Week 13 NFL picks

Week 13 NFL picks against the spread

After posting a 4-11-1 mark against the spread last week, my streak of awful weeks is now at three. A 72-95-8 record for the year makes my eyes hurt, but the beat goes on.

My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.

Thursday Night 

Redskins (-1.5) at *Cowboys – Even though the winner of this game is far from a lock to reach the playoffs, this basically amounts to an elimination game. Dallas is on a string of blowout losses, and Washington has been wildly inconsistent all year long.

There was no doubt losing Ezekiel Elliott has hurt the Cowboys, but three consecutive single-digit offensive outputs is a bit extreme. So extreme that it must change sooner rather than later.

Washington is still the most injury-riddled team in the league. Also, it is often smart to take home underdogs in rivalry games. Dal 20 Was 17

Sunday

Broncos (-1.5) at Dolphins – Yikes, what an awful game. Trevor Siemian and Jay Cutler get their respective starting quarterback gigs back for this one. That may not be a good thing for either team.

These teams are in very similar spots, but Denver’s defense is a little better and still playing hard. That unit is still a top 10 defense in almost every major statistical category. Combine that with the mini spark Siemian gave the Denver offense late in last week’s game, and the Broncos are slightly better equipped to be the ones to break their long losing streak. Den 16 Mia 13

Lions at Ravens (-3) – With more interceptions than touchdowns on the year, Joe Flacco is struggling. Despite that, Baltimore continues to win behind a decent ground game, solid defense and great special teams. This team is reminiscent of the ones that carried Flacco deep into the playoffs early in his career.

Detroit is also a factor in the playoff race in their conference, but they are the exact opposite of Baltimore. Quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to carry this franchise, but the ground game remains nonexistent. The defense has also given up over 24 points in each of the last three games. Stafford has led enough scoring drives for Detroit to win two of those games, but this defense will not allow that. Bal 24 Det 17

Texans at Titans (-6.5) – Tennessee took control of the AFC South with last week’s comeback win. The offense is still nothing special, but dealing with Tom Savage should allow the Titans defense to dominate this one. Ten 23 Hou 14

Colts at Jaguars (-9.5) – Jacksonville embarrassed Indianapolis in their matchup earlier this year. However, relatively speaking, Indianapolis is playing much better since then. They have held the lead heading into the fourth quarter of their last three games.

Jacksonville is trending ever so slightly the other way. They have struggled to put away Cleveland and lost to Arizona in recent weeks. Unless the defense goes off, they have a hard time winning without having to sweat it out. Fortunately for Jags fans, that has happened often enough to keep them in the playoff race, but 9.5 is too many points here. Jac 17 Ind 13

Chiefs (-3) at *Jets – Kansas City is a shell of the team that started 5-0. Scoring 19 total points in their last two games is not a great way to head in to a matchup with a gutty Jets team that runs the ball and plays defense well enough to cause any opponent problems. Nyj 19 KC 16 

Vikings at Falcons (-3) – With back to back 30+ point outings and a three game winning streak, Atlanta is starting to look like the team most people thought they would be before the season. This offense is perfectly suited to the turf they play on in their new home. Minnesota continues to roll behind the shockingly stellar play of Case Keenum. In a game that could very well turn into a shootout, it is foolish not to pick a Matt Ryan led offense at home. Atl 35 Min 28

Patriots (-8.5) at Bills – The Patriots are rolling along as usual after a somewhat slow start. Buffalo got up off the mat in Kansas City last week and is still very much in the playoff mix.

However, this team just is not the same since the bizarre flirtation with backup quarterback Nathan Peterman. Tyrod Taylor has his job back, but the organization clearly wants nothing to do with him beyond this year. It is hard to trust a team like that, especially when they are playing the reigning Super Bowl champions. NE 34 Buf 20

49ers at Bears (-3) – Both teams are having tough years, but the San Francisco starting debut of Jimmy Garoppolo provides some intrigue here. There is no shame in getting shredded by Carson Wentz the way the Bears were last week. The Chicago defense is by far the best thing either team has to offer in this one. Chi 20 SF 14

Buccaneers (-2) at *Packers – Brett Hundley is coming off his best game, the Packers are at home and Tampa Bay is starting a quarterback who is returning from injury. Jameis Winston has not won a game as the starter since Week 3. How is Green Bay an underdog here? GB 24 TB 17

Browns at Chargers (-13.5) – The Chargers are suddenly a trendy pick to reach the playoffs. Given the talent on the roster and the way the rest of the AFC West is playing, it is perfectly reasonable.

Week 13 NFL picks

Photo from si.com

The winless and undermanned Browns pose no threat to denting those hopes, but this is a big number, and Cleveland has taken better care of the ball in recent weeks. Add in the long-awaited return of Josh Gordon and they should be able to keep this one close enough. LAC 27 Cle 17      

Panthers at Saints (-4) – Carolina is quietly doing some really good things in the running game and on defense during its current four-game winning streak. As strange as it sounds, Cam Newton has been the closest thing to a weak link. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes last week. That is not a great sign when heading on the road to face an equally talented division rival that has already whipped you once this year. NO 28 Car 20

Rams (-7) at Cardinals – The Rams did a nice job of taking advantage of some key injuries on the New Orleans defense last week. A healthy Arizona secondary will provide a much stiffer test this week. The Cardinals are pesky, and Blaine Gabbert has made the most of his current opportunity.

However, there is a reason the former first-round pick started the year as the third stringer. Gabbert is not playing the organization that drafted him this week. He should come back down to Earth a little bit and struggle to keep up with one of the best offenses in football. LAR 35 Ari 24

Giants at Raiders (-8.5) – Until this week, I thought there was no such thing as tanking in the NFL. Then the Giants benched two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning for Geno Smith. Smith has been in the league since 2013 and has a record of 12-18 as a starter.

Week 13 NFL picks

Photo from newyork.cbslocal.com

Smith has no shot at being the Giants’ future quarterback. This season has been a disaster for the Giants, and Manning certainly has not played well. Even so, no sane human being can rationally argue that Smith gives the Giants a better chance to win.

The only thing Smith is there to do is put New York in a better position to draft one of the highly coveted quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. The Raiders are a long way from being a great team, but at least they are trying to win. Oak 30 NYG 13

Eagles (-6) at *Seahawks – There is no denying that the Eagles are really good, but they have not had many road tests against teams playing well at the time of the game. This certainly qualifies, as did the Kansas City game early in the year that accounts for their only loss. This is still a really young football team. It will be interesting to see how they handle the situation.

Seattle has plenty of holes. However, Carson Wentz is not the only MVP candidate in this game. Win or lose, Russell Wilson will throw himself into that conversation after this game. The Seahawks have been in countless games like this one for the better part of seven years. Their defense is no longer dominant, but is still more than good enough. Experience is the difference in a minor upset here. Sea 24 Phi 21

Monday Night

Steelers (-5.5) at Bengals – The Steelers are the better team, but their tendency to play down to their competition should make betters a little nervous. However, Pittsburgh has won 13 of 16 meetings between these two rivals this decade. With their star power, the Steelers offense is going to score a decent amount of points against just about everybody.

Cincinnati has scored over 30 points just twice this year. Both occasions were against Cleveland. There is nothing to suggest that the Bengals have the horses to keep up in this matchup. Pit 31 Cin 20

 

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2017 NFL power rankings Week 13

2017 NFL power rankings: Week 13

December football is upon us, and as the weather gets colder, the NFL playoff races are heating up. Three teams have been officially eliminated from playoff contention; Cleveland, San Francisco and the New York Giants. New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Minnesota have comfortable leads in their division, but will be fighting for first-round byes and home-field advantage over the coming weeks. There is a lot of football left to be played, and a lot can change. Here are the current 2017 NFL power rankings for Week 13.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-11)

Last week: 32 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Los Angeles Chargers

There is no surprise here as the Browns are dead last in the NFL. Cleveland continues to lose games and is only five losses away from going 0-16 just one season after going 1-15. The Browns’ remaining schedule is pretty tough, and 0-16 seems like a certainty.

It is hard to find any bright spot for this franchise, but going 1-31 over the course of two seasons is likely as bad as it can get. The only way to go is up, and that is the only good thing to look forward to if you’re a Browns fan.

31. San Francisco 49ers (1-10)

Last week 31 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Chicago

The 49ers played tough against Seattle, but are still preparing for a top three pick in next year’s draft. San Francisco could mess that up this week by traveling to Chicago to take on the Bears. This is a winnable game for the 49ers, but should they try to win it?

It will be interesting to see if Jimmy Garoppolo finally starts after going two for two for 18 yards and a touchdown. Or the 49ers may just tank this year and roll with him as a backup.

30. New York Giants (2-9)

2017 NFL power rankings Week 13

(Photo from http://www.sportingnews.com)

Last week: 30 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Oakland

New York has officially been eliminated from the playoffs after many expected them to be a playoff team. It has been a lost season to say the least, and they must determine which direction they need to go for the future.

Eli Manning shouldn’t be going through a rebuild this late into his career. The defense is loaded with talent, and if they can retool the offensive line, then they may be closer to being more competitive than they have been in this season.

29. Denver Broncos (3-8)

Last week: 28 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Miami

Denver has had a surprising downfall this season, but what can you expect with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch as your quarterbacks? Yes, Peyton Manning wasn’t the same during their Super Bowl run, but was still 10 times better than what they have now and was still vital to their success. Denver needs to finish the rest of the season without earning another win so they can draft a new signal caller to lead them into the future.

28. Chicago Bears (3-8)

Last week: 25 (-3)

Next game: home vs. San Francisco

Chicago was beaten so badly they had to complain about the dancing the Eagles were doing. John Fox has done a pretty good job building this team, and more specifically the defense.

However, their lack of competitive spirit this past week is concerning. If the Bears look this bad at home against San Francisco, then it should be time to fire Fox and bring in an offensive mind that can make sure the decision to trade up for Mitch Trubisky doesn’t haunt this franchise for the next 10 years.

27. Indianapolis Colts (3-8)

Last week: 29 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Jacksonville

Indianapolis is still extremely competitive despite their treacherous record. Two weeks ago, they fought the Steelers in a 20-17 loss.

This past Sunday, they fought another playoff contender, the Tennessee Titans, to a 20-16 loss. The defense has improved as of late and is giving up just 18 points per game over the last three games.

Jacoby Brissett is playing the role of game manager well on the offensive side of the ball. If the defense can play like this when Andrew Luck returns, along with having a high draft pick, it will go a long way in helping them reach the postseason next year. For now, the Colts are going to enjoy playing spoiler for the rest of this season.

26. Miami Dolphins (4-7)

Last week: 27 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Denver

Miami got after Tom Brady and hit him numerous times, but it wasn’t enough. The Dolphins fell 35-17 as Brady threw for four touchdowns against them.

Miami is stuck in the middle with issues all over their offense. The only bright spot is Jarvis Landry, who puts up consistent numbers despite never having an elite quarterback to get him the ball. The defense is also underperforming, giving up 36.7 points per game over their last three.

They might be able to get a win this week against the Broncos, but in the end, it won’t mean anything but a lower draft pick.

25. New York Jets (4-7)

Last week: 26 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Kansas City

The Jets are still competing in games, but won’t make the playoffs and won’t get a chance to have a top three pick either. They are stuck in the middle and in mediocrity.

New York fell to the Panthers and now they get to face the free-falling Kansas City Chiefs. A win is possible for the Jets this week, but winning this game won’t accomplish much.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)

Last week: 19 (-5)

Next game: away vs. Green Bay

Tampa Bay was undefeated with Ryan Fitzpatrick until this past week when they lost to the Falcons. Jameis Winston is close to being healthy, but should the Bucs put him back in the lineup? The Buccaneers are a long shot to make the playoffs, which is why they should protect their franchise quarterback for the long term. They should ride with Fitzpatrick the rest of the season because it is over.

23. Houston Texans (4-7)

Last week: 20 (-3)

Next game: away vs. Tennessee

Tom Savage should not be in the NFL. When I think of Tom Savage and the comparison to other professional athletes that looked completely lost in the pros, I think of Smush Parker of the Los Angeles Lakers back in the mid-2000s. Savage can’t get the job done, and the fact that he has a job and Colin Kaepernick doesn’t is just blasphemous.

Either way, the Texans travel to Tennessee this week with a chance to play spoiler to a divisional foe.

22. Arizona Cardinals (5-6)

Last week: 24 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Los Angeles Rams

Who is this Blaine Gabbert that the Cardinals have found? Gabbert has thrown for 498 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in limited action this season, but head coach Bruce Arians thinks he is the future at the quarterback position after Carson Palmer retires.

That is pretty bold after all the issues he had in Jacksonville. Let’s see how he does against the Rams this week now that he has the support behind him.

21. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

Last week: 22 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Detroit

One of the most unexplainable things of the NFL season is how the Ravens sit at 6-5. This team has no offense whatsoever, but have still won six games.They are 18th in scoring, 11th in rushing and 32nd in passing. Baltimore’s defense has done the majority of the work, holding teams to just 17 points per game, which is the second best mark in the NFL.

Baltimore does not look like a playoff team and will more than likely miss the playoffs. If they do find a way to hold Detroit under 20 points and pull out a win, then maybe I’ll begin to change my mind and hop on the Ravens’ playoff bandwagon.

20. Green Bay Packers (5-6)

Last week: 23 (+3)

Next game: home vs. Tampa Bay

It has to be disheartening for the Packers to get a career game from Brett Hundley and still lose. After the performance he put on against the Steelers, it is clear to see that no matter how well Hundley plays, the Packers are doomed. At 5-6 they aren’t completely out of the playoff race, but climbing back into it will take a miracle considering the level of competition they have remaining.

In their final five games, Green Bay must face the Panthers, Vikings and Lions. The chances of them winning all these games are very low, and the Packers will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

19. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

Last week: 21 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Pittsburgh

The Bengals looked dead in the water at 0-3, but have managed to go 5-3 since then. Their defense is still playing at a high level, ranking 10th in scoring defense. Cincinnati gives up a lot of yards, but keeping people off the scoreboard is what really matters. The offense finally got some help in the ground game last week as Joe Mixon ran for a career-high 114 yards.

If they can keep this up against the Steelers, it will keep the Killer B’s off the field and possibly lead to an upset. This upset would put the Bengals back in the thick of the Wild Card hunt.

18. Oakland Raiders (5-6)

2017 NFL power rankings Week 13

(Photo from http://www.businessinsider.com)

Last week: 17 (-1)

Next game: home vs. New York Giants

The Raiders were able to get a win, but barely won against a bad Denver team. On a somewhat positive note, the Raiders seem to have the fighting spirit a team needs to beat adversity.

How do I know that they have this fighting spirit? Well, they are literally getting into fights. Michael Crabtree will be suspended one game for his role in the fight, and that really hurts Oakland as Amari Cooper went down with a concussion.

Oakland has an easy opponent this week, but will really need to pick it up to save their season.

17. Dallas Cowboys (5-6)

Last week: 12 (-5)

Next game: home vs. Washington

There was nothing to be thankful for in Dallas as the Cowboys got completely railed by Philip Rivers and the Chargers on Thanksgiving. Dak Prescott and the rest of the Cowboys offense is struggling without Ezekiel Elliott.

If the Cowboys don’t right the ship this week, their season is likely over. To turn their season around, they need Dak to channel some of the greatness he displayed last season. But that may be asking too much.

16. Washington Redskins (5-6)

Last week: 15 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Dallas

Washington’s season has been an up and down roller coaster. One week they look like a legitimate contender and the next they are blowing double-digit fourth-quarter leads.

Washington is not out of the Wild Card race as their final five games are against the Cowboys, Chargers, Cardinals, Broncos and Giants. If the Redskins get hot at the right time, they could make a run in the playoffs. It all starts this week with their biggest rival.

15. Detroit Lions (6-5)

Last week: 14 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Baltimore

Detroit fought valiantly against the Vikings, but they were outmatched by a better team. In a recent press conference, head coach Jim Caldwell said to not count them out, and he was spot on. This team is sitting on the outside looking in, but at 6-5, they are all but out of it.

Their schedule is extremely favorable too. Their remaining opponents have a combined record of 23-32. All five of their games are winnable, and they can even lose one and finish 10-6. 10-6 should get them into the playoffs.

14. Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)

Last week: 9 (-5)

Next game: away vs. New York Jets

Two years ago, it was the Falcons that started out 5-0 but finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Last year, it was the Vikings who started out 5-0 but finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

It seems like the team to continue this trend will be the Chiefs. They started this season out 5-0 and looked completely unstoppable. They even beat the Philadelphia Eagles.

Since then, they have gone 1-5, and the wheels have fallen off. Andy Reid can’t avoid the constant barrage of questions involving Patrick Mahomes, but he has shot down any idea of the rookie replacing Alex Smith.

Kansas City needs to find their explosiveness to turn the ship around before it is too late. The Jets are the perfect opponent for that.

13. Buffalo Bills (6-5)

Last week: 18 (+5)

Next game: home vs. New England

After a failed experiment to bring in rookie Nathan Peterman, the Bills wised up and started Tyrod Taylor again, and it resulted in a win over the Chiefs. The win put Buffalo right back into the thick of the Wild Card race in the AFC.

Buffalo should have never benched Taylor because the loss to the Chargers could hurt in the long run. Now the Bills must face the hated Patriots this week, and it will likely result in a loss and further make the playoff race even more jam-packed.

12. Tennessee Titans (7-4)

Last week: 11 (-1)

Next game: home vs. Houston

Tennessee won this week, but didn’t look great against the Colts. It was their first ever win in Lucas Oil Stadium, but nevertheless, it should have come much easier.

The Titans sit comfortably in a playoff spot, but if they can’t get Marcus Mariota playing at the level he was at last year, then they will have a short stint in the playoffs. Tennessee also needs to make sure they stay committed to the run in order to succeed. The Titans will be facing a banged up Texans team, but all divisional games are difficult.

11. Seattle Seahawks (7-4)

Last week: 13 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Philadelphia

Seattle found a way to beat the 49ers, which wasn’t hard for them to do. For the first time in his career, Russell Wilson has to carry the team on his back. The offensive line is weak and the defense had been decimated with injuries.

Wilson has been up to the task thus far, throwing for 3,029 yards, 23 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He has also added three rushing touchdowns.

The Eagles will be their toughest test this season, and winning it will vault them right in the conversation of teams to beat in the NFC.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4)

Last week: 7 (-3)

Next game: home vs. Indianapolis

This week was a perfect example of why some are so skeptical of the Jaguars. They lost a game in which they should have won because Blake Bortles threw a late interception. The only way this team can succeed is if they run the ball over 30 times a game and play legendary defense. They are capable of this and should pick up another win against the Colts thanks to that amazing defense.

9. Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)

Last week: 16 (+7)

Next game: home vs. Cleveland

At 5-6, some may see the Chargers at nine and lose their mind, but they are one of the top 10 teams in the NFL regardless of what their record says.

In Week 1, the Chargers had a potential game-tying field goal blocked. In Week 2, Younghoe Koo missed a field goal that would have won them a game against the Dolphins. Their other close losses include a two-point loss to Philadelphia, an eight-point loss to the Patriots and a three-point overtime loss to the Jaguars.

Thanks to the decline of the Chiefs, the Chargers can still win the division. At 5-6, they can also earn a Wild Card berth. The Chargers could very well end up in the playoffs because they have won five of their last seven.

This week they get the winless Browns for a shot to get to .500. Do not sleep on the Chargers as their defense has them streaking.

8. Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

Last week: 10 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Minnesota

Atlanta can thank Julio Jones for their win against the Buccaneers. Jones had his third career game of 250 or more receiving yards. This week, getting 100 yards will be tough as he will see Xavier Rhodes. If the Falcons win this game, it will prove to the rest of the league that they are back in the thick of this NFC race. If they lose, then they will fall closer to missing the playoffs.

7. Carolina Panthers (8-3)

2017 NFL power rankings Week 13

(Photo Credit by Getty Images/Abbie Parr)

Last week: 8 (+1)

Next game: away vs. New Orleans

Carolina just keeps racking up wins, and nobody is talking about them. Their most impressive accomplishment of the season nobody seems to talk about either. They beat New England in Foxborough back in Week 4. People would rather remember their loss to the Bears though it seems.

Cam Newton seems to get trashed more than he gets praised, but at the end of the day, he wins games. Newton has led the Panthers to a 29-14 record in his last three seasons.

Carolina has a chance to beat New Orleans and take over first place in the NFC South this week. It is going to be tough to do on the road. The Panthers just keep on pounding, and they shouldn’t be overlooked.

6. New Orleans Saints (8-3)

Last week: 5 (-1)

Next game: home vs. Carolina

New Orleans is not helping their case for any tiebreakers when it comes to first-round byes. They have lost to the Vikings and Rams within the conference. Their win earlier in the season against the Panthers has them in first in the division, but a loss to the Panthers this upcoming week will change that.

The Saints can’t allow the injuries to derail them. New Orleans does have the pleasure of playing at home this week, and it could be the difference maker.

5. Los Angeles Rams (8-3)

Last week: 6 (+1)

Next game: away vs. Arizona

Los Angeles responded nicely after a loss in Minnesota. The Rams bounced back to beat a popular and streaking Saints team. Los Angeles did it with defense by holding the Saints to just 20 points, which is nine points less than their season average. They were able to do so well because they kept the ball away from the Saints by holding the ball for over 35 minutes.

Going forward, the Rams will be looking to lock up the division, but need to hold off the Seahawks who are right on their tail.

4. Minnesota Vikings (9-2)

Last week: 4 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Atlanta

The Minnesota Vikings ate the Lions up on the Thanksgiving to get to 9-2. Their defense is one of, if not the best in the NFL. Their defensive front is stout and talented. Defensive end Danielle Hunter has six sacks and a forced fumble while his counterpart Everson Griffen leads the NFL with 12 sacks.

The Vikings also rank second in the NFL in rushing yards allowed at just 75.5 yards per game. Their linebackers are fast and athletic enough to play both the run and the pass. The secondary is led by Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith, who are both Pro Bowlers. There is no weakness on this defense, which makes them hard to beat.

With all that said, it is the offense that helps this team really win games. They run the ball well, and it opens up everything for Case Keenum, who is slinging the ball to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. The true success comes from the offensive line, which has paved the way for the sixth-ranked rushing attack and only given up 12 sacks in 11 games. Minnesota is a team nobody wants to play come January.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2)

Last week: 3 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Cincinnati

The Steelers got the job done, but it wasn’t pretty against the Packers. A defense that had been great all season let Brett Hundley have a career game. Hundley threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Pittsburgh had to edge it out with a 53-yard game-winning field goal by Chris Boswell. Pittsburgh will need to iron out the kinks before the playoffs start to avoid an early exit.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)

Last week: 2 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Seattle

Philly continues to roll, but won’t be No. 1 in these rankings until they get some quality wins. Beating Chicago isn’t a quality win. Nine of their 10 wins have come against teams below .500. Their only impressive win has come against the Carolina Panthers.

This week, they have a chance to build their resume by traveling to Seattle. A win on the road in Seattle would show that the Eagles are truly the team to beat in the NFC.

1. New England Patriots (9-2)

Last week: 1 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Buffalo

It may sound boring, or like a broken record, but the Patriots are the best team in the NFL. That shouldn’t even be a debate.

Eagles fans won’t like this, but the truth is the Patriots are experienced and have the greatest coach and quarterback of all time. Oh, and by the way, they have a defense that is playing at a very high level, allowing just 20 points per game this season.

At the end of the year, the Patriots will be in the AFC Championship game at the very least and most likely the Super Bowl.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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NFL Week 12 picks

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks Week 12

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 No. 1 priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself on 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 is 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 12 NFL picks.

Last week: 9-5

Overall: 95-64

Thanksgiving games

 

Sunday Morning

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) 20 @ Atlanta Falcons (6-4) 24: This is a big game for both teams. A win by the Buccaneers can put them back in the Wild Card race while a win for the Falcons could give them more control of the Wild Card spot they currently hold.

Tampa Bay is 2-0 since Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in for Jameis Winston, but those wins came against the Jets and Dolphins. The Falcons present a much more difficult task. At this point, the Falcons are the better team and should win this game at home.

NFL Week 12 picks

(Photo from Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

Cleveland Browns (0-10) 13 @ Cincinnati Bengals (4-6) 26: Cincinnati gets to play the Browns at an opportunistic time. The Bengals are just one game back of the Ravens, who are 5-5 and the sixth seed in the AFC.

Cincinnati needs to go on a pretty epic run to make the playoffs, but it is possible. They should have no trouble shutting down the Browns offense. Keep your heads up Bengal fans, the season is not lost yet.

Tennessee Titans (6-4) 37 @ Indianapolis Colts (3-7) 24: Tennessee needs to bounce back after getting embarrassed on Thursday Night Football last week. The Titans are going to run the ball early and often down the throats of the Colts. Indy will have trouble trying to stop DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. If they find a way to stop them, then Marcus Mariota will get loose. The Colts have a shot to win because it is a divisional game, but the Titans are the better team.

Buffalo Bills (5-5) 23 @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) 34: Both Buffalo and Kansas City are in a downward spiral. The Bills have lost three straight games, and the Chiefs have lost four of their last five.

Both teams still can make the playoffs, but the Chiefs’ chances are better than the Bills’. This game has the feeling of a must-win for Buffalo, but their quarterback situation has become a mess. The Chiefs will finally get their offense clicking again to get back to their winning ways.

Miami Dolphins (4-6) 3 @ New England Patriots (8-2) 31: This game is a complete mismatch. Miami has little to no chance of beating the Patriots in New England. The Dolphins have been shut out already this season, and it could happen again this week. New England has only given up 12.5 points per game during their six-game win streak. Oh, and the great Tom Brady has thrown for 3,147 yards, 22 touchdowns and just two interceptions. The G.O.A.T is going to pick apart the Dolphins, and it could get ugly.

Carolina Panthers (7-3) 22 @ New York Jets (4-6) 10: Carolina has had two weeks to prepare for the Jets thanks to their bye last week. The Panthers defense is the best defense that nobody seems to be talking about. Carolina ranks fifth in scoring defense (18 points per game), third in rushing defense (80.6 rush yards per game), fourth in passing defense (197.4 pass yards per game) and second in total defense (278 yards per game). They will cause major problems for the Jets offense.

Chicago Bears (3-7) 17 @ Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) 31: Eight of the Eagles’ nine wins have come against teams with a .500 win percentage or lower. Philly feasts on the bottom feeders of the NFL, and they will do so again this week with the Bears coming into town. The Eagles offense will fly high, and the defense will cause a ton of problems for rookie Mitch Trubisky.

Sunday Afternoon

NFL Week 12 picks

(Photo from http://www.seahawks.com)

Seattle Seahawks (6-4) 20 @ San Francisco 49ers (1-9) 17: Seattle almost pulled off a win against the Falcons despite there numerous injuries. Russell Wilson worked magic to keep them in that game, and he will be too much for the 49ers defense. San Francisco will lose no matter who they start at quarterback, but Jimmy Garoppolo gives them the best shot at pulling off the upset.

Denver Broncos (3-7) 17 @ Oakland Raiders (4-6) 27: Oakland is struggling this season, but they just fired their defensive coordinator. The Raiders have yet to force an interception this year. Oakland’s defense has let them down, and the offense isn’t picking up the slack.

Denver has completely fallen off, losing six straight games, and have named Paxton Lynch the starting quarterback. They will be looking to see what he has to see if he can be the next franchise quarterback. He won’t win this game, but he will play better than Trevor Siemian.

New Orleans Saints (8-2) 30 @ Los Angeles Rams (7-3) 31: This is the best matchup of the week. New Orleans is coming off a 15-point fourth-quarter comeback while the Rams are coming off a loss to Minnesota in which they didn’t score over the final 55 minutes of the game. These are two high-powered offenses with very talented defenses. The Rams need to bounce back, and since they are at home, they will find a way to edge out a win.

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) 28 @ Arizona Cardinals (4-6) 14: Jacksonville is in control of the AFC South. They control their own destiny. The Jaguars have made excellent strides this season thanks to their spectacular defense. If they want to become serious contenders, they can’t lose games to inferior teams like the Cardinals.

The other big storyline in this one is that Blaine Gabbert has a chance to beat the team that drafted him. Jacksonville will force Gabbert to turn the ball over three times to get another win.

Sunday Night

Green Bay Packers (5-5) 23 @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2) 33: The Packers are a mess without Aaron Rodgers and will not be able to win this game if the Steelers take them seriously. Pittsburgh has a tendency to play down to the level of their competition. Just take a look at their game two weeks ago against the Colts. They may keep it close for a while, but the Steelers will pull away in the end.

Monday Night

Houston Texans (4-6) 19 @ Baltimore Ravens (5-5) 21: This is a tough game to pick. The Ravens aren’t a great team, but the Texans have lost a ton of their star players to injury. Last week they pulled off an unexpected win against the Cardinals because they put up a ton of points. They won’t have an easy time scoring against the Ravens. Baltimore will win because of their defense.

 

Featured image by AP Photo/G. Newman Lowrance

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Week 12 NFL picks

Week 12 NFL picks against the spread

The last two weeks have made finishing the year with a winning record seem like a pipe dream. I was just 4-9-1 against the spread last week and now sit at 68-84-7 on the year, but there is still lots of football left to be played.

My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Thursday

Vikings (-3) at Lions – These teams are tough to wrap your arms around, but this Thanksgiving Day tilt is dripping with playoff implications. The Lions continue to get away with slow starts more often than they should. Matthew Stafford is the only reason for that. They have no balance whatsoever and have not had a 100-yard rusher in four years.

Case Keenum is playing way above his head. He has given the Vikings enough cushion so that they are almost certainly a playoff team. Even so, it is hard to think that he will not eventually come back to earth. For now though, the Vikings play better defense and run the ball better than this week’s opponent. Holding the Rams to seven points was the most impressive outing from a defense all year. Min 24 Det 17

Chargers (-1) at *Cowboys – The Cowboys’ season is on the line here. They have been physically dominated the last two weeks. With the AFC growing more mediocre by the week, the Chargers are also very much in the playoff mix, but they have to travel a fairly long way on a short week. Dallas tends to play well in their traditional Thanksgiving time slot, so they will find a way to win here. Dal 24 LAC 23

*Giants at Redskins (-7) – Washington has been the better team this year, but they lost their best running back last week in addition to their late-game collapse. Whatever playoff hopes they had probably went by the boards too. Given all that, they may check out on the season.

New York’s upset of Kansas City last week should provide incentive for them to keep playing hard. Timing is everything in this matchup and the timing is right for an upset. NYG 23 Was 20

Sunday

Bills at Chiefs (-10) – This is the first of many large spreads this week. Both of these teams are struggling in a big way. They each look miles away from the teams that got off to two of the best starts in the league.

Kansas City is still in firm control of the AFC West despite losing four out of five games. Andy Reid has earned the benefit of the doubt and will likely get his team back on track before long. Alex Smith has regressed from being an MVP candidate in the first part of the season back to being the average Alex Smith that everyone should be used to. The Chiefs still have playmakers all over the field though.

It is hard to have that same confidence in Buffalo right now. Mercifully, the Nathan Peterman experiment ended after one disastrous half against the Chargers last week. The Bills are still very much in the AFC Wild Card mix. However, even with Tyrod Taylor back under center, Sean McDermott may have already lost this team.

Buffalo has given up 135 combined points during its current losing streak. Yet, they tinkered with the quarterback rather than the defense? It is absolutely mystifying, and it must feel that way for some of the players too. The walls are closing in on Buffalo. A trip to Kansas City will not make it any better. KC 24 Buf 13

Panthers (-4.5) at Jets – After being picked to go winless by many before the season, the Jets have fought the good fight all year long. But at 4-6, reality is starting to set in. Carolina has won three in a row and are finally figuring out how to use the young talent they drafted to help Cam Newton, who is also finding consistency. These two teams are headed in opposite directions. The Panthers keep rolling. The Jets keep fading. Car 28 NYJ 20

Bears at Eagles (-13.5) – The Eagles are showing no signs of slowing down. Carson Wentz is really good, and it seems like he gets help from different offensive weapons every week.

Meanwhile, Chicago has not been winning games consistently since rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky took over. They have been playing teams like Detroit, New Orleans and Minnesota right to the wire though. The Bears run the ball and play defense well enough to hang around with anybody in this league. Additionally, they do not even have to keep this one all that close to be a winning bet here. Phi 28 Chi 17

Browns at Bengals (-8) – Believe it or not, the Bengals are just a single game out of an AFC playoff spot. The winless Browns are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot as well. Take your pick as to which of those two facts is more unbelievable.

Week 12 NFL picks

Photo from USA Today

The Browns keep losing, but have played well in patches over the last handful of weeks. Moreover, the Bengals never blow anyone out, especially when they are supposed to. Look no further than the Indianapolis game from about a month ago. A.J. Green will make a big play late to help Cincinnati avoid disaster. Cin 16 Cle 13

Dolphins at Patriots (-16.5) – As usual, New England is the class of the AFC and Miami is far from it. Even so, 16.5 points in any NFL game is too many to give up. In a game between division rivals, it feels like stealing. NE 31 Mia 17

Buccaneers at Falcons (-10) – The Falcons are getting a little too much credit here. The win in Seattle was massive and impressive. Even so, Atlanta has been chasing consistency all year. After dismantling the Aaron Rodgers led Packers, they lost home games to Buffalo and Miami. Thus, it is hard to see them blowing out a Tampa Bay team that is suddenly playing much better with veteran backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at the controls. Falcon fans will have to bite their nails late in this game. Atl 27 TB 24

Titans (-3) at *Colts – Indianapolis is not very good, but Jacoby Brissett has had them in almost every game since taking over the starting quarterback job. This includes a meeting earlier this year with Tennessee where the Colts led heading into the fourth quarter before collapsing.

The Titans offense has just become stagnant in recent weeks. They are either in a low-scoring battle or getting blown out every week. It is fair to wonder whether or not Mike Mullarkey is the right coach to get Marcus Mariota to the next level. Brissett makes a play late, Mariota does not. Ind 28 Ten 24

Seahawks (-7) at 49ers – It is foolish to sell your Seahawks stock. Yes, the defense is injured and aging. However, in their last two losses, they have missed four combined field goals and had a bizarre attempt at a fake. If even one of those plays is different, no one is panicking about the Seahawks right now.

As long as Russell Wilson stays healthy, this team will be in every game and win most of them. San Francisco is scrappy, but undermanned here. They are the perfect team for Seattle to play right now. Sea 27 SF 13

Broncos at Raiders (-5) – These bitter AFC West rivals had legitimate playoff aspirations at the start of the year and are now a mess. They almost seem to be trying to match each other’s dysfunction. Denver fired its offensive coordinator this week. The Raiders sent their defensive coordinator packing.

Week 12 NFL picks

Photo from clutchpoints.com

Paxton Lynch will finally get a legitimate crack at being the long-term quarterback answer in Denver starting with this game. With everything going on, this had to be a tough game for Vegas to put a line on. Anything could happen here. Even though Denver already shut him down once this year, Derek Carr is still better than anything the Broncos have on offense at the moment. Oak 21 Den 14

Jaguars (-4.5) at Cardinals – Jacksonville is a lot like Minnesota. They have a really good defense and some nice skill players, but their limitations at quarterback will eventually doom them in or before the playoffs. They are fortunate to be playing against quarterback Blaine Gabbert this week. Despite playing well in defeat last week, the former Jaguars first-round pick is just the kind of quarterback that Jacksonville’s sack and turnover happy defense has feasted on all year long. Jac 24 Ari 14

*Saints at Rams (-2.5) – The Rams are still very much a factor in the NFC, but they were humbled by a very good Vikings defense last week. This week is just a bad matchup. No one has ran the ball better than New Orleans over the last month. The Rams are in the bottom third of the league in rush defense. The new style of the Saints does not revolve solely around Drew Brees, and it travels very well. NO 24 LAR 21

Packers at Steelers (-14) – Swallowing this many points in an NFL game is normally foolish, but there is no reason not to do it here. The Pittsburgh offense is almost always going to produce regardless of the opponent.

It is the defense that has been a fairly well kept secret on their current five-game winning streak. They have not allowed more than 17 points in any game during the streak. The Packers have scored more than 20 points just once since Brett Hundley stepped in for injured Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay was shutout last week. It is hard to see a much different scenario in this one. Pit 35 GB 17

Monday Night

Texans at Ravens (-7) – The Texans were finally able to scrape together a win with Tom Savage at quarterback last week. It was more than likely too little too late though. Sometimes all you have to do is say it out loud. Savage is going on the road to face Baltimore defense that has shutout two of its last three opponents. This is going to get ugly. Bal 24 Hou 10

 

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2017 NFL power rankings week 12

2017 NFL power rankings week 12

There are only six weeks remaining in the regular season and teams are beginning to take their place in the standings. Only one team has officially been eliminated, and you guessed it, the Browns are that team. There are a ton of questions still left to answer but here are how the teams rank currently.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-10)

Last ranking: 32 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Cincinnati

The Browns are heading toward a 0-16 season which has only been done once before by the Detroit Lions. Looking at their schedule, there are two games in which they have a shot at winning. December 17th versus Baltimore and on Christmas Eve at Chicago. Now just because they are winnable doesn’t mean the Browns will pull off the win, everything about the Browns this season is totally embarrassing. No matter what happens the rest of the season it is hard to envision a scenario where they ever move out of this spot.

31. San Francisco 49ers (1-9)

Last ranking: 31 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Seattle

Since the rankings were done the 49ers have won a game but they didn’t move up because the Giants won another game as well. The 49ers are in prime position for a top three pick but if they start Jimmy Garoppolo they have a better shot to win more games. Because he could win them some games, it makes sense that they haven’t started him yet.

San Francisco is looking toward the future and adding another top three pick to this roster could give them the talent to be competitive for the next 10 years with the other moves they have made. This season though they are stuck in this spot in the rankings.

30. New York Giants (2-8)

2017 NFL power rankings week 12

(Photo Credit: BILL KOSTROUN/AP)

Last ranking: 30 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Washington

In a big surprise, the New York Giants upset the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime. It was only the second win of the season for the Giants. The win doesn’t do much for the Giants other than pushing them from the second overall pick to the third. It could have been the win that forces the Giants to keep Ben McAdoo which would be disastrous for the future of New York.

29. Indianapolis Colts (3-7)

Last ranking: 29 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Tennessee

The last time we saw the Colts play they blew a chance to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their next game is a divisional contest against the Tennessee Titans. The game will likely be close because divisional games are always more difficult. Jacoby Brissett is doing a solid job since being traded but he is struggling to put points up as the Colts are only averaging 17.9 points per game. Indianapolis will remain competitive but they too are preparing for the NFL draft.

28. Denver Broncos (3-7)

Last ranking: 28 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Oakland

At one point the Denver Broncos were 3-1 and looked like a formidable team. Since then the Broncos have lost six straight games and have fallen into the top five of the draft. The quarterback situation is a mess and can be considered the worst in the NFL. The defense is no longer fearsome and elite. Everything is crumbling in Denver and it may be time for a complete rebuild.

27. Miami Dolphins (4-6)

Last ranking: 27 (no change)

Next game: away vs. New England

Similar to the Broncos, the Dolphins were once in a great position in the standings. Miami was sitting at 4-2 but has lost four straight games. The Jay Cutler experiment has been a total failure as he has only thrown for 1,603 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has also been in and out of the lineup because of injury. Miami has also traded away their starting running back. The season is going to continue to nosedive and the season is all but over.

26. New York Jets (4-6)

Last ranking: 19 (-7)

Next game: home vs. Carolina

The New York Jets are stuck completely in the middle of mediocrity. They win just enough games to not get a top three pick and lose enough games to not make the playoffs. This week they get the Carolina Panthers who are one of the top teams in the NFL. They will have trouble scoring as they average just 20.1 points per game and the Panthers are giving up 18 points per game. The Jets will likely lose this game to remain mediocre.

25. Chicago Bears (3-7)

Last ranking: 24 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Philadelphia

Chicago was a missed field goal away from playing in overtime against the Lions. It led to a kicking change that might make a difference throughout the rest of the season. At worst the Bears are competitive but still a few pieces away from becoming a legitimate contender. This season they are playing for the development of their players and pride. Chicago will end up with a top 10 pick to continue their rebuild.

24. Arizona Cardinals (4-6)

Last ranking: 25 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Jacksonville

Despite the major injuries, and using their third quarterback of the season, the Cardinals are still fighting. Arizona is sitting at 4-6 and still have a slim possibility of making the playoffs. Blaine Gabbert got his first start in the last game throwing for 257 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He will be starting this week against the Jaguars in what will be his chance at revenge. It will likely hurt the Cardinals and possibly push them lower in the rankings.

23. Green Bay Packers (5-5)

Last ranking: 20 (-3)

Next game: away vs. Pittsburgh

The Packers are hanging around at 5-5 but a shutout loss at home to the Ravens doesn’t look promising. Aaron Rodgers is truly the only reason the Packers have been good in recent years and without him, the entire offense is lost.

The Packers’ brass needs to really think about finding a new general manager and coach that can build the rest of this team so that losing Rodgers doesn’t mean they get shutout. The season doesn’t get any easier this week with Pittsburgh on the schedule next.

22. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

Last ranking: 26 (+4)

Next game: home vs. Houston

Baltimore is fresh off a 23-0 win in Lambeau and now have positioned themselves for a run at a wildcard spot. The Ravens continue to do it with defense. Baltimore ranks third in points allowed per game with 17.1. They also rank second in pass defense allowing 185.2 yards per game. If they are able to put up 20 points in the rest of their games they should have a great shot at one of the two wildcard spots.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)

Last ranking: 22 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Cleveland

Just like Baltimore, Cincinnati is still fighting for a berth in one of the wildcard spots. The Bengals are fresh off a 20-17 win against Denver. Their remaining schedule has three divisional games and three games against the NFC North, the Packers not one of them. The schedule will be tough but winning five of these six games will give them a chance. Will the Bengals step up to the plate or miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season? My money is on the latter.

20. Houston Texans (4-6)

Last ranking: 21 (+1)

Next game: away vs. Baltimore

Poor Houston is just dealing with countless injuries or they would be one of the best teams in the AFC. Somehow they still managed to win last week against the Cardinals. Houston is still mathematically in the playoff race. The problem though is their remaining schedule is littered with tough tests including road games at Jacksonville, Baltimore and Tennesse. They also have to play the Steelers in Houston.

Houston will finish somewhere between five and seven wins which will leave them out of the playoffs. The good news is they will have a draft pick within the top 15 and therefore add talent to a team that is loaded with tons of talent already. The only thing that can stop the Texans in the future is bad health.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)

Last ranking: 23 (+4)

Next game: away vs. Atlanta

The Bucs have won two straight games with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center but the opponents have been the Jets and the Dolphins. This won’t keep up over the final six games with four divisional games still remaining. Tampa Bay has underperformed all season and it is unclear in which direction they are heading. They don’t have an identity. Dirk Koetter needs to use the rest of the season to form an identity to take into next year that way the Bucs can become a playoff team.

18. Buffalo Bills (5-5)

2017 NFL power rankings week 12

(Photo Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

Last ranking: 15 (-3)

Next game: away vs. Kansas City

A few weeks ago the Bills looked like one of the top 10 teams in the NFL. The butt whooping they just received from the Chargers, and their other recent losses show otherwise. In a head-scratching move, the Bills decided to start rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman from Pittsburgh. That didn’t turn out all too well as he threw five interceptions in the first half, more than Tyrod Taylor had on the entire season. Taylor finished the game but it was out of reach. This week they head to Arrowhead to face the Chiefs in a game that both teams desperately need.

17. Oakland Raiders (4-6)

Last ranking: 17 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Denver

It is somewhat puzzling to see how bad the Raiders are this year after such a successful 2016 campaign. The offense went from averaging 25.3 points per game down to 20.4 points per game this season. Derek Carr needs to step it up if the Raiders are to turn this season into a successful one. The defense also needs to pick it up, they are the only team without an interception yet this season. Oakland should have no trouble this week with Denver to pick up some confidence and momentum.

16. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)

Last ranking: 18 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Dallas

Do not sleep on the Chargers in the AFC playoff picture. This team is a few close losses from having a much better record and the defense is beginning to play at a high level. Los Angeles is giving up less than 20 points per game this year and has the fourth most interceptions on the season. As long as Philip Rivers protects the ball and they continue to feed Melvin Gordon then the Chargers will win most of their remaining games.

15. Washington Redskins (4-6)

Last ranking: 12 (-3)

Next game: home vs. New York Giants

Washington was in two close games against in the past two weeks against the Vikings and Saints, both of which resulted in a loss for the Redskins. Washington is a tough out for whoever they play but they won’t make the playoffs. The defense needs to be loaded with more talent to help an offense that ranks 12th in scoring and ninth in yards. If they can commit to Kirk Cousins and improve the defense then the Redskins can be dangerous next season. Right now though they must focus on playing spoiler.

14. Detroit Lions (6-4)

Last ranking: 14 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Minnesota

Detroit has a massive test this week with the Vikings coming into town on Thanksgiving but the Lions already beat the Vikes in Minnesota, 14-7. This game will likely be different because the Vikings have a lot of momentum and confidence due to a six-game win streak. Detroit needs to win this week to keep the division title within reach. The Lion’s defense will be key like it was in the first matchup with Minnesota.

13. Seattle Seahawks (6-4)

Last ranking: 13 (no change)

Next game: away vs. San Francisco

It is quite admirable how well the Seahawks performed despite losing two members of the Legion of Boom. If Blair Walsh could have put a little more power into his attempted game-tying field goal then the Seahawks might have gotten a win against the Falcons. With the injuries, the Seahawks are going through and their subpar offensive line, it will be a tough go for the Seahawks the rest of this season. Looking at their schedule though they should win around three more games putting them somewhere around 9-7. The Seahawks will not make the playoffs season.

12. Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

Last ranking: 8 (-4)

Next game: home vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Dallas is another team that shouldn’t be slept on in the playoff picture. Right now they are missing Ezekiel Elliot but if Sean Lee can get healthy then the defense becomes formidable. If the Cowboys can start playing solid defense they will make the playoffs. They can still run the ball effectively no matter who their back is. Once the offensive line becomes healthy again then Dak will feel more comfortable and play better. The Chargers will be a huge test and this is a must-win game.

11. Tennessee Titans (6-4)

Last ranking: 11 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Indianapolis

Not many people are talking about the Titans but they still have a shot to be a dangerous team. Marcus Mariota hasn’t fully hit his stride yet this season but the Titans have found a way to win six games stills. They run the ball well averaging 117.5 yards per game. Tennessee needs to unleash Mariota and let him sling the ball around. The Titan’s should get back in the win column this week against the Colts and would keep them in control of their destiny.

10. Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

Last ranking: 16 (+5)

Next game: home vs. Tampa Bay

Currently, Atlanta sits in the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs with the Lions, Seahawks, Packers and Cowboys right on their tail. Getting to the playoffs is going to be extremely difficult with their remaining schedule. They still must face the Panthers, Vikings and both the Buccaneers and Saints twice. All six games will be battles and the Falcons will likely lose half of these games putting them somewhere around 9-7. It may or may not be enough to sneak into the playoffs.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

Last ranking: 6 (-4)

Next game: home vs. Buffalo

No team has cooled off quite like the Chiefs have. At one point they looked like the most dominant team in the NFL. They are the only team this season to hand the Eagles a loss who most view as the best team in the NFL. Kansas City has floundered offensively and that is why they are losing games. Over their last three games, they are scoring just 18.3 points per game, eight points less than their season average. If the offense can get rolling again then the Chiefs will become dangerous again.

8. Carolina Panthers (7-3)

Last ranking: 10 (+2)

Next game: away vs. New York Jets

The media loves to talk about the bad things that Cam Newton does but the fact of the matter is he has led the Panthers to a roughly quiet 7-3 start. A bad loss to the Bears is the difference in this team from being the second seed as opposed to their current fifth seed ranking. Carolina will continue to play stifling defense and Cam will lead the offense. The Panthers should easily get to 8-3 this week with a road game against the mediocre Jets.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3)

Last ranking: 9 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Arizona

Jacksonville is the most dangerous team to the Patriots throne. Yes, you read that right. They have the defense that can actually cause problems in the postseason for the great Tom Brady. Playoff football becomes about who can punch who in the mouth defensively and who can run the ball. Well, the Jaguars can do both. Offensively the Jaguars average 160.6 yards per game, the best mark in the NFL. Defensively, Jacksonville is first in scoring defense, total defense and passing defense. Come January nobody is going to want to face the Jags and their elite defense.

6. Los Angeles Rams (7-3)

Last ranking: 4 (-2)

Next game: home vs. New Orleans

There is no shame in losing to the Vikings on the road but the shame does come from being the number one offense in the league and being held scoreless for the final 55 minutes of the game. Minnesota bullied the Rams and that is why the Rams fell two spots in the rankings. The road remains diffcult with the Saints coming into town. A loss here would put the Rams even lower in the rankings and out of contention for a first-round bye.

5. New Orleans Saints (8-2)

Last ranking: 7 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Los Angeles Rams

With an eight-game win streak, many believe the Saints are the only threat to the Eagles in the NFC. They are ranked fifth though because they did lose to the Minnesota Vikings in week one. Many want to discredit that because of how early it was in the season and that the game would be much different if they played now. That may be the case but that fact is they still lost to the Vikings.

Even so, the Saints have the makings of a Super Bowl contender. A win against the Rams could vault them higher into the rankings even if the top four teams end up winning this week. The Saints are marching right now, but what happens when adversity strikes? We will have to wait and see.

4. Minnesota Vikings (8-2)

Last ranking: 5 (+1)

Next game: away vs. Detroit

Minnesota fans, the Vikings aren’t getting much love right now but don’ let that worry you. These Vikings are great and are a team nobody will want to play in the playoffs. Minnesota’s defense isn’t ranked first in scoring defense but alot of points against them have come in garbage time.

Case Keenum is also being overlooked and he is the most improved player in the NFL this season. If you look at his stats last year, in Los Angeles, they were atrocious. The Vikings have a big game this week in Detroit. They will be looking for revenge from an earlier loss, but more importantly, they are looking to strangle their hold on the divisional lead they own. Getting to 9-2 will be a huge checkpoint in the race for the division title and a possible first-round bye.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)

Last ranking: 2 (-1)

Next game: home vs. Green Bay

Pittsburgh is winning but they don’t always win pretty. Two weeks ago they barely scraped by the Colts. The Steelers made everyone forget that performance with an annihilation of the Titans. The offense is rolling putting up 26.7 points and 352.3 yards per game in their last three. Pittsburgh is succeeding though because of their defense. The Steelers rank second in points allowed at 16.5 points per game. The Steelers are going to have a lot to say in the playoffs because of their play on both sides of the ball. This week they get the undermanned Packers.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)

Last ranking: 1 (-1)

Next game: home vs. Chicago

Before you grab your pitchforks and attack me for putting the Eagles at two in the rankings hear me out. The Eagles are a great team with an explosive offense that is soaring but they haven’t played the hardest of schedules. Eight of their nine wins have come against teams with a .500 record or worse. Being 9-1 is still impressive but would you take them to beat the Patriots, I wouldn’t. The Eagles are a great team, but they aren’t the best.

1.New England Patriots (8-2)

Last ranking: 3 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Miami

New England is the best team in the NFL, not the Eagles. New England is on a roll winning six straight games by an average of 14.3 points. The defense has become extremely hot giving up just 12.5 points per game during this six-game winning streak. There is no reason to think they won’t keep this up under the direction of Brian Belichick. Because the defense is rolling and they have the great Tom Brady it is safe to assume the Patriots will end up in the AFC Championship game and most likely the Super Bowl. Boston is home to the best team in the NFL.

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Chris Thompson fantasy

Fantasy options to replace Chris Thompson

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson was carted off with an air cast on his leg after he got rolled up on at an awkward angle against the Saints. It was reported after the game that he suffered a fractured fibula and will miss the rest of the season.

Thompson has emerged as a quality running back this season, especially in fantasy. He was 10th in fantasy points in standard scoring at his position as well as 11th in PPR with his ability to both run and catch out of the backfield.

This comes at a big point of the fantasy season with the playoffs coming up because of his versatility as a fantasy running back. It’s time to look at the next man up for Washington to fill the void for both the Redskins and your fantasy team.

The next man up: Samaje Perine

The Redskins will now be on their third running back due to injuries to Thompson and the original starter Rob Kelley (ankle). They will now run with rookie Samaje Perine.

Chris Thompson fantasy

Samaje Perine (Photo from NFL.com)

Perine becomes a priority pickup after the injury to Thompson. The rookie out of Oklahoma had a lot of hype early in the preseason as a candidate to take the starting job, but struggled early on with fumbles and lack of production.

But he has turned the page in the second half of the season. On Sunday, he had a career day against the Saints in relief, as he ran for 117 yards and a score on 23 carries.

Perine will mostly get his opportunities on the ground as he is more of a power back at 236 pounds, which is his strength. He can be in passing situations, but he will mostly be pounding the ball on the ground, especially on the goal line.

They will also mix in rookie Byron Marshall, who they picked up from the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad.

Flex option: Josh Doctson

From the passing game perspective, Redskins receiver Josh Doctson could be someone to look at to replace both Thompson and Terrelle Pryor.

Chris Thompson fantasy

Josh Doctson (Photo from detroitnews.com)

He is finally showing the production the Redskins had hoped for from their 2016 first-round pick. With Jordan Reed struggling with injuries and Pryor now out for the season, it has led to an increase in targets to Doctson. He tied his career high with seven in each of the past two weeks. This also included a solid game against the Saints as he caught four passes for 81 yards. He brought in several 50-50 balls, and Kirk Cousins seems comfortable passing to him.

Doctson’s upside and big-play ability have expanded his role as a top option in their offense.

Other options

This is a big blow, especially at this point of the fantasy season with a guy like Thompson. With the amount of injuries this season, there aren’t a lot of big names out there that are consistently producing. But there are a couple of options for the playoff push.

Fantasy owners in need of a running back should look to Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers and Danny Woodhead of the Baltimore Ravens. As for the flex position, Corey Coleman has been a big name in the wavier wire as well as Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who could return from his broken foot.

 

Featured image from thecomeback.com.

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Hagan's Haus NFL picks week 11

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks week 11

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 No. 1 priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself on 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 is 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 11 NFL picks.

Last week: 12-2

Overall: 86-59

Teams on byes: Carolina, Indianapolis, New York Jets, San Francisco

Thursday Night

Tennessee Titans (6-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2):

 

Sunday Morning

Hagan's Haus NFL picks week 11

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

Detroit Lions (5-4) 27 @ Chicago Bears (3-6) 16: When the Bears finally decided to start Mitchell Trubisky some thought they would make a run at the playoffs because Aaron Rodgers went down. The Bears are not going to do that and will be lucky to win six games this season but the future is bright. Matthew Stafford should have a field day at Soldier Field to send the Bears to 3-7.

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) 23 @ Cleveland Browns (0-9) 6: Cleveland will get another step closer to 0-16 this week as the Jaguars come to town. Jacksonville’s defense could force a shutout this week as they are allowing the fewest points per game at 14.9 while the Browns are averaging just 15.9 points per game. It would be a major upset if the Browns found a way to win.

Baltimore Ravens (4-5) 20 @ Green Bay Packers (5-4) 22: Neither team is really good but the Packers are struggling because they lost Aaron Rodgers. Baltimore is struggling because they have no offense. The edge should go to Baltimore because they are coming off a bye but they have to travel to Lambeau. I have no clue what will happen in this game but I have a feeling that Brett Hundley will have a big game.

Los Angeles Rams (7-2) 23 @ Minnesota Vikings (7-2) 24: This is the best game of the week and it should be in primetime. Both teams are 7-2 and in a battle for the second seed in the NFC. It is also a clash of styles with as the Rams have the third-ranked offense and the Vikings have the fifth-ranked defense. Typically in the past, when top defenses square off against top offenses the defenses win. That, paired with the Vikings playing at home gives Minnesota the edge. The Vikings win to continue their path towards a Super Bowl run.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) 27 @ Miami Dolphins (4-5) 26: These two teams are playing the game they missed in week one due to Hurricane Irma. Both teams were expected to make a playoff appearance but now it looks like neither will as both have looked horrible this season. This will be a dull game that is watched by few. Heck, picking the winner might come down to a coin toss. Actually, it will be a coin toss. Heads Tampa wins, tails Miami wins. It was heads.

Washington Redskins (4-5) 21 @ New Orleans Saints (7-2) 37: When looking at Washington all you can see is an average team which is why they continue to float around .500. Their loss to the Vikings all but ended their season. Traveling to New Orleans is going to make it even more unlikely that Washington makes a run at the playoffs. New Orleans, on the other hand, is on a seven-game win streak. Many are picking the Saints as the favorite to win the NFC. Washington will not be able to keep up with the Saints’ offense and fall in the Superdome.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) 27 @ New York Giants (1-8) 20: Kansas City is in need of a confidence builder and this is the perfect opportunity. The Chiefs have lost three of their last four games but are still one of the top teams in the AFC. The Giants are fighting for the top overall pick in the draft and are in tank mode. When this ends the score may be close but the game will never be in question. Kansas City will get back to their winning ways.

Arizona Cardinals (4-5) 24 @ Houston Texans (3-6) 21: Two or three weeks ago this would be an easy game to pick. Without DeShaun Watson, the Texans are struggling. The defense is banged up as well which means the Texans have nothing to rely on. The Cardinals are also banged up but are more prepared for the injuries they have. Arizona will ride Adrian Peterson to a win.

Sunday Afternoon

Hagan's Haus NFL picks week 11

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

Buffalo Bills (5-4) 14 @ Los Angeles Chargers (3-6) 24: Buffalo has made a quarterback change in the midst of a playoff race. This tells us one thing, they truly don’t believe they can make the playoffs. They are trying to get their young quarterback ready for the future with game time experience. Los Angeles plays good defense and will make it a huge challenge for Nathan Peterman. Los Angeles will win this game with a great defensive performance and two touchdown day from Melvin Gordon.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-6) 21 @ Denver Broncos (3-6) 20: Cincinnati and Denver are both 3-6 but the Bengals have looked better thus far. Cincinnati is still playing great defense while the Broncos have stopped excelling at everything. Denver will not be able to win this game because their offense is anemic. Andy Dalton will have one of the best games of his career to give the Bengals a win.

New England Patriots (7-2) 27 @ Oakland Raiders (4-5) 24: It seems like each week Oakland is playing in a must-win game. Once they get to six losses they will really be in must-win games if they want to make the playoffs. New England is still hot and rolling like they typically do. This game is in Mexico City and the Patriots have prepared for it by practicing in Denver all week. New England will win because they are going to be more prepared than Oakland.

Sunday Night

Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) 24 @ Dallas Cowboys (5-4) 27: This is an obvious trap game for Philly. All divisional games are difficult but this one will be even more difficult. The Eagles will be traveling to Jerry World to face the Cowboys who will be without Ezekiel Elliot or Sean Lee. Everyone is expecting the Eagles to win because they are both good and Dallas is banged up. If Dallas is going to win this game they are going to need a huge night from Dak Prescott. They will get it and Dallas will upset Philadelphia.

Monday Night

Atlanta Falcons (5-4) 24 @ Seattle Seahawks (6-3) 20: A win by the Falcons and they could throw themselves right into the thick of the wildcard race again. Atlanta has been struggling on offense this season but they will be able to score this week. Seattle just lost Richard Sherman for the season. He is the heart and soul of the defense and without him, the defense will lose their spark. The offensive line is also the weak unit of the offense and the Falcons will feast on it. Atlanta will win this game behind their defense.

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Nathan Peterman fantasy

Fantasy impact: Tyrod Taylor benched for Nathan Peterman

The Buffalo Bills announced on Wednesday that rookie Nathan Peterman will take over the starting job at quarterback over Tyrod Taylor. He will start on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers.

This move brings fantasy implications with the different style that Peterman has than Taylor. Peterman is a more traditional pocket passer that could give more opportunities to his receivers such as Jordan Matthews, Charles Clay and newly acquired receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Taylor is a more mobile quarterback with mediocre passing ability.

Peterman had a decent preseason, but struggled more than strived. He only completed 54.4 percent of his throws with one touchdown in 79 attempts against second-team defenses. Of course he doesn’t have the ability to move in the pocket or the speed that Taylor has along with the arm strength. He could be somebody in dynasty leagues, but it’s hard to tell as we have to wait and see how he develops. He should help the players around him right away by increasing their targets.

Lesean McCoy

A position that won’t change much is the running game. LeSean McCoy hasn’t played like the back he was in 2016, and the change in quarterback won’t do much helping him run the ball. Part of his struggles come from the lack of a passing game in Buffalo. With no passing game, it allows opponents to crowd the box.

However, McCoy could see some value in PPR leagues. To help Peterman get comfortable early, he could dump some short passes off to McCoy here and there to get going. Other than that, it’s hard to trust McCoy as a valuable asset even with the change. But this doesn’t mean he should be on the bench unless there are better options. He should be viewed as a RB2 from this point.

Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews

For the receiving corps, this could be a jumpstart with a more traditional passer.

Nathan Peterman fantasy

Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews (Photo from newyorkupstate.com)

Kelvin Benjamin struggled in his first game as a Bill. He caught three passes for 42 yards against the New Orleans Saints while playing the entire game from behind. The 6-foot-5 receiver isn’t a guy that will create separation. Pairing him with Taylor doomed him from the start because Taylor never showed any willingness to throw in tight spots, even with Benjamin’s size.

Now with a new quarterback, this could be a win for Benjamin. With Peterman’s ability to sling it and Benjamin’s size, this could create some opportunity for more targets. Even though they will still run a balanced offense, his value should rise as a WR2 or a high-end flex option with Peterman rather then Taylor.

As for Jordan Matthews, it could go the same way as Benjamin. He has had a lackluster first season in Buffalo. Matthews is more of a slot receiver that can create more space than Benjamin, which can give him more looks.

But like Benjamin, he doesn’t have the speed. Either way, both have potential at gaining some value. For Matthews, he could be a nice pickup as he will likely be available in most leagues.

Charles Clay

Charles Clay could be the one who benefits the most out of this move when all is said and done.

Nathan Peterman fantasy

Charles Clay (Photo from buffalobills.com)

One thing Peterman did in preseason and against the Saints more than Taylor was utilize the middle of the field. That benefits the tight end.

Clay could become the No. 1 option for Peterman on third down and red zone opportunities. That could lead to a couple of big scoring games from a fantasy perspective during the stretch run of the regular season.

The tight end position has been one of the more lacking in fantasy football all season. Clay could cash in and be the tight end that dominates for the rest of the season if he’s healthy. He has missed three games with an injury and if injured again, backup Nick O’Leary could be on the radar.

Tyrod Taylor at this Point

It’s safe to say the Tyrod Taylor era in Buffalo has come to an end. He played his last game as a Bill unless Peterman is injured. Taylor even playing at that point isn’t guaranteed. There have been rumbles all season about whether or not he should be the starter and questions about his willingness to play in Buffalo. It was a surprise he even came back. Now he will likely be traded or cut at the end of the year.

 

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