Detroit Lions quarterbacks

Detroit Lions: Quarterback preview 2018

The Detroit Lions quarterback position has largely been a position of disappointment. They have been trying to break the curse of Bobby Layne. When Bobby Layne was traded to Pittsburgh in 1958, he stated, “(Detroit) will not win for 50 years.”

It looks like they found their man, the man being Matthew Stafford. He has already cemented himself as the greatest quarterback in franchise history and the only thing left to do is bring the Lombardi trophy to Detroit.

Quarterbacks Coach

The Detroit Lions parted ways with Brian Callahan, who served as the quarterbacks coach for the past two seasons. During that span, Stafford amassed 8,773 yards and a 65.5 completion percentage. He also threw for 53 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

Detroit Lions quarterbacks

Godsey during his time with Texans. (Photo by Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle)

The new man in charge of the quarterbacks’ room is George Godsey. In 2017, Godsey came over to Detroit from the Houston Texans where he spent three seasons, one as the quarterbacks coach followed by two seasons as the Texans’ offensive coordinator.

He was a defensive assistant for the Lions last season and has history with new Lions head coach Matt Patricia as they worked together in New England. Godsey served as an offensive assistant in 2011 for the Patriots before coaching the tight ends for two seasons.

For what it’s worth, Godsey was a four-year quarterback at Georgia Tech from 1998-2001. The familiarity with Patricia and his previous year of experience in the Motor City, combined with his potential as a young, enthusiastic coach brings a lot of energy and hope to the quarterback position.

Matthew Stafford

Detroit Lions quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford making adjustments on Sunday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Rick Osentoski, Associated Press)

Matthew Stafford does not need much introduction to NFL fans, especially, Detroit Lions fans. He is the all-time leader in completions, yards, touchdowns and passer rating in Lions history. He has shown strength, durability and the blue-collar, hardworking attitude that perfectly symbolizes the culture of Detroit.

His hard-nosed grit only endears himself more to fans and his teammates. His ability to lead the team down the field for game-winning touchdowns or field goals brings a calming attitude and mentality to the team when they find themselves behind in the fourth quarter.

He finds himself in sixth place on the fourth quarter comebacks list with 26 behind Tom Brady (42), Ben Roethlisberger (32), Drew Brees (30), Eli Manning (30) and Matt Ryan (27). Stafford also has 32 game-winning drives in his career.

Jake Rudock

Detroit Lions quarterbacks

(Photo by Mike Mulholland, mlive.com)

Jake Rudock is unproven with a great deal of potential, as he has shown to have success in the month of August, although it was against preseason defenses. He only appeared in one regular season game in 2017 when Stafford injured his hand against Baltimore. Rudock only attempted five passes and completed three with one interception.

During the preseason, he did perform well in the so-called “dress rehearsal” third game of the preseason against New England where he went 10-for-13 for 113 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

Coming out of Michigan, Rudock is a local fan favorite to some Wolverines fans, and may end up paying off in the future as an asset to acquire more draft picks.

Alek Torgersen

Detroit Lions quarterbacks

Alek Torgersen during his senior year at Penn – Photo credit: Zach Sheldon

Alek Torgersen comes out of his rookie season as a relative unknown. He played with the Atlanta Falcons during the preseason with little production (40 percent completions, no touchdowns and two interceptions).

The Atlanta Falcons waived Torgersen on Sept. 2. The Washington Redskins signed him a few days later and released him a month later.

Detroit signed him to the practice squad in December. The Lions then signed him to a reserve-future contract on Jan 1, 2018.

He played his college ball for the Pennsylvania Quakers. In his final two seasons at Penn, he threw for 4,227 yards, 36 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The Future (Is Now)

With Stafford turning 30 on Feb. 7, the window for the Lions to win with him is closing. General manager Bob Quinn has stated the importance of drafting or signing a quarterback in every draft class. A sentiment brought over from New England (i.e. Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett and Jacoby Brissett). Not only to plan for Stafford’s eventual departure, but also investments for future draft picks.

Quarterbacks that could be added to the roster in the draft or as undrafted free agents include Ryan Finley (NC State), Clayton Thorson (Northwestern), Nic Shimonek (Texas Tech), Riley Ferguson (Memphis) and Danny Etling (LSU).

Stafford appears to have at least another six or seven years of his prime left. Possibly a few more if he is able to maintain his body and the offensive line can limit the number of hits he takes. Detroit fans hope he can be the one to get them off the list of teams to never win a Super Bowl. They would probably even take a division title or two and a playoff win to start.

Click here for a preview of the Lions’ coaches.

 

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Super Bowl LII preview

Super Bowl LII preview

After an epic championship weekend, which included a come-from-behind victory from Tom “The GOAT” Brady, as well as a flawless performance from Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, we are set for a Super Bowl XXXIX rematch between New England and Philly.

In that game 13 years ago, the Patriots defeated the Eagles 24-21. With a chance to win the game, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was picked off by Rodney Harrison with less than 20 seconds to play. This was one of three interceptions that McNabb threw. Eagles star wide receiver, Terrell Owens, who was dealing with a severely sprained ankle and fractured fibula, had nine catches for 122 yards.

Super Bowl XXXIX preview

Patriots celebrating during Super Bowl XXXIX (Photo from Patriots Life)

Tom Brady threw for 236 yards with two touchdowns, and no turnovers. Patriots receiver Deion Branch was rewarded Super Bowl XXXIX MVP after an incredible 11-catch, 133-yard performance.

Now, in 2018, Tom Brady remains behind center for New England, and the Eagles are the biggest Super Bowl underdogs since 2009 in Super Bowl XLIII, when the Arizona Cardinals were seven-point underdogs to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Philadelphia opened as a 5.5-point underdog at The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. Keep in mind that the betting favorite has won 33 of the previous 51 Super Bowls.

This will be New England’s 10th Super Bowl appearance and the Eagles’ third. The Westgate SuperBook claimed that had Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz not gotten injured, the game would be pick ‘em. Anyways, here are eight statements to get you ready for the big game.

 1. Nick Foles is coming in hot

Even though Wentz was playing at an MVP level, let’s not sleep on Nick Foles. In the NFC Championship game against the Vikings, Foles played the best game of his career. The 29 year old from Arizona, who was recruited by Georgetown, Baylor and Texas to play college basketball, threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns with a passer rating of 141.4. In the second half alone, Foles went 11-for-11 with 159 yards, two touchdowns and a perfect QBR.

On the season, Foles is now 8-1, the one loss coming in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Cowboys. He joined Joe Montana as the only other quarterback to complete 75 percent of their passes in back-to-back playoff games. He is the only quarterback in NFL history with a passer rating of 100 in his first three career playoff games. Let’s see how he stacks up against the other quarterbacks New England has faced in the Super Bowl during the Tom Brady era.

PLAYER YEAR QUARTERBACK RATING DURING PLAYOFF RUN (GOING INTO THE SUPER BOWL)
KURT WARNER 2001 92.5
JAKE DELHOMME 2003 103.5
DONOVAN MCNABB 2004 111.3
ELI MANNING 2007 107.2
ELI MANNING 2011 108.7
RUSSELL WILSON 2014 96.8
MATT RYAN 2016 132.6
NICK FOLES 2017 122.1

2. This is the Patriots second best offensive team during Brady’s eight Super Bowl appearances

It will be hard for any team to match the production of the 2007 Patriots, but this year’s team finished second in points and first in yards. They were also third in red zone scoring percentage (TD), touchdowns per game and points per play, fourth in yards per play and fifth in yards per pass. All this without one of Brady’s top targets, Julian Edelman.

Going into the AFC Championship game, the Jaguars had allowed just 169.9 passing yards per game. Without Rob Gronkowski, Brady had 138 in the fourth quarter. Translation, they can overcome anything.

3. Penalties could be the deciding factor

As seen in the AFC Championship game, the Patriots don’t get too many penalties. Against Jacksonville, New England suffered just one penalty for 10 yards, while the Jags had six for 98 yards. Only one percent of the time is there an 88-yard discrepancy in penalty yards, and of course, it happens for New England in its biggest game.

Also, in the last seven years of the playoffs, only twice has a team been called for one penalty or less. This happened on Sunday, as well as seven years ago, in favor of, you guessed it, the Patriots.

While New England finished with the second fewest penalties per game, the Eagles had the 10th most penalties called against them.

4. If the Patriots are losing in the second half, they will probably come back and win

After being down by 10 with less than nine minutes to play against Jacksonville, Brady proved why he is arguably the most clutch athlete to ever step on Earth. Sunday’s win meant the Patriots are now 3-4 in the last 10 postseasons when they are trailing by 10 or more points in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. During that span, the rest of the NFL is 3-70.

5. This is one of the best defenses New England has faced in a Super Bowl during the Brady/Belichick era

Super Bowl LII preview

Never bet against this man (Photo from Business Insider)

The Eagles allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league this year, as well as the fourth fewest total yards. They also caused the fourth most turnovers. Four appears to be the magic number, as they allowed the fourth fewest points in the league.

The only teams the Patriots have faced in the Super Bowl during the Brady-Belichick era that finished higher in points allowed were the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles and the 2014 Seattle Seahawks.

6. The Eagles can run, and the Patriots might struggle defending it

The combination of Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, mixed in with a little Corey Clement, was lethal this season. Philadelphia finished with the third most rushing yards per game at 132.2. They also averaged 4.5 yards per carry, which was tied for third in the league.

New England is tied for 30th in opposing yards per rush and 22nd in opposing rushing first downs per game.

7. Both quarterbacks have yet to tHROW AN INTERCEPTION in the playoffs

All be just two games apiece, both Nick Foles and Tom Brady have done an excellent job of taking care of the football. Since 2014, when Nick Foles does not turn the ball over, he is 13-2. During that same span, Brady is 35-7.

8. Jimmy G is getting paid

We know that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be appearing in their eighth Super Bowl together, which is twice as many as any head coach-quarterback combo. We also know that Brady will be the first 40-year-old QB to start a Super Bowl.

Those facts are cool and all, but what about the fact that Jimmy Garoppolo is getting paid to watch this game? If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, Garappolo will earn $191K. If they lose, he will get $135K. Must be nice.

 

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NFL divisional playoffs picks

NFL divisional playoffs preview and picks

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

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

Postseason record- 3-1

Postseason record against the spread- 2-2

Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

Winner: Atlanta

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

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

NFL divisional playoffs picks

Photo from USA Today

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

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

Winner: New England

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

Winner: Pittsburgh

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

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

NFL divisional playoffs picks

Photo from si.com

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

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

Winner: New Orleans

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

 

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Stack your money Sunday’s: Week 17

Week 16 Review (2-1) OVERALL: 31-15-2

Jacksonville Jaguars (-4) @ San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers 44 Jacksonville Jaguars 33

Against the number one defense in the NFL, Jimmy Jesus and the 49ers came to play. Garoppolo had three total touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 102.4. The Niners, led by Matt Breida and Carlos Hyde, ran for 131 yards on Jacksonville. Amazingly, San Francisco went 10-15 on third down conversions. Their defense held Jacksonville to just 92 total rushing yards. Leonard Fournette managed just 48 yards on 18 carries. San Francisco also picked off Blake Bortles three times. Bortles looks to have finally come back down to Earth after playing really good football for the last few weeks.

(USA Today)

Jimmy Garoppolo has won his first four games in San Francisco and looks like the real deal. Don’t be surprised if San Francisco makes the playoffs next year. This guy already looks like a top-10 quarterback in this league for years to come.

 

 

 

 

Seattle Seahawks (+4.5) @ Dallas Cowboys

Seattle Seahawks 21 Dallas Cowboys 12

The Seahawks were extra motivated because Eric Dickerson, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, leaked the story of Ezekiel Elliott telling him he was going to run for 200 yards when he plays Seattle. Elliott had a solid game, rushing for 97 yards, but unfortunately, his quarterback continues to regress. Dak Prescott threw for just 181 yards, and a pair of interceptions.

The Seahawks forced three total turnovers, which ended up being the reason for victory. Seattle rushed for just 76 yards and had only 136 total yards, but a win is a win. If they wish to continue their season, Seattle needs to cut down on the penalties, as they had 11, which cost them 142 yards. The Seahawks can clinch a wild-card berth with a win over the Cardinals and a Falcons loss to the Panthers.

 

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (-6)

New Orleans Saints 23 Atlanta Falcons 13

New Orleans’ defense proved to be the difference maker in this one. They forced two turnovers and held the Falcons to just 67 rushing yards. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense went a pitiful 2-13 on third down conversions. On the other side, Drew Brees continued to be insanely efficient, as he completed 75 percent of his throws and had a quarterback rating of 97.2. Alvin Kamara looks to be the run-away candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year, as the former Tennessee standout ran for only 32 yards, but caught seven passes for 58 more yards.

Right now, Atlanta is the sixth seed in the NFC. If the season ended today, they would face the Rams in the wild-card round. To qualify for the playoffs, Atlanta needs to beat Carolina. However, even if they lose, the Falcons will move on if the Seahawks fall to the Cardinals.

 

WEEK 17 PICKS

Washington Redskins (-3) @ New York Giants

PICK: REDSKINS TO COVER

Davis Webb will be in uniform so you have to imagine he will get some reps at some point in this meaningless game. If Webb plays, a Redskins win is almost a guarantee. Anyways, the Redskins are up against a Giants team that ranks 31st in points per game, 30th in third down conversion percentage, and 23rd in yards per game. Not much to worry about here.

(CNBC.com)

Washington is pretty average on offense, ranking 14th in points per game, 13th in yards per play, and 15th in yards per game. Luckily, they are up against one of the worst defenses in the league. New York ranks 29th in opposing points per game, 32nd in opposing yards per game, and 26th in opposing third down conversion percentage. The Giants cannot move the chains on offense, and have a hard time getting off the field on defense. This team has already thrown in the towel, so look for Washington to win easy.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (+4) @ Denver Broncos

PICK: CHIEFS TO COVER

Patrick Mahomes will be making his first NFL start, so it is hard to not bet on this kid. Michael Kopech, baseball’s No. 10 prospect according to MLB.com and former high school rival of Mahomes, says, of the Kansas City QB, “He was just a bulldog. To be honest, I think anyone who ever played with or against Patrick would’ve assumed he would’ve been a pro in any sport he played.” If you’re wondering about Mahomes as a baseball player, well, he was scouted by teams as both a pitcher and an outfielder. Mahomes was considered a third or fourth round pick as a pitcher out of high school.

This kid is the ultimate competitor and I fully expect him to light it up on Sunday. He will be up against a Denver defense that ranks 22nd in opposing points per game, and 26th in opposing red zone opportunities ending in a touchdown.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (+2.5) @ Tennessee Titans

PICK: JAGUARS TO COVER

If the Titans win, they will secure a wild-card spot. If they happen to lose, they need the Bills and Chargers to lose in order to keep playing. Since the Jaguars played so poorly last week against the 49ers, look for Jacksonville to get some momentum back and stomp all over the Titans.

The Jaguars have rushed for over 135 yards in all but four of their contests. When the Titans allow over 100 yards on the ground, they are 0-5. The Titans also allow the 20th most points per game, and rank 25th in opposing passing yards per game. Look for Blake Bortles to get back on track in this one.

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NFL Week 16

Stack your money Sundays: Week 16

Week 15 Review (2-1) OVERALL: 29-14-2

Green Bay Packers (+2.5) @ Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers 31 Green Bay Packers 24

Unfortunately for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, this season did not go as planned. Rodgers’ three interceptions were costly, but had Geronimo Allison not coughed up the football late in the game, Green Bay would have had a real shot to send the game into overtime.

NFL Week 16

Four Touchdowns for the former MVP (Photo from Rolling Stone)

In last week’s article, we talked about how Cam Newton had thrown for less than 200 yards in five of his last six games. We also mentioned that, from last season to now, when a quarterback throws for less than 220 yards against Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are 7-0.

Fortunately for Newton, he played a flawless game. The former No. 1 overall pick threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns with a passer rating of 128. The Panthers also managed to run for 151 yards. Christian McCaffrey had a stellar game, rushing for 63 yards and catching six balls for 73 yards and a score.

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (-3.5)

Buffalo Bills 24 Miami Dolphins 16

After three quarters, this game was a blowout. The Bills were up 24-6 and showed no signs of weakness against Jay Cutler and the Dolphins. However, a Kenyan Drake touchdown and a late Cody Parkey field goal made the game a bit more interesting. At the end of the day, it’s really tough to win if your quarterback throws zero touchdowns and three interceptions. I’m going to miss Jay Cutler next year.

It was a typical game for Tyrod Taylor. The former Virginia Tech standout threw one touchdown, rushed for another and did not turn the ball over. LeSean McCoy had a pair of touchdowns as well. The Bills have a legitimate shot to make the postseason, but that Nathan Peterman game against the Chargers could come back to haunt them if they end up with the same record as Los Angeles.

New England Patriots (-2.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers

New England Patriots 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 24

Arguably the game of the year, New England just barely came out of this one with a win, as well as a cover. By rule, Jesse James did not catch that ball.

In all honesty, Pittsburgh outplayed the Patriots. They had almost double the rushing yards, and went 10-of-16 on third-down conversions. If the Steelers knew how to defend Rob Gronkowski, this game would have ended a bit differently.

Prayers up to Antonio Brown as he exited the game early on, but will hopefully be back for the playoffs. Had he not gotten injured, Brown would have a serious shot at winning MVP.

This probably will not matter, but keep an eye on Tom Brady, as he does not look like the same quarterback from a few weeks ago. He has now thrown five interceptions in his last four games.

WEEK 16 PICKS

Jacksonville Jaguars (-4) @ San Francisco 49ers

PICK: JAGUARS TO COVER

Although Jimmy Garoppolo looks likes the real deal, let’s pump the brakes a bit. He is stacked up against a Jaguars defense that is first in the league in points allowed, opposing yards per play and opposing red zone scoring in regards to touchdowns. They also rank third in both opposing third-down conversion percentage and opposing yards per game. Yes, as odd as it seems, the Jaguars defense is the real deal.

San Francisco’s defense ranks 28th in interceptions, and when Blake Bortles does not throw a pick, the Jaguars are a perfect 8-0. In his last three games, Bortles has been as good as anyone in the league. He has seven touchdowns, zero interceptions and passer ratings of 119.8, 123.7 and 143.7. Jacksonville currently ranks fifth in points per game, sixth in yards per game and fifth in percentage of red zone trips ending in a touchdown.

Leonard Fournette is good to go, which is huge news for the Jacksonville offense, which ranks first in rushing yards per game with 149.1. They are up against a 49ers defense that allows 119.1 yards per game on the ground. The entire NFL has been running all over San Francisco’s defense, so look for Fournette to have a monster game.

Seattle Seahawks (+4.5) @ Dallas Cowboys

PICK: SEAHAWKS TO COVER

NFL Week 16

Look for Russell Wilson to keep the Seahawks alive (Photo from Sports on Earth)

Seattle is coming off two straight losses, including a brutal 42-7 loss to the Rams a week ago. With that said, I don’t see Russell Wilson losing three in a row.

 

In his three games against the Cowboys, he is 2-1 and completing over 60 percent of his passes. Both teams are playing for their lives, so expect a thriller.

Luckily for Dallas, Ezekiel Elliott is back from his suspension and appears to be in even better shape than before. Seattle allows 112.9 rushing yards per game, which is subpar. But if they can hold Dallas to that much, they should be fine. This season, when the Cowboys rush for less than 120 yards, they are 1-4.

In an important matchup like this, pay most attention to the quarterbacks. Wilson is the far superior player to Dak Prescott. Prescott has Dallas ranked 24th in passing yards per game and has thrown seven interceptions in the last five games.

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (-6)

PICK: SAINTS TO COVER

After their Week 2 loss to the Patriots, New Orleans is a perfect 6-0 at home, outscoring opponents by about 11 points per game. Drew Brees is also playing elite football, as the Saints rank first in yards per game, second in touchdowns per game and third in points per game.

Their lethal backfield is averaging 135.1 rushing yards per game and rank first in rushing touchdowns per game. In the three games in which Atlanta has allowed over 136 rushing yards per game, they are 0-3.

The Falcons have done a nice job of turning their season around, but at this point, you have to give the edge to the home team, especially when they have the better quarterback. In Brees’ career against Atlanta, he is 15-9 with a completion percentage of 67.8 and 45 touchdowns. Look for him to have a very efficient game as Atlanta ranks 28th in opposing completion percentage.

 

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Julio Jones fantasy

Julio Jones breaks through in fantasy with monster game

We all know how good Julio Jones is. He is one of the best receivers in the league. He has had his struggles this season, with only one touchdown and two 100-yard games through the Falcons’ first 10 games. However, through those 10 games, he has only had three games under 70 yards, which isn’t all that bad in fantasy, but not what you expect from Jones. In fantasy, he only had three double-digit games.

But Jones has reminded us all why he is still the best receiver in the game. He had a breakout game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with season highs in catches (12), receiving yards (253) and two touchdowns.

Jones is back! Now with the performance fantasy owners have been waiting for, along with the Atlanta Falcons getting hot, Jones could be the key getting your team in the playoffs.

His breakout game

For much of the game, Jones had more total yards than the entire Tampa Bay offense. He ended with 253 receiving yards, while Tampa Bay had 283 receiving yards as a team and just as many scores.

The first big play for Jones was out of the wildcat on a 51-yard touchdown pass from receiver Mohamed Sanu. The other, just around five minutes later, showcased a double move so deadly that it left Buccaneers defensive back Ryan Smith on his backside. Jones dove over the pylon for his second score. In standard scoring, he had 38.8 points and in PPR he had 50.8 points.

Julio Jones fantasy

Julio Jones (Photo from bostonherald.com)

On a side note, Jones had some accomplishments after the game against the Bucs. His 253 yards was the most allowed by the Buccaneers in franchise history. He also passed Hall of Fame receiver Lance Alworth with most receiving yards through 90 games in NFL history.

Coming into this game, Jones had just one touchdown and his yards per game (78.6) were the third-worst of his career. In fantasy coming into Sunday, he had 84.6 fantasy points, averaging 8.5 per week, which ranked 23rd among receiving in standard scoring.

As said before, it’s just not been the best season for Jones, but not all that bad. He just hasn’t put up the fantasy stats that he usually does since he is lacking touchdowns. After this game, it looks as if Jones could be back on track, having big games down the stretch with the Falcons finding some luck.

What to expect at this point

The big question that comes to Jones is will he find the end zone on a consistent basis. We all know he’s capable because of how good he is, and now he’s getting some confidence in his game. He does have a tough hill to climb in three of his next four. He plays Minnesota next week, followed by New Orleans, Tampa Bay and New Orleans again.

Julio Jones fantasy

Julio Jones and Justin Hardy (Photo from usatoday.com)

His most difficult in terms of matchups is probably against the Vikings and Xavier Rhodes. Minnesota has an outstanding defense, but in terms of fantasy performance against opposing receivers, the Vikings haven’t been as dominant and have struggled in the past couple of weeks. Three weeks ago, Minnesota gave up 181 yards and a score to Redskins wide receivers. On Thanksgiving, Lions receivers caught 12 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Most of the damage on Thanksgiving came from Marvin Jones Jr., who resembles to how the Falcons use Jones. Jones Jr. had six catches for 109 yards and two scores.

The matchup against the Saints could go either way. The biggest question is if rookie Marshon Lattimore will play. He was injured last week against Washington, and the Saints struggled against Washington’s receivers. He was also absent for the Saints’ Week 12 matchup with the Rams. Lattimore is a big reason for the improvement of the Saints secondary. If he plays, he could pose a challenge against Jones.

As for Tampa Bay, read the opening paragraph. Hint, pray you don’t play against him in fantasy that week.

Biggest Takeaway: Falcons are hot

The big takeaway of this is the Falcons are hot. After struggling to finish games earlier in the season, they have gained some momentum similar to last year.

In fantasy, they could have key players down the road if they keep playing like they have. Players like Sanu, Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman when he comes back and other offensive weapons could become a threat for fantasy players these next four weeks. If you have any Falcons players, use them accordingly, because this could be the time they have their best fantasy performances of 2017.

 

Featured image from si.com.

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Julio Jones fantasy

Is Week 12 a new start for Julio Jones?

Julio Jones has been one of the most productive and reliable wide receivers in fantasy football since he entered the league. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 220 pounds, he’s a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. He is usually a solid first-round pick in fantasy football too. However, this year hasn’t been the same.

Through ten games of the 2017 NFL season, Julio Jones had 786 receiving yards and only one touchdown. Through ten games in 2016, Jones had 1,105 yards and five touchdowns. There is clear regression in his play, and injuries and regression of quarterback play are clearly the reasons behind it.

Struggles

Through this season, Jones has had nagging injuries that have caused him to miss practices and snaps during games. In Week 4, Jones had to leave the game against the Buffalo Bills due to a hip flexor injury that caused him to miss extended time. Jones had offseason surgery to remove a bunion from his right foot after his 2016 season ended on a negative note due to turf toe, which kept him limited through the end of the season into the playoffs.

Other than injury, a cause of his decline may be the result of Matt Ryan’s play. After a terrific 2016 season capped off by a trip to the Super Bowl and an MVP award, Ryan has seen his play regress from last year, which is warranted. Through 11 games, he’s already thrown one more interception than he did all of last season and is on pace for a worse completion percentage. Last season marked Jones’ lowest reception per game stats since 2012. This season has been just the same.

Ryan has also gotten used to spreading the ball to his other receivers and running backs, causing a lack of receptions for Jones, who is on pace for 96 receptions this season. The emergence of Mohamed Sanu as a legitimate No. 2 receiver also has an effect on Jones. Sanu has already matched his touchdown receptions from last year and is on pace to top his yards and receptions from last year.

Bounce back

Julio Jones fantasy

(Photo by Matt Patterson/AP Photo)

Week 12 may be a bounce-back week for Julio Jones, and fantasy owners can rejoice. Jones exploded for 12 receptions for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He doubled his receptions per game and touchdowns and more than doubled his yards per game. Before this week, Jones was only the 23rd ranked receiver in standard leagues. Jones now outscored every other receiver while having his third career game over 250 receiving yards.

Should fantasy owners be expecting a return of the Julio Jones we all have come to love? Yes, they should. Over the last five games of the season, the Falcons go up against the Buccaneers, Vikings, Panthers and the Saints twice. Jones should continue to see the most targets on the team and should succeed in a big way against the Buccaneers again, as well as the Panthers. He may struggle against Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings secondary, but will continue to see more targets and more work in the red zone.

 

Featured image from bostonherald.com

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Stack your money Sunday’s: Week 12

Week 11 Review (2-1) OVERALL: 21-10-2

Buffalo Bills @ Los Angeles Chargers (-4)

Los Angeles Chargers 54 Buffalo Bills 24

This game was laughable from the jump. The fact that the Bills thought it was smart to go with Nate Peterman against this monster pass rush is mindboggling. Peterman threw not one, not two, not three, not four, but five interceptions in the first half alone. He had six total completions.

After the game, head coach Sean McDermott claimed he did not regret his decision to start Peterman, which is a wild statement. McDermott should have been fired at halftime for essentially ruining the Bills chances of making the playoffs. Luckily, McDermott had enough brain cells left and named Tyrod Taylor the starter for this week’s contest against the Chiefs.

After an 0-4 start, the Chargers are on a roll. Not only did they slaughter the Bills, but they also manhandled the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Philip Rivers gobbled up the Cowboys defense, and Jason Garrett probably should have grabbed Tony Romo from the booth and thrown him in behind center.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) @ Dallas Cowboys

Philadelphia Eagles 37 Dallas Cowboys 9

Like stated before, the Cowboys are a total disaster. Without Sean Lee and Ezekiel Elliott, this team has no chance. Since Zeke was suspended three weeks ago, Dallas is 0-3, and has been outscored 92-22.

Jay Ajayi is loving life as a member of the Eagles (247Sports)

The Eagles just keep on rolling and look like the best team in the NFC. It would be hard to say they are better than New England, because if the Super Bowl was tomorrow, the Patriots would most likely be favored, mainly because of that quarterback they have.

Still, Philly is now first in the league in scoring, third in total yards and fourth in first downs. Their defense has been phenomenal, allowing the fewest rushing yards in the league, and causing the third most turnovers. Carson Wentz looks like the favorite for MVP, but there is still plenty of football left to play.

 

Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks (-3)

Atlanta Falcons 34 Seattle Seahawks 31

There is usually no need to blame a coach for a loss, but Pete Carroll, come on man! That fake field goal attempt was an epic disaster. The Seahawks defense sure missed Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, as their poor play on key downs ended Seattle’s 11-game win streak on Monday night.

Atlanta converted 64 percent of their third down attempts, including eight of their first 10. Per usual, Russell Wilson played his heart out, with three total touchdowns and 86 yards on the ground. However, a costly fumble led to an Adrian Clayborn scoop and score, which gave the Falcons a 21-7 lead. With both teams sitting at 6-4, it will be interesting to see if both of these teams earn spots in the postseason.

Week 12 Picks

Seattle Seahawks (-5.5) @ San Francisco 49ers

PICK: SEAHAWKS TO COVER

Although the Seahawks let us down a week ago, they are still a good football team. Sitting at 6-4, a loss against the 49ers would be inexcusable. Since 2012, Seattle is 16-6 in November, while the 49ers are 1-7 in their last eight November games. After picking up their first win of the season, the Niners are sticking with C.J. Beathard, which is a positive for Seattle. In his four games, Beathard has a completion percentage of 54.3 and has thrown five interceptions.

Wilson has won his last seven contests against the 49ers (MercuryNews)

Seattle comes into this one with the 10th best scoring offense, while San Francisco allows the third most points per game. The 49ers defense is allowing close to 380 yards per game, which is 27th in the league, and not a good sign going up against Seattle’s offense, who is among the top-10 in terms of yards per contest.

Even though they are depleted from injuries, Seattle still held reigning MVP Matt Ryan to under 200 yards passing. In his one game against a team with a winning record, Beathard threw for only 167 yards and completed 47.2 percent of his passes with a pair of interceptions.

Seattle’s defense comes into this one ranking top-10 in both passing yards and rushing yards allowed per game. They are fourth in opposing completion percentage, and are the sixth best team in terms of opposing red zone drives ending in a touchdown.

The 49ers score the least amount of touchdowns per game, and after this L to Seattle, look for Jimmy G to hop in.

Chicago Bears @ Philadelphia Eagles (-13)

PICK: EAGLES TO COVER

The Eagles have been playing elite all year, especially at home. They have yet to lose at Lincoln Financial Field and have outscored their opponents by 22 points in their last four home games. Chicago has only covered once this season when playing on the road.

All the numbers point to the Eagles dominating this one. They are the highest scoring team, going up against the 27th ranked offense. The Eagles are also second in the league in opposing third down percentage, and are impossible to run on. The Bears rely heavily on the run and will be in big trouble if Trubisky is forced to throw the ball.

Tennessee Titans (-3.5) @ Indianapolis Colts

PICK: TITANS TO COVER

The Titans go into the matchup following a brutal loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 40-17. The offense was totally outmatched, and Tennessee’s lethal backfield was held to just 52 yards rushing. The good news is, the Colts let up 111.3 rushing yards per game. When the Titans rush for at least 100 yards, they are a perfect 4-0.

Jacoby Brissett will start, despite having a possible concussion. Brissett has led the Colts offense to 27th in yards per game, and dead last in percentage of red zone opportunities ending in a touchdown. When these teams met in Week Six, the Titans had 473 yards of total offense, and won 36-22.

 

Featured image by OregonLive

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NFL Week 11

Stack your money Sundays: Week 11

Week 10 Review (3-0) OVERALL: 19-9-2

Minnesota Vikings (-1) @ Washington Redskins

Minnesota Vikings 38 Washington Redskins 30

In an emotional return to the sidelines for Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum could not be stopped. Did Bridgewater’s return spark Keenum to play big, knowing that his job is on the line? Maybe, but whatever it was, keep it up Case!

The former Houston standout threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. He was extremely efficient, completing 21 of his 29 passes and was also never sacked in the contest. Adam Thielen had a monster day, hauling in eight receptions for 166 yards and a score.

Minnesota was also able to rush for over 100 yards, while limiting the Redskins to just 81 rushing yards on 27 carries. In the article leading up to this game, we talked about how the Vikings were ranked sixth in third-down conversions, while the Redskins ranked 19th in opposing third-down conversions. As expected, Minnesota went 8-12 on third-down conversions.

The Redskins put up a fight, as Kirk Cousins threw for 327 yards while Vernon Davis and Jamison Crowder each had 76 receiving yards. Unfortunately, their poor defense and lack of run game left them just short. They now sit at 4-5 while the Vikings are looking great at 7-2.

New York Jets @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 15 New York Jets 10

This was one of the ugliest games of the season. It was a double revenge game, as both quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown, faced off against their former teams. It literally took until 6:05 left in the fourth quarter for a touchdown to occur. Imagine paying to sit through this disaster.

Both teams were unable to rush for over 100 yards, and the Bucs won while throwing for only 187 yards and scoring one touchdown. Since 2007, teams that threw for under 190 yards, rushed for less than 100 and scored only one touchdown have a .129 winning percentage. Shout out to the Bucs for beating the odds.

New England Patriots (-7.5) @ Denver Broncos

New England Patriots 41 Denver Broncos 16

NFL Week 11

The GOAT (Photo from Boston Herald)

The Broncos have fallen so hard, and it’s honestly sad. After stopping Brady and the Patriots on the opening drive, Denver muffed the punt and gave the ball right back. From that point on, the game was over. Tom Brady continues to defy odds as he had a miraculous three-touchdown, 125.4 quarterback rating performance.

Brock Osweiler continued to do Brock Osweiler things. He was inefficient with his throws and unable to make any big plays.

To Osweiler’s defense, Denver’s D did not help him at all. They have now allowed the fourth most points in the NFL, and are second to last in defensive turnovers. So yeah, Brock isn’t great, but Denver’s defense is playing at an all-time low. They should be able to rebound this week against the Bengals.

 

WEEK 11 PICKS

Buffalo Bills @ Los Angeles Chargers (-4)

PICK: CHARGERS TO COVER

So a rookie quarterback is going on the road against a Philip Rivers team, and Rivers only has to win by four? Sign me up. Luckily, Rivers was a full participant in practice and looks ready to go.

To much surprise, Tyrod Taylor was benched in favor of Nathan Peterman, the former Pitt quarterback. As crazy as this move seems, it kind of makes sense. Under Taylor, the Bills were 30th in passing yards, 27th in first downs, 28th in total yards and 24th in passing touchdowns. Peterman, who played well in garbage time against the Saints, will most likely be handing the ball off over 30 times to a running back.

San Diego’s defense, although shaky against the run, has done a pretty solid job as far as keeping teams off the scoreboard. The Chargers rank ninth in opponent points per game and third in opponent points per play. As far as the red zone goes, they are the No. 1 defense in terms of percentage of red zone trips that end in touchdowns.

Rivers has won 60 percent of his home games in November, which is absolutely respectable. He is clearly the better quarterback, and his defense, which does a great job of not allowing points, is going up against one of the weakest offenses in the league. In their last 18 road games during the months of November-January, the Bills are 4-14. Not a good road team this late into the season.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) @ Dallas Cowboys

PICK: EAGLES TO COVER

No Sean Lee means major problems for Dallas. The Cowboys fear that their star linebacker could miss several games due to his hamstring injury. Without Lee in the lineup, Dallas is a completely different defense. In Lee’s first six starts of the season, the Cowboys held opposing teams to just 80.3 rushing yards per game. In the two games he missed in October, the Cowboys allowed 164 rushing yards per game.

NFL Week 11

The favorite for MVP, Carson Wentz (Photo from The Undefeated)

When Lee was in against Atlanta, the Falcons had four carries for negative two yards. Even without Devonta Freeman for a majority of the game, Atlanta ended up with 132 yards on 34 carries.

The Eagles are arguably the best team in the NFL, and are also coming off a bye. Carson Wentz looks like the MVP of the league, as his Eagles are fourth in yards per game, second in points per play, third in third-down conversion percentage and first in red zone scoring efficiency on touchdown drives.

Not only is their offense second in the league in points per game, but Philly’s defense is tenth in the league in regards to fewest points allowed. They also do an exceptional job of defending on third down, ranking third in opposing third down percentage. When it comes to defending the run, the Eagles are first in opposing rushing yards per game, as well as opposing rushing first downs per game.

No Ezekiel Elliott and no Sean Lee might be too much for Dallas to overcome, especially against the hottest team in the league, who is fresh off a bye.

Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks (-3)

PICK: SEAHAWKS TO COVER

Not only have you been stacking your money on Sundays, but now you should invest and stack some more on Monday.

Seattle, coming off a Thursday night win, has had an extended amount of time to prepare for this one. The Richard Sherman injury will sting, but it won’t kill this potent defense.

Matt Ryan has been shaky all year, and will most likely continue this trend on his way to Seattle. The Seahawks are allowing the fifth fewest points per game and the fourth fewest points per play. This team defends the red zone well and ranks sixth in opposing touchdowns per game. Atlanta has been an average offense that turns the ball over too much.

In his career at home in November, Russell Wilson is 11-2. Contrary to this, Ryan is 8-9 on the road in the month of November. The Seahawks offense is seventh in total yards and second in terms of total passing yards. Wilson has only thrown six interceptions and ranks in the top 10 in yards per pass.

Atlanta turns the ball over more, is on the road and has the weaker quarterback. This should be a solid win for Wilson and the Seahawks.

 

Featured image from Zimbio.com

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Devonta Freeman fantasy

Fantasy football Injury: Devonta Freeman

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman suffered a concussion on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. He did not return to the game after the injury.

That led to the speedster Tevin Coleman taking over for Freeman. Coleman could be in line for some production and become a fantasy asset should Freeman miss time.

Tevin Colman Outlook

Coleman set season highs with 20 rushing attempts and 83 rushing yards. He also found the end zone on a one-yard plunge in the last moments of the second quarter and caught a pass for five yards. In his first eight games this season, Coleman had just 63 carries with 316 yards, giving him an average of five yards per carry. He also had one rushing touchdown on the year, and has been a threat in the receiving game with two touchdowns.

Devonta Freeman fantasy

Tevin Coleman (Photo from thefalcoholic.com)

The former Indiana Hoosier star has an explosive presence out of the backfield to make himself a high-end RB2 with RB1 potential. It doesn’t matter how he does it whether it’s running, catching etc. He will make things happen. He proved that last season with 941 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage on 149 touches.

One thing with Coleman, along with the Falcons offense, is consistency. In Week 8 against the New York Jets, he had an impressive 104 total yards. The following week against the Carolina Panthers he had just 24 total yards. It happened earlier in Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills when he had 142 total yards and in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins he had only 36 total yards. Some of that is due to the Falcons’ struggles in the past few weeks closing out games.

But Coleman will have tremendous value. As reported on Monday, it looks as if Freeman will miss the game next week on Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks following his second concussion.

Fantasy impact on The Falcons offense

To the concern of whether Coleman’s impact as the starter affects the Falcons’ surrounding offensive players, fantasy owners shouldn’t be too worried. However, don’t think this could impact the Falcons receivers.

Devonta Freeman fantasy

Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu (Photo from cbssports.com)

Coleman is a great receiving back that can catch the ball out of the backfield. There could be days where he has better receiving numbers then other Falcons players.

Now for Julio Jones owners, of course this means very little, even if Coleman has a better game. Others like Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel and Austin Hooper could have less targets because of Coleman playing more snaps. The Falcons should continue to use their weapons as frequent as they have all season though. For Matt Ryan, this gives him another weapon and possibly more fantasy points.

Overall, Coleman will be used in any way they need him on offense, but the Falcons will use everyone to move the ball downfield.

Conclusion

In the end, Coleman should have value even when Freeman comes back from injury. If he is not owned, now is the time to get him as he isn’t available in a lot of leagues.

Devonta Freeman fantasy

Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman (Photo from si.com)

As for Freeman, he is expected to miss at least next week as mentioned before. When he comes back, he will be back to the role he had all season as the main back and split time with Coleman as long he doesn’t have any setbacks.

Expect the Falcons to ease Freeman back in form and use Coleman a little more.

 

 

 

 

Featured image from atlantafalcons.com. 

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