2017 fantasy football notes: Cram session

One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling unprepared. You forgot to study for a quiz and have as much knowledge about the subject as Alex Smith has on not being average. You’ve got an important presentation at work but forgot your briefcase at home.

Worst of all, your fantasy draft is tonight, yet you’ve spent the last six months watching baseball and catching up on your favorite guilty pleasure on Netflix. Your pulse reaches an unhealthy level as your heart races trying to think about how to prepare a draft plan good enough to beat your friends, yet you rank Adrian Peterson as your No. 6 running back because you think he’s poised for a great year with the Vikings.

But Adrian Peterson doesn’t play for the Vikings, and you’re screwed.

Fear not, lazy fantasy football player, I’ve got just the article for you. Let’s talk about all the big news and notes you missed so you can have a fighting chance to compete in your league this season.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: QUARTERBACKS

Marcus Mariota is undervalued

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: titansonline.com

Marcus Mariota is among the top 25 most attractive players in the NFL, and it turns out he’s pretty good at football too. Mariota was good enough to earn spot starts last season, and finished as the No. 13 scoring quarterback. He’s especially suited for fantasy football thanks to his rushing ability, and he’s gotten some upgraded toys to play with for 2017.

No shade at Rishard Matthews or Tajae Sharpe, but Mariota didn’t have the greatest receivers to throw to last season. The Titans signed Eric Decker during the offseason and drafted top wide receiver prospect Corey Davis with their first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. On top of that, Mariota plays with an elite offensive line and DeMarco Murray, who got back to his usual RB1 self last season.

Entering his third season, the myth of a sophomore slump cannot affect Mariota. Mariota was the top scoring quarterback from weeks five through week 12 of last season, which shows his upside is through the roof this season.

Mariota is being drafted as a fringe QB1 this season, which is way too low. Sit back and wait for Mariota as others grab overvalued quarterbacks, and then grab him once you’ve filled out your starting lineup and part of your bench.

Blake Bortles sucks at throwing footballs, but don’t overlook his volume

Sure, you may’ve spit up in your mouth a little due to reading the name Blake Bortles, and that’s fine. Bortles ruined Allen Robinson last season and made some of the worst throws of the season in 2016. However, while Bortles gets roasted by Twitter everyday, he could make for a good backup for your team.

Before you click the “x” in the upper right corner of your device, hear me out.

Bortles had the fourth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks in 2015, and followed that with the tenth-most points among quarterbacks last season. Even with all the hate Bortles gets, he’s still been a QB1 in each of the past two seasons.

I’m not saying you need to draft him as your QB1 this season, but you should at least consider the volume he’ll see. Leonard Fournette will suck in Jacksonville’s system unless they plan on taking less snaps out of the shotgun this season. Jacksonville started plays out of the gun more than every single team in the NFL except one last season, so don’t expect Fournette to be successful in his current system.

This paves way for Bortles to continue to see a bunch of pass attempts, and at some point they have to turn into touchdowns and 250-yard games. Bortles will most likely embarrass himself this season, and you’ll get heckled for taking him, but if quarterbacks are thin, take him as your QB2.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: RUNNING BACKS

Don’t be that guy who drafts Adrian Peterson

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: Associated Press

You thought I was kidding about Adrian Peterson no longer being a Viking, didn’t you? Well, I’m no Photoshop wizard, so the picture to your left with Peterson doning New Orleans Saints getup proves Peterson is a Saint this season.

I have no clue why the Saints signed Peterson this offseason. Mark Ingram was productive enough last season to be the eighth-best fantasy running back in PPR leagues. Drew Brees is still under center, so expect the Saints to continue to air it out this season, especially with Michael Thomas playing on the outside.

Ingram will most likely be the starter come Week 1, and even though Peterson will see touches this season, it won’t be enough to sustain any kind of success. Peterson managed just three games last season, and averaged just 1.9 yards per carry. He’s also topped 40 catches in a season just once in his career, compared to Ingram doing that in each of his past two seasons.

Peterson will be dropped halfway through the season by all active owners, so save yourself the trouble and keep Peterson off your team. You can score Terrance West, Robert Kelly, Tevin Coleman or even Danny Woodhead at Peterson’s price, and all of which offer much more upside and volume potential.

Eddie Lacy isn’t as fat as he used to be, but that doesn’t mean you should draft him

Eddie Lacy literally got paid this offseason to not be so chunky. Lacy’s always been overrated to me, but that hasn’t stopped others from clogging their arteries by drafting him. In case you missed it, Lacy is now a Seattle Seahawk, and he’ll be fighting off Thomas Rawls to get fed this season.

While the two were splitting time with the first team to open camp, it appears Thomas Rawls has taken over the bulk of the first team work, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times said on Aug. 9. For the near future, Rawls looks to be the starter.

Fantasy owners will draft Lacy for the same reason as Peterson, and that’s for name value alone. Rawls doesn’t have the name recognition, but he does have the advantage in terms his skillset. Rawls has much better lateral quickness and has forced more missed tackles over the course of his career. That ability is a necessity in a Seattle offense that has a terrible offensive line.

Marshawn Lynch is playing football again

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: raiders.com

At the end of the 2015-16 season, Marshawn Lynch called it quits even though it seemed he had more left in the tank. Well, Lynch okie-doked us all by coming out of retirement to join the Oakland Raiders.

With Latavius Murray now in Minnesota, Lynch will own the backfield for the Raiders. Oakland’s offense already owns one of the top one-two punches at wide receiver with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in Derek Carr. The talent is no longer shifted to benefit only the passing game with the addition of Lynch.

Lynch is the No. 15 running back according to the consensus Fantasy Pros rankings for 2017. Expect Lynch to end up as a low RB1 by season’s end. He’s ranked lower than Leonard Fournette, Isaiah Crowell and Carlos Hyde in the rankings, which is odd to say the least. Lynch is in a better offense and will receive the same if not more volume as the aforementioned players.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: PASS CATCHERS

Brandin Cooks now plays for the Patriots, and that’s not fair

Tom Brady has made his money by throwing to a bunch of late round draft picks and one large tight end that seems to party more than he plays. That changes this season with the addition of Brandin Cooks. The Patriots traded for Cooks during the offseason, and with that addition and other moves, there’s been pundits saying New England could go undefeated this season.

Cooks’ most notable trait is his speed. His catch rate on deep passes last season was 45.8 percent, good for fourth in the NFL. He also had 544 deep receiving yards which was second in the NFL. Patriots beat writers have raved about Cooks to start camp, which further proves he has a great chance to one of the best receivers Brady’s ever had.

I’ve yet to take Cooks in any drafts at his ADP, as his ADP is a little too high for my taste. However, taking Cooks as your WR2 could pay huge dividends for your team. He resides in a pass-heavy offense with one of the best quarterbacks of all time. I’m not quite comfortable with Cooks as my WR1, but if you have him as a WR2, your receiving corps will be solid.

Terrelle Pryor used to be a bad quarterback but now is a good wide receiver

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: redskins.com

Terrelle Pryor made a cool one-handed catch in training camp, and for one day fantasy football Twitter anointed him as the next coming of Randy Moss. But that’s what happens during the start of training camp, as our football-thirsty brains need something to sip on. Even so, Pryor is in line to become the No. 1 option in a pass-heavy offense this season.

Kirk Cousins may be his generation’s Alex Smith, as he’s as average as Philadelphia fans are angry. However, the Redskins’ poor defense and questionable running attack could give Pryor the chance to see a lot of targets.

Pryor had 1,007 receiving yards last season with the Cleveland Browns, and that’s as impressive as ESPN ignoring the impulse to tweet about Tim Tebow smacking a double in a low-level minor league game. Pryor was a low end WR2 last season, and his situation this season should allow him to be a solid WR2 again this season.

Martellus Bennett will clown around in Green Bay’s offense

Martellus Bennett signed with the Packers this season, making him the first player to sign with Green Bay during free agency since Bart Starr (that’s called sarcasm, folks). Bennett had a better season last year as a backup in New England than half of the starting tight ends in the NFL. Moving to a pass-heavy offense and playing with a future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers gives Bennett the chance to be a TE1 this season.

Bennett was fifth among tight ends in yards per route run last season at 1.96. This shows he took advantage of his time on the field better than nearly all tight ends. Bennett also dropped just two of his 57 catchable targets last season, which will please Aaron Rodgers (that’s a slight against Davante Adams, folks).

Bennett won’t have to battle anyone on the roster for snaps at tight end, so he has the upside to be a top tight end this season. He’s been drafted as a low end TE1 right now, but if you can get greedy and take him as a TE2, you’ll have a good problem on your hands midseason.

 

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NFL Top 100 Players 2017: 60-51

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

This is the fifth installment, containing players 60-51.

60. Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Top 100

Geno Atkins (Photo by bengals.com)

Atkins has been one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL for years now and is a five time Pro Bowler that should be making his sixth appearance in 2017. In 2016, his latest Pro Bowl season, Atkins had 32 total tackles and 9 sacks and was the best player on the Bengals’ defense yet again.

The Bengals’ defensive line has been thinning out in the talent department the last few years, but the two players who made this list, Atkins and Carlos Dunlap (#91), have done their parts. Cincinnati has added Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson via the NFL Draft to help out in the pass rushing department. If they can get to the quarterback, it should free up Atkins (and Dunlap) from facing a lot of double teams.

In 2017 Atkins will continue to be one of the best interior pass rushers in the NFL as well as be good against the run.

Comments: “You watch him play and tell me he doesn’t deserve to be higher.”- Robert Hanes

59. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota Vikings

NFL Top 100

Xavier Rhodes (photo by twincities.com)

The Vikings have a great, young corner in Rhodes, who has shown flashes of how good he can be in his first four seasons in the NFL. Rhodes went to his first Pro Bowl in 2016 while totaling 52 tackles, five interceptions, one touchdown, 10 passes defended and one forced fumble.

Rhodes often does a great job against an opponent’s best receiver, which often times means the ball isn’t thrown his way very much. He was a big reason why Minnesota was the third best defense against the pass in 2016, which is no small feat being in the same division as Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford.

In 2017 Rhodes will again be called upon to shut down great receivers and doing so could move him up in next year’s list.

Comments:  “This is asinine. Rhodes allowed 3.1 yards per pass attempt which was best in the NFL. He had five interceptions and a touchdown in 14 games. Rhodes locked Odell Beckham down so bad that Odell was saying football wasn’t fun anymore after the game. Rhodes is a top three corner and that is a fact.” -Matthew Hagan

58. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins

NFL Top 100

Jordan Reed (Photo by espn.com)

Reed has been phenomenal in his NFL career, when healthy. Unfortunately, he has been often injured. When he is healthy, he produces and is Kirk Cousins’ favorite target. In 2016 he played in 12 games and started eight. He still managed to record 66 receptions for 686 yard and six touchdowns.

While he was an average tight end in his first two years in the league, he has blossomed with Cousins over the last few seasons. Cousins will be under center, for at least one more season, so there is no reason to expect Reed to stop producing, unless he gets injured once again in 2017.

He is one of the best tight ends in the league and a dynamic offensive weapon. If Reed can stay healthy his presence will elevate the level of play on the Washington offense.

Comments: “Jordan Reed is a great tight end when he is healthy. He is a pure receiver that makes Kirk Cousins a better quarterback when he is on the field. With Desean Jackson and Pierrre Garcon gone, Reed will be even more of a go-to-guy for Cousins.”-Joe DiTullio

57. Kyle Long, OG, Chicago Bears

NFL Top 100

Kyle Long (photo by philly.com)

In his first four seasons in the NFL, Long has made three Pro Bowls. He missed the Pro Bowl in 2016, but only played in eight games. The most impressive thing for Long, and the Bears is that he was great at opening up holes for rookie running back Jordan Howard, who had four of his seven 100 yard rushing games when Long was in the lineup.

After an ankle injury ended Long’s 2016 season prematurely, he will be looking forward to having a good 2017 season. He will have to continue to open up holes for Howard and block for a new quarterback (Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky). The Bears’ offense won’t be great in 2017, but it won’t be because of Long.

If Long is able to come back healthy in 2017, he will reclaim his status as one of the NFL’s best guards.

Comments: “The Bears were bad which is the only reason Kyle Long doesn’t get the love he deserves. Long helped rookie Jordan Howard finish second in the NFL in rushing yards. Without Long, the Bears would be even worse,” -Matthew Hagan

56. Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins

NFL Top 100

Kirk Cousins (photo by cbssports.com)

He may not have a long-term contract, but Cousins has been turning heads in his two full seasons as a starting quarterback. Cousins had the third most passing yards in the NFL last season. In 2016 he finished with 4,917 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

A lot of Cousins’ receivers have left, but Washington has signed Terrelle Pryor to help fill the void. With him Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed (#58), Cousins will have enough weapons to be successful. He will also have one of the NFL’s best linemen, Trent Williams, protecting his blind-side.

If Cousins wants to have a long term deal, whether it’s from Washington or not, he will have to put up more good numbers in 2017.

Comments: “Yes the Redskins are an incompetent franchise but there is a reason they won’t commit to him long term. Kirk Cousins is an average quarterback that will not lead a franchise to a Super Bowl which is why I believe he should be lower.” -Matthew Hagan

“Numbers don’t lie. While I do not necessarily think he should be a lot higher I think this man can play Quarterback and do it well. Haters need to back off. Imagine if Jay Gruden wasn’t his coach?”- Robert Hanes

55. Alex Mack, OC, Atlanta Falcons

NFL Top 100

Alex Mack (photo by usatoday.com)

Mack endured playing on a bad Cleveland Browns team for the first seven years of his career but made the Super Bowl in his first year on the Falcons. He has made four Pro Bowls in his career and is one of the best centers in the NFL.

The Falcons had one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2016 thanks in large part to a good offensive line, which was led by Mack. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman all coming back the Falcons’ offense should be great once again.

If Atlanta wants to make it back to the Super Bowl they are going to need good offensive line play, with Mack taking charge once again.

Comments: “Easily one of the top three if not number one center in the league. He is finally not playing for the Browns, isn’t it about time he gets some love?”- Robert Hanes

54. Calais Campbell, DT, Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Top 100

Calais Campbell (Photo by jacksonville.com)

The Jaguars made a great offseason move by acquiring Campbell in free agency. While he has been in the NFL since 2008, Jacksonville will be just his second team. In 2016 Campbell was all over the field with 53 combined tackles, eight sacks, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered, an interception and a safety.

At 6-8 and 282 pounds, Campbell is a disruptive force and he isn’t slowing down. He will be age 31 in the 2017 season and will be flanked by a lot of talent that the Jaguars acquired in the offseason. Campbell has a chance to take the Jaguars defense to the next level in 2017 and will likely be the best player on the much-improved defense.

Jacksonville made a statement by going after a lot of defensive players and in Campbell, they get a disruptive lineman who has been consistently good over his career.

Comments: “Campbell is a beast. He has been a gem in the desert, but will now help the Jags defense take it to the next level. With some new players also joining him, Campbell has the chance to be the best player on a good defense.”-Joe DiTullio

53. Taylor Lewan, OT, Tennessee Titans

 

NFL Top 100

Taylor Lewan (Photo by titansonline.com)

2016 was Lewan’s first Pro Bowl season, which looks like it will be the first of many. Lewan was a big part of the Titans rushing for the third most yards in the NFL and giving up 28 sacks as a team, which is one of the best in the league.

Lewan will be entering his fourth season in 2017 and the Titans’ offense is improving each year. Derrick Henry and Demarco Murray will lead the rushing attack and Marcus Mariota will continue to develop especially with new weapon Corey Davis. The offense is trending upwards and Lewan will be a big reason why the skill position players are successful.

After a solid first three seasons in the league, Lewan is cementing himself as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL and 2017 will be the next step to proving it.

Comments: “Lewan has had a great start to his career and by year’s end could even be ranked higher than this. Not only has he done a good job of protecting Marcus Mariota, but he has also cleared holes for Henry and Murray. 2017 will bring another Pro Bowl.”-Joe DiTullio

52. Chris Harris Jr., CB, Denver Broncos

NFL Top 100

Chris Harris Jr. (Photo by denverpost.com)

Harris Jr. has been a stalwart on the Broncos defense for years and is one of the best corners in the NFL. Last season he recorded 63 total tackles, 11 passes defended, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovered.

In 2016 Harris Jr. made his third straight Pro Bowl as he helped the Broncos be the best defense against the pass in the NFL. Harris Jr. will continue to have Bradley Robey and Aqib Talib flanking him as the other corners, which allows him to move inside to the slot at times. He is a very versatile player that will continue playing well in 2017.

With Harris Jr. and Talib at the corner spots, the Broncos will have one of the best tandems in the NFL once again in 2017.

Comments: “He may be forgotten behind Miller and Talib, but Harris has made himself into one of the NFL’s best corners himself. He shuts down good wide receivers and helps this defense be the best against the pass in the NFL.”-Joe DiTullio

51. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers

NFL Top 100

Jordy Nelson (Photo by packers.com)

The Packers have come on strong at the end of seasons for the past two seasons and Nelson came on strong at the end of 2016. In the last eight games, he had four of his five 100 receiving yard games. Overall Nelson had 97 receptions for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Nelson is undoubtedly Aaron Rodgers’ number one target once again in 2017 and will put up some big numbers. He will be 32 this season which isn’t ideal for a receiver who relies on his speed, but he still has a lot left in the tank. In the past three seasons, Nelson has set a new career high in targets each year and he should get his fair share again in 2017.

The Rodgers to Nelson connection may not be able to happen for too much longer, but they have a few more seasons together.

Comments: “Jordy Nelson is a silent assassin. He has had over 1,200 yards in three straight seasons. Nelson has also accumulated 27 touchdowns over that past two seasons. Aaron Rodgers has struggled at times without Nelson. Jordy is a top five receiver in the NFL but doesn’t have the flash required to be ranked higher.” -Matthew Hagan

NFL Top 100 Players: 70-61

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

 

NFL top 100 players 2017: 90-81

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

This is the second installment, containing players 90-81.

90. Malcolm Butler, CB, New England Patriots

NFL Top 100

Malcolm Butler (photo by twitter.com)

Butler has gone from unknown out of the University of West Alabama, to Super Bowl hero, to one of the best corners in the league. He put his talents on display last season with 63 total tackles, four interceptions, 16 passes defended, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and a sack.

He will pair with number 97 on our list, Stephon Gilmore, to create a great cornerback tandem. The Patriots had the best scoring defense in the league and ranked 12th against the pass. That rank will only get better this season with Butler improving from year to year and Gilmore on the other side of the field.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick get a lot of the praise, and deservedly so, but Butler and the defense are good enough to get some recognition too.

Comments: “I personally have Butler much higher on my list. Butler isn’t always asked to cover the elite receivers, but he’s proven to be excellent in coverage. Only 50 percent of the passes thrown his direction get completed. On average, he holds receivers well below their average in yards per game. He was essential to a Patriots secondary that played a major factor in getting New England a fifth Super Bowl ring.”-Blake Van Poucke

89. Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins

NFL Top 100

Josh Norman (Photo by washingtonpost.com)

It was a tumultuous, but effective first year in the nation’s capital for Norman. People criticized him for only playing one side of the field, not understanding what type of corner he is. He finished the season with 67 total tackles, three interceptions, 19 passes defended and two forced fumbles.

While Washington’s pass defense wasn’t good last year, ranking 25th in the NFL, Norman usually did a solid job of shutting down his side of the field. The rest of the Redskins’ secondary let the team down. In 2017, teams will still try to avoid throwing the ball to Norman’s side of the field because they can do so much damage throwing away from him.

Norman may get headlines for getting into scuffles with notable wide receivers, but he can play and it will show once again in 2017.

Comments: “Norman experienced maybe the biggest drop off from his first team all-pro 2015 with the Panthers after being moved to the Redskins. Nevertheless, he only experienced a small drop in production while taking on a smaller role on Washington’s secondary. He wasn’t the shutdown corner he was in 2015, but he was still very effective.”-Blake Van Poucke

88. Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys

NFL Top 100

Sean Lee (Photo by nfl.com)

Lee had a phenomenal 2017 with 146 total tackles, one pass defended and one fumble recovery. There is a noticeable difference when he is on the field and healthy for the Cowboys as opposed to when he is not.

One of the things Lee is known for the most is that he is injury prone, as he has never played all 16 games in a season. Staying healthy is a key for him to stay on this list, but if he does and performs like previous years, he will deserve his slot. Last year Dallas had the fifth-best scoring defense in the league and with an emphasis on drafting defensive players and controlling the clock on offense, Lee should be able to have another great season.

Playing under Rod Marinelli, Lee has thrived and there is no reason, other than injury, to think he won’t continue to thrive for the Cowboys.

Comments: “Sean Lee is one of the best linebackers in the league. The Cowboys look so much better on the defensive side of the ball when Lee is healthy. He is a tackle machine and is the heart and soul of the defense. If Lee can stay healthy, his spot on this list is almost guaranteed.”-Joe DiTullio

87. Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

NFL Top 100

Marcus Mariota (Photo by titansonline.com)

In his second season in the NFL, Mariota threw for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 61% completion. His career is trending upward as he only won three games as a starter during his rookie season, but ended up winning eight in his sophomore campaign.

The Titans are starting to build a legitimate offensive threat around their franchise quarterback. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry provide two good running backs that keep each other fresh behind a good offensive line, which features Taylor Lewan. Tennessee selected Corey Davis with the fifth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and will pair him with Eric Decker, whom they have recently just signed, Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker.

With more weapons and another year of experience under his belt, look for Mariota to have a very successful 2017.

Comments: “Marcus Mariota is not getting the respect he deserves and is a top 45 player. He got injured in the 15th game and still put up 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Had Mariota stayed healthy I fully believe the Titans would have won the division. Mariota will be a top-five quarterback by the end of this season.” -Matthew Hagan

 86. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders

NFL Top 100

Marshawn Lynch (Photo by upi.com)

A guy who didn’t play last season makes the top 100. “Beast Mode” has given a lot of people reason to believe in him over the years, but had a disappointing and injury-plagued 2015 season before retiring. The 31-year-old has 9,112 rushing yards and will be looking to tack on as many yards as possible in his new silver and black uniform.

Live-game action is something that can’t be substituted, so Lynch may not have the greatest of starts, but he will have one thing that many running backs over the age of 30 don’t have, fresh legs. Another thing Lynch has going for him in 2017? His offensive line is among the best in the NFL and should be able to clear him a lot of space before he is contacted.

Lynch partially makes the list because of his great career, but also partially because of how great the guys in front of him will be.

Comments: “Similar to Brandon Marshall, Marshawn Lynch only made this list off of reputation. Lynch is 31 years old and didn’t even play last season. There will be some rust and he won’t be the every down back for the Raiders. I will be surprised if Lynch rushes for more than 700 yards.” -Matthew Hagan

“He lives up to his nickname Beast Mode. It seems impossible to tackle him. He can explode up the middle and have that big run like he had against the Saints that made him known as Beast Mode. With his new home with the Raiders I see him having the same success with the offensive line in Oakland. I think he could be a little higher on this list especially in front of Demaryius Thomas.”- Craig Stogdill

85. Jerrell Freeman, LB, Chicago Bears

NFL Top 100

Jerrell Freeman (Photo by chicagobears.com)

Freeman was suspended for his use of PED’s in 2016, but still put up impressive numbers. He was left off of the NFL’s top 100 player list, but because this list focuses on how well the players will do in 2017, he makes the cut. In 12 games in 2016, Freeman recorded 112 total tackles and four passes defended.

Assuming he can stay on the field, Freeman is by far the best player on the Bears’ defense. He is good at both stopping the run and in coverage, which makes him a three-down linebacker.

In 2017 Freeman will continue to be the best player on the Bears’ defense and make top 100 lists.

Comments: “Freeman didn’t make a lot of top 100 lists because of his PED suspension last season. In 2017 Freeman will return to form and have another great season. His ability to cover makes him a very valuable player.”-Joe DiTullio

84. Justin Houston, LB, Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Top 100

Justin Houston (Photo by cbssports.com)

Injuries have derailed Houston’s last two seasons, but in 2014 he had 22 sacks. He has had knee injuries, but now says he is healthy and ready to play. If he can stay healthy an regain his form he is one of the most dominant players in the league, but that is a big if.

Kansas City ranked 28th in sacks in 2017, but if Houston is healthy he should be able to help improve that number drastically. While knee injuries are never a good thing, Houston will be 28 this season, meaning that he should still be able to bounce back.

If Houston plays a healthy season, he will be on this list at season’s end, but if he gets hurt again, his best years are probably behind him.

Comments: “It’s a shame that Houston has only been able to play 16 games in the last two seasons. A fully healthy Justin Houston is still a top-five player in this league. 2013 is considered by many to be one of the greatest single seasons ever from a defensive end. He was still around a sack per game in 2016, but only got five games in. For the sake of entertainment, please stay healthy Justin Houston.”-Blake Van Poucke

83. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos

NFL Top 100

Demaryius Thomas (Photo by denverpost.com)

Thomas has made five straight Pro Bowls but saw his production dip last season. He had 1,083 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 90 receptions. These are all the lowest these stats have been since his second season in the league.

Most of this isn’t Thomas’ fault. He is still a good talent but has been playing with young quarterbacks who aren’t the most talented, yet. Evidence of this is his 62.5% catch percentage in 2016, which is the third highest in his career. Ultimately Thomas’ fate rests in the hands of the developing young quarterbacks, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.

While Thomas is a player anyone would want on their team, his production and ranking in 2017 may not match his actual talent.

Comments: “Demaryius Thomas is a really good player but the quarterback situation in Denver hurts him. Neither Paxton Lynch nor Trevor Siemian will be good enough to keep Thomas as a top 100 player. Unfortunately for receivers, being a top player is somewhat out of their hands.” -Matthew Hagan

“Last year was rough for DT. He didn’t have Peyton Manning to throw him the ball and played injured last season. But Thomas is still a big target with great speed for his size. He has the size of a tight end with the speed, agility and ball skills of a wide receiver. He can get up there and make that acrobatic catch. I think DT is ranked way too high only because of his situation and that 2017 won’t look any better”- Craig Stogdill 

82. Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Top 100

Gerald McCoy (Photo by tampabay.com)

The Bucs have been lucky enough to have a consistently good player like McCoy on their team for seven seasons. Last year he continued his good production with 34 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered.

As a defensive tackle, his pass rushing numbers stand out with 42 career sacks in his seven seasons. In a division that features Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton, getting after the quarterback is a must. McCoy will have to be a great player once again to give the Bucs a chance to leap into the playoffs.

This season McCoy will be a top 100 player once again.

Comments: “This guy has been a stalwart on defense for the Bucs for a long time. He could be ranked higher just due to consistency. I expect that with his team finally in a real playoff push (last year a lot of things needed to happen for them to get in) he will exceed expectations, which are already pretty high.”- Robert Hanes

81. Phillip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

NFL Top 100

Phillip Rivers (Photo by espn.com)

In the Chargers’ last season in San Diego, Rivers had a solid season, despite not having the best talent around him. He threw for 4,386 yards on 60.4% completion, with 38 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

That might not be the best stat-line, but he was throwing to Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman for the most part, who were virtual unknowns before the season. In 2017 the Chargers will have Keenan Allen back (pending his ability to stay healthy), rookie Mike Williams, a reliable Antonio Gates and an up and coming Hunter Henry to go along with Williams, Inman and Travis Benjamin.

Rivers is aging and will be 36 this season, but he hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down. With a better cast around him in 2017, look for him to keep on climbing up in the record books and be a top 100 player yet again.

Comments:“Rivers had one of his worst seasons as a pro last year and being 35 years old doesn’t help. He threw 21 interceptions and was the leader of the offense that committed the most turnovers per game last season. As this year goes by, fans will start to realize that it is time for the Chargers to move on and look for their next franchise quarterback.” -Matthew Hagan

“What Rivers did last season with no offensive line and a crop of receivers that no one knew about is nothing short of amazing. Based on last year this ranking is justified, but looking ahead to this season, with his new weapons and a better team overall, Rivers is going to have a very good season and is better than a lot of players ahead of him on this list.”- Joe DiTullio

NFL Top 100 Players: 100-91

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Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

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

Houston Texans

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tennessee Titans

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

(Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indianapolis Colts

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacksonville Jaguars

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC South

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

You can “Like” The Game Haus on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles written by other great TGH writers along with Matthew!

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

Eric Decker’s fantasy impact with the Titans

On June 18, the Tennessee Titans signed Eric Decker to a one-year deal. After being cut by the New York Jets just six days earlier, he quickly finds himself a new home in the Music City. How will Eric Decker’s new Titans deal affect his fantasy value?
Decker missed most of last season with hip and shoulder injuries. What he brings to the Titans is another weapon for quarterback Marcus Mariota and joins a solid combination of targets such as rookie Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews and Delaine Walker. Along with these guys, this gives the Titans a new look. In 2016 the Titans were a run-first football team as they ranked fourth in rushing attempts.

With all of these weapons, Decker should find himself as the first or second receiving option in the Titan offense. Decker has good size at 6-foot-3, and can be a versatile receiver that will excel as a red zone target due to his size. In 2015, the last full season he played, Decker was the top option in the red zone with 29 targets inside the 20-yard line, 16 inside the 10-yard line and 6 within the 5-yard line. He should maintain those numbers as he and Davis are their tallest receivers on the Titans roster.

Eric Decker's fantasy impact titans

Marcus Mariota (Photo by si.com)

The biggest winner though is Marcus Mariota. Mariota had an up-and-down 2016 fantasy season. From weeks 5-12 he was one of the best quarterbacks, throwing 21 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Through weeks 1-4 and 13-17 he was one of the worst, ranking 31st in fantasy points.

What did help Mariota in 2016 was the addition of Matthews and the deep ball. Mariota jumped from 35 deep ball passes of 20-plus yards in 2015 to 50 in 2016. Matthews recorded the sixth-most in that category with 16 receptions. Decker had the same number in 2015 with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback and should only help Mariota improve these numbers.
In the receiving core, Rishard Matthews will find his production down slightly depending how coaches like the personnel around him. He’s going from being the number one receiving option, not counting tight end Delanie Walker, to a possible number two or three receiver behind Decker and Davis.

The Titans ran a three receiver set 46.9 percent of the time in 2016, which was 18th in the NFL but was below the league average of 51.62 percent. With some of the new players we could see some different packages to include their top receivers.

Eric Decker's fantasy impact titans

Corey Davis (Photo by: titansonline.com)

Davis, the fifth overall selection in the 2017 NFL draft from Western Michigan, will be an effective receiver in the near future but will not be this year. He has the potential to be a great NFL player and should still have a good season but doesn’t have the pressure on him with Decker’s presence.

Davis has good receivers to learn from like Decker because he and Decker are the same type of receiver. They are the same size, both have good hands and Davis can become a great red zone threat like Decker.

Before signing Decker, Davis would’ve been the second receiver and still could be battling with Matthews. Davis will be a great asset for years to come in fantasy and should be considered a WR3 or filler for receiver position.

As for Delanie Walker, he’s in a difficult situation. Walker will still be a top target in the offense, but adding Decker will decrease his targets, especially in the red zone. Walker will remain a top tight end selection and should go in the middle in the of your 2017 fantasy draft, but I expect his numbers to decrease with the addition of Decker.

As for where to draft Decker, he was drafted on average as the 29th receiver in 2016. This ranks in the 50’s overall after having a breakout season in 2015.

In 2017, factoring in his health and his role on the Titans, he looks to be between the 30th and 45th receiver making his draft position in the 90’s. He could be undervalued there, but with the concern of injuries and unsure of how his quarterback produces, I believe he is properly positioned and should be as a WR3 with the potential to be a WR2.

 

Featured image from sportingnews.com.

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2017 NFL Players Set to Breakout Under the Age of 25

The rookie class last season had some great players explode onto the NFL scene. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, Jack Conklin, Keanu Neal, and Michael Thomas are some of the rookies who had great first seasons. There were also a few second-year players who are emerging as stars as well.

There is a lot of great young talent in the NFL. It is always interesting to see who the next cream of the crop is going to be. The league is only as good as its top players and brightest stars. Listed here are 10 players, under the age of 25, poised to become stars or superstars next season who haven’t been in the spotlight and do not have more than one Pro Bowl appearance.

Players that are not listed are already considered stars such as the rookies already mentioned above. These players listed will all become Pro Bowlers or have a chance to be a top-five player at their position in the next few years.

Jordan Hicks: Philadelphia Eagles-LB

(http://insidetheiggles.com/2017/01/04/philadelphia-eagles-rising-young-star/)

Jordan Hicks is one of the best young linebackers in the NFL. Hicks was a third-round pick out of Texas in the 2015 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, he played in eight games and had 50 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, and a touchdown. He followed up his rookie season starting 16 games for the Eagles and recorded 85 tackles, one sack, and a stunning five interceptions.

Hicks’ teammate, Nigel Bradham, had this to say of Hicks.

“The things he can do on the field,” Bradham said. “His instincts. His power. His speed. He’s everything you want in a linebacker. I know him and I feel like honestly, he can work himself into getting into a gold jacket.”

That is high praise from a fellow linebacker. The ceiling for Hicks is high and if he can continue to make strides forward, he will be one of the best players in the NFL.

 

Cameron Meredith: Chicago Bears- Wr

(http://www.sportingnews.com/fantasy/football/news/fantasy-football-waiver-wire-pickups-week-6-cameron-meredith-jacquizz-rodgers-injury-update-doug-martin/15dzf3a2t2ld11mebkbpnnknqy)

Cameron Meredith was a huge surprise in the Windy City this season. The Bears already had a Pro Bowl receiver in Alshon Jeffery but they were expecting Kevin White to emerge as a solid second option alongside Jeffery. That has been unable to happen due to injuries. Instead, Meredith stepped up and played big for the Bears in his second NFL season.

Meredith went undrafted in 2015 out of Illinois State. He caught only 11 passes in his rookie season. This season he played in 14 games and started 10 of them. He had 66 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns. He also had four games with over 100 yards receiving. If the Bears can figure out their quarterback situation, Meredith has a chance to become a star in Chicago.

 

Christian Kirksey: Cleveland Browns-LB

(credit: ESPN)

Browns fans will sure be happy to see a young player on this list that can help change the culture in Cleveland. Like Jordan Hicks, Kirksey was also a third-round draft pick. In his first two seasons in the NFL, he started a total of 13 games.

This past season he started all 16 games for the Browns and was the team’s leading tackler with 148, which was also third best in the NFL. He also added 2.5 sacks. Kirksey should continue to build off the improvement in his third season and the Browns may have a defensive quarterback for the future.

 

 

Jordan Howard: Chicago Bears-RB

(http://chicago.suntimes.com/sports/film-study-jordan-howard-fits-identity-that-bears-offense-wants/)

One of the quietest, yet most successful rookie campaigns came from Jordan Howard. Few would call Jordan Howard a star, but he made the Pro Bowl and finished second in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,313 yards. What was probably the most impressive is that he averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Howard has a chance to become a receiving threat in due time as well as had 29 catches this season and that number will go up in the next couple of years.

Howard is in a big market in Chicago and his star will continue to grow. As the franchise looks for a quarterback, Howard can be that piece that keeps the Bears competitive while they look for that quarterback.

 

 

Melvin Gordon: Los Angeles Chargers-RB

(http://cleatgeeks.com/blog/2016/02/25/on-the-clock-san-diego-chargers-2016-offseason-preview/)

Melvin Gordon had a forgettable rookie year to say the least. Gordon was going into his second season with much to prove. Doubts about how Gordon would fair in the NFL arose because of how well Todd Gurley performed in his rookie season.

Gordon shattered all doubt this season by rushing for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns in just 11 starts. He also became a threat in the passing game, catching 41 passes for 419 yards and two touchdowns. Now that the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles, Gordon will challenge Gurley as the best back in L.A.

 

 

 

 

Hunter Henry: Los Angeles Chargers-TE

(Credit: AP Photo)

Hunter Henry is listed at 6′ 5″ and 250 pounds. He looks like a stud waiting to explode on the football field. Henry was drafted in the second round out of Arkansas. In his rookie season, he had to share time at tight end with Antonio Gates, which kept him out of the lineup consistently.

What was impressive about his rookie season was that every 4.5 catches he made were for a touchdown. He finished the season with 36 receptions, 478 yards, and eight touchdowns. It is just a matter of time before Henry becomes a top five tight end in the NFL.

 

 

Marcus Mariota: Tennessee Titans-QB

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Marcus Mariota is on the verge of stardom. Not many people talk about him and he took a step back when he broke his leg. Mariota was quietly leading the Titans to a possible playoff berth.

In his rookie season, Mariota started 12 games and had 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Before breaking his leg, Mariota had started 15 games and had 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. With three more games, he had seven more touchdowns and one less interception. The most important stat was wins though. The Titans were in a position to win the division. As Mariota continues to grow, the Titans will become a legit contender and Mariota will become one of the faces of the league.

 

 

Danielle Hunter: Minnesota Vikings-DE

(USA Today Sports)

Danielle Hunter has a chance to become a Hall of Famer one day. Hunter was drafted in the third round out of LSU in 2015. He was the youngest player in the NFL in his rookie season. In very limited action he had six sacks. He showed quickness and athleticism that had Vikings coaches raving.

This season he played just 58 percent of the Vikings defensive snaps and ended up tied for third in the NFL in sacks with 12.5. This kind of production in such a limited amount of reps is unheard of. Once Hunter is inserted into the starting lineup, he will become a sack king and eventually have a 20-sack season.

 

 

Landon Collins: New York Giants- S

(http://nyg.247sports.com/Bolt/Giants-Landon-Collins-excited-about-new-role-46797532)

Some would say Landon Collins already had a breakout year this season. It is hard to argue against that as he made the Pro Bowl and was named first team all-pro. Collins had a great season with 125 tackles, four sacks, and five interceptions, and he put offenses on notice. He will be in the running for defensive player of the year and offenses around the NFL will fear him for the next decade.

 

 

 

Vic Beasley: Atlanta Falcons-DE

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/2512400/vic-beasley-jr)

Vic Beasley is in the same boat as Landon Collins, as some would say he has already had a breakout season. Similar to Collins, Beasley was selected to the Pro Bowl and named first team all-pro. He was the NFL sack king this season with 15.5 sacks, which was way up from the four sacks he had last season.

Beasley has been a big reason the Flacons defense has improved over the second half of the year. Beasley’s production has helped Atlanta reach the Super Bowl. If Beasley has a monster game, he will become a superstar, but no matter how he performs in the Super Bowl, he is on his way to stardom.

 

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Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Week 17)

(Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

(Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

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

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

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

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

Last Week: 7-9

Season: 139-97-2

Sunday Morning

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Afternoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

usa-today-8928097-0

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

Sunday Night

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

 

 

 

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Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Week 16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 132-88-2

Thursday Night

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

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

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

Christmas Eve Morning

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

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

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

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

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

(JOHN SLEEZER)

(JOHN SLEEZER)

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

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

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

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

Christmas Eve Afternoon

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

Christmas Eve Night Game

( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

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

Christmas Day

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

(Rob Carr/Getty Images )

(Rob Carr/Getty Images )

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

Monday Night

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

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Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Week 15)

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

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

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 120-84-2

Thursday Night

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

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

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

Sunday Morning

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

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Image)

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Image)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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

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

Sunday Afternoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Night

(Photo: Matthew Emmons)

(Photo: Matthew Emmons)

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

Monday Night

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

 

Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Week 14)

images-4There are only four weeks remaining in the regular season, which means each game matters more. There are a lot of teams in the hunt for the playoffs. In the NFC, the Cowboys seem to be a lock for the number one seed and have a three game lead on the Giants for the division. The Seahawks also have a three game lead in NFC West, and look positioned for the number two seed. As for the NFC North, the Lions look like the favorite to win it, but the Vikings and Packers are both only two games back. The NFC South is still pretty open as all four teams are separated by just three games. The two NFC Wild Card slots are owned by the Buccaneers and the Giants, but the Redskins, Vikings, Packers, Cardinals, Saints, and Eagles all have a shot.

The AFC race is just as exciting as the playoff race in the NFC. The number one seed is still very much up for grabs between the Raiders, Patriots, Chiefs, and even the Broncos. The two wildcard spots in the AFC are held by the Chiefs and Broncos, but the Dolphins, Steelers, Colts, Bills, and Titans all have legitimate chances at getting a wild card spot.

This is the most fun part of the NFL season as teams battle it out for these playoff spots. Last week was the final week for bye weeks so every team will be in action this week. Hopefully the season ends strong. Here are Hagan’s Haus week 14 NFL picks.

Last Week: 9-6

Season: 109-78-2

Thursday Night

(D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press)

(D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press)

Oakland (10-2) 27 @ Kansas City (9-3) 24: This could be the best game of the week and there are a lot of great games. If the Raiders are able to go into Kansas City, of all places, and win, then Derek Carr should be a lock for the MVP. The Chiefs got the best of the Raiders in Oakland, winning 26 to 10. The hot Raiders offense is averaging 32 points per game over their last five. The Raiders win because Derek Carr leads a late fourth quarter touchdown drive.

Sunday Morning

Minnesota (6-6) 34 @ Jacksonville (2-10) 16: This is the beginning of the playoffs for the Minnesota Vikings. If this team wants to get in the playoffs, they must run the table and finish 10-6. The schedule is favorable with none of the teams they face currently above .500. The Jaguars are just preparing for another top five draft pick. Minnesota gets the win on the road to keep their playoff hopes alive.

(http://www.steelers.com/photos/photo-gallery/PHOTOS-Steelers-vs-Bills-Game-Highlights/7a94183a-1bf9-412a-b9db-dfaca6d28d46)

(http://www.steelers.com/photos/photo-gallery/PHOTOS-Steelers-vs-Bills-Game-Highlights/7a94183a-1bf9-412a-b9db-dfaca6d28d46)

Pittsburgh (7-5) 37 @ Buffalo (6-6) 24: Pittsburgh’s defense looked great against the Giants last week. If the Steelers defense plays like this for the remainder of the season, they could be the most dangerous team in the playoffs. Buffalo seems to be stuck in mediocrity. Tyrod Taylor has regressed a bit and that will be the Bills downfall.

Denver (8-4) 23 @ Tennessee (6-6) 24: Before the season, I had the Broncos in third place in the AFC West and missing the playoffs and a lot of people laughed. Their defense is good but their offense is holding them back. They need better quarterback play to make the playoffs and that just won’t happen. The Titans have surprised many this year and are in the race to win their division. Because this game is in Tennessee, I see them stealing it. Titans win in an upset most won’t dare to pick.

Washington (6-5-1) 24 @ Philadelphia (5-7) 27: This should be an interesting game. A division rivalry in which both teams are fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Redskins won the first matchup 27 to 20 in a back and forth game. This game will be as close as the first and the home team will win.

Arizona (5-6-1) 27 @ Miami (7-5) 21: The Dolphins were taken to the woodshed last week against the Ravens and it ended their six-game winning streak. They are still in the playoff race, but each game is going to be important. The Cardinals are also in the playoff race, but their chances are much more slim. Miami is a good team, but a year away. The Cardinals are going to get the upset win and keep their chances alive.

(http://www.nflsuperbowllive.net/free-san-diego-chargers-vs-live-streaming-nfl/)

(http://www.nflsuperbowllive.net/free-san-diego-chargers-vs-live-streaming-nfl/)

San Diego (5-7) 31 @ Carolina (4-8) 34: It is still astonishing the Panthers are having this bad of a season after going 15-1 and going to the Super Bowl. The fact is their defense is pretty bad this year. The Chargers are a bit better than expected, but have no shot at the playoffs; at this point they are playing for pride. The Panthers still have a shot at their division title and are at home. Cam outplays Rivers in a shootout.

Cincinnati (4-7-1) 30 @ Cleveland (0-12) 19: Last week was the first week of the season the Browns didn’t lose and it was because they were on a bye week. Cincinnati looked like last year’s Bengals team against the Eagles last week. Nobody deserves to go winless, but the Browns are going to do it. Bengals win easily to send the Browns three games away from a winless season.

Chicago (3-9) 31 @ Detroit (8-4) 30: Snow games are always exciting and the Bears looked good in it against the 49ers. Granted it was the 49ers, but Matt Barkley has looked good in his two starts. If his receivers stop dropping the football, his stats may start showing how well he has been playing. The Lions are more lucky than good and there is a chance for an upset here. The Bears have nothing to lose and would love to hurt a division opponent.

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Houston (6-6) 24 @ Indianapolis (6-6) 28: Two of the three teams tied for first in the AFC South are facing off for a chance at first place. The Texans are 1-5 on the road and their offense is incapable of scaring anyone, even a Colts defense giving up 25.9 points per game. The Colts offensive line played great against the Jets. With that momentum, the Colts take the lead in the AFC North.

Sunday Afternoon

New York (J) (3-8) 19 @ San Fransisco (1-11) 17: The 49ers versus the Bears was predicted to be a snooze fest, but this game may be even worse. The Jets flat out quit against the Colts and the 49ers have lost 11 straight with no end in sight. It is really hard to pick who is going to win this game. After the Jets got embarrassed on national television, they will bounce back and get a win.

(http://www.ratpacksports.com/single-post/2015/09/23/The-Post-Game-Review-Bucs-vs-Saints)

(http://www.ratpacksports.com/single-post/2015/09/23/The-Post-Game-Review-Bucs-vs-Saints)

New Orleans (5-7) 27 @ Tampa Bay (7-5) 28: There seems to be plenty of divisional matchups this week, which means important football games. This is a huge game for the Bucs and their playoff hopes. The Saints had a chance to take a step towards the divisional race, but dropped the ball against the Lions. The Bucs are at home and Jameis Winston will shine at home and push the Bucs closer to a division title.

Atlanta (7-5) 36 @ Los Angeles (4-8) 22: For weeks I have been saying the Falcons would falter at some point in the season and miss the playoffs. That time is coming, but it won’t come this week. The Rams offense is incapable of keeping up with the high-powered Falcons air attack. Matt Ryan has a big game to keep the hope alive for another week.

Seattle (8-3-1) 34 @ Green Bay (6-6) 27: Aaron Rodgers said he thinks the Packers could run the table and since then they have a two-game win streak. It is definitely possible when you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers. The problem is the Seahawks are on their mission and destroying anyone in their path. Seahawks will continue the push towards the Super Bowl and send Aaron Rodgers and the Packers a loss closer to the offseason.

Sunday Night

(http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/myers-giants-early-test-open-cowboys-article-1.2349892)

(http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/myers-giants-early-test-open-cowboys-article-1.2349892)

Dallas (11-1) 24 @ New York (G) (8-4) 27: New York got caught looking forward to this game and dropped one to the Steelers. The Cowboys only have one loss on the season and it is to these Giants. The Giants matchup well against the Cowboys. The Giants receiving corp will give the Cowboys defensive backs fits and it will be the difference in the game. Also, the Giants defense will rise to the occasion and slow down a tough Cowboys offense.

Monday Night

(http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/bs-sp-ravens-patriots-0106-20150105-story.html)

(http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/bs-sp-ravens-patriots-0106-20150105-story.html)

Baltimore (7-5) 31 @ New England (10-2) 34: Monday Night Football was a snoozer last week, but this week it gets a major upgrade. The Ravens are fighting with the Steelers for the AFC North crown. Baltimore has been impressive this season, and by most accounts, have overachieved. Bill Belichick has the Patriots doing the usual and fighting for home-field advantage. Baltimore also has a great defense, but it won’t be enough to slow down the great Tom Brady.

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