Dragon Lance

Dragon Lance: godlike or garbage

It started innocently enough.  I was playing DotA with three friends, drinking beer and relaxing to the randomness that Single Draft offers.  The ten-minute mark comes up and the four of us start talking about what items we should each build against our enemies.  As Luna, I started getting conflicting messages from my teammates about my item progression.  One person suggested that I finish a Dragon Lance and then work on getting my Manta Style.  It seemed like a solid enough suggestion, until someone else interjected with, “Don’t do that. Dragon Lance is a garbage item for garbage players.”

Wait, what?  Dragon Lance has been a core item on many ranged heroes since it’s introduction in patch 6.86 nearly two years ago.  Just last week, the item was picked up 22 times in the StarLadder i-League Invitational Tournament, and only six of those pick-ups turned into losses for their team.  A success rate of 73% seems pretty solid for a “garbage item”, but I was willing to hear him out.

His argument was that despite the attack range and increase stats, buying a Dragon Lance delayed more important core items.  He would rather put that gold toward an earlier Desolator or Manta Style depending on the hero.  We eventually dropped the conversation and moved on without coming to a consensus or resolution, but the topic piqued my interest.  I decided to take a look at the data and see if I could come to a conclusion for myself.

The Facts

Before we discuss the pros and cons of the item, we need a quick refresher on exactly what it does.  Dragon Lance is a 1900 gold item that gives +12 Strength and +12 Agility, as well as an attack range bonus of 140 units to ranged characters only.  12 Strength translates into an additional 240 health, as well as 0.72 health regeneration per second. 12 Agility translates into 1.71 points of armor and 12 attack speed.  As long as a Strength or Agility hero picks up the item, they will also gain 12 bonus damage to their auto attack.  For comparison, an Ultimate Orb grants +10 to all stats, and costs 2100 gold.

Outside of Dragon Lance and a few specific hero talents, there is no other way to affect a character’s attack range.  This makes the item fairly unique in DotA 2’s item pool.

Dragon Lance: Godlike Argument

Dragon Lance

Image courtesy of Dota2.com

Many of the pros of Dragon Lance have already been discussed in the previous paragraph.  240 health is significant in the early game, and can enable more aggressive play or reduce the success of enemy ganks.  12 attack speed also makes it just a little easier to get those important last hits on a hero.

If we spent the 1900 gold on building a different core item instead, we might not get many of these bonuses.  If we use Desolator as an example, 1900 gold is enough to purchase a Blight Stone and one Mithril Hammer.  This translates into 24 damage and -2 armor on enemy heroes hit.  If instead we’re looking at getting a Manta Style, 1900 gold almost gets us a completed Yasha, which grants 16 agility, 10 attack speed, and a movement speed bonus.  While these bonuses are great in their own right, they lack the additional survivability offered by Dragon Lance.

Another important feature of Dragon Lance is that it builds into Hurricane Pike, an incredible engagement tool.  Hurricane Pike offers an additional 3 Strength and 8 Agility over Dragon Lance for 2750 more gold.  This is in addition to the 10 Intelligence and 6 health regeneration that Force Staff grants.  Not every hero needs these additional bonuses, but they can make up for key weaknesses in the right hands.  Take Luna for example.  Not only does she have terrible attack range, but her Lucent Beam nuke quickly drains her limited mana pool.  Hurricane Pike makes up for these weaknesses and gives Luna a reliable way to engage or disengage during fights.

“But what if I’m playing a hero that doesn’t like to build Hurricane Pike?” you cry.  Well, that leads me to another important feature of Dragon Lance: it can be disassembled.  If the item is underperforming, you don’t have to sell it at a loss to build something more useful.  Disassembling the item grants you the Ogre Club and two Bands of Elvenskin back to build into more appropriate or more late game items like BKB, Aghanim’s Scepter, or Sange and Yasha.

Dragon Lance: Garbage Argument

Dragon Lance

Really, 140 attack range isn’t as much as it sounds like.  Screenshot taken from Youtube.com.

However glowing the previous section might appear, Dragon Lance is not without its downsides.  While many alternative items lack the survivability I mentioned, they have their merits.  If your team is stun heavy, maybe you don’t need survivability because you’re not taking damage in fights.  In this case working toward that Weaver Desolator or Luna Yasha might be more valuable to help burst down stunned targets more quickly.

This might be the heart of the argument against Dragon Lance.  Though it shows up as a core item in many hero builds, it isn’t always the best item to buy.  Does Viper really need a Dragon Lance, or would a Shadowblade be better for ganking early?  Does Weaver really need a Dragon Lance when he already has Shikuchi to help him engage targets?  Players don’t ask themselves these questions often enough in lower MMR pubs.  Often times they will instead blindly buy whatever the next item is on the guide they are following.

Also, while the item certainly helps heroes like Luna, it doesn’t solve her problems completely.  Even with Dragon Lance equipped, Luna is still out-ranged by the basic attacks of more than 40 heroes.  In the end, you can achieve a similar effect with the Yasha movement speed bonus.  Not only does it give Luna more catching power, but the higher agility bonus means she gets more damange and armor than Dragon Lance as well.  From there you can segue into Manta Style, which gives Luna her split pushing power and the survivability she missed by not purchasing Dragon Lance.

Conclusion

Dragon Lance is a unique item that gives great stat value for its price while being versatile enough to build into different items without eating a huge gold loss.  However, players shouldn’t purchase the item on impulse without first considering the game situation.  After seeing both the pros and cons, I found my opinion fell squarely in the middle of the “Godlike to Garbage” spectrum.  Situational is probably the best word to describe the item.

Think about it.  The only heroes that want this item are ranged carries with low attack range, which is a relatively small percentage of the hero pool.  If you are not planning on building into a Hurricane Pike, then purchasing a Dragon Lance becomes even less appealing.  If purchased at the right time and for the right reason though, it can give your carry the momentum they need to win their lane and in turn the game.

I guess it’s pretty much like every other item in the game then huh?


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saluting super duper baseball bloopers

Lloyd Moseby double steal: Try not to cringe

Lloyd Moseby double steal

Retired Blue Jays legends Lloyd Moseby and Roberto Alomar talk about the days of yore. (Photo courtesy of: Guelph Mercury Tribune)

Baseball is the most beautiful of games. It’s slow enough to follow, yet exciting enough to make your heart skip a beat. When the umpire motions to play ball, the fans never know just what to expect.

Baseball gives its fans lasting gifts of the mind. Remarkable plays to be recalled on those rainy days when baseball is on your lips, but not on the field. Saluting Super Duper Baseball Bloopers, the highlights of the game’s less than elite performances, exposes some of the most remarkable happenings the game has ever seen.

Now defunct Blockbuster Video produced arguably the greatest of all baseball blooper reels. Of course, I say this tongue in cheek but it might contain the greatest bizarre play of all time. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching “Super Duper Baseball Bloopers”, you might know where this is heading. If you haven’t seen it before, please, you owe it to yourself to watch it at least once.

Lloyd Moseby Double Steal

On Aug. 16, 1987, at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium, Lloyd Moseby was the man of the hour. Powered by Moseby’s three hits and late seventh inning two-run homer, the Toronto Blue Jays emerged 6-4 winners over the White Sox. While that’s all well and good, it’s far from anything other than run-of-the-mill baseball.

Rewind to earlier in the game before Moseby’s seventh inning blast and you will find one of the true gems of baseball footage. See the play here!

Lloyd Moseby double steal

Lloyd Moseby was one of the American League’s premier base stealing threats in the 1980s. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

With White Sox right-hander Bill Long on the mound and Carlton Fisk behind the plate, Fisk set up outside and readied for the pitch. The way Fisk set up before the offering from Long suggests he knew Moseby was running. Fisk was right in thinking so because Moseby was a perennial 30+ steals guy in the 1980s.

Right on cue, when Long unleashed his fastball toward home Moseby lit out for second base. Ozzie Guillen moved swiftly from his short stop position to cover the bag. Catching the pitch, Fisk exploded out of his crouch and uncorked a strike- to center fielder Kenny Williams.

Yes, former White Sox GM Kenny Williams.

Fisk’s throw to second was horrendously overthrown into center field. Moseby, with his head down chugging for second, most likely never saw the ball. Seeing that Kenny Williams had the ball, Moseby had to be thinking he had made a terrible mistake. Thinking he was about to get doubled off, Moseby lit out for first again causing the broadcast team to meltdown. It’s the part that always makes me chuckle.

Instead of just letting the play die with Moseby back on first, Kenny Williams let loose a throw that would make your grandmother cringe. How Williams managed to upstage Carlton Fisk’s rotten throw to second will forever be a mystery. Williams’ throw was a nasty one-hopper that bounced off the AstroTurf and crossed up first baseman Greg Walker. Walker tried to stab at it, but the ball ricocheted off his glove and skipped all the way to the wall in foul ground.

As Walker gave chase Moseby used this opportunity to do an about face, kick the throttle back into gear and high-tail it back to second. Wisely, Walker decided to eat the darn ball instead of throwing it around the park like Fisk and Williams. In doing so he also limited any further damage to the pride of White Sox defenders.

After this spectacular play rolls on the tape, it streams seamlessly into a sly Moseby talking about how this was always the plan. He said this was an exercise to teach kids that you can do something twice and be successful both times. Yeah, sure Lloyd!

We believe you.

 

(feature photo courtesy of: ESPN)

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Jay Ajayi fantasy football

Was week 6 a fresh start for Jay Ajayi?

One of last season’s biggest surprises was Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi. After the signing of Arian Foster, Ajayi was bumped down on the depth chart to RB2.

After Foster decided to retire, Ajayi became the lead back, and the “Jay Train” took off from there. Ajayi became the fouth player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards in three games. He finished the season with 1,272 yards, eight touchdowns and an impressive average of 4.9 yards per carry. The beginning of this season hasn’t had the same result, but was week 6 a fresh start for Jay Ajayi?

Rough start

Ajayi, along with the entire Dolphins offense, has struggled mightily to start the 2017 NFL season. In five games Ajayi has had 102 rushing attempts to go along with a mere 391 yards. That equates to 3.8 yards per carry, one yard down from last year. Jay Train has struggled against subpar rush defenses like the Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints and New York Jets. Surprisingly, the defenses Ajayi has found success against have been Atlanta and the Los Angeles Chargers.

When given a heavy workload, we’ve seen the production we expect from Ajayi, including 26 carries for 130 yards against the Falcons and 28 rushes for 122 yards against the Chargers. However, his workload is inconsistent. In the other three games of his season, Ajayi didn’t have a game better than 3.8 yards per carry. He is the focal point of the Dolphins offense. When he is used like that, then we see great production.

Some of his inconsistency has come from the poor play of quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler has struggled like he did in his last years in Chicago, but this time it’s affecting not only his receivers, but Ajayi as well. This rough start has affected fantasy owners through the first quarter of the season, but things are looking up.

Bounce Back

Was week six a fresh start for Jay Ajayi?

Featured Image by athlonsports.com

Fantasy owners were probably annoyed that Ajayi didn’t get a touchdown to cap off his solid day, but things are on the up and up. In the second half of the season, we get to have Ajayi against the Patriots lackluster rush defense twice and the Jets defense another time. Ajayi struggled against the Jets the first time they played this season, but Miami will be looking for revenge especially as a playoff contender.

Again, when Ajayi gets the work he deserves, he succeeds. In two games with over 25 carries, Jay Ajayi has averaged 4.4 yards per carry and 5.0 yards per carry, numbers similar to last season. Now the Dolphins do have the sixth hardest schedule in the NFL, but after they saw the success they had running the ball and with Cutler continuing to struggle, the Dolphins should look to run the ball more and more. The one who can benefit from that is Jay Ajayi.

For fantasy owners who considered shopping Ajayi to try and bulk up the rest of their team, hold off on that. Pro Football Focus gave Ajayi a grade of 91.0 from a game with 130 rushing yards. It is good to note that 96 of his yards came after contact, so when the holes weren’t there, Ajayi made the most of his opportunity and took the Falcons for a ride. Look for Ajayi to continue his success and reap the rewards.

 

Feature Image from http://phinphanatic.com

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2017 NFL power rankings: week 7

2017 NFL power rankings: week 7

The NFL has the least predictable league in the country. Even with the countless injuries to the game’s biggest stars, it is hard to determine who is good, who is average and who is going to be picking in the top 10. Unless you’re the Browns, Giants or 49ers, we know those teams flat out stink. Still, the Giants upset the Broncos proving that in the NFL, any given Sunday is a truly viable slogan. With all the craziness and unpredictability happening in the NFL this season, it is difficult to rank the teams. Nobody ever agrees with power rankings as it is so this week’s rankings may cause an even bigger stir. Here are the 2017 NFL power rankings: week 7 edition.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-6)

Last week: 31 (-1)

Next game: home vs. Tennessee

Cleveland got a first-hand look at DeShaun Watson last week. They are kicking themselves seeing a guy they passed on leading the NFL in touchdown passes as a rookie. Cleveland may never find a guy to succeed at quarterback for them, there has to be some kind of a curse. Per usual, the Browns are terrible and the number one overall pick is a realistic possibility. The only question is how will they mess it up when it comes time to make the pick?

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-6)

Last week: 30 (-1)

Next game: home vs. Dallas

The 49ers are struggling through their rebuild but there is still a lot to be optimistic about looking toward the future. Their defense is going to be elite because John Lynch will continue to build the defense in upcoming drafts. The offense needs to build around Carlos Hyde who can be a workhorse for this offense. Until Lynch has two or three more drafts the Niners are going to be bottom feeders. If done right the wait will be worth it.

30. New York Giants (1-5)

Last week: 30 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Seattle

New York finally got a win, surprisingly against the Denver Broncos. The defense played lights out forcing two interceptions, returning one of them for touchdowns. The Giants also only allowed the Broncos to score 10 points. This was the defense many were expecting to see in the beginning of the season. New York was able to run the ball successfully too, which took pressure off Eli Manning. It was an unexpected win but it doesn’t change their season much. The Giants will still end up with a top 10 pick.

29. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)

Last week: 29

Next game: home vs. Denver

The Chargers are a few plays away from being 4-2 but until they find a way to win more games they will remain low in these power rankings. They got a big win against Oakland but the Raiders seem to be trending the wrong way. If they find a way to beat Denver they will earn a ton of respect but that is a big if.

28. Indianapolis Colts (2-4)

Last week: 28 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Jacksonville

The Colts blew a lead against the Titans to fall to 2-4. There is little the Colts are doing well this season and though it sounds like a broken record, they won’t go anywhere without Andrew Luck. The positive note is that despite their struggles they are only one game back from first place. If Luck can return soon they can still find a way to win the division but as of now, they look like a team that will be picking top five come April.

27. Baltimore Ravens (3-3)

Last week: 20 (-7)

Next game: away vs. Minnesota

The Ravens lost to Jacksonville 44-7 but this loss to the Bears is a season-low for them. Baltimore is only scoring 19 points per game and the offense can’t pass the ball. The Ravens rank 31st in passing yards per game with 159.7. Opposing teams can load the box to stop the run and fear nothing else. The deeper the Ravens go into the season, the harder it will be to run and get wins behind a defense that will be on the field often.

26. New York Jets (3-3)

Last week: 26 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Miami

The Jets are playing better than many could have predicted and exceeded all expectations. It looked like the tank was in, but they are somehow 3-3. Most of what the Jets do, they do is relatively average. They rank 13th in points allowed (21.7 per game), 15th in passing yards allowed (219.2 per game), 18th in rushing offense (105.2), 22nd in passing yards (213.5 per game) and 21st in total offense (318.7 yards per game). New York isn’t the laughing stock we predicted They are an average team but they still aren’t a playoff team either.

25. Chicago Bears (2-4)

2017 NFL power rankings

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

Last week: 25 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Carolina

Chicago got a huge road win in Baltimore in Mitchell Trubisky’s first ever road start in his second career start. It wasn’t pretty but the Bears played solid defense and ran for 231 yards to make life easy for their rookie quarterback. This is the formula for success in Chicago. Following this model will notch the Bears a couple of wins but they won’t be a player this season. This week the host Carolina and shutting down Cam Newton will be difficult. A win is possible but very unlikely.

24. Oakland Raiders (2-4)

Last week: 24 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Kansas City

Who are these imposters that have been wearing Raider jerseys since week three? After an impressive 2-0 start the Raiders have lost four straight games and are falling into a dangerous zone in the NFL. If they don’t right the ship soon they will not make the playoffs. Last year’s prolific offense is missing in action and there needs to be a missing person report filed for Amari Cooper. Cooper has 18 receptions for 146 yards and one touchdown. If the offense doesn’t find their groove then this team has no shot.

23. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3)

Last week: 21 (-3)

Next game: away vs. Pittsburgh

The Bengals are coming off a bye and their next task is the Pittsburgh Steelers who beat the last undefeated team in the NFL. Cincy is eighth in the NFL in time of possession and that is going to be key this week in their game. If they can keep the Pittsburgh offense off the field there will be less opportunity for the triple B’s to hurt them. A win against the Steelers on the road could propel the Bengals to new heights.

22. Miami Dolphins (3-2)

Last week: 23 (-1)

Next game: home vs. New York Jets

The Dolphins are one of the most confusing teams in the NFL. They open the season in week two after a hurricane to beat the Chargers 19-17. They then lose consecutive games scoring a total of six points and got shut out by the Saints. Everyone knows the Saints don’t have a defense capable of great things. After those two atrocious weeks, they win against Tennessee and on the road in Atlanta. It remains to be seen if the Dolphins are pretenders or contenders.

21. Green Bay Packers (4-2)

Last week: 4 (-17)

Next game: home vs. New Orleans

The Packers’ season is done, put a fork in them now. Aaron Rodgers covered up a lot of the Packers deficiencies with his greatness. Without Rodgers, the Packers wouldn’t have beaten Dallas or Cincinnati. Rodgers led epic comeback drives to win those games that very few men in this world could lead. That is the difference from 4-2 and 2-4 for Green Bay. Moving forward the running game and defense are going to need to step up. Green Bay only averages 88.3 yards per game on the ground. The defense ranks 14th in the NFL in total yards. It is unlikely the Packers improve in these areas well enough to keep the season alive.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)

Last week: 18 (-2)

Next game: away vs. Buffalo

Tampa Bay had high expectations for this season but have fallen to 2-3 after their loss to Arizona. They couldn’t slow down Adrian Peterson who ran for 134 yards. This team will continue to struggle as long as they give up 403.4 yards per game. Their secondary deserves most of the blame for giving up 301.6 yards per game. They don’t have to worry about a dangerous passing attack against Buffalo but going into Buffalo is still going to be difficult.

19. Denver Broncos (3-2)

Last week: 5 (-14)

Next game: away vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Denver looked horrendous against the winless New York Giants. They couldn’t stop the run against a team that had only been averaging 77.8 yards per game. The defense needs to get back to stopping the run to force teams into passing situations so that their deadly pass rush can be effectively. Offensively Trevor Siemian is proving to be an average quarterback. Denver needs to find someone who teams are scared of or they will continue to struggle offensively.

18. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)

Last week: 10 (-8)

Next game: away vs. Indianapolis

Jacksonville seems to be in the beginning stages of greatness. They are still learning how to win. The defense is on its way to becoming Super Bowl elite thanks to their awesome secondary. Jacksonville has the third ranked passing defense in the NFL giving up just 166 yards per game through the air. To become a truly dominant defense the front seven need to stop the run. That is their biggest issue as they give up 145.7 yards per game. They also need to continue feeding the beast in the backfield. If they do that they can find a way into the playoffs.

17. Arizona Cardinals (3-3)

2017 NFL power rankings: week 7

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

Last week: 27 (+10)

Next game: away vs. Los Angeles Rams

It would be an understatement to say that Adrian Peterson sparked this team. He flat out ignited the offense and it led to a win against Tampa Bay who was a very popular pick to make the playoffs. Peterson had 27 carries in his first four games this season but got 26 this week for the Cardinals. He ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns as well. If he maintains this type of production he will end up in the M.V.P race. Let’s see if he can keep this up this week against the Rams weak run defense which ranks 29th in the league.

16. Washington Redskins (3-2)

Last week: 19 (+3)

Next game: away vs. Philadelphia

The Redskins are coming off a bye week and their next opponent is the red-hot Philadelphia Eagles. These two teams already met this season once in Washington and it didn’t go well for the Redskins. Philly won the game 30-17 by scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter. Washington is going to try and run the ball to control the clock and win this game but it is unlikely. The Redskins are not going to stay this high unless they find a way to win in Philadelphia.

15. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)

Last week: 8 (-7)

Next game: away vs. San Francisco

Some may think it is unfair for the Cowboys to fall so far after a bye week but there are reasons for it. First off, there are teams that had a chance to show they were better and some teams, like the Vikings, Saints and Rams, look like better teams. The second reason is that the Ezekiel Elliot drama is ongoing. They should still win against San Francisco but catching Philly is going to be a season long challenge.

14. Detroit Lions (3-3)

Last week: 8 (-8)

Next game: Bye

The Lions couldn’t ask for their bye at a better time. It is time for them to regroup. Detroit has a very good shot at winning the NFC North after the Vikings knocked out Aaron Rodgers for the season. The Lions have also already beaten the Vikings in Minnesota. After this break they need to come out firing. There are points where this defense looks great. There are also times the offense looks great but they need to get it all clicking together. Detroit can still prove to be a playoff team but they better end this losing streak after the bye week.

13. Tennessee Titans (3-3)

Last week: 15 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Cleveland

It took a while but the Titans finally started rolling in the second half against Indianapolis. Marcus Mariota shook off the rust to throw for over 300 yards. Mariota connected with Taiwan Taylor on a 53 yard touchdown with 5:29 remaining in the game to give the Titans the lead before Derek Henry sealed the game with a 72 yard touchdown run. This team got a big win before they head to Cleveland. This is the point in the season where they start the train towards the playoffs.

12. Atlanta Falcons (3-2)

Last week: 7 (-5)

Next game: away vs. New England

I tried to tell people Atlanta wouldn’t make the playoffs this season because of their epic collapse in the Super Bowl. At some point they were going to be in a situation where their palms would get sweaty and those horrible memories would creep back into the front of their mind. That happened when they got a 17-0 lead at home against Miami. The Falcons blew a 17-0 lead and lost 20-17. Now maybe they were looking ahead to their matchup against New England but either way the loss was painful. They can’t afford games like that solely due to the psychological effect it will have. Hopefully they don’t blow a huge lead in New England because if they do this team will never recover.

11. Seattle Seahawks (3-2)

Last week: 11 (no change)

Next game: away vs. New York Giants

Seattle is also coming off a bye week and no matter what they did during that time, it isn’t going to fix their offensive line. Until that happens the Seahawks are a fringe top 10 team. The defense is still doing great things like only allowing 17.4 points per game which currently ranks sixth. The Legion of Boom is still the team’s identity. This week they face a Giants team coming off their first win of the season. It will be tough for Seattle to fly across the county and get a win despite the how bad the Giants are. They can’t take them lightly or they will lose and fall greatly in the rankings.

10. New Orleans Saints (3-2)

Last week: 22 (+12)

Next game: away vs. Green Bay

New Orleans is a completely different team than the one that started out 0-2. The defense has looked somewhat better but the offense seems to be rolling. Drew Brees is leading the offense to 29 points per game behind his 258.4 passing yards per game. This week they get to face Green Bay who’s secondary is decimated by injury. It should create a huge advantage for the Saints and they can continue their winning streak.

9. Houston Texans (3-3)

Last week: 17 (+8)

Next game: Bye

Deshaun Watson is slowly becoming a superstar. It is clear the man is going to be an electrifying player for years to come. Without him, this team would barely be competitive. The defense has suffered major injuries and is giving up 24.5 points per game. Watson is doing magical work with a bad offensive line. The Texans get a week off and once they return to playing they will be in the race for the AFC South crown.

8. Buffalo Bills (3-2)

Last week: 9 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Tampa Bay

Buffalo is coming off a bye and preparing to take on a Bucs team that cannot stop the run. Buffalo likes to run the ball but aren’t doing so as efficiently as they like averaging just 106.6 yards per game. This week LeSean McCoy will have a huge game. As the Bills try and control the clock the defense will have to defend for a fewer amount of plays making them fresher. They already have the number one scoring defense and with more rest, they could look even better. Buffalo is trending upwards and will fight for a playoff spot.

7. Los Angeles Rams (4-2)

Last week: 14 (+7)

Next game: home vs. Arizona

The Rams have the number one scoring offense in the NFL at 29.8 points per game. Todd Gurley is the engine of the offense and it is because of his play they have been successful on that side of the ball. Gurley has 521 yards on the ground and 245 yards receiving on the season. He puts a strain on opposing defenses, making the game easier for Jared Goff. Defensively, Wade Phillips has this team thriving in attacking the quarterback. Los Angeles is tied for second in the NFL in sacks. Next, they get Arizona in a divisional game. The Rams have the opportunity to stay ahead of the pack in the division if they can defend their home field.

6. Minnesota Vikings (4-2)

Last week: 13 (+7)

Next game: home vs. Baltimore

Minnesota just finds a way to keep the boat rowing. Despite constant injuries at the quarterback position, and other positions as well, the Vikings continue playing elite defense. Minnesota ranks fifth in points allowed per game (17.2), 14th in passing defense (216.8), third in rush defense (78.7) and fifth in total defense giving up 295.5 yards per game. With a defense this talented, the offense needs to just protect the ball and be average. Minnesota is doing more than that though averaging 356 yards per game which ranks 10th in the NFL. Now that Aaron Rodgers is out for the season the NFC North race is down to Minnesota and Detroit. The Vikings’ defense makes them the favorites to win it.

5. New England Patriots (4-2)

Last week: 6 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Atlanta

Don’t pay attention to New England and they will silently do what they always do. They will finish with 12 or more wins and be Super Bowl contenders. All paths to being a champion lead through the Patriots whether you’re in the AFC or NFC. This week they get another chance to play the Falcons in a Super Bowl rematch. The defense is really struggling ranking 30th or lower in points allowed, rush yards allowed, pass yards allowed and total yards allowed. It isn’t something to worry about because as proven in the past, the Patriots improve as the season progresses. They will be a top-five team for the rest of the season.

4. Carolina Panthers (4-2)

Last week: 3 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Chicago

The Panthers lost a tough game at home to the best team in the NFC. Carolina will use this as a learning experience to improve as a whole. They are in the top 10 in scoring defense giving up 20.3 points per game. This is helping the offense that is struggling to protect the ball. If the offense starts to protect the ball then the Panthers will become a scarier opponent. The Panthers should get an easy win this week in Chicago. If they lose this game then the panic may start on Carolina.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)

Last week: 12 (+9)

Next game: home vs. Cincinnati

The Steelers are back after a huge road win in Arrowhead. Nobody is talking about it but the Pittsburgh defense is one of the best in the league right now. They give up just 17 points per game, fourth best in the NFL. The strength of the defense is the first ranked passing defense. The Steelers are only allowing 153.5 yards through the air. The offense will come around to complete this team as a true juggernaut.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)

Last week: 2 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Washington

The Eagles continue to roll on both sides of the ball. The offense has a prolific offense behind second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. Philly averages the third most yards in the NFL with 383.2 per game. The defense is also playing outstanding. They are the best run stuffing team allowing just 65.7 yards per game. If they continue dominating both sides of the ball then a Lombardi Trophy may be in the immediate future.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (5-1)

Last week: 1 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Oakland

There is no need to overact to the loss the Chiefs suffered this past week. They weren’t going to go undefeated and they lost to a team that will be contending for the Super Bowl. Kansas City also should have won that game. They have to get over the hump of beating the Steelers because there is a good chance they meet them in the playoffs. But again, no need to overreact, they still have a good defense and extremely explosive offense. The Chiefs are still the best team in the NFL.

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Ozzie Albies 2018

Ozzie Albies outlook for the 2018 MLB season

Ozhaino “Ozzie” Albies will be one of the youngest players in the MLB next season, as he will turn 21 in January. The Curacao-born Albies will join the rising crop of Dutch infielders in the MLB a list that includes Xander Bogaerts, Jonathan Schoop, Andrelton Simmons and 2017 playoff hero Didi Gregorius.

Ozzie Albies 2018

Ozzie Albies was invited to spring training in 2016, but opened the season with Double-A Mississippi. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

Albies signed with the Atlanta Braves for $350,000 as an international free agent in 2013. According to Zach Dillard of Fox Sports, Albies was heavily influenced to sign with the Braves due to his personal connection with the aforementioned Simmons and Andruw Jones, who both are former Braves players and natives of Curacao.

As a 17-year-old in 2014, Albies was more than impressive, batting a combined .364 in 57 games in the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues. Heading into 2015, Albies was ranked within the top-100 prospects in baseball by Keith Law of Baseball Prospectus.

With heightened expectations, Albies did not disappoint, batting .310 with 29 extra-base hits and 29 stolen bases in 98 games. Albies was named to the All-Star Futures Games, where he was the youngest player to take the field. Unfortunately, he fractured his right thumb in early August, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

He was invited to spring training in 2016, but opened the season with Double-A Mississippi. In 138 games in Double and Triple-A, Albies batted a combined .292 with 49 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases.

He was invited to spring training once again in 2017, but was sent to triple-A as the Braves had a log jam in their middle infield with veteran Brandon Phillips at second base and first-overall pick Dansby Swanson at shortstop. In 97 games in Triple-A, Albies batted .285 with 48 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases.

2017 Season

Albies was called-up on August 1 and has since batted .286 with 20 extra-base hits and eight stolen bases in 57 games. This level of production would put Albies on pace to have 56 extra-base hits and 22 stolen bases.

He has an extraordinary 14.8 percent strike out rate and has made at least medium contact on 85 percent of batted balls, which are nearly identical figures to fellow middle infielders Jean Segura and Elvis Andrus.

2018 Outlook

Ozzie Albies 2018

Ozzie Albies promises to be an incredible fantasy asset, as even though he lacks dominant power, he makes up for it with speed. (Photo by Getty Images)

In 2017, the 20-year-old spent the majority of his time batting second and seventh. It is assumed he will be used primarily in the top third of the lineup in 2018. Albies promises to be an incredible fantasy asset. Even though he lacks dominant power, he makes up for it with his speed.

The Braves’ offense was very underrated in 2017, as they were ranked sixth in batting average and had the fourth fewest strikeouts. For fantasy purposes, batting in the top third of any lineup is great, but the Braves promise to be even more productive in 2018 with Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp and Ender Inciarte all healthy and returning.

The 2018 outlook for Ozzie Albies is incredibly bright. His draft stock is bound to increase by the day as we head toward the 2018 MLB season. The price for Albies will likely be between the 50th and 100th pick, depending on the draft date and league format. I will be buying plenty of Albies stock in 2018, will you?

 

 

 

 

 

Featured image by 11Alive.com

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Injuries 2018 MLB season

Injuries to keep an eye on heading into the 2018 MLB season

With the ALCS and NLCS around the corner and the 2017 fantasy baseball season officially in the books, it is time to assess the 2018 outlook for the following four players. They are all currently injured with fairly loose time tables for return, but also could be impact players next season.

Jimmy Nelson, Starting Pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers

Injuries 2018 MLB season

Jimmy Nelson’s 2017 WAR of 4.9 ranks fourth in the MLB, only behind Chris Sale, Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer. (Photo by The News and Observer)

Nelson quietly emerged as one of the most dominant pitchers in Major League Baseball this season.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Jimmy Nelson. His 2017 WAR of 4.9 ranked eighth in the MLB. Nelson also finished in the top 10 in K/9 (10.21) and xFIP (3.15) to go with a 3.49 ERA. In 175.1 innings, Nelson fell only one strikeout short of 200, which was a huge improvement from his prior career high of 148 in 177.1 innings.

According to fangraphs.com, Nelson’s curveball in 2017 was valued at 9.2, where a value of zero represents average, a positive value represents above average and a negative value represents below. To put this in better perspective, Clayton Kershaw’s curveball has been valued at a total of 63.8 over the course of his career, with a high of 16.5 and a yearly average of 7.2, although his curveball is currently valued at 6.4 in 2017. This shows that Nelson’s stuff is similarly effective to the likes of Kershaw.

The 28-year-old suffered a partially torn labrum and a strained rotator cuff after sliding back head-first into first base on September 8. He underwent surgery on September 19, which will undoubtedly set him back at the start of the 2018 season. According to MLB.com, Nelson shouldn’t be expected to return until midseason.

Nelson is well worth a flyer in fantasy drafts next season, as his price is sure to be discounted due to his long-awaited return.

Adam Eaton, Outfielder, Washington Nationals

Injuries 2018 MLB season

Adam Eaton tore his ACL and meniscus on April 28, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2017 MLB season. (Photo by the Cincinnati Enquirer)

In his first season in Washington after being traded for prospect pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, Eaton had found himself in a fantasy friendly leadoff role. It was undeniable that he could score triple-digit runs and steal double-digit bases atop a loaded Nationals lineup.

Unfortunately, he tore his ACL and meniscus on April 28, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2017 season.

Eaton was batting .297 with two home runs, three stolen bases and 14 walks through 23 games this season. His combination of speed, plate discipline, contact hitting and opportunity in the Nationals’ lineup push me to compare him to the likes of his former teammate A.J. Pollock.

Pollock is a career .286 hitter with a 162-game average of 16 home runs and 28 stolen bases. Eaton’s 162-game average is .284, 11 home runs and 17 stolen bases, showing that he offers similar value to Pollack a much cheaper price.

Early reports this season suggested that there would be a possibility for Eaton to return at the end of the 2017 season if the Nationals were to make a deep postseason run. However, the Nationals were eliminated in the NLDS and Eaton did not enter a game. This indicates that Eaton should be ready to go by the start of 2018, and by his own account according to the Washington Post, he plans to return “a better player for sure.”

Eaton’s confidence in himself is reassuring for his fantasy value moving forward, although the current outfield situation in Washington is not. Superstar Bryce Harper is locked into right field as long as he remains a National. Michael Taylor has emerged as much more than a depth outfielder after batting .271 with 19 home runs and 17 stolen bases in Eaton’s absence. Veteran slugger Jayson Werth was on pace for 23 home runs through 162-games, but was plagued with injuries. Top prospect Victor Robles has also shown that he is deserving of MLB at-bats.

It is uncertain if and to what extent Eaton will play in 2018. If he returns to an everyday role, he will reemerge to fantasy relevance once again.

Troy Tulowitzki, Shortstop, Toronto Blue Jays

Injuries 2018 MLB Season

Troy Tulowitzki is only three seasons removed from when he batted .340 with 21 home runs in 91 games with the Colorado Rockies. (Photo by Zimbio.com)

Tulowitzki was placed on the 60-day disabled list on August 6 after suffering ligament damage in his ankle. The 33-year-old played in only 66 games, slashing a career worst .249/.300/.378. Despite his clear struggles and lack of durability, manager John Gibbons told MLB Network Radio that they are committed to Tulowitzki as their starting shortstop in 2018.

He is only three seasons removed from when he batted .340 with 21 home runs in 91 games with the Colorado Rockies. The once perennial National League MVP candidate has been reduced to a shell of his former self. In his three seasons as a Blue Jay, he has a combined .250 batting average and just 36 home runs in 238 games.

He spent the majority of the season batting either fifth or sixth. With the anticipated departure of Jose Bautista and the Josh Donaldson trade rumors, it is hard to identify where Tulowitzki will fit in the order or how productive the Blue Jays’ lineup can be.

His fantasy value moving forward is a conundrum, as no one knows what to expect at this point in his career. Will he resurrect his MVP form? Or will his skills and durability continue to diminish? Only time will tell, but his price on draft day in 2018 is sure to be a bargain.

Michael Conforto, Outfielder, New York Mets

Injuries 2018 MLB season

Prior to the injury, Michael Conforto was slashing .279/.384/.55 with 27 home runs and 68 RBIs through 109 games. (Photo by NY Daily News)

Conforto underwent season ending surgery on September 6 to repair a torn posterior capsule in his left shoulder. His anticipated return is around early March, although this only gives him a month to ramp up baseball activities before the start of the season in April, suggesting that he will miss the beginning of the 2018 regular season.

Prior to the injury, Conforto was slashing .279/.384/.555 with 27 home runs and 68 RBIs through 109 games. This rate of production put Conforto on pace to hit 40 home runs and drive in 101 RBIs.

Whether he is in left, right or center field, Corforto is a lock to be in the Mets’ lineup. He has proven that he is not just a left-handed side of a platoon, but yet a budding superstar, as he was playing nearly everyday in July and August. However, he still only bats a career .180 against lefties, so be weary.

The soon-to-be 25-year-old is sure to be undervalued in fantasy circles next season. He is obviously coming off of an injury, but more importantly, he plays for the Mets, whose offense ranked in the bottom half of the league in runs, RBIs and batting average in 2017. With a healthy Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets could easily become a top-15 offense in 2018, making Conforto’s fantasy value rise immensely.

 

Featured image by NJ.com

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PGL Open

PGL Open Bucharest: The competition

It has begun. Starting with the Star Ladder i-League Invitational this weekend, there is a ranking tournament for the next three weekends straight.  The DotA 2 competitive dry spell is finally over.

The PGL Open Bucharest tournament is yet another Valve Minor, meaning 300 Qualifying Points will be up for grabs.  While they are not weighed as heavily as Valve Majors, these early points can be very important for players to establish their position on the leaderboards.  Very few teams from Star Ladder will make an appearance at PGL, so we have a lot to talk about.  Let’s get started.

Invited Teams

Evil Geniuses

PGL Open

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Artour “Arteezy” Babaev

Position 2 – Sumail “Suma1l” Hassan

Position 3 – Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Aurora

Position 4 – Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen

Position 5 – Clinton “Fear” Loomis

The TI5 Champions have played less than 20 games since TI7, but their performance has been healthy. It is hard not to contribute at least a portion of this success to the return of Fear as 5 position support and captain.  Zai’s departure surely dealt a blow to team morale, but Cr1t- is perfectly capable of stepping up to that 4th position in his stead. Now freed from the stress and responsibility of captaining, Cr1t- can focus more on being the playmaker he needs to be. Other than a surprise loss to Leviathan during the i-League Invitational Qualifiers, EG has been proving that they’re as strong as ever coming into this season.

LGD Gaming  

PGL Open

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Wang “Ame” Chunyu

Position 2 – Lu “Maybe” Yao

Position 3 – Xu “fy” Linsen

Position 4 – Yao “Yao” Zhengzheng

Position 5 – Chen “Victoria” Guanhong

LGD’s performance has been a little more shaky since TI7 than our previously mentioned direct invitee. Thanks to their participation in a few extra Chinese tournaments, we have a pool of nearly 50 games played since TI to base this assertion off of. Nevertheless, this lineup contains some of China’s best talent, and it would be a mistake to underestimate them. After all, this is more or less the lineup that placed 4th at TI7.  You don’t achieve that kind of accolade by being a second rate team.

Qualified Teams

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

There isn’t much to say about Team Secret that wasn’t already said in my StarLadder competition analysis. They have not had the chance to play enough since then to trigger a change of opinion. After qualifying for three minors back to back they’re still in a great position to get a head start in Qualifying Points this season.

Na’Vi

Na'Vi, i-League

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek

Position 2 – Danil “Dendi” Ishutin

Position 3 – Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini

Position 4 – Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan

Position 5 – Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev

Na’vi’s performance at StarLadder so far has been defined by solid team play and unpredictable picks. Unfortunately for Na’vi, their odd drafting picks have been met with mixed success. During their first game against Team Secret, Secret punished Na’Vi’s first pick Tiny hard. This effectively rendered the hero useless during the mid game where he needs to snowball into the late game. The third game was where things got really interesting, as Na’vi last picked an Ancient Apparition for Dendi to take mid. Ancient Apparition mid has not been seen in the meta for years, but it turned out to be exactly what their draft needed to counter Secret’s Timbersaw and Alchemist duo.

Regardless of the results of their erratic drafts, it makes for an incredible DotA watching experience. As long as the fans get good DotA to watch, isn’t that what is really important?

 

Immortals

PGL Open

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Kim “QO” Seon-yeob

Position 2 – Pyo “MP” No-a

Position 3 – Lee “Forev” Sang-don

Position 4 – Kim “Febby” Yong-min

Position 5 – Kim “DuBu” Doo-young

My familiarity with this roster as MVP.Phoenix makes it strange to call them The Immortals. Nevertheless, it’s exciting to see the Korean powerhouse make its return no matter what form it takes. Their return to DotA 2 has not been easy either. Qualifying for this PGL Open required The Immortals to beat teams like OpTic Gaming and Digital Chaos, which is no simple task.

After the original MVP.Phoenix disbanded in January of 2017, the players went their separate ways and played on other teams. Ironically enough, each player still participated in TI7 on teams like Fnatic, Secret and Digital Chaos. After gaining experience on those teams, they decided it was time to get the gang back together. The results will be exciting to watch.

Infamous

PGL Open

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Alonso “Kotaro Hayama” León

Position 2 – Mariano “Papita” Caneda

Position 3 – Steven “StingeR” Vargas

Position 4 – Elvis “Scofield” De la Cruz Peña

Position 5 – Christian “Accel” Cruz

Other than 5 position support “Accel”, this is not the same Infamous that attended TI7. With the departure of most of their TI7 roster, Infamous absorbed most of the roster of Elite Wolves in early September.

It is interesting to note that Infamous did not originally qualify for PGL Open Bucharest. Digital Chaos.SA originally held that spot. However, thanks to the disbandment of most of DC.SA’s roster after winning the South American qualifiers, Infamous took their spot after beating SG Esports in a replacements finals match 3-1.

It would be great to see a South American Dota team start to make it in the big leagues, but whether Infamous is that team remains to be seen.

VGJ.Thunder

PGL Open

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Liu “Sylar” Jiajun

Position 2 – Liu “Freeze” Chang

Position 3 – Zhou “Yang” Haiyang

Position 4 – Pan “Fade” Yi

Position 5 – Fan “Ayo” Tianyou

I don’t profess to be an expert on Chinese DotA, but to me, this team seems built around Sylar. He is the most experienced member of this team, as well as the one that has seen the most professional success. At the end of the day though, DotA is a team sport, and the rest of the team are no slouches. After all, VGJ.Thunder had to beat teams like Invictus Gaming and LGD Forever Young to make it to PGL Open. If the team can continue to give Sylar the space he needs to do his thing, this team could go far in this tournament.

Mineski

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Kam “NaNa” Boon Seng

Position 2 – Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung

Position 3 – Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang

Position 4 – Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong

Position 5 – Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr.

Mineski is the final team that is playing in both the current StarLadder tournament as well as the PGL Open. They got off to a bit of a rough start after losing to Team Liquid 0-2  at StarLadder. This result was almost expected though, as Liquid is still playing like the TI Champions that they are. Whatever ends up happening at StarLadder, Mineski can take comfort in knowing they’ll have another opportunity for Qualifying points right around the corner!

PGL Open Bucharest will be held in Bucharest, Romania from October 19th – October 22nd.


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Fantasy football week 6: Three waiver wire targets

The Ezekiel Elliott suspension is official. Now fantasy owners have to make up for his loss this week and for the next six weeks. Plus the Cowboys, Bengals, Seahawks and Bills are on a bye this week so players like A.J. Green, LeSean McCoy, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and many more won’t be in your lineup. Here’s three players who you can pick up that will help you fill those voids in your lineup this week.

QB- Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals)

Once again, Carson Palmer makes this list. If you didn’t pick him up last week, you may be thinking that you avoided a bullet, but that’s not true. Carson Palmer continued his consistent season with 15 points against a stout Eagles defense. After passing for 291 yards and one touchdown, Carson Palmer jumped up to 12th on the quarterback rankings in standard scoring. Now Tampa Bay travels to Arizona to take on Palmer and the Cardinals.

fantasy football week 6: three waiver wire targets

Carson Palmer (Photo by: azcardinals.com)

The Tampa Bay defense is a good defense, but their strength is their front seven. They haven’t performed like they would’ve wanted to so far this year, but the main playmakers are on the defensive line and linebacker positions. The Bucs’ secondary has given up an average of 19 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks including 27 to Case Keenum in week three.

With the addition of Adrian Peterson and the always reliable Larry Fitzgerald, look for Carson Palmer to have a big week against the Buccaneers in week six.

RB- Adrian Peterson (Arizona Cardinals)

If you need to fill a spot left by Ezekiel Elliott, look Peterson’s way. The Cardinals have been looking for someone to replace the injured David Johnson and they think that AP can be the guy. “All Day” struggled to get into a groove with New Orleans, but that’s because of the limited touches he’s received in the first five weeks of the season.

Again, the Buccaneers travel to Arizona where Peterson faces what I said was a tough defense. The Cardinals want to get their running game going and it is necessary if they want to win more games this season. This starts with Adrian Peterson. He’ll be new to the playbook and it may be a week before he gets going in Arizona, but he’s worth the pickup until David Johnson is healthy again.

WR- Sterling Shepard (New York Giants)

Tough week for the Giants. They lost not only Odell Beckham Jr., but also recently acquired Brandon Marshall. Add the injury to Dwayne Harris to that list, and the Giants become very, very thin. Someone who has to step up for them is Sterling Shepard. The second year wide receiver also went down last game with an ankle injury but seems to be ok.

Now I usually wouldn’t advise picking up a wide receiver who is playing the Denver Broncos defense, but the volume will be there for Shepard. With the run game basically non-existent for New York, Eli Manning has to take the game into his own hands, and he seems excited to work with his new group of receivers. Shepard will be the clear number one for the Giants and we can all assume that Eli will be looking for him a lot on Sunday.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks (week 6)

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks week 6

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

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it’s by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 6 NFL picks.

Last week: 5-8

Overall: 37-39

Teams on byes: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Seattle

Thursday Night

Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) @ Carolina Panthers (4-1):

Sunday Morning

Miami Dolphins (2-2) 13 @ Atlanta Falcons (3-1) 28: The Dolphins are trending in the wrong direction and maybe people will finally see that Jay Cutler is no solution to a problem under center. Miami averages just 251.3 yards per game resulting in just 10.3 points per game. It is going to take three times as many points to beat Atlanta who is averaging 26 points per game themselves. Matt Ryan is going to thoroughly outperform Jay Cutler to push Atlanta to 4-1.

Detroit Lions (3-2) 35 @ New Orleans Saints (2-2) 37: Detroit is coming off a home loss to the Panthers in which the game wasn’t as close as the score was. The Lions looked really good in the first three weeks but haven’t looked as good in the last two games. The Saints, on the other hand, have a two-game win streak and are coming off of a bye. This game has the feeling of a shootout and Drew Brees is a hard man to outscore. The Saints are favored by five points. They won’t cover the spread, but they will win sending the Lions to .500.

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks (week 6)

(Photo Credit: Matt Blewett/The Minnesota Sports Report)

Green Bay Packers (4-1) 20 @ Minnesota (3-2) 24: Very few football minds will be picking the Vikings in this game, but this is really a 50-50 game, especially in Minnesota. The Vikings have a defense that has, at times, caused fits for Aaron Rodgers. They have held Rodgers under 15 points in two of the last three matchups. The one thing that could be tough for the Vikings is scoring. Their offense is missing key pieces and interchanging quarterbacks like socks. The defense must dominate for Minnesota to have a chance. They will be dominant and get the upset at home.

New England Patriots (3-2) 45 @ New York Jets (3-2) 17: New York was supposed to be winless but instead find themselves with three wins. It is extremely surprising that they are in this position but the surprises end here. New England is going to make a massive statement in this game. They will go to New York and put up 40 points behind a 350-yard performance from the great Tom Brady. This will be a blowout.

San Francisco 49ers (0-5) 20 @ Washington Redskins (2-2) 24: Personally, I don’t think the Redskins are all that good of a team this season but are 2-2 and get a chance to play a winless team at home which favors Washington. There will be a heavy dose of running from Washington clash as the Redskins have the seventh-ranked rushing attack and the 49ers give up 116.6 yards per game. San Francisco won’t be able to stop them and Washington will control the clock. This will be a close game on the scoreboard but the Redskins will dominate.

Chicago Bears (1-4) 24 @ Baltimore Ravens (3-2) 21: Bears fans should be smiling after last week. Mitchell Trubisky didn’t set the world on fire but showed tons of potential. Over time he will develop into a solid NFL quarterback. This week he has to face a good, stingy Raven defense. On the other side, the Ravens offense is one of the worst in the league which gives the Bears a chance. Due to the Ravens woeful offense, the Bears have a chance to win. Chicago is going to fly to Baltimore and get an upset behind a big game from Trubisky.

Cleveland Browns (0-5) 24 @ Houston Texans (2-3) 34: This is a great opportunity for DeShaun Watson to step on the field against the Browns and make them miserable for not selecting him in the draft. Watson is second in the NFL in touchdown passes and has looked really good. Sometimes the accuracy isn’t there but that is tolerable with his playmaking ability. Watson has another four-touchdown performance to make Brown fans puke.

Sunday Afternoon

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) 34 @ Arizona Cardinals (2-3) 38: Arizona made huge waves this week trading for Adrian Peterson but will it help them on the field? Probably not in his first game. He has to learn the offense and the Bucs only give up 87.3 yards per game. There will be a lot of passing in this game as both teams struggle to run the ball and both are good at stopping the run. Jameis Winston has a younger arm and a better supporting cast so the Bucs will go to Arizona and get a big road win.

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks (week 6)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Rams (3-2) 24 @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) 21: This game isn’t getting a ton of publicity but will be one of the best games of the week. The Rams have the fifth-ranked passing attack and the Jaguars have the third-ranked rush defense. If Los Angeles comes into the game planning to run they will win the game. Jacksonville gives up 146.4 rush yards per game, the second-worst in the NFL. Todd Gurley will have a career game and lead the Rams to a victory.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) 27 @ Kansas City (5-0) 31: The struggling Steelers are heading into Arrowhead to face the best team in the NFL. Big Ben said he may not have it anymore which means he will probably light it up to prove a point. Even if Big Ben does so, the Chiefs offense is just way too explosive to shut down. At some point, Kareem Hunt will hit a wall and have a bad game but it won’t be this week.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) 21 @ Oakland Raiders (2-3) 24: The site of the game may change with the crazy wildfires burning in California. That type of uncertainty can affect both teams.  It is still up in the air if Derek Carr will play but the Raiders should win regardless. They are the better team. Oakland will finally get their running game going as the Chargers have the worst rush defense in the league, allowing 161.2 yards per game.

Sunday Night

New York Giants (0-5) 0 @ Denver Broncos (3-1) 24: There is not much of a summary needed on why the Broncos will the game. Denver will run all over the Giants defense in a game that shouldn’t be televised nationally. They are coming off a bye and have had two weeks to prepare for a Giants offense that can’t run the ball and has lost their receiving threats. Denver may even pull off a shutout in this game so that will be the prediction. A shutout.

Monday Night

Indianapolis Colts (2-3) 17 @ Tennessee Titans (2-3) 28: This is a must-win for both teams in order to stay in the divisional and playoff races. The Colts are trying to fight through the season until Andrew Luck can return to lead them. The Titans need to keep pace with Houston and Jacksonville to fulfill their preseason expectations of being a playoff team. Marcus Mariota is expected to play which will be the difference in the game. Titans move to .500 to keep pace in the AFC South.

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Hagan's Haus 2017 week 4 NFL picks

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 5 NFL picks

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

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it’s by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 5 NFL picks.

Last week: 8-8

Overall: 32-31

Teams on byes: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins

Sunday Morning

Buffalo Bills (3-1) 23 @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-3) 21: This game is a trap game for the Bills. After a horrendous start to the season for the Bengals, they have looked much better over the last two weeks. Andy Dalton has been playing better and the defense is still really good. They could pull off this upset at home. Even though it is on the road the Bills are expected to win. They are a good rushing team averaging 112.8 yards per game. If they can impose their will on the ground in this game they will win.

Hagan's Haus 2017 week 5 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: CLIFF WELCH/ICON SMI/ICON SPORT MEDIA VIA GETTY IMAGES)

New York Jets (2-2) 24 @ Cleveland Browns (0-4) 27: The Jets are 2-2 and it is absolutely shocking. New York is one of the best ground teams in the NFL averaging 130.8 yards per game. Cleveland, on the other hand, has a top 10 rush defense. This is a clash of strengths and with Cleveland at home, and searching for its first win, they should win this game. It will be close and back and forth but DeShone Kizer will make a few plays to get the Browns their first win.

Carolina Panthers (3-1) 24 @ Detroit Lions (3-1) 20: Carolina versus Detroit is one of the best games in the NFL this week. Both teams are 3-1 and coming off of huge wins. The Lions only scored 14 points last week but held the Vikings to just seven. Detroit is only giving up 17.5 points per game which have helped them jump to 3-1. The Panthers are also giving up 17.5 points per game. Even though this game is in Detroit, Cam Newton finally got rolling last week and will be too much to handle in the Motor City.

San Francisco 49ers (0-4) 21 @ Indianapolis Colts (1-3) 27: There won’t be many viewers tuning into this matchup as the 49ers and Colts are a combined 1-7. This is one of the few games the 49ers have a true shot to win. For the 49ers to win this game, they will have to score more than the 16.5 they average on the season. San Francisco will also have to shut down the threat of Jacoby Brissett’s feet. That will be a tall task and the 49ers will fall short.

Tennessee Titans (2-2) 30 @ Miami Dolphins (1-2) 17: Tennessee must bounce back from a true spanking at the hands of Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans. It is still up in the air if Marcus Mariota will be ready for this game. If he can’t go, the Dolphins will likely win this game despite their lackluster offense. Jay Cutler is proving what he has proven over his entire career. He is not a guy that will lead a team to the promised land. Mariota will find a way to play and get a big road win to keep pace with the Texans.

Hagan's Haus 2017 week 5 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports)

Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) 19 @ New York Giants (0-4) 24: Unless they find a way to tie, the Chargers or Giants will finally get in the win column. Los Angeles has fallen short in their games due to special teams and an inability to protect the ball. The Giants are one-dimensional offensively and are not as stout as they were last season defensively. New York almost upset the Bucs last week and that momentum will help them get a win in this one.

Arizona Cardinals (2-2) 21 @ Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) 31: Arizona has been an average team at best this season and is not going to be a playoff team. Carson Palmer is having a solid year but the offense is only averaging 18.5 points per game while the defense is giving up 22.8 per game. The Cardinals do a good job defensively against the run and the Eagles’ strength offensively is running the ball. The Eagles are going to win this battle and therefore the game.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) 17 @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) 21: The Jaguars are a team still learning how to win. They are young and still have to fight through games with Blake Bortles under center. Jacksonville’s defense is balling, allowing the 10th fewest yards per game. It will be a good defensive matchup as the Steelers rank second in fewest yards allowed at 267 per game. With two top 10 defenses, winning this game will come down to who can make the big plays offensively. Pittsburgh has better playmakers and will pull out a win.

Sunday Afternoon

Baltimore Ravens (2-2) 13 @ Oakland Raiders (2-2) 17: The Raiders are going to struggle while Derek Carr sits with a back injury. Oakland must rely on their run game and defense to win them games. That doesn’t bode well for them because they don’t have a defense capable of locking down offenses in such a way that will win games. Fortunately for them, they play the Ravens this week who are a trashy offensive team. Baltimore only averages 15 points and 269.8 yards per game. They struggle against everyone and will have even more trouble flying across the country. The Raiders will win this game and keep their season alive despite losing Carr.

Hagan's Haus 2017 week5 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Seattle Seahawks (2-2) 21 @ Los Angeles Rams (3-1) 31: The Rams are a legitimate contender in the NFC. Los Angeles has the highest scoring offense in the NFL averaging 35 points per game. They also have done well against the Seahawks in recent history winning four of the last six against Seattle. The Rams front seven is going to dominate the Seahawks offensive line to become the kings of the west.

Green Bay Packers (3-1) 31 @ Dallas Cowboys (2-2) 34: Two of the NFL’s most storied franchises clash in Dallas. These two met in the playoffs and Aaron Rodgers made one of the greatest throws ever to help the Packers get the win. Dallas is going to get some payback for that game. Look for Ezekiel Elliott to rush for over 150 and lead the Cowboys to a big home win.

Sunday Night

Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) 37 @ Houston Texans (2-2) 32: Kansas City is the only undefeated team remaining in the NFL. They have a difficult game this week in Houston. Deshaun Watson is the real deal and will be a tough gameplan. The key in this game is can the Texans shut down the Chiefs high powered offense. The answer to that is no. Houston gave up 36 to New England and the Chiefs offense is better. Kansas City will win this game and it will be a shootout.

Monday Night

Minnesota Vikings (2-2) 23 @ Chicago Bears (1-3) 17: Last season the Vikings went into Soldier Field on Halloween in another Monday Night game and got spanked. This will be the first start in the young career of Mitchell Trubisky. Facing a Mike Zimmer defense in your first start puts you behind the eight ball. The Bears are a much-improved team but won’t be ready for the Vikings. The Minnesota defense will dominate to lead the Vikings to a win.

 

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