NFL week 3 picks

Stack your money Sunday’s: Week 3

Week Two Review (3-0) Overall: 5-1

Philadelphia Eagles @ Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5)

Final: Chiefs 27 Eagles 20

Andy Reid remains perfect against his former team. Kareem Hunt continues to amaze everyone with two more scores, and 109 yards of total offense. Alex Smith for MVP? The veteran completed 75 percent of his passes and rushed for 21 yards. Even without Eric Berry, Kansas City’s defense forced three fumbles, had an interception and sacked Carson Wentz six times. Could this finally be the year that Reid captures it all?

New England Patriots (-6.5) @ New Orleans Saints

Final: Patriots 36 Saints 20

The Saints’ defense is absolutely atrocious. Not only did they allow Sam Bradford to have a field day, but Tom Brady and the Patriots marched all over them. Brady scored not one, not two but three first quarter touchdowns. He ended the game throwing for 447 yards.

Drew Brees had a solid game, throwing for 356 yards with no turnovers, but New Orleans’ defense continues to hold them back.

Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram both had only eight carries. Peterson only managed to get 28 yards. Can someone say washed up? You have to wonder if AP will even be a member of the Saints at the end of the season.

Dallas Cowboys @ Denver Broncos (+2.5)

Final: Broncos 42 Cowboys 17

I loved every second of this game, from Dak Prescott’s poor performance, to everyone freaking out at Ezekiel Elliott over nothing. DeAngelo Williams was right when he said “Dak is a clock manager. When you go down 14 to 21 points, he can’t bring you back from that.” The offense moves as Zeke moves.

NFL week 3 picks

Elite? (Denver Broncos)

Props to the entire Broncos team. Holding Elliott to 8 yards is insane, and 42 points is the most the Cowboys have allowed in the regular season since December 9, 2013 when the Bears defeated them 45-28. Josh McCown was the starting quarterback for the Bears and had five total touchdowns. Wow, that’s hard to believe.

Trevor Siemian might actually be good enough to bring this team into the playoffs. Through the first two games, Siemian has six touchdowns, along with a 65 percent completion percentage. C.J. Anderson playing like Terrell Davis is also pretty cool for Denver.

 

Week 3 Picks

Atlanta Falcons (-3) @ Detroit Lions

Pick: FALCONS TO COVER

Tough to go against the 2-0 Lions, but Matt Ryan is 2-0 in his two career games in Detroit. The Falcons just beat a tough Packers team and Detroit had one less day to prepare because of their Monday night game. That actually matters.

The Lions are 21st in passing yards allowed, and now they have to match up against Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel and Austin Hooper. They are undefeated, but they played a washed up Carson Palmer, and a New York Giants team that needs an entire new offensive line.

I expect Detroit to defend the run well, but in the battle of Matt’s, I’ll take Ryan in this one.  In three career games against Atlanta, Stafford is 1-2 with only three passing touchdowns. He is 5-46 against above .500 teams, and Atlanta, barring an epic collapse, will finish with more than eight wins this year. Odds are, Stafford will continue his struggles against good opponents.

Miami Dolphins (-6) @ New York Jets

Pick: DOLPHINS TO COVER

The Jets will historically be one of the worst football teams this league has ever seen. They are currently the worst ranked defense, 28th in passing yards, and 28th in first downs. They can’t stop anybody, and they can’t move the chains on offense. This is actually extremely disrespectful that Vegas thinks Miami only wins by six, especially after their strong victory over the Chargers and the fact that the Jets lost by nine to the Bills and 25 to the Raiders.

Jay Ajayi and Jarvis Landry are both dealing with knee injuries, and DeVante Parker’s ankle has been bothering him. Miami is a tad banged up, but all three of these offensive weapons expect to play. If Ajayi only had one knee, he would probably still find a way to dominate New York, who currently sits dead last in rushing yards allowed. Expect Miami to run all day.

It should be noted that Jay Cutler has never lost to the Jets, as he currently sits at 3-0 in his career. Two of these wins actually came in New York. He looked great against the Chargers and should light up the scoreboard against this Jets team.

Oakland Raiders (-3) @ Washington Redskins

PICK: RAIDERS TO COVER

The Raiders look like one of the best teams in the NFL. Oakland has the top scoring offense, and are currently fourth in total yards. On the other hand, the Redskins defense is 27th in points allowed and 26th in total yards.

NFL week 3 picks

Carr and the Raiders look to jump to 3-0 (Bleacher Report)

Kirk Cousins was .500 at home last year, so it’s not intimidating to go into Washington and play. Derek Carr was 6-1 on the road last year, with 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He is an absolute baller on the road.

Washington’s offense is off to a slow start, and their defense is no match for Carr’s Raiders. The Redskins are historically one of the worst primetime teams, and are 2-6 in their last eight Sunday night games.

 

 

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Fantasy Monday Night Preview: Giants-Lions

Fantasy Monday night preview: Giants vs. Lions

Week two will come to an end tonight with the Detroit Lions playing the New York Giants in MetLife Stadium. With many players on both teams on fantasy football rosters, here are some of the players to keep an eye on both good and bad.

Eli Manning

giants lions monday night fantasy

Eli Manning (Photo by: newsday.com)

The Giants offense was a mess last week against the Dallas Cowboys. They accumulated 13 first downs and just three points.

Manning had 220 yards and an interception. Part of his struggles were due to the very inconsistent offensive line. Even if Odell Beckham Jr. played, it wouldn’t have helped that much.

The Detroit defense agitated Carson Palmer as they picked him off three times, but only got to him one time for a sack. They still gave up 23 points to the Cardinals and a lot of fantasy points to Arizona receivers. While they have shown they can make plays, they can still be inconsistent.

Manning could be in for a big week. Don’t be worried if you started him. However, be cautious because if the offensive line repeats last week’s performance, it could be a long day for the Giant offense.

Matthew Stafford

giants lions monday night fantasy

Matthew Stafford (Photo by: foxsports.com)

There was only one quarterback that posted more fantasy points then Matthew Stafford last week. He was spectacular after a four touchdown performance for 292 yards on a solid Cardinal defense. He also completed over 70 percent of his passes. While Stafford put up excellent numbers against a good Cardinal defense, expecting him to duplicate those numbers against a very good Giant defense might be unrealistic.

With that being said, this might not be the best week to play Stafford, unless you didn’t have a better option. The Giants were the second-toughest team against fantasy quarterbacks last season, and Stafford was held to just 10.22 points in his matchup last year against them with 273 yards and one interception.

Giants defense/special teams

giants lions monday night fantasy

Landon Collins (Photo by: giantswire.usatoday.com)

The Giants defense looked good last week against the Cowboys. Considering how much they were on the field, they held their own. They did what they were expected to do.

They were on the field for 34 minutes and gave up just 19 points. That’s pretty good. Players like Janoris Jenkins shut down Dez Bryant. They prevented Ezekiel Elliott from scoring and limited Dak Prescott to 268 passing yards and one touchdown.

Where the Giants struggled besides not getting a breather was creating turnovers. This week could be the week to execute as we saw this the last time these two teams met. The Giants created two turnovers with an interception and a fumble recovery against Detroit. We’ve seen Stafford get too aggressive throwing the ball and should play a key factor if the Giants can create a pass rush.

The running backs on both teams

One position on both offenses to avoid is all running backs on both teams, unless it is a PPR league.

giants lions monday night fantasy

Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick (Photo by: cbssports.com)

The Detroit running attack only had 82 total rushing yards and 3.0 yards per attempt. Last week, Theo Riddick had one rush for -1 yards, but still remains a PPR option with 6 catches for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Ameer Abdullah will still be the main ball carrier, but struggled with 30 yards rushing last week with his longest run being seven yards. The Giants were the fifth best in fantasy defensive scoring with 243.20 points. In 2016, the Lions only had 56 rushing yards against the Giants.

On the other side, the Giants only had 35 yards rushing with 2.9 yards per attempt. As I stressed earlier, the offensive line was no help. Paul Perkins only had 16 rushing yards and nine receiving yards last week. Shane Vereen becomes an intriguing option in PPR leagues as he led the Giants in receptions with nine for 51 yards.

 

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Stack your money Sunday’s: Week 2

Week One Review (2-1) Overall: 2-1                   

Indianapolis Colts @ Los Angeles Rams (-4.5)

Final: Rams 46 Colts 9

Going into this game, the Rams were 3-13 against the spread (ATS) in their last 16 Week 1 matchups. They were also 1-10-1 ATS in their last 12 games overall. This just shows that you can’t value past numbers too much. They brought in a new coaching staff, upgraded the offensive line, and have a quarterback, in Jared Goff, that finally looks comfortable. The Rams defense looked elite, but then again, they did play against Scott Tolzien and Jacoby Brissett. Nonetheless, great start to the season for Los Angeles.

Carolina Panthers (-5) @ San Francisco 49ers

Final: Panthers 23 49ers 3

Cam Newton didn’t look great, but most of the time, your quarterback doesn’t need to be on his “A” game against San Francisco. Carolina’s defense played well, only allowing 217 total yards of offense, while also forcing two turnovers.

What happened to Eli and the rest of the New York offense?

New York Giants (+4.5) @ Dallas Cowboys

Final: Giants 3 Cowboys 19

A disappointing start to the season for Eli and the Giants (CSNPhilly)

Clearly, without Odell Beckham Jr, this offense is a nightmare. Holding the potent Dallas offense to 19 points is a plus, but when you only muster off 13 first downs, it’s hard to win a football game. The Giants offensive line is clearly an issue, as well as the running game, as New York only rushed for 35 yards. With OBJ most likely suiting up on Monday, look for the Giants to bounce back against Detroit.

WEEK 2 PICKS

Philadelphia Eagles @ Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5)

Pick: CHIEFS TO COVER

This will be the second time Chiefs coach Andy Reid swaures off against his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles. In their previous matchup, dating back to 2013, The Chiefs beat the Eagles by 10. It’s important to mention that game was played in Philly. This contest will be at Arrowhead, where the Chiefs are 18-6 in their last three seasons. Kansas City looks like the best team in the AFC, but the loss of Eric Berry is devastating.

The Eagles defensive line is no joke, so don’t expect Kareem Hunt to put up numbers like he did in his debut. Still, this could be the best season we have ever seen from Alex Smith. With Mahomes right on his tail, Smith knows this season could potentially be his last with Kansas City. Pressure can truly bring the best out of certain players, and last week, it looked like Alex Smith is not giving up his job anytime soon. Philly’s weak run game will cause Carson Wentz to throw a lot, which is never a good idea against the Chiefs secondary. Look for Wentz to force a few bad throws and for Kansas City to continue winning.

New England Patriots (-6.5) @ New Orleans Saints

Pick: PATRIOTS TO COVER

This is a lot of points to give Drew Brees and the Saints, but New England just doesn’t lose back to back games. In fact, in the next game after a loss (since 2003), the Patriots are 41-7. During these 48 games, they are 34-13-1 ATS.

Brandin Cooks looking to have a monster game against his former team (Patriots Wire)

It should be noted that Drew Brees is 3-1 in his career vs Brady, but this year’s Saints defense is no match for the Patriots lethal offense. Even though it was a disappointing start to the season, New England still put 27 points and rushed for over 120 yards in their loss to Kansas City.

The Saints allowed 470 yards to Minnesota, and gave up 23 first downs. Drew Brees is still great, but his defense is absolutely atrocious. New England simply has too many weapons, and will have a field day against the Saints.

Dallas Cowboys @ Denver Broncos (+2.5)

Pick: BRONCOS TO WIN

Dak Prescott continues to be the luckiest quarterback in all of football. This was yet another game in which he only threw for one touchdown. If Eli didn’t forget how to play football, the Cowboys could have easily been 0-1. This is Dak’s first time in Denver, as well as his first real AFC road test. Last year, the two AFC teams that Dallas visited were the Steelers and Browns. Pittsburgh and Cleveland are two of the worst defenses in football, and don’t even compare to Denver’s. The “No Fly Zone” will have no problem shutting down Prescott.

The Broncos ran the ball extremely effective in their opener versus the Chargers, so look for CJ Anderson and Jamaal Charles to have good games against Dallas, as the Cowboys defense is banged up and not that great to begin with. Trevor Siemian isn’t great, but he looks like he could play the part.

Denver’s secondary will shut down the Cowboy’s wide receivers’. Dez Bryant, as much as I love him, is washed. It’s possible Ezekiel Elliot will have a monster game, but Dak will look lost against Denver’s defense. Trevor Siemian has enough playmakers around him to lead this team to victory on Sunday.

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Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

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

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

Last week: 8-7

Season: 8-7

Thursday Night

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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

Sunday Morning

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

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

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Getty Images / Hannah Foslien)

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

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

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

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Getty Images / Ezra Shaw)

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

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

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

Sunday Afternoon

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Night

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Unknown)

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

Monday Night

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

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Stack your money Sundays: Week one

The nine-point underdog, Kansas City Chiefs, shocked the world Thursday with a 42-27 win over the New England Patriots. Football is back baby! The best time to gamble starts now.

For the next 17 Sundays, we will be choosing three games that you should put money on. Rather than taking the over/under, I will mainly be focusing on betting against spreads. Want some new shoes? Bet these games. Need money to take your date out on a fancy dinner? Bet these games.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ LOS ANGELES RAMS (-4.5)

PICK: RAMS TO COVER

Without Andrew Luck, the Colts are arguably the worst team in the NFL. A year ago, this is a defense that allowed the third most yards in the league. Scott Tolzien has only started three NFL games, and has yet to record a victory.

In those three starts, Tolzien has thrown one touchdown and five interceptions. The Rams finished ninth in passing yards allowed per game last season, which is solid, so Tolzien will have a hard time moving the chains.

Yes, the Rams had the worst offense in the league last year, but with an entire new coaching staff and Jared Goff getting his first opening day start, it is really unfair to bring up last season’s debacle. What do you expect with Jeff Fisher running the show? Now, with 31-year-old Sean McVay, as well as 124-year-old Wade Phillips, the Rams have a good mix of quality leadership.

stack your money Sundays: week one

Gurley will have no issues running the ball against Indy (Huffington Post)

Todd Gurley is bound to have a good year. The sophomore slump was due to the fact that Los Angeles couldn’t throw the ball, so the opposition would stack the box and be all over Gurley.

With upgrades at offensive line (Andrew Whitworth, John Sullivan), Goff should have better protection, and Gurley will have more time to make moves. The Colts allowed the third most rushing yards per attempt last season, so look for Gurley to have a monster game.

Jared Goff completed 75 percent of his passes in the preseason. The new coaching staff is already proving to be a success. Against a terrible defense, Goff and the Rams offense’ should shine at home. The Colts won’t be able to stop Gurley, and Tolzien will continue to be Tolzien.

This is probably the only time someone should bet on the Los Angeles Rams. This is an ideal game for Jared Goff to dominate and scoop up his first career win. Even with Aaron Donald most likely continuing his holdout, take the Rams to cover the 4.5 spread at home.

CAROLINA PANTHERS (-5) @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

PICK: PANTHERS TO COVER

When these two teams played last year, the Panthers won 46-27. Carolina has only gotten better since then. Although the Niners had a nice draft, Brian Hoyer will be trotting out on the field and playing behind center. Hoyer really is not that bad, but it is impossible to trust this offense, let alone their 32nd ranked defense a year ago.

San Francisco got run all over last year. No one allowed more rushing attempts, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns than the 49ers. DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead should provide a lot of help. Solomon Thomas will also be there to slow down the run, but he is just a rookie so we aren’t sure what to expect in his debut. Not to mention the fact that Carolina now has some fresh legs, in Christian McCaffrey, who averaged seven yards per carry in the preseason.

stack your money Sundays: week one

With Kuechly healthy, watch out for this defense (Panthers.com)

This will be a nice debut for McCaffrey, who will split time with Jonathan Stewart as they attempt to stomp over this 49ers defense. Carolina had the seventh most rushing attempts last season, and that was without McCaffrey. Look for them to pound the rock this week, because last season, the 49ers allowed over 150 rushing yards on 10 different occasions.

Cam Newton is poised to have a huge year after a disappointing past season. Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olson both look great. The defense, led by Luke Kuechly, is extremely solid.

Is there a better way to start your season than facing the worst defense in the NFL? After winning by 19 in last year’s contest, the improved Panthers will have no problem on the ground, or in the air, against this young defense and weak 49ers offense.

NEW YORK GIANTS (+4.5) @ DALLAS COWBOYS

PICK: GIANTS TO WIN

This is the real money maker. The Giants, an underdog on the road, beat the Cowboys in both matchups last season. If you aren’t into taking big risks, then just take the Giants at +4.5, but there is no way they lose this game, so you might as well earn some extra dough.

Last season, Dak Prescott had eight games in which he either did not throw for a touchdown, or threw for one. In the two games against New York, Prescott had only one touchdown, and quarterback ratings of 69.4 and a dreadful 45.4. He completed less than 53 percent of his passes during these two losses.

stack your money Sundays: week one

Evan Engram could turn into one of the top TE’s in the NFL (Giants.com)

Ezekiel Elliott is expected to play, but in the first matchup last season, Elliott only rushed for 51 yards on 21 carries. Although Elliott was able to rush for over 100 yards in the later matchup, he was still prevented from scoring.

Odell Beckham Jr., who is listed as questionable, will hopefully play. Even without Beckham, this is an offense who added Brandon Marshall in free agency, and a great tight end, Evan Engram, in this past draft. Last year, the Cowboys finished 26th in passing yards allowed, so look for Eli Manning to exploit this weak secondary.

The Giants also have one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. This is a team who finished second in points allowed, and third in rushing yards allowed. You cannot pass or run with efficiency against a defense with names like Jason Pierre Paul, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins.

Prescott will continue his struggles against New York, and Elliott will have a hard time finding holes against this elite Giants defense. If Odell plays, this game could be over quick.

 

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NFC eye test predictions: 9-5

 

We continue with our NFC eye test predictions.

9. New Orleans Saints

Some people might think this team is ranked too high, but they have managed to win seven games in each of the last three seasons. Sean Payton is not the problem, and Drew Brees is still a top quarterback, but the defense keeps this team from getting over the hump.

Even with the loss of Brandin Cooks, the Saints still have some nice targets. Michael Thomas is coming off a monster rookie season, and looks to be a legit number one target for years to come. Ted Ginn Jr can be effective if he can keep his eye on the ball, and Willie Snead is good for a few big plays here and there. Even Coby Fleener has turned into a reliable option at tight end.

Lethal Backfield. (4for4.com)

Not only do they have the super talented Mark Ingram in the backfield, but New Orleans brought in Adrian Peterson, and drafted Alvin Kamara out of Tennessee. While AP is a little out of his prime, he is still very elusive and looks to be in great shape. This three headed monster of a backfield could take some pressure off Brees if they can stay healthy.

Brees and this Saints offense should have no problem lighting up the scoreboard, especially with their talented offensive line. Terrod Armstead is ahead of schedule after shoulder surgery, and we know Max Unger, Zach Strief, and Larry Warford are skilled vets.

The loss of Nick Fairley puts this already abysmal defense in an even deeper hole. Defensive end Cam Jordan is still there, and hopefully 2016 first round pick defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins can slide right in as a starter.

This could arguably be the worst linebacker and secondary core in the league. Manti Te’o needs his fake girlfriend back because that is the last time he was actually good at football. There’s not much to expect from the rest, and as far as the secondary goes, this team allowed more passing yards than anyone in the league last year.

After reading about this defense, you would think this team wouldn’t win more than three games, but soon to be Hall of Famer, Drew Brees, still has the abilities to carry the load. They won’t get into the playoffs, but the offense is too good to not win at least seven or eight games.

 

8. Arizona Cardinals

Let’s be honest, the window for this team to make a run has closed. Bruce Arians is still an awesome coach, but Carson Palmer is so washed up. After three straight double digit win seasons, the Cardinals fell to 7-8-1. In the 13 games Palmer played in, he threw 18 interceptions. I used to love this guy at USC, and in Cincinnati, but that was eons ago.

David Johnson is clearly one of the best, if not, the best running back this game has to offer. D.J Humphries and Jared Veldheer are switching sides on the line, so let’s see if that helps Johnson get even better. Larry Fitzgerald has yet to lose a step, but father time is undefeated. So if he goes down or looks a bit slower, can Arizona trust John or Jaron Brown to step up? Probably not.

With Calais Campbell now in Jacksonville, the Cardinals have one of the worst defensive lines in football. Arizona fans better hope former first round pick, Robert Nkemdiche, can fill Campbell’s shoes.

Now to the fun part of Arizona. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden combined for 23.5 sacks last year. Haason Riddck on the inside could be problem for offenses, and former Bengal Karlos Dansby is one of the most reliable players in the game.

The return of the Honey Badger. Tyrann Mathieu, when healthy, is in the arguement for best defensive player in the league. His mentor, Patrick Peterson, continues to play at an elite level. The loss of Tony Jefferson stings a bit, but Antoine Bethea is a nice replacement.

This team has shown in the past they are capable of big things, but besides David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, it is hard to trust the offense with 37-year-old Carson Palmer running the show. This is an eight-win team.

 

7. Dallas Cowboys

This team is not missing the playoffs just because Ezekiel Elliot is going to be suspended. The fact of the matter is this, Dak Prescott is overrated. Not counting the last game of the regular season, since he barely played, Prescott had eight games in which he either did not throw for a touchdown, or threw for one. He’s just not that good, and this year, he will get exposed.

Overrated? (star-telegram.com)

Whether Elliot gets suspended or not, the running game will not falter. The offensive line is still top notch, and Darren McFadden or Alfred Morris both can still move. Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams are a good receiving core, and Jason Witten still looks like good ol’ Jason Witten.

However, Dallas’ defensive line is awful. Randy Gregory needs serious help, as he will most likely never suit up again. As far as the linebackers, Sean Lee is obviously a monster, and Anthony Hitchens can play, but will Jaylon Smith ever be the same player after his devastating injury?

Did anyone lose more secondary players than the Cowboys? Brandon Carr? Ravens. Barry Church? Jaguars. Morris Claiborne? Jets. J.J Wilcox? Bucs. A lot of question marks on this side of the field.

Dak is overrated, and the defense is bad. Dallas will fall back to Earth and go back to being a .500 team.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons

The Super Bowl hangover is coming straight for Atlanta. Now I don’t think they will miss the playoffs, but I don’t see the Falcons winning the division this year.

What we saw of Matt Ryan last year is the best we will ever see of him. Before last season, Ryan and the Falcons had three straight seasons of eight wins or less. He’s also had double digit interception seasons in seven of his nine years. Ryan has only had two 30+ passing touchdown seasons. He’s good, but Matt Ryan is no superstar.

Ryan is extremely blessed that he has Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in his backfield, as well as an elite offensive line led by Alex Mack. It must be nice to throw the ball to Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel. No wonder this was the number one offense a year ago.

The defensive line is rather weak, but the linebacker core, led by the young studs Vic Beasley and Deion Jones, is among the best in the league. Don’t sleep on Duke Riley making an immediate impact as well.

Desmond Trufant and Keanu Neal lead a solid secondary, but let’s not forget that this team’s defense, last year, was among the worst in points allowed (27th) and yards allowed (25th).

The defense isn’t great, and Matt Ryan will go back to being Matt Ryan. However, the offense is so talented that they will muster off 9-10 wins.

 

5. Minnesota Vikings

The Teddy Bridgewater injury is incredibly sad, but let’s not sleep on Sam Bradford. In fifteen games last year, Bradford went for 20 touchdowns to only five interceptions. He is still only 29 years of age. Injuries have plagued most of his career, but this season could be Bradford’s best.

Secondary Swag: Rhodes and Smith (Star Tribune)

Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have turned into extremely dependable receivers, and Kyle Rudolph racked up seven touchdowns last season. The backfield is packed with some sneaky talent. Dalvin Cook looks to be the guy, and could be a true sleeper, after falling to the second round. The other backs, Latavius Murray, and Jerick McKinnon, have shown that they can excel at this level.

The reason this team is ranked so high is because of their defense. Good luck to opposing offenses with Everson Griffin, Danielle Hunter, Tom Johnson and Linval Joseph manning the line for Minnesota.

Chad Greenway’s retirement hurts the linebacker core, but Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks should be just fine.

Safety Harrison Smith, when healthy, is as elite as they come, and Xavier Rhodes is coming off his first Pro Bowl selection.

Bradford is poised to have a great year with his offensive weapons, and the defense will continue to be among the best. The Vikings will win 10 games and get back in the playoffs, and, thankfully, Blair Walsh won’t be there to blow it this time.

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“From our Haus to Yours”

A Look At Ezekiel Elliott’s Draft Stock After The Suspension

Where Will He Land?

It was announced yesterday (August 13) that Dallas Cowboys second year running back Ezekiel Elliott will be suspended for the first six games of the 2017 NFL season. He’s coming off a stellar rookie season finishing first in rushing yards and third in rushing touchdowns. Many people had Elliott as the unanimous number one pick in fantasy football leagues before the suspension but after the decision by commissioner Goodell where will Ezekiel Elliott go in your fantasy draft?

Drafting during an Appeal:

Ezekiel Elliot suspension

(Photo by foxsports.com)

If your fantasy draft is scheduled to happen before the appeal of Ezekiel Elliott is concluded you are in a really tough spot when it comes to drafting Elliott. Based on last year if you had the number one pick of this years fantasy draft in your league and did not select Ezekiel Elliott you would be considered a crazy person, but now with the suspension looming over his head is he a safe bet? Looking at recent suspensions in the NFL appeals usually take forever and never really make any sense.

Tom Brady was suspended for four games of the 2016 season for something that happened back in 2015, he played an entire season fighting the NFL in court. In 2016 Tom Brady’s average draft position dropped down to 69th while facing his suspension according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com.

There is another example one can look at from last season in Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’veon Bell and his suspension he faced. His average draft position in 2016 fell down to 11th in the NFL which on paper was a big drop as he was considered to be the number one running back fantasy-wise at the beginning of the 2016 season and his suspension was only three games.

What does this mean for Elliott and people who want to pick him this year? It means that there is a chance that the appeals process takes so long that Elliott is allowed to play until the process is completed. But there is another risk going this route if Elliott is allowed to play until the appeal process is finished: What happens if the appeal closes halfway through the season and you lose your number one fantasy producer for the playoffs? This also means he will drop down boards but when is too early or too late to go for the stud sophomore.

Taking A Risk:

As we have seen with other suspended players in the past they will drop down draft boards because of the loss of production not being able to play. With a player the caliber of Ezekiel Elliott it’s hard to see him dropping out of the top 15 even with the potential loss of six games. The reason is because when he does inevitably return he is in the best situation for a fantasy running back in the entire league.

The Cowboys arguably have the best offensive line in the NFL and a young capable quarter back in Dak Prescott that will continue to put Elliott in a position to excel. It will be interesting to see where he will go as the appeal process continues and as of today (August 14) Ezekiel Elliott is currently averaging the 8th pick in 2017 fantasy leagues but I am not sure if it’s counting leagues that drafted before the suspension was handed out.

Conclusion:

This is probably the biggest shakeup in fantasy football I have ever seen, right before most leagues are set to draft, the fate of one of the best players in football is uncertain. When I draft I will certainly be looking out for Elliott to drop around the tenth pick and would certainly pull the trigger on a late first round pick for the running back. If it was certain he would not be suspended then I would take him at anywhere in the first three picks and couldn’t see him dropping past that. With the suspension I could see him dropping as far as the 15th pick, but for him to drop further than that would be a big surprise to me. Overall, the situation with Ezekiel Elliott is strange and only time will tell how many games the star running back will play this year.

 

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NFL super teams: Could it work?

Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors have ruined the NBA for the foreseeable future thanks to their new super team. The Warriors will dominate for years to come and will have the greatest dynasty in sports history when it’s all said and done. That said, the question of whether or not NFL super teams could be formed is an intriguing one to address.

The New England Patriots are the closest thing in the NFL to a super team, as the 2017 edition of the squad is the frontrunner to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and some even think they could go 16-0.

But the fact is that the NFL does not truly have a super team. Sure, the Patriots are most likely the best team on paper going into 2017, but there’s still no guarantee that they’ll even win the conference championship game.

We’ve seen this issue talked about before, so why not join in on the fun and give a hot #take myself?

There’s a couple different aspects to dissect when looking into NFL super teams. First, and most crucial, is the money. Even though the NFL is the most popular sport in the United States, the 53-man roster leaves less money for each player compared to the NBA. When forming a super team, every single star player would have to take a pay cut in order to allow other stars on the team. NFL players have already complained about the the discrepancy between NFL and NBA contracts, so taking even less could be a tough pill to swallow for many players.

The next concept to consider is that NFL teams have very specific schemes. The offense ran in New England was much different from the one that the Dallas Cowboys ran last season, yet each were top-five offenses in the league. Not only would NFL super teams need stars at every position, but it would also need the right personnel to fit the scheme.

Finally, we must ask if there’s even enough time for NFL super teams to form a dynasty. The shelf life of a running back is already limited, and the prime of many players in the NFL can be shorter than that of an NBA player. Even if it all came together for an NFL team, would there be enough time for them to win multiple Super Bowls with the same core?

Money talks

Every year, NFL players holdout and skip training camp in order to get leverage in earning more money. There can’t be an argument made that NFL players are more greedy than NBA players, but it does go to show that the top talents in the NFL will put their team and preparation at risk in order to get a couple more million dollars.

What a hard life NFL stars live.

NFL super teams

Photo: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Le’Veon Bell is at least the No. 2 running back in the NFL, if not the best (David Johnson may have something to say about that). He’s putting his team’s success in jeopardy this offseason by deciding to holdout. The most significant problem for NFL super teams is whether or not players will put their pride aside to take pay cuts, even though they may be the most elite at their position.

Every elite NFL player will do his best to suck all the money out of his organization he can. Heck, even players that aren’t elite, like Kirk Cousins and Joe Flacco, have tried this (and been successful) in the past.

This poses a threat to NFL super teams when trying to get the best of the best in one uniform. But this is only the start of the problem.

NFL super teams’ Schemes make for an even more complex problem

Dak Prescott and Drew Brees are two very different quarterbacks. Prescott resided in a run-heavy offense in Dallas, as the Cowboys ran the ball more than any other team last season (48.7 percent of plays). The Cowboys’ offense was built by its powerful line which counteracted its lack of skill players on the outside. This allowed Ezekiel Elliott to run all over (and away) from defenses in his rookie campaign.

The Saints’ offensive attack was much different from the Cowboys. Drew Brees had great weapons on the outside in former Saint Brandin Cooks, who used his deep-threat abilities to become Brees’ best downfield target. Rookie Michael Thomas managed to put together one of the best rookie seasons a wide receiver has ever produced, and was Brees’ possession target to look to.

Even Willie Snead, Coby Fleener and Josh Hill were utilized in the pass-first offense that allowed Brees to air it out on 63.4 percent of plays, good for fifth-most in the NFL last season.

The point is that NFL super teams need the perfect combination for an offense to work. The offensive coordinator, quarterback, skill players and offensive line must all be in sync and comfortable with the system in order to reach optimal success. And it’s the same way with the defense.

Not only do the star players at each position need to take pay cuts to form a super team, but they also have to fit with the scheme of whichever side of the ball they play on.

The player pool for a super team continues to shrink with these requirements.

Father Time waits for no man, not even NFL super teams

Barring a select few, most NFL stars are only elite for a couple years. Injuries cut their time of stardom even shorter (Jamaal Charles knows about that), which makes it even harder to field a star team.

Sure, the best of the best can sometimes manage to be stars for over half their career, but remember the requirements already talked about. Finding a star who is willing to take a pay cut and fits in the scheme is hard enough, so the pool of players has already dwindled.

NFL super teams

Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tom Brady may play until he’s 50, but top players at other positions have missed time in the past couple seasons. If Le’Veon Bell could stop smoking weed and quit getting injured by the Bengals, he’d have a chance to be on Tom Brady’s list.

Antonio Brown missed three games last season, Julio Jones has played in 16 games in a season once in his six years and A.J. Green has missed ten games in his six-year career while finding his way on the mid-week injury report seemingly every week.

This goes to show that even the most elite players can’t escape the injury bug.

And if the top players earn as much money as they want on a theoretical super team, the bench will be filled with aging veterans who are ring-chasing and don’t have enough talent to suffice the loss of a star.

This continues to prove that forming NFL super teams may be nearly impossible.

NFL super teams: Making one is #hard

The San Francisco 49ers currently have the most cap space in the NFL. A lot will change come March 2018, but one thing that will most likely remain is that the 49ers will suck this season. They won’t be the most attractive franchise to build a super team with.

However, the team with the fifth-most cap space is the Houston Texans. Houston has $24.3 million in free cap space, and made the playoffs last season. The Texans seem to be just a few pieces away from being a Super Bowl contender, so we’ll use them as a possible super team.

There’s been a lot of changes to the NFL landscape from last season, and that trend will continue in each offseason. Let’s try to make the Texans a super team through 2018 free agency.

Finding a quarterback

The Texans’ most glaring need is at the quarterback position. Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins and Matt Stafford are the only notable names that will be free agents come 2018.

Photo: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Cousins can be taken off the list right away, as it seems he’s been fighting to get a huge contract from Washington since he was in diapers.

Drew Brees and Matt Stafford both make sense due to the fact that they’ve had great years, yet Brees has just one ring, and Stafford has no playoff wins. It comes down to who would be the best fit in Bill O’Brien’s offense, assuming he stays on staff next season.

O’Brien’s scheme is based around the power-run game and using two tight end sets. The formations used in O’Brien’s system forces the quarterback to make crucial and complicated pre-snap reads. That said, Brees would be the better fit in Houston. His ability to run multiple formations in New Orleans could quite possibly translate to Houston.

If Brees were to make this move, he’d have to be fine with a pay cut since he’d be ring chasing and forming a super team. Let’s say he cuts his salary in half and earns $12 million with Houston.

Receiving a pass catcher

That only leaves $12 million and change in the bank for Houston. Houston has Lamar Miller, who should be an above average back for now. At wideout, the Texans have an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, but could use some help on the receiving end. The wide receiver market is grim in 2018, but a familiar face for Drew Brees will be on the market in 2018 at tight end.

The Drew Brees-Jimmy Graham love affair in New Orleans was art. Graham will be on the market in 2018, and even though he’s had a history of wanting money, let’s assume he wants a ring and to play with Drew Brees more.

We’ll assume Graham will settle for a mere $8 million a year with Houston, which is only $2 million less than he got in Seattle. I for one hope that in this theoretical world, Jimmy Graham makes it in this tough world with only $8 million a year to come home to.

Room for one more player

With $4 left, the Texans could grab a proven veteran for cheap, or a lesser-tier asset. The Texans need help on the offensive line, specifically at tackle. The best player on the market in 2018 is Donald Penn, but he’s currently holding out of Raiders’ camp, so he has to be off the list. Nate Solder could be an option, but the likelihood that he takes a paycut to leave New England is as likely as Johnny Manziel not drinking tonight.

Allen Barber was the No. 16 guard last season according to Pro Football Focus. Although he’s mostly played left guard in the past two seasons, he’s seen time at tackle with the Eagles early in his career.

Barber wouldn’t be a blockbuster move at all, but he could end up being a nice find for Houston to help what’s been a bad offensive line.

NFL super teams: Could it work?

The idea of NFL super teams is far-fetched and there’s too many hoops to jump through for it to work. There’s too many stipulations not seen in the NBA like a much larger roster, less time to be in the peak of a career and scheme fits.

Although the NBA has made it work before, the Golden State Warriors’ mega-team and soon to be dynasty will only work in the NBA. NFL front offices have far too many hoops to jump through.

For now, let’s just enjoy hating the New England Patriots for being better than all of our teams and speculate other things, like how Bill Belichick can pull a homeless man off the street and turn him into a heroic wide receiver or cornerback in a Super Bowl.

 

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2017 NFC East division

2017 NFC East division preview

The NFL regular season is fast approaching. In the blink of an eye, Sep. 7 will arrive and the Chiefs and Patriots will be kicking off. 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 adu, here is the 2017 NFC East division preview.

4. Washington Redskins

Last season: 8-7-1

Strength of Schedule: 7

Last season was an up and down one for the Redskins. This year the schedule makers didn’t make it any easier on them. Aside from playing in the tough NFC East, Washington must also play the AFC West. The AFC West is arguably the best division in football. As if the tough schedule wasn’t enough to deal with, the Redskins have glaring weaknesses on both sides of the ball.

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Offensively, their line is average but consistent. The running back situation is somewhat of a mess. None of Washington’s running backs had more than 750 yards last season.

Rob Kelley, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson all got significant carries and return this season. Washington also drafted Samaje Perine from Oklahoma. Without a clear cut go-to running back, the offense will be one dimensional.

The strength of the offense is the passing attack, but it isn’t even all that great on paper. Kirk Cousins is an average NFL quarterback who will not lead a team to a Super Bowl. In their division, he won’t even be able to get them into the playoffs this season.

He doesn’t have the best of receivers either. His number one receiver is a converted quarterback. Cousins’ other viable offensive weapon is tight end Jordan Reed who has had nagging injuries keeping him out of the lineup.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins are going to struggle. The Redskins gave up 23.9 points per game last season because they couldn’t stop the run. Teams ran for an average of 119.8 yards per game. This problem wasn’t addressed in the draft or in free agency. Washington did draft Jonathan Allen, but are playing him at defensive end and his strength is against the pass.

With the lack of a running game and a defense that can’t stop the run, teams will control the flow of the game and the clock against the Redskins. Washington will be playing from behind and Kirk Cousins will have a higher interception total this season. Their seventh ranked schedule is also a major reason on why they will have a rough year.

Prediction: 5-11 (3-3), miss the playoffs

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Last season: 7-9

Strength of Schedule: (T) 10

The Eagles made a lot of moves in the offseason to help out second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. They made it a point to do so because the second season is the most important in the development of a quarterback.

2017 NFC East division preview

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

Heading into the season the Eagles have the best ranked offensive line according to Pro Football Focus. That line should pave the way for a solid year by LeGarrette Blount, who led the league in rushing touchdowns last season.

Wentz was also given a new huge weapon at receiver in Alshon Jeffery. Jordan Mathews, who had 73 receptions in 2016, returns to play alongside Jeffery. Carson Wentz is also blessed with a really good tight end, Zach Ertz, who led the team in catches with 78.

The Eagles have a very talented defense that allowed 20.7 points per game last season. The defense hasn’t changed much and should play similar to the way they did last season.

Philly has road games outside the division against the Chiefs, Panthers and Seahawks. They also have home games against the Cardinals, Broncos and Raiders. A tough division and tough schedule are what may hold Philadelphia back this season.

Prediction: 7-9 (3-3), miss the playoffs

2. New York Giants

Last season: 11-5

Strength of Schedule: 8

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: https://rukkus.com/)

New York’s season came to an abrupt end in the playoffs against the Packers after a 38-13 thrashing. It was just a bad game for the Giants and not a true indication of how good they really are. In reality, the Giants are a team capable of winning the Super Bowl and it starts with their defense.

Quietly, the Giants had one of the best defenses in the league last season. They gave up just 17.8 points per game, which was second best in the NFL. Their defensive line got lots of pressure and the amazing secondary put fear into opposing quarterbacks.

The weak spot of the defense is the linebacking corp and if they can just be average, then the Giants will have an elite defense yet again.

Offensively, the Giants can sleep easy knowing Eli Manning is still under center. He doesn’t get the shine like most Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, but he hasn’t missed a game since before Nov. 21, 2004. Manning is consistent and the team knows they will be able to get 4,000 yards and 25 or more touchdowns from him.

He has Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram as targets for 2017. This is going to make his job easy.

The only question mark on the offense is at running back. Paul Perkins is the man but can he shoulder the load for an entire season? He only carried the ball 112 times for 456 yards last season and will be taking over for Rashad Jennings. If he can be the workhorse, the Giants will have a dangerous offense that can win them a lot of games.

New York has talent on both sides of the ball. They will continue to build off of last season’s success and have another solid campaign in 2017 but it won’t be good enough to knock off the Cowboys for the division title.

Prediction: 10-6 (3-3), wildcard candidate

1. Dallas

Last season: 13-3

Strength of Schedule: (T) 10

2016 was a great year for Dallas as they ran out to a 13-3 record and a first-round bye. Unfortunately, their defense let them down against one of the game’s best quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers. Dallas fell to the Packers 34-31 in the divisional round of the playoffs and their surprising season came to end. This year there are Super Bowl expectations for America’s team.

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

The entire team is led by their running game. It is no secret how talented the offensive line is in Dallas and the Cowboys used it to their advantage. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,631 yards last season. The success of their running game took pressure off rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott should take a leap this year as the Cowboys will attempt to open up the playbook. Dak threw for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. The formula for success is still to run the ball, but with a better understanding of the offense and solid weapons around him, Dak could have an even better sophomore season.

The issue with the Cowboys is their defense but more specifically, their pass defense. Dallas addressed their defense by adding Taco Charlton to try and create quick pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They also drafted Jourdan Lewis out of Michigan, who was one of the best corners in the nation. To improve the secondary even further, they signed Nolan Carroll from the division rival Eagles.

All these moves should improve the defense but there is a potential superstar, who isn’t a new acquisition, waiting to be unleashed.

Jaylon Smith was a consensus top five pick last season before he blew his knee out in a bowl game. Smith sat out last season after the Cowboys drafted him in the second round. If Smith can stay healthy, he will be a Pro-Bowl caliber player. Adding him to this defense could be the difference in losing to Green Bay and heading to Minnesota for Super Bowl LII.

With all the talent the Cowboys have on offense, the defense just needs to be average. They will be better than average with the moves they made in the offseason and the Cowboys will be a legitimate Super Bowl contender this season.

Prediction: 12-4, division champion

 

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NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

The NFL season is right around the corner and all the lists of top players of the NFL are out. There is only one problem with these lists: they look back on the 2016 season too much. This list will look forward to the 2017 season and predict who will be the top 100 players for the 2017 season. The Game Haus staff compiled their lists together to rank who they think will be the top 100 players this upcoming season.

This is the sixth installment, containing players 50-41.

50. Trent Williams, OT, Washington Redskins

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

Trent Williams (CSN Mid Atlantic)

Williams has proven over his seven seasons that he is one of the best left tackles in the NFL. He has made five straight Pro Bowls and helped give up just 23 sacks in 2016, good enough for fourth best in the NFL.

His blocking was a big component on the Redskins’ offense which had the third most yards in the NFL in 2016. Kirk Cousins will have his protection, but the Redskins’ offensive line will be tasked with opening up holes for the running backs, an area they could be better. Williams hasn’t played a full 16 games in the last three years but has still been effective enough to make Pro Bowls.

In 2017 Williams will be the best player for Washington and continue to be one of the best linemen in the NFL.

Comments: “Williams is one of the best offensive lineman in the league. He should be ranked higher as he is one of the top two or three tackles in the league and better than several players ahead of him on this list.”-Joe DiTullio

49. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

T.Y. Hilton (spotrac.com)

In 2016 Hilton set new career bests in receptions and receiving yards. He made his third straight Pro Bowl with 91 receptions, 1,448 yards and six touchdowns. He was the NFL’s leading receiver in 2016 and will be looking to match that production in 2017.

Andrew Luck and Hilton have quite the connection and Luck relies on Hilton. Luck targeted Hilton 155 times in 2016 and while Hilton may not get that many targets in 2017, Luck will be looking to connect with Hilton often. Hilton will be entering his prime and with Luck throwing him passes, there is no reason to expect a drop in production.

Hilton may not be the most physically gifted receiver, but he produces and will continue to do so in 2017.

Comments: “One simple explanation on why T.Y. Hilton is too high is because he is ranked higher than Jordy Nelson but is not better than him. Nelson had more receptions and touchdowns the Hilton. Put Nelson higher than Hilton and I have no issues.” -Matthew Hagan

48. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

Dak Prescott (Getty Images)

No one expected Prescott to do what he did in 2016. He made the most of his opportunity when Tony Romo got injured and led the Cowboys to a great season. Prescott spearheaded the Cowboys’ offense to a 13-3 record. He threw for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Going into 2017, Prescott has a lot going for him. The main thing is a great offensive line that will give him time to make good throws. He has great targets in Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Cole Beasley. The Cowboys do have issues with Ezekiel Elliot, who may be suspended for a few games for a variety of reasons, but Prescott should still be able to be successful with his line and receivers.

Prescott may not lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, but has all the tools to be successful in 2017.

Comments: “The kid is good, don’t get me wrong. He is absolutely a top 100 player. Is he a top 50 player? Not at all. His supporting staff is easily top five in the league. I want to see him grow on the throws he makes and see how he handles more pressure.”- Robert Hanes

47. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

Andrew Luck (colts.com)

A lot has been made of Andrew Luck, but he is a very talented quarterback on an average at best team. Last year Luck threw for 4,240 yards, 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 63.5% completion. If and when the Colts are successful, it is because of Luck.

Luck will still have his favorite target, T.Y. Hilton (#49), which will be a great combination once again. The offensive line has gotten better over the last couple of years and should help Luck have time to find open receivers and stay relatively healthy. In a division that is very winnable, Luck can lead the Colts to a division win.

In 2017 Luck will be the best player on the Colts and has a chance to elevate a pretty mundane team once again.

Comments: “Andrew Luck is the only reason the Colts are relevant and it is because of his stellar play. If you give Luck a better defense and a better running game, he will be a top 30 player in the NFL.” -Matthew Hagan

46. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

Tyreek Hill (CBS Sports)

Hill burst onto the scene last season after being relatively unknown. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft and not much was expected of him. As a very versatile player for the Chiefs, Hill had 860 yards from scrimmage, 976 return yards and 12 total touchdowns.

The Chiefs have moved on from Jeremy Maclin and are looking to make Hill and Travis Kelce the focal point of their offense. With Alex Smith at quarterback, the offense is usually mundane, but because Hill is so electric with the ball in his hands, the offense can be dynamic. With his return ability added to his skills on offense Hill can be a game-changer.

After a successful first season in the league, it should be expected that Hill will improve in year two with more reps.

Comments: “There is too much hype on Hill. He is extremely fast and explosive. With Maclin gone he will have to prove he can be the number one threat and this season it will prove to be too much and that he is more suited for a role as a number two.” -Matthew Hagan

“Hill had a first good season and can change the game in many ways, but this is way too high.He is ranked higher than T.Y. Hilton and Jordy Nelson on this list. Some of our staff is drinking too much of the Tyreek Hill Kool-Aid.”-Joe DiTullio

45. Jadeveon Clowney, OLB, Houston Texans

Brett Coomer

Jadevon Clowney (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle)

His first season was injury plagued, but since then he has progressed into a really good player. In 2016 Clowney had 52 tackles, six sacks, two passes defended and one forced fumble. With J.J. Watt injured, Clowney stepped up and became an impact player.

Clowney and Whitney Mercilus have combined to be a good duo at outside linebacker and having Watt back in 2017 should free them up to get after the quarterback more. Opposing offensive lines will not be able to block all three consistently and Clowney will benefit.

He has just scratched the surface of his potential, but Clowney should have a very good 2017.

Comments: Clowney helps anchor one of the best front sevens in the NFL. After a lackluster start to his career, Clowney broke out towards the end of the 2016 season. Clowney received the third-highest grade from PFF among edge defenders in run stopping with an 89.1, and has improved his pass rushing abilities as well. Clowney produced 58 quarterback pressures last season coupled with 38 defensive stops. As long as he can stay healthy, expect Clowney to continue to bolster a scary defense in Houston.” –Tim Miller

44. Joey Bosa, DE, Los Angeles Chargers

nfl top 100 players 2017: 50-41

Joey Bosa (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

His rookie year did not get off to a great start as he was in a contract holdout, but once he took the field Bosa was a great player. In his first season, he played in 12 games, had 31 tackles and 10.5 sacks.

Bosa will benefit from an entire offseason to work out and learn, something he didn’t have the privilege of doing in 2016. With this, he should be ready to play a full season, which puts a reasonable expectation that his stats will increase in 2017. The Chargers’ defense was much improved in 2016 and will likely get better again this season.

In 2016 Bosa had a great rookie year, which has fans excited to see what he can do in 2017.

Comments: “A product of The Ohio State University, Bosa’s dominant play in college translated quickly to the NFL. Bosa played in 12 games last season, yet he still racked up 59 total quarterback pressures, including 11 sacks. Bosa has played both defensive end and outside linebacker with the Chargers, which further helps his claim as a top edge defender in the NFL.

“The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, expect Bosa to put up another incredible season and become one of the best defensive players of his generation.” –Tim Miller

43. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills

nfl top 100 players 2017: 50-41

LeSean McCoy (Getty Images)

McCoy is entering into the end of his prime years at age 29 but hasn’t slowed down yet. Last season he rushed for 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is a threat every time the ball is in his hands and defenses always have to try to stop the run when they play Buffalo.

If McCoy stays healthy, he is a sure thing to give you 1,000 yards on the ground. This is something he has done every season with at least 15 games played since his rookie season. McCoy runs behind a good offensive line that features Eric Wood, Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn.

The Bills may not have the best offense, but they can always rely on handing the ball to McCoy.

Comments: “McCoy is the quickest cutter in the league and continually puts defenders on skates. His 1,267 yards aren’t eye-popping stats, but he did average 5.8 yards per carry. McCoy will produce in 2017 again.”-Joe DiTullio

42. Aqib Talib, CB, Denver Broncos

Aqib Talib (USA Today)

While Talib is going to be 31 this season, he is still playing at an elite level on a very good Denver defense. In 2016 Talib was an All-Pro, had 43 tackles, 12 passes defended, three interceptions and a touchdown. 2016 marked his first appearance on the All-Pro team, but he has made four Pro Bowls.

Talib returns to Denver and has a lot of good players around him. It is hard for teams to find a defensive back to pick on when the Broncos have Talib, Bradley Roby and Chris Harris Jr. (#52). With the help of his teammates, Talib helped the Broncos have the best pass defense in the NFL by far in 2016, allowing just 185 yards per game through the air.

With everyone back for another year, Talib and the Broncos’ secondary will prove why they are one of the best in the NFL.

Comments: “Talib is part of the best cornerback tandem in the entire NFL. Talib was the only player in the NFL to play in over 500 snaps yet not give up a touchdown reception last season, proving he was toughest in the clutch. Allowing just a 49.5 passer rating on balls thrown his way was good enough for second-best in the NFL among qualified players last year. Talib is getting older for sure, but he still has enough talent to keep him on this list going into next season.” –Tim Miller

41. Demarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

DeMarco Murray (George Walker IV/The Tennessean)

Murray was a good player for the Dallas Cowboys, then slumped with the Philadelphia Eagles before reviving his career in Nashville. Last season he rushed for 1,287 yards and nine touchdowns to bring some life to the Titans’ rushing attack.

He partnered with Derrick Henry to help Tennessee average the third most rushing yards in the NFL with 136.7 yards per game. Murray will again split carries with Henry, but the former Cowboy has proven that he deserves the lion’s share. The offensive line in front of him was tremendous and will continue to create big holes for him in 2017.

With guys like Taylor Lewan (#53) and Jack Conklin blocking for Murray, he is going to have another productive season.

Comments: “Murray has benefited from some good offensive lines, first in Dallas now in Tennessee. He is a very good running back, but he did have a bad season with Philadelphia. He will have a good season in 2017, partly because of his talent and partly because his offensive line.”-Joe DiTullio

 

NFL top 100 players: 60-51

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