Stack your money Sunday’s: Week 6

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

Baltimore Ravens (+3) @ Oakland Raiders

Baltimore Ravens 30 Oakland Raiders 17

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

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

 

Seattle Seahawks (+1.5) @ Los Angeles Rams

Seattle Seahawks 16 Los Angeles Rams 10

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

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

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

 

Green Bay Packers (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers 35 Dallas Cowboys 31

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

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

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

 

WEEK 6 PICKS

Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Minnesota Vikings

PICK: PACKERS TO COVER

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

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

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

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

 

Los Angeles Rams @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5)

PICK: JAGUARS TO COVER

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

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

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

 

Los Angeles Chargers @ Oakland Raiders (-3)

PICK: RAIDERS TO COVER

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

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

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

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

Featured image by Jacksonville.com

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Stack your Money Sunday’s: Week 5

Week Four Review (3-0) Overall: 9-3

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Baltimore Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers 29 Baltimore Ravens 9

Like stated in the previous week, you can never rely too much on numbers. Big Ben was 2-7 in his career in Baltimore before this game. The Steelers were also coming off a loss to Mike Glennon and the Chicago Bears. All that did not matter.

In last week’s article, I stated that Le’Veon Bell was bound to have a big game. Bell rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns, while also hauling in four catches for 42 yards. We also expected Joe Flacco to struggle, as he had a quarterback rating of 64.6 and threw a pair of interceptions.

Cincinnati Bengals (-3) @ Cleveland Browns

Cincinnati Bengals 31 Cleveland Browns 7

Andy Dalton moves to 10-3 in his career against Cleveland, and was practically flawless in this blowout. Dalton threw four touchdowns, and had a quarterback rating of 146. The Bengals had more time of possession, first downs, third downs converted and total yards. Usually when this happens, you win the game.

A.J. Green continued his success against Cleveland, hauling in one touchdown on five catches. DeShone Kizer continued his poor play, and does not look like a starter in this league. Maybe it is because he is on the Browns, but not a great start to his professional career.

New York Giants (+3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25 New York Giants 23

Good teams win, great teams cover (SNY)

The Giants really have yet to win a game, but at least they covered. Shoutout to Nick Folk. Not only was he terrible on Thursday against New England, but he also missed an extra point and two field goals in this one.

Unlike his performance against the Pats, Jameis Winston played well in this one. He threw three touchdowns and only took one sack. The Giants possessed the ball more, converted more third downs and had more first downs than Tampa Bay, but somehow found a way to lose. Only one team in NFL history, the 1992 Chargers, has made the playoffs after starting 0-4, so maybe there’s a chance?

WEEK 5 PICKS

Baltimore Ravens (+3) @ Oakland Raiders

PICK: RAVENS TO COVER

There is a super slim chance that Derek Carr suits up for Oakland, and Vegas still has the Raiders favored? You are telling me an E.J. Manuel led offense is favored in an NFL football game? This is absolutely insane. The Raiders are nothing without Carr.

Baltimore is coming off a tough home loss to Pittsburgh, so it’s hard to believe they would drop two straight, especially to a team starting a backup quarterback. Joe Flacco is struggling, but this guy won a Super Bowl. He may not be elite, but he has what it takes to cover in this situation. Flacco is 3-2 in his career vs Oakland.

As expected, Oakland’s defense has struggled. They can’t cause any turnovers, and are 22nd in yards allowed. Running backs are having no problem moving the ball against them, and this Baltimore team is top 10 in running. Look for Baltimore to have no issues moving the ball. By the way, in his one game against Baltimore, Manuel threw two picks and only completed 45 percent of his passes.

Seattle Seahawks (+1.5) @ Los Angeles Rams

PICK: SEAHAWKS TO COVER

The Rams have won last the last three meeting when playing Seattle at home. Russell Wilson is 1-4 in his career at STL/LA. This is just like the Steelers over the Ravens last week. Generally, Seattle plays poorly on the road vs Los Angeles, but this game just seems different.

Russell Wilson scoring with ease in a previous matchup vs Rams (CBS Sports)

Everybody loves the Rams, and you can essentially already pencil in Sean McVay for AP Coach of the Year, but I am not sold yet. They are still giving up a lot of yards on the ground, as they rank 30th in rushing yards allowed. Los Angeles has also given up seven rushing touchdowns. Seattle likes to pound the football, so this is a major advantage.

Russell Wilson always gets better and better as the season goes on, and in Jared Goff’s only game vs. Seattle, he completed only 52 percent of his passes for a measly 135 yards. The Legion of Boom will not let Goff get going, and Seattle will have no problem covering in this matchup.

Green Bay Packers (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys

PICK: PACKERS TO COVER

Las Vegas is really giving Aaron Rodgers three points against the team he destroyed in the postseason a year ago? The most talented quarterback of all time, Rodgers has played exceptionally well against the Cowboys. In eight career games, Rodgers has 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Although Green Bay’s defense is nothing special, they are somehow sixth in the league in terms of fewest yards allowed, and fifth in fewest passing yards. The Cowboys defense has been pretty weak, allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw all over them. Dallas ranks 27th in passing touchdowns allowed, and 26th in first downs allowed. Keep in mind they are playing Aaron Rodgers this week, who already has 10 passing touchdowns.

This Dallas offense is not what it was a season ago. Last year, Cowboys were fourth in first downs, and first in rushing attempts. Today, they rank 20th in first downs, and 22nd in rushing attempts. Dak is proving to be an average game manager at best. He is 14th in passing yards, and 18th in quarterback rating. Vegas absolutely has this one wrong.

 

Featured image by Bleacher Report

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week 5 DFS don'ts

Week five DFS don’ts: Kicker and Defense

Week four was full of more quality football games and major upsets. It happened to be my best week in terms of DFS profitability and my player predictions. So, let’s jump right in to week five. It’s important to keep in mind that this is the first week multiple teams are on scheduled byes, so adjust your lineups and strategy accordingly. Here are the plays you need to avoid in my kicker and defense edition of week five DFS don’ts.

Greg Zurlein: FanDuel Price $5,300

Yes, I saw what Greg “The Leg” Zurlein did to Dallas on Sunday. It was incredibly impressive. However, can we please avoid spending up for a kicker who’s workload this weekend was the exception and not the rule? Zurlein, up to this point, hadn’t attempted more than three field goals this season. He has benefited from many extra point attempts, as he plays on the highest scoring offense in the NFL. But, that’s going to change this weekend.

The Rams will face Seattle this Sunday at home. That’s the first strike. Zurlein will be playing outdoors as opposed to in Dallas stadium. While the weather is perennially great in Los Angeles, it matters. His team will also be playing against a superior defensive unit. His extra point opportunities will absolutely be limited, as will his field goals chances.

Also, I refuse to pay up for a kicker. My DFS philosophy only requires my kicker to score double digit points. Now, if you play in primarily tournaments, Zurlein could be a good way to differentiate. However, I cannot justify paying for the most expensive kicker when there are plenty of options who can get me 10 points. So, given my philosophy, it’s no surprise the most expensive kicker is on my week five DFS don’ts.

Los Angeles Rams: FanDuel Price $4,800

week five DFS don'ts

The Los Angeles Rams are the league’s highest scoring offense, but their defense has surrendered at least 27 points in their last three games (Courtesy of; Orange County Register).

I’m not hating on the Rams. Todd Gurley made me profitable this weekend and I recommended Jared Goff on the Suck My DFS Podcast. However, the Rams have surrendered at least 27 points in their last three games. That includes allowing a staggering 39 points to the anemic San Francisco 49ers who could not reach the end zone at all last weekend.

They are facing a divisional opponents who has seemingly hit their stride. Russell Wilson and that passing game have drastically improved and will likely light up this Rams secondary. I know, divisional games tend to be lower in score because of the familiarity, but neither of these teams seem to be able to stop competent offenses.

The Rams have talent on the defensive front. They also have a great coordinator in Wade Phillips. I just don’t think they will be able to keep Seattle from connecting on the big pass play when they inevitably bring pressure. I’ll absolutely be looking to use the Rams defense in the future; however, their matchup lands them on my week five DFS don’ts list.

 

Like what you read? Tune into the Suck My DFS Podcast this Friday and find out who TGH fantasy experts will be playing in their DFS lineups this week. You can find the link on our Podcast page.

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Featured Image Courtesy of Sporting News

NFL week 3 takeaways

NFL week 3: Eight takeaways

1. Is Jared Goff a franchise quarterback? 

A week ago, we watched Goff throw a terrible interception to Mason Foster, which sealed the victory for the Redskins. In one of the best Thursday night football games of recent memory, Goff led the 2-1 Rams past the 49ers, 41-39. Goff went 22-of-28 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Goff also did not take any sacks and had zero turnovers. The Rams are seeing his confidence grow, and it is showing on the football field.

NFL week 3 takeaways

Is Goff legit? (SI.com)

So what should we expect moving forward? Well, mistakes will happen, but this kid is growing and improving every week. Under Sean McVay, Goff is in a legit system, unlike Jeff Fisher’s high school offense. McVay turned Kirk Cousins into a respectable quarterback, so the sky is the limit for Goff and the Rams.

2. Tom Brady is not human

Father time had been undefeated up until Tom Brady arrived on Earth. In one of the best performances of his career, Brady led the Patriots to a miraculous come-from-behind win against Houston 36-33. He completed 71 percent of his passes, threw for 378 yards and tallied up 5 touchdowns.

Brady was getting lit up all game by the Texans defense, but nothing phases this guy. He currently has the most passing yards, passing touchdowns, passes for more than 20 yards and passes for more than 40 yards. Keep in mind that he has yet to throw an interception.

Yeah, Tom Brady is statistically the best quarterback in the NFL, at 40 years of age.

3. The Jaguars absolutely smacked the Ravens

You know the game is getting out of hand when Ryan Mallett is behind center. In a 44-7 slaughtering, the Jaguars recorded their third consecutive victory in London.

If I’m Tom Coughlin, I’m at least asking Roger Goodell if the Jags can build a home stadium in London. No seriously, Jacksonville has now won as many games in London as they have at EverBank Field since October 2015.

As bizarre as this sounds, the Jaguars are legit contenders for the AFC South. Indy is without Andrew Luck until at least week 6. Deshaun Watson looks like he’ll be just fine, but we still don’t know what to expect from him and the Texans moving forward. The Titans defense is also incredibly suspect.

The Jags currently rank fourth in scoring and fifth in rushing yards. Their passing defense has been tremendous, as they have allowed the fewest passing yards in the entire league, and have already forced eight turnovers.

4. How about the Bills beating Denver!

It appeared the Bills were in full tank mode when they gave away Sammy Watkins and contemplated trading LeSean McCoy. After a 26-16 victory over Denver, the Bills are hungry for a playoff spot.

NFL week 3 takeaways

All smiles for Tyrod Taylor and the 2-1 Bills (Eagles Tribune)

After getting off to a slow start and generating just 10 yards in the first quarter, the Bills came alive, much thanks to Tyrod Taylor. Taylor had the best game of his season as he threw two touchdowns and completed 77 percent of his passes. The Bills struggled to run the ball against Denver’s potent defense, as Buffalo only managed a total of 75 rushing yards on 2.3 yards per carry.

What does this loss mean for the Broncos? No need to worry too much, as Jamaal Charles ran the ball well, and the defense played good enough to win. Trevor Siemian played bad, but that is expected from time to time. Siemian is 3-6 in his career on the road, so that is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

5. Was Cam Newton’s 2015 MVP season just a fluke?

The Panthers took their first loss on Sunday to the Saints, and Cam Newton continued to struggle. Newton threw three interceptions and was only able to pass for 167 yards against one of the worst defenses of the past few years.

It’s hard to argue that Newton is a franchise quarterback at this point. Sunday’s 43.8 passer rating was Cam’s third worst of his career. Next week, the Panthers travel to New England, so hopefully Newton can figure it out fast.

Also, the Panthers defense played really bad. After allowing 60 yards per game on the ground in the first two contests, Carolina allowed the Saints to rush for 149 yards. They allowed a total of 362 yards and 21 first downs. You can’t be elite every game, so it will be interesting to see if Carolina is able to bounce back against Tom Brady.

6. The Bengals and Giants’ seasons are most likely over

The Bengals have been in the playoffs in five of the past six seasons, and the Giants went into this season with a Super Bowl in sight. Now with both at 0-3, it is essentially impossible to make the playoffs. Since 1990, only three teams, the 1998 Bills, 1995 Lions and 1992 Chargers, have made the postseason after starting 0-3.

Cincinnati looked like they were going to upset Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, until they absolutely imploded in the second half. The Bengals scored a touchdown on their first possession and even had a pick six against Rodgers, which had only happened one other time in his career. Unfortunately, Cincinnati was 0-5 on third down and did not reach the red zone after halftime.

The Giants lost on a heartbreaking 61-yard field goal by Eagles rookie Jake Elliott. At least Odell Beckham Jr. is dominating again. OBJ has now reached 300 receptions in fewer games than any other player in NFL history. Let’s see if either of these squads can do the impossible and make the postseason.

7. The Seahawks are in trouble

Not only did Seattle fall to 1-2, but their defense played poorly. After carrying this team for years, is this star-studded defense getting tired?

NFL week 3 takeaways

DeMarco Murray scoring with ease against Seattle (The Tennessean)

All of a sudden, teams are running all over Seattle. They currently rank dead last in rushing yards allowed per attempt at 5.3. A week ago it seemed like the 49ers rushing for 159 yards against Seattle was just lucky.

On Sunday, the Titans ran for 195 yards, proving that this Seattle defense has lost a step. This was the most rushing yards allowed by the Seahawks since November 3, 2013. Russell Wilson played well, but the Seahawks now have question marks on both sides of the ball.

8. That Raiders loss was weird

No need to panic if you’re a Raiders fan, but what a weird game. Carr threw a pair of picks and had a quarterback rating of 52.9. The Raiders offense had only 128 yards of total offense. In the first two games, Oakland had 359 and 410. They were also unable to rush the ball against Washington’s defense.

Still, you can’t win all of them. Carr blames himself for the loss and will bounce back. Kudos to the Redskins. Their defense was outstanding, Kirk Cousins looked great and Chris Thompson had a career game. Both teams sit confidently at 2-1 heading into week 4.

 

Featured image by SI.com

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Todd Gurley hot start

Can Todd Gurley keep up his hot start?

Todd Gurley had an amazing rookie campaign, rushing for 1106 yards and 10 touchdowns in only 13 games. He followed that up with a subpar sophomore year, with 885 yards and six touchdowns.

Now at the start of the 2017 season, Gurley is starting to look like his old self again with 241 yards and six total touchdowns in only three games. The question remains whether or not he can keep up his hot start.

Hot Start

Todd Gurley hot start

Courtesy of, www.univision.com

Gurley is off to the start that every fantasy owner was hoping he would have. He’s never been much of a receiving back so far in the NFL, but now that Jared Goff is improving his play, he looks to be more of a dual threat back than ever.

 

In three games to start the season, Gurley has 13 receptions for 140 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He’s only 48 yards away from matching his total from his rookie campaign. Those two receiving touchdowns are also his first receiving touchdowns that he’s ever had in the NFL. That shows his use in the red zone.

The red zone volume is there for Gurley, which is a positive sign. In three games so far, he has 12 rushes for 21 yards and all four of his touchdowns. The Rams have shown that their game plan revolves around a strong run game, and Gurley is the focal point of that run game.

Another positive sign for fantasy owners is the snap percentage that he has played so far. Gurley has played in 85 percent of the teams offensive snaps, giving him plenty of opportunity to touch the ball and succeed.

Outlook for the rest of the season

The offensive line, which was addressed in the offseason, has played a big role in the success of the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. The Rams’ offensive line has allowed Jared Goff to have a clean pocket while opening up running lanes for Gurley. The fact that the Rams can sustain a good passing attack with a lethal run game causes terror in opposing defenses.

Now I know that the defenses that the Rams have played don’t have the greatest defensive front. Gurley and the Rams will face a couple of tough defenses when they play the Seahawks, Jaguars, Cardinals and Giants in four consecutive games. Those games will be a real test for Gurley, and we’ll really see if his season is as legit as we think it is.

Now to answer the question I started the article off with: can Todd Gurley keep up his hot start? I have been on the Jared Goff train since he was drafted by the Rams. I said that if the Rams could get their passing game going, which they are doing now with Goff and Sammy Watkins, the run game would follow.

It’s interesting what a different one year makes. With the additions of Andrew Whitworth, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Watkins and the emerging play of Goff, Gurley can and should maintain his hot start to the season.

 

Feature Image Courtesy of (http://www.cbssports.com)

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2017 week 3 NFL picks

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 3 NFL picks

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

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

Last week: 8-8

season: 16-15

Thursday Night

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

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

Sunday Morning

2017 week 3 NFL picks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017 week 3 NFL picks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Afternoon

2017 week 3 NFL picks

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Night

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

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

Monday Night

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

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

 

Featured image from Sporting News 

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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.

 

Featured image by SI.com

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NFL

Week 1 NFL picks against the spread

It is the most wonderful time of the year. While Hurricane Irma is putting a damper on things and reminding us all that football is secondary, the NFL season kicks off for real tonight. That means another year of picking games against the spread.

My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. Here goes nothing.

Thursday Night

Chiefs at Patriots (-9) – Kansas City is extremely well coached. Andy Reid never allows his teams to beat themselves. This is a huge number to swallow in a matchup of two very good teams.

However, no matter the team, the defending champions always play inspired on opening night.  Alex Smith and company just do not have the firepower to keep up with a New England offense that somehow got even better by adding Brandin Cooks. No matter how stout the opposing defense is, the Patriots will score lots of points all year long. NE 31 KC 20

Sunday

Week 1 NFL picks

Photo: inquisitr.com

Cardinals (-2) at *Lions – Here, we have two teams that must drive their fan bases insane. If last year is any indication, they both have high ceilings, low floors and no one knows what to expect from them week to week. Given that backdrop, I will take the home team with the better quarterback. Det 30 Ari 27

Falcons (-7) at Bears – It remains to be seen how the Falcons franchise will rebound from last year’s Super Bowl collapse. We won’t learn much here. The Bears organization is lost at sea right now and does not have talent on any level that is equal to the Falcons, at least on paper. Paper is really the only thing we have to go on for opening week. Atl 31 Chi 17

Ravens at Bengals (-3) – This game is pretty much a coin flip. If the game were in Baltimore, the line would probably be flipped. With home-field advantage and an offense that should be just a touch more balanced than that of the Ravens, the Bengals are the smart bet. Cin 28 Bal 24

Jags at Texans (-5.5) – This is my favorite pick of the week. Blake Bortles has yet another crack at being the quarterback of the future in Jacksonville. His numbers are always decent thanks to garbage time, but the franchise has won 11 total regular season games since Bortles was drafted. What more needs to be seen?

Houston’s quarterback situation is not much better, but they are playing to lift the spirits of an entire city and have most of last year’s playoff roster intact. Hou 24 Jac 13

Jets at Bills (-9.5) – The Jets are going to stink, Buffalo is probably going to stink a little less. Outside of the defensive line, everything on the Jets’ roster is well below average. Buffalo has made some head scratching roster moves in recent weeks and is clearly hesitant to commit to quarterback Tyrod Taylor long term. This is a value pick more than anything else. Buffalo is not 9.5 points better than anyone in this league. Buf 27 NYJ 20

Raiders at Titans (-2) – These teams handle their business differently, but are pretty evenly matched. The team that does not lead the world in penalties every year and has the better defense is a good bet. Ten 24 Oak 20

Eagles (-1) at *Redskins– Here is another game that could go either way. Carson Wentz exceeded expectations last year and the Eagles have made a lot of new acquisitions that have people excited. But the Redskins are the known commodity here.

Even with the drama that seems to constantly surround the organization, the Redskins offense put up a ton of first downs and yards last year. If they can turn some more of those numbers into points this year, they will be back in the playoffs for the first time in a handful of years. This is a rivalry game, Washington is at home and I know what I am getting with them. That is good enough for me. Was 24 Phi 21

Steelers (-9) at Browns – The Browns will not be a punchline this year. From Jabrill Peppers to Kenny Britt, they have done a fantastic job of adding talent on both sides of the ball. The raw athleticism of DeShone Kizer with Hue Jackson coaching him is intriguing. Keeping up with a Pittsburgh offense that has all of its key contributors on the field at the same time is probably too much to ask, but they can make a statement here, even in defeat. Pit 28 Cle 20

*Colts at Rams (-3.5) – Watch this one at your own risk. The Colts will be led by Scott Tolzien, not Andrew Luck. For the Rams, Jared Goff showed improvement in the preseason, but that only means so much. Even without Luck, Indy’s offensive personnel may still be better. They won’t score much as the Rams front seven is really good, but they won’t need to. Ind 13 LAR 10

Panthers (-5.5) at 49ers- The number here is surprisingly low. Apparently, I am not the only one who likes what the 49ers are doing. Given the vast differences between their last two seasons, Carolina is one of the toughest teams to predict this year, but Christian McCaffrey might be exactly what this offense needs to get back on track. The Panthers should get through this one on talent alone. Car 28 SF 21

Week 1 NFL picks

Photo: Panthers.com

*Seahawks at Packers (-3) – Like always, this matchup is about Seattle’s great defense and Green Bay’s great offense. These two teams could very well see each other again in the playoffs. We all have certain theories when we look at these games. One of mine is that great defense usually trumps great offense.

If there were any full proof theories about predicting NFL games, Vegas would be broke and us common folk would be rich. Obviously, it does not work that way. However, I will almost always ride the better defense in a matchup like this. Sea 21 GB 20

*Giants at Cowboys (-4) – Apparently, Ezekiel Elliott will play in this game. However, that did not matter much when these teams got together twice last year. With additions like Brandon Marshall, the Giants only got better in the offseason. Even if Odell Beckham Jr. does not suit up because of his knee injury, New York is well-equipped for that circumstance.

Meanwhile, the rest of the league has now had enough time to figure out how to stop a Cowboys offense that was a young juggernaut last year. Things will not be nearly as easy for Dallas this year. NYG 23 Dal 20

Monday Night

*Saints at Vikings (-3.5) – New Orleans is primed for a big year. The one-two punch of Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson will finally give that offense the balance it so desperately needs. Drew Brees still has a couple years to be his Hall-of-Fame-caliber self. All the defense needs to do is go from atrocious to just plain bad. This is not a very difficult leap to make.

Week 1 NFL picks

Photo: espn.com

As good as Minnesota’s defense is, their offense simply lacks playmakers. It will not take nearly as long for that to catch up with them this year. Too much is being expected by rookie running back Delvin Cook, Sam Bradford has never led a team to a winning record as a starting quarterback and their receivers max out at about 80 catches.

The Vikings have not managed to put together an offense that has ranked in the top 20 since Mike Zimmer took over as head coach. Unless the defense turns out to be the 1985 bears or 2015 Broncos, this team is going nowhere. NO 24 Min 17

Chargers at Broncos (-3.5) – The Chargers were in almost every game last year, but lost most of them.

The relocated Chargers will win a few more games this year, but this one will follow that familiar script. Philip Rivers is still being asked to do way too much. If the quarterbacks changed teams in this matchup, Denver would make this look like a homecoming game. The Broncos were smart enough to realize that Trevor Siemian was not the problem last year. Denver’s front lines were pushed around on both sides of the ball.

Thus, this year they come back with revamped offensive and defensive lines, as well as a monster of at least three heads in the backfield. The defense remains one of the best on the planet. The Broncos are attempting to take the physical approach to winning football games this year. If done well, it is a tough approach for any opponent to deal with. Den 20 LAC 14

 

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Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Fantasy football bold predictions: NFC West

The preseason is here and so is fantasy football. We have seen endless articles making bold predictions on players, numbers and who are sleepers. This article and many coming are my 2017 fantasy football bold predictions starting with the the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer will Bounce Back in 2017

Headlined as a fantasy sleeper, Carson Palmer is a QB20 and picked towards the end of drafts.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Carson Palmer (Photo by: si.com)

In 2015, Palmer had one of the best seasons of his career. He finished in the top-five among quarterbacks in 2015 with 35 touchdowns and 4,600-plus yard season. He had receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, and the emergence of John Brown and Michael Floyd really helped Palmer.

But 2016 was the opposite. Even though he was 36 that season, the departure of Michael Floyd and the recurring illnesses of John Brown were not helpful. Besides that, Palmer hit a wall with efficiency.

His 8.7 yards per attempt in 2015 dropped down to 7.1. Another big part of the struggle was the breakout of David Johnson. But Palmer did have a good end of the season with at least 20 fantasy points in a standard leagues in six of his final nine games, and no outing with fewer than 17 points.

But in 2017 Palmer is back and fully focused. Brown is finally healthy and the emergence of J.J. Nelson to complement Larry Fitzgerald and with David Johnson in the backfield should help Palmer have a season like 2015.

Los Angeles Rams: Sammy Watkins will play a full season, but will not have over five touchdowns

Sammy Watkins was traded to the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 11. There’s no worse situation to be in than the Rams. He is ranked as the 21st wide receiver and selected around the fourth to fifth round.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Sammy Watkins (Photo by: dailynews.com)

Watkins has missed 11 games over his last two seasons including eight in 2016 because of a foot injury that required multiple surgeries. The good news is that he’s healthy now. He should get the time to rest and learn the offense this preseason.

The bad news is now he’s with the LA Rams. Fantasy owners cringe now because of the situation. His quarterback is Jared Goff who was on the lower end of quarterbacks in 2016. Even though a rookie, he completed a miserable 54.5 percent of his passes, had a 5-to-7 TD/INT ratio and averaged 5.3 yards per attempt.

But for Watkins, he has averaged 0.46 touchdowns per game over his career. And while there’s hope for Goff, he has to learn a new offense and that doesn’t look good for either Goff or Watkins. Look for running back Todd Gurley to have a big role in Los Angeles.

Seattle Seahawks: Doug Baldwin will break into the top-five for wide receivers

Doug Baldwin checks in as the WR10 and ranked 29th overall among fantasy players. Baldwin hasn’t received a whole lot of love from a fantasy perspective. Maybe that’s because Seattle isn’t known as a passing team, but they have done better over the past two seasons. Last year, they ranked tied for 18th with 567 pass attempts. This was the first year Russell Wilson has thrown over 500 pass attempts.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Doug Baldwin (Photo by: ftw.usatoday.com)

But back to Baldwin. His target share in the last three years has been steady at 22, 21, and 22 percent respectively. He’s blossomed in his new No. 1 wide receiver role, delivering back-to-back top-10 fantasy finishes in both standard and PPR formats. Baldwin’s eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in consecutive years, and he set a new single-season high of 1,128 yards last year.

His touchdown total however, dipped from 14 in 2015 to seven last year. But 21 touchdowns over the past two seasons is an impressive stat. With guys like Dez Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas and Amari Cooper ranked right around Baldwin, his touchdowns over the past two seasons rank best out of all of them.

A key stat for Baldwin is in 2015, 95 percent of Baldwin’s yardage (1,011) and 93 percent of his touchdowns (13) came from the slot, per Next Gen Stats. In 2016, those percentages fell to 59 for yardage (662) and 57 for touchdowns (four). Baldwin proved he could win outside, posting a 78 percent catch rate and 15.36 yards per catch average when lined up out wide.

He has proven to be a top target for Seattle and I expect him to continue his dominance with the run game still in question. His only threat to take targets away is Jimmy Graham but that didn’t stop him in 2016.

San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde will run for over 1,000 yards

Carlos Hyde as of right now is being selected right around the third to fourth round. He is ranked as the 15th running back.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Carlos Hyde (Photo by: sfgate.com)

Hyde has had some problems staying healthy (14 games missed in three seasons). But when he’s on the field he’s one of the better backs in the league. He averaged a career-best 4.6 YPC on 217 carries last season and has ranked among the top 10 in the NFL in YAC each of the past two years.

He has been the best running back on his team in terms of success rate every year he’s been in the league, and just last season, only 10 running backs had more top-24 PPR performances and only 7 had more top-12 ones.

Hyde will be in a new offense in 2017 under Kyle Shanahan. He will fit his offense around the skillset of his personnel. With Cleveland in 2014, the team ran for five more touchdowns than they threw for. With the Atlanta Falcons, we saw Shanahan turn Devonta Freeman into a top fantasy running back in 2015. Granted in a better offense, Shanahan works well with running backs when the offense molds together.

Hyde finished 2016 ranked 18th in fantasy points in only 13 games, posting five top-10 weeks and nine touchdowns. He just missed 1,000 yards by 12 yards. There’s been a lot of hype around the backup Joe Williams. But he has been dominating training camp and Jon Lynch liked the shape Hyde was in as recently as late July.

 

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2017 NFC West division preview

2017 NFC West 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 ado, here is the 2017 NFC West division preview.

4: San Fransisco 49ers

Last season: 2-14

Strength of Schedule: 20

John Lynch made a statement in the NFL Draft. He knows what he is doing and plans on building a championship defense. The picks of Soloman Thomas and Rueben Foster are prime examples. The problem is that the 49ers need lots of talent to actually be competitive. San Fransisco ranked in the bottom of every defensive category and a few young players aren’t going to turn them into a top NFL defense right away.

2017 NFC West division preview

(Photo Credit: USA Today)

The defense is going to struggle against the run. After ranking 32nd last season, the only way to go is up but again, two rookies aren’t going to take them from 32nd to the top of the mountain.

As teams run all over the 49ers, the defense will get worn out and teams will be able to pass against them as well. With a bottom third defense, it will be difficult for San Fransisco to win games.

Offensively, the 49ers will struggle because of a bad offensive line. Pro Football Focus is predicting the 49ers to have the 27th ranked line in the NFL. This will mean tough sledding for running back Carlos Hyde. Brian Hoyer has been given the reigns at quarterback but is barely an average quarterback.

Hoyer also has no real threat to throw the ball to outside of Pierre Garcon. Teams can load the box to stop the run and will not have to worry about getting burned by the pass. The predictability of the offense will make it hard for them to win games. The 49ers are clearly heading in the right direction but will not show it with wins this season.

Prediction: 2-14 (0-6), miss the playoffs

3: Arizona Cardinals

Last season: 7-8-1

Strength of Schedule: 23

Carson Palmer showed signs of decline last season at age 37. He went from 35 touchdowns down to 26. Palmer also threw more interceptions as his total increased from 11 interceptions in 2015 to 14 last season. Father Time is undefeated and this season Palmer will feel the effects even more.

2017 NFC West division preview

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The rest of the offense is pretty solid. David Johnson is one of the top three running backs in the NFL and will be the workhorse. It won’t be far-fetched to say Johnson will have 1,000 yards both on the ground and through the air.

Larry Fitzgerald is back for his 14th season to lead the Cardinals’ receiving corp. Outside of Fitzgerald, there is a lot of inconsistency with the receivers.

Arizona has had a very good defense for the last couple of seasons but there are a few unknowns this year. Losing Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson really hurt.

There is still plenty of talent but the key pieces of Campbell and Jefferson may prove too big of losses. If they can’t replace these players the defense will regress. The Cardinals will also have a rookie linebacker, Haason Reddick, starting at inside linebacker.

Special teams were a weak link for the Cardinals last season. They must improve in all facets in order to win more games but there isn’t much to look at yet in the preseason to determine whether or not this has improved.

Facing Arizona is going to be a tough game for any opponent but for now, because of an old quarterback and restructured defense, the Cardinals are going to be a team that hovers around .500.

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

2: Los Angeles Rams

Last season: 4-12

Strength of Schedule: 17

Adding Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator is going to make all the difference for the Rams this season. The Rams’ defense was much better than some of their rankings due to an offense that was rather pedestrian. Los Angeles gave up the ninth fewest yards in the NFL last season at just 337 yards per game.

2017 NFL West division preview

(Photo Credit: https://px1sports.com)

Wade Phillips has had plenty of success as a defensive coordinator and most recently with the Denver Broncos. With players like Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Conner Barwin and Aarond Donald (still in the midst of a holdout), Phillips will be able to create massive amounts of pressure on the quarterback.

Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron are pretty solid linebackers who can fly around the field to make tackles.

Trumaine Johnson is one of the best corners in the league and safety Lamarcus Joyner is an up and coming star as well. The secondary has all the makings to round out this defense and turn it into a top five unit.

Now, everyone knows how talented this defense is but the Rams will only go as far as the offense can take them. Los Angeles ranked near the bottom of every offensive category last season. To upgrade the offense, the Rams signed Andrew Whitworth to replace Greg Robinson. This is a colossal improvement at left tackle, which will really help out Jared Goff and the running game.

Speaking of the running game, Todd Gurley is on a mission to prove that last season’s down year was just a fluke. The Rams will need to run the ball well in order to be successful because it takes pressure off of Goff.

The passing game already featured dangerous weapon Tavon Austin but there were a couple more moves made to give Goff plenty of firepower in the passing game. Los Angeles drafted Cooper Kupp, signed Robert Woods and most recently, traded for stud receiver Sammy Watkins. There is no excuse for Goff to play poorly with an improved offensive line, a workhorse running back and a receiving corp filled with speed and playmakers.

With the additions made on offense, a new defensive coordinator that can turn this defense into elite and a fairly easy schedule, the Rams will be in contention for a playoff spot this season.

Prediction: 9-7 (4-2), wildcard candidate

1: Seattle Seahawks

Last season: 10-5-1

Strength of Schedule: 25

The Seahawks have one of the easiest schedules heading into the season. They might need it with the worst rated line in the NFL. Despite having such a bad offensive line, the Seahawks made the playoffs. They were unable to progress deep into the playoffs though. The offense has to improve in order for the Seahawks to become Super Bowl contenders once again.

2017 NFC West division preview

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

Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy are going to attempt to bring a great running game back to Seattle. Russell Wilson is good but the identity and key to success have been being able to run the ball. If the Seahawks do so successfully, they will be one of the most feared teams in the NFL.

Jimmy Graham is still an unstoppable red zone threat. The chemistry between Graham and Wilson has seemed to improve the more they have played together and it will lead to a big year for Graham.

The other receiving threats, Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson, provide different playmaking abilities that compliment each other well. Baldwin is a quick receiver who can make plays both vertically or by turning a short completion into a long gain. Richardson can make spectacular catches on the outside as a deep threat.

Russell Wilson is the engine to this offense and he doesn’t get enough credit. Without him, this team wouldn’t make the playoffs. He makes good decisions on when to run and rarely turns the ball over. As long as the Seahawks have a viable running game, Wilson will have another Pro-Bowl caliber season.

The heart and soul of this team is the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are back to lead this defense to a top three ranking. With these three men patrolling in the secondary, teams will earn everything they get through the air because nothing comes easy against them.

The linebackers are solid as well and are headlined by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Up front, the Seahawks have head hunters. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were the only pair of defensive ends to make the Pro-Bowl. They get constant pressure on opposing offenses making it easier for the rest of the unit to play balls to the wall.

Due to the consistency of this defense over the past five seasons, it is safe to assume the Seahawks have a top three to five defense. Pair that with an offense that will have an improved running game and Pro-Bowl quarterback means the Seahawks will win the division and be one of the best teams in the NFL.

Prediction: 12-4 (4-2), divison champion

 

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