.

Petty played in six games last year, including four starts, and completed less than 57% of his passes for 809 yards and 3 touchdowns, with 7 interceptions. McCown played in five games — three starts — with the Browns, going 90-for-165 for 1,100 yards and 6 touchdowns, with 6 interceptions. Anderson had 42 catches for 587 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Marshall had 14 catches for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns. RB Bilal Powell was a big part of the passing game, catching 58 balls for 388 yards and 2 touchdowns in addition to his 722 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on 131 attempts. RB Matt Forte had 218 rushes for 813 yards and 7 touchdowns in 14 games; he also had 30 receptions. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins only played in seven games and caught 10 passes for 110 yards, without a score. The offense scored the third-fewest points in the NFL last season, and the defense wasn’t much better in allowing opponents to score the fifth-most points in the league.

This Jets offense is going to be bad, starting with a messy quarterback situation. McCown is a veteran journeyman who has played in more than 10 games just twice since entering the league in 2002. Petty didn’t show many promising signs in his rookie season last year, and Hackenberg has yet to take a snap in a regular-season NFL game. As mentioned, one of the Jets’ starting wide receivers will miss four games with a suspension, and Seferian-Jenkins will be suspended for the first two games of the season. The running game is probably the best part of the offense, but Forte is getting up there in age and has a history of getting injured. Overall, the Jets will likely have one of the worst offenses in the league this year, if not the worst.

The Jets’ schedule begins with two home games, at the Bills in Week 1 and at the Raiders in Week 2. The home opener comes in Week 3, when the Dolphins come to town. The Jaguars follow in Week 4, then the Jets head to Cleveland to take on the Browns in Week 5. The Jets play the two Super Bowl LI teams in a three-week span; they host the Patriots in Week 6 and the Falcons in Week 8. The Bills visit MetLife Stadium on Thursday night in Week 9, then the Jets travel to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers in Week 10. The bye comes in Week 11, followed by a Week 12 home game with the Panthers. The Jets visit the Broncos and Saints in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively, and end the season on the road at the Patriots in Week 17. I don’t see how the Jets win more than about three games, possibly four if they can sneak an extra win against a mediocre team like the Chargers in Week 16.

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

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4th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: New England Patriots (Updated)

The New England Patriots are up next on our previews of all 32 NFL teams, continuing to make our way through the AFC East which the Patriots won last season en route to winning Super Bowl LI.

Despite QB Tom Brady being suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, the Patriots ended up winning the division and eventually pulled off an epic comeback to beat the Falcons to win the first Super Bowl to go to overtime. Despite winning yet another championship, the Patriots weren’t content to stick with the roster they had last year. In the offseason, they acquired WR Brandin Cooks and TE Dwayne Allen in trades with the Saints and Colts, respectively. They also made a trade with the Panthers to get DL Kony Ealy. Other additions they’ve made since the season ended include the signings of CB Stephon Gilmore and RBs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee. They added to both the offense and defense, and both units were already near the top of the league last season. Their main losses on the offense were RB LeGarrette Blount and TE Martellus Bennett

In the 12 games he played last season, Brady completed 67.4% of his passes for 3,554 yards and 28 touchdowns with just 2 interceptions for an impressive 14:1 TD:INT ratio. WR Julian Edelman had 98 receptions in 13 games for 1,106 yards and 3 touchdowns. With New Orleans, Cooks had 78 receptions for 1,173 yards and 8 touchdowns.  TE Rob Gronkowski was limited to eight games due to injuries. He had 25 catches for 540 yards and 3 touchdowns in the games he played. With the Colts, Allen had 35 receptions for 406 yards and 6 touchdowns in 14 games. Blount was the team’s leading rusher and no other running back had more than 64 carries, but RB James White was a significant part of the passing game, catching 60 balls for 551 yards and 5 touchdowns. The offense scored the third-most points in the league and the defense allowed the fewest points.

If Gronk can stay healthy this year, he will obviously be a much bigger part of the offense and Edelman should have his usual season of being in the range of 100 receptions. Cooks provides an upgrade at receiver over WR Chris Hogan, but he likely won’t get quite the numbers he had in New Orleans last season because he was the main focus of the receiving game for the Saints and the Patriots have more players to whom Brady can pass the ball. Allen should be a good No. 2 at the tight end position and could be a viable No. 1 if Gronk misses significant time again this year. Allen does have a history of injuries himself and hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his rookie year in 2012. White and RB Dion Lewis, who missed nine games last season due to injury, will likely split the bulk of the time at running back, with White getting more reps on passing downs so Lewis will likely have to step up with Blount gone. Burkhead and Gillislee will likely provide depth at the position.

The Patriots’ schedule begins with the traditional Thursday night game prior to the first Sunday of the season, giving the Super Bowl winners a season-opening showcase. This year, the Patriots host the Chiefs in that first game. They visit the Saints in Week 2, and the Texans come to town in Week 3 for a rematch of the AFC Divisional playoff game from January. The Panthers are up next for another home game in Week 4, then the Patriots visit the Buccaneers for a Thursday night contest in Week 5. The first divisional game comes in Week 6 at the Jets, followed by the anticipated Super Bowl LI rematch between the Patriots and Falcons in Week 7. That’s a Sunday night game in Atlanta. The Patriots get their bye in Week 9, then they head to Denver to take on the Broncos in Week 10’s Sunday nighter. The Patriots head south of the border in Week 11 when they take on the Raiders in Mexico City, then return to Foxboro to host the Dolphins in Week 12. The Patriots then have three straight road games, at the Bills in Week 13, a Monday night game at the Dolphins in Week 14 and an AFC Championship rematch at the Steelers in Week 15. The Patriots end the regular season with two home games, against the Bills in Week 16 and the Jets in Week 17. I think the Patriots can win 12 or 13 games this season and should easily win the AFC East for the ninth straight season. The real question for the Patriots is can they become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since they did it in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX?

Update (8/26): In the Patriots’ third preseason game Friday night, Edelman suffered a torn ACL that will cause him to miss the entire 2017 season. That is a blow to the team’s offense and will require the likes of Hogan and WRs Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola to step up their games as they advance up the receivers depth chart. Hogan had the best stats of that trio last year, with 38 catches for 680 yards and 4 touchdowns. None of those three is likely to match the production the Patriots would have gotten out of Edelman, but they can combine to make up some of the numbers the team is losing. Even with Edelman out for the year, I don’t think that changes the fact that the Patriots are the best team in the division and should still win it. The team also released Ealy, so the Patriots traded for him but he didn’t play in a single regular season game for them.

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

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