AFC eye test predictions: 16-10

Why is the preseason four weeks long? Seems odd to me. Anyways, as the preseason drags on, I have decided to do a preview of both conferences. Unlike most of my articles which are filled with a bunch of statistics and numbers, I will only be using the eye test. I will occasionally drop some numbers if necessary, but this is for the average fan who wants to see a glimpse of every NFL team.

Let’s start with the worst teams from the AFC.

16. new york jets

Wow, this team sucks. Is Christian Hackenberg really going to be the starter? Who even is Christian Hackenberg? According to CBS Sports, Hackenberg twice hit reporters with terrible throws during OTAs. The other day, he was kicked out of practice for not knowing how to break a huddle correctly.

I genuinely feel bad for this roster. Matt Forte is 88 years old in running back years. Even if Hackeberg knew how to throw the ball, there will be no one there to catch it. Their one good receiver, Quincy Enunwa, is having season-ending surgery because of a bulging disk in his neck. Now no active player on this roster has 1,000 career receiving yards.

It’s too bad because I really like Todd Bowles. The one bright spot on the roster is Jamal Adams, a former LSU safety who New York took in the first round of this year’s draft. He will for sure be a stud, but the rest of the defense is a major problem. Don’t be shocked if this team doesn’t win more than two games.

15. Cleveland Browns

Believeland! No, just kidding. The Browns are still the worst franchise in sports. The Browns are surprisingly headed in the right direction. The additions of JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler actually puts Cleveland among the top offensive lines in the league. That should help Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. be a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield. Don’t ask me which one to pick in fantasy because I always choose the wrong one.

All signs point to the Brocket Launcher being the Week 1 starter, which is good news for the rest of the league, and bad news for the Browns. Remember when this guy beat Tom Brady and the Patriots? That seems like 10 years ago. Maybe DeShone Kizer will be ready before expected.

Kenny Britt should help a little bit, and Corey Coleman could be nice option if healthy the whole year. As for as the defensive side of the ball, the additions of Jabrill Peppers and Calvin Pryor should help. Hopefully Peppers can keep finessing around drug tests and be an immediate impact. I’m rooting for the Browns, but don’t expect more than four wins.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars

I highly recommend keeping the headset on and rolling with Henne! (Business Insider)

This team would be really fun if Blake Bortles knew how to play. After finishing near the bottom in all rushing stats, the Jags snatched Leonard Fournette early in the first round.

This dude runs with a lot of power and a lot of speed. I can’t wait to watch this kid truck stick people. Doug Marrone should give Fournette at least 20 attempts a game, which could be huge because the more running plays, the less of a chance for a Bortles interception.

I actually think their defense is pretty dope. I love the signing of Calais Campbell. He and Malik Jackson will lead a decent defensive line.

Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are legit. Along with these stud corners, at the safety positions are Barry Church and Taushan Gibson, who help make the Jags one of the best secondaries in the league.

Paul Poslunsky and Telvin Smith are a mean duo at the linebacker position. If Bortles can get the ball to Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, or anyone named Allen (Robinson or Hurns), then the Jags could surprise people. Unfortunately, Bortles doesn’t seem to be the answer. Maybe give Chad Henne some starts? This team, who has one of the easiest schedules, will probably only win five games, but don’t sleep on them if they can figure it out behind center.

13. Buffalo Bills

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest Tyrod Taylor fan. I understand he doesn’t turn the ball over a lot, but he never does enough to win games. In 15 games last year, he only threw 17 touchdowns. I’m a big fan of the trade that sent Sammy Watkins to the Rams. Paying him would have been a huge mistake, because he simply can’t stay on the field. Acquiring Jordan Matthews in a trade is cool, but he will likely be the only reliable target.

They have the fifth-hardest schedule, which is based off last year’s records. They have a good offensive line, and LeSean McCoy, who’s coming off a really nice year, says he still feels great, even at 29. With that said, the Bills will be an efficient rushing team.

Sean McDermott is bringing in a new defensive scheme, which might take a few games to adjust to. Veterans Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus will continue to hold down the line, and Lorenzo Alexander should continue his nice play. I like the Micah Hyde signing, but the rest of the secondary is a work in progress.

Buffalo will be travelling to Carolina, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Kansas City and New England, and that looks like a whole lot of L’s. Buffalo won’t win more than six games.

12. Denver Broncos

Am I disrespecting the Broncos? Honestly, no. Look, their defense is top notch. Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, who man the “No Fly Zone”, are probably the best corner duo in the league. Von Miller is obviously one of the best all-around players this league has to offer, and Shane Ray made a wise decision to get high before the draft, because he fell to a great spot. Even the NFL’s second coolest Brandon Marshall has made a name for himself.

No Fly Zone. (247sports)

But do you really trust Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian? The answer is no. Especially with the below average offensive line that Denver has. If they signed the 2012 version of Jamaal Charles, then they would possibly have some hope. But instead, they signed the older, banged up Charles.

C.J. Anderson has also shown that he can’t stay on the field so the run game will lack production. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are studs, but it will be hard to catch the ducks that will be coming their way.

Denver has to travel to Los Angeles, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Miami and Oakland to name a few. They’ll finish at 6-10.

11. Houston Texans

This team seems to always sneakily slide into the playoffs. They even gave the Patriots a run for their money, until Brock Osweiler turned back into Brock Osweiler. I just don’t see it happening this year. Fun fact: Tom Savage has never thrown a touchdown in his career. While he’s only appeared in five games, and started in two, it is still embarrassing.

Deshaun Watson looked good in his preseason debut, but I’m not sure if he will be ready to perform right away. Savage will be pulled after a few games in favor of Watson, but until then, DeAndre Hopkins shouldn’t expect too many touchdowns. The DeAndre Hopkins story is actually really sad. He is super talented but has yet to work with a legit quarterback.

Will Fuller’s injury hurts Houston, and Lamar Miller is just Lamar Miller- nothing special. However, the defense is still very good, but comes with some shakeups. We know about J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Whitney Mercilus is good, but Brian Cushing is getting old. After losing Bouye to free agency, I don’t love their secondary.

The roster is good enough to get seven wins, but with Savage behind center, don’t expect anything more than that.

10. Indianapolis Colts

Will Luck lead this talentless team to the playoffs? (Colts.com)

If the Colts didn’t have Andrew Luck, they would be one of the worst teams in the league. Luck, who plans to start Week 1, is a monster. He turns the ball over too much, and forces a lot of passes, but he is a clear franchise quarterback.

T.Y. Hilton led the league in receiving yards, and Donte Moncrief is legit when healthy. But Frank Gore is old, and we can’t expect too much from Robert Turbin.

Both the offensive and defensive lines are trash. The Colts got extremely young at linebacker. Vontae Davis was terrible a year ago, but drafting safety Malik Hooker and cornerback Quincy Wilson, should help out this dreadful secondary.

Even with all this said, the Colts can win eight games. Obviously, this is dependent on Luck’s health, but they have the easiest schedules in the league. With games against the Browns, 49ers and two against the Jags, Indy could make some noise in the AFC South.

 

Featured image by cbssports.com

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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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Top 5 2017 fantasy quarterbacks

When it comes to fantasy football, quarterbacks are a premium. There are many different types of quarterbacks in the NFL. There’s those who are elite passers and ones that are mobile quarterbacks. Some can do both. But these five quarterbacks are the top tier who you should eye for your team in 2017.

No. 5 Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Luck bounced back last season from an injury-shortened 2015 to surpass 4,000 yards passing for the third time in his career and 30 touchdowns for the second time.

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Quarterbacks

Andrew Luck (Photo by: profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)

When healthy, Luck is one of the best passers in the game. In 38 games since 2014, Luck has posted 20-plus fantasy points 76.3 percent of the time. Only Tom Brady is close to that mark at 70.4 percent.

He has finished as a top-four fantasy quarterback in three of the past four seasons. Last season, he ranked eighth in passing yards, fifth in passing touchdowns and seventh in rushing yards among quarterbacks. He averaged 7.8 yards per attempt, which was fifth in the league.

Luck hasn’t had luck on his side with injuries. In 2015, he only played seven games with multiple injuries that included an injured shoulder, lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle.

Last season, he missed one game with a concussion. In the past two seasons he has missed 10 games. The Colts are hopeful that Luck will be ready for training camp after offseason shoulder surgery. If not, then there will be concerns about his availability come week 1.

Luck should be the fourth or fifth quarterback taken around the fourth to fifth round if he’s healthy. Luck himself should come out firing, partially because the Colts’ defense isn’t expected to be great and partially because the Colts run game isn’t expected to be great.

No. 4 Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

A career year that led to an MVP award at age 32, Matt Ryan ranks fourth on my list.

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan (Photo: twitter.com)

Ryan enjoyed a career-best season in 2016, ranking second in passing yards, passing touchdowns and fantasy points. He averaged an absurd 9.26 yards per attempt, which is the best we’ve seen in the NFL since Kurt Warner’s 9.88 in 2000.

Ryan benefited from the league’s most yards after the catch (6.2 RAC) and second-lowest drop rate (2.8 percent). His offensive line protected him well, as he had a ton of help in the passing game from a number of role players, not to mention some excellent work from stud receiver Julio Jones.

Most of that success was because of Kyle Shanahan. But Shanahan has moved on as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. The Falcons hired former USC coach Steve Sarkisian, a first-year NFL playcaller.

Sarkisian did coach in Oakland in 2004 as the quarterbacks coach. In that season, he helped Oakland compile more than 4,000 passing yards, ranking eighth out of 32 NFL teams.

Ryan won’t post his monster 2016 stats in 2017 but if the offense holds up and his star receiver stays healthy, Ryan should have another strong season. Ryan is in the mix as a top 5 fantasy passer worth a pick in round 4 or 5.

No. 3 Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Consistency is the best word to describe number three quarterback Drew Brees. At age 38 this season, he is still one of the best passers in the game.

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Quarterbacks

Drew Brees (Photo by:denverpost.com)

He’s finished as a top 6 quarterback in fantasy for 11 straight seasons, landing at the No. 3 spot in 2016.

When it comes to passing the ball, Brees has a cannon. He’s ranked top-two in the NFL in attempts, completions, yardage and completion percentage during six of the past seven seasons.

He’s thrown for at least 4,850 yards in each of his last six campaigns, topping 5,000 yards in four of them. As for touchdowns, Brees has thrown at least 32 in nine straight seasons. Most quarterbacks at his age start to lose some production, but Brees isn’t slowing down.

Some concern with Brees is his age but the big question comes with who his new number one target will be. The loss of Brandin Cooks hurts, but the Saints brought in Ted Ginn Jr. to replace Cooks’ deep speed. Brees’ success has been built on spreading the ball around so the loss of Cooks should be minimal.

Expect Brees to have another top-five fantasy campaign and he should be the second or third quarterback taken.

No. 2 Tom Brady, New England Patriots

A four-game suspension for Brady last season, yet he still had one of the most dominant seasons of his career. The ageless Tom Brady ranks second on this list.

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Quarterbacks

Tom Brady (Photo by:nj.com)

Like Brees, Brady is still at the top of his game as he turns 40 on Aug. 3. Brady was absolutely dominant upon his return, ranking fifth in completion percentage (67 percent) and second in yards per attempt (8.2), while throwing only two interceptions.

He still managed to toss 28 touchdowns. Even though he finished as the No. 15 quarterback in 2016, as he averaged just under 26 fantasy points a game in the 12 games he was active.

This year fantasy owners don’t have to debate where to draft Brady with deflategate behind him. He should be even better with the healthy return of Rob Gronkowski, as well as the addition of Cooks from the Saints and Dwayne Allen from the Colts to replace Martellus Bennett.

Brady also has other targets such as Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and running backs in Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis and James White. Brady’s success, like Brees, is spreading the ball around and he has a ton of weapons to throw to.

Brady will be one of the first three quarterbacks taken along with Brees and Rodgers. He will likely be taken after Rodgers but target him about round 3.

No. 1 Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

When it comes to fantasy football, there wasn’t a better quarterback better last season than Aaron Rodgers. The fantasy’s reigning top-scoring quarterback is coming off a season in which he threw for 4,428 yards, ran for a career-high 369 yards and had a hand in 44 touchdowns.

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers (Photo by:ftw.usatoday.com)

Rodgers finished in the top five of the league in pass attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdowns. He averaged 27.8 fantasy points per game. That is in thanks to a career-high in pass attempts (610), a five-year high in passing yards and and a league-best 40 passing touchdowns.

Part of this success is simply because the Packers couldn’t run the ball effectively at times. Ty Montgomery became a huge threat in the running game last year, but he’s still a natural wide receiver and it’s tough to sat how he’ll fare this season.

The Packers tried to address their run game in the draft, but there’s actually no guarantee they’ll be any better on the ground than they were last year, when they finished 20th in run offense and 29th in rush attempts.

Rodgers got an upgrade at the tight end position with Martellus Bennett and still has his favorite number one target Jordy Nelson along with Randall Cobb and Devante Adams. Rodgers has finished as a top-two fantasy quarterback during seven of the past nine seasons.

There’s no question Rodgers will be the first quarterback off the board. You should expect Rodgers to go in round two in standard leagues and round three in PPR leagues.

 

Featured image from espn.com.

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Super Bowl 52

If not the Patriots, then who in the AFC?

To call the Patriots heavy favorites to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LLI is a gross understatement. Additions like Brandin Cooks have made a team that already ran roughshod over the conference last year even better on paper heading into 2017. However, sports are a funny thing.

What if the Patriots are finally derailed by the injury bug or just simply pick a bad day to have a bad day in the playoffs? Here are four teams ready to pounce.

Kansas City Chiefs

Ever since Andy Reid came to town, the Chiefs run the ball, play solid defense and do not beat themselves. This is a good formula for winning. However, when that formula comes up against a buzz saw like New England, it is also easy to end up in too deep of an early hole.

Tyreek Hill

Photo: kansascity.com

The divisional playoff matchup between the two teams following the 2015 season was a perfect example of this. Despite holding New England to just 14 points in the first half, Kansas City managed just two field goals and never got caught up.

While Tyreek Hill has provided a much needed boost to KC’s ability to strike quickly, half of their scoring drives in last year’s playoff loss to Pittsburgh were over ten plays. While those are nice, striking quickly is almost a must against the Patriots.

Hope for the Chiefs in a matchup with New England lies in Hill and their pass rushers, led by Justin Houston. With three double digit sack seasons under his belt, Houston is more than capable of wrecking a game for Brady and company, similar to what Von Miller did on Denver’s Super Bowl 50 run.

Kansas City’s opening night matchup with the Super Bowl LI champs will be a nice measuring stick for them.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos have questions at quarterback. Ordinarily, that would disqualify them from an article like this, but the Broncos happen to be the only team Tom Brady has a losing record against.

Von Miller

Photo: dailysnark.com

Denver has beaten New England with Jake Plummer, Brock Osweiler and an aging Peyton Manning at quarterback over the years. Knowing that, why not Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch?

Denver invested most of its offseason resources into bolstering the backfield and offensive and defensive lines Thus, the two biggest weaknesses on this team have been addressed.

If the additions help Denver run the ball and stop the run consistently, Miller, Shane Ray and the rest of the defense will keep Denver in almost every game like they have for the better part of the last two seasons. Against New England, that is half the battle.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have not given the Patriots any trouble in recent years. If last year’s AFC title game was a boxing match, it would have been stopped early. The last Steelers’ victory against New England was in 2011.

However, any team that has Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell and flirts with putting up 30-plus points every time out is always dangerous. The bad news for Steeler fans is that the Steel Curtain has been made of feathers in recent meetings with the Pats. Twenty-seven points is the fewest New England has scored during its ongoing four game winning streak against Mike Tomlin’s crew.

With the cast of characters basically the same on defense, the only way Pittsburgh beats New England this year is in a shootout. It is unlikely, but not impossible. They are one of very few teams with the firepower to beat New England in that way.

Indianapolis Colts

This inclusion to the list might surprise some, but the AFC is nowhere near as deep as the NFC. Something has been off in terms of the head coach/management dynamic in Indianapolis for the last two years. General manager Ryan Grigson is gone. With former players tweeting in response to the move, one can only assume that Grigson was a significant part of the problem.

One guy who is not part of the problem is quarterback Andrew Luck. Despite near constant drama in the front office and a flawed roster, the Colts have never posted a losing record under his on-field leadership. However, they have missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons.

Staying healthy has been a challenge for Luck, but 132 touchdowns to just 68 interceptions in almost five full years as a starter are the numbers of a quarterback who can carry a team on his back. The roster still lacks elite players outside of Luck. Also, Indianapolis has been obliterated by the Patriots in two fairly recent playoff meetings.

Even so, the Colts finally fall on the right side of one of a precious few things that is always true in the NFL. If you have a stable front office and a top-notch quarterback, you have a chance every single time you take the field.

Texans and Raiders miss the cut

Two teams that many people would have expected to see in this article are the Texans and the Raiders. They were each left out for very specific reasons. Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson battling for the starting quarterback job means that the Texans will not even be able to spell Super Bowl, much less get there.

Las Vegas Raiders

Photo: USA Today

Anyone who tries to lump Denver’s quarterback situation into the same category as Houston should watch what Trevor Siemian was able to do on the road in Cincinnati and New Orleans last year. The home game against Kansas City also speaks volumes about Siemian’s potential.

As for the Raiders, it is also fairly simple. Derek Carr is no doubt a special quarterback. Despite that, Oakland’s ongoing stadium and relocation drama is worthy of its own article. It is hard not to see it dragging down the on-field product.

Also, even when they were the talk of the league last year, the Raiders still led the world in penalties and got shredded by the opposing quarterback almost every week.

 

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Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

Football is right around the corner and The Game Haus is going to get you ready for the 2017-18 NFL season. The Super Bowl series is going to explain how every team in the NFL can win Super Bowl LII. The Super Bowl series will be divided into eight editions, one for each division. This is the sixth edition, Super Bowl series: AFC South.

Houston Texans

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

(Photo Credit: http://cover32.com)

The Houston Texans have finished 9-7 for three straight years. Last season, it was enough to win the division but the Texans should be striving for better.

Houston has been led by its defense and has been a quarterback away from being one of the best teams in the NFL. That is why they took a shot on Deshaun Watson in this year’s draft. Houston is very close to winning a Super Bowl so explaining how they can win it this season will be relatively simple.

Houston’s defense is nothing short of elite. J.J. Watt only played in three games last season which may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Watt’s injury allowed Jadeveon Clowney to finally show signs of stardom. Clowney made some amazing plays against the Raiders in the playoffs, to the point where it looked like he was taking over the game. With Watt returning, the combination of these two great defenders may push Houston’s defense to legendary status.

The Texans gave up the fewest yards per game last season, allowing teams to just over 300 yards per game. Unfortunately, that didn’t always stop teams from scoring on them. Houston gave up 20.5 points per game last season, which ranked 11th in the NFL. They also struggled closing out halves giving up 7.4 points per second quarter and seven points per fourth quarter.

If the Texans can do a better job at closing out halves, their defense will take the next step. They must also replace nose tackle Vince Wilfork, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Quinton Demps in order to continue being an elite defense. Houston must also do a better job at creating turnovers. They only had 1.1 takeaways per game.

Houston’s offense is the part of the team that needs the most work. The offensive unit ranked at the bottom of most offensive categories including points per game (17.4, ranking 29th), points per game in the first half (7.6, ranking 32nd), yards per game (314.7, ranking 29th), third down conversions (37.3 percent, ranking 22nd) and passing yards (198.5, ranking 29th). The lack of success from the offense resulted in the Texans drafting Watson and trading Brock Osweiler.

If it wasn’t for Houston’s run game, its offense would have been one of the worst of all time. The Texans ran for 116.2 yards per game on the 28.5 attempts per game. Lamar Miller was a bright spot on this offense as he ran for 1,073 yards and five touchdowns on just 268 carries. He needs to build on this season to help whoever lines up under center. This may be difficult with the loss of right tackle Derek Newton who is out for the season with patellar tendon tears.

If the Texans can go from one of the league’s worst offenses to being one of the top 15, then this defense will be able to carry Houston to a Super Bowl LII victory.

Tennessee Titans

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

(Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Titans finished the season tied with the Texans at 9-7 but lost the division on tiebreakers. Marcus Mariota broke his leg in week 15 and the Titans lost to the Jaguars 38-17 in that contest. Had the Titans won that game, they would have won the division. Mariota is young but the Titans can go as far as he will lead them.

Marcus Mariota is becoming the face of the franchise but part of his success is due to the sustainable running game of the Titans. Tennessee ranked third in the NFL with 136.7 yards per game on the ground. They also ran the ball often, averaging 28.5 attempts per game. This effective running game has taken the pressure off of their young quarterback which has given him the opportunity to succeed.

Taking the next step means giving Mariota receivers that will allow him to improve on the Titans 25th-ranked passing attack. Tennessee drafted Corey Davis and signed Eric Decker to be that help. The Titans’ coaching staff must now open the playbook and allow Mariota to take charge of the offense.

He has shown to be a great decision maker already in his career. Mariota converted at the third-best rate in the NFL on third down last year. He also has helped the Titans to a 72 percent conversion rate in red zone scoring while never throwing a red zone interception in his career.

Aside from continuing to dominate the run game and opening up the passing attack for Mariota, Tennessee needs to do a much better job of scoring in the second half. The Titans ranked 23rd in second half scoring, averaging 9.7 points. Shoring up these loose ends will turn the Titans’ offense into a playoff-caliber offense.

Defensively, the Titans are much closer to Super Bowl caliber. Tennesse only gave up 23.6 points per game which may seem impressive considering its defense got off to such slow starts. The Titans ranked 29th in first quarter points allowed. Getting off to quicker starts will bring that 23.6 point total down and result in more wins.

Tennessee had a horrible secondary last season. Their pass defense was the third-worst in the NFL. The Titans addressed this problem in the offseason. They let go of Jason McCourty but drafted cornerback Adoree Jackson and signed defensive backs Logan Ryan and John Cyprien. The combination of these three players can help the Titans catch up to their second-ranked rush defense.

If the Titans allow Mariota to sling the rock more then the offense can become more balanced. Defensively, the Titans secondary must give up less than 250 yards a game through the air. Simply doing these two things, in addition to what the Titans already do well, will push Tennessee from fringe playoff team to Super Bowl contender.

Indianapolis Colts

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

(Photo Credit: Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

The story of the Colts’ failures are well documented. Their defense is pathetic and they are contributing to wasting away Andrew Luck’s career. Indianapolis went 8-8 last season and has missed the playoffs for two consecutive years. In order for the Colts to really have a shot at winning Super Bowl LII, they need this defense to become much better.

The Colts have finally begun to realize they need to address the defense. In the draft, the Colts selected safety Malik Hooker who many believe is the next Ed Reed and cornerback Quincy Wilson.

During free agency, the Colts signed numerous defenders that will fit in with the new 3-4 scheme. These players include defensive ends Margus Hunt, Jabaal Sheard and John Simon along with linebackers Sean Spence and Jon Bostic.

This complete change in scheme and personnel is what is supposed to cure a defense that ranked 22nd in points allowed. Indianapolis’ defense didn’t have a strength. They ranked 27th against the pass (269.2 yards per game) and 25th against the run (120.4 yards per game) for a total of 382.9 yards allowed per game. The unit as a whole must improve if the Colts are to have a shot at making the playoffs.

On the other side of the ball, the Colts are led by a great quarterback. Andrew Luck has put up impressive numbers so far, with 19,078 yards, 132 touchdowns and just 68 interceptions but needs more balance. Indianapolis only ran the ball 39 percent of the time for an average of 101.8 yards per game. Frank Gore did rush for over 1,000 yards last season but he is 34 years old. The Colts drafted running back Marlon Mack as a possible spell or replacement for Gore.

Even with their unbalanced offense, the Colts managed to put up 25.7 points per game last season, good for eighth best in the league. Adding a rushing attack will only improve the offense, thus the team’s chances at a Lombardi Trophy. If the defense comes around to being a top 15 defense, you can guarantee that Andrew Luck will win Super Bowl LII.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

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

The Jacksonville Jaguars have been so bad that they have picked in the top five of the NFL Draft for six years running, which is an NFL record. Jacksonville is far from competing for a Super Bowl, or so it seems. It is going to be difficult for the Jaguars to make the playoffs, let alone win the Super Bowl, but it is possible.

Jacksonville has a very good and underrated defense. Although they gave up 25 points per game, they ranked sixth in yards allowed at 321.7. The Jaguars offense put them in bad situations often as displayed in Jacksonville’s amount of giveaways per game.

Jacksonville had 1.8 turnovers per game, tied for 26th in the NFL. Jacksonville’s secondary led the way allowing just 215.2 yards per game through the air.

Jacksonville’s secondary led the way allowing just 215.2 yards per game through the air. They lost defensive backs John Cyprien and Prince Amukamara but signed A.J. Bouye and Barry Church, both of which are upgrades over their counterpart.

To improve this defense even more, the Jags signed defensive end Calais Campbell. The Jacksonville defense will be elite and as long as their offense doesn’t make crucial mistakes, they can lead this team to the playoffs.

Getting to the playoffs is one thing, but getting to the Super Bowl is an entirely different beast. Jacksonville is going to need a complete resurgence from its offense. They signed tackle Brandon Albert and drafted tackle Cam Robinson to bolster their offensive line. If this unit plays well, they can open up running lanes for one of the most dynamic running backs to enter the league since Adrian Peterson.

Leonard Fournette, the man to be the best running back since Adrian Peterson, will be asked to be a workhorse and improve the 22nd-ranked rushing game. Jacksonville must also run the ball more than 37 percent of the time if Fournette is going to become a threat on the offense.

Generating a solid running game will help in a multitude of areas for Jacksonville. The Jaguars ranked 28th in third down conversion percentage at 35.3 percent. Shortening the chains will go a long way in fixing this problem. Converting more on third down can lead to more points as well.

Jacksonville scored 19.9 points per game last season. By now you can see the pattern starting to form. Running the ball leads to shorter third downs, which leads to more points, which all leads to taking the ball out of Blake Bortles’ hands. Bortles has shown flashes of brilliance but the entire weight of the offense is too much for him. If Leonard Fournette can make an immediate impact, then this offense can become really good.

Being better on defense and offense simply aren’t enough. Jacksonville must become more disciplined as well. The Jaguars gave up 8.1 penalties per game for an average of 74.2 yards per game. Both ranked 31st in the NFL. Improving on this is a must if the Jaguars want to start drafting outside of the top five.

Defending home field is also vital in acquiring success in the NFL. In the past four years, the Jaguars are 9-29 at home. Playing in such a humid and hot climate should provide a better home field advantage.

If Jacksonville can put all these things together, then it is possible for them to win Super Bowl LII. The odds of that happening though are the about as equivalent of the Patriots going 0-16.

 

Thank you for checking out the Super Bowl series: AFC South. Stay tuned the remaining editions of Super Bowl series and check out the previous editions of the Super Bowl series here.

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Featured image courtesy of http://www.steelcityunderground.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/afc-south.png

Draftmas Colts

Indianapolis Colts 2017 NFL Draft Profile

Day 14 of TGH’s Draftmas takes us to the Indianapolis Colts. What will the Colts do in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Summary

After posting another 8-8 season, frustrations in Indianapolis are beginning to boil. With a legitimate franchise quarterback in place, the Colts still couldn’t make the leap with Andrew Luck in 2016. Plagued by inconsistency, the Colts could never get things going in 2016, winning back to back games only once.

But fans have hope for 2017 with the firing of General Manager Ryan Grigson. He will be replaced by former Kansas City Director of Football Operations Chris Ballard. After seeing the success of the Chiefs, fans are hopeful Jim Irsay made the right hire. And Chris Ballard has certainly given Colts fans hope.

Ballard has signed 10 free agents since he became the GM of the Colts. That is the most in team history, and certainly shows he’s willing to do whatever necessary to return the Colts to contention. But with most of the signings being more about depth and less about immediate impact, Ballard will have to make some savvy moves come draft day.

Colts Picks and Needs

The Colts have seven picks in April’s draft. With the opportunity to find some solid players throughout the draft, Indianapolis will need to make good use of each of the following picks.

1st Round: 15th Overall

2nd Round: 46th Overall

3rd Round: 80th Overall

4th Round: 122th Overall

4th Round: 137th Overall

4th Round: 144th Overall

5th Round: 158th Overall

The Colts have a solid offense, finishing 10th in the NFL in yards per game in 2016. But the offensive line is one of the glaring weaknesses of the Colts offense. After the offensive line gave up 40 sacks in the first 13 games of the 2016 season, they could use an influx of talent. But after finishing 30th in the NFL in yards per game allowed, the defense definitely needs some attention in the 2017 NFL Draft. Here are the needs for both offense and defense.

Offense

Right Guard

Right Tackle

Running Back

Defense

Defensive End

Defensive Tackle

Inside Linebacker

 

Cornerback

Colts Targets and Thoughts

As with the previous Draftmas profiles, we will examine the first three rounds and there will be no trades.

Draftmas Colts

We will be seeing a lot of this from Derek Barnett in the NFL (Larry McCormack/The Tennessean).

First Round:

15th pick: Derek Barnett DE, Tennessee

After starting three years at Tennessee, Derek Barnett would be an excellent pick for the Colts at 14th overall. He would give Head Coach Chuck Pagano a legitimate pass rusher on the outside, one that could put his hand in the dirt and also play standing up. Pro Football Focus had Barnett pressuring the quarterback on 20% of his rushes in 2016, so he is a more than able pass rusher. Barnett was also a solid run stopper in his time at Tennessee, giving him an edge over other outside pass rushers. If Barnett lasts to the 14th pick, the Colts would be wise to grab him.

Second Round:

46th pick: Dan Feeney G, Indiana

While Dan Feeney isn’t the top rated guard in the 2017 draft class, he would be a good pick up for Chris Ballard. Feeney had an up and down 2016 at Indiana, missing some games due to injury. But when he has been on the field, Feeney has been a wall in pass protection. Over 1,239 pass block attempts in the past three seasons, Feeney has only allowed two sacks and four hits on Indiana quarterbacks. He has also logged some time at right tackle, giving him the ability to play at right tackle if need be. But with his innate pass blocking skills on the inside of the offensive line, Feeney could help put Andrew Luck’s mind at ease.

Third Round:

80th pick: Sidney Jones CB, Washington

After tearing his Achilles at Washington’s Pro Day, Sidney Jones has seen his draft stock plummet. Once a first round talent, many are predicting him outside the first three rounds. But if Chris Ballard and Chuck Pagano are willing to wait to let Jones heal, he could be a major steal in the third round. Jones didn’t allow a single touchdown in 2016, and Pro Football Focus gave him an impressive 86.1 coverage grade. He would be an excellent addition to a depleted secondary, and would play well across the field from Vontae Davis. The Colts could get a potential top flight corner back in the third round, but Ballard and Pagano will have to be comfortable with using an early round pick on a player who might not play in 2017.

Conclusion

The Colts have some major holes to fill on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. If they can land some solid players in the early rounds, don’t sleep on the Colts to make some noise in 2017. And with a franchise quarterback already in place, all the Colts need are the pieces to help carry Andrew Luck and the Colts back to the playoffs.

Click here for all completed Draftmas Profiles!

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Reid it and Weep: Andy Reid is a Top Coach of His Era

Good coaching is hard to come by. When a team gets a good coach, they need to hold onto them as long as possible even if they have a down year or two at some point. Many owners and general managers are highly inconsistent when it comes to firing or retaining a head coach. Society is trigger happy when it comes to sports. Teams must win now and if they don’t, the course of the ship must change immediately, but is that the right move?

Most times, it’s not one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. However, the Kansas City Chiefs know it best this isn’t always the case. Kansas City took advantage of the Eagles getting rid of a great coach after two subpar seasons. That coach is Andy Reid, and he is the most underrated, underappreciated coach in the NFL. Reid is a hall of fame coach only missing one thing from his resume, a Super Bowl win.

Philly with Andy Reid

Andy Reid

(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Andy Reid was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 NFL seasons. Before Andy Reid was named the head coach of the Eagles in 1999, the Eagles did not have a coach last more than 80 games since Dick Vermeil was the coach from 1976-1982. Reid would coach over 200 games with the Eagles and lead them to the best success the franchise had ever seen.

Andy Reid’s first season was an abysmal 5-11. After that, Reid went on a tear throughout the NFL. In his next five seasons, he made the playoffs and had a regular season record of 59-21. The first year of that five-year playoff run, the Eagles lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

What Reid did in the next four seasons with the Eagles was rare. He led them to four straight NFC Championship berths. They lost the first three before winning the NFC Championship in January of 2005.

Andy Reid

(http://sportige.com/quarterback-head-coach-duos-with-most-wins-in-nfl-history-05-2013/)

The Eagles had finally gotten over the hump of the NFC Championship but had to face the great Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Eagles lost the Super Bowl XXXIX 24-21. It was the Eagles second Super Bowl loss franchise history.

After the Super Bowl loss, there was a hangover and the Eagles finished the 2005 season 6-10. In the seven seasons from 2006-2012, the Eagles never reached the same kind of success but were still a playoff contender.

Overall in Andy Reid’s 14 seasons with the Eagles, he finished with a regular season record of 130-93-1. He made the playoffs nine out of his 14 seasons. Reid was fired after a 4-12 season in 2012 and two consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance.

Philly Since Reid’s Departure

Andy Reid

(http://www.phillyvoice.com/philadelphia-eagles-chip-kelly-era-in-gifs/)

Since Reid was fired in 2012, the Eagles have had two head coaches and an interim head coach. Reid has been with the Chiefs during that entire time.

As an organization, the Eagles have gone 34-30 and only made the playoffs once in those four seasons. They lost their only playoff game at home to the Saints 26-24.

Personally, Andy Reid in those four seasons has gone 43-21 and made the playoffs three times. The Eagles felt life without Reid would be better, but the truth of the matter is because of two subpar seasons by Reid’s standards, the Eagles went in a different direction. It is speculation but had the Eagles kept Reid their franchise might be still one of the best in the NFL.

Kansas City Before Reid

Andy Reid

(Photo: Charlie Riedel, AP)

The Chiefs were the worst team in the NFL the year before Andy Reid was hired to take over. In the 14 seasons Reid was with the Eagles, the Chiefs had a 99-126 record and had made the playoffs only three times. The Chiefs did not win a single postseason game in the three playoff appearances and hadn’t won a playoff game since 1993.

They also had a total of five different head coaches during Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia. There was very little stability and even less success. When the Chiefs fired Romeo Crennel, they were looking for stability more than anything. Reid was the perfect candidate for the job in providing both success and stability.

 

Chiefs With Reid

Andy Reid

(https://arrowheadaddict.com/2013/10/21/andy-reid-wasnt-dancing-really-just-fun/)

Andy Reid and the Chiefs have been a match made in heaven. In his four years as the head coach, he has posted a better wining percentage than his time in Philly. His win percentage with the Chiefs is 67 percent and with the Eagles, it was 58 percent.

What was most remarkable about his first season in Kansas City was that the Chiefs went from 2-14 to 11-5 and made the playoffs. They lost the playoff game 45-44 to the Colts but the turnaround had the franchise and its fans optimistic.

Reid’s second year was not as successful as the Chiefs went 9-7 and missed the playoffs. The front office still believed Reid was the best man for the job.

His third season was vital in proving he could still lead an NFL team. After coming off a 9-7 season he was expected to improve and get them back to the playoffs as he did in his first year. The problems started in that third season when the Chiefs started the season 1-5 and Reid was officially on the hot seat.

Then everything changed. Kansas City finished that season on a 10-game winning streak and finished with an 11-5 record. Since that 1-5 start, the Chiefs are an unbelievable 22-4. He also led the Chiefs to their first playoff victory since 1993. His encore was finishing this season 12-4 with the Chiefs first AFC West title since 2010. The Chiefs also finished as the second seed and are contenders to make it to the Superbowl.

Hall of Famer?

Andy Reid

(Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports)

It remains to be seen how this season will play out for the Chiefs but one thing is certain- Andy Reid sure can coach. Overall in his 18 years as a head coach, he has a 173-114-1 record in the NFL.

He has made the playoffs 11 out of 18 seasons and has gone 11-11 in the playoffs. He has yet to win the Super Bowl but there are always legendary players who don’t win a Super Bowl. It doesn’t take away from their greatness.

Regardless of how his career ends, Andy Reid will be a Hall of Famer one day. The Eagles thought they needed a new voice but the fans of Philly miss having a team in the playoffs nearly every season. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and the fans who pour into Arrowhead to see the Chiefs have been given a treasure when Andy Reid become the head coach.

 

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Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Week 17)

(Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

(Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

The final week of the NFL season is already here. Hopefully everyone had a great Christmas and is ready to welcome in the new year. It seems like the season just started yesterday but after this week the 12 teams participating in the playoffs will become official.

Currently, the AFC teams are all clinched and the only thing that remains is the seeding. In the AFC, the division winners are the Patriots, Steelers, and Texans. The Dolphins are one of the wildcard teams. The two remaining teams that have clinched a playoff spot are the Raiders and Chiefs, but depending on how week 17 goes one will win the division and the other will be a wildcard team.

The NFC is much more complicated than the AFC. In the NFC, three teams have already won their division: The Cowboys, Seahawks, and Falcons. The Giants have clinched one of the two wildcard spots. The NFC North title is on the line when the Lions and Packers face off. The Redskins and Buccaneers are not in the playoffs at the moment but depending on how the week plays out they are two teams that still have a shot at getting a wildcard spot.

Last week was rough and there were a lot of games that surprised the NFL world. All of the week 17 games are on Sunday for the only time of the season. It is important to end the season with a good week and without further ado, here are Hagan’s Haus week 17 NFL picks.

Last Week: 7-9

Season: 139-97-2

Sunday Morning

(http://thevikingage.com/2016/12/21/adam-thielen-minnesota-vikings-packers-week-16/)

(http://thevikingage.com/2016/12/21/adam-thielen-minnesota-vikings-packers-week-16/)

Chicago (3-12) 24 @ Minnesota (7-8) 31: Both teams are eliminated from the playoffs so this game is about pride. Earlier this season the Bears beat the Vikings on Halloween on Monday Night Football. The Vikings wish they had that game back and they might have made the playoffs. This game is in Minnesota and their offense is playing much better than it was during their last meeting. The Vikings’ season was littered with injuries and was a disappointment, but they will end it on a positive note.

Baltimore (8-7) 23 @ Cincinnati (5-9-1) 20: This is another meaningless divisional matchup with pride being the only thing on the line. The Ravens were a much better team than I had anticipated this season. Although they can’t make the playoffs, they should win this game.

Houston (9-6) 20 @ Tennessee (8-7) 14: Tennessee suffered a heartbreaking blow last week when Marcus Mariota broke his leg, but there is promise for the future. They have an upcoming defense that has enjoyed some success so far. Their two-headed monster in the backfield is one of the best in the NFL. If they can continue to grow next season, they will be in the playoffs. Houston will be using this game as a tune-up for the playoffs and should win this game on the road.

(Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

Carolina (6-9) 17 @ Tampa Bay (8-7) 20: This game is meaningful for the Bucs who still have a shot at making the playoffs. Having this game at home will help their chances and they already beat the Panthers 17 to 14 earlier this season, which should make them confident. The Panthers had an extremely disappointing season after a Super Bowl appearance last year. Carolina would love to go out with a win on the year along with ruining the chances of a divisional rival. The Bucs will get the win and hope for help in making the playoffs.

Jacksonville (3-12) 24 @ Indianapolis (7-8) 27: Andrew Luck worked wonders this season to keep the Colts around .500. If this team wants to become a playoff contender, they need to build their offensive line and defense. Jacksonville got an upset win against the Titans after they fired their head coach. The Jags have a lot of talent on their roster and with the right coach they can make major leaps next season. Only one team can end the season on a high note and Luck will be the difference.

(http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/ravens-insider/bal-tom-brady-and-the-patriots-wont-cheat-for-a-while-20150903-story.html)

(http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/ravens-insider/bal-tom-brady-and-the-patriots-wont-cheat-for-a-while-20150903-story.html)

New England (13-2) 27 @ Miami (10-5) 17: This game features two teams who are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. New England is looking to solidify home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They have something to play for. The Dolphins really don’t benefit from a win and they may rest their players to stay healthy for a playoff run. Pats will win this game in Miami.

Buffalo (7-8) 31 @ New York (J) (4-11) 29: The Bills thought this would be the year they ended their playoff drought but it did not come to an end. The Jets had a bad year as well and seem to have no direction. The Jets run defense has given up 100 yards per game over the season and the Bills are on of the best rushing teams. Bills should win to finish the season 8-8.

Dallas (13-2) 24 @ Philadelphia (6-9) 23: This is the game that the Cowboys will create whispers in. The Cowboys do not want their players to get hurt and thus they should rest them. This means Tony Romo may get a chance to start. If Romo starts and plays well, Jerry Jones won’t know what to do with himself. The Cowboys will still win this game and it may be because of Tony Romo.

Sunday Afternoon

(http://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2016/09/27/falcons-saints-matt-ryan-block-video)

(http://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2016/09/27/falcons-saints-matt-ryan-block-video)

New Orleans (7-8) 31 @ Atlanta (10-5) 30: The Falcons have wrapped up the NFC South but are still looking to earn a first-round bye. A win and they will clinch that bye. The Saints are a divisional opponent who will be looking to spoil their rival in any way possible. The Saints defense has played much better than earlier in the season and there is an opportunity to pull off an upset.

New York (G) (10-5) 21 @ Washington (8-6-1) 23: The Giants are locked into a wildcard spot and there isn’t much room for movement in terms of seeding. The Redskins need a win and some help to get the final wildcard spot in the NFC but it is possible. The Giants may want to rest some of their stars to make sure they are ready for the playoffs and that will be the reason the Redskins win.

Arizona (6-8-1) 24 @ Los Angeles (4-11) 20: The Rams got swept by the 49ers and that in itself tells you how bad this team is. They finally fired Jeff Fisher and need a new head coach to set the team in the right direction. Arizona was not as good as most expected but their defense is still one of the best in the NFL. They will shut down the middle school offense that is the Rams to secure a win.

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/16593/matt-mcgloin)

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/16593/matt-mcgloin)

Oakland (12-3) 17 @ Denver (8-7) 20: Oakland is the most unfortunate team to be guaranteed a playoff spot. The loss of Derek Carr is monumental and they will not be able to recover from it. The Raiders will lose this game and in all likelihood will be one in done in the playoffs. The Broncos would rather be in the playoffs but they will settle for ending the season on a high note.

Kansas City (11-4) 31 @ San Diego (5-10) 10: The Chiefs can still win the division and get a first-round bye with a win and a Raiders loss. With the injury to Derek Carr, the Chiefs have found some luck. They play great defense and do not turnover the football. Explosive rookie Tyreek Hill has been a great addition to the offensive and he provides big plays. The Chiefs will win this game, and get help from the Raiders to win the AFC West.

Seattle (9-5-1) 34 @ San Fransisco (2-13) 14: The 49ers are having an abysmal year and unless it is against the Rams they can’t get a win. Seattle is preparing for yet another run at a Lombardi Trophy. Even with this game on the road, the Seahawks can control this game.

usa-today-8928097-0

(http://packersguru.com/2016/09/25/packers-vs-lions-the-good-bad-and-ok-from-week-3/

Sunday Night

Green Bay (9-6) 31 @ Detroit (9-6) 28: The biggest game of the week is between these two teams. The division title is on the line and the winner will be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Since Aaron Rodgers said the Packers could run the table they have gone 5-0. One more win will make him a prophet. The Lions are in the midst of a losing streak and it won’t end this week. The Packers have a legend behind center and he will lead them to the playoffs.

 

 

 

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Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Week 16)

Week 15 was wild in the NFL and there were surprises all over. It was another great week of football. The playoffs are just two weeks away and there is still much to be decided. Before getting into week 16, to everyone who celebrates Christmas, merry Christmas. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then happy holidays.

(http://insidethepylon.com/category/nfl/nfl-playoffs/)

(http://insidethepylon.com/category/nfl/nfl-playoffs/)

Four teams have officially clinched playoff spots: The Patriots, Raiders, Cowboys, and Seahawks. Pittsburgh clinches a division title with a win against the Ravens this week. Kansas City can clinch one of two ways:(1) a win and they are in, or (2) a loss by the Ravens. Houston can clinch the division with a win and a Titans loss. The last team in the AFC with a chance to clinch a playoff birth is the Dolphins. They have three scenarios: (1) a win and a loss by Denver, and the other two scenarios involve a Dolphins tie so let’s not dig too deep into a tie since the chances of a tie are unlikely.

In the NFC the Giants have the most scenarios to clinch, with five. The Giants can clinch if (1) they win or tie, (2) a loss or tie from Detroit, (3) a loss or a tie from Green Bay, (4) a loss or a tie from Tampa Bay, and lastly (5) a loss by Atlanta. The Lions can clinch the division by winning and a loss by the Packers. Detroit also clinches a playoff birth with losses by both the Redskins and Buccaneers along with a Falcons win.

The Falcons can win the AFC South with a win and a loss by the Bucs. They can also clinch a playoff spot by just winning or a loss by both the Redskins and Packers. Green Bay has one scenario in which they can clinch and that scenario is a win plus a loss by Washington and Tampa Bay and Atlanta would have to win as well. The last team with a chance to clinch is the Buccaneers. For the Bucs to clinch they would need a win and a loss by the Packers, Lions and Redskins.

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 132-88-2

Thursday Night

(http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/healthy-giants-offense-pace-brees-saints-article-1.2791122)

(http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/healthy-giants-offense-pace-brees-saints-article-1.2791122)

New York (G) (10-4) 27 @ Philadelphia (5-9) 24: New York has a Super Bowl contending team yet again and Eli Manning still doesn’t get the respect that most top quarterbacks get. He is having a great season with 3,491 yards passing, 25 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions in 14 games. Divisional games are always tough no matter what the records are. This will be a close one. Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard will both have big games and the Giants stay alive for the NFC East crown.

Christmas Eve Morning

(http://sports.yahoo.com/news/game-recap-minnesota-vikings-vs-231110765.html)

(http://sports.yahoo.com/news/game-recap-minnesota-vikings-vs-231110765.html)

Minnesota (7-7) 16 @ Green Bay (8-6) 20: This game has major playoff implications. The Packers are hot and still in a position to win the division. Minnesota has no shot at winning the division but can still sneak in the backdoor with a wildcard birth. These two teams met in week two in the first ever game in the Vikings new stadium in which the Vikings won 17-14. In Lambeau, the Packers will have the edge and the Vikings will be all but dead in the water.

Miami (9-5) 24 @ Buffalo (7-7) 27: Matt Moore looked amazing against the Jets, but so has everyone else this season. Buffalo is holding onto slim chances for the playoffs.  The Dolphins won the first matchup of these teams 28-25. Buffalo is more desperate and Miami still doesn’t feel like a legit playoff team yet. Bills return the favor in Buffalo and win by three.

New York (J) (4-10) 17 @ New England (12-2) 37: Tom Brady is going to have at least four touchdowns in this game and the Jets will have no chance. Brady and the Patriots are looking to make sure the path to the Super Bowl runs through New England as usual. One more win will get them closer to that this week.

(JOHN SLEEZER)

(JOHN SLEEZER)

Tennessee (8-6) 27 @ Jacksonville (2-12) 23: Marcus Mariota and the Titans got a huge road win last week to prove their legitimacy and in my mind became the favorites in the AFC South. The Titans need to win a road game against an underwhelming divisional opponent. Sometimes these games are the hardest to win. Jacksonville will be well prepared and scare Tennessee, but it will be just a scare and nothing more.

San Diego (5-9) 24 @ Cleveland (0-14) 25: The Browns will not be the second team to go 0-16. Traveling across country from comfortable San Diego to cold and frigid Cleveland will be a difficult task. The Chargers will be the one team incapable of beating the Browns. Cleveland has had enough go wrong and 0-16 won’t be added to that list of laughable failure.

Washington (7-6-1) 27 @ Chicago (3-11) 31: Matt Barkley has been playing great and the Bears have been competitive in their recent games. If it wasn’t for one deep pass to Jordy Nelson they might have upset the Packers. The Redskins have been faltering lately and it is because they are not a real playoff team, The Bears have been playing so hard it has to result in a win at some point. It hasn’t been a great year for Bears fans, but they will get a Christmas win.

Atlanta (9-5) 24 @ Carolina (6-8) 27: Atlanta has a chance to propel themselves to the playoffs with a win, but the Falcons are running into Cam and the Panthers. There is still a small chance the Panthers make the playoffs, which means they will do anything they can to win. Cam won’t let the Falcons win in his house.

Christmas Eve Afternoon

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Indianapolis (7-7) 31 @ Oakland (11-3) 38: If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have never believed the performance the Colts put on last week. Their defense played as if they were the best of all time, which is uncharacteristic of the Colts. Two of the Raiders three losses are to the Chiefs and usually only struggle against teams with great defenses. The Colts performance on defense last week was one of a kind and it won’t happen again.

Tampa Bay (8-6) 27 @ New Orleans (6-8) 24: The Bucs need a win and a loss from the Falcons to get one step closer to winning the division. Winning at the Super Dome is no easy task, but the Bucs are more than capable. If Tampa wants to make the playoffs they will win this game. The Saints won’t be able to spoil the Bucs hopes.

Arizona (5-8-1) 13 @ Seattle (9-4-1) 16: These two teams played to a tie in their first matchup. That will not happen again. The Seahawks have secured the division and are just preparing to be ready for the playoffs. This may be another defensive battle, but the 12th man in Seattle will give the Seahawks the edge in this NFC West showdown.

San Fransisco (1-13) 20 @ Los Angeles (4-10) 24: In what could be considered the most boring game of the week, the Rams get a chance to avenge an early season loss. The 49ers beat the Rams 28-0 week one and haven’t won since. The 49ers rush defense ranks dead last in the NFL, giving up 176.3 rush yards a game. Todd Gurley should have his biggest game of the year to give the Rams their fifth win of the year.

Christmas Eve Night Game

( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Cincinnati (5-8-1) 24 @ Houston (8-6) 21: Tom Savage went from unknown backup to most of the world to Texan superstar. Brock Osweiler was signed for $72 million with $37 million guaranteed this offseason. He was benched in favor of Savage, who came in and dominated. Tom Savage has since been named the starter and looks to help the Texans forge on towards a divisional title. Cincinnati will be ready for Savage and this game will end in an upset.

Christmas Day

Baltimore (8-6) 16 @ Pittsburgh (9-5) 19: This is the biggest game of the week in terms of division races. The winner of this game will end up becoming the AFC North division champions. The Ravens won the last matchup 21-14 on November 6th. The Steelers are on a five game winning streak and playing well. These two teams play great games and this will be no different. The Steelers get the three point edge at home to win the AFC North.

(Rob Carr/Getty Images )

(Rob Carr/Getty Images )

Denver (8-6) 14 @ Kansas City (10-4) 17: The Chiefs are coming off a tough home loss to the Titans last week. Denver ran into mighty Tom Brady and New England. The Broncos will be fighting for their playoff lives this week, but Arrowhead is a tough place to play. Kansas City knows a win puts them in the playoffs and they will get the job done.

Monday Night

Detroit (9-5) 24 @ Dallas (12-2) 28: Monday Night football will be going out with a bang this season as the Lions travel to Jerry World. The Lions are looking to secure a playoff spot, but are running into the best team in the NFL. As usual, the Cowboys will run the ball down the Lions throats. If Detroit finds a way to stop Zeke, then Dak will light them up through the air. It is a lose lose for the Lions and they will lose.

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Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Week 15)

There are just three weeks remaining in the NFL season and the playoff races are tight. Six teams in total have been officially eliminated, with three coming from from each conference. In the AFC it is the Jets, Jaguars and Browns. In the NFC the three teams that have been eliminated are the Rams, Bears and 49ers. If you’re a fan of one of these teams check out a mock draft here.

Only one team has officially clinched a spot and that happens to be the Dallas Cowboys. Six teams have a chance to clinch a playoff berth in week 15, but most of the scenarios require a lot and won’t list them until next week. For now the focus will be on picking the games and last week was a great week for picks. Here are Hagan’s Haus week 15 NFL picks.

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 120-84-2

Thursday Night

(https://news.sportsinteraction.com/sports/nfl-football/rams-vs-seahawks-point-spread-thursday-night-football-12516/)

(https://news.sportsinteraction.com/sports/nfl-football/rams-vs-seahawks-point-spread-thursday-night-football-12516/)

Los Angeles (4-9) 10 @ Seattle (8-4-1) 23: The Rams have finally made the right decision and fired Jeff Fisher. It only took them three years too long. Seattle is coming off of their worst loss with Russell Wilson who threw a career high five interceptions. A win by the Seahawks or a loss by the Cardinals will clinch a playoff berth for the Seahawks and with that much on the line they will win.

Sunday Morning

Miami (8-5) 23 @ New York (J) (4-9) 16: Ryan Tannehill is out for this game and the Dolphins allowed the Cardinals to come back once Tannehill went down. The Jets have looked very bad the past two weeks against the Colts and the 49ers. If Miami can run the ball and Matt Moore keeps the turnovers down they can still win this game. The Jets have given up an average of 193.5 rushing yards the past two games. The Dolphins run their way to victory.

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Image)

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Image)

Indianapolis (6-7) 22 @ Minnesota (7-6) 24: This is a big game for both teams as each still have a shot to win their division to make the playoffs. The Vikings offense has learned how to move the ball consistently, but can’t finish drives with touchdowns. Their defense is still stellar and can create havoc. Luck won’t have enough time to drop back in this one and the Vikings will keep their playoff hopes alive.

Green Bay (7-6) 41 @ Chicago (3-10) 24: Aaron Rodgers said the Packers would run the table and he might be right. The Bears do not have much to play for other than pride and hopes of ruining their biggest rivals chances at the playoffs. Matt Barkley has faired well so far, but the Packers are too hot and Aaron Rodgers is too good.

Jacksonville (2-11) 17 @ Houston (7-6) 27: Houston is a great team at home and Jacksonville is bad anywhere they step onto a field. Blake Bortles has regressed and he will struggle against a strong Texans defense. Lamar Miller is quietly having a great year with 1,010 yards rushing. This shouldn’t be a difficult game for the Texans, but anything is possible in a divisional matchup.

(http://www.chachaandspoons.com/2015/12/11/50-things-worse-than-being-a-browns-fan/)

(http://www.chachaandspoons.com/2015/12/11/50-things-worse-than-being-a-browns-fan/)

Cleveland (0-13) 24 @ Buffalo (6-7) 27: Keep an eye on this game. The Browns have a chance to steal this game if Buffalo doesn’t come to play. The closer the Browns get to a winless season, the harder they will be to beat. No player wants a winless season on their resume. The Bills still have an outside shot at the playoffs and should win this game.

Philadelphia (5-8) 27 @ Baltimore (7-6) 26: Philly is a decent team that will put up a fight against anyone and Baltimore looked pretty good against the Patriots. Both offenses are mediocre as the Eagles rank 19th with 22.3 points per game and the Ravens rank 21st with 21.5 points per game. All signs point to the Ravens winning this game, but usually in the NFL when that is the case the other team wins. Philly steals one on the road.

Tennessee (7-6) 13 @ Kansas City (10-3) 17: This is going to be a great defensive game. Tennessee is underrated and their defense is carrying them in their fight towards the divisional crown. Kansas City is a legit Super Bowl contender and is virtually unbeatable at Arrowhead. The Titans are good, but they are young and won’t win this difficult game on the road.

 (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Detroit (9-4) 31 @ New York (G) (9-4) 34: This could be the game of the week in the NFL. The Lions love to put on a comeback, but the Giants defense is too good to let that happen. Detroit has a tough stretch of games coming up and this will be the first. Because this game is at the Meadowlands, the Giants hold on for the win.

Pittsburgh (8-5) 23 @ Cincinnati (5-7-1) 20: For so many years this was a great rivalry game with playoff implications. The Bengals haven’t been officially eliminated, but it is only a matter of time. Pittsburgh has a one game lead over the Ravens for the division title and needs to win to stay ahead. The Steelers need it more and that will be the difference as the Bengals will put up a valiant fight.

Sunday Afternoon

New Orleans (5-8) 21 @ Arizona (5-7-1) 37: Oh when the Saints, go marching in, they get beat by the Cardinals. The Saints defense is giving up the most points per game in the NFL and the Cardinals have an explosive offense. David Johnson is going to have over 200 all-purpose yards as the Saints stink it up in the desert.

(https://www.profootballfocus.com/matt-ryan-fantasy-bounce-back/)

(https://www.profootballfocus.com/matt-ryan-fantasy-bounce-back/)

San Fransisco (1-12) 17 @ Atlanta (8-5) 41: Atlanta is catching a break playing the 49ers this week as the playoff races heat up. Atlanta’s passing attack is going to light up the scoreboard for about 40 points. San Fransisco’s offense will not be able to keep up.

New England (11-2) 22 @ Denver (8-5) 20: Tom Brady doesn’t typically play well in the Mile High City, which would typically suggest picking Denver would be the right choice. The issue is Denver’s offense won’t be able to win this game for them and Tom Brady will throw his name atop the MVP race after this game.

Oakland (10-3) 34 @ San Diego (5-8) 27: If the Raiders win, they will have officially clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2002 in which they made it to Super Bowl XXXVII. Their playoff drought is at 14 seasons and it is going to end. The Chargers aren’t good enough to win this game and Derek Carr will throw for 400 yards to finally put the Raiders into the playoffs.

Sunday Night

(Photo: Matthew Emmons)

(Photo: Matthew Emmons)

Tampa Bay (8-5) 23 @ Dallas (11-2) 27: Dallas is coming off their second loss of the season, but both have been to the Giants. The Bucs defense has gotten hot as of late and in their last five games they are only giving up 12.8 points per game. One of the issues with their defense is they are giving up 110 yards rushing per game on the year and it is well known that the Cowboys strength is running the ball. Zeke will have a big game and the Cowboys will win a dogfight.

Monday Night

Carolina (5-8) 34 @ Washington (7-5-1) 31: The Panthers looked great against the Chargers, but that doesn’t say a lot. Both teams are fighting to make the playoffs. Cam loves the spotlight and Monday night football is the time to shine. Kirk Cousins has the Redskins as the eighth highest scoring team in the NFL. Carolina can score if they have to and Monday night they will need to. NFL teams are all about the same caliber and are mostly separated by quarterback play. Cam is the better quarterback and will lead his team to a close win.

 

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