2017 NFL Mock Draft

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This year, I’ve decided I have to jump on the NFL Mock Draft train. I can never recall a year in which every Mock Draft is almost completely different, showing how talented this draft class is and how no one really knows what’s going to happen on draft day.

Take a look at my predictions (without trades, which I believe there will be 2-3 of in the first round):

1. Cleveland Browns

Myles Garrett, DE

This is the only no-brainer in this draft class. Garrett has unparalleled athleticism and can be considered more of a lock than DE Jadeveon Clowney was when he came into the league. By pairing Garrett on the D-Line with DT Danny Shelton, LB Jamie Collins at the next level, and CB Joe Haden in the secondary, the Browns would have the makings of a strong defensive unit.

 

2. San Francisco 49ers

Mitchell Trubisky, QB

There is only one quarterback in this draft that I deem worthy of a first round selection, and that is not Trubisky. However, new coach Kyle Shanahan will want to draft a signal caller he can develop and mold into the player he wants. Trubisky has very limited experience at the NCAA level, and would most likely sit for half the season behind veteran QB Brian Hoyer. And yes, I am assuming that QB Kirk Cousins stays in Washington.

 

3. Chicago Bears

Solomon Thomas, DE

Thomas is one of those players that I didn’t hear about too much during the season, but once the workouts and projections began, he flew up draft boards. Now, he’s a projected Top-5 pick. Bears’ coach John Fox loves to build a strong defense, and there is no better way than to start in the trenches.

 

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Leonard Fournette, RB

Yes, the Jaguars will make a splash and take the first running back off the board at the NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Louisiana StateNo. 4 spot. Jacksonville hasn’t had a consistent rushing attack since Fred Taylor donned the uniform, and QB Blake Bortles is just a year removed from a Pro Bowl caliber season. By adding Fournette, the Jaguars gain an immediate starter and power running game that will set Bortles up to succeed in the passing game. While Fournette is not the best option through the air, he is still the best running back in this class.

 

5. Tennessee Titans

Malik Hooker, S

Hooker is one of the top defensive back prospects in the draft. Coming from Ohio State, Hooker has the experience and playmaking ability NFL teams need in the secondary. The Titans boasted one of the league’s worse defensive backfields last season, and recently just cut CB Jason McCourty. The team needs reinforcements in the worst way.

 

6. New York Jets

DeShaun Watson, QB

At the No. 6 spot, the Jets could end up walking away with the draft’s best quarterback. Watson has the most experience and playmaking ability of any of this year’s signal callers, and would be a Day One starter for NY. Pairing Watson with WR Eric Decker could make for some highlights in what should be yet another tough season for the Jets.

 

7. Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams, WR

QB Philip Rivers time is running short with the team, and he needs weapons on offense. Last year after WR Keenan Allen went down, Rivers was left with an aging TE Antonio Gates in an otherwise stagnant offense. Williams would provide the big target that Rivers has never had on the outside, and would open up the passing game with three legitimate threats down the field.

 

8. Carolina Panthers

Jonathan Allen, DL

If there’s one team that values the defensive line heavily, its the Carolina Panthers. At the No. 8 spot, the team can pick Allen, who was once projected to be one of the top two picks in the draft. Allen can immediately start at either a defensive tackle or defensive end, depending on where the team views him as the best fit.

 

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Reuben Foster, LB

Foster is the best linebacker in the draft, and the Bengals love to add dominant linebackers. Plus, the team recently released LB Rey Maulaluga, a mainstay in the middle of the defense. By adding Foster, the team would pair him with LB Vontaze Burfict, to give them a solid duo in the middle of the field for the next few seasons.

 

10. Buffalo Bills

Cam Robinson, T

If there were a team that I believe would trade down in this draft, it would be the Buffalo Bills. This team has a lot of holes, and by adding some picks later in the draft, they can fill them with young players. However, if they were to stay at 10, Robinson is a great choice to plug in as a Day One starter on the offensive line, to help protect QB Tyrod Taylor.

 

11. New Orleans Saints

Corey Davis, WR

I believe Davis is the best all-around wide receiver in this draft. Despite playing at a smaller school, Davis’s all around package of size, speed, and playmaking ability makes him an ideal fit for the NFL. QB Drew Brees only has a few years left in the league, so bringing in Davis gives them an immediate weapon while also providing a target for the QB of the future.

 

12. Cleveland Browns

O.J. Howard, TE

Assuming that the Browns don’t trade this pick, they will need to provide their signal caller some weapons in the passing game. My predictions have the Browns missing out on their QB of the future in the first round, but adding a young stud like Howard provides pieces for down the road. Howard is the unquestioned top tight end of this draft, and can be a Day One starter in the NFL. His size and athletic ability give Howard the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals

Derek Barnett, DE

The Cardinals defense has been a nasty, tough unit over the past few seasons. The team has relied on its defensive front getting pressure on the quarterback and stuffing the running game to gain the advantage on defense. Barnett fits right into the nasty, tough mold, and gives the Cardinals a much needed edge rush presence.

 

14. Philadelphia Eagles

Gareon Conley, CB

The Eagles biggest need is cornerbacks, so it should be no surprise that the team will 74715_hjump on the chance to select one with its first round pick. Conley has shown that he has everything necessary to be a solid starter in the NFL, and would be immediately thrown into the fire with this Philadelphia team.

 

15. Indianapolis Colts

Ryan Ramczyk, T

The Colts have struggled protecting QB Andrew Luck. In the past few seasons, Luck has been forced to miss time with injury. By adding Ramczyk to the O-Line, the team has the tackle positions covered, which should create some depth for the interior of the line.

 

16. Baltimore Ravens

Tre’Davious White, CB

The Ravens are lacking in the secondary. Outside of S Eric Weddle and CB Jimmy Smith, the Dirty Birds are rather pedestrian in the defensive backfield. White would immediately become a starter on the opposite side of Smith, and would form a formidable core for the future.

 

17. Washington Redskins

John Ross, WR

After losing both WRs DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to free agency, the Redskins brought in WR Terrelle Pryor as a replacement. However, with just one year of receiving experience under his belt, and with WR Josh Doctson basically redshirting his rookie season, QB Kirk Cousins will need some targets. Adding Ross gives the Redskins a deep threat and dangerous slot option as that group of receivers could grow together over the next few seasons.

 

18. Tennessee Titans

Marshon Lattimore, S

This is my big drop prediction for the draft. Teams have concerns about Lattimore’s ability to stay healthy, but no one doubts his potential to become a solid defensive back. In this draft, with so many players that seem to be safe picks, you want to nail your first rounder. It’s all about finding a team willing to take a bet on Lattimore. After all the problems the Titans have had in the secondary, I’m sure they would be thrilled to get Lattimore near the bottom of the first round.

 

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dalvin Cook, RB

florida-state-dalvin-cook-1000Cook is a no-brainer to the Bucs. To me, it’s amazing that he would fall this far, but this is what many are projecting to happen on Draft Day, and I don’t see it being out of the realm of possibility. Of course, the team already has concerns at the position with RB Doug Martin facing a PED suspension, and Cook would give the team an all-around back with fresh legs in the league. Plus, Cook could reunite with QB Jameis Winston to keep the Florida State connection going.

 

20. Denver Broncos

Forrest Lamp, G

Lamp is coming from a smaller school in Western Kentucky, but has shown scouts what they need to believe he is one of the best interior lineman of this class. The Broncos need to bulk up on the line to protect whoever they have start at QB.

 

21. Detroit Lions

Haason Reddick, LB

The Lions have a hole at LB that has been there since Stephen Tulloch left and grew now that the team released DeAndre Levy this off season. Reddick can step in to start in the middle of the defense, and is athletic enough to make plays all over the field. This is a good fit for both sides.

 

22. Miami Dolphins

David Njoku, TE

The Dolphins are in need of a tight end to be QB Ryan Tannehill’s safety blanket. This would help the Fins’ offense, creating room for WR Jarvis Landry on the outside while opening up space for the running game.

 

23. New York Giants

Garett Bolles, T

The Giants need to add an offensive lineman, and I have Bolles as the best available left in the first round. It will be interesting to see where the G-Men would slot Bolles and T Ereck Flowers, but Bolles gives them a strong option along the line.

 

24. Oakland Raiders

Kevin King, CB

The Raiders’ defense is almost complete, and adding to the secondary is the best way to get there. King would be able to step in and start on the outside or at the nickelback position.

 

25. Houston Texans

Taco Charlton, DE

The Texans need to bulk up on the defensive line as DEs Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt are injury prone. Adding Charlton to the group creates some depth and a potentially dominate pass rush for Houston.

 

26. Seattle Seahawks

Malik McDowell, DT

The Seahawks are at there best when the defensive line is the primary source of a solid pass rush. Adding McDowell to the middle of a defensive front with ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett frees them up to get pressure on the outside and to the quarterback.

 

27. Kansas City Chiefs

Christian McCaffrey, RBChristian-McCaffrey

Many have McCaffrey higher on their draft boards, but not too long ago, he was slotted to go in the back of the first round. There are a few that compare McCaffrey to former Eagles’ RB Brian Westbrook, and Westbrook’s former coach leads the Chiefs. I’m one that believes McCaffrey is a part time back, but can still be a dynamic playmaker.

28. Dallas Cowboys

T.J. Watt, OLB

Another Watt to the state of Texas. The Cowboys need to add a pass rusher, and Watt would be able to play a little bit of end in 4-3 sets.

29. Green Bay Packers

Charles Harris, OLB

Harris has been flying up some draft boards, but I think he drops and fits in well with the Packers, who need to add pass rushers as well. With many concerns in the secondary, rushing the passer may be the best way to limit big plays for the Pack.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers

Jarrad Davis, LB

Another linebacker for the Steelers. Davis is a player could play well in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, and should fit in well next to MLB Ryan Shazier.

31. Atlanta Falcons

Takkarist McKinley, DE

The Falcons, like so many teams, need to add pass rushers. McKinley should slot in at an end spot, and provide a well-rounded game for Atlanta.

32. New Orleans Saints

Patrick Mahomes, QB

The Saints get their quarterback of the future in Mahomes. While he may have tools to be an NFL quarterback, he definitely needs development. Now, he can learn from QB Drew Brees and sit for quite possibly the next two full seasons behind him. That would give Mahomes time to develop (think Aaron Rodgers) before getting the chance to start.

On the bubble: Marlon Humphrey – CB, Jabrill Peppers – S, Jordan Willis – OLB, Adoree’ Jackson – CB

 

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Super Bowl Prediction

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After a month of exciting NFL Playoff action, the Super Bowl is finally upon us. A mere five days away, the teams are putting the final touches on their game plans, and trying to get mentally prepared for what may be the biggest game of their lives.

This year’s match up gives us the defending champion Seattle Seahawks against the veteran-laden New England Patriots. Both teams are extremely experienced in postseason play, and I wouldn’t Patriots vs. Seahawks Super Bowlexpect the pressure of the moment to get to anyone on either team. That being said, I do believe this has the potential to be one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. These teams are very equal, and have different strengths and weaknesses that will make the game extremely close and entertaining throughout.

Seattle

What can you say about the Seahawks? They are the defending Super Bowl champions, and have hit their stride at the exact right time. They come into this game off a dramatic OT victory against the Green Bay Packers, despite injuries that slowed defensive stars S Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sherman. Both players will be ready to go for the big game of course, and they will need to be on their A-Game against Patriot’s QB Tom Brady.

On offense, Seattle’s strength is running the football. RB Marshawn Lynch ranked 4th in the NFL with 1306 yards on the ground, while QB Russell Wilson led all quarterbacks with 849 rushing yards. If the Patriots can stop Seattle’s running game, they will have a much better chance to win because they will force the Seahawks to win the game through the air.

Despite winning with a long TD pass last game, the Seahawks passing game isn’t exactly stellar. Yes, Russell Wilson is an amazing decision maker and his mobility allows him to extend plays and give his receivers more time to get open down the field. However, the receivers Wilson is throwing to aren’t exactly the best playmakers in football. The core is lead by WRs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, who combined for only 4 TDs in the regular season. Yet, Wilson has a way of making his receivers better, and their powerful running game keeps opposing defenses on their toes, allowing the play action passing game to develop nicely for the Seahawks.

The defensive side of the ball is Seattle’s strength. Their secondary is the best in football, they have one of the best linebackers in Bobby Wagner, and a strong defensive line. Wagner matches up well with Patriots’ TE Rob Gronkowski, who is their best receiver. As was the case with most of their opponents this season, Seattle matches up well defensively against New England, leaving the Patriots’ lone hopes to be stopping Seattle’s running game and having Tom Brady produce a heroic performance through the air.

New England

The Patriots are the definition of consistency. Coach Bill Belichick and Brady have combined for the most playoff victories in NFL history, and have been a fixture in the playoffs for over a decade. New England is riding high after destroying the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game, sporting a strong running game and defense on the way to victory.

New England can come at you different ways offensively. On the ground, they have a power running attack, led by RB LeGarrette Blount, who has really surged in the playoffs each of the past two seasons. However, New England’s real strength may be through the passing game, in which future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady is still able to move the ball all over the field. His best targets are Gronkowski and WR Brandon LaFell, who is having a career season after signing with New England this past off season. Overall, they are better offensive group than the Seahawks because they can do more in the passing game.

On the defensive side of the ball, Belichick is coaching the best group he’s ever had. The secondary is led by CBs Darrelle Revis and former Seahawk, Brandon Browner. The team also features solid linebackers that will be pivotal in stopping the run, such as Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. They will face their toughest test on the ground this season on Sunday night.

If Seattle wins…

This is the beginning of a dynasty. They would be back-to-back champions with one of the youngest

Russell Wilson (above) eludes New England defenders in a previous matchup.

Russell Wilson (above) eludes New England defenders in a previous matchup.

and talented rosters in the NFL. It would only be a matter of time until contract prices and salary cap casualties would break the team up, but they could possibly still have a two-year window with this current group to really be competitive. Of course, they have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Russell Wilson, who will become one of the highest paid players no matter whether he wins or loses. Wilson would become an immediate favorite to become one of the greatest players ever, especially after capturing two titles in his first three seasons. Coach Pete Carroll would also enter the conversation for one of the best coaches ever, as he would become one of the only men to win multiple championships at both the professional and NCAA level.

On the other hand, Tom Brady and Belichick would combine to become 3-3 in Super Bowls, which I think would significantly tarnish their legacy. Yes, they have been the model of consistency in the NFL, but they weren’t always able to finish the job consistently. Despite that, they would still be considered one of the best duos in history.

If New England wins…

Brady and Belichick become the greatest QB-Coach duo of all-time, and will probably be untouched in that category forever. 4 Super Bowl victories would be hard for any other duo to match. Yet, unlike the Seahawks, this wouldn’t be the beginning of a dynasty for New England. In fact, this victory would probably be the beginning of the end to the Tom Brady era. Players such as Revis and Browner would greatly benefit from a Super Bowl victory in free agency, which would make it harder for the Patriots to extend their contracts, and keep this core group together. Plus, Brady and Belichick and other veterans would become another year older, and the Patriots are a much older team than the Seahawks would be.

For the Seahawks, losing wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Obviously, Wilson and many of the players are still very young, meaning that their window of opportunity would still be open. Also, losing the Super Bowl could hurt players like CB Byron Maxwell in free agency, which would possibly enable Seattle to re-sign him for next season.

PREDICTION

Seattle beats New England, 28-24

This should be one of those memorable games that comes down to the final drive. I expect that Seattle’s defense is able to keep Brady at bay, while the Patriots aren’t as successful at containing Russell Wilson’s ability to extend plays. I figure that the Super Bowl will come down to one of those memorable last drives in which Wilson makes a big play to seal the victory for his team.

Make sure to tune into FOX at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday for the Super Bowl!

NFL Regular Season Recap

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Overall, it has been another unpredictable and exciting NFL Regular Season. Now, the field has been trimmed, and the playoff picture has come into focus. Let’s recap my preseason predictions, and see how I measured up against the final results:

Cale’s Picks

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle Seahawks (14-2)
  2. New Orleans’ Saints (13-3)
  3. Green Bay Packers (11-5)
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
  5. San Francisco 49ers (10-6)
  6. Chicago Bears (9-7)

Actual Playoff Standings

  1. Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
  2. Green Bay Packers (12-4)
  3. Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
  4. Carolina Panthers (7-8-1)
  5. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
  6. Detroit Lions (11-5)

I think it’s safe to say that I messed this one up pretty badly. I shared the opinion of many that the

The Cowboys will travel to Lambeau Field to face the Packers this weekend

The Cowboys will travel to Lambeau Field to face the Packers this weekend

Saints were ready to make a Super Bowl run, not lose the division to a team with a record under .500. Obviously, you can’t predict injuries, which is what went wrong with my Eagles’ prediction, despite accurately calling their record. After that, I couldn’t have imagined Jim Harbaugh’s situation deteriorating the way it did in San Francisco or the Bears’ offense being so futile. Not to mention that I didn’t believe in either of the Cowboys or Lions holding up in pressure games down the stretch. Overall, I still nailed the top two seeds in the NFC (Seahawks, Packers) and my prediction for the NFC representative in the Super Bowl remains alive (again, Packers).

AFC Playoffs

  1. Denver Broncos (13-3)
  2. New England Patriots (11-5)
  3. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
  6. San Diego Chargers (10-6)

Actual Playoff Standings

  1. New England Patriots (12-4)
  2. Denver Broncos (12-4)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
  4. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1)
  6. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

I did much better at predicting the AFC Playoffs, almost accurately predicting most of the team’s

The Ravens will look to continue their success against the Patriots in the playoffs.

The Ravens will look to continue their success against the Patriots in the playoffs.

records and standings in the playoffs. It was hard to imagine three teams making the playoffs from one division, but the Chargers faltered down the stretch allowing the AFC North to be heavily represented in the playoffs. Of course, my Super Bowl pick from the AFC (Patriots) is still alive, helping validate my predictions of the season.

The beginning of the NFL Playoffs provided a lot of excitement and controversy this past weekend, and the divisional round will provide even better match-ups and drama. Watch and enjoy the rest of the playoffs, and keep updated on my posts!

NFL Season 3/4 Mark

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WOW! It’s already fantasy football playoff time, as we are entering Week 14 of the NFL season. With only four games left, its time to see where the contenders are, and who still has a shot at making the NFL playoffs.

AFC East

1. New England Patriots (9-3)

T-2. Buffalo Bills (7-5)

T-2. Miami Dolphins (7-5)

4. New York Jets (2-10)

Since the last update, the Patriots continued to extend their lead atop the division, while the Bills and Dolphins are dueling it out for second. As for the lowly Jets, they are already looking forward to their top 5 draft pick, and their upcoming coaching search that should begin early next month. The AFC East is a pretty straightforward division, and expect Brady to add yet another division title to his resume.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1)

T-2. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

T-2. Baltimore Ravens (7-5)

T-2. Cleveland Browns (7-5)

Johnny Manziel (above) may be named the Browns' starting quarterback for their late season playoff chase.

Johnny Manziel (above) may be named the Browns’ starting quarterback for their late season playoff chase.

This is the most competitive division in the NFL and continues to surprise fans around the league. It’s still possible that three teams from this division make the playoffs, while a team that could finish .500 or above could miss the postseason. Now, the Cleveland Browns are thinking of starting rookie QB Johnny Manziel in the midst of their playoff push. Could this division get any crazier? If I had to guess, I’m going to say that Cincinnati will win the division, much in part to the tie they have in their record. However, I still believe the Steelers and Ravens have a good shot at making the AFC Playoffs, while I expect to Cleveland to crumble under the pressure late in the season. This should be fun to watch.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts (8-4)

2. Houston Texans (6-6)

T-3. Tennessee Titans (2-10)

T-3. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)

Not much has changed with this division. The Colts are the clear favorites, the Texans are stuck in mediocrity during their new head coach’s first season, and the Titans and Jaguars are in the midst of rebuilding projects. This continues to be the most predictable division in the NFL.

AFC West

1. Denver Broncos (9-3)

2. San Diego Chargers (8-4)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)

4. Oakland Raiders (1-11)

This division has gotten tighter, as both the Chargers and Chiefs are waiting for the Broncos to stumble and take advantage of their mistakes. However, QB Peyton Manning is as steady as anyone, and will help lead his team to the postseason again. Although, the Chargers and Chiefs will definitely be battling it out for a playoff spot against the bottom three teams from the AFC North. It should be an interesting race down the stretch. Oh, and Oakland won a game. Woo.

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-3)

2. Dallas Cowboys (8-4)

T-3. New York Giants (3-9)

T-3. Washington Redskins (3-9)

The Philadelphia Eagles have shown that they are the class of this division and one of the best teams

The Philadelphia Eagles (above) are looking to secure their postseason spot in the coming weeks.

The Philadelphia Eagles (above) are looking to secure their postseason spot in the coming weeks.

in the NFL. So far, the Eagles are a perfect 3-0 in their division, with three of their last four games coming against those same division opponents. I fully expect them to be a top seed heading into the playoffs. The biggest question is how the Dallas Cowboys will respond to their Thanksgiving Day blowout at home against the aforementioned Eagles. While Dallas was a surprise for much of this season, it will be interesting to see if they are able to rebound and make a push for a Wild Card spot. The Giants and Redskins are already looking forward to the changes they will make during the off season.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers (9-3)

2. Detroit Lions (8-4)

T-3. Chicago Bears (5-7)

T-3. Minnesota Vikings (5-7)

Of course, QB Aaron Rodgers has helped lead his Packers back to the top of the NFC North. However, the Detroit Lions are right on their heels, and have the makings of a playoff team. Lions’ coach Jim Caldwell has truly gotten the most out of his players, and has them in position to at least challenge the Packers. While the Bears are immensely talented on offense, QB Jay Cutler has played awfully this past month, and the defense has matched his effort. The surprise of the division may be the Vikings, who are only two games under .500 while starting rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater. The future is now for Minnesota!

NFC South

T-1. Atlanta Falcons (5-7)

T-1. New Orleans Saints (5-7)

3. Carolina Panthers (3-8-1)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-10)

Currently, the winner of this division could finish the season with a record of 5-11…. 6 games under .500. Obviously, that would be a record, but it’s something I can’t imagine. While every team in this division has been disappointing, the New Orleans Saints have taken the cake, after being picked by many to pick the Super Bowl during the preseason. Both the offense and defense have looked lost this season, and yet, the Saints are still the best team in this division. The Atlanta Falcons hurt themselves too often late in games to trust them, and the Panthers and Bucs are already looking forward to adding pieces to their rosters this off season. I’d expect the Saints to take this division, but with a .500 record at 8-8.

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals (9-3)

2. Seattle Seahawks (8-4)

3. San Francisco 49ers (7-5)

4. St. Louis Rams (5-7)

The Cardinals are continuing their surprise run, but for how much longer? The entire division has gained ground on Arizona in the past month, which has seen them lose QB Carson Palmer to an ACL injury. The Seahawks’ defense is hot again, and looks as if it is coming into form just in time for the postseason. I’d definitely expect both of this teams to be in the post season. On the other hand, the 49ers are struggling with injuries, and it’s showing on the field. There are many rumors that coach Jim Harbaugh will be moving onto a different team after this season, and so far, the performance is matching the reports. At the bottom of the division, the Rams are showing why they are a team on the rise, after beating Oakland down 52-0 this past Sunday. St. Louis isn’t technically out of it yet, but this season is more about gaining experience for the upcoming seasons, when they should be good enough to make a playoff run.


It’s hard to believe that the NFL season is moving by so quickly, but there are already only four games left! Watch and enjoy as we watch the playoff picture take form during this last month of the regular season.

Time to Panic in Philly?

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After getting beat down 53-20 at Lambeau Field on Sunday, everyone and their mother hopped off the one-week long bandwagon for QB Mark Sanchez. The Eagles struggled as a whole, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but much of the blame is being placed on Sanchez for not keeping the Eagles’ offense on pace with Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers, and the strong Green Bay passing attack.

Sanchez went 26/44 with 2 TDs with four costly turnovers, including 2 INTs and 2 lost fumbles. It was

Packers LB Clay Matthews sacks Eagles' QB Mark Sanchez during Sunday's game (above).

Packers LB Clay Matthews sacks Eagles’ QB Mark Sanchez during Sunday’s game (above).

definitely his worst game of his Eagles’ career, but shouldn’t be a reason for panic. Currently, the Eagles are tied for first place in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys, who also have a 7-3 record. However, the Eagles will face the lowly Tennessee Titans next week, and this should be a good rebound victory for Sanchez and the Eagles as a unit.

At 8 victories, the Eagles would probably only need to win 2 of their final 5 games to make the playoffs, which is a very likely scenario, especially because I believe that QB Nick Foles will make every attempt to return from his collarbone injury. It’s obvious that the Eagles have functioned better with Foles leading the offense, so Sanchez is truly the back up option, and is just needed to be solid until Foles is able to return.

While it was a fun, feel-good story after Sanchez dominated the Panthers on Monday Night Football, and went out into the streets of Philadelphia to meet some fans and try some of the local cheese steaks. However, after the crushing defeat against Green Bay, everyone, including Sanchez, has come back to Earth and realized that there is a lot more football to be played, and that every week in the NFL truly counts.

NFL Season – 1/2 Way Mark

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It’s crazy to think that half of the NFL’s regular season is over, but this is the harsh reality as we are entering Week 9 beginning on Thursday night. At this point in the year, the contenders are pretty well defined, and those who will most likely miss the playoffs are pretty well known. Let’s take a look at where each team stands, and how my predictions are looking halfway through the season:

Tom Brady (above) has silenced the doubters, and led the Patriots to an early division lead.

Tom Brady (above) has silenced the doubters, and led the Patriots to an early division lead.

AFC East

1. New England Patriots (6-2)

2. Buffalo Bills (5-3)

3. Miami Dolphins (4-3)

4. New York Jets (1-7)

So far, this division is mostly going how I predicted, with the Patriots out front and the Jets in the cellar. However, Ididn’t have the Bills winning as many games as they have, and the team has shown to be formidable, even on the road.  While this division looks tight, with Buffalo only trailing New England by a game, it really is the Patriots’ division to lose. Now that RB C.J. Spiller is injured for the Bills, I expect them to fall off the pace, and miss the playoffs.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1)

T-2. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)

T-2. Baltimore Ravens (5-3)

4. Cleveland Browns (4-3)

This division is still about as tight as it was at the 1/4 way mark of the season, and I wouldn’t expect this trend to end any time soon. The AFC North will probably provide the closest division race in the NFL this season, with both the Steelers and Ravens looking like they are hitting their stride. While Cincinnati has struggled the past few weeks, I expect their offense to improve once WR A.J. Green returns from injury. The biggest surprise in the division has to be the Cleveland Browns, who are still above the .500 mark. Obviously, Cleveland is a better team than I gave them credit for, and it will be interesting to see how long they can keep the pace.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts (5-3)

2. Houston Texans (4-4)

3. Tennessee Titans (2-6)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7)

This division was as easy to predict as any in the NFL. The Colts have a solid grip on first place, despite Houston only trailing by a game. Simply, the Colts are in a class above every other team in their division. I don’t expect the Texans to remain at the .500 mark for the rest of the season, making it a cakewalk to the division title for the Colts. Obviously, the Titans and Jaguars are only in the hunt for the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. I wouldn’t expect any changes to these standings.

AFC West

1. Denver Broncos (6-1)

2. San Diego Chargers (5-3)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)

4. Oakland Raiders (0-7)

I predicted this division perfectly thus far, as the Denver Broncos have shown that they are the NFL’s best team thus far, and the class of the AFC West. The Chargers have also looked impressive, and should continue to be in the hunt for the playoffs. On the other hand, the Chiefs are a team on the fringe. They need to find some consistency, or else they may end up being an 8-8 team at season’s end. Finally, the Oakland Raiders’ are already planning their off season vacations, and awaiting their chance at taking FSU QB Jameis Winston in the 2015 NFL Draft. Oakland could be the next team to go 0-16.

NFC East

1. Dallas Cowboys (6-2)

2. Philadelphia Eagles (5-2)

3. New York Giants (3-4)

4. Washington Redskins (3-5)

The surprise of the year thus far in the NFL has been the Dallas Cowboys. I predicted that this team would finish in last place, and man, was I wrong. Despite being touted as one of the worst defenses in the NFL, the Cowboys have shown the ability to compete with anyone. It will be interesting to see if they falter, as many doubters of the Cowboys believe they will. The only other competitor in the division is the Philadelphia Eagles, who are coming off a tough loss in Arizona. If the Eagles can improve their running game behind a healthy offensive line, I still expect them to take this division from the Cowboys. On the other hand, the Giants and Redskins have been the definition of mediocre this season, and have suffered a variety of injuries that have severely hurt their chances to compete this season. I’d expect both teams to be on the outside, looking in come playoff time.

NFC North

Matthew Stafford (above) has lead the surprising Lions to the lead in the NFC North standings.

Matthew Stafford (above) has lead the surprising Lions to the lead in the NFC North standings.

1. Detroit Lions (6-2)

2. Green Bay Packers (5-3)

T-3. Chicago Bears (3-5)

T-3. Minnesota Vikings (3-5)

When was the last time the Detroit Lions were in first place halfway through the season? They are quite the surprise, as I only had the Lions finishing 8-8. The team would need to majorly falter down the stretch for my prediction to come true, and despite an injury to WR Calvin Johnson, the Lions look like a legitimate playoff team for the first time in a long time. The team I predicted would win the division, the Green Bay Packers, is looking like it’s defense is made of Swiss cheese after losing to struggling New Orleans. I expect the Packers to get back on track, but it shall be an interesting two-team race down the stretch. Unfortunately for the Bears and Vikings, they have stumbled to 3-5 records respectively, and don’t have any hope at making the playoffs the way they are playing.

NFC South

T-1. Carolina Panthers (3-4)

T-1. New Orleans Saints (3-4)

3. Atlanta Falcons (2-6)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6)

There are surprises to this NFL season, and there are also disappointments. After being anointed a Super Bowl contender before the season, the New Orleans Saints haven’t even looked like a playoff team, and are the biggest disappointment thus far. The Saints’ defense is one of the worst groups in the NFL, despite the addition of S Jairus Byrd in the off season. However, I still think the Saints will end up taking this division. The Panthers, Falcons, and Buccaneers are three of the worst teams in football this season, and I don’t expect the tide to change for any of the teams. Expect New Orleans to wake up at some point, and take this division with either 9 or 10 wins.

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals (6-1)

T-2. San Francisco 49ers (4-3)

T-2. Seattle Seahawks (4-3)

4. St. Louis Rams (2-5)

I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted these division standings for halfway through the season. The defending champion Seattle Seahawks have lost three games already, and the San Francisco 49ers haven’t looked any better. To top it off, the division’s hottest team to end last season, the Arizona Cardinals, picked up where they left off, and have jumped out to a 6-1 start despite many injuries to crucial players. The Cardinals have shown that they are true playoff contenders, and despite my prediction, I now know that they will make the playoffs. It will be interesting to watch the Seahawks and 49ers battle it out for what could be the final playoff spot in the NFC. Finally, the Rams are a team already planning for their off season.


As the season has gone on, some of my predictions are looking less and less accurate, but that comes with the craziness that is the NFL Regular Season! Keep watching and enjoy as the season continues to get closer to playoff time.

 

NFL Season – 1/4 Way Mark

Standard

It’s hard to believe, but the NFL regular season is already 25% complete. This is an opportune time to take a look at the standings, and see where the teams stand.

AFC East

T-1. Buffalo Bills (2-2)

T-1. Miami Dolphins (2-2)

T-1. New England Patriots (2-2)

4. New York Jets (1-3)

For now, this division is tight, but I honestly can’t expect it to stay that way for long. The Patriots are coming off of a beat-down they took Monday night against Kansas City, and I expect that they will perform much better this Sunday. That being said, the rest of the division looks awful. It’s painfully obvious that Jets QB Geno Smith is not fit to lead any NFL team, the Bills look confused on Sundays, and the Dolphins are dealing with injuries and an ever-inconsistent QB Ryan Tannehill. I’d say that my prediction of the Patriots coming out on top should stick.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)

2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)

4. Cleveland Browns (1-2)

The Bengals are one of the least talked about undefeated teams that I can remember in recent history, and coach Marvin

The Bengals (above) are undefeated so far this season

The Bengals (above) are undefeated so far this season

Lewis is showing that he’s one of the NFL’s longest tenured head coaches because he’s a model of consistency. Baltimore is also surprising me, and don’t seemed to be phased one bit by the Ray Rice saga. It’s also looking like WR Steve Smith might be the pickup of the off season, as he has totaled 429 yds. and 3 TDs thus far. On the other hand, things are looking bad in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are rattled by injuries, and are coming off a crushing defeat against the Bucs, one of the NFL’s worst teams. It will be interesting to see if they can rebound and compete in this tough division. As usual, the Browns are by themselves, at the bottom of the standings. It’s unfair to criticize them after just three games, but they will go up against much better competition the rest of the way.

AFC South

1. Houston Texans (3-1)

2. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)

3. Tennessee Titans (1-3)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)

A surprise to me, and a possible bust to my predictions, the Houston Texans are the early frontrunner in this division. DE J.J. Watt should be an early-MVP candidate, after scoring multiple offensive TDs this season, on top of his outstanding defensive work. The Colts have had a couple of tough early games, but QB Andrew Luck is having an MVP-caliber season as well. I expect these teams to head in separate directions, with the Colts reeling off some wins, and the Texans slowing down their winning pace. As far as the lower half of the division, both the Titans and Jaguars are performing as expected, and both should earn Top 5 picks in the NFL Draft.

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers (3-1)

2. Denver Broncos (2-1)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)

4. Oakland Raiders (0-4)

To me, this is the most interesting division in the NFL right now. The Chargers are legitimate contenders, as they beat the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks earlier this season. QB Philip Rivers has shown that San Diego isn’t intimidated by competing with division rival Denver, and it should make for an interesting race down the stretch. The Broncos appear to be a better defensive team this season, and QB Peyton Manning should be able to lead this team back to the playoffs one way or another. The wild card of this division is the Kansas City Chiefs. Who, or what is this team? One week, they struggle, the next, they blow out QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on MNF. I can see the Chiefs contending for a Wild Card spot come playoff time. Finally, the Oakland Raiders are currently the frontrunner for the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. This brings up an interesting potential storyline; will the Raiders draft Florida State QB Jameis Winston in the upcoming draft, despite recently fired coach Dennis Allen selecting QB Derek Carr in this past draft? Yes, the Raiders can already look forward to next season, as wins should be hard to come by for this group.

NFC East

T-1. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)

T-1. Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

3. New York Giants (2-2)

4. Washington Redskins (1-3)

It’s not a surprise to me, but the Philadelphia Eagles hold the division’s top spot with the Dallas Cowboys. While the two don’t face each other until later in the season, it will be interesting to see how they match up against similar foes that they shall play down the stretch. A team that could catch fire and make an interesting run would be the New York Giants, who looked like a different team against the Redskins on TNF. If QB Eli Manning can grasp the new offense, and take pressure off the defense, the Giants could make some noise in the NFC. On the other hand, the Redskins should start focusing on the off season, where it will be time to decide between QB Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins. That will be the biggest storyline in D.C. this season.

NFC North

1. Detroit Lions (3-1)

T-2. Green Bay Packers (2-2)

T-2. Chicago Bears (2-2)

T-2. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)

Despite this being one of the closer races thus far, I think it’s pretty clear cut and visible who the true competitors of the division are. Even though Detroit has started hot, they have shown that they can be inconsistent in the past, and this can still be evidenced in QB Matt Stafford‘s play. This should be cause for concern, especially after QB Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to victory this past weekend, and looked fantastic doing it. Green Bay is still the class of this division. The Bears have the potential to make a run at the playoffs, but injuries and a weak defense will have them struggling to keep up. Even though Minnesota has kept up thus far, I can’t expect it to keep up. QB Teddy Bridgewater was injured this past week, and is still a rookie in the NFL playing without his best weapon in RB Adrian Peterson. The Vikings should be in contention for a Top 10 pick in the NFL Draft when the year is through.

NFC South

T-1. Atlanta Falcons (2-2)

T-1. Carolina Panthers (2-2)

T-3. New Orleans Saints (1-3)

T-3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

The biggest disappointment in the NFL this season has to be the New Orleans Saints. Many experts were predicting the Saints to win the Super Bowl, but the team currently has the NFL’s worst defense, and QB Drew Brees has looked unspectacular thus far. Meanwhile, Atlanta is showing that they aren’t a bad team when they are healthy, but still have holes on defense. Carolina still has a strong defense, but QB Cam Newton is going to struggle without targets at the wide receiver position, and that began to show against the Ravens this past week. The most predictable part of the NFC South is the Buccaneers, who despite a big comeback win against Pittsburgh on Sunday, are in last and should expect to stay there and compete for a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft as well.

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)

2. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)

3. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)

4. St. Louis Rams (1-2)

The Arizona Cardinals (above) have outperformed expectations thus far.

The Arizona Cardinals (above) have outperformed expectations thus far.

The surprise in the NFL season has to be the Arizona Cardinals, who are undefeated, and have been led to two wins by backup QB Drew Stanton. Boasting the NFL’s top defense thus far, the Cardinals have only allowed 45 points through 3 games. Seattle is a close second, and is coming off a big OT win versus Denver and a relaxing bye week. These two teams may be the class of the division, as the normally dominant 49ers have struggled thus far. San Francisco will need to hope that the return of LB NaVorro Bowman and a healthy TE Vernon Davis is the key to the team’s success. Another season will be spent in the cellar for the Rams, who lost QB Sam Bradford to a season-ending injury, and have suffered the effects of an under-performing defense.


Overall, my predictions look fairly accurate at the 25% mark of the season. We’ll check back in at the 50% mark to see what teams really show their true colors as the season progresses!