Daytona

60th Running of the Daytona 500: What to watch for

The 60th running of the Great American Race is almost here and it’s primed to be a good one. Countless storylines have developed over the offseason and the drivers are itching for the green flag to drop. Before that happens, here’s a few things to watch for during Sunday’s Daytona 500:

Team Penske

The Penske Fords flexed their muscles during the Advanced Auto Parts Clash last Sunday by all finishing in the top-four. Keselowski took home the victory after driving through the pack from starting in last. Bounce-back candidate, Joey Logano, finished in second, and Penske new-comer, Ryan Blaney, brought the 12 car home in fourth.

Daytona

Photo from NASCAR.com

During the Clash the trio ran 1-2-3 for a large majority of the race. Keselowski has one win back in July 2016 at Daytona, while Logano won the 500 back in February 2015. Logano also has three top-6s in his last four Daytona races.

In the Can-Am Duel on Thursday night we saw much of the same. The three Penske teammates dominated the race from start to finish. Logano led most of the Duel but Keselowski was wrecked late by Jamie McMurray as Ryan Blaney made a move on his teammate Logano for the lead.

Blaney brought home the win and Logano edged the rookie, Darell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., for 2nd. Team Penske has looked stout throughout the Clash and the Duels, look for the trio to be strong on Sunday. Blaney starts 3rd on Sunday with Logano behind him in 5th. Keselowski will be forced to use a back-up car after getting wrecked in the Duel. He’ll start back in 31st.

Roush Fenway Racing

We can’t forget about the Roush Fenway Fords. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took home two restrictor plate victories last season, and one was at the July Daytona race. He’s become a name that you expect to see leading the pack late at Daytona or Talladega. He was involved in a wreck last year during the 500 that resulted in a 31st place finish, but prior to that he finished 5th in the July 2016 Daytona race.

He’s an absolute bulldog on restrictor plate tracks. He’s known for putting his car into places that it often doesn’t fit, but somehow he makes it out the other side unscathed in most cases.

Daytona

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

In the Can-Am Duel on Thursday night he was all over the track and “caused” two wrecks because of his driving. Although, it’s more of a matter of opinion whether they were his fault. William Byron and David Gilliland spun and crashed as Stenhouse Jr. cut underneath them and took the air off their cars without ever making contact.

He ended up fourth in the Duel and will start 9th in the race on Sunday.

Stenhouse’s counterpart, Trevor Bayne, is also a winner at Daytona. While it may seem like ages ago, back in 2011 Bayne crossed the stripe first in a season where he didn’t have a full time ride. It’s worth noting that he has two top-10s in his last three races at Daytona and three in the last five. He’ll roll of 18th at the drop of the green.

Ford manufactured cars have won seven straight restrictor plate races and a total of 16 of the last 28.

The New Chevy ZL1

During the offseason Chevrolet unveiled the sleek 2018 Camaro ZL1 as the new Chevrolet model race car. Chevy tied Ford with 10 wins during the 36 race season, trailing the Toyota’s by six (16).

Daytona

Photo from @TeamChevy Twitter

Teams such as Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, Leavine Family Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, and JTG Daugherty Racing all are hoping that the new Chevy model will have a little more speed than last year’s model.

The Toyota’s were the class of the field for the majority of last season. They led 5,757 laps out of the 10,611 on the season, an astounding 54.4 percent. They also won nearly half the races, including eight of the ten playoff races. Last season was the first year for the new model of Toyota Camry, and it took the Toyota driver’s some time to get going. While they did experience a slow start to the season, once they did hit their stride they never looked back for the rest of the season.

Will the new ZL1 experience the same slow start the Camry’s did last season? If so, can they bounce back and dominate down the stretch enroute to a championship just as the Toyota’s did in 2017?

Danica Patrick

Patrick is making her final Daytona 500 start of her NASCAR career. There’s a few storylines to follow with her in her final Daytona start. She’s no longer dating fellow racer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The two split during the offseason and she’s since become involved in a relationship with Green Bay Packers’ quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the two race each other since they split. When the two were together they both claimed they would race each other as if they were just another driver on the track. We’ll have to see if there’s any bad blood between the two as they hit the asphalt on Sunday.

Another thing to watch for is how aggressive she’ll be. Patrick refuses to let the guys push her around and may initiate the pushing if it means a chance to win for her. She’s never won a NASCAR Monster Energy Series race and wants to leave her mark on the sport before stepping away from it for good.

She’ll start 28th with some fast cars in front of her on Sunday.

The Great Equalizer

The draft is one of the things that makes racing on restrictor plate tracks so great. If you’re not familiar with drafting, it’s when the cars run single-file on the track, bumper-to-bumper, to maximize their speed. By racing single-file they’re much more aerodynamic, which evens out the playing field. Even if a car has sustained damage at Daytona, the draft will still make the car just as fast as the undamaged cars. Whether you’re a seasoned vet or a rookie, if you can utilize the draft properly, you can run at the front.

While its easy to predict names like Keselowski, Stenhouse Jr., and Logano to be at the front or even win the race, there’s several other names you need to watch for because of the draft. David Ragan is a name you probably haven’t heard in a while. He races for a smaller, lesser known team, Front Row Motorsports. Ragan won at Daytona in 2011 and Talladega in 2013. He’ll start 15th on Sunday.

Another name you shouldn’t sleep on is Paul Menard. While he only has one career win, he’s stepped into a competitive 21 car with Wood Brothers Racing. He’s run strong at Daytona recently, finishing 3rd and 5th in the last two races there. He’ll start 16th along side Ragan.

The Big One(s)

Daytona

Photo: Nigel Kinrade/NKP

The restrictor plate tracks, Daytona and Talladega, are both known for “The Big One.” The Big One, meaning a huge chain-reaction crash that takes out numerous cars, and theres usually more than one of these big pileups. If you can avoid the several small crashes and the couple big ones throughout the race, there’s a good chance you’ll have a top-10 run as the laps start to wind down. It’s not crazy to see only 20 or so cars running at full speed in the dying laps.

 

Feature image credit: AP / John Chilton

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NFL head coach hires

How to help and how not to help an NFL quarterback

The NFL world is simply waiting on the Super Bowl for the next week or so. After that game, Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels are expected to take the head coaching jobs in Detroit and Indianapolis respectively. This will fill the remaining head coaching vacancies in the league.

Like every other year, many of the new coaches are inheriting murky quarterback situations. Thus, it is hard to predict how they will fare until the quarterback questions are answered.

However, two of the new head coaches inherit no quarterback questions whatsoever. The Lions and Titans have quarterbacks that have been reasonably successful in the NFL, but need to get to the next level and start winning playoff games on a consistent basis. One of these teams is about to make the right hire for that to happen, and the other has already made the wrong one.

The right hire: Matt Patricia

NFL head coach hires

photo: freep.com

Like McDaniels and Indianapolis, Patricia will have to fight against the dismal head coaching track record of Patriots assistants over the years, including McDaniels. The good news is Patricia inherits something that many other new head coaches would kill for, Matthew Stafford.

Stafford has never won anything important in this league, but he has also rarely, if ever, been the problem in Detroit. He has thrown almost twice as many touchdown passes as interceptions in his career and flirts with throwing for 5,000 yards every year. It is beyond debate that Stafford can play at a high level.

The problem in Detroit in recent years has been defense, discipline and situational football. This year, Detroit narrowly missed out on the playoffs, finishing at 9-7. They lost games when they scored 24, 26 and 38 points. One or two more defensive stops and the Lions could have done damage in the playoffs.

The now famous Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary clip below from the NFL’s YouTube channel is also worth revisiting. This was a December game dripping with playoff implications. A facemask penalty gave the Packers an untimed down for a prayer into the end zone. The Lions inexplicably had defenders in the middle of the field on the final play and lost because of it.

Fortunately for Lions fans, Patricia cut his teeth on defense and comes from New England, where discipline and situational football are taught as well as they have ever been. Regardless of whether Patricia keeps highly regarded offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter or not, Stafford will continue to produce.

All Patricia has to do for the Lions to become factors when the weather gets cold every year is correct the mistakes detailed in the previous two paragraphs. Stafford has the talent to get this franchise where it wants to go. Moreover, Patricia has the pedigree and the specific knowledge the Lions need to make everything around its franchise quarterback just a little bit better.

The wrong hire: Mike Vrabel

NFL head coach hires

Photo: oregonlive.com

Yes, Mike Mularkey won the Titans a playoff game. However, Marcus Mariota threw more interceptions than touchdown passes this year. So, moving on from Mularkey in the hopes of finding a head coach who can better help develop a 24-year-old quarterback is perfectly reasonable.

What makes absolutely no sense is hiring a first time NFL head coach that has only spent one year as an NFL coordinator to accomplish the above goal. It makes even less sense when you add in the fact that Mike Vrabel’s one year as a coordinator was spent overseeing a defense that gave up a league worst 436 total points this year.

Now there is more to being an NFL head coach than just developing a young quarterback, but you do not have to be a genius to figure out that Vrabel does not have the background or the proven track record to get the best out of Mariota.

Vrabel has to pick the right offensive coordinator. If he does, he has a puncher’s chance of not crashing and burning in Tennessee. However, Titans fans should be nervous about Vrabel picking the offensive coordinator. He has already said he wants to put his young quarterback in a Chip Kelly style offense. Chip Kelly’s offense was nothing short of a complete disaster in the NFL. Why anyone would want to explore that again is beyond me, even though Mariota played for Kelly at Oregon.

Tennessee and Detroit are both franchises that have a great deal of hope tied to their franchise quarterbacks under the age of 30. The difference is the Lions organization has been holding Stafford back for years now. Conversely, Mariota is holding back the entire Titans franchise at the moment. Those are both very delicate situations to be in. Detroit made the perfect hire for its situation, while Tennessee completely whiffed.

 

Featured image from bigplay.com 

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We need baseball back

We need baseball back ASAP

Alabama football just won its fifth National Championship in nine years. The New England Patriots have been to seven straight AFC Championship games and are favored to win its third Super Bowl in four years.

In 20 of the last 21 seasons, Mike Krzyzewski and his Duke Blue Devils have earned a four seed or better in the NCAA Tournament. This season, they are off to an 18-2 start, and when it comes to next year, the Blue Devils will have the nation’s top three recruits all wearing blue and white. That’s right, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish, the three highest recruited players in the country, have all committed to Duke. UConn women’s basketball has been to 10 straight Final Four’s and have won four out of the last five NCAA Tournaments.

We need baseball back

In the last three Finals, we have seen these two square up. (Photo from slamonline.com)

Barring an epic collapse, the Golden State Warriors will win its third championship in four years. Despite what the media says, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, in all likelihood, will face the Warriors in the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive season. This would mark LeBron’s eighth straight Finals appearance.

In October, the Warriors opened as a -240 favorite to win the title. The best odds given to any 2018 MLB team to win the World Series is +525.

In 2016, the Minnesota Twins went 59-103, which was good for the worst record in baseball. A year later, with virtually the same roster, they were competing against the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card game. From 2011-13, the Houston Astros averaged 54 wins per year. In 2017, they won 101 games and were World Series Champions.

Translation: baseball is the most competitively balanced sport, and it’s not even close. Sure, dominance like Brady and Belichick, Nick Saban, LeBron, the Warriors, Coach K and Geno Auriemma is awesome to see, but as a fan, isn’t it better to have more parody and uncertainty when it comes to sports?

Systems

Not only is baseball the most competitively balanced sport, but it is also the only sport in which we can accurately critique someone’s skill level on a yearly basis. We know college is all about recruiting. The best coaches recruit the best players.

Last season, in the NFL, we saw the Rams finish 4-12 under coach Jeff Fisher (4-9) and John Fassel (0-3). Quarterback Jared Goff went 0-7 as a starter, and Todd Gurley rushed for under 890 yards and averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.

Now was this because these players were bad? Of course not. They were just in a garbage system, and an offense that, according to Gurley, “looked like a middle school offense.”

We need baseball back

Gurley averaged less than four yards per carry a season ago. (Photo from CBS Sports)

This season, with head coach Sean McVay, the Rams looked like a completely different team. They beefed up the line, and Goff threw 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Gurley had 19 total touchdowns and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 15 games. He became one of 11 running backs in the history of the sport to accomplish these two feats in the same season.

Tom Brady is widely considered as the greatest quarterback of all time, but have you ever seen Aaron Rodgers throw a football? Do you know how many top-10 defenses, in regards to scoring, Aaron Rodgers has played with in his 10 seasons as a starter? Only two. One of them being the time Rodgers helped them win the Super Bowl, and another when they won 11 games.

Since Brady took over as the starter in New England, the Patriots have had 12 top-10 defenses. If Rodgers played with a better coach and personnel, we would probably be telling a different story in regards to the best quarterback.

Case Keenum and Blake Bortles just brought their respected teams into Championship weekend. They were behind center for two of the final four teams, and now the sports media is questioning if any team should pay them “starter” money next season. You know why? Because they are both in good systems with top defenses, and coaches who did a great job hiding their flaws.

Basketball too?

In the 2016-17 season, Victor Oladipo was a solid player for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He averaged about 16 points and four rebounds per game.

After being dealt to the Indiana Pacers in the Paul George deal, Oladipo is now an All-Star. He is averaging 24.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. He is also shooting a career-best field goal percentage, as well as 3-point percentage. Oladipo is playing the same minutes he did last year, except on the Pacers, he does not have to play alongside Russell Westbrook, a ball-dominant player.

As a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love was a monster. He was a three-time All-Star, and averaged 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game over six seasons. He is the only player in NBA history to have multiple seasons with averages of at least 26 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting over 80 percent from the free-throw line. In 2010-11, he became the only player to ever average 20 points and 15 rebounds, while shooting 85 percent from the free-throw line.

Since being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Love has made just one All-Star game (soon to be two) and averages less points and rebounds. Of course, this is because he has been the third option in the offense for essentially all of his four seasons in Cleveland.

America’s Pastime

In 57 games as a member of the Detroit Tigers in 2017, J.D. Martinez hit .305 with an OPS of 1.018. In the last 62 games of the season after being traded to the Diamondbacks, Martinez hit .302 with an OPS of 1.107.

Justin Verlander was dealt to the Houston Astros, and he continued to be the same old Justin Verlander. In fact, he was even better than we expected.

Even though they joined new teams, which meant new coaches and new teammates, these players continued to excel. This is because baseball is the purest sport, and the only sport we can examine someone’s statistics, and without hesitation, declare if they had a good season or not.

We need baseball back

No matter the coach, teammates or system, good MLB players produce. (Photo from Over The Monster)

The point is this. In the NBA and NFL, blaming the system, coaches and teammates can all be valid excuses, to an extent, as to why your production is not where it could be. In the MLB, this is not the case. As a starter, you are given the same amount of chance to succeed as any other starter in the league.

A player cannot blame his batting average on the coach, or his teammates. A pitcher can’t tell the media that “the system” is the reason he walked all those batters. As an MLB player, you are either good or you are not. You had a good hitting season, or you didn’t. You either pitched well, or you didn’t.

Luckily, we are a month away from Cactus League and Grapefruit League games. 2018 will be another unpredictable season. The New York Yankees picked up Giancarlo Stanton, which means they have arguably two of the best four right fielders in baseball.

Once Kevin Durant moved to the Warriors, it was obvious they would win the title. In the MLB, big moves like this do not guarantee anything. Baseball will always be America’s pastime, due to its batter vs. pitcher, “You vs. Me” style of play.

 

Featured image from Grantland

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Fantasy football awards

2017 fantasy football awards

With the fantasy football playoffs underway, it’s time to recognize some of the best players in fantasy this season. Here are the awards for the players who thrived and to some who were disappointments.

Fantasy Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara

The first award for Rookie of the Year is New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara.

Fantasy football awards

Alvin Kamara (Photo from usatoday.com)

It looked as if it could’ve been down to Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. But since Week 6, Kamara has been the No. 1 running back as well as the highest scoring back. In 13 weeks of football, Kamara has over 1,200 yards of total offense and 11 touchdowns. The overall stats for Kamara are 606 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, as well as 614 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

He currently ranks second in fantasy points at the position and 15th among overall players.

Biggest busts: Amari Cooper & Terrelle Pryor

In fantasy, there are always players who should do well, but just struggle. These players just don’t meet expectations. This year we have two recipients, and they go to wide receivers Amari Cooper and Terrelle Pryor.

For Cooper, he was a consistent second-round pick, and through 13 weeks, he is currently ranked the 37th wide receiver with 80.3 fantasy points. He only has 42 receptions, 499 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games. He only has four games where he scored 10 points or more. In 2016, he finished as the 12th best receiver.

As for Pryor, he was picked right around where Cooper was and went from fantasy potential to fantasy disappointment. In nine games, he only has a total of 30 fantasy points and averaged just 3.3 points per game. This comes after a year when Pryor logged a 1,000-yard campaign with the Browns and finished in the top 20 at the position in fantasy. He is now out for the season and finished WR90 after a bust 2017 season.

Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year: Todd Gurley

Not every player has a great season, but great players can rebound after a disappointing year. In 2017, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley bounced back in one of the leagues’ top scoring offenses.

Fantasy football awards

Todd Gurley (Photo from latimes.com)

Gurley finished the regular fantasy season as the No. 1 running back and seventh overall player. He has averaged 20 points per game this season with 939 rushing yards, 563 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns.

Last year, he finished as the 20th running back with 885 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Gurley clearly improved with the new offense under Sean McVay.

Sympathy Award: Aaron Rodgers

In fantasy, there’s that one good player that is the soul of your team. For most, it was Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He went down with a broken collarbone in Week 6 against the Minnesota Vikings. For the fantasy owners of Rodgers, we give you this award to ease the pain.

Through five weeks, Rodgers had 1,367 passing yards and 13 touchdowns with three interceptions. He was on pace for another solid fantasy season where he was the No. 1 overall player in fantasy points. At the time before Week 6, he was the sixth overall player in fantasy and fifth among quarterbacks.

There have been reports he was off the injured reserve and could come back in Week 15. But for some, it’s too late. If you survived without him after his injury, then kudos to you. For most, it was heartbreaking, and we hope next year Rodgers can bounce back again.

Best Kicker: Greg Zuerlein

For some thinking why I included this award, it’s because kickers are players too. Every once in a while, a kicker wins for you when your down by five or less and need that one kick. This year, there was no one as dominant as Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein.

Fantasy football awards

Greg Zuerlein (Photo from turfshowtimes.com)

Zuerlein has accumulated 167 fantasy points. That’s 32 more points than the next kicker Stephen Gotskowski. As an overall player, he is the 25th best player. That’s better than players like Julio Jones, LeSean McCoy, A.J. Green and Rob Gronkowski. He’s even currently outscoring players like DeAndre Hopkins, who is averaging 13.5 points per game to Zuerlein’s 13.9. Thats unheard of. He’s even outscoring running backs ranked fourth and lower, and that includes Mark Ingram, Melvin Gordon and Kareem Hunt. That’s incredible coming from a kicker.

It should be noted he is part of a top scoring offense, but he is capitalizing no matter where he has to kick from. He truly should be recognized as a fantasy beast in 2017.

Fantasy MVP: Russell Wilson

Finally, the fantasy MVP award goes to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Through the 13 weeks of football, Wilson has scored 279.4 fantasy points. This season, he has thrown for 3,256 yards, rushed for 432 yards and has 29 total touchdowns. He has contributed 29 of the 30 touchdowns on offense for the Seahawks this season. If that doesn’t convince you, another big component to his success is consistency, averaging 23.3 points per game.

Wilson has finished in the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks in eight of 11 games played. Not only is he a prototype player, he is basically the Seattle offense. It’s not just throwing touchdowns that makes him MVP, it’s his ability outside the pocket to create plays.

Other awards

Some other considerations this season include the following.

The best wavier wire player award goes to Robby Anderson of the New York Jets. He went from undrafted in most of leagues to now a top 10 receiver in fantasy. Since Week 6, he has been the third best receiver, averaging 13.8 fantasy points per game.

The next award for a good start to downhill is Kareem Hunt. Hunt exploded for 45.6 points in the Chiefs’ season opener. He followed that up with 25.9, 25.3, 16.1, 14.6, 16.0, and 15.7-point performances in PPR leagues in the following six weeks, making him the No. 2 back through Week 7. Since then, he’s dropped to 38th and hasn’t cracked 11 points in a game since mid-October.

The most memorable week in fantasy this year goes to Julio Jones. He has been a disappointment all year, but in Week 12 against the Buccaneers, he went on a tear with 50 points in PPR. That matchup accounted for more than a quarter of his total points this season.

Finally, the most improved player this year is Adam Thielen. The Minnesota Vikings receiver went from the 29th wide receiver in 2016 to top 10 in 2017. He is on pace to surpass his total points from last year and become the first Viking since Sidney Rice back in 2009 to have 1,000 yards receiving. He doesn’t have a lot of touchdowns, but he’s averaging 88 yards a game, which is fourth among receivers as well as the fourth best receiving yards.

 

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Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Waiver wire pickups for Week 14 and the playoffs

Congratulations! If you are taking interest to this article, that means you most likely made your leagues’ playoffs.

It was an interesting fantasy season. We’ve seen unlikely fantasy stars such as Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs emerge as a weekly starter as the top quarterback for the first eight weeks. We also saw Ezekiel Elliott get suspended at the stretch of the season. Even the last week of the season, we saw a crazy end with Smith, Josh McCown and Blake Bortles as top finishers at quarterback while Tom Brady and Matt Ryan delivered single-digit numbers.

The biggest headline in fantasy was injuries. Big names like Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr., David Johnson, Andrew Luck, Julian Edelman and others suffered injuries either before the season or midway through.

The big storylines go on and on, but there are more important things to cover as it is playoff time. The purpose of this article is to start the playoffs right by making decisions to advance to the next week, even if you earned a first-round bye. Here are the top waiver wire pickups for the start of the playoffs.

Running Back Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Peyton Barber (Photo from NFL.com)

With Doug Martin missing time due to a concussion, many expected Jacquizz Rodgers to be the main back. However, it was Peyton Barber who led the way with 23 carries for 102 yards with a team-high 41 receiving yards on four catches. He racked up the first 100-yard rushing game for the Bucs this season. No one expected that.

If Martin is not available, Barber should continue to get carries and take over as the top dog in the Bucs’ backfield. If Martin does make a return, expect Barber to be the second back after his performance against the Packers.

He is set to be a RB2 as they play the Lions, who rank 28th against running backs.

Running Backs Theo Riddick and Tion Green, Detroit Lions

Ameer Abdullah’s neck injury opened things up in the Lions’ backfield as both running backs found the end zone. Theo Riddick gained 62 total yards on nine carries and five catches while Green had 51 yards on 11 carries.

As for which back to have, there is no wrong way to go depending on the league. Riddick is a better pick for PPR leagues and Green is better for standard leagues. Either way, both should have a solid day splitting reps against the Buccaneers run defense, which has yielded high rushing averages and lots of touchdowns over its last three games.

Look for Riddick to have more upside in fantasy especially with many banged-up backs and receivers. He has flex value in standard leagues. For Green, he should continue to be the preferred option around the goal line.

Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers

Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Marquise Goodwin (Photo from ninersnation.com)

With Pierre Garcon out for the year, Marquise Goodwin in the last four games has gained 68, 83, 78 and 99 yards, good for an average of 82 yards per game. Even with the switch at quarterback, Goodwin remained the top target for Jimmy Garoppolo. Along with that 99-yard outing against the Chicago Bears, he caught all of his eight targets. It seems Garoppolo has possibly found his No. 1 target for next year, and this is a good way to the end the year for Goodwin.

He has great matchups in the next two weeks against the Houston Texans, who rank 27th against receivers, and the Tennessee Titans, who are right in front of the Texans against receivers. This makes him a viable WR3/flex start the next two weeks.

Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse, New York Jets

This could go either way, but Jermaine Kearse is worth a look for depth. He has at least eight targets in each of his last three, and at least 15 fantasy points in each of his last two. Against the Chiefs, he caught nine of his 10 targets for 157 yards. Its evident that Robby Anderson is the top target, which make defenses try to limit him and put softer coverage on Kearse. Josh McCown has no problem leaning on Kearse in their pass-heavy offense.

He has three tough games ahead of him against the Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Chargers, all ranked 12th or higher against receivers. The matchup next week against Denver isn’t the worst matchup as the Miami Dolphins torched them with 35 points. Dolphin receivers caught 11 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback Josh McCown, New York Jets

My dark horse pickup, especially with the injuries to Tyrod Taylor and Matthew Stafford, is Josh McCown of the New York Jets. He had another solid fantasy day with multiple touchdowns in a high-scoring game against the Chiefs.

In his last eight he has posted double-digit points with over 20 points in his last two. He ranks as the 14th quarterback in fantasy this week according to Fantasy Pros, which is better than Alex Smith, Derek Carr and Jameis Winston, who are all on fantasy teams. Now he mostly picks that up with some garbage time, but the Jets have been a solid team all season at 5-7 within playoff contention. McCown continues to defy the odds and gets better as the season progresses.

McCown should be a QB2 on fantasy teams just in case, especially if you have Taylor and/or Stafford. Like Kearse, he isn’t a bad matchup against Denver.

 

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Russell Wilson MVP

The MVP case for Russell Wilson

Even with Aaron Rodgers sidelined at the moment, the conversation in regards to the best NFL quarterbacks is basically Rodgers, Tom Brady and then everybody else. However, one more name needs to be added to that conversation, and that would be Russell Wilson.

If you take the word valuable to heart in the phrase “Most Valuable Player,” Wilson should have an MVP trophy on his mantle before long.

Why is he overlooked?

There are a number of answers here. Seattle is not one of the NFL’s glamour franchises. Moreover, unless you have a living legend like Peyton Manning or you are the Lakers, West Coast teams as a whole are often undervalued by the mainstream media in any sport.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Wilson’s Seahawks were actually underdogs to Manning’s Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. This has to do with time zones and most major American media companies being based on the East Coast. So that will not be changing anytime soon.

Wilson also never says anything particularly interesting, which is not a bad thing. More importantly, he never says the wrong thing. Throughout the Pete Carroll era, Seattle’s identity has been a defense led by outspoken players like Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett. Wilson has always been content in letting those guys do all the talking for the media to eat up. This makes it even easier for him to get lost in the shuffle in terms of praise and accolades.

We live in an age of technology, analytics and numbers. So many efforts are made to make NFL talent evaluation an exact science, but Wilson is perhaps the best example of how impossible that is.

We have yet to come up with a statistic or drill that adequately measures Wilson’s ability to pull off plays like the one below from the NFL’s YouTube channel. There is not another quarterback on the planet who can pull that off.

If you were to genetically engineer an NFL quarterback, it would look a lot like Rodgers and nothing like Wilson. His style is one we rarely see in the NFL, and it facilitates a different kind of greatness. It is one that is difficult to quantify, but it deserves to be recognized just the same.

Wilson is carrying the Seahawks

The Seahawks have not missed the playoffs in Wilson’s career. He has always done his part at the very least. However, this year has been a bit different. Seattle’s roster is not as loaded as it has been in past seasons.

Russell Wilson MVP

(Photo from Seattle Times)

Injuries to Sherman and Kam Chancellor have turned a defense that was once great into something average, leaving us all wondering if the “Legion of Boom” is a thing of the past. Seattle has lost two games this year where Wilson and the offense have put up over 25 points. If Seattle put up 25 points a few years ago, you could pretty much mark down a win.

Wilson’s supporting cast on offense has not been much better. Outside of Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham, there is not a lot there. You almost need three hands to count the number of running backs the Seahawks have used this year. Some of that is due to injury, while the rest is due to ineffectiveness. That situation has become so dyer that Wilson is also the team’s leading rusher.

Seattle’s history of not paying big money for offensive lineman is well documented. This year, they have gotten what they paid for. They rank 20th in sacks allowed. Keep in mind this offensive line blocks for the most mobile quarterback in football, granted Wilson sometimes holds on to the ball too long. Even so, a less mobile quarterback would get beheaded behind this line.

Looking ahead

Despite all this, Wilson has Seattle squarely in the playoff hunt. Due to bad special teams, their last two losses have them on the outside looking in. Wilson put his team in position to win both games.

The Seahawks will be favorite to win all but one of their remaining games. Beating the teams they should beat will get Seattle in the playoffs. Anything can happen from there.

Raw numbers have kept Wilson from MVP conversations in the past. That certainly is not the case this year. He is tied for third in touchdown passes and ranks fifth in passing yards. Accounting for over 80 percent of Seattle’s  total offense means that Wilson is being forced to do much more than guys like Tom Brady and Carson Wentz.

Fantasy football is not always the best metric to determine a player’s effectiveness or importance. However, it is appropriate for Wilson this season. He is the top quarterback in ESPN standard scoring leagues this year.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the MVP award going to Brady or Wentz based on the solid but tired “best player on the best team” logic. However, no player is more important to their team than Russell Wilson.

 

Featured image from Boston Herald 

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Ty Montgomery fantasy

Is it time to drop Ty Montgomery?

Many fantasy owners who drafted Ty Montgomery were stoked with his output through two weeks of the season. Starting off strong as his first full season as the lead back with the Packers, Montgomery put up 14 and 22 fantasy points respectively.

Since then, he has fallen off quite a bit, leaving owners with one question: Is it time to drop Ty Montgomery?

The case for keeping him

I was on board with drafting the Packers’ swiss army knife at the beginning of the season, but times have changed. Now Montgomery finds himself behind Aaron Jones on the death chart. With Jones’ recent performances, it doesn’t seem like Montgomery will jump back up anytime soon. Montgomery does hold some value though.

With the likely season ending injury to Aaron Rodgers, the Packers turn to Brett Hundley for answers and to try and save their season. Hundley will look to the reliable weapons that are known on Green Bay, and Montgomery falls under that category.

As a pass-catching back on third downs, Montgomery will be used as another option for the young quarterback to look to. Now let’s all understand that Hundley is no Aaron Rodgers, but that only means Montgomery will have to create holes for himself and try and recreate his string start to the season.

There’s also the obvious chance of injury for Jones. If you have the space on your bench and don’t mind stashing away a running back that may become very valuable for the playoffs, by all means keep him on your bench.

If everything stays as is right now, it doesn’t look like keeping Montgomery will be a valuable option to play week after week. But bye weeks and the chance that he bursts back onto the season gives me reason to believe he holds some value.

The case to drop him

Now many of you are probably done waiting for Montgomery to break out, and I understand that. If you don’t think that he’s worth a spot on your roster and you feel more comfortable with him on the waivers and another player in his spot, then stop reading and drop him. However, if you’re still on the fence, continue reading.

Ty Montgomery fantasy

Photo from Getty Images

Like I said earlier, Aaron Rodgers is likely out for the season with a broken collarbone. A big part of Montgomery’s game came from Rodgers. Without him, Montgomery is going to have to make space for himself when he gets the touches. That’s the key part. We need to see Montgomery get more of an opportunity.

As a pass catcher, we’ve seen Montgomery struggle in recent weeks. Over the last four weeks, he’s had a total of four receptions for 12 yards. Those numbers are not like the ones from last year when he was a true dual-threat.

The rushing attempts have been inconsistent as well. From Week 4 to Week 7, Montgomery’s rushing attempts have been five, zero, 10 and four.

We haven’t seen a steady amount of output coming from Montgomery, and unless that changes in this next week or two, he has no place on your team.

 

Featured image by Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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Aaron Rodgers fantasy

Fantasy football injury: Aaron Rodgers

Injuries continued in the NFL on Sunday to key players in fantasy football. The major one was to Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers left the game after awkwardly landing on his throwing shoulder and was diagnosed with a broken collarbone. This is the second time Rodgers has broken his collarbone. The first time was back in 2013 on his left shoulder. Although the Packers haven’t given a timetable for him to return, there is a possibility he could miss the rest of the season. Brett Hundley is the next man up in Green Bay.

Passing Game Going Forward

Aaron Rodgers fantasy football injury

Devante Adams (Photo from packersnews.com)

Of course every fantasy owner of Rodgers is devastated. Most owners don’t have a backup because well, he’s Aaron Rodgers. Besides Rodgers owners, fantasy owners of Green Bay offensive players are also in a panic, especially owners of their receivers. If you had someone in the passing offense in Green Bay, you knew you would get a solid day with the best quarterback throwing them the ball. From this point forward, the expectations of the Packers’ passing game should be down.

With Hundley under center, it’s unlikely guys like Jordy Nelson and Devante Adams will have a 100-yard game or multiple touchdowns on a weekly basis. From this week on, they are more touchdown dependent. There will be that one receiver each week that will outperform the rest, but not have tremendous numbers. Players like Martellus Bennett and Randall Cobb should be on your bench.

The Run Game

The run game will be the go-to for the Packers to make Hundley more comfortable. While the running backs in Green Bay could be the fantasy go-to, don’t expect big numbers like some situations when starting quarterbacks go down.

Teams going forward against the Packers are going to dare Hundley to throw the ball and focus on stopping the run. The other thing to look at is the Packers’ running backs. Ty Montgomery had 10 carries on 20 snaps and Aaron Jones had 13 carries on 40 snaps. Jones looks to be the better of the two, but expect in the middle of the game that whoever has the hot hand will get the football.

How to view Hundley

Hundley looks to be the long-term replacement for Rodgers for the season. He completed 18 of 33 passes for a modest 157 yards with three interceptions and one touchdown to Adams. It’s not the best game, but for Hundley, this was all about keeping them in the game and keeping it close, which he did at some points. He has watched and learned from one of the best. Maybe once he get’s a practice in and develops chemistry with the offense, he could be ready and prepared going forward.

Aaron Rodgers fantasy football injury

Brett Hundley (Photo from jsonline.com)

One could argue he could be a good game time manager. He nailed 63.2 percent of his preseason passes and hit on 67.4 percent of his passes over three seasons at UCLA. He does have ability, and with the talent around him, he should have success and have good outings going forward.

From this point, he will play the Saints, Lions, Bears, Ravens, Steelers and Buccaneers with a week 8 bye. It could be worse. Out of the six teams, only the Ravens and Steelers have top-10 defenses against receivers and quarterbacks.

But do we really think he’s the solution to replace Rodgers for the Packers and your fantasy team? Heck no. He’s a matchup guy in fantasy, or in some instances, just on the wavier wire till he proves himself. Unless you’re really desperate now, I would avoid Hundley in any format.

What to do with Rodgers

There’s no way to make this easy, but for all of us, you may have to cut him. This injury is worse then his previous one in 2013. He can’t be depended on at this point. With not many good quarterbacks in the wavier wire, it could be time to make a trade.

One good candidate is Matt Ryan. Fantasy owners are getting frustrated with him and you could get him for a good price if you have depth of players. If you can’t make a trade, then look at the streamable quarterbacks with good matchups.

The injuries in fantasy football continue, and this one might be the hardest to swallow. I don’t think he will be back anytime soon. My one piece of advice is to wait for any news in the coming days before making your move. At this point, it’s up to you whether to keep him or not.

 

Featured image from sbnation.com.

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Stack your money Sunday’s: Week 6

WEEK FIVE REVIEW (3-0) OVERALL: 12-3

Baltimore Ravens (+3) @ Oakland Raiders

Baltimore Ravens 30 Oakland Raiders 17

I’ll never understand E.J. Manuel being favored in an NFL football game, but anyways, this game was rather predictable. Ravens had no problem scoring early against a weak Raiders defense, as Baltimore scored 24 of their 30 points in the first half. Manuel did not turn the ball over, but only managed to throw for 159 yards, and completed half of his passes.

On the other hand, Joe Flacco was rather efficient, and let the running backs control most of the offense. Justin Tucker had a perfect day, notching three field goals, and went a perfect three for three on extra points. With this win, the Ravens are now tied with the Steelers for best record in the AFC North.

 

Seattle Seahawks (+1.5) @ Los Angeles Rams

Seattle Seahawks 16 Los Angeles Rams 10

The Rams were a Cooper Kupp catch away from beating Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks. Luckily, had Kupp hauled in the last minute touchdown, the Seahawks still would have covered. Nonetheless, great win for Seattle, as they often struggle visiting the Rams.

The Seahawks defense came up big and made Jared Goff look like the rookie version of himself. Goff threw a pair of interceptions, and had a quarterback rating 48.9. He also had an abysmal completion percentage of 46.81.

Although Seattle now sits at a comfortable 3-2, the offense still has a lot of work to do. The Seahawks had a real hard time running the football against a weak Rams run defense, and Russell Wilson did not look great. The Rams had over 100 more total yards, so if it weren’t for their five turnovers, Seattle would have gotten blown out.

 

Green Bay Packers (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers 35 Dallas Cowboys 31

For a second, it looked like Dallas was going to win this one, but then I realized if you give Aaron Rodgers a minute and a timeout, you might as well quit. Rodgers was absolutely sensational, throwing three touchdowns, with a quarterback rating of 122.9. The sneakiest, elite performance was Aaron Jones. A rookie from UTEP, Jones rushed for 125 yards and scored his second touchdown in as many weeks.

The unsung hero of last week, Aaron Jones (Lombardi Ave)

Dallas had more first downs, total yards, third downs converted, and more time with the football than Green Bay, but it’s hard to beat Aaron Rodgers when you turn the ball over three times. Through five weeks, Dallas already has tied their loss total from last season. Not to mention they have Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension starting next game.

 

WEEK 6 PICKS

Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Minnesota Vikings

PICK: PACKERS TO COVER

As you can tell, this is now the second week in a row betting on the Packers, hence, Aaron Rodgers is really good and I would trust him with my life. Listen, the guy is 12-6 in his career vs. Minnesota, and has a quarterback rating north of 112. He’s completing 68% of his passes in these games and has 39 touchdowns.

The Vikings barely squeaked by against the Bears, who started a rookie quarterback for the first time, and are one of the most injured teams in the league. Last year, Minnesota ranked third in fewest passing yards allowed. Today, they are 20th. However, they do defend the run well, so it will be interesting to see if they will be able to slow down Aaron Jones, who looks to be the next Ahman Green.

The Packers are forcing a bunch of turnovers, and sit fifth in the league in that department. Their offense also stays on the field. Green Bay is 27th in three and outs, and also are arguably the most efficient team when it comes to scoring in the red zone. The Pack are first in the league in points per red zone trip, as well as first in touchdowns per red zone trip.

Sam Bradford will not play this Sunday, so this game could be over in a hurry. Minnesota is firth worst in touchdowns per drive, and are currently punting on 50 percent of their drives. Look for Aaron Rodgers to throw all over this team, and for Case Keenum to struggle moving the chains for Minnesota.

 

Los Angeles Rams @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5)

PICK: JAGUARS TO COVER

Betting for the Jaguars to cover just sounds like a fun time. Honestly though, Jacksonville is one of the big surprises of the year. They are fifth in scoring and are first in rushing. The Jags defense is insanely elite. That sounds crazy, but they are one of four teams in NFL history with 20+ sacks, 10+ interceptions and 4+ defensive touchdowns through five games in a season. The Jaguars have allowed the second fewest points in the league, rank first in turnovers in created, first in interceptions, and third in fewest passing yards allowed. Jacksonville also allows the fewest points per drive.

We saw what Jared Goff looks like against a good defense last week, so expect more of the same this week. Also, the Rams are allowing the sixth most rushing yards, and the most rushing touchdowns in the league. Jacksonville loves to run the football, as we saw last week against the Steelers. Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory combined for 222 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Bortles doesn’t look great, but the Jaguars are doing a wonderful job of masking his flaws. He is throwing less and they are winning more. In last week’s slaughtering off the Steelers, Bortles only threw a total of 14 passes. The Rams are 23rd in points allowed, and it is highly doubtful Jared Goff starts out 3-0 on the road. Have to believe in Post Marrone and the Jaguars squad to get another W.

 

Los Angeles Chargers @ Oakland Raiders (-3)

PICK: RAIDERS TO COVER

During our weekly podcast, the Raiders were a one-point favorite, and now that it is three, I am not even remotely worried. Derek Carr is playing, and his Raiders have won their last four matchups against the Chargers. The Raiders have lost three in a row, so this is essentially a must win. They cannot drop to 2-4 in a division with the Chiefs and Broncos.

Derek Carr and the Raiders look to remain hot against the Chargers (Raiders.com)

Because of Carr’s injury, Oakland will most likely run the ball a lot. This would make sense because the Chargers have allowed the most rushing yards in the league. They are literally allowing five yards per carry to opposing backs. LeGarrette Blount ran wild against them, so expect a big game from Marshawn Lynch.

With Carr healthy, this is a totally different team. Philip Rivers has already thrown five interceptions and their defense has not been great. Los Angeles is 25th in yards allowed per drive. They are allowing the fourth most points per drive and are the 31st rank defense in terms of time of possession per drive. The Chargers defense cannot get off the field, and will struggle mightily against Carr and the Raiders offense.

Featured image by Jacksonville.com

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Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks (week 6)

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks week 6

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 6 NFL picks.

Last week: 5-8

Overall: 37-39

Teams on byes: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Seattle

Thursday Night

Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) @ Carolina Panthers (4-1):

Sunday Morning

Miami Dolphins (2-2) 13 @ Atlanta Falcons (3-1) 28: The Dolphins are trending in the wrong direction and maybe people will finally see that Jay Cutler is no solution to a problem under center. Miami averages just 251.3 yards per game resulting in just 10.3 points per game. It is going to take three times as many points to beat Atlanta who is averaging 26 points per game themselves. Matt Ryan is going to thoroughly outperform Jay Cutler to push Atlanta to 4-1.

Detroit Lions (3-2) 35 @ New Orleans Saints (2-2) 37: Detroit is coming off a home loss to the Panthers in which the game wasn’t as close as the score was. The Lions looked really good in the first three weeks but haven’t looked as good in the last two games. The Saints, on the other hand, have a two-game win streak and are coming off of a bye. This game has the feeling of a shootout and Drew Brees is a hard man to outscore. The Saints are favored by five points. They won’t cover the spread, but they will win sending the Lions to .500.

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks (week 6)

(Photo Credit: Matt Blewett/The Minnesota Sports Report)

Green Bay Packers (4-1) 20 @ Minnesota (3-2) 24: Very few football minds will be picking the Vikings in this game, but this is really a 50-50 game, especially in Minnesota. The Vikings have a defense that has, at times, caused fits for Aaron Rodgers. They have held Rodgers under 15 points in two of the last three matchups. The one thing that could be tough for the Vikings is scoring. Their offense is missing key pieces and interchanging quarterbacks like socks. The defense must dominate for Minnesota to have a chance. They will be dominant and get the upset at home.

New England Patriots (3-2) 45 @ New York Jets (3-2) 17: New York was supposed to be winless but instead find themselves with three wins. It is extremely surprising that they are in this position but the surprises end here. New England is going to make a massive statement in this game. They will go to New York and put up 40 points behind a 350-yard performance from the great Tom Brady. This will be a blowout.

San Francisco 49ers (0-5) 20 @ Washington Redskins (2-2) 24: Personally, I don’t think the Redskins are all that good of a team this season but are 2-2 and get a chance to play a winless team at home which favors Washington. There will be a heavy dose of running from Washington clash as the Redskins have the seventh-ranked rushing attack and the 49ers give up 116.6 yards per game. San Francisco won’t be able to stop them and Washington will control the clock. This will be a close game on the scoreboard but the Redskins will dominate.

Chicago Bears (1-4) 24 @ Baltimore Ravens (3-2) 21: Bears fans should be smiling after last week. Mitchell Trubisky didn’t set the world on fire but showed tons of potential. Over time he will develop into a solid NFL quarterback. This week he has to face a good, stingy Raven defense. On the other side, the Ravens offense is one of the worst in the league which gives the Bears a chance. Due to the Ravens woeful offense, the Bears have a chance to win. Chicago is going to fly to Baltimore and get an upset behind a big game from Trubisky.

Cleveland Browns (0-5) 24 @ Houston Texans (2-3) 34: This is a great opportunity for DeShaun Watson to step on the field against the Browns and make them miserable for not selecting him in the draft. Watson is second in the NFL in touchdown passes and has looked really good. Sometimes the accuracy isn’t there but that is tolerable with his playmaking ability. Watson has another four-touchdown performance to make Brown fans puke.

Sunday Afternoon

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) 34 @ Arizona Cardinals (2-3) 38: Arizona made huge waves this week trading for Adrian Peterson but will it help them on the field? Probably not in his first game. He has to learn the offense and the Bucs only give up 87.3 yards per game. There will be a lot of passing in this game as both teams struggle to run the ball and both are good at stopping the run. Jameis Winston has a younger arm and a better supporting cast so the Bucs will go to Arizona and get a big road win.

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks (week 6)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Rams (3-2) 24 @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) 21: This game isn’t getting a ton of publicity but will be one of the best games of the week. The Rams have the fifth-ranked passing attack and the Jaguars have the third-ranked rush defense. If Los Angeles comes into the game planning to run they will win the game. Jacksonville gives up 146.4 rush yards per game, the second-worst in the NFL. Todd Gurley will have a career game and lead the Rams to a victory.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) 27 @ Kansas City (5-0) 31: The struggling Steelers are heading into Arrowhead to face the best team in the NFL. Big Ben said he may not have it anymore which means he will probably light it up to prove a point. Even if Big Ben does so, the Chiefs offense is just way too explosive to shut down. At some point, Kareem Hunt will hit a wall and have a bad game but it won’t be this week.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) 21 @ Oakland Raiders (2-3) 24: The site of the game may change with the crazy wildfires burning in California. That type of uncertainty can affect both teams.  It is still up in the air if Derek Carr will play but the Raiders should win regardless. They are the better team. Oakland will finally get their running game going as the Chargers have the worst rush defense in the league, allowing 161.2 yards per game.

Sunday Night

New York Giants (0-5) 0 @ Denver Broncos (3-1) 24: There is not much of a summary needed on why the Broncos will the game. Denver will run all over the Giants defense in a game that shouldn’t be televised nationally. They are coming off a bye and have had two weeks to prepare for a Giants offense that can’t run the ball and has lost their receiving threats. Denver may even pull off a shutout in this game so that will be the prediction. A shutout.

Monday Night

Indianapolis Colts (2-3) 17 @ Tennessee Titans (2-3) 28: This is a must-win for both teams in order to stay in the divisional and playoff races. The Colts are trying to fight through the season until Andrew Luck can return to lead them. The Titans need to keep pace with Houston and Jacksonville to fulfill their preseason expectations of being a playoff team. Marcus Mariota is expected to play which will be the difference in the game. Titans move to .500 to keep pace in the AFC South.

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