2017 NFL power rankings Week 13

2017 NFL power rankings: Week 13

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

32. Cleveland Browns (0-11)

Last week: 32 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Los Angeles Chargers

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

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

31. San Francisco 49ers (1-10)

Last week 31 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Chicago

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

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

30. New York Giants (2-9)

2017 NFL power rankings Week 13

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

Last week: 30 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Oakland

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

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

29. Denver Broncos (3-8)

Last week: 28 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Miami

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

28. Chicago Bears (3-8)

Last week: 25 (-3)

Next game: home vs. San Francisco

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

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

27. Indianapolis Colts (3-8)

Last week: 29 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Jacksonville

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

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

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

26. Miami Dolphins (4-7)

Last week: 27 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Denver

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

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

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

25. New York Jets (4-7)

Last week: 26 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Kansas City

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

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

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)

Last week: 19 (-5)

Next game: away vs. Green Bay

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

23. Houston Texans (4-7)

Last week: 20 (-3)

Next game: away vs. Tennessee

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

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

22. Arizona Cardinals (5-6)

Last week: 24 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Los Angeles Rams

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

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

21. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

Last week: 22 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Detroit

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

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

20. Green Bay Packers (5-6)

Last week: 23 (+3)

Next game: home vs. Tampa Bay

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

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

19. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

Last week: 21 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Pittsburgh

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

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

18. Oakland Raiders (5-6)

2017 NFL power rankings Week 13

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

Last week: 17 (-1)

Next game: home vs. New York Giants

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

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

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

17. Dallas Cowboys (5-6)

Last week: 12 (-5)

Next game: home vs. Washington

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

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

16. Washington Redskins (5-6)

Last week: 15 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Dallas

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

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

15. Detroit Lions (6-5)

Last week: 14 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Baltimore

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

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

14. Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)

Last week: 9 (-5)

Next game: away vs. New York Jets

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

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

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

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

13. Buffalo Bills (6-5)

Last week: 18 (+5)

Next game: home vs. New England

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

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

12. Tennessee Titans (7-4)

Last week: 11 (-1)

Next game: home vs. Houston

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

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

11. Seattle Seahawks (7-4)

Last week: 13 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Philadelphia

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

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

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

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4)

Last week: 7 (-3)

Next game: home vs. Indianapolis

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

9. Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)

Last week: 16 (+7)

Next game: home vs. Cleveland

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

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

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

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

8. Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

Last week: 10 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Minnesota

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

7. Carolina Panthers (8-3)

2017 NFL power rankings Week 13

(Photo Credit by Getty Images/Abbie Parr)

Last week: 8 (+1)

Next game: away vs. New Orleans

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

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

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

6. New Orleans Saints (8-3)

Last week: 5 (-1)

Next game: home vs. Carolina

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

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

5. Los Angeles Rams (8-3)

Last week: 6 (+1)

Next game: away vs. Arizona

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

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

4. Minnesota Vikings (9-2)

Last week: 4 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Atlanta

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

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

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

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2)

Last week: 3 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Cincinnati

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

2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)

Last week: 2 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Seattle

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

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

1. New England Patriots (9-2)

Last week: 1 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Buffalo

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

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

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

 

Featured image from nj.com 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

MLB unanimous rookie of the years

A look back at the MLB’s unanimous Rookie of the Year winners

On Nov. 13, Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger were both unanimously selected as the 2017 American and National League Rookies of the Year respectively, a feat that has only been done on three other occasions. Judge set an MLB record for most home runs in a season by a rookie with 52, while Bellinger set a Los Angeles Dodger record with 39. Both finished in the top 10 in their respective MVP votes, with Judge finishing second and Bellinger ninth.

Baseball fans should consider themselves lucky to witness such incredible seasons by two rookies, as we may not see dual performances like this for another decade. With this in mind, let us take a look at the past pairs of unanimous Rookie of the Year winners.

1997: Scott Rolen (PHI) & Nomar Garciaparra (BOS)

MLB unanimous rookie of the years

Scott Rolen went on to play 17 seasons in the MLB, making seven All-Star teams, winning eight Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger and one World Series. (Photo from DickAllen15.com)

A second-round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1993, Scott Rolen was a young hulking third baseman who possessed power and premier defense. In 81 games in double-A, Rolen batted .343 with 12 home runs and 57 RBIs.

Rolen made his MLB debut in 1996, although his first full season didn’t come until 1997 when he batted .283 with 21 home runs, 92 RBIs, 93 runs scored and 16 stolen bases.

Other National League rookies in his class included Vladimir Guerrero, Andruw Jones and Livan Hernandez, but Rolen still managed to be unanimously selected NL Rookie of the Year. His 1997 campaign was a sign of things to come, as he went on to play 17 seasons in the MLB, making seven All-Star teams, winning eight Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger and one World Series.

You could say expectations out of the gate were high for Nomar Garciaparra, as the Boston Red Sox selected him with the twelfth overall pick in 1994. He had a cup of coffee in the MLB in 1996, although his first full season wasn’t until 1997. A then 23-year-old Garciaprra batted .306 with 30 home runs, 98 RBIs, 122 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. He not only was unanimously selected AL Rookie of the Year, but he placed eighth in the AL MVP vote and was voted an All-Star and Silver Slugger.

Aside from Garciaparra, the American League’s underwhelming 1997 rookie class was headlined by Jose Cruz and Deivi Cruz, Jason Dickson and Mike Cameron. Garciaparra’s career was majorly affected by injuries, although he still managed to bat .313 with 229 home runs and 936 RBIs in his 14-year-career. He most notably won back-to-back AL batting titles, batting .357 and .372 in 1999 and 2000 respectively.

1993: Mike Piazza (LAD) & Tim Salmon (CAL)

MLB unanimous rookie of the years

Piazza would go down as the greatest hitting catcher of all-time, batting a career .308 with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs. (Photo from Pintrest.com)

Mike Piazza, whose Los Angeles Dodgers rookie home run record of 35 was broken by Bellinger this season, was taken by the Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB draft. It has been said that Piazza was only selected because of head coach Tommy Lasorda’s personal relationship with Piazza’s father, Vince. Whatever the case may be, Piazza is arguably the biggest draft steal in MLB history.

Piazza’s rookie season in 1993 was incredible, as he batted .318 with 35 home runs and 112 RBIs. The 24-year-old finished ninth in the NL MVP vote and was voted an All-Star and Silver Slugger to boot.

No rookies from the NL class of 1993 had a season that could compare with Piazza, although his fellow teammate and rookie, Pedro Martinez, also had a Hall of Fame career. Piazza would go down as the greatest hitting catcher of all-time, batting a career .308 with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs.

Tim Salmon, a California born kid, was drafted in the third round of the 1989 draft by the then California Angels. Salmon won the American Minor League Player of the Year Award in 1992, which was also the same season he made his major league debut.

In his official rookie year, Salmon batted .283 with 31 home runs and 95 RBIs, which was good enough to be selected AL Rookie of the Year. Other rookies from his class include Aaron Sele, Jason Bere and Wayne Kirby, so it’s no surprise why Salmon dominated the AL ROY vote.

He went on to play 14 seasons in the MLB, driving in over 1,000 runs along the way, unfortunately falling just one home run short of 300.

1987: Benito Santiago (SD) & Mark McGwire (OAK)

Benito Santiago was signed as an amateur free agent by the San Diego Padres in 1982. His major league debut came in 1986, but his official rookie season came a year later. In 1997, Santiago batted .300 with 18 home runs and 79 RBIs. Pitchers Mike Dunne and Joe Magrane both had very respectable rookie campaigns, but Santiago was the clear choice for ROY in 1987.

MLB unanimous rookie of the years

McGwire, whose rookie home run record of 49 was broken by Judge, was the 10th overall selection in the 1984 draft by the Oakland Athletics. (Photo from TheGreedyPinstripes.com)

His rookie season was the beginning of a 20-year MLB career in which he was considered one of the premier catchers in the National League for nearly a decade. He would go on to make five All-Star appearances, win four Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves and one NLCS MVP.

Mark McGwire, whose rookie home run record of 49 was broken by Judge, was the 10th overall selection in the 1984 draft by the Oakland Athletics. His rookie season came in 1987, where a then 23-year-old McGwire put on a show for the ages, batting .289 with 49 home runs and 118 RBIs. McGwire finished sixth in the American League MVP vote and was selected an All-Star for the first time.

Fellow rookies Kevin Seitzer and Matt Nokes had solid rookie seasons, but McGwire’s was arguably the greatest rookie campaign of all-time up until that point. He went on to have a Hall of Fame caliber career, mashing 583 home runs and 1,414 RBIs. His admitted steroid use will likely keep him out Cooperstown, although the impact he left on the game will never be forgotten.

 

 

 

 

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Hagan's Haus NFL picks week 11

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks week 11

Welcome to Hagan’s Haus, where football is the only thing that matters. You won’t find me in a church on Sunday because football is my religion and the No. 1 priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself on studying the game of football. We can’t get all our picks or predictions right, but I am going to leave it here in the open every week for everyone to see. In Hagan’s Haus, it’s all about bragging rights. 

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it is by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 Week 11 NFL picks.

Last week: 12-2

Overall: 86-59

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

Thursday Night

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

 

Sunday Morning

Hagan's Haus NFL picks week 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Afternoon

Hagan's Haus NFL picks week 11

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

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

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

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

Sunday Night

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

Monday Night

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

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2017 NFL picks Week 10

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks Week 10

Welcome to Hagan’s Haus, where football is the only thing that matters. You won’t find me in a church on Sunday because football is my religion and the No. 1 priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself on studying the game of football. We can’t get all our picks or predictions right, but I am going to leave it here in the open every week for everyone to see. In Hagan’s Haus, it’s all about bragging rights. 

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it is by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 Week 10 NFL picks.

Last week: 8-5

Overall: 74-57

Teams on byes: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland Philadelphia

Thursday Night

Seattle Seahawks (5-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-4):

Sunday Morning

2017 NFL picks Week 10

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

New Orleans Saints (6-2) 24 @ Buffalo Bills (5-3) 20: This game could turn into a defensive battle, which sounds crazy when the Saints are involved. New Orleans is only giving up 15.4 points per game in their last five games. That is pretty impressive for a franchise that has recently been terrible defensively.

This game will come down to who can make the plays on offense. The edge is highly in favor of an offense led by Drew Brees. The win streak stays alive another week.

Green Bay Packers (4-4) 17 @ Chicago Bears (3-5) 20: The oldest rivalry in the NFL will be writing another chapter this week, this time without Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has destroyed the Bears throughout his career. Rodgers has gone 15-4 against Chicago, throwing for 4,596 yards, 42 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.

He has been the difference maker consistently. Without him, the Packers are going to struggle. Because of great defense and a solid run game, the Bears will win this chapter at Soldier Field.

Minnesota Vikings (6-2) 24 @ Washington Redskins (4-4) 16: Washington got a big win last week in Seattle, and a lot of people see it as a season-changing win. Because of that win, they will be the favorites.

Not many people believe in the Vikings, but they are a good team. Their defense will cause a major problem for Kirk Cousins, and with two weeks to prepare, Minnesota will go to the nation’s capital to show they are a team that nobody will want to see come January.

Cleveland Browns (0-8) 19 @ Detroit Lions (4-4) 31: Cleveland is coming off a bye, but that won’t help them in the motor city. The Browns are a bad team that Matthew Stafford can, and will pick apart.

Cleveland gives up 229.2 passing yards per game. Stafford will have over 300 this week to send the Browns seven games away from a winless season.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) 21 @ Tennessee Titans (5-3) 28: Tennessee is winning games without Marcus Mariota playing up to his ability, which should make Titan fans happy. Tennessee is winning these games because they are protecting and running the ball.

The Titans are 10th in rushing, averaging 117.9 yards per game. Cincy struggles to stop the run, giving up 116.5 yards per game. That will be their downfall in this game.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) 38 @ Indianapolis Colts (3-6) 21: This game is another game that should not be close at all. The Steelers have a top 10 offense, putting up 363.8 yards per game while the Colts have the 31st ranked defense.

Pittsburgh’s defense will lock down the elementary offense while the Steelers offense will easily put up points. Pittsburgh will have over 500 total yards to get to 7-2.

New York Jets (4-5) 24 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6) 27: Tampa Bay is going to win this game somehow. It just has the feeling of a game the Jets would find a way to lose.

Jameis Winston has been shut down and will not play. The Jets win and lose games they shouldn’t, and this is the perfect game for the same to occur. Ryan Fitzpatrick will get a chance to play his former team and will want to make a statement.

Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) 21 @ Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3) 23: This is going to be a hard-fought defensive game. Leonard Fournette is coming off his suspension and will be looking to prove how valuable he is.

Philip Rivers is going to try and force the ball, and Jacksonville’s elite secondary will make him pay. Jacksonville will win this game because of this and get to an impressive 6-3.

Sunday Afternoon

2017 NFL picks Week 10

(Photo by Scott Varley, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

Houston Texans (3-5) 17 @ Los Angeles Rams (6-2) 34: Los Angeles has the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. Houston is dealing with injuries all over the field and will need to put up at least 30 points to have a chance.

Tom Savage is incapable of putting up that many points. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley will be the difference that leads Los Angeles to a win.

Dallas Cowboys (5-3) 31 @ Atlanta Falcons (4-4) 30: Atlanta is trying to stay in the playoff race, but another loss could really hamper that goal. Atlanta’s offense is not producing to the same level as last season, and Matt Ryan looks average at best.

Dallas is still dealing with the sage of Ezekiel Elliott’s possible suspension. With or without Zeke, the Cowboys will win this week due to the fact that Dak Prescott will outperform the reigning MVP.

New York Giants (1-7) 23 @ San Francisco 49ers (0-9) 24: This will be an absolute snoozefest. Last week I thought the 49ers would get their first win of the season, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

This will be the week, or they will go 0-16. The Giants are just as bad as they are. The only reason the 49ers will win this game is that it is in San Francisco.

Sunday Night

New England Patriots (6-2) 41 @ Denver Broncos (3-5) 21: There is no reason to think this will be a close game. These teams are trending in opposite directions. The Patriots were off to a slow start, but have begun to resemble the team everyone is used to seeing in New England. Denver is still looking for Peyton Manning’s replacement and has wasted away a great defense because of it. New England will win this one comfortably.

Monday Night

Miami Dolphins (4-4) 7 @ Carolina Panthers (6-3) 27: All we hear is that Cam Newton can’t do this or he can’t do that, yet he continues to lead Carolina to wins. He may not consistently beat teams with his arm, but he can still get it done on the ground.

Carolina also quietly has one of the best defenses in the league. Shutting down Jay Cutler will not be a problem for the Panthers, and they will find themselves at 7-3.

 

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2017 NFL power rankings: week 10

2017 NFL power rankings: Week 10

Many teams are starting to separate themselves into their positions this season. We are learning who the true contenders and pretenders are.

The Wild Card races will also be extremely entertaining over the next eight weeks. In the AFC, the two teams in the current Wild Card spots have three losses. There are eight other teams with four or five losses that are within two games of being in their shoes. In the NFC, the two Wild Card teams also have three losses, and there are seven teams with three, four or five losses.

The picture should become more clear each and every week. For now, here are the 2017 NFL power rankings: Week 10.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-8)

Last week: 32 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Detroit

Cleveland had a bye week, but nothing happened in Week 9 to prove there is a team worse than them.

Yes, the 49ers are also winless and sit at 0-9 rather than at 0-8, but if the two teams played, who would you pick to win? Cleveland will likely win at least one game at some point this season because going 0-16 is hard to do.

Either way, the Browns are still the Browns and will end up with a top three pick that they will find a way to mess up.

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-9)

Last week: 31 (no change)

Next game: home vs. New York Giants

The 49ers are not a team with talent that should be winless. They lack a quarterback, and everyone can tee off on the run game. The defense is young and just needs time to grow.

This week, they play another horrible team and have a shot at a win. Last week, I picked the 49ers to upset the Cardinals, and it didn’t happen. This week though, they will beat the Giants and move up in the rankings.

30. New York Giants (1-7)

2017 NFL power rankings: week 10

(Photo from https://sports.yahoo.com)

Last week: 30 (no change)

Next game: away vs. San Francisco

New York was completely overwhelmed and annihilated by the Rams. New York needs to hit the reset button and rebuild this franchise. It is time to trade Eli Manning and fire Ben McAdoo.

This offense needs to build around Odell Beckham Jr. Defensively, they need to build around Landon Collins.

New York can look to OBJ and Collins to lead a new era of Giants, but this season is done. McAdoo has already proven to be incapable of leading this team to success.

29. Indianapolis Colts (3-6)

Last week: 29 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Pittsburgh

Indy beat a Houston team that just lost all hope after Deshaun Watson tore his ACL. Beating Tom Savage is not an impressive feat. This team also shut down Andrew Luck for the season, which basically tells the world they are throwing in the towel for the season.

Jacoby Brissett has looked decent, but his team has little talent on either side of the ball. Three wins are decent for what they have, but they will be lucky to win three more games this season.

28. Denver Broncos (3-5)

Last week: 22 (-6)

Next game: home vs. New England

Denver got manhandled by the Philadelphia Eagles, so badly that the Broncos have now moved into the top 10 of the NFL draft. They will stay at the top of the draft and likely finish fourth in the AFC West.

This team went from a juggernaut defense that could carry an offense to a team that needs a rebuild. They have nothing on offense that can help a quarterback. A whole new offense is needed. On defense, Von Miller is still a stud, but the secondary has been split up and is getting old.

Vance Joseph looks lost as a head coach. He doesn’t challenge things he should, but then challenges things he shouldn’t. In his press conferences, he keeps talking about how good practice was. The man is straight up overwhelmed. The future looks bleak at best in Denver.

27. Miami Dolphins (4-4)

Last week: 27 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Carolina

So Miami is the epitome of an average NFL team. One week they look like world beaters, and the next they look like the Browns.

Two weeks ago, the Ravens slaughtered them 40-0. This week they gave the Raiders all they could handle, but fell short. Jay Cutler threw for a season-high 311 yards. It still wasn’t enough to get a win, which says all you need to know about the Dolphins.

Even if Jay Cutler plays like an MVP, this team can’t make the playoffs.

26. Baltimore Ravens (4-5)

Last week: 25 (-1)

Next game: Bye

Baltimore is playing good defense, ranking in the top 10 in points allowed per game. The one issue they have is stopping the run, as they allow 125.9 yards per game.

On the other hand, the offense runs the ball well for an average of 120.9 yards per game. This only results in the team scoring 21.1 points per game. The Ravens are competitive, but won’t make the playoffs.

25.  Arizona Cardinals (4-4)

Last week: 28 (+3)

Next game: home vs. Seattle

Despite losing Carson Palmer, the Cardinals were able to win behind Drew Stanton and Adrian Peterson. Peterson had a career-high 37 carries for 159 yards. Stanton threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns. That was all it took to beat the San Francisco 49ers, who are going through a rebuild.

When Arizona plays better teams, they won’t be able to give Peterson nearly 40 carries that often. He is way too old and injury prone to rely on this much.

Next week, Arizona faces Seattle, and the Cardinals will fall back to reality.

24. Chicago Bears (3-5)

Last week: 24 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Green Bay

The Bears are coming off a bye and face their biggest rival. Because the Bears are at home, they have a real shot to win with Aaron Rodgers out. Chicago’s defense is much better than anyone realizes.

The Bears will continue to run the ball to take pressure off of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. For the first time in a long time, the Bears will not have to outscore the Packers to win.

They may not make the playoffs this season, but the Bears might be building something special in the windy city.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)

Last week: 23 (no change)

Next game: home vs. New York Jets

Tampa already has six losses, but are not as bad as their record. There is too much talent on this team for them to have this record, but sometimes that is the way the cookie crumbles.

When you look at the Bucs, the burning question is, what is their identity? The problem is they don’t have one.

Until Tampa can find their identity, they will continue to underachieve.

22. Cincinnati Bengals (3-5)

Last week: 21 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Tennessee

Cincinnati just can’t get above .500, and every time they get close, they run into a really good team. This team is on the brink of a complete implosion, and it showed when one of their most level-headed players, A.J. Green, threw Jalen Ramsey into a chokehold.

The Bengals offense will not help the defense out, who is holding up their end of the bargain. Until the offense can get rolling, the Bengals will remain in this downward spiral.

21. Houston Texans (3-5)

Last week: 14 (-7)

Next game: away vs. Los Angeles Rams

The Texans have lost their season with the loss of Deshaun Watson. He was the sole reason this team still had a shot to be competitive and possibly earn a playoff berth. Watson was not only leading the NFL in touchdown passes, but he had the Texans as the highest scoring team in the NFL.

An optimistic Texans fan should hope that the Texans tank the season to earn a high draft pick. If they get a great college player, then when Watson and the others who were injured and lost for the season return, the team will have enough talent to possibly win a Super Bowl.

20. Green Bay Packers (4-4)

Last week: 20 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Chicago

The Packers’ flaws are being exposed due to the injury to Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay’s defense can’t stop a nosebleed, and an offense led by Brett Hundley can not outscore other teams.

It is time for a change of scenery in Green Bay. It is evident that the success of the Packers is solely due to the greatness of Rodgers.

Green Bay needs a new general manager who will bring in more talent around him. They also need a new coach who can help build a respectable defense.

19. New York Jets (4-5)

2017 NFL power rankings: week 10

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America)

Last week: 26 (+7)

Next game: away vs. Tampa Bay

The Jets are stuck in the middle of the NFL. At 4-5, they have a shot at making the playoffs, but aren’t truly contenders for a spot or even a run.

At 4-5, they also won’t be getting a high enough pick to really change the team around. The Jets are stuck in Mediocreville, and there is no way out. Just when you expect them to win, they lose and vice versa.

We will see what they do this week, but whatever you expect to happen, the exact opposite will unfold.

18. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)

Last week: 18 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Jacksonville

The Chargers are a competitive team, but aren’t quite ready to be a playoff team. The defense is young but making good strides. The Chargers are only giving up 19 points per game.

Part of the defensive success is coming from their ability to pressure the quarterback. Los Angeles averages the third most sacks per game at 3.3.

If the offense can just protect the ball, they will have a shot to win any game they play.

17. Oakland Raiders (4-5)

Last week: 19 (+2)

Next game: Bye

The Raiders are down but not out. Their bye comes at a great time to give them a chance to regroup.

Derek Carr is beginning to heat up, throwing for over 300 yards in three straight games. During Carr’s hot streak, the Raiders are putting up 24 points per game.

The problem with Oakland is the defense. As crazy and fictional as it might sound, the Raiders have yet to record an interception. The defense is also giving up 23.8 points per game.

If they can fix the defense during their bye, they can make a run in their second half of the season.

16. Atlanta Falcons (4-4)

Lst week 15 (-1)

Next game: home vs. Dallas

The Falcons are seriously hungover from the Super Bowl. This is true and a bit lazy to say, but it is fun to say a team is hungover.

Atlanta’s true problem is that the offense is no longer lighting up scoreboards. Matt Ryan is not playing at an MVP level and is really missing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Ryan has just 11 touchdowns this season.

Dan Quinn was hired for his defensive genius, but Atlanta is ranked in the middle of the pack defensively. The road doesn’t get easier either, as their remaining opponents have a combined record of 38-27.

15. Buffalo Bills (5-3)

Last week: 7 (-9)

Next game: home vs. New Orleans

Buffalo has improved this season and might still make it to the playoffs. But they are still not a true contender.

The loss to the Jets shows that more than anything. Buffalo is building a great defense behind Sean McDermott. The offense, however, is a middle of the pack ranked offense, and that is what is going to hold them back.

They can’t lose games to teams like the Jets if they want to be considered a true contender.

14. Detroit Lions (4-4)

Last week: 16 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Cleveland

Beating Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers isn’t all that impressive, but any win in the NFL is tough to come by. The Lions were able to get back to .500 and are just two games back of the Vikings for first place in the NFC North.

The Lions will go as far as Matthew Stafford can take them, and typically that means 8-10 wins. 8-10 wins won’t be enough to beat out the Vikings for the division or even earn a Wild Card berth.

Detroit will sit perfectly in the middle of mediocrity for the rest of the season.

13. Seattle Seahawks (5-3)

Last week: 8 (-5)

Next game: away vs. Arizona

Seattle is going to be held back by their offensive line. Just when you think they are still going to be one of the best teams in the NFC, they lose at home to the Washington Redskins, who will finish as a .500 team.

The Seahawks can win a bunch of games due to the great defense and playmaking ability of Russell Wilson. However, they will not make it deep into the playoffs if they even make it.

12. Washington Redskins (4-4)

Last week: 17 (+4)

Next game: home vs. Minnesota

The Redskins are a better version of the Miami Dolphins. They look great one week and incompetent the next.

For now, they deserve the high ranking because they went on the road and beat the Seattle Seahawks. They will likely finish 8-8, but if they end up beating Minnesota, it will prove that they might be better then they have looked up to this point.

11. Tennessee Titans (5-3)

Last week: 12 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Cincinnati

Few are looking at the Titans as a serious threat, but they are quietly moving along this season. They are tied for first place in their division, and the three-team race has come down to a two-team race.

Marcus Mariota isn’t doing anything eye-popping, but has thrown only five interceptions in three games. Tennessee will continue to run the ball, and once Mariota gets hot, the Titans will have an unstoppable offense.

10. Carolina Panthers (6-3)

2017 NFL power rankings: week 10

(Photo from http://ftw.usatoday.com)

Last week: 13 (+3)

Next game: home vs. Miami

Cam Newton gets so much hate, but his receivers were dropping balls left and right last week. When it mattered most though, Cam took over the game and led Carolina to a win against a division rival.

For as bad as people say Cam is, he has the Panthers sitting at 6-3 and still in a prime position to earn a playoff berth. Carolina can get hot at any moment. Before you know it, they could end up with a first-round bye. Now, that probably won’t happen but anything is possible.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)

Last week: 11 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The Jaguars defense is really good and is the backbone of the team. From top to bottom, the Jaguars defense is elite. Jacksonville has the best scoring defense (14.6 points per game allowed), best pass defense (156.4 passing yards allowed per game) and are third in total defense (281.2 total yards allowed per game).

Jacksonville must continue to run the ball effectively to keep up their winning ways. It can be done, and Jacksonville is marching toward the playoffs with a championship caliber defense.

8. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)

Last week: 10 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Atlanta

Dallas got a season-changing win against Kansas City. Two weeks ago when they faced the 49ers, I mentioned it was the perfect time for them to get on a roll. Now they have won three straight.

The rest of the schedule remains challenging, but the Cowboys are back to the formula that gave them a ton of success last season. As long as they continue to run the ball well, they will stack up wins.

7. New Orleans Saints (6-2)

Last week 9 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Buffalo

After an 0-2 start and terrible defense, the Saints’ season looked like it was over. However, after winning their next six games, they are considered one of the best teams in the NFC.

Drew Brees continues to play at a high level, and they are getting help in the running game. The key to the Saints six-game winning streak is the improvement of the defense. Over their last five games, New Orleans is allowing just 15.4 points per game, including one shutout.

If they maintain this level of play defensively, then a Super Bowl run is possible.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)

Last week: 3 (-3)

Next game: Bye

Kansas City is in a rut with three losses in their last four games. They have cooled off mightly since their 5-0 start.

This is more due to the fact they are playing some tough opponents and losing close games. The Chiefs will still finish as one of the best teams in the AFC and will be a threat to the Patriots.

Their bye week comes at a good time to regroup for a run at a Lombardi Trophy.

5. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)

Last week: 5 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Washington

A bye week came at the perfect time for the Vikings. They played exactly half their season and got a chance to evaluate how they must finish in order to win the division. At 6-2, the Vikings are on pace for a 12 win season.

Minnesota fans should be cautious though because last season the Vikings went 5-0 before finishing 8-8. The second half of the Vikings schedule is much tougher than the first half was, but they should still find their way to 10 wins. They still have to face the Bears, Lions, Bengals and Packers, all games that they can and should win. The other four games against Washington, Carolina, Atlanta and the Los Angeles Rams could go either way.

Minnesota should finish between 10-12 wins, and if they do so, will finish as one of the top teams in the NFL.

4. Los Angeles Rams (6-2)

Last week: 6 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Houston

The greatest show on turf seems to have returned, but this time they are performing in Hollywood. Sean McVay is the leading candidate for coach of the year for what he has done with the Rams and their offense.

Jared Goff has made amazing strides in his second year. Goff has thrown for 2,030 yards, 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions in eight games. For comparison, in seven games last season, Goff threw for 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

McVay has also revitalized Todd Gurley, who has 1,024 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns. Los Angeles will continue to win games, and the playoff drought will end.

3. New England Patriots (6-2)

Last week 4: (+1)

Next game: away vs. Denver

Time to sound like a broken record. The Patriot way continues to bring about wins to the franchise. With Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Patriots will put up 12 or more wins and make it to the AFC Championship.

The only question is who will be their challenger and will it actually be a challenge. Speaking of challenges, they won’t have one this week because Denver isn’t very good.

The Patriots will be 7-2 in the next rankings, and if the Steelers falter, they can move up to No. 2.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

Last week: 2 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Indianapolis

The Steelers had the week off thanks to their bye week right at the halfway point of their season. Pittsburgh is back to getting it done on the defensive end. The Killer B’s (Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown) started to warm up before the bye, averaging 417 yards per game in their last three games.

Just like the Patriots, the Steelers will be playing deep into January with hopes of winning the Super Bowl.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)

Last week: 1 (no change)

Next game: Bye

Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the Eagles aren’t? They are one of the most balanced teams in the league, which is the reason they are 8-1. They average over 30 points per game with success in both phases of the offense. Philly throws for 240 yards and rushes for 136 yards per game.

Defensively, the Eagles are giving up less than 20 points per game and are 11th in total defense. Philly gets a break this week so they will remain at the top for at least another week.

 

Featured image from Getty Images

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NFL defensive records

Are all career defensive records in the NFL unbreakable?

Records are meant to be broken, right? Well maybe not in the National Football League.

Since its inaugural season in 1920, the NFL has seen countless defensive records broken, most recently in 2012 when Ed Reed broke Rod Woodson’s record for career interception return yards. After looking at all of the current records, I thought it would be fun to see which records will be broken next, and which will remain untouched.

With the continuous decline in the average career length of players, it seems that many career defensive records may stand the test of time. According to Statista.com, the average NFL player’s career is just 3.3 years, and a player with at least one Pro Bowl selection is 11.7.

After looking at each defensive record, i’ve found that each record holder spent at least 13-years in the NFL and started a minimum of 169 games. There are only four active defensive players in the NFL that have served such a tenure, hence why these career records continue to stand.

Career Interceptions

NFL defensive records

Paul Krause is a Hall of Fame defensive back who played for the Washington Redskins (1964-67) and Minnesota Vikings (1968-79). (Photo by christopherapage.com)

Career leader: Paul Krause (81)

Active leader: DeAngelo Hall (43)

Krause is a Hall of Fame defensive back who played for the Washington Redskins (1964-67) and Minnesota Vikings (1968-79). Over his 16-year career, he had 81 interceptions, including two seasons with double-digits, which is something that no active player has even done once. What makes this even more impressive is that he played during an era where NFL teams played 14-game seasons, opposed to 16.

The NFL’s active leader in career interceptions is DeAngelo Hall, who is expected to make his return to the field this Sunday for the Washington Redskins. In his 14-year career, he has amassed 43 interceptions. The most he amassed in a season was six, which was a mark he reached twice (2005, 2010). Hall’s career is coming to a close, and he stands no chance of reaching 81 interceptions. So are there any other active players that can eventually catch Krause?

Not likely. Richard Sherman has the most interceptions for a player under 30 years old with 32 in 103 games. Sherman is unlikely to reach this mark as he has only eight interceptions in his last 39 games, opposed to the 16 interceptions he had across a 32-game span from 2012-13.

A decrease in Sherman’s interception totals may be correlated to his increasing reputation as one of the leagues lockdown corners. Quarterbacks won’t throw the ball to Sherman’s man enough for him to come anywhere close to Kraus.

The young defensive back that stands any chance to match Kraus’ interception totals is Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs. Peters has played in only 39 games, but has already totaled 17 interceptions. If he continues his 0.44 interception per game pace for another decade, he would pass Krause in his 13th season.

Only time will tell if Peters has what it takes, although one can assume that quarterbacks will stop throwing the ball to his side as his lockdown reputation continues to develop.

Career Interception return yards

Career leader: Ed Reed (1,590)

Active leader: DeAngelo Hall (838)

According to the New York Times, New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick referred to Ed Reed as “the best weak safety (he’s) seen since (he’s) been in the National Football League.” He added, “Every time you break the huddle, that’s who you’re looking at.”

Reed, also known as the “Ball Hawk,” ranks first in NFL history in career interception return yards with 1,590, and is seventh in career interceptions with 64. His net of nearly 25 yards per interception return puts him in a category with only Deion Sanders as one of the most dangerous returners in NFL history.

This record may seem unbreakable, although the aforementioned Marcus Peters could technically pass Reed if he were to intercept 52 more passes and continue his 23 yards per interception return pace. Although it may be improbable, it is not impossible.

Career Interceptions returned for a touchdown

NFL defensive records

Hall of Famer Rod Woodson holds the record for most interceptions returned for a touchdown with 12. (Photo by Solecollector.com)

Career leader: Rod Woodson (12)

Active leader: Aqib Talib (10)

Now this is a record that can be broken. Hall of Famer Rod Woodson holds the record for most interceptions returned for a touchdown with 12, although 31-year-old Aqib Talib is just two house calls away from matching Woodson’s mark.

Talib has had at least one pick-six in seven of his ten seasons. Talib is a vital part of the Denver Broncos “No Fly Zone” defense, and he should have no problem intercepting a handful of passes throughout the rest of his career. I would not be surprised to see Talib holding this record by the end of his career.

Career sacks

Career leader: Bruce Smith (200.0)

Active leader: Julius Peppers (151.0)

Bruce Smith, who has 200 sacks over his illustrious career, has been the NFL’s sack king since surpassing Reggie Whites’ mark of 198 in 2003. It took Smith 19 seasons and 279 games to reach this mark.

The active sack leader is Julius Peppers, who has 151 sacks through 16 seasons and 242 games. With Peppers’ retirement imminent, it is clear he is not a threat to break the record.

Including Peppers, there are only four active players in the NFL with over 100 sacks: Dwight Freeney (123.5), Terrell Suggs (119) and Elvis Dumervil (102.5).

In my estimation, there are only three active players that have a chance to sniff Smith’s record. An honorable mention is Khalil Mack, as he is one of the league’s premier pass rushers. Because he is already 26 years old (which isn’t old) and has only 34.5 career sacks, it will be a stretch for him to reach Smith’s 200 sack mark.

The most likely candidate to break this record is the 2015 Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. In his seven-year career, he already has 80.5 career sacks and is averaging about 0.85 sacks per game. If Miller were to continue this pace, he would need to play in just over 141 more games to break Smith’s record. The likelihood of Miller playing nine more seasons at an elite level is unlikely, although he could improve his current sack pace if he stays healthy in his prime.

J.J. Watt was on pace to contend Smith’s record after recording 76 sacks in 83 games, posting a rate of .92 sacks per game, but was thrown off track due to injuries.

Watt missed most of the 2016 season and will miss the remainder of the 2017 season, causing his chances of catching Smith to continue to dwindle. If Watt returns healthy for the 2018 NFL season and continues his torrid sack pace, he would need to play for another eight seasons to contend with Smith. As an injury riddled 28-year-old, it seems unlikely Watt will become the sack king.

The other active player who may one day approach Smith’s sack record is Joey Bosa. The 22-year-old has a total of 19 sacks in just 20 games, giving him an insane .95 sacks per game. If he were to continue this pace for 13 seasons, he would approach Smith’s mark. Bosa will need to stay healthy and hungry for over a decade, which is something that very few players are capable of in today’s NFL.

Career Fumble recoveries

NFL defensive records

Rod Woodson holds the record for career fumble recoveries for a defensive player with 32. (Photo from NFL.com)

Career leader: Rod Woodson (32)

Active leader: Julius Peppers (18)

This record seems to be the least likely to be broken, ever. Recovering a fumble is incredibly difficult as many different factors affect a situation, including positioning, hand eye coordination and luck.

Rod Woodson holds the record for career fumble recoveries for a defensive player with 32. Woodson spent 17-seasons in the NFL and recovered at least one fumble every year.

The active leader in career fumble recoveries is Julius Peppers with 18, although no other defensive player in the NFL has half as many fumble recoveries as Woodson. This record may in fact never be broken.

Career Forced fumbles*

Career leader: Robert Mathis (54)

Active leader: Unknown

I understand forced fumbles is not an official NFL statistic, and unofficial numbers prior to 1991 were not recorded, although it should be.

According to Sportshoopla.com, unofficially, Robert Mathis is the NFL’s leader in career forced fumbles with 54. Unfortunately, because this stat is not officially calculated by the NFL, a list of active players’ career forced fumbles are not available, forcing me to believe this record will not be broken until the NFL begins to officially count the stat.

Career safeties

NFL defensive records

Jared Allen holds the NFL record for career safeties with four. (Photo by Genevieve Ross)

Career leader: Jared Allen, Doug English and Ted Hendricks (4)

Active leader(s): Calais Campbell, Leonard Floyd and Junior Galette (2)

This record may seem breakable since safeties are extremely uncommon. According to Ken Belson of the New York Times, one safety occurs every 14.31 games. Also, no player has ever recorded more than one safety in a single game.

There is a tie between three players for this record, the most recent being Jared Allen, who played in the NFL for 12 seasons. He recorded them all in just three seasons (2008, 2009, 2011).

Leonard Floyd seems like the most likely of the group to break this record, as he is half-way there and just 24 years old, but this record may be unbreakable due to the lack of safeties that occur.

So, are all career defensive records unbreakable? No, but clearly some records stand a chance of never being broken.

Did I miss any record-breaking candidates, or did I disrespect a legend by saying their record is breakable? Only time will tell, but let me know your opinions.

 

Featured image from SB Nation

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks week 9

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks Week 9

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

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it is by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 Week 9 NFL picks.

Last week: 10-3

Overall: 66-52

Teams on byes: Cleveland, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Angeles Chargers

Thursday Night

Buffalo Bills (5-2) 45 @ New York Jets (3-5) 14: Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills, as Chris Berman would say. This team is marching toward the playoffs behind a great defense. Buffalo is only allowing teams to score 16.4 points per game.

This week, they are going to suffocate New York’s offense. The bold prediction is that LeSean McCoy is going to go over 150 yards, and the Bills rout the Jets by more than four scores.

Sunday Morning

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks week 9

(Photo by Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Baltimore Ravens (4-4) 20 @ Tennessee Titans (4-3) 34: Baltimore is coming off a huge 40-0 win over Miami. Tennessee is not Miami. It is going to take more than good defense to win this game.

Tennessee is coming off a bye week, which gives them an advantage. The Titans will look to run the ball down the throat of the Ravens. Tennessee has the ninth-ranked rushing attack, while the Ravens can’t stop the run, giving up 132.8 yards per game.

The Titans will run the ball and open up the pass so that Marcus Mariota has a huge day with four total touchdowns.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) 34 @ New Orleans Saints (5-2) 37: These teams are trending in opposite directions. Both were expected to be in the other’s shoes.

Drew Brees has had some big games against the Bucs over the years, and this will be another. Tampa Bay is ranked 30th in pass defense.

New Orleans will put up a lot of points and push the Bucs to the depths of the sea. Okay, maybe not the sea, but definitely the depths of the NFC South.

Los Angeles Rams (5-2) 31 @ New York Giants (1-6) 27: New York should just throw in the towel on the season. They should have also sent away Eli Manning so that he doesn’t have to end his career on a rebuilding team.

The Giants have failed to live up to expectations and are going to lose their seventh game in eight tries. Los Angeles had a week off and will be looking to get back to having the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. Houston has surpassed them by 0.4 points. Todd Gurley will have 200 all-purpose yards to send the Rams to 6-2.

Denver Broncos (3-4) 16 @ Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) 24: Denver has no help at quarterback, and it is holding the entire team back. Philly can stack the box with seven, eight or even nine defenders, and they know that Trevor Siemian will not be able to beat them. Denver’s defense can only do so much to stop the bleeding this season.

The Eagles, on the other hand, are flying high behind Carson Wentz. The addition of Jay Ajayi is going to help this offense even more, even if it isn’t right away. Philly wins this one at home fairly easily.

Atlanta Falcons (4-3) 24 @ Carolina Panthers (5-3) 27: In what most would consider a head-scratching move, Carolina shipped out Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo minutes before the trade deadline ended. This could be the move that actually improves Cam Newton’s play.

Before you go crazy, think about this. Cam Newton won league MVP when Kelvin Benjamin missed the entire season.

Cam will have a huge game this week. Atlanta snuck by the Jets and still do not look like a Super Bowl contender. This week they will lose ground when they go into Carolina.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) 20 @ Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3) 24: Sacksonville is hosting the Cincinnati Bengals this week, and it could mean another 10 sack performance by this great defense. This is the type of game the Jaguars must win if they are serious about making the playoffs.

The Bengals must also win this game to get back into the thick of things. Cincinnati can win this game, but it will come down to who can get to 20 points first, and the Jaguars will do so thanks to their rushing attack.

Indianapolis Colts (2-6) 21 @ Houston Texans (3-4) 34: Houston has found something special in Deshaun Watson, who is tied for first in the NFL in touchdown passes with 19. This man has also pushed the Texans to the No. 1 scoring team in the NFL. He is doing wonders, and once this team becomes fully healthy, they will be dangerous.

This week they get to take on the dreadful Indianapolis Colts. Houston should roll at home to get back to .500 on the season.

Sunday Afternoon

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks week 9

(Photo by Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Arizona Cardinals (3-4) 17 @ San Francisco 49ers (0-8) 20: San Francisco made a blockbuster trade to acquire coveted backup Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots. He won’t be ready this week, but will be the future of this franchise at quarterback.

This week, they host the Cardinals in a game they can steal. If they contain the Cardinals offense, which is missing Carson Palmer and David Johnson, then the offense can ride Carlos Hyde to a win. With the moment from the big trade, the 49ers will do both of these to get their first win of the season.

Washington Redskins (3-4) 19 @ Seattle Seahawks (5-2) 27: Seattle is the NFC’s version of the Patriots. No matter their flaws, or what is going on in the rest of the league, they pile up wins.

Russell Wilson isn’t getting the national recognition he is used to, but is still having an excellent season. Wilson has 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions through the air. He will be a handful for the Redskins this week.

Washington lost what was somewhat of a playoff game last week. The Redskins are not going to win this game on the road, and they will miss the playoffs again with Kirk Cousins.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) 30 @ Dallas Cowboys (4-3) 27: Dallas has gotten back to the formula that made them successful last season, which is running the ball effectively. In the last two games, the Cowboys are averaging 217 yards on the ground.

To have a shot in this game, they must run the ball to control the clock and keep Kansas City’s offense off the field. They won’t be able to stop this offense for four quarters and ultimately will lose.

Sunday Night

Oakland Raiders (3-5) 34 @ Miami Dolphins (4-3) 20: Oakland has been very underwhelming. This is a must win, or they can kiss the playoffs goodbye.

Miami has officially thrown in the towel on the season by trading Jay Ajayi. Jay Cutler came out of retirement to collect millions and has averaged just over 150 yards passing per game.

Miami has nothing going for them anymore, and this shouldn’t be a contest. Derek Carr will have a big day to keep Oakland’s season alive.

Monday Night

Detroit Lions (3-4) 31 @ Green Bay Packers (4-3) 27: In the beginning of the season, this game had the possibility of being a great primetime game. But the Packers have lost Aaron Rodgers, and the Lions have lost three straight and do not look like a playoff team.

Neither team can run the ball effectively. This could be an all out aerial attack, and Matthew Stafford is better than Brett Hundley. The Lions will win in Green Bay to push both teams to 4-4.

 

Featured image from http://turnonthejets.com

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 NFL power rankings Week 9

2017 NFL power rankings: Week 9

There were not a lot of changes to the power rankings after a pretty predictable week of football. Most the teams that were expected to win did their job and won the game. The playoff picture is starting to form and the races will begin to heat up as the weather around the country gets colder. Here are the 2017 NFL power rankings for Week 9.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-8)

2017 NFL power rankings Week 9

(Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

Last week: 32 (no change)

Next game: Bye

Cleveland had the world stunned after the first half of their game in London. They were up on the Vikings 13-12 at the half.

The Browns went out in the second half and got outscored 21-3. This proves that the Browns have talent and they are still learning how to win.

They get a week to regroup with a bye and will be looking to find a win in the second half of the season so that they won’t become the second team to finish a season 0-16.

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-8)

Last week: 31 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Arizona

The 49ers got manhandled against the Eagles, but it was pretty expected. Philly is the best team in the NFL, and San Francisco doesn’t even have a win.

The 49ers will continue to struggle. Unless the Browns find a way to get a win, they won’t move much in these rankings. With time and patience though, John Lynch will rebuild the 49ers into winners. That much shows with their draft trades and their recent trade for Jimmy Garoppolo.

30. New York Giants (1-6)

Last week: 30 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Los Angeles Rams

The Giants are coming off of a bye, but it won’t do much to help their season. At 1-6, there is little to no chance that they can make the playoffs. The offense only puts up 16 points per game, which ranks 30th in the league.

The entire offense needs to be rebuilt from the offensive line up. This week won’t get any easier either as they take on the Rams.

29. Indianapolis Colts (2-6)

Last week: 29 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Houston

The Colts almost beat the Bengals, but almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Indianapolis hasn’t had a good defense in a very long time. Even when they won the Super Bowl, the defense was only good in the postseason. They are giving up over 400 yards and 30 points per game. With Houston up next, they will likely add another loss to their miserable season.

28. Arizona Cardinals (3-4)

Last week: 27 (-1)

Next game: away vs. San Francisco

Arizona had a bye week last week, but the rest of the season still looks dreadful. After losing David Johnson early in the season, the Cardinals have also lost Carson Palmer. Arizona’s offense is going to struggle to put up points even though they still have Larry Fitzgerald and Adrian Peterson.

The defense can’t lead this team as they are giving up the third most points in the NFL at 27.3 per game. Arizona needs to tank the rest of the season to get a good pick that can help this team compete in a tough division.

27. Miami Dolphins (4-3)

Last week: 20 (-7)

Next game: home vs. Oakland

The Dolphins were utterly and completely embarrassed against Baltimore. They looked more like a 2-4 team rather than a 4-2 team.

All season I have been saying this team isn’t as good as their record. They won’t win more than six games this season, and last week’s performance against the Ravens shows why. Miami has nothing to go to on offense, and it will be even worse with the trade of Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins only average 13.1 points per game, fewest in the NFL.

This team is going to stink and may even fall into the bottom three by the time the season ends.

26. New York Jets (3-5)

Last week: 26 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Buffalo

The Jets had a shot to beat Atlanta, but were outscored 9-3 in the fourth quarter. New York is having a great season considering that nobody expected them to have three wins after eight games. They won’t win more than five games total, but they aren’t as far away from being a playoff team as we all expected.

This week they get a divisional rival that is on a roll and will likely lose their fourth straight game.

25. Baltimore Ravens (4-4)

Last week: 28 (+3)

Next game: away vs. Tennessee

Despite losing Joe Flacco during their last contest, Baltimore smacked the Dolphins 40-0. The Ravens scored two touchdowns off of interceptions, one by C.J. Mosley and the second by Jimmy Smith.

Going forward, this team will need these type of performances to win games. Baltimore may also be without Flacco for an extended amount of time.

Either way, this team may be competitive, but won’t be a playoff contender.

24. Chicago Bears (3-5)

Last week: 25 (+1)

Next game: Bye

The Bears defense is keeping this team competitive. Chicago played the Saints tough, but ultimately fell short 20-12.

Not many people talk about it, but the Bears do have a very stingy defense. In their last three games, teams are only scoring an average of 15.7 points per game on them.

If Chicago can continue to run the ball effectively as Mitch Trubisky grows as a quarterback, then this team can pull off some upsets. In the end, the future looks bright in Chicago.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)

Last week: 24 (+1)

Next game: away vs. New Orleans

It is hard to condone the Bucs moving up a spot in these rankings, but the Dolphins getting annihilated forced a few teams to move up.

Just like the Dolphins are not as good as their record, the Bucs aren’t as bad as their record. Tampa has lost three of their five games by five points or less. This team is on the verge of being good. Once they learn how to win close games, they will be dangerous.

22. Denver Broncos (3-4)

2017 NFL power rankings Week 9

(Photo by Jack Dempsey / AP)

Last week: 19 (-3)

Next game: away vs. Philadelphia

It is so obvious that Denver needs help at quarterback. Trevor Siemian is incapable of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. He would make an excellent backup though.

The Broncos will be held back by their inability to pass. Teams can stack the box and stop the run, forcing them to throw the ball. That is exactly what the Eagles will do to send Denver to another loss.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4)

Last week: 23 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Jacksonville

The Bengals were extremely close to having their season end. A loss to the Colts would have been a new low. Cincinnati managed to win the game 24-23 in the end.

The Bengals are clawing their way back into the playoff race. The task will remain difficult this week as they travel to Jacksonville to take on the toughest defense in the league. A win puts them back in the thick of the playoff race while a loss makes their task almost impossible.

20. Green Bay Packers (4-3)

Last week: 21 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Detroit

The Packers had a bye week to try and figure how they are going to ride Brett Hundley to some wins. The problem is the defense and the run game. Neither will take enough pressure off of Hundley to win enough games to catch the Vikings or earn a wildcard berth.

The Packers should tank the rest of the season and get a good draft pick to help out Aaron Rodgers. This week they take on the Lions, and there is a good chance they find a way to win.

19. Oakland Raiders (3-5)

Last week: 19 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Miami

In order for the Raiders to make the playoffs, they can only lose one more game the rest of the season. Having more than six losses will eliminate any team contending for the Wild Card.

To get their season on track, they have to travel to Miami to take on a bad Dolphins team. If Oakland losses this game, their season is over. If they win, it will likely be the confidence booster they need to revive their playoff hopes.

18. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)

Last week: 17 (-1)

Next game: Bye

Los Angeles’ three-game win streak came to a halt, but nobody expected it to continue in New England. They did keep it close, losing by just eight points.

Heading into the bye, Los Angeles is 3-5, but are better than their record indicates. They could get hot and make a run for the playoffs, but it is unlikely.

The Chargers must continue to build their defense and tailor the offense around Melvin Gordon. Once they find the replacement to Philip Rivers, the Chargers can truly become contenders.

17. Washington Redskins (3-4)

Last week: 16 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Seattle

Washington was basically in a playoff game against Dallas and lost. They couldn’t stop the run at all as Ezekiel Elliott ran for 150 yards. The Redskins were also unable to run the ball themselves.

Washington doesn’t have a team talented enough to make the playoffs. To even have a chance to win games, they must protect the ball, and the Redskins have a minus turnover ratio. Moving forward, Washington will finish somewhere around six or seven wins.

16. Detroit Lions (3-4)

Last week: 14 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Green Bay

The Lions have stumbled to a 3-4 record. They can’t bring it together at the same time. One week the offense plays amazing. The next week, the defense does.

Matthew Stafford is doing his thing on offense, but the Lions still don’t run the ball well enough consistently. The Lions only average 82.1 rush yards per game. Until they balance their offense, this team will not find success.

15. Atlanta Falcons (4-3)

Last week: 18 (+3)

Next game: away vs. Carolina

The defending NFC Champions struggled against the Jets, but still found a way to win. Offensively, Atlanta is not clicking the way they were last season, and Matt Ryan is struggling. He has only thrown nine touchdowns in seven games.

If the Falcons are to become a contender again he must get this offense rolling. Until then the Super Bowl hangover will continue and the Falcons will be in danger of missing the playoffs.

14. Houston Texans (3-4)

Last week: 11 (-3)

Next game: home vs. Indianapolis

Houston put up a valiant fight against the Seahawks in Seattle, mostly because Deshaun Watson is a stud who nobody should have passed on.

Watson is giving the Houston fanbase something to look forward to. As he develops, he will have the Texans as Super Bowl contenders for the next ten years.

Right now, they are going to play .500 ball with all the injuries on defense and the lack of an offensive line. This week they should pull back to .500 with the Colts coming to town.

13. Carolina Panthers (5-3)

Last week: 14 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Atlanta

Carolina got back in the win column after a disappointing loss to the Bears. The defense stepped up by shutting out the Buccaneers.

Cam Newton is still struggling this season, and it is causing the up and down season from the Panthers. If Cam can start playing at the level he is capable of, then this team will become extremely dangerous.

This week they have a tough game against their rival Falcons. A win would help the Panthers stay on the heels of New Orleans for first in the NFC South.

12. Tennessee Titans (4-3)

Last week: 13 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Baltimore

Just like Jacksonville, Tennessee jumped up a spot while on a bye due to Houston’s loss. Tennessee is a roller coaster right now. They have had great highs and bigger lows.

Coming off their bye, they have a two-game winning streak and are fortunate enough to face Baltimore next, a team they are better than and should beat.

Tennessee has the ninth-ranked rushing attack, averaging 124.6 yards per game. They must continue running the ball to stack wins and fight for a playoff berth.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)

2017 NFL power rankings: week 9

(Photo from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPdIb6uKkBI0)

Last week: 12 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Cincinnati

Thanks to a loss by the Texans, Jacksonville jumped up a spot while on a bye. The Jaguars are 4-3 but are still poised for a playoff appearance due to their historically great defense. Jacksonville ranks sixth in total defense (300.3 yards per game), first in pass defense (161.7) and is giving up just 15.7 points per game. The Jaguars have 33 sacks in just seven games and have also forced 16 turnovers this season. If they protect the ball they will continue to win games.

10. Dallas Cowboys (4-3)

Last week: 10 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Kansas City

Dallas’ game against Washington felt like a playoff game. Both teams were 3-3 and trying to keep their season afloat with a win. Dallas won the game 33-19 to keep their season alive.

The Cowboys have won two straight games because they are finally running the ball successfully. In those two games, Dallas has averaged 217 yards per game on the ground. They must keep that up if they want to find themselves in the playoffs.

9. New Orleans Saints (5-2)

Last week: 9 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Tampa Bay

The Saints are on a five-game winning streak and in control of the NFC South. Most predicted it would be the Falcons, while others were split between the Bucs and Panthers. Few expected it to be the Saints.

As usual, the Saints are doing it with their offense behind future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. New Orleans’ 27.3 points per game is sixth in the NFL.

The defense has stepped up lately, allowing just 344.7 yards per game in their last three games. That is why they have won five straight.

8. Seattle Seahawks (5-2)

Last week: 8 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Washington

Seattle was in a shootout against the Houston Texans. Fortunately for them, Russell Wilson threw for a career-high 452 yards and four touchdowns to lead them to a win. The lack of a strong offensive line has yet to hurt the Seahawks. Defensively, Seattle had a bad week, but is still the strength of this team.

They should get another win this week against the Redskins. The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC will require a path through Seattle if they keep this up.

7. Buffalo Bills (5-2)

Last week: 7 (no change)

Next game: away vs. New York Jets

Buffalo had their most convincing win of the season, beating Oakland 34-14. The Bills are for real and can truly challenge the Patriots for the top spot in the AFC East.

Buffalo, like many of the top teams in the NFL this season, is doing it with defense. Buffalo is tied for second in points allowed with 16.4 points per game.

The Bills don’t need to do much offensively to win games, and that is why the Bills are seeing success.

6. Los Angeles Rams (5-2)

Last week: 6 (no change)

Next game: away vs. New York Giants

The Rams are coming off a bye and are now in second place in both scoring offense and in their division. They have the same record as the Seahawks, but Seattle beat them once this season.

This week, they get to face the Giants, who only have one win this year. Los Angeles is going to run the ball and play solid defense to get another win. If they lose, they could see a significant drop in the rankings.

5. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)

Last week: 5 (no change)

Next game: Bye

Early on against the Browns, the Vikings looked lackadaisical. They were also in danger of having the worst loss in the NFL this season. At halftime, they were trailing 13-12, but outscored the Browns 21-3 in the second half to pull out a win and stay atop the NFC North division.

Moving forward, the Vikings will continue to rely on their Super Bowl caliber defense to win games and get into the playoffs.

4. New England Patriots (6-2)

Last week: 4 (no change)

Next game: Bye

The Patriots head into the bye on pace for 12 wins, also known as a typical Patriots season. New England has gotten to six wins by improving their defense.

In the first four games of the season, New England was giving up 32 points per game. In the last four games, the Patriots are only giving up 12.8 points per game.

It may sound like a broken record, but the Patriots will continue to win, continue to be a Super Bowl contender and continue to remain in the top five of everyone’s power rankings.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)

Last week: 3 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Dallas

The current run Alex Smith is on is quite legendary. After half a season, Smith is completing 69.1 percent of his passes with an average of 8.4 yards per attempt, which is a career high. He has also thrown for 2,181 yards 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Yes, you read that correctly. Alex Smith has no interceptions through the first eight games. This offense is clicking on all cylinders and should continue to lead this team to victories.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

Last week: 2 (no change)

Next game: Bye

Pittsburgh heads into their bye with a big road win to push their record to a stellar 6-2. They are on pace for 12 wins and a possible first-round bye.

The Steelers are led by a defense that is a nightmare for opponents’ passing attacks. Pittsburgh has the second-best pass defense, allowing just 180 yards per game. The offense is finally getting hot as well, scoring 20 points or more in their last two games.

The Steelers will get some rest before facing a very easy second-half schedule. Their remaining opponents have a combined record of 26-32.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)

Last week: 1 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Denver

Philly continues to roll through the competition. Their latest victim was the San Francisco 49ers, who they beat down 33-10.

The Eagles are firing on all cylinders. The offense is ranked sixth in total yards (371.8), 11th in passing yards (242.5), fifth in rushing yards (129.2) and fourth in points (29).

Defensively, the Eagles rank 14th in total defense (327.1), first in rush defense (70.4) and 10th in points allowed (19.5). They are a balanced team, and the only thing that can beat the Eagles at this point is themselves.

 

Featured image from SportsFormulator

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Domingo Santana fantasy

Domingo Santana fantasy: By the numbers

Domingo Santana broke out in 2017, finishing as a top-20 outfielder in standard ESPN fantasy baseball leagues, ahead of players like Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, Andrew Benintendi and Andrew McCutchen. Was Santana’s 2017 season a fluke, or a sign of what’s to come?

Background

Domingo Santana fantasy

Domingo Santana was traded to the Houston Astros in a multi-player deal that sent All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence to Philadelphia. (Photo from Wikipedia.com)

Santana originally signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009 as an international free agent. After three mediocre minor league seasons in low and single-A, Santana was traded to the Houston Astros in a multi-player deal that sent All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence to Philadelphia.

In his first full minor league season with Houston, Santana batted .302 with 23 home runs, 87 runs scored and 97 RBIs in 119 games in high-A. He was promoted to double-A in 2013 and batted .252 with 25 home runs, 72 runs scored and 64 RBIs in 112 games. Although there was a bit of regression in his batting average and BABIP from 2012 to 2013, the Astros felt enough comfort to continue Santana’s ascension through the minors.

In 2014, Santana played 120 games with the triple-A Oklahoma City Red Hawks, where he would bat .296 with 16 home runs, 63 runs scored and 81 RBIs. His first major league action came in 2014, but in his six games and 18 plate appearances, Santana failed to record a hit and struck out 77.8 percent of the time.

Santana began his 2015 campaign in Oklahoma City. After 75 games played with a .320 batting average and 16 home runs, the Astros decided to trade the then 22-year-old and others to the Milwaukee Brewers for starting pitcher Mike Fiers and All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez. Santana continued his success that season, batting .380 with 18 RBIs in the remaining 20 games of the season with the triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

In 2016, Santana began the year in the major leagues with Milwaukee, but only played in 77 games due to right elbow and shoulder injuries that landed him on the disabled list on two separate occasions. Santana went on to bat .256 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs, putting him on a 162-game pace to hit 23 home runs with 67 RBIs.

2017 season 

2017 will be considered Santana’s breakout campaign. In 151 games, a 24-year-old Santana batted .278 with 30 home runs, 88 runs scored, 85 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. He managed to finish as a top-20 fantasy baseball outfielder and can be considered one of the biggest draft steals of the season.

Among qualified batters, Santana’s BABIP, or batting average on balls in play, ranked sixth highest with .363, and his strikeout rate ranked ninth worst at 29.3 percent. Out of the four professional seasons in which Santana played in over 100 games, he has registered a BABIP of at least .316 and strikeout rate above 28 percent. Santana fits in perfectly in this new era of baseball where sluggers are not afraid to strikeout, as guys like Aaron Judge (30.7), Khris Davis (29.9), Eric Thames (29.6) and Justin Upton (28.3) all managed to hit 30 or more home runs while striking out at least 28 percent of the time.

2018 outlook

Domingo Santana fantasy

Domingo Santana batted .278 with 30 home runs, 88 runs scored, 85 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 2017. (Photo by AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Due to his unproven track record and playing in Milwaukee, Santana’s cost is sure to be discounted on draft day. Do I think he will hit 30 home runs again? No, as his 30.9 home run to fly ball rate seems unsustainable, as it ranked third in the MLB behind only Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

Do I think he will steal 15 bases again? Yes, as Milwaukee has finished within the top two in stolen bases in the last two seasons, suggesting that Santana will have no problem swiping double-digit bags.

Do I think he can score and drive in over 80 runs? Yes, as he spent the majority of the season batting fifth, and even spent seven of his last 23 games batting second. This suggests that Milwaukee will use Santana in multiple fantasy friendly spots in the top half of their lineup in 2018.

Finally, do I think he can bat above .275? No, as his BABIP ranked sixth highest in the MLB at .363, suggesting that luck was on his side in 2017. I understand his medium and hard contact rates are impressive at 39.7 percent and 48.6 percent respectively, but I anticipate pitchers to continue to make adjustments, as Santana batted .291 in the first half, and just .262 in the second.

Overall, I think Santana will be a solid fantasy asset and will finish the year batting around .260 with 25 home runs, 80 runs scored, 80 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. In my mind, he will finish as a top-40 outfielder in 2018. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on Domingo Santana and his outlook heading into the 2018 MLB season.

 

Featured image by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Trey Mancini fantasy

Trey Mancini fantasy: Tale of the tape

Trey Mancini emerged as one of the league’s premier power threats in 2017. In this piece, I will discuss his past and present performance, as well as my expectations moving forward.

Background

Trey Mancini fantasy

Trey Mancini was an eighth-round selection out of the University of Notre Dame by the Baltimore Orioles in 2013. (Photo by Zimbio.com)

Mancini was an eighth-round selection out of the University of Notre Dame by the Baltimore Orioles in 2013. That year, a then 21-year-old Mancini played 68 games with low-A Aberdeen in the New York-Pennsylvania League. He rose through the minor leagues at a steady pace, playing in high-A in 2014, double-A in 2015 and triple-A in 2016. After 483 games in four minor league seasons, Mancini totaled 189 extra-base hits and 275 RBIs while slashing .306/.357/.472.

In 2016, the then 24-year-old Mancini made his major league debut. In just five games, he managed to hit three home runs and drive in five RBIs. It wouldn’t be long until we saw what he was capable of at the next level.

2017 season

Mancini’s 2017 campaign exceeded most expectations. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder was an American League All-Star snub after failing to place within the top-15 in outfield voting despite batting .312 with 14 home runs, 15 doubles and 44 RBIs in 74 games in the first half. Carlos Beltran, future Hall of Famer and fan favorite, was the seventh leading vote getter for American League outfielders, even though he batted .227 with just 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in the first half.

Mancini eventually cooled off, batting a respectable .276 with 10 home runs, 11 doubles and 34 RBIs the rest of the way. He concluded 2017 with a .293 batting average, 24 home runs, 54 extra-base hits and 78 RBIs.

He spent the majority of the season batting fifth or sixth, as he had more than 50 at-bats in each lineup spot. Among qualified batters, Mancini registered the 13th highest batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, at .352 and managed to make at least medium contact on 80 percent of his batted balls.

2018 outlook

Trey Mancini fantasy

Trey Mancini’s raw power and contact rates show he is capable of being a catalyst in the heart of an order. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Mancini looks to be an integral piece to the Orioles’ puzzle moving forward. His raw power and contact rates show he is capable of being a catalyst in the heart of an order.

Despite the Orioles’ struggles (75-87), they ranked fifth in home runs (232) and eighth in batting average (.260) in 2017. In a lineup alongside Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop, Trey Mancini is sure to be a run-producing machine.

His first base and leftfield eligibilities further enhance his fantasy value, as versatility is key, especially in leagues that use individual outfield positions.

In my estimation, Mancini will be a border-line .300 hitter with a 30-plus home run upside. I am confident he will be drafted within the top-100, although I would be comfortable drafting him within my top-60 selections in 2018.

 

 

Featured image by Getty Images

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