NFL Conference Championship preview

NFL Conference Championship weekend preview and picks

We can only hope the NFL’s Conference Championship weekend is half as competitive as last weekend was. Three of the four games were nail biters, which made for some strange results in terms of predictions.

As has been the case throughout the postseason, games will be picked both straight up and against the spread. All point spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. You can see last week’s picks here.

Last week: 1-3, 3-1 against the spread.

Postseason totals: 4-4, 5-3 against the spread.

Jaguars at Patriots

Three teams have gone into New England and won a playoff game in the Brady-Belichick era, two Ravens teams led by John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco and one of Rex Ryan’s Jets teams. All these teams had one thing in common: They ran the ball and were very good on defense.

With the top ranked rushing offense and a sack happy defense that has dominated all year long, Jacksonville certainly fits that bill. This will not be a simple coronation for the Patriots. Just because the Jaguars approach to winning games is fairly bland does not mean they do not deserve to be here.

That defense will keep this interesting for four quarters. However, there are three pieces of insurmountable bad news for the underdogs. First, Blake Bortles is still their quarterback. Second, Tom Brady is the opposing quarterback. Finally, Bill Belichick is not going to run 15-yard pass plays on 4th and 1 or run an onside kick with two timeouts and more than two minutes left like Pittsburgh did last week.

One of the biggest yet simplest reasons New England has been so good for so long is they never make in game strategy calls that leave even casual fans scratching their heads in the moment. As good as they are, the Jaguars needed a lot of help to outscore the Steelers last week. New England will not be so generous this week.

Winner: New England

Good bet: Patriots (-9) NE 31 Jac 20

Vikings at Eagles

Something has to give here. These two teams have mastered the art of the playoff choke job over the years. Now one of them is going to the Super Bowl.

At this point in this season, these teams are going about winning games the same way. They both rely on their great defenses to make up for limitations at quarterback. Make no mistake, Case Keenum and Nick Foles have limitations.

Foles only threw for 246 yards last week against Atlanta. However, he did not make a big mistake that crippled the team. When you have a defense that is capable of holding what was a hot Falcons offense to just 10 points, that formula is good enough.

NFL Conference Championship preview

Photo from espn.com

Keenum tried to make that crippling mistake with his late third quarter interception that sparked the Saints comeback last week. However, he and the Vikings were bailed out by a miracle finish that was more blind luck than anything else. There is no shame in that. Every Super Bowl champion there has ever been has required some degree of luck.

What this game comes down to is both teams will try to run the ball. It is hard to imagine either having much success against two of the best front sevens in football. So which average quarterback will do a better job of getting the ball to their playmaking pass catchers?

Well, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen each caught over 60 balls in the regular season and accounted for several of Minnesota’s 10 third down conversions last week. Meanwhile, the Eagles pass catchers have virtually disappeared since Carson Wentz went out. Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery had seven catches combined last week. They need to have somewhere around seven catches each should Philadelphia struggle on the ground in this one.

Moreover, if there is a weak spot on either defense, it is the Philadelphia secondary. They got torched by the lowly Giants twice this year.  There is no reason Diggs and Thielen should not carry their team to a home Super Bowl.

Winner: Minnesota

Good bet: Vikings (-3) Min 23 Phi 17

 

Featured image from chatsports.com

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

NFL divisional playoffs picks

NFL divisional playoffs preview and picks

We were fortunate enough to get four reasonably competitive games to kick off the NFL playoffs last week. You can check out last week’s picks here.

For this week’s divisional playoffs, games will be picked both straight up and against the spread. Outright upsets have an asterisk. All point spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.

Postseason record- 3-1

Postseason record against the spread- 2-2

Saturday

Falcons at Eagles – For the first time since the NFL adopted its current playoff format, a sixth seed is favorite over a home standing top seed. This is not without merit though. Without Carson Wentz, the Eagles are just another average to below-average football team. In the final two games of the regular season, Philadelphia’s offense accounted for a grand total of 13 points, and the team as a whole was pushed around for long stretches by the non-playoff bound Cowboys and Raiders.

The above paragraph is not a good recipe for taking on the Falcons at the moment. Atlanta needed to win as much as humanly possible late in the regular season to keep its playoff hopes alive. The sudden death nature of the NFL playoffs changed nothing for them last week. They have been in that situation for almost 2 months.

Reigning MVP Matt Ryan and the offense are not quite the juggernaut they were last year, but they are still very good. What has sparked Atlanta’s late-season run as much as anything is defense. The Falcons have not surrendered more than 24 points in a game since Week 11. This includes holding the top-ranked scoring offense to just 13 points last week. If all the offense has to do is score in the high 20s, this team is tough to beat.

Apart from winning a shootout with the lowly Giants, the Eagles offense has not gotten anywhere close to the high 20s with backup quarterbacks since the injury to Wentz. Philadelphia’s defense is pretty good and has stood on its head in recent weeks to keep the Eagles in games. Thus, this will not be a blowout.

However, one of these teams is quarterbacked by Matt Ryan and the other by Nick Foles. Sometimes, it is just that simple.

Winner: Atlanta

Good bet: Falcons (-3) Atl 21 Phi 13

Titans at Patriots – Tennessee did a great job of making a few plays to pull off the big upset in Kansas City last week. However, that result had more to do with Kansas City’s collapse. If New England has a double-digit lead, whoever is playing running back will get the ball a lot more than 11 or 12 times.

NFL divisional playoffs picks

Photo from USA Today

You can’t help but be impressed with the resilience and toughness of Tennessee. That roster is not good enough to get to this point on talent alone. Different guys have stepped up for them all year long. Last week, it was Marcus Mariota playing with his head on a swivel to complete a touchdown pass to himself and Derrick Henry rushing for 156 yards in the absence of backfield mate DeMarco Murray that made the difference.

However, the Titans lack the firepower to really make the Patriots nervous in a playoff game. At this point, nothing more can be said about the greatness of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They are 25-9 in playoff games. Moreover, only three of those nine losses have been at home. Tennessee will keep this close for a while with solid fundamental football, but New England will pull away late.

Winner: New England

Good bet: Patriots (-13) NE 34 Ten 20

Sunday

Jaguars at Steelers – Vegas is showing great restraint by making the Steelers only a seven-point favorite here. With the way the Jacksonville passing offense has looked for the last month, a double-digit spread would have been perfectly reasonable.

However, the Jacksonville defense has shut down some very good offenses this year. The Jaguars went in to Pittsburgh early in the year and intercepted Ben Roethlisberger five times in a route.

Also, there is more than one way to look at the performance of Blake Bortles last week. It is easy to say he threw for just 87 yards and therefore was completely awful, or you can commend him for his 88 rushing yards and ability to make enough plays for his team to win, even though he did not play very well.

Not very many people have subscribed to the second school of thought leading up to this game, but I am one of them. With a great supporting cast around him, Bortles is fine. Other than one or two games, Jacksonville has had no problem scoring points this year. Almost every offense is going to get shut down at least once or twice a year, no matter who the quarterback is.

Jacksonville is too good to get blown out. Any team that leads the league in rushing offense, as well as several defensive categories, is capable of going anywhere and beating anyone. However, Roethlisberger getting Antonio Brown back will be the difference in this one. Even if Brown is not fully healthy, his presence alone gives the vaunted Jacksonville defense another thing to worry about on a loaded Steelers offense.

Winner: Pittsburgh

Good Bet: Jaguars (+7) Pit 27 Jac 24

Saints at Vikings – No team was more impressive than New Orleans last week. All year, the Saints had done most of their damage by running the ball with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Carolina held that duo to under 50 combined rushing yards. The Saints still managed to win. Drew Brees showed us all why he is going to the Hall of Fame someday.

NFL divisional playoffs picks

Photo from si.com

Unless there is a truly dominant team, whoever wins the Super Bowl has to find a way to win a game or two where its best stuff is not working. There is no dominant NFL team this year, and that is exactly what the Saints did last week.

This week, the task is a little bit tougher as New Orleans goes on the road to face another very stout defensive unit in Minnesota. The vast majority of Minnesota’s success this year has come from backups, castoffs and other spare parts. Mike Zimmer and his staff have done an incredible job of getting the most out of Case Keenum. Keenum has nearly doubled his career touchdown passes this season. However, much like the other NFC matchup this weekend, it is foolish not to take the established star quarterback over the journeyman in playoff football.

Winner: New Orleans

Good Bet: *Saints (+ 5.5) NO 27 Min 20

 

Featured image from chiefs.com

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Bill O'Brien

Letting Bill O’Brien go would be insane

The NFL regular season is fast approaching its end. For many organizations, that means speculation about the future of their head coach is running wild. Like any other year, there are many names being run through the rumor mill, but one makes no sense. The Texans would be making a huge mistake by moving on from Bill O’Brien. Here is why.

For the most part, he has won despite a quarterback carousel:

2017 will be the first losing season for O’Brien as an NFL head coach. These are the starting quarterbacks he has had to work with. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallet, Tom Savage, the pre Vikings version of Case Keenum, Brian Hoyer, T.J. Yates, Deshaun Watson, Brock Osweiler, and Brandon Weeden.

One of those names requires further explanation later on, but the others are mostly the same bad quarterbacks that get recycled throughout the league whenever a team gets stuck in quarterback purgatory. Yet, O’Brien has won two division titles and a playoff game in Houston.

His primary starting quarterbacks for the division winning seasons were Osweiler and Hoyer. Osweiler had more interceptions than touchdown passes on the 2016 playoff team. Hoyer had a passer rating of barely over 60 in 2015. Forget firing him, O’Brien deserves a statue for pulling that off.

Injuries:    

No head coach is completely blameless for a team’s poor season, but the Texans have just had too many injuries to stay competitive this year. The future looked bright as Watson got off to an unbelievable start. The rookie accounted for 21 touchdowns in just six starts and Houston looked like a true contender in the AFC.

J.J. Watt

Photo: Huffington Post

A torn ACL in practice ended all that. No matter how unstable the quarterback situation became, O’Brien and the Texans could always count on a stout defense to win games. That was not the case this year as top defenders J.J, Watt and Whitney Mercilus also went down to season ending injuries relatively early.

Other than Bill Belichick, no coach on planet Earth is capable of adequately overcoming long term injuries to three of their best players. Additionally, if Watson comes back healthy next year, there is no reason Houston cannot contend again. Watson has voiced his support for O’Brien.

The ownership angle:

O’Brien has a year remaining on his contract. A lame duck coach situation never benefits a franchise.  Thus, it is rare, but not unheard of for a coach to enter the final year of a deal. So, the offseason in Houston should be interesting.

Given that Houston signed Osweiler to a big money contract without O’Brien even meeting him after the 2015 season, lingering friction between owner Bob McNair and the head coach would not be surprising. McNair also made O’Brien’s life more difficult more recently by making some inflammatory remarks regarding the never ending national anthem controversy that put Texans players at the forefront, whether they wanted to be there or not.

Bob McNair

Photo: zambio.com

The bad news for O’Brien is that the owner never fires themselves if there is friction with the head coach. However, ownership is not innocent in Houston’s double digit loss 2017 season. O’Brien has done a fine job in Houston and will continue to do so given the opportunity.

Texans management may not like O’Brien, but it would be difficult to find a replacement that would be an upgrade. The 49ers thought they would be better off without Jim Harbaugh. They are just now starting to dig out of the abyss after almost four years of varying degrees of losing. To avoid a similar fate, Houston needs to keep O’Brien in the building.

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Jimmy Garappolo trade: 49ers absolutely win deal

On Monday night, the 49ers stole Jimmy Garappolo from the New England Patriots. The Patriots received a second round pick from San Francisco, but most believed Garappolo was worth a first. A second round pick for a possible franchise quarterback is an absolute steal. By the way, to put this pick into perspective, three recent second round quarterbacks have been Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg and DeShone Kizer.

What this means for the 49ers

At 0-8, it appeared the 49ers would wait this season out and go for Kirk Cousins, or draft a young quarterback. San Francisco had no idea what the Redskins were going to do with Cousins, and going into the season, the 49ers were one of the 10 youngest teams in the league. With the average age of a 49er being around 25 years old, it makes complete sense to go after a 26-year-old.

Jimmy Garappolo trade

While only starting two games, Jimmy G looked like the real deal (SBNation)

Additionally, coach Kyle Shanahan really likes Garappolo. Prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, Shanahan ranked Derek Carr and Garappolo as the best quarterbacks in the draft. However, don’t expect him to play right away. San Francisco is without both of their tackles on the offensive line, and it is going to take time to learn the playbook. Realistically, Garappolo could play following their bye, which would give him three weeks to prepare.

In 17 career games, and two starts, Garappolo has been essentially flawless. He has thrown five touchdowns, zero interceptions, completing passes at 67 percent and a passer rating of 106.2.

Last season, Garappolo’s yards per attempt was 8.0, which would be good for fifth in the league in 2017. His 113.3 passer rating would be second behind Alex Smith. Obviously, it is an incredibly small sample size, but 49ers fan should feel ecstatic.

Future of San Francisco

As far as the future of this team, don’t let their winless record fool you. The 49ers are a young defense who can turn out to be very special. Solomon Thomas, who is battling an MCL sprain, has looked like the real deal in his rookie season. DeForest Buckner is arguably the 49ers best defensive player, and he is just 23 years of age. Former first round pick Arik Armstead had 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks before injuring his hand against the Washington Redskins. Don’t forget about Reuben Foster, who has also been battling injuries all year.

The offense has enough weapons for Garappolo to find early success. Carlos Hyde has been extremely effective as both a runner and pass catcher in the offense, while Pierre Garcon is up to 500 yards receiving through their first eight games. Speedster Marquise Goodwin is a perfect deep ball threat for Garappolo.

In his press conference, Garappolo exclaimed how he is “thrilled to be here” and “eager to get out there and show what I can do on a Sunday.” Garappolo also touched on how he could not be happier to be a member of this team.

As far as future schedule looks, it won’t get any easier next season for San Francisco. They will be facing, on the road, Green Bay, Kansas City, Seattle, Minnesota and the LA Rams. While it may take some time, Jimmy G and the 49ers could be a perfect fit. The best part is that San Francisco will still have a top five pick in this year’s draft, and might have found their quarterback for the next ten years.

What this means for New England

To be honest, this move is quite the head scratcher. It would be one thing if the Patriots did not like Garappolo and thought he wouldn’t pan out, but that is just not the case. The Patriots loved this kid, and viewed him as the Aaron Rodgers to Brett Favre. If Brady goes down, their season is over.

An important message to note is that Bill Belichick would have absolutely considered trading Tom Brady after this season. However, Brady and owner Bob Kraft are extremely close, and Albert Breer, reporter for the MMQB.com, claims that Belichick “probably knew the Kraft family was not going to allow him to trade Tom Brady.”

Jimmy Garappolo trade

Were Kraft and Belichick on the same page for this move? (Boston Herald)

Whatever the case may be, Tom Brady is 40 years old. Although he looks good, it just doesn’t make sense to trade the future away, especially when the franchise believed he has serious potential. Joe Montana, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, one way or another, were all forced to cut ties with their original teams and play somewhere else.

New England is usually ahead of the curve when it comes to trading players away at the right time, but I guess when you are dealing with the GOAT, things get complicated. Something tells me Kraft’s relationship with Brady got in the way of how Belichick wanted to do business.

Boston sports fans are extremely blessed, but also might not be ready for life after Brady. Keep in mind that from 1989-1993, the Patriots never won more than six games in a season. The Celtics did something similar to New England, when they held onto Bird, Parish and McHale too long. After their success, the players aged, and Boston went 22 years without winning a title. They were unable to reach the playoffs from 1995-2001. Letting past success get in the way of the future leads to situations like the Celtics.

To remind Patriots fans, and NFL fans, how hard it is to find a franchise quarterback, I have constructed a list of all the quarterbacks who have won at least nine games in three different seasons. All of course, part of the same franchise. As you’ll see, it could take years before New England gets back on track once Brady is gone.

Players with at least three 9-Win Seasons with Franchise (# of seasons)

Arizona/St Louis Cardinals

Jim Hart 1974-76 (3)

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan 2008- (6)

Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco 2008- (6)

Buffalo Bills

Jack Kemp 1964-1966 (3)

Joe Ferguson 1973-1981 (4)

Jim Kelly 1988-1995 (6)

Carolina Panthers

Jake Delhomme 2003-2008 (3)

Chicago Bears

NONE

Cincinnati Bengals

Ken Anderson 1973-1981 (4)

Boomer Esiason 1986-1990 (3)

Andy Dalton 2011-2015 (5)

Cleveland Browns

Otto Graham 1950-1955 (5)

Frank Ryan 1963-1967 (5)

Bill Nelsen 1968-1971 (3)

Dallas Cowboys

Roger Staubach 1971-1979 (7)

Danny White 1980-1985 (4)

Troy Aikman 1992-1996 (5)

Tony Romo 2007-2014 (3)

Denver Broncos

John Elway 1984-1998 (9)

Jake Plummer 2003-2005 (3)

Peyton Manning 2012-2014 (3)

Detroit Lions

Bobby Layne 1952-1956 (3)

Matthew Stafford 2011- (3)

Green Bay Packers

Bart Starr 1961-1966 (4)

Brett Favre 1993-2007 (12)

Aaron Rodgers 2009- (7)

Houston Texans

NONE

Indianapolis Colts

Johnny Unitas 1959-1970 (5)

Bert Jones 1975-1977 (3)

Peyton Manning (11)

Andrew Luck 2012- (3)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Mark Brunell 1996-1999 (4)

Kansas City Chiefs

Len Dawson 1962-1971 (5)

Alex Smith 2013- (3)

LA/San Diego Chargers

Dan Fouts 1978-1981 (4)

Stan Humphires 1992-1995 (3)

Philip Rivers 2006- (6)

LA/STL Rams

Roman Gabriel 1967-1970 (4)

Kurt Warner 1999-2001* (2 (Went 8-3 in 2000) )

Miami Dolphins

Bob Griese 1970-1977 (5)

Dan Marino 1984-1998 (8)

Minnesota Vikings

Fran Tarkenton 1973-1976 (4)

New England Patriots

Steve Grogan 1976-1979 (4)

Drew Bledsoe 1994-1997 (3)

Tom Brady 2001- (15)

New Orleans Saints

Bobby Herbert 1987-1992 (3)

Drew Brees 2006- (5)

New York Giants

Phil Simms 1984-1993 (7)

Eli Manning 2005- (7)

New York Jets

Joe Namath 1967-1969* (2 (Three winning seasons when regular season=14 games) )

Vinny Testaverde 1998

Oakland/LA Raiders

Daryle Lamonica 1967-1972 (4)

Ken Stabler 1974-1979 (6)

Rich Gannon 2000-2002 (3)

Philadelphia Eagles

Ron Jaworski 1978-1981 (4)

Randall Cunningham 1988-1992 (4)

Donovan McNabb 2000-2009 (6)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Terry Bradshaw 1972-1980 (6)

Neil O’Donnell 1992-1995 (4)

Ben Roethlisberger 2004- (9)

San Francisco 49ers

Joe Montana 1981-1990 (7)

Steve Young 1992-1998 (6)

Seattle Seahawks

Dave Krieg 1984-1990 (3)

Matt Hasselbeck 2003-2007 (3)

Russell Wilson 2012- (5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NONE

Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers

Dan Pastorini 1975-1979 (3)

Warren Moon 1989-1993 (3)

Steve McNair 1999-2003 (4)

Washington Redskins

Joe Theismann 1979-1984 (3)

Mark Rypien 1989-1992 (3)

 

Featured image by Boston Herald 

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“From our Haus to Yours”

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 AFC East division preview

2017 AFC East division preview

The NFL regular season is fast approaching. The Chiefs and Patriots will be kicking off the 2017-2018 NFL season this week. In the meantime, Hagan’s Haus will be bringing you the divisional previews and predictions of how teams will finish in their respective divisions. Without further ado, here is the 2017 AFC East division preview.

4: New York Jets

2017 AFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: JULIO CORTEZ/AP)

Last season: 5-11

Strength of schedule: 8

Is it worth it to do a preview on the Jets? Let’s just stick a fork in them right now and put them on the clock. New York had an underwhelming season last year and seemed to completely blow up the roster and start a rebuild. There is little to look forward to this season so Jet fans start watching college football and look for your next quarterback.

Josh McCown will be under center for an offense who will have two really solid running backs, Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. This duo combined to lead the Jets to 112.6 rush yards per game. That was the only true positive from the offense as they ranked 30th in points. This season they won’t have Eric Decker or Brandon Marshall and their starting receivers will be Jalin Marshall and Robby Anderson. There won’t be much of a passing attack, making the Jets one dimensional and predictable.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets have plenty of talent to be a good unit. The issue is that the offense is going to hurt them by keeping them on the field often. Up front, Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson will be a handful for any offensive line. The two combined for 126 tackles and 11.5 sacks.

The play of the defensive line should make life easy for the linebackers. With a good defensive front, linebackers Daren Lee, Demario Davis and Jordan Jenkins should be free to fly around and make plays.

Cornerback play will be suspect with Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne but the secondary will be led by a fantastic safety duo. Marcus Maye and rookie Jamal Adams, the fantastic duo, have turned heads in both practices and in the preseason. These two will be feared and are the future of the New York Jets’ defense.

The entire defense should be very improved and part of the reason is the only way to go is up from a defense that gave up 25.6 points per game. They also ranked 29th in interceptions (8), 29th in sacks (27) and 17th in passing yards allowed per game (243.6). Todd Bowles is known for his defense but left it in Arizona.

With a rebuild going on in New York, the Jets will be difficult to watch. The defense will be talented but an offense with no playmakers and no big play ability will bring the team down. It doesn’t help that they have the eighth toughest schedule. J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, are now on the clock.

Prediction: 1-15 (0-6), miss the playoffs

win: Jax

3: Miami Dolphins

2017 AFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Last season: 10-6

Strength of schedule: 6

Miami lost their quarterback for the season so they went to the broadcast booth and pulled out Jay Cutler. Cutler is no franchise savior. He wasn’t even in shape because according to him, quarterbacks don’t need to be in great cardiovascular shape. With that being said, his best season came under Adam Gase so this move is intriguing. In that season, Cutler had 3,659 yards 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a career high 92.3 quarterback rating.

The Dolphins offensive line is one of the worst in the league according to Pro Football Focus. In the past, bad offensive lines have brought out the worst in Cutler. Aside from the offensive line, Cutler will have some really solid weapons around him. At running back, Jay Ajaya is poised to have another big season. Ajaya rushed for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the Dolphins on the ground.

The receiving corp is one of the most talented in the league. Jarvis Landry is the headliner with 288 receptions, 3,051 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first three seasons. Alongside the stud Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills create mismatches while teams focus on the running game and Landry. Parker and Stills combined for 98 receptions, 1,470 yards and 13 touchdowns. These weapons should make life easy for Cutler but he has had many weapons in the past and still found ways to mess up.

Cutler used to have Matt Forte in the backfield. He also has had receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall but still had rough seasons. Cutler may make some great throws over the course of the season but when push comes to shove he will also do something boneheaded and cost his team dearly.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Dolphins are going to struggle. Last season they gave up 23.8 points per game, ranking 18th. The defensive line couldn’t stop the run, giving up 140.4 yards per game nor could they get pressure on the quarterback accumulating just 33 sacks. Cameron Wake is 35 years old and has lost a step over the past few seasons.

With an at best average defensive line, the linebacking corps and defensive backs will struggle to succeed. This defense was ranked at the bottom of the league last season and are in a worse position this season. As Jay Cutler begins to turn the ball over, the defense will be in bad situations making the numbers worse. Miami is in for a rough season.

Prediction: 4-12 (2-4), miss the playoffs

losses: TB, @LAC, NO, Ten, @ATL, Oak, @Car, @NE, Den, NE, @Buf, @KC

2: Buffalo Bills

2017 AFC East division preview

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

Last season: 7-9

Strength of schedule: 5

Buffalo is under a new regime and fans are hoping this group of coaches will finally end the playoff drought which has lasted since 1999. Sean McDermott was hired to improve the defense and get the Bills back to the promised land.

In order for the Bills to have a good season, and make the playoffs, they must ride LeSean McCoy there. Buffalo led the NFL in rushing yards last season at 164.4 yards per game. Their fantastic ground game led the Bills to the 10th best scoring offense, averaging 24.9 points per game. The rushing attack will still be one of the leagues best behind a top 10 offensive line.

The big improvement the Bills will see this season will be in the passing game. Buffalo averaged a dreadful 189.8 passing yards last season. They drafted Zay Jones and traded for Jordan Matthews to give Tyrod Taylor more reliable weapons. Sammy Watkins was shipped out because of his inability to stay healthy. Jones and Matthews will be a solid duo barring any injuries.

As mentioned, McDermott was hired to fix a defense that allowed 23.6 points per game and a rush defense that gave up 133.1 yards per game. The defensive line is very talented and will improve the rush defense under the tutelage of McDermott. His defenses have had a reputation for doing so while in Carolina. In his last four seasons as defensive coordinator, McDermotts’ defenses ranked second, 16th, fourth and sixth in rush defense.

Buffalo will be an improved football team and will fight for a wild card spot but the tough schedule will make it difficult. The Bills may not end the drought this season but are heading in the right direction.

Prediction: 8-8 (4-2), wildcard candidate

losses: @Car, Den, @Cin, TB, @KC, NE, Ind, @NE

1: New England Patriots

2017 AFC East division preview

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

Last season: 14-2

Strength of schedule: 12

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the best quarterback and head coach duo of all-time. Both are the G.O.A.T’s and as long as these two are around, the Patriots will be in contention. New England has won eight straight division titles and 14 of the last 17. Blah blah blah, we know all this already and we know that the Patriots are going to be damn good this season. This preview is a typical preview of the Patriots.

The Patriots’ offseason was the rich just getting richer. New England acquired Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and Stephon Gillmore. Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis will also be returning from their injuries. Brady will have plenty of weapons to have another legendary season.

There is nothing to worry about with the offense and as long as father time doesn’t sack Tom Brady, the Patriots will have one of the best offenses in the NFL.

What will really make the Patriots great again is their defense. Last season New England ranked first in points allowed at 15.6 per game. The front four of Lawerence Guy, Alan Branch, Malcolm Brown and Trey Flowers aren’t superstars but will do their job sufficiently enough that the rest of the defense will be able to make plays.

The Patriots’ secondary is going to be close to unstoppable. It may even be the best secondary in the NFL. Stephon Gillmore and Malcolm Butler are going to lock down both sides of the field. Safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty will patrol the middle of the field against the run and the pass. It is scary that Belichick will have this much talent to work with.

The Patriots are a world class organization that knows how to win. Until they show signs of falling off the map, they are the prohibitive favorites to not only win the division but the conference as well.

Prediction: 14-2 (6-0), division champion

losses: ATL, @Oak

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AFC eye test predictions: 4-1

It’s week 3 of the preseason. Will Mike Glennon continue his poor play and hand the job off to Mitchy Touchdowns? Is “The Scott Rocket” Tolzien ready to go incase Andrew Luck is unable to start the season? Is it time to sit Blake Bortles and pour the (Chad) Henne? Will Brock Osweiler make a statement and become the obvious choice for the Browns?

Does any of this even matter since all of these teams are trash? To be honest, not really. So wrapping up our AFC eye test predictions, we have the four best teams from the conference.

4. Tennessee Titans

The week 1 quarterbacks in the AFC South will most likely be Marcus Mariota, Scott Tolzien, Blake Bortles and Tom Savage. Do any of these guys seem like a threat to the Titans? Absolutely not.

The Jaguars can’t move the chains, the Texans are only good on one side of the ball, and the Colts are so terrible that even when Luck returns, they still won’t have enough pieces to consistently win games.

AFC eye test predictions: 4-1

Mariota continues to impress. (titans online.com)

Let’s start with the leader behind center, Marcus Mariota. An absolute workhorse, Mariota has gained all of his teammates’ respect, on and off the field. The humble 23-year-old is coming off a sophomore campaign that included 28 total touchdowns, and only nine interceptions. This kid is good, and all has the physical talent in the world.

The Titans love to run the ball, and who wouldn’t if you had DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in your backfield? Last year, Murray ran for over 1,200 yards, and Henry averaged 4.5 yards per carry. A lethal backfield, expect more big numbers from these two, especially with Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin headlining one of the best offensive lines.

Tennessee ran heavily last year, mostly because of the lack of targets in the passing game. This year will be much different. The Titans drafted Western Michigan’s Corey Davis with the fifth pick in this year’s draft. Davis has drawn a lot of comparisons to Terrell Owens. They also brought in Eric Decker, who arguably has the most beautiful wife in the game. Delanie Walker is sneakily of the best tight ends in the NFL, and Rishard Matthews had a really solid season during his first year with the Titans.

Is the defense a tad sketchy? Maybe, but bringing in Logan Ryan and Jonathan Cybrien are huge pickups. Jurrell Casey is really good, and Daquan Jones isn’t bad, but the defensive line isn’t too strong.

The linebacker duo of Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo should be solid, and Avery Williamson defends the run extremely well.

Based off offseason additions, a weak division and growth from Mariota, the Titans should get to 11 wins.

3. Oakland Raiders

It’s still Oakland right? Look, last year, before Derek Carr’s injury, this team was a legit threat to New England.

Derek Carr has turned into a franchise quarterback, and the addition of Marshawn Lynch will only help their strong run game. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are two of the better receivers this game has to offer. Oakland even added Cordarelle Patterson and Jared Cook, to help build a premier offense.

AFC eye test predictions: 4-1

Boys Club. Marshawn Lynch and Derek Carr (reviewjournal.com)

The Raiders offensive line allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL. Huge news: Donald Penn is ending his holdout. Along with Penn, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, and Kelechi Osemele, Oakland, much like Tennessee, has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

We all know about Khalil Mack being one of the best pure talents this game has, but besides Mack and Bruce Irvin, the rest of the defense is a bit unreliable.

They have constantly been trying to fix the secondary, with Karl Joseph, Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson, but they still have work to do. This year, in the first two rounds, they drafted cornerback Gareon Conley and defensive back Obi Melifonwu. Both could step in if needed.

Carr won 12 of his 15 games last year, and I expect similar results for Oakland. Although in a tough division, the Raiders should have no problem rattling off 11-12 wins.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Hate Mike Tomlin all you want, but the guy has won double digit games in seven of his ten seasons as head coach of the Steelers.

While Big Ben is getting up there in age, he is still a top five quarterback. They have the best running back in football, Le’Veon Bell, who will hopefully return soon from his holdout. Nonetheless, James Connor’s story is super inspirational, and the guy has shown that he can ball at this level.

AFC eye test predictions: 4-1

The return of Martinis Bryant only helps Antonio Brown and the rest of the Steelers offense (behindthesteelcurtain.com)

They also have one of the best wide receivers in football, Antonio Brown. The return of Martavis Bryant means business will be booming for this offense. The Steelers have scored 30 or more points in almost half of the games in which Bryant is a part of. Let’s hope he can pass all of his drug tests, or at least find ways to get around them.

The only thing stopping this team from beating New England is the defense. The secondary is abysmal. Cam Heyward’s return is nice, but besides him and Tuitt, the rest of the line is debatable. James Harrison continues to do insane workouts, which means he will be ready to go, even at 39. Ryan Shazier is coming off his first Pro Bowl, so the linebacker core should be solid.

Great coach, elite quarterback, elite weapons. This is another double digit win season for the Steelers. They are traveling the least amount of miles in the NFL. Expect 12 wins.

1. New England Patriots

Bill Belichick is the coach. Tom Brady is the quarterback. They added Brandin Cooks to ball with Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.

AFC eye test predictions: 4-1

New England’s mood all year (washingtontimes.com)

Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead will beef up the running game, which includes Dion Lewis and Super Bowl hero James White.

Trey Flowers showed that he can perform on the highest stage, sacking Matt Ryan on multiple occasions during last year’s Super Bowl. Malcom Brown and Alan Branch are extremely dependable.

Dont’a Hightower and David Harris are monsters. Malcolm Butler is now paired up with Stephon Gilmore. Devin McCourty is lockdown, and Patrick Chung’s versatility is nice to have.

This team is favored in every game. They have the best coach, and best quarterback ever. Arguably the best roster Tom Brady has ever had, it seems like 19-0 is easily attainable. To be fair to some of the other teams, I have them at 14-2.

 

Featured image by YahooSports.com

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Cam Newton

NFL early season games to watch: Gut check games

As nice as it is to have NFL football back on our television sets, preseason games are often a tough watch. However, it is now more than fashionable to look ahead to the regular season.

Teams can change a lot over 16-plus weeks. Even so, early fall games frequently foreshadow the future. Here is a single game from each of the first four weeks of the season that will tell us a great deal about the teams involved.

Week 1: Bucs at Dolphins

Patriots/Chiefs, Seahawks/Packers and Giants/Cowboys will get all the opening week headlines. This battle of Florida teams is a solid undercard that should not be overlooked.

NFL early season games to watch

Photo: zambio.com

The hype train has been rolling all offseason for Tampa Bay. With Jameis Winston only getting better, it is easy to see why. The charismatic signal caller has tossed 50 touchdowns in his first two seasons.

Also, new additions DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard should help free up top pass catcher Mike Evans. Toss in a young defense that had some really nice moments last year, and the end of a long playoff drought becomes realistic. Opening up against a playoff team from last season will serve as a nice measuring stick.

For Miami, the season hinges on the play of retiree-turned-knight in shining armor Jay Cutler who is back to play for his biggest supporter in head coach Adam Gase. If Cutler is healthy and motivated, he can still throw for over 3,500 yards like he did under the direction of Gase in Chicago.

However, if something is not right with the Cutler experiment, the Bucs are certainly good enough to exploit it and begin what will be a long year for the Dolphins.

Week 2: Cowboys at Broncos

Regardless of the outcome of Ezekiel Elliott’s appeal, the Cowboys are in for a dogfight with the Giants in the opener. However, the rubber will really meet the road here. As long as all members of the “No Fly Zone” are around, the only way to move the ball on a consistent basis against Denver is on the ground.

The Broncos got pushed around at the point of attack in 2016, finishing 28th against the run. If Dallas cannot run the ball here, they will likely struggle in a big way in Elliott’s absence. Conversely, going up against what is widely regarded as the best offensive line in football will be a fantastic gauge of improvement (if any) against the run for Denver.

Week 3: Seahawks at Titans:

Much like Tampa Bay, there’s lots of talk about Tennessee ending a lengthy playoff drought this year after exceeding expectations in 2016.

NFL early season games to watch

Photo: larrybrownsports.com

The Titans are a rarity in the modern NFL. They run the ball as much or more than they throw it. Games are rarely placed squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Mariota does a great job fulfilling his role and taking care of the football. He put up 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions last year.

No team has mastered the physical brand of football that the Titans are trying to build a powerhouse with better than Seattle over the last half decade. Barring key injuries, Seattle will be in the mix again this year.

However, if the Titans want to sit at the big kid table of the NFL, this is their chance to prove they belong.

Week 4: Panthers at Patriots:

With the exception of Josh Norman departing, many of the main cogs for the Panthers are the same as they were when Carolina reached the Super Bowl just two years ago. However, a similar cast of characters also posted a losing record last year.

The Patriots are the gold standard in the NFL. That will likely remain the case as long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are around. While talk of them going undefeated is ridiculous, they will certainly be the toughest team in the league to beat.

Make no mistake that Cam Newton and the Panthers still have the talent to play with any opponent in any location. Their performance against the reigning Super Bowl champions will speak volumes about whether their true identity is the team that reached the Super Bowl, or the team that fell off a cliff last year.

 

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Top 5 NFL head coaches

Top 5 NFL head coaches

Football is back. Well, preseason football is back. Coaches across the NFL are scouring through rosters deciding on who will make the 53 man roster in the coming weeks. These decisions are strenuous to make and every organization wants top coaches making these choices. There are players who get cut but find a way to make an impact elsewhere making the previous coach look foolish. If your favorite team has one of these top 5 NFL head coaches, chances are they are making the right decisions.

5: Andy Reid: Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid is without question, one of the best coaches in the National Football League. Reid has endured an 18-year career thus far and has found a plethora of success. He has won 173 out of the 288 games he has coached. That is good enough for a 60.2 percent win percentage.

That win percentage is brought down because of his time in Philadelphia, surprisingly. In Philly, Reid went 130-90-1 while leading the Eagles to four straight NFC Championship Games. They won the fourth game, reaching Super Bowl XXXIX but fell to the Patriots 24-21. Despite all that success, he has actually improved his win percentage while in Kansas City.

Kansas City was the worst team in the NFL the season before Reid took over. He led them to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance in his first season. After four seasons he has led the Chiefs to a 43-21 record, which is a 67.2 percent win percentage. That is up seven percent from his time in Philadelphia and if you look at the past two seasons, he has gone 23-9. That is a 71.8 percent win percentage.

Reid has proven that he can win with multiple teams and different quarterbacks. The only thing missing from Reid’s resume is a Super Bowl victory. If he can manage to someday win the big game it will push him up higher on this list.

4: Mike McCarthy: Green Bay Packers

Is it Mike McCarthy or is it Aaron Rodgers? Who truly deserves the credit for Green Bay’s success over the past decade? That is hard to answer but the fact of the matter is Mike McCarthy is a winner regardless. In his 11 seasons at the helm in Green Bay, the Packers have only missed the playoffs twice, both were within his first three seasons. He has made the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons.

McCarthy has also amassed 114 wins and just 61 losses. He has a winning playoff record too, going 10-8 over his 11 seasons. McCarthy is rarely given a defense that is even considered adequate yet is a lock to make the playoffs. That shows the makings of a good coach.

His crowning achievement though is leading the Packers to a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Because of his consistency and the Super Bowl victory, McCarthy has earned this spot on the rankings.

3: Pete Carroll: Seattle Seahawks

Top 5 NFL head coaches

(Photo Credit: Jim O’Connor-USA TODAY Sports)

Pete Carroll is a superb football coach who has found success both at the collegiate and pro levels. If a list was made of best football coaches regardless of the level he might be higher on this list due to that success in multiple areas. The issue with him being higher on the list of top NFL coaches is his first couple attempts.

Carroll first tried coaching in the NFL in 1994 with the New York Jets. He only won six games that season. That was the only year he coached New York.

Carroll then got a second shot in 1997 with the New England Patriots. His overall record wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t all that impressive either. Carroll went 27-21 with the Patriots. A winning record looks good but his win total decreased each year from 10 to nine down to eight in his final year. Carroll then left the NFL for the University of Southern California.

Carroll had monumental success while at the USC but the itch to succeed in the NFL was still there. He then became the coach of the Seattle Seahawks in 2010. In his seven seasons with Seattle, the Seahawks have made the playoffs six times. He hasn’t had less than 10 wins since 2011. Carroll also led the Seahawks to two Super Bowl appearances, winning Super Bowl XLVIII and losing Super Bowl XLIX on one of the most controversial play calls in the history of the game.

Leading the Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowl appearances, while winning one, and consistently fielding a championship team is the reason Pete Carroll is third on this list.

2: Mike Tomlin: Pittsburgh Steelers

There is a theme in this ranking. That theme is winning lots of games and getting to the Super Bowl. Mike Tomlin fits this theme in his 10 seasons as an NFL head coach. Tomlin is 103-57 so far in his career, winning 64.4 percent of the games which is pretty impressive. He has won games with different strengths as well.

Early in his coaching career with the Steelers, he had teams led by an elite defense. Lately, he has been winning games with an elite offense. Being able to win with that kind of flexibility and versatility should be rewarded. Similar to Pete Carroll, Tomlin has led the Steelers to two Super Bowl appearances, winning Super Bowl XLIII and losing Super Bowl XLV.

The reason Tomlin is ranked higher than Carroll is because of consistency. Mike Tomlin has never lost more than eight games in a season while Carroll has lost more than eight games three times. They both have a Super Bowl win and loss. They each have won 103 games but Tomlin has won the same amount in 16 fewer games. Mike Tomlin is the second best coach in the NFL today.

1: Bill Belichick: New England Patriots

Top 5 NFL head coaches

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

Number one shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Bill Belichick has 14 straight seasons with 10 or more wins. In his 17 seasons as head coach, he has won 15 division titles, including eight straight. He has a 67.3 percent win percentage, going 237-115 in the regular season. Those regular season numbers are impressive but he improves upon that in the postseason.

In the postseason, his win percentage improves to 72.2 percent, going an unbelievable 26-10. In his tenure, he has reached the AFC Championship game 11 times winning the game seven of those times. The last instance in which the Patriots did not make it to the AFC Championship was when Cam Newton was at Auburn. These accomplishments are unprecedented but it doesn’t end there.

Belichick has seven Super Bowl appearances with five Super Bowl wins. In this era of talent and with free agency, Bill Belichick is not only the best coach in the game today but possibly the best of all-time.

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Why The Patriots Will Go Undefeated in 2017

Here come many unhappy fans after reading this, unless you’re from New England, of course. The Patriots are coming off yet another Super Bowl win, and it’s safe to say they’ll be going back to the same place this upcoming season.

After making several big changes to their roster, the Patriots look for a very successful year. Just when you thought they couldn’t get better, the Patriots proved everyone wrong, yet again.

Here’s why New England will hang up their sixth Super Bowl banner, without losing a game.

Tom Brady Returns

Tom “The G.O.A.T” Brady is back for his 18th season with the New England Patriots, and according to him, he is in the best shape of his life at age 39.

New England Patriots undefeated 2017

Photo Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

Many are aware of the comeback, arguably the best Super Bowl game in history, where Tom did the impossible. Being down 25 points, 28-3, with a little under two minutes left in the third, Brady and the Patriots rallied back to finish 34-28 and celebrate their fifth Super Bowl Ring.

Coming into this upcoming season, Brady is ranked No. 1 for the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2017. Is this a surprise? Not at all.

Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman, finds it “unbelievable to see a 39-year-old (Tom Brady) play like he’s 29,” according to Bleacher Report. Fortunately for New England, it seems as Tom Brady is getting stronger year-by-year.

The Patriots will hold a lethal roster this upcoming season, mainly behind the leadership of Tom Brady. Brady’s ability to involve his whole offense is one of the reasons why they dominate year-by-year.

Patriots acquire Wide RECEIVER Brandin Cooks

On March 11, 2017, the Patriots announced they acquired Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints. The Patriots agreed to trade their 2017 first-round draft pick as well as the third-round pick for the speedy wide receiver and a fourth-round pick.

New England Patriots undefeated 2017

Photo Courtesy of youtube.com

Last season with the Saints, Brandin Cooks posted 1,173 yards on 78 receptions with eight touchdowns.

Cooks was truly an ideal target for Drew Brees, who also works in a pass-first offense like Brady.

The Patriots will work Cooks into their passing offense. Cooks posted a 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Clearly, speed is one of Cook’s strongest talents. This is something Brady will use to his advantage.

Cooks will join receivers Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell, making this team even better at receiving. As the Pats add Cooks, Brady will have more open targets, something that we thought could not peak any further.

Watch out for Brandin Cooks this upcoming season, as he joins forces with the best quarterback in NFL history.

Patriots acquire Tight End Dwayne Allen

On March 9, 2017, the Patriots announced the official trade with the Indianapolis Colts, involving tight end Dwayne Allen and future draft picks.

Martellus Bennett was open to free agency, and he signed with Green Bay, leaving Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

New England Patriots undefeated 2017

Photo Courtesy of fantasylabs.com

The Patriots quickly jumped on the phone, and formed a trade to receive Allen, a multi-purpose tight end.

Last season, Dwayne Allen posted six touchdowns on 35 receptions. However, Allen had an on-going ankle injury that limited him to playing time.

Dwayne Allen will join Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, inevitably strengthening this offense with tight end power.

With the newly added tight end, Tom Brady will have two deadly tight ends for targets and protection. Dwayne Allen will fit into the Patriots offense very smoothly.

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick is entering his 18th season as the head coach of the New England Patriots. Throughout his journey with the organization, he has captured all five rings as the head coach.

It is clear that Belichick is the best coach in his era, and an obvious contender in all time history. What can we expect Belichick to do this upcoming season?

New England Patriots undefeated 2017

Photo Courtesy of startribune.com

He is going to continue to develop unknown players into big names. Malcolm Butler is a great example. Two years ago, you probably had no idea who this guy was, until Butler made the end-zone interception to raise their fourth Super Bowl banner. One year later, Butler is being ranked as a top five cornerback in the NFL.

Honestly, that’s Bilichick’s main strength besides winning games. He is a risk-taker. He scouts these young players who would usually go late in the draft, and makes them veteran caliber players in the NFL.

Malcolm Butler was signed as rookie free agent in May of 2014. Now look, he’s an all star cornerback playing for the strongest team in the league.

Don’t be surprised if you see a unknown player develop into a team leader this upcoming season. It’s obvious that Belichick is good at what he does.

The Patriots are fully capable of going undefeated (again), like previous years. This team will exceed the boundaries and bring home its sixth Super Bowl trophy.

 

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