Five things to watch in week 4 of college football

There have already been a lot of good games in college football with more coming. This week features the start of a lot of conference schedules for teams, which leads to a lot of competitive games and familiarity. Here are the five things to watch for this week:

1. Jalen Hurts vs. Vanderbilt’s defense

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Charles Wright (Photo by vucommodores.com)

As crazy as it sounds, Vanderbilt deserves to be in the top 25 right now. Preseason rankings are keeping some teams in that shouldn’t be, while the Commodores got snubbed. The reason that Vanderbilt has been so good this season is their defense. They have given up only 13 points on the season to some decent competition in Middle Tennessee and Kansas State.

Not only do the Commodores have the number one scoring defense in the country, they also have the ability to get after the quarterback. Charles Wright is tied for the lead in the country with 6.5 sacks. They also were able to limit Jesse Ertz’s effectiveness when they played Kansas State. Both he and Jalen Hurts are running threats, albeit different types of running threats.

Hurts can run with a little more speed than any quarterback Vanderbilt has played this season. He will have to be sure to not turn the ball over in this game and have to make a few plays with his arm. He was unable to do much with his arm against Florida State in the opener and this will be his second test against a solid defense. He will need to get the ball to Calvin Ridley as fast and often as possible, because he is a match-up nightmare.

While Hurts may win this matchup, it might be closer than a lot of people think.

2. Oklahoma State and TCU will light up the scoreboard

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Kenny Hill (Photo by wholehogsports.com)

In one of the best games of the weekend Oklahoma State and TCU will play in their first Big 12 game of their seasons. This has huge Big 12 Championship implications as the winner is in the front seat to lead one of the two championship spots.

Oklahoma State has rolled through its early season competition, putting up 54 points per game. Mason Rudolph looks like one of the few Heisman contenders who are living up to the hype. Their dynamic passing attack will be tough to slow down, especially with Rudolph throwing for 497 yards and five touchdowns against Pittsburgh.

Kenny Hill and the TCU offense may not be as good as Oklahoma State, but they are still averaging 49 points per game. Their attack is a little more balanced, which could create some problems for the Cowboy defense. Can Kenny Hill thrive against good competition? He’ll have a chance to outscore a great offense in this one and get TCU on the right path.

The over/under on this game is 71, but it could end up going way over if both offenses remain efficient.

3. Mississippi State’s offensive line vs. Georgia’s Front

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Martinas Rankin (Photo by twitter.com)

Another one of the big games of the weekend is Mississippi State vs. Georgia. A lot of questions about both teams will be answered like: Is Georgia really the best team in the SEC East? Can Mississippi State contend in the SEC West?

Martinas Rankin has had a wonderful season that includes a 99.9 pass block efficiency (according to CFB film room). The line is a solid unit overall, but the right side of the line has had some struggles. They will need to keep Nick Fitzgerald upright to allow him to scramble or find a receiver downfield.

Georgia’s defense is loaded with talent and looks like they can take over games. Lorenzo Carter is a great pass rusher, who has already accrued 14 quarterback pressures on the season. The task of slowing down Fitzgerald will be tougher than any other they have experienced this year, but they have a veteran defense that should be up for the challenge.

Although the skill position players may be more exciting to watch, the battle will be won or lost in the trenches.

4. Can a 31 year streak be broken?

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Feleipe Franks (Photo by alligatorarmy.com)

The Kentucky Wildcats have not beaten Florida in 31 years. While it’s apparent that Kentucky is more of a basketball school, they have built a solid team under Mark Stoops. Last year they got blown out, but the two previous years they were right in the game until the end. With Florida having a lot of things going on (suspensions, felonies, hurricanes, new quarterback, etc.), this may be the year that Kentucky ends the streak and contends for the SEC East.

In their first two games the Wildcats looked sluggish. They beat Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky (FCS) by a combined 18 points. Kentucky did look much better on the road against South Carolina, winning by ten and controlling most of the game. There theme has been winning the turnover battle, something they will need to continue in order to get the win Saturday night.

Florida has had two tough games to start the season, with one being cancelled in between due to a hurricane. They lost to Michigan and beat Tennessee on a last second bomb of a touchdown pass from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland. While they are 1-1 they have shown they have flaws (mainly on offense) that can be exploited.

The Gators will likely extend the streak for another year at least, but this might be the best opportunity Kentucky has had.

5. The ending of Michigan State and Notre Dame

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame

Photo by isportsweb.com

It might still be too early to tell how good these teams are this season after both struggled last year. Both teams should be better this season. This game one that seemingly always goes down to the wire. Since 2005, six of the ten games have been decided by one possession. Those games include two overtime games, a fake field goal for a win and much more.

Notre Dame was close to beating Georgia at home, but came up just short. That was the theme of last season for the Irish: losing games by one possession. This year they have half the amount of wins they had last year, by beating Boston College and Temple. The rushing part of the offense is working, while the passing game needs some work. The defense is much improved over last year, but that isn’t saying much.

The Spartans are 2-0 and beat a decent Western Michigan team that put up a good fight against USC. The offense hasn’t played a quality defense yet, but has put up over 30 points per game. They need to find some playmakers for this game. Defensively they have allowed more points than they would’ve liked so far, but still give up just 12 points per game.

This will be a big early season win for either school and it might just be one that fans want to flip on when it’s nearing its end.

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College football week 4 picks

Three weeks are in the books for college football and things have officially been shaken up. After three weeks of making picks for every FBS college football game, Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger make their picks for week 4.

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Temple #21 South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL USF USF
Virginia Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
#23 Utah Arizona Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ Arizona Utah
UNLV #10 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH Ohio St Ohio State
Margin of Victory 44 40
NC State #12 Florida State Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL FSU FSU
Kent State #19 Louisville Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY Louisville Louisville
Texas Tech Houston TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX Houston Houston
Army Tulane Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA Tulane Tulane
Texas A&M Arkansas AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX Arkansas Arkansas
UMass Tennessee Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN Tennessee Tennessee
West Virginia Kansas Memorial Stadium , Lawrence, KS WVU WVU
Pittsburgh Georgia Tech Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA GT GT
New Mexico Tulsa Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK Tulsa Tulsa
Old Dominion #13 Virginia Tech Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA VT Va Tech
Idaho South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL USA USA
Ohio Eastern Michigan Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti, MI EMU Ohio
UCF Maryland Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD Maryland Maryland
#1 Alabama Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN Alabama Alabama
Boston College #2 Clemson Memorial Stadium , Clemson, SC Clemson Clemson
#5 USC California Memorial Stadium , Berkeley, CA USC USC
#16 TCU #6 Oklahoma State Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK OK State Ok State
Toledo #14 Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL Toledo Miami
Rutgers Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE Nebraska Nebraska
Georgia Southern Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Indiana Indiana
Wake Forest Appalachian State Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, NC Wake App St
Duke North Carolina Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC Duke Duke
Louisiana Tech South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC La Tech South Carolina
Miami (OH) Central Michigan Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, MI CMU Miami
Cincinnati Navy Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD Navy Navy
#8 Michigan Purdue Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN Michigan Michigan
Louisiana Monroe Louisiana Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA ULL ULL
Nevada #18 Washington State Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA Wash St Wazzu
Akron Troy Veterans Memorial Stadium , Troy, AL Troy Troy
Georgia State Charlotte McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, NC Georgia St Georgia St
#3 Oklahoma Baylor McLane Stadium, Waco, TX Oklahoma Oklahoma
Western Illinois Coastal Carolina Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC Coastal Coastal
UAB North Texas Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX UNT UNT
#17 Mississippi State #11 Georgia Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA Miss State Georgia
#22 San Diego State Air Force Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO SDSU SDSU
Syracuse #25 LSU Tiger Stadium , Baton Rouge, LA LSU LSU
Ball State Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY WKU WKU
Florida Atlantic Buffalo UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY Buffalo Buffalo
Bowling Green Middle Tennessee Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN MTSU MTSU
Arkansas State SMU Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX SMU SMU
Wagner Western Michigan Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI WMU WMU
#4 Penn State Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA Penn St Penn State
#15 Auburn Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Auburn Auburn
#20 Florida Kentucky Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY Florida Florida
Florida Intl Rice Rice Stadium, Houston, TX Rice Rice
Utah State San José State CEFCU Stadium – Home of the Spartans, San Jose, CA Utah ST Utah St
UT San Antonio Texas State Bobcat Stadium , San Marcos, TX UTSA UTSA
UTEP New Mexico State Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM NMSU NMSU
Southern Illinois Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis Memphis
Notre Dame Michigan State Spartan Stadium , East Lansing, MI ND ND
#7 Washington Colorado Folsom Field, Boulder, CO Washington Washington
#24 Oregon Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ Oregon Oregon
Hawai’i Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY Wyoming Wyoming
UCLA Stanford Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA Stanford Stanford
East Carolina Connecticut Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT Uconn Uconn
Gameday Guest Picker (New York City) Bruno Mars Lin-Manuel Miranda
Total picks correct 187 195

 

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2017 week 3 NFL picks

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 3 NFL picks

Welcome to Hagan’s Haus, where football is the only thing that matters. You won’t find me in a church on Sunday because football is my religion and the number one priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself in studying the game of football. We can’t get all our picks or predictions right, but I am going to leave it here in the open every week for everyone to see. In Hagan’s Haus, it’s all about bragging rights. 

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it’s by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 3 NFL picks.

Last week: 8-8

season: 16-15

Thursday Night

Los Angeles Rams (1-1) 20 @ San Francisco 49ers (0-2) 14: The Rams look like a really good team this year, good enough to possibly win the division over the Seahawks. If they are to take the step towards becoming a playoff team, this is the type of game they must win. San Francisco will be in the lottery.

Jared Goff is still going to go through some growing pains. If they run the ball well enough and continue playing great defense, then they can succeed despite their young quarterback. The 49ers have improved defensively, but can’t make up for the lack of offense. The Rams will win this game, but it will be a defensive dogfight.

Sunday Morning

2017 week 3 NFL picks

(Photo credit: https://www.si.com)

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) 13 @ Baltimore Ravens (2-0) 16: Something tells me to pick Jacksonville in this game, but then I think about how Blake Bortles has to go against a defense that is destroying quarterbacks. Jacksonville will be in the game because of their stout defense, but will ultimately fall because of Bortles’ turnovers.

Baltimore will start the season 3-0, but still won’t be a contender in the big picture.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) 20 vs Minnesota Vikings (1-1) 24: This game hinges on the health of Sam Bradford for the Vikings. If Bradford plays, then Minnesota will win this game at home. That is a big if though. With or without Bradford, Minnesota will play stellar defense as usual.

Tampa Bay completely shut down a great Bears rushing attack last week, holding them to 20 yards. Repeating this against Minnesota would guarantee a win. They won’t shut down the Vikings the same way they did the Bears, and Sam Bradford takes the field to lead the Vikings to a big win at home.

Denver Broncos (2-0) 27 @ Buffalo Bills (1-1) 13: Does there have to be actual thought here? Can I just say Broncos will win? No, that is probably not a good idea.

So, the Broncos will win because their defense is going to annihilate the Bills offense. Once the Broncos stop the run, the Bills will have no answer. Tyrod Taylor will look completely lost and inevitably throw a pick-six. Denver’s offense will run up and down all over the Bills for over 200 yards.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) 28 @ Chicago Bears (0-2) 10: This seems like a totally unfair matchup. The Bears resemble a baby cub more than an actual Bear. The defense has played lights out, but can only do so much with turnovers from the offense happening so often. Mike Glennon looks incapable of running an offense.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, looks like they are in midseason form. The offense is starting to click and the defense looks hungry. This game will be over early and the steel curtain will remain untangled.

Atlanta Falcons (2-0) 34 @ Detroit Lions (2-0) 38: This is one of the most difficult games to pick this week. Both teams have looked shaky at points this season, but in the end have gotten the job done.

Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan are going to put on a show in Detroit. This game will likely be a shootout that comes down to the wire. The Lions have been known to be the kings of comebacks. Detroit wins this game because of their home-field advantage and a late drive by Stafford.

Cleveland Browns (0-2) 24 @ Indianapolis Colts (0-2) 17: This game could be one of the lowest-rated games in NFL history. What is there to really watch in this game if you aren’t a fan of either team? Yes DeShone Kizer is a rookie that can maybe give some excitement, but the offense still doesn’t look fluid. Defensively, there is nothing eye-popping or exciting either.

The Colts are completely boring without Andrew Luck. So boring I’d rather watch a middle school basketball game. The Browns have looked like the better team of the two, so far so what the heck, go dog pound.

2017 week 3 NFL picks

(Photo credit: http://biginf.com/)

Houston Texans (1-1) 13 @ New England Patriots (1-1) 26: Tom Brady is back! Or he just lit up the worst defense and secondary in the NFL. This week, Brady will get a real test by facing Houston. If Brady looks good this week, then he is a robot who will play in the NFL until he’s 90.

On the other side, rookie Deshaun Watson will have to try and beat a Bill Belichick defense. Good luck with that. That is the sole reason New England wins this game. Watson won’t be ready for the Patriots’ defense.

Miami Dolphins (1-0) 37 @ New York Jets (0-2) 18: Miami escaped with a victory last week. Now they get to face the worst team in the NFL. The Jets don’t do anything well and won’t win more than two games this season.

Jay Cutler is going to look like a prime Brett Favre in this one. Dolphins are going to New York to dominate the Jets.

New York Giants (0-2) 16 @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) 19: The Giants are in some serious trouble. Their offense looks pretty horrible with the worst rushing attack in all of football. The offensive line is arguably the worst in the league and the nucleus of their problems offensively. There isn’t much they can do to fix it either.

The Eagles are going to exploit that offensive line to stifle the Giants offense. Carson Wentz is going to have a tough time against the Giants’ defense, but will outperform Eli. That will be the difference in the end.

New Orleans Saints (0-2) 17 @ Carolina Panthers (2-0) 31: The current issue with the Panthers is their offense. Losing Greg Olsen doesn’t help Cam Newton out, but he is still shaking off the rust.

A game against New Orleans is the perfect time to gain confidence offensively. The Saints rank 31st in scoring defense, giving up 32.5 points per game. Drew Brees won’t be able to put up many points against this defense. Newton shakes off the rust and Christian McCaffrey has his coming out party.

Sunday Afternoon

2017 week 3 NFL picks

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks (1-1) 20 @ Tennessee Titans (1-1) 24: Seattle has looked average at best thus far, mostly because of their offensive line that can’t block anything. Tennessee has an underrated defense that will take advantage of this weakness.

The Seahawks still have a very good defense, but it won’t stop Marcus Mariota and the rest of the Titan offense.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) 10 @ Green Bay Packers (1-1) 20: This could be the game that gets Andy Dalton benched and catches Marvin Lewis’ seat on fire.

The Bengals are playing like crap on offense, but the defense is only giving up 16.5 points per game. They also rank first in pass defense, giving up just 104.5 yards per game through the air. Aaron Rodgers will more than double that while leading the Packers to win.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) 24 @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-2) 21: The Chiefs look like the best team in the NFL. Their offense is rolling behind Alex Smith while the defense continues to be a force. The Chargers are two field goals away from possibly being 2-0. The first would have sent them to overtime while the second would have won the game.

Sometimes that is how the cookie crumbles. The cookie will continue to crumble that way for one more week at least. The Chiefs go into L.A. to push themselves to 3-0.

Sunday Night

Oakland Raiders (2-0) 34 @ Washington Redskins (1-1) 24: The Raiders are thriving thus far this season and haven’t even begun to tap into their potential. Their defense still hasn’t faced a quality offense that can make them prove themselves.

This week they get that chance. Washington ranks 15th in total offensive yards per game (324.5). Washington has been running the ball efficiently, but the passing game has been underwhelming. Expectations were high for Kirk Cousins heading into the season. Derek Carr is going to have a huge game in prime time. Oakland keeps up with Denver and Kansas City by getting to 3-0.

Monday Night

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) 27 @ Arizona Cardinals (1-1) 17: Dallas got embarrassed against Denver and will be looking to get that taste out of their mouth. The Cowboys are going to get back to running the ball well. Ezekiel Elliott will have over 20 carries for at least 125 yards.

Arizona won’t be able to keep pace with the Cowboys’ offense. Carson Palmer has lost it and can’t carry the offense without David Johnson. This will be a snoozefest of a Monday Night game.

 

Featured image from Sporting News 

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2017 NFL Power Rankings

2017 NFL power rankings: Week 3

There have been dozens of NFL power rankings released throughout the preseason and after the first week of the season. That is all fine and dandy, but people ranking teams that haven’t played or with one game is kind of silly to me. College football comes out with rankings before the season and they end up completely different at the end.

To truly rank teams, they must have played some games. Last week the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t play due to Hurricane Irma. Therefore, doing a power ranking after week 1 made no sense.

Now that all teams have seen action, it is time for Hagan’s Haus to bring you the first edition of this year’s NFL power rankings.

32. New York Jets (0-2)

2017 NFL Power rankings

(Photo Credit: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

After two games, the Jets look absolutely awful. The offense is only putting up 16 points per game and the defense is allowing 33. The Jets are going to have a top three pick in the draft this season. The only question is whether or not they win a game all year.

31. Indianapolis Colts (0-2)

The Colts almost won a game, which is why they aren’t as bad as the Jets. Indianapolis has played so poorly that Andrew Luck could be considered for MVP. Jacoby Brissett also looked like an improvement from Scott Tolzien, but it won’t result in wins.

On the other side, the Colts’ defense is horrible, giving up 31 points per game (29th) and 308 passing yards per game (29th). There is little to look forward to with this season for Indianapolis.

30. Chicago Bears (0-2)

In week 1, the Chicago Bears looked like a vastly improved team. They hung with the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. The Bears could have won that game if there wouldn’t have been three straight drops on the goal line before Mike Glennon was ultimately sacked.

Despite the loss, things were looking up. Then they ran into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who completely dominated them. Glennon looked like a backup, and the Mitch Trubisky era may soon be upon us.

29. Cleveland Browns (0-2)

Cleveland was in a similar situation as the Bears. They almost upset the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers in week 1, but DeShone Kizer took a step back in week 2, throwing three interceptions against Baltimore. There are signs of improvement with the Browns, but they are still a young team.

It will be a typical Browns season of losses, but it is because they are young and growing. Cleveland should be happy because there is some positive direction.

28. San Francisco 49ers (0-2)

Over the first two weeks of the season, the 49ers have shown improvement on defense. The 49ers rank 10th in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 17.5 points per game. That is 12.5 points less than last season.

The problem is the offense can’t get the job done, scoring an average of six points per game. This season will be a rough one for the 49ers, but they will be competitive.

27. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)

All signs point to the Bengals stinking this year, but they will turn this season around if they hand over the keys to AJ McCarron. The question is are they willing to make the move?

This week they are heading to Green Bay to face off against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. This is a must-win for the Bengals, but they won’t do so. Cincinnati could continue to fall in these rankings if Andy Dalton remains a turnover machine.

26. New Orleans Saints (0-2)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: http://www.sportingnews.com)

Will a defense ever arrive in New Orleans? What makes it so bad is that 400-yard passing games are rare, but a certain someone called it in his predictions here.

It will sound like a broken record all season as the defense will continue to let down Drew Brees. The offense will win a few games in a shootout, but not many. The Saints should start preparing for the draft relatively soon this season.

25. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)

Many predicted that the Cardinals would have a playoff-caliber season. Throw that out the window because that will not happen. Yes, the Cardinals are 1-1 and it is extremely early in the season.

The problem is David Johnson’s injury makes the rest of the offense look below average. Carson Palmer is too old and has shown a decline in his play. He can’t carry an offense. The defense is talented, but nothing elite enough to lead this franchise to wins.

24. Buffalo Bills (1-1)

Who could have seen a 12 carry, nine-yard performance from LeSean McCoy? Not many.

The Bills defense kept them in the game, but as a lot of teams low in these rankings, the offense got nothing done. Tyrod Taylor played safe, completing 17 of his 25 passes for just 125 yards. The Bills are an average team, and they will sit somewhere between 16 to 26 in these rankings for the remainder of the season.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)

It is clear that the Jaguars must run the ball as much as possible to get it out of Blake Bortles’ hands. Bortles threw two interceptions against the Titans. 34 attempts are way too many, but happened because they were playing catch up. Leonard Fournette is a workhorse, who should easily get more than 14 carries no matter how the game is going.

The Jaguars “sacksonville” defense seemed to disappear, only sacking Marcus Mariota once. It remains to be seen how good, or bad, the Jaguars really are.

22. New York Giants (0-2)

The Giants are in danger of having a historically bad season. This team was supposed to have a Super Bowl defense with a high-powered ariel offense. The defense hasn’t lived up to expectations and the offensive line is so bad that Eli Manning can’t air the ball out.

It doesn’t help that the Giants have the worst rush offense in the NFL (48.5 yards per game). The Giants may turn it around, but if they fall to 0-3, they will fall much lower in the power rankings as well.

21. Houston Texans (1-1)

Deshaun Watson turned on the jets in Cincinnati to win his first career NFL start, on his birthday. With a defense as good as Houston’s, Watson needs to just protect the ball. If he can do that, his athleticism will force offenses to compensate for his running. This will open up the passing game.

Watson needs time to develop, but the Texans can still make the playoffs while he does so.

20. Los Angeles Chargers (0-2)

Could you imagine if the Chargers could just kick a field goal? Simply making two field goals could have this team at 2-0. The Chargers defense has played well enough to win games. The offense has been tailored around Melvin Gordon and is looking good.

There isn’t much to say other than make a field goal. If Los Angeles can improve in this area, then the Chargers might put up a fight for a Wild Card spot in the AFC.

19. Miami Dolphins (1-0)

The Miami Dolphins sit alone at the top of the AFC East, but don’t get used to it. Jay Cutler is going to get a bunch of love, but everyone needs to pump the breaks. Most have seen the play where DeVante Parker stole the ball away from Casey Hayward. Cutler made a horrible decision and throw, but was rewarded.

During this season, Cutler will give away a few games, and the Dolphin fans will begin to understand what it meant to be a Bears fan for the past few years.

18. Los Angeles Rams (1-1)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: https://www.si.com)

It would have been fun to see Jared Goff pull of the two-minute offense to tie the game rather than seeing it be intercepted. It’s okay, he is young and will learn from that. Todd Gurley is showing signs of the greatness he displayed in his rookie season. The defense is elite under Wade Phillips and will perform much better the rest of this season.

This team will have a lot to say in the NFC West race. Don’t count them out of it.

17. Washington Redskins (1-1)

It is really hard to decipher what kind of team the Redskins are this year. Philly dominated them in week 1, but their win in week 2 changes every narrative on them. Their next two games are against the Raiders and Chiefs.

If they win either of these games, then the Redskins will earn a ton of respect. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will really find out if the Redskins are contenders or pretenders.

16. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

There are two games of evidence that say the Seahawks are in some serious trouble. Seattle looked unprepared and overwhelmed against the Packers. Those same Packers got manhandled against the Falcons. That is not a good sign. To make it even worse, the 49ers fought hard and looked like a worthy opponent against Seattle.

The offensive line is a major concern. Seattle can’t run the ball, and Russell Wilson is forced to run for his life. Seattle will float somewhere between 8-11 wins, but a few more performances like their previous two would show that the Seahawks are no longer the cream of the crop.

15. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

For the third time in the last four seasons, the Vikings have started a second quarterback in the month of September. It is the same sad story, the Vikings can’t get consistency under center. The defense is Super Bowl worthy and has played extremely well against some high-powered offenses.

If the Vikings have Sam Bradford, they are a top 10 team. If Bradford continues to miss time, then the Vikings are average at best and can only go as far as the defense can take them.

14. Green Bay Packers (1-1)

The hype train for Green Bay is always ridiculous, but this year it may be slowing down. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is godly at quarterback, but he can’t make up for the deficiencies the rest of the team has. The Packers won a tough game against the Seahawks, who haven’t looked all that impressive. Then they got run over by the Atlanta Falcons yet again.

With Aaron Rodgers, they will likely make the playoffs. After watching these first two weeks, it is hard to imagine them making a deep run.

13. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

I see this year’s Raven’s team as last year’s Vikings. They will get off to a hot start, but by the end of the season miss the playoffs.

Baltimore’s defense is doing amazing things, averaging five takeaways per game. They can thank Andy Dalton, who has looked like an amateur this season and rookie DeShone Kizer for their gaudy takeaway numbers. This won’t hold up for the rest of the season.

12. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/dak)

This game against the Broncos was a huge wakeup call for the Cowboys. They need to get back to becoming a dominant run team and stop trying to prove that Dak Prescott can be a gunslinger.

Ezekiel Elliott will get back into form in week 3. Once that happens, everything else will fall into place. Dak can get back to managing the game and keeping the defense off the field.

11. Tennessee Titans (1-1)

The Titans were many analysts’ pick to win the AFC South. Oakland played so well in week 1 that some were ready to backtrack on them winning the division. Others were willing to stick with them.

Those who stuck with them are the smart ones. Tennessee completely dominated Jacksonville. That amazing defense that shut down Houston seemed to be a product of the offense they were facing. Tennessee put up 37 points behind 179 yards on the ground. This is the Tennessee everyone was expecting this season.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

Philadelphia continues to look rather impressive this season. Although they lost, they played a great game against one of the best teams in the NFL. The defense doesn’t get much love, but ranks 12th in total yards (304 yards per game). Philly is also averaging four sacks per game, which is fourth best in the league.

Offensively Carson Wentz has taken the next step. The Eagles will be a serious threat in the NFC East race.

9. Detroit Lions (2-0)

Matthew Stafford is doing everything in his power to prove he is worth the big contract he recently signed. This season he has led the Lions to a 2-0 start by defeating the Cardinals and Giants, who are a combined 1-3.

It remains to be seen if these are wins against good teams or wins against teams that actually stink. Before they move up higher on this list, they will have to beat a quality opponent.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

After everything the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went through in regards to Hurricane Irma, it is more impressive that they came out and dominated the Bears the way they did. Tampa won the game 29-7 and the Bears score came in the fourth quarter. The defense shut down the run game, allowing just 20 yards.

If they continue to play the run this well, they will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy. The offense looked balanced, and Jameis Winston will be in the MVP discussion by the end of the year. Watch out Atlanta, the Bucs are coming for you.

7. Carolina Panthers (2-0)

When speaking of elite defenses, the Carolina Panthers must be mentioned. It doesn’t matter who the opponents are because allowing just three points per game after two weeks in the NFL is unheard of. That obviously ranks first, but Carolina also ranks first in total yards allowed at 196.5 per game.

Cam Newton has looked rusty, and Greg Olson broke his leg. The offense may struggle, but Cam and the running game will still be enough while the defense leads them to wins.

6. Denver Broncos (2-0)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: http://rotoprofessor.com/football/?p=10988)

Denver is playing like they did during their Super Bowl run. During my Super Bowl Series: AFC West I mentioned that the Broncos need to get back to running the ball in order to win another championship. They have done just that, averaging the most yards on the ground per game at 159.

Pairing this with that fast, physical and world-class defense is a recipe for success. It will be fun to see how the Broncos do in their fight with the Raiders and Chiefs.

5. Atlanta Falcons (2-0)

Atlanta is off to a hot start, but a hangover is still coming. They struggled against the woeful Bears, then beat up on the overrated Packers.

Atlanta’s defense still isn’t all it is hyped up to be under Dan Quinn. Right now they have earned a top-five ranking, but in the coming weeks, it will fall as they still have to face Detroit, New England, Carolina, Dallas, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Minnesota.

4. New England Patriots (1-1)

Every time the Patriots have started 0-1 under Bill Belichick, they have won the Super Bowl. Tom Brady threw for the most yards ever by a 40-year-old quarterback. Granted it was the Saints defense, but still impressive. They are easily a top-five team in the NFL and will most likely make it to the Super Bowl.

Until Brady leaves or begins to fall off the cliff as Max Kellerman says, the Patriots will always deserve a high power ranking.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)

The killer B’s have led the Steelers to a 2-0 start. It wasn’t an easy outing for Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell against the Vikings defense, but it was enough to get the job done.

The defense is also doing a great job getting to the quarterback, averaging 4.5 sacks per game. T.J. Watt has been a major factor for the Steelers already. If the Steelers play like this the rest of the season, they may end up first in these rankings.

2. Oakland Raiders (2-0)

Marshawn Lynch must be instant energy. He fits with Oakland more than any other player in the history of the NFL on any team. He should have been a Raider for his entire career. Lynch has 121 yards this year while averaging four yards per carry. He creates a balance on the offense that is scaring every defensive coordinator that will face them.

Derek Carr continues to look like a future MVP and has outstanding chemistry with his receivers. The defense is holding up their end of the bargain thus far, but if they begin to falter, then so will the Raiders. Until then, they look like a candidate for the best team in the NFL.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Well, Alex Smith must have been absolutely sick of how people treat and talk about him. Through two games, Smith is completing 77.8 percent of his passing, thrown for 619 yards, five touchdowns and zero, I repeat, zero interceptions. He also leads the league in deep passing yards at 257. The next closest is Drew Brees with 216 yards.

Kareem Hunt looks to be the steal of the draft and frontrunner for offensive rookie of the year. The defense is doing what it always has in shutting down opposing offenses. The Chiefs are the clearcut best team in the NFL right now.

 

Featured image courtesy of http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-sports-addict/2012/09/nfl-power-rankings-week-1/

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College Football Playoff bracketology 9/18/17

Fair warning: These rankings reflect only what teams have accomplished and do not take into account how teams were rated in the preseason. This has created some pretty crazy College Football Playoff rankings as teams who have lost haven’t had a chance to build up much of a resume and one win can take a team a long way up the list. Here are how the teams would and should rank through the eyes of the CFP committee:

In the CFP:

1. Clemson Tigers

College football bracketology

Dabo Swinney (Photo by coachingsearch.com)

Clemson got a big road win over Louisville on Saturday. Not only did they show their defensive dominance by slowing down Lamar Jackson, but they also showed the capacity for great offense. It is one of the best wins of the young season and moves the Tigers up to the top spot, for now.

The Tigers pair that big win, with their victory over Auburn. While Auburn struggled against Mercer, they are still a top 25 team for the time being. Those two wins get them the top spot after week three, as their win over Kent State doesn’t really bolster their case.

In the upcoming weeks they have to play Virginia Tech and Florida State, so they will be tested again.

This week: vs. Boston College Eagles

2. Oklahoma Sooners

The Sooners started off slowly against Tulane, but finished strong, with Baker Mayfield turning in another good performance. Tulane is not a very good team, so it was important that Oklahoma look good against the Green Wave and they did.

With their win in Columbus over Ohio State still being the best win of the season, Oklahoma only slides one spot as a result of Clemson playing two good teams and winning. The two wins against very bad Tulane and UTEP teams is what hurts their case to be number one.

Mayfield and the Sooners won’t face much of a challenge in the next few weeks with games against Iowa State and Baylor.

This week: at Baylor Bears

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

This week Alabama won relatively easily over Colorado State, 41-23. The Rams are now 2-2, but are a solid group of five team that already has a win over Oregon State. It might be a little boring, but Alabama is doing exactly what they are supposed to do.

Like Oklahoma, the Crimson Tide are benefiting heavily from one win. The win over Florida State is another one of the best wins of the college football season. Alabama’s win over Colorado State is solid, while Fresno State looks bad this season, making that win a non-factor.

Nick Saban’s troops will take on the SEC schedule now, with some interesting games. They will be favored in all games for the next several weeks.

This week: at Vanderbilt Commodores

4. USC Trojans

USC was on the brink of defeat, but Sam Darnold led them back for a thrilling overtime victory over Texas. Texas is not a very good football team, but their defense showed up in this one. The Trojans look to be still finding out who they are, but got the win to stay in the top four of the rankings.

Their win over Stanford looks worse now that the Cardinal lost to San Diego State, but the Cardinal will likely bounce back. USC also beat a solid Western Michigan team in addition to their win over Texas this week. It may be a few more weeks before the Trojans find themselves, but they have a decent start to the season.

The Trojans go back to Pac-12 football in the coming weeks, which should feature some challenges down the road.

This week: at California Golden Bears

First four out:

5. Mississippi State Bulldogs

College football playoff bracketology

Nick Fitzgerald (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Mississippi State looks like a threat in the SEC West after three weeks. This week they had no issues derailing LSU, winning 37-7. If you are undefeated and throttle a team as good as LSU, you deserve to be in these rankings.

This is a big jump for an unranked team (in the polls), but a win like that has to be rewarded. They also have beaten Louisiana Tech, who is a good C-USA team, so their case to be in these rankings isn’t totally based on one game. That game was also on the road, which makes their case more appealing.

They play a mammoth of a game this week against Georgia. Win that game and the Bulldogs can really move up these rankings.

This week: at 11 Georgia Bulldogs

6. Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines haven’t looked good offensively, but got another win against Air Force this week. Air Force is a solid team that poses a different type of threat with the triple option offense. They need to find some offense for when the schedule gets tougher, but are in a great spot for now.

Michigan’s resume got bolstered when Florida edged out Tennessee. The Gators will likely move into the top 20 teams in the country. Their win over Cincinnati won’t be in the equation too much, as they struggled to beat Austin Peay (FCS) and Miami (OH).

Big Ten play will be tougher for Michigan, but they get a chance to ease into their schedule, playing some of the worst teams in the conference from last year to start.

This week: at Purdue Boilermakers

7. Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia used this week to get more reps for freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, who was efficient. They beat Samford (FCS) easliy, but that won’t really do a lot to help their case to be in the CFP.

The Bulldogs benefit from every Notre Dame win after beating them in South Bend. The Fighting Irish beat Boston College, to keep it as a solid win for Georgia. Appalachian State has won both of their games since losing to Georgia. With two solid wins and a win over an FCS team, Georgia needs to capitalize in the coming weeks.

They start off SEC play this week and have a couple of tougher games in a row in Mississippi State and Tennessee.

This week: vs. 17 Mississippi State Bulldogs

8. Vanderbilt Commodores

Yes, the Vanderbilt Commodores made the top 12 and deserve to be here. They just knocked off a very good Kansas State team to add to their cause. Their defense really preformed well, helping Vandy win 14-7.

With their good win this week, Vanderbilt also has a very good road win on the season. They went to Middle Tennessee and picked up a 28-6 win. Middle Tennessee is 1-2 on the season, but picked up a win at Syracuse and will do a lot of damage in the C-USA.

The problem for the Commodores? The upcoming schedule features: Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

This week: vs. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

 

Next four out:

9. Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies flexed their muscle against East Carolina in week three. They crushed the Pirates 64-17 and are starting to look like a good challenge in the ACC for Clemson. Their young quarterback, Josh Jackson is living up to the hype so far and needs to continue to do so.

Virginia Tech wins over ECU and Delaware (FCS) won’t do anything to impress the committee and were games that were more about avoiding a loss. Their season opening win over West Virginia is still a good one, as the Mountaineers have continued to win, albeit against subpar competition.

There is one more non-conference game for the Hokies against Old Dominion before they jump into ACC play with a bang against Clemson.

This week: vs. Old Dominion Monarchs

 

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys

What moves Oklahoma State up over Penn State? They looked better against a common opponent, Pitt, and had to play them on the road, while Penn State had them at home. The Cowboys had Pitt beat at halftime with another great performance from Mason Rudolph.

The jury is still out on the Pitt win, but they should bounce back to make a bowl game. They also beat Tulsa, who had ten wins last season, and South Alabama on the road, a team who went to a bowl game last season. None of these wins are top tier wins, which is why the Cowboys are eighth.

Big 12 play starts this week for Oklahoma State, which should be tougher than the non-conference schedule.

This week: vs. 16 TCU Horned Frogs

11. Penn State Nittany Lions

College football playoff bracketology

Saquon Barkley (Photo by wikipedia.com)

Penn State had no problems with Georgia State and won easily. Georgia State is not a good football team this year, so this is another non-factor win for a top program. The good news is that Penn State looks very good against whoever they are playing in the first few weeks.

The Georgia State and Akron wins won’t do much for the Nittany Lions. Penn State will be rooting for Pitt to turn their season around and reel off some wins to make the resume look better. Ultimately it is a lackluster case to get into the CFP, despite being undefeated.

This week Penn State starts their gruesome Big Ten schedule, that will only get tougher in a few weeks.

This week: at Iowa Hawkeyes

12. Washington State Cougars

The Cougars avoided a loss to Oregon State and in fact put up a lot of points. They won 52-23 and Luke Falk, their quarterback, got back on track with his six touchdown performance. Mike Leach has the offense rolling and ready for more challenges ahead.

It is nice to have a win over Oregon State, although they are pretty bad. The win over Montana State also won’t move the meter for committee members. Washington State’s win over Boise State is what is carrying them right now, so they need the Broncos to keep winning.

The Cougars should be able to beat Nevada pretty easily before jumping back into Pac-12 league play.

This week: vs. Nevada Wolfpack

 

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Five things we learned in college football week 3

The third week of college football has reminded fans why we love the sport. It is crazy, dramatic and unpredictable. In all of the football played, here are five things we learned:

1. Kelly Bryant is capable of leading Clemson to the ACC Championship

Clemson’s defensive line has gotten a lot of the press in the opening weeks and they continued their dominance with four sacks of Lamar Jackson. Really the whole team has played well, but there were some questions on whether quarterback Kelly Bryant could step up against good competition. On Saturday night he proved that he can.

Bryant threw for 316 yards and a touchdown, while running for two more scores. The most impressive thing about his performance was how he completed a lot of throws down the field. He utilized his offensive weapons, which he has a lot of. If he can continue his progression Clemson will be even tougher to beat.

The remaining schedule has a few tough games left, including matchups with Virginia Tech and Florida State. Even if the Tigers drop one or two of their games, they should still be able to make the ACC Championship Game and possibly the College Football Playoff.

2. Baker Mayfield has a huge lead in the Heisman race

College football week 3

Baker Mayfield (Photo by usatoday.com)

Mayfield has the most signature moment of the season with his flag-plant at Ohio Stadium. He also has led his team to the best win of the season thus far. With 715 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions he is on the right track to make himself this year’s Heisman winner.

Against Tulane Mayfield threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns to continue his great pace. The Big 12 struggles with defense, so he will likely put up some ridiculous numbers in the next few weeks. He will have a chance to have more big moments against Oklahoma State later in the season.

Part of the reason why Mayfield is so far out ahead is because of Lamar Jackson’s loss to Clemson. There is still a lot of football to play and Jackson, along with others, have time to play catch up with Mayfield.

3. The SEC West is murky behind Alabama

Week 3 college football

Nick Fitzgerald (Photo by al.com)

Alabama is off to a great start to the season with a big win over Florida State. They also took care of business against Fresno State and Colorado State. There were some contenders for the SEC West, but they have all already lost. This doesn’t mean teams can’t improve and compete, but right now Alabama looks like a runaway favorite in the SEC West.

Last week, Auburn lost to Clemson and this week they struggled to pull away from Mercer. LSU was thought to be another one of Alabama’s contenders, but they got destroyed at Mississippi State this week. Arkansas lost to a good TCU team, but looked very bad doing so. Texas A&M lost to UCLA and had a horrendous first half against the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. The new trendy contender is Mississippi State, but only time will tell if they can hold up.

While many people predicted Alabama to win the SEC West and more, it is looking like it might be easier than expected. It is unlikely an SEC East team will be able to knock them off in the SEC Championship game either.

4. Don’t kick to Dante Pettis

Week 3 college football

Dante Pettis (Photo by seattletimes.com)

Dante Pettis is a dangerous wide receiver for the Washington Huskies, but is also a star in the return game. He returned a punt 77 yards against Fresno State for a touchdown and reminded everyone that they are better off kicking the ball out of bounds.

The punt return touchdown against Fresno State was the eighth of his career, which ties an NCAA record. Seeing how much success he has had, it would not be a surprise to see him break the record soon. While Washington hasn’t played anyone of note yet this season, his punt return ability could prove to be an x-factor in a much bigger game down the road.

Hopefully teams don’t learn and continue to kick to Pettis so that football fans get to see more highlight reel plays from the dynamic playmaker.

5. It’s going to be a wacky season

College football week 3

Chase McGrath (Photo by nbclosangeles.com)

Texas was supposed to lose by a lot, they took USC to overtime. Memphis beat UCLA in a thrilling game. Kansas State traveled to Nashville and lost to Vanderbilt. Stanford went to San Diego and lost to the Aztecs. Mississippi State upset LSU. Florida beat Tennessee on a last second bomb. Northern Illinois upset Nebraska in Lincoln. Are you not entertained?

This was seen as a rather mundane weekend going into it after two good weeks of football, but it turned out to have a lot of good games. More of this will go on as the season progresses. The main lesson is to be very careful of road games and who you schedule on the road.

With how crazy the football season has already been, watch out for a lot of surprises still to come.

 

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Introducing Group A of Worlds play-in: Team WE, Gambit and Lyon Gaming

With the addition of a play-in stage to the 2017 League of Legends World Championship, audiences will see several new faces on the international stage. To start things off, 12 third seed and wildcard teams have been divided into four groups of three. Each group of three will play a double round robin, and the two with the best record will move to a second phase. First place of each group will play a random second place in phase two of the play-in. The winners of these best-of-fives qualify for the larger Group Stage with the other top teams.

The LPL’s Team WE, LCL’s Gambit and LLN’s Lyon Gaming were drawn into Group A of the play-in. These three teams come from regions with widely differing teams and metas. The clashing of these differences is one of the many reasons Worlds is always exciting to watch. Here are summaries of the three competitors.

Team WE (LPL Third Seed)

WE 957 will play in Group A

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Top: 957 Jungle: Condi Mid: Xiye Bot: Mystic Support: Ben

2017 Spring Split achievements: Tied 1st Group B Spring regular, 1st Spring playoffs, 3rd/4th MSI

2017 Summer Split achievements: Tied 1st Group A Summer regular, 4th Summer playoffs, Rift Rivals winners

Team WE are one of the more aggressive teams in China. Just look at some of the players’ pocket picks in the regular season Summer Split. Kled for 957. Rengar for Condi. Xiye’s most played champion was Leblanc, and he has not played Orianna since spring. Mystic and Ben’s highest pick rates are for Xayah and Rakan. These guys play fast and hard.

WE may be the LPL’s third seed, but this squad tied China’s first seed, Edward Gaming, in the 2017 regular seasons of Spring and Summer Split. WE had a winning record against Royal Never Give Up in spring, and against EDG in summer. They traded wins with SK Telecom T1 and Flash Wolves at Rift Rivals, and also finished the Mid-Season Invitational group stage ahead of G2, Flash Wolves, TSM and Gigabyte Marines.

WE Xiye will play in Group A

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Essentially a shoe-in for the group stage of Worlds, WE will look to exhibit dominance in the play-in. This is not the place to disrespect opponents. WE should view this first step as a mental warm-up for the rest of the tournament. They need to take down their opponents in the same way they would take down the best in the LPL.

WE knows it deserves a spot in the group stage. Now is their time to prove it. If they were somehow unable to push out of the play-in stage, it would be an unacceptable disappointment. Assuming WE finish first in their group, they will have to face a second seed from another play-in group to make it into the next stage. This would most likely be Gambit, Team One, Young Generation or 1907 Fenerbahce.

In the second phase of play-in, all of these teams would be comfortable on stage, and WE should show up in a best-of-five. Cheesy best-of-one wildcard strategies cannot get teams through this section of competition. WE can adapt to their opponent, shift draft advantages between their players, and ultimately succeed. Any of their players can carry in any given game, unlike many of the wildcard teams. WE needs to use that to their advantage.

Gambit (LCL First Seed)

Gambit will play in Group A

Image from EsportsRanks.com

Top: PvPStejos Jungle: Diamondprox Mid: Kira Bot: Blasting Support: Edward

2017 Spring Split achievements: 6th Spring regular

2017 Summer Split achievements: 1st Summer regular, 1st Summer playoffs

League of Legends fans who watched the 2016 World Championships will remember the LCL’s representative last year: Albus Nox Luna. The Russians surprised the world by pushing out of their group into the quarterfinals, finishing fifth-eighth. In the 2017 pre-season, their slot was acquired by M19, who went on to finish third-fourth in the 2017 Spring Split playoffs.

Between spring and summer, though, mid laner Kira and jungler PvPStejos (who moved to top lane) were signed to Gambit. The organization also brought on Blasting from Virtus.pro and Edward from Vega Squadron, rebuilding the roster around veteran jungler Diamondprox.

Kira and PvPStejos will play in Group A

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

This line-up performed much better during the Summer Split, following Gambit’s sixth place finish in the Spring Split. They finished the summer regular season with a 13-1 record, met M19 in the playoff finals, and edged them out 3-2 to auto-qualify to Worlds this year. Russia is truly sending her best team to the international stage.

The CIS representatives excel at getting an early lead, averaging 1,258 gold ahead at 15 minutes. This does not necessarily always turn into the first turret (57.1 percent) or dragon control (58 percent), but they keep their grip on Baron (85.7 percent control). This major objective will come up huge at Worlds, and Gambit should replicate this strategy as best they can.

Gambit will look to build off of ANX’s success last year, but they have the additional play-in stage to hurdle. Grouping with Team WE all but ensures Gambit’s second place seeding for phase two, so they will ultimately have to beat one of the top seeds from the play-in to advance. If any wildcard team is up for the challenge, it is Gambit.

Lyon Gaming (LLN First Seed)

Lyon WhiteLotus will play in Group A

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Top: Jirall Jungle: Oddie Mid: Seiya Bot: WhiteLotus Support: Genthix

2017 Spring Split achievements: 1st Spring regular, 1st Spring playoffs, 8th-9th MSI

2017 Summer Split achievements: 1st Summer regular, 1st Summer playoffs, 3rd Rift Rivals

Lyon Gaming has one of the most dominant regional histories in professional League of Legends. Their victory this summer marks eight splits won since 2013. These same five players have been on Lyon for the entirety of 2017. They have only dropped five games total within the LLN this whole year.

However, regional perfection does not necessarily translate to the big stage. At last year’s International Wildcard Qualifier, Lyon Gaming finished the first phase at the top of the standings with a 6-1 record. However, they were knocked out by Albus Nox Luna by losing 2-3 in phase two. In 2015, the LLN was not even represented at the International Wildcard Qualifier, because Lyon Gaming lost to Kaos Latin Gamers in the Latin America Cup grand final.

It is unfortunate that Lyon got drafted into Group A with, arguably, the most difficult first and second seed opponents. They will need to get creative in best-of-ones to take down Team WE and Gambit. The members of Lyon do seem to prioritize different champions than others in their group. Seiya frequently drafts Ahri, and WhiteLotus prefers Twitch to several other AD carries. These types of picks may allow Lyon to gain an edge if they catch WE and Gambit off guard.

Lyon Genthix will play in Group A

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Overall

Group A looks like a strong one. WE can take down any other team in the play-in phase. Gambit and Lyon would both be formidable opponents for first seeds in phase two. All three junglers in this group prefer to play carries, like Elise and Kayn over the current meta tanks, like Gragas and Sejuani. This batch of mid laners loves to mix up their mid lane champion selections. The supports are the only players with truly “normal” champion draft distributions.

Expect AD carries and top laners to be most targeted, as those players seem to have the most clear preferences in champion pools. WhiteLotus should not get Twitch. Jirall should not get Galio. Gambit and Lyon should ban Xayah from Mystic, while Lyon and WE should ban Varus from Blasting.

This group will most likely end up finishing in the expected order. WE should not drop many, if any, games. Gambit and Lyon will most likely take games off of each other, but the macro-play and Baron control from Gambit will most likely undo Lyon. Phase two will be the more interesting test for the Russian organization, especially considering ANX’s dream run last year. WE’s phase two should be much more straightforward. Assuming they enter the larger group stage, Team WE would draft into group B or group D. If all first seeds proceed from the play-in, then WE would auto-draft into group D.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr, EsportsRanks.com

Names, dates, etc.: Leaguepedia

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College football week 3 picks

The first two weeks of college football have had some surprises and big games to go along with a hurricane causing games to be cancelled. Rob Doerger and Joe DiTullio continue their picks for every single FBS college football game. Here are the week three picks:

Away Home Location Rob Joe
New Mexico Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
Illinois #22 South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL Illinois USF
UMass Temple Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA Temple Temple
Arizona UTEP Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX Arizona Zona
Air Force #7 Michigan Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Michigan
#9 Oklahoma State Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA OK State Ok State
#25 UCLA Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis UCLA
Northern Illinois Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE Nebraska Nebraska
Louisiana Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX Texas A&M TAMU
Kansas Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Ohio Ohio
Delaware State West Virginia Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV WVU WVU
Iowa State Akron InfoCision Stadium, Akron, OH Iowa St ISU
Connecticut Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA Uva UVA
Furman NC State Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC NC State NC State
Baylor Duke Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC Duke Duke
Coastal Carolina UAB Legion Field , Birmingham, AL Coastal Coastal
Northern Colorado Colorado Folsom Field, Boulder, CO Colorado Colorado
Utah State Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC Wake Wake
Tennessee Tech Ball State Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN Ball St Ball St
#10 Wisconsin BYU LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT Wisconsin Wisconsin
#16 Virginia Tech East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC VT Va Tech
SMU #20 TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TCU
#23 Tennessee #24 Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL Tennessee Florida
Central Michigan Syracuse Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY C. Mich Syracuse
North Carolina Old Dominion S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA Old Dom UNC
Notre Dame Boston College Alumni Stadium , Chestnut Hill, MA ND ND
Morgan State Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ Rutgers Rutgers
Middle Tennessee Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Minnesota Minnesota
Florida Intl Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Indiana IU
North Texas Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA Iowa Iowa
Mercer #15 Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Auburn Auburn
Purdue Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Mizzou Missouri
Army #8 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH Ohio St OSU
Oregon State #21 Washington St Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA Wash St Wazzu
Tulane #2 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
North Carolina A&T Charlotte McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, NC Charlotte Charlotte
Colgate Buffalo UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY Buffalo Buffalo
Bethune-Cookman Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL FAU FAU
Kent State Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV Marshall Marshall
Colorado State #1 Alabama Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama Alabama
#12 LSU Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS LSU LSU
Southern Mississippi Louisiana Monroe Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA USM USM
Southern UT San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX UTSA UTSA
Louisiana Tech Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY WKU WKU
Oregon Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY Ducks Oregon
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR Arkansas St Ark St
Idaho Western Michigan Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI WMU WMU
Alabama A&M South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL USA USA
Tulsa Toledo Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH Toledo Toledo
Appalachian State Texas State Bobcat Stadium , San Marcos, TX App St App ST
Idaho State Nevada Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV Nevada Nevada
Georgia State #5 Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Penn St Penn St
Margin of Victory 54 42
Samford #13 Georgia Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA Georgia Georgia
#18 Kansas State Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN Kansas St Kansas State
Kentucky South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC South Carolina SC
Bowling Green Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW NW
#3 Clemson #14 Louisville Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY Clemson Clemson
Rice Houston TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX Houston Houston
Troy New Mexico State Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM Troy Troy
Cincinnati Miami (OH) Yager Stadium, Oxford, OH Miami (OH) Cincy
Arizona State Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX Texas Tech TTU
Texas #4 USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA USC USC
Fresno State #6 Washington Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA Washington Washington
San José State Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Utah Utah
#19 Stanford San Diego State Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA Stanford Stanford
Ole Miss California Memorial Stadium , Berkeley, CA Ole Miss Ole Miss
Gameday Guest Picker (Louisville) Tom Jackson Jennifer Lawrence
Total Points this season 133 138

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Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

Welcome to Hagan’s Haus, where football is the only thing that matters. Sundays you won’t find me in a church because Football is my religion and the number one priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself in studying the game of football. We can’t get all our picks or predictions right but I am going to leave it here in the open every week for everyone to see. In Hagan’s Haus, it’s all about bragging rights. 

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score predictions but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it’s by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks.

Last week: 8-7

Season: 8-7

Thursday Night

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Houston Texans (0-1) 20 @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) 21: It is only week two but this is a vital game for both the Texans and the Bengals. Teams that go 0-2 hardly ever make the playoffs. Andy Dalton must overcome a four interception game. If he plays like that again, Bengals fans will be chanting McCarron’s name. DeShaun Watson has officially been named the starter for Houston. With a short week of preparation, Watson will be behind the eight ball. With McCarron breathing down Dalton’s shoulder and the first start for DeShaun Watson, the Bengals find a way to win.

Sunday Morning

Arizona Cardinals (0-1) 31 @ Indianapolis Colts (0-1) 14: Similar to the teams participating in the Thursday night game, the Cardinals and Colts are sort of in a must win situation. The Colts looked God-awful against the Rams and the Cardinals blew a lead while losing swiss army knife David Johnson. Even though the Cardinals will need Palmer to shoulder the load, Indianapolis is a bad team. Chuck Pagano will be the first coach fired this season. Arizona wins this week but only because Indianapolis is incompetent.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) 24 @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) 27: This is a game many could consider the game of the week after the performance these two teams put on in week one. Alex Smith looked like a guy who was drafted number one overall ahead of Aaron Rodgers. He lit up the Patriots defense with some spectacular throws. Carson Wentz didn’t look too shabby either. This is going to be a competitive, back and forth game that will come down to the wire. It is hard to pick a winner in this game so the edge goes to the home team.

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Getty Images / Hannah Foslien)

Minnesota Vikings (1-0) 27 @ Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) 23: For all the hype surrounding the Steelers this offseason their opening performance was a bit lackluster. Le’Veon Bell didn’t get enough touches and it looked like Pittsburgh was trying to punish him for missing training camp. The defense seemed improved behind rookie T.J. Watt but they still only managed a three point victory against the Browns who started a rookie quarterback. Minnesota however, looked like a juggernaut. Their defense completely shut down Drew Brees and the Saints offense holding them to 19 points. The touchdown came in garbage time. Sam Bradford led an aerial assault that nobody saw coming and rookie Dalvin Cook made all Vikings fans say Adrian who? Minnesota looked like the better team in week one. They upset Pittsburgh in week two to put the NFL on notice.

New England Patriots (0-1) 38 @ New Orleans Saints (0-1) 24: The Patriots did look a bit un-patriot-like last week but every time New England has started 0-1 with Bill Belichick they have gone on to win the Super Bowl. This isn’t the time to overreact. The Saints secondary still looks anemic. Sam Bradford torched them with his best game of his career. Tom Brady will dissect them even worse with over 400 yards passing. New England will cruise to a victory in the Superdome.

Chicago Bears (0-1) 24 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) 31: It is hard to determine if the Bears looked good or if the Falcons played bad but was probably a mix of the two. Mike Glennon put the ball where it needed to be on the final drive but his teammates let him down. This week the Bears head to Florida to take on the Bucs who will be playing their first game of the season because of Hurricane Irma. Tampa Bay is going to play with a lot of emotion and with the support of the fans, they will win their home opener.

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Getty Images / Ezra Shaw)

Buffalo Bills (1-0) 22 @ Carolina Panthers (1-0) 29: Both teams head into this game with a win in week one. Both also played against some really bad opponents. The Bills look like a team that is still going to run the ball well but their passing attack may still be weak. Cam Newton also looked a bit rusty as his accuracy was hit and miss. Another big story line to follow is Sean McDermott returning to Carolina. He may know exactly what the Panthers are doing but it won’t be enough to stop them. Cam plays big and leads his team to a 2-0 start.

Tennessee Titans (0-1) 23 @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) 21: The Jaguars are above .500 for the first time in a long time. Their defense completely dominated Houston. Jacksonville also ran the ball very well with rookie Leonard Fournette. Taking the ball out of Blake Bortle’s hands seems to be the key to success. Tennessee must bounce back after looking a bit underprepared for Oakland. The offense didn’t light it up as many expected and it resulted in an underwhelming performance. Week one usually has a ton fluke results and this week the Titans will prove it by outplaying Jacksonville on the road.

Cleveland Browns (1-0) 23 @ Baltimore Ravens (1-0) 22: Baltimore has been a franchise that is built on defense and showcased that again last week. Joe Flacco didn’t do much on offense but that isn’t anything new. This team will be an average team because of the offense but if the defense plays like that all season then maybe they will sneak up on people. Cleveland played pretty well last week after they had a punt blocked for a touchdown. Without that play, they probably upset the Steelers. Cleveland is heading in the right direction and a win on the road this week will prove as much.

Sunday Afternoon

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Photo: Wesley Hitt, Getty Images)

New York Jets (0-1) 17 @ Oakland Raiders (1-0) 45: New York will be lucky to win a single game this season. They are tanking whether it is on purpose or by accident, it is a tank. Oakland opened the season by flying across the country and beating up on a team many predicted to win their division. The offense is loaded and Marshawn Lynch is back to being “Beast Mode”. The defense looked much improved from last season. Everything seems to be falling into place perfectly. Oakland defends the Black Hole in a complete annihilation.

Miami Dolphins (0-0) 20 @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) 27: The Chargers almost had the upset but almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. Los Angeles’ defense is going to be elite and the offense seems to have chosen the run as its identity. They will be a good team this season. Miami will be playing its first game of the season due to Hurricane Irma. The Dolphins won’t be ready and Los Angeles gets a much-needed win.

Dallas Cowboys (1-0) 32 @ Denver Broncos (1-0) 22: Denver was lucky to sneak away with a win in week one. They might not be so lucky this week. Trevor Siemian played well but the problem is his inconsistency. One week he looks like an NFL starter and the next he looks like a backup. He will look like a backup against Dallas. The Cowboys, on the other hand, looked amazing against the Giants. Dak Prescott seems to have more control of the offense and Ezekiel Elliot is back to his old ways. Dallas goes into the Mile High City and stops on the Broncos.

Washington Redskins (1-0) 10 @ Los Angeles Rams (1-0) 21: Was that the Los Angeles Rams or the 2015 Denver Broncos defense on the field last week? The answer is the Rams, but it’s because former Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is now running the defense of the Rams. Defensively, they played lights out and still get to add Aaron Donald to the mix. The offense looked NFL worthy as Jared Goff had a spectacular game. It was against the Colts thought. This week they matchup with the Washington Redskins who dropped their game to their division rival Eagles. Kirk Cousins will not play well in this game. Los Angeles puts out another championship caliber defensive performance to start 2-0.

San Fransisco 49ers (1-0) 6 @ Seattle Seahawks (0-1) 28: Russell Wilson was running for his life against the Packers. Seattle still hasn’t fixed their offensive line issues and it may spell doom for them this season. The defense is still elite but can only do so much. Although they may be in for a difficult season they won’t struggle against the 49ers. San Fransisco will be good in a few years but right now there isn’t enough talent in the locker room to do any damage. Seahawks will win this one, easily.

Sunday Night

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Unknown)

Green Bay (1-0) 41 @ Atlanta Falcons (1-0) 38: A rematch of the NFC Championship game in which Atlanta ran Green Bay off the field. Green Bay’s secondary will be tested yet again in this game but will hold up better. Atlanta looked bad in Chicago and a hangover is lingering. Matt Ryan will put up a lot of points in this game but Aaron Rodgers will put up more. The Packers offense may need 40 to win but the opportunity for revenge will cause them to do so. Packers will upset Atlanta because Aaron Rodgers has a 350 yard, four touchdown game.

Monday Night

Detroit Lions (1-0) 31 @ New York Giants (0-1) 34: The Lions are still the comeback kids after last week’s comeback against the Arizona Cardinals. Matthew Stafford shook off the pick six to have a pretty stellar game. Detroit doesn’t have the defense to be a playoff team but Stafford will carry this team to a few unexpected wins. The Giants looked shell shocked against Dallas. There is no run game whatsoever. They should have drafted a running back from this amazing class but felt Paul Perkins was the answer. He is not. If they can’t run the ball they can’t open up the passing game. Odell should be back in action in this game and Eli Manning will be the happiest about it. Odell makes the difference and the Giants get in the win column, barely

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Five things to watch in college football week 3

After a great slate of games in the first two weeks, week three doesn’t have the same amount of marquee matchups. There are still some interesting games to look out for and upsets are always possible. Here are five things to watch this weekend in college football:

1. Clemson’s Defensive Front vs. Lamar Jackson

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Lamar Jackson (Photo by si.com)

The biggest game of the weekend is by far Clemson at Louisville. This is a game that can really help to figure out the ACC in terms of the College Football Playoff race. Both teams have won both their games, but there are some visible causes for concern. In this game though the battle to watch is the Clemson defensive line against Lamar Jackson.

Clemson’s defensive line was relentless against Auburn and totaled 11 sacks. They are one of the most talented units in the country and will need to be at their best Saturday. Lamar Jackson won the Heisman last year due to his dynamic dual-threat abilities and has gotten this season off on the right foot. Avoiding the Clemson defense will be a good challenge for him.

This game last year was one of the most thrilling games of the college football season and Louisville will be looking for revenge after falling to Clemson. The winner of this game is in a good position to win the ACC Atlantic Division and may be in line for a CFP spot.

2. Two great quarterback prospects dueling

Five things to watch for in college football week 3

Justin Herbert (Photo by kgw.com)

When Oregon and Wyoming play on Saturday night, two future NFL quarterbacks will be playing against each other. That is not a statement that would have been thinkable too many times, but both teams have recruited very good signal callers to lead their teams.

Wyoming has Josh Allen, who could end up being the number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen is a big, athletic, strong-armed quarterback who has drawn some comparisons to Cam Newton. He did struggle in the Cowboys’ season opener against Iowa, but he still has plenty of football left to prove he is worthy of being the first player selected.

Justin Herbert is only a sophomore, but has shown he can be a great quarterback in the future. He also is big and has a strong arm. Herbert makes throws down the field and has shown the ability to make NFL-level throws. In the Ducks’ game against Nebraska he threw for for 365 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

There will be a lot of scouts in Laramie, Wyoming for this game and a lot of fans should check out what could be future NFL quarterbacks as well.

3. Rematch of a National Championship

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Vince Young (Photo by si.com)

Texas and USC are playing each other in a rematch of one of the best National Championship Games in history. The game concluded with Vince Young running in a game winning touchdown in Pasadena on January 4, 2006. This game still rubs USC supporters the wrong way, as they are now calling it a “vacated loss” as a result of the Reggie Bush scandal. Unfortunately they can’t erase the memory of Vince Young running into the end zone to win it for the Longhorns.

This game may not be very competitive, but is at least a matchup of two historic programs. Texas lost to Maryland in week one, but beat San Jose State in week two. USC has two impressive wins over Western Michigan and Stanford. USC should win this game pretty easily, but they will show plenty of highlights of the 2006 Rose Bowl to keep viewers interested. Plus any chance to see Sam Darnold in action has to be taken.

4. SEC East matchups

Five things to watch in week 3 college football

Feleipe Franks (Photo by alligatorarmy.com)

There are two SEC East games that could mean a lot in a pretty murky division. First Tennessee plays Florida in the afternoon. Tennessee has two wins, but there are a lot of questions still for them. Florida looked really sloppy against Michigan. Their offense was awful and they will need to find some solutions. Their defense should keep this game close. The winner should be able to challenge Georgia for the SEC East title.

Kentucky will travel to take on South Carolina in an under the radar game. With Georgia playing a freshman quarterback, while Jacob Eason is injured and Tennessee and Florida not looking to good thus far, there is a window of opportunity. South Carolina will be relying on Jake Bentley getting the ball to Deebo Samuel. The Wildcats on the other hand will try to run the ball with running back Benny Snell. Whoever is more successful at carrying out their offensive game plan will win the game.

5. Upset alerts in the early games

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Riley Ferguson (Photo by zimbio.com)

The early games on Saturday have a lot of games that could be closer than the experts think. One such game will take place in Memphis with UCLA coming to town. The Tigers have been a solid program, have a good quarterback in Riley Ferguson and have the benefit of being at home. UCLA will have to travel across the country for a very early start. The game will be close and UCLA is favored by just three points.

Oklahoma State will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers in the noon EST time slot as well. The Cowboys should win the game, but Pittsburgh should play them tough after keeping the game close with Penn State in Happy Valley last week.

If Michigan plays like they did against Cincinnati, they may lose to Air Force. The Falcons beat VMI 62-0 in their one game so far and are ready for the Big House. If Jim Harbaugh can get Michigan to play up to their potential, this game could be a blowout, but Michigan has yet to get to that point this season.

It may end up that none of these games result in an upset, but at least a couple of the noon games will be interesting to watch.

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