NFL win projections

Man vs. Vegas: Projected NFL win totals

With the NFL Draft finally in the rearview mirror, the window for educated speculation is now open. The powers that be in Las Vegas have released their projected regular season win totals for all 32 teams.

Going up against Vegas usually proves futile, but it is fun to try anyway. Here are the three best over-under bets to cash in on. All projected win totals are from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

Indianapolis Colts: Over 6.5 wins 

Since Andrew Luck entered the league as a rookie before the 2012 season, Indianapolis has never posted a losing record in a year where their franchise quarterback has started the majority of the 16 regular season games. Luck has also led the Colts to the playoffs on three occasions. However, Luck has missed 26 games over the last three seasons, including all of last season with a shoulder injury.

The good news for Colts fans is there seems to be optimism surrounding Luck’s health for the upcoming season. Owner Jim Irsay recently stated publicly that he believes Luck will be ready to go in the fall. Irsay also mentioned that the Colts turned down trade offers for the three-time Pro Bowler.

NFL win projections

(Photo from yardbarker.com)

If Luck stays healthy, this bet really is easy money. Still, even if he does not, the law of averages is on the Colts’ side. Jacoby Brissett filled in admirably in Luck’s absence last year. He started 15 games and threw 13 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions.

The Colts won just four games last year, but also managed to lose an astonishing seven games in which they held a halftime lead. Close games in the NFL often come down to a bounce of the ball. Some of those losses will turn into wins this year, no matter who is under center. A more offensive-minded coaching staff should help Indianapolis be better in terms of closing out games as well.

The Colts also have a workable schedule. Lastly, the addition of incoming rookie Quenton Nelson should immediately improve a Colts offensive line that is a large part of the reason Luck has been injured so often. One guy cannot fix an entire offensive line, but he can certainly make it better in a hurry. Nelson is the most polished offensive lineman to enter the league in quite some time. Ending a three-year playoff drought is realistic for this team.

Los Angeles Rams: Under 9.5 wins 

This will probably raise a few eyebrows. The Rams are being touted by many to make a Super Bowl run.

Forget that. They will have a hard enough time defending their division title. Sean McVay turned the Rams offense and Jared Goff from a dumpster fire into the highest-scoring unit in the league last year. However, defensive coordinators always adjust when something comes out of nowhere and takes everyone by surprise for a year. They will adjust to the Rams’ offense, and it will regress slightly, similar to what happened to Dak Prescott and the Cowboys last year.

The competition for the Rams is also brutal. Division rival San Francisco was the hottest team in the league to close out last year under quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. As long as Russell Wilson is in Seattle, they will remain a tough out. The non-division schedule is not much friendlier. It includes established powerhouses like the Super Bowl champion Eagles as well as the Saints.

Finally, the Rams acquired a wealth of defensive talent. Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh are all outstanding players. However, they are also very strong and volatile personalities. Finances aside, there is a reason they all changed teams this offseason. Whenever you put a bunch of volatile guys on the same unit, there is a reason to be nervous. It could all backfire, especially playing for such a young coach in a city like Los Angeles.

New York Giants: Over 6.5 wins 

The Giants went 3-13 last year. Yet, Eli Manning still threw 19 touchdown passes and performed well in the midst of complete chaos around him. Yes, he is getting close to the end of his career, and the simplest thing to do when a team struggles as bad as New York did last year is change the quarterback. Still, the Giants should be applauded for not doing so.

NFL win projections

(Photo from nypost.com)

Rookie Saquon Barkley immediately becomes an all-purpose three-down running back that will assist his two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback greatly. Second-round pick Will Hernandez and former Patriot Nate Solder have fortified the offensive line, at least on paper.

 

Also, the Giants have an easier schedule like the Colts. The Cowboys and Redskins could go either way this year. Even last year when they were awful, the Giants played the Super Bowl champions tough twice.

Lastly, new Giants head coach Pat Shurmur helped guide a quarterback with far less natural talent than Manning to one game away from the Super Bowl last year with the Vikings. Manning is well-positioned to find the fountain of youth in 2018, and the Giants are poised for a big bounce-back year.

 

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NFL draft

Four teams with aging star quarterbacks who should draft a rookie to develop

With the upcoming draft not too far away I am going to outline some teams that could surprise everyone and draft a quarterback early even though they already have a star in place.

Everyone knows that the quarterback is the centerpiece of the football team. Once you have a quarterback, you can begin to assemble your team and position them for a chance to win. Teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams have shown that after drafting the right quarterback your team can become a contender almost immediately. Last season, the San Francisco 49ers were a glowing example of the difference between a team with a quarterback and a team without one. Before Jimmy Garoppolo began starting the 49ers were 1-10. Once Jimmy G came on, they convincingly won all five of their last games on the way to a 6-10 finish.

Clearly a quarterback is of utmost importance in this league, therefore, in a year where five quarterbacks may go in the first round of the draft, it seems like a great opportunity for a team that is used to winning with an aging star to be able to draft a guy that they can develop as a succession plan. Without further ado, let’s get on to the list!

What teams should draft a quarterback?

1. The New York Giants
draft

Baker Mayfield throwing at the combine. Photo by NY Post

Sure, this one seems obvious. An aged Eli Manning is coming off a rough season and the Giants are going into rebuild mode. This means they are in perfect position to draft the second-best quarterback in the draft, or, maybe the best with the browns track record of drafting QBs.

At 37, and with a weakening arm, Eli Manning is in the twilight of his career. Manning could have a couple starter quality years left, which means he would make a perfect mentor for a young quarterback like Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield. With the second pick in the draft the Giants can take their pick of the quarterbacks left, or if they feel they can still get their guy later in the draft, they could trade down, collect some draft picks, and still get a rookie to develop.

2. New England Patriots

The brilliance of Terrific Tom won’t last forever. He will be 41 when the season starts which is uncharted territory for starting quarterbacks in the NFL. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to draft a rookie to develop behind him, much like they did with Jimmy Garoppolo.

Since they were the Super Bowl losers, they don’t pick until late in the first, 31st Overall. However, the Patriots aquired the Saints first rounder at 23 as well, with two second round picks and their firsts at 23 and 31, the Patriots have the ammo to trade up and snag a guy they want if he falls into the teens. The Patriots are masters at game-planning and preparation so I could see them drafting someone like Lamar Jackson that they can eventually tailor their offense to after Tom Brady retires.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers
draft

Lamar Jackson throws a pass. Photo by Melina Vastola of USA Today

Ben Roethlisberger has contemplated retirement each of the last two offseasons. How much longer until the Steelers are left exposed at the quarterback position?

The Steelers could take a guy like Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph to develop until Big Ben actually retires. Mason Rudolph seems particularly intriguing for the Steelers as a guy they could take outside the first round while still using their first-round pick to shape their team to win now.

4. New Orleans Saints

An aging 39-year-old star on a two-year deal, Drew Brees’ small stature could prevent him from playing too much longer in the NFL. The Saints are another team in position to draft a late first round guy, like again, Lamar Jackson, who would work wonders with Sean Payton. Jackson has the potential to be a Micheal Vick like talent with the right development and scheme.

What this really means?

All of these teams could draft a quarterback in this draft, but replacing a star is more than just drafting the right guy, it’s also about developing that guy into a viable starter. Historically not all of the quarterbacks projected to go in the first round will even be successful in the NFL. In the first round, excluding the first pick overall, which none of these teams have, the hit rate for quarterbacks is very low, less than a third. However, with proper development, coaching and a scheme that fits their strengths that number should be higher.

These teams, maybe excluding the Giants, seem to have the elements in place to transition from one quarterback to a new one with less of a rebuild than is usually required. They would be wise to take that opportunity while they still can.

 

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2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

Best fits for top 2018 NFL quarterback prospects: Part I

The NFL draft is about two weeks away, meaning all the talk from fans, media and executives is almost over. Quarterback always overshadows all the other positions in terms of pre-draft chatter. This year is no different. The need for solid quarterback play in the NFL is as dire as it has ever been and there are not that many decent ones to go around at the moment.

As many as six quarterbacks could wind up going in the first round. This would match the legendary quarterback class of 1983. That class had a Hall of Famer at the top in John Elway and two others in Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Todd Blackledge, Ken O’Brien and Tony Eason did not pan out nearly as well.

Whether it is the accuracy of Josh Allen, the turnovers committed by Sam Darnold, the character of Baker Mayfield or something else, all of these guys have red flags attached to them. So three of the top six quarterbacks in this year’s class ending up in the Hall of Fame is probably a stretch.

However, they could all be successful in the right situation. If the NFL draft has shown us one thing over the years, it is that evaluating players is an inexact science and no one really knows anything. Still, here is the start of a two-part series exploring the best possible landing spots for this year’s top quarterback prospects.

Sam Darnold: Cleveland Browns

Given its abysmal track record of developing quarterbacks since returning to the league in 1999, it is difficult to call Cleveland an ideal landing spot for any quarterback. Even so, one of these guys has to end up there.

Darnold was the primary starter for two seasons at USC. His 22 interceptions are worrisome to some, but they become more forgivable when you put them up against his 57 touchdown passes.

USC always plays a tough schedule as one of college football’s traditional powerhouses. Knowing that, Darnold’s completion percentage of almost 65 should also translate well to the next level. Perhaps most importantly, he has said all the right things about the challenge of turning around a struggling NFL franchise.

Darnold or some other rookie will most likely not start right away in Cleveland as they just traded for Tyrod Taylor. However, the more recent rumblings have the Browns warming up to another quarterback prospect.

Josh Allen: New York Giants

Cleveland has reportedly become enamored with the University of Wyoming prospect. The word project gets thrown around a lot in regards to Allen, who posted a college completion percentage of just 56.2. That is bad at any level of football. It is especially concerning when you realize that Wyoming does not play against much NFL talent.

2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

(Photo from salutemag.com)

It is his arm strength that has NFL scouts intrigued. He can reportedly throw the ball 50 yards from his knees. That is great, but NFL plays simply do not require that. Cleveland has won one game in two years. The Browns do not have time to develop a raw talent like Allen, but the Giants might.

 

Despite last year’s three-win season, Eli Manning still played pretty well for the Giants all things considered. But the 37-year-old is clearly close to the end of his career. With a year or two to be coached by Pat Shurmur and learn from a two-time Super Bowl champion like Manning, Allen could work out well if the Giants decide to address their long-term quarterback situation early in this draft.

Josh Rosen: New York Jets

Rosen’s biggest issue at UCLA was staying on the field. He missed eight games in three years. The hits only get harder in the NFL. So durability is a legitimate concern, but his play is not. He posted a career passer rating of over 140 for the Bruins.

Some are nervous about the Rosen’s personality. You could consider saying publicly that you want to win more rings than Tom Brady cocky. However, you could also consider it the perfect mentality to play quarterback in New York. Believing you are the best is an asset there because the media will try to tear you down at every opportunity whether it is deserved or not.

2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

(Photo from newyorkjets.com)

Coming off a five-win season, the Jets re-signed 38-year-old Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater in free agency. Bridgewater has missed significant time due to injury, making just two pass attempts in the last two seasons. The Jets also traded with the Colts for their current first-round draft position. Translation: The organization knows they need to get their long-term quarterback in this draft.

Rosen may end up getting thrown out there before he is ready if he ends up with the Jets, but he seems to have the attitude for it.

Be sure to check back over the weekend for the best possible fits for Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, and Mason Rudolph.

 

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New York Giants

Odell rumors: Will he go or will he stay?

Everybody’s wondering whether Odell Beckham Jr. will either stay with the Giants or move to a different team. Well, many teams are interested in making him apart of their roster; I mean, who wouldn’t? Beckham is one of the biggest superstars in the NFL. He’s also the best receiver on the Giants. But the question is, why would he leave the Giants? Where would he go?

Beckham has been recovering from a broken left ankle that forced him to miss the whole 2017-2018 season. During the whole offseason, he’s been going through rehab and working on getting back to the swaggy, talented, receiver he’s always been. Beckham has a career total of 4,424 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns. He was the 2014 Rookie of the Year, 2015 NFL Player of the Year, and a three-time Pro Bowl receiver.

New York Giants

Odell Beckham Jr.
(sporting news)

If Beckham stays with New York, he wouldn’t be paid as much as he expects. Yes, the Giants really want to keep Beckham on their team, but they’re too cheap to pay the young superstar. The other downfall of this situation is that they haven’t committed to a long-term contract in order to keep him. This is causing Beckham to search for another contract from another team(via a trade); and yes, teams are waiting in line to sign him. Now it’s not official yet, but it could still happen if Beckham is willing to go to another team.

The Giants may have other players waiting on standby to replace him, but they’re not going to be as talented as him. As we all know, Beckham is returning from a broken ankle, and they really want Beckham to be healthy as well and want him to stay. If everything doesn’t work out, then he might call it quits with the Giants.

Beckham has been living off of his $8.5 million fifth-year option on the contract that he received when he was a rookie. If Beckham plays on this contract for another year, he will be making less money than other players that were drafted along with him in 2014. Of course, Beckham isn’t satisfied with his contract at all. If he receives the same contract as before, then he won’t practice with the Giants during the offseason.

If Beckham is released, would any team want to deal with his behavior as well? The young superstar has been in many conflicts throughout his career; the most common one was with a defensive back, Josh Norman in 2015. Every time they face each other, it’s always a matchup between the two. Punches and cheap shots are thrown. Beckham has also been fined numerous times by the league due to inappropriate touchdown celebrations, like pretending to be a dog and urinating on the field.

Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell making a catch against Los Angeles Chargers
(sportsillustrated)

Odell to the Rams?

This has been a big rumor that’s been going around. The Los Angeles Rams have been busy during the offseason, and they’ve had their eye on Beckham. After signing Ndamukong Suh, Rams head coach Sean McVay wanted to go for another superstar. He had high interest in picking up Beckham since the Rams are in need of more receivers.

What About the Browns?

The Rams aren’t the only team that’s on a mission to build a team full of talent this offseason. The Cleveland Browns have been trying to collect players that will be able to make a turn around from their past season when they never won a single game. During the offseason, they were able to retrieve free safety Damarious Randall and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. We all know that the former Miami Dolphins wide receiver, Jarvis Landry, has been traded to the Cleveland Browns. Now he wants to see if Beckham wants to tag along for the ride.

He and Landry have played with each other back in their LSU days; and with them together, they would be two dangerous receivers to mess with. Landry isn’t the only new member of the Browns; former Giants’ and LSU receiver coach, Adam Henry, is now apart of Cleveland’s staff. The question is, what can they provide for Beckham? spotrac.com stated that the Browns hold the most salary cap space in the NFL right now, containing $70.6 million. In that case Cleveland’s general manager, John Dorsey might have enough to pay for Beckham and Landry. If the Browns pay Beckham twice as much than his contract with the Giants, then there’s no doubt that he would consider playing for Cleveland.

The Rams and the Browns may be the two teams that are fighting over Beckham, but there are other teams out there that want to be in the mix as well. The San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots have a high interest in the young wide receiver also. The time is winding down; most likely it’ll be up to the general manager of the New York Giants and Beckham to make the decision to cut ties.

 

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Richard Sherman: A crusader? Or a clown?

This offseason has already seen the making of a memorable one for history. Big crazy trades and free agent signing has set an overcast in the journey to the upcoming NFL Draft. One signing, in particular, would be the San Francisco 49ers acquisition of Pro Bowl corner Richard Sherman. Sherman, whose season was cut short after an Achilles injury in week 8, agreed to a contract worth up to $39.15 million dollars for three years, three days before free agency opened up. But there has been some controversy surrounding the deal itself and Sherman’s role in it. It is reported that Sherman himself handled the negotiations without the representation of an agent.

Some questions now have surfaced to why Richard Sherman would go this route and the future of players handling their own affairs pertaining to contracts. Some see this as the future of the league while others see this as Richard Sherman’s ego getting in front of his talent once again. Sherman has been critical of how agents operate and encourages a path for players to be more proactive in these areas. However, the same can be said about the team he signed to minutes after he was released, comprised a deal that many have criticized.

The Contract

First, let’s talk about the contract. Richard Sherman has signed a deal that is worth $39.15 million dollars. The key word is “worth”. Most NFL contracts, like other sports and management positions, are worth a dollar amount. Most of the money to be earned is tied up in incentives, bonuses and allowances. Sherman’s deal includes $3 million dollars in full guarantees, $7 million in practical guarantees and up to $9 million in earnings baring injury during the 2018 season.

In an offseason where the value of individual prospects and a team’s desire to certain prospects have set an unprecedented amount of money for their acquisitions, this deal doesn’t seem to make much sense. This could be a fault towards Sherman who essentially worked out the deal himself. This contract is purely based on Sherman’s ability to stay healthy and perform at a high level.  However, this opens a door for other players. Sherman, who is also a Stanford grad, is a key player in the NFLPA and knows how the business works. If players are to take the same route, they too might be able to capture some control in the debating process.

Pros

Players ultimately have all the power. They decide whether to take deals or leave hem on the table. Agents look to give them the best deal possible. In return, this could leave the player losing the ability to play for a favorable destination. Not saying that players aren’t sitting at the negotiation table but what Richard Sherman did, extends the amount power a player has.

Because of this, the player is able to negotiate a deal that they might feel is good for them. Most agents meet with teams with a hardline offer and it doesn’t really dip or bend from there. Plus with the ability of players to sit out, this pretty much twists the hands of management into submission. Most teams now have tried to stay away from hardline offers as they have led to some of the worst deals. Kirk Cousins suffered from franchise tag-itis because of The Washington Redskins horrible deal with Albert Haynesworth. As other teams have been ultimately forced to give in to player demands. If players want to take slashes in their guaranteed money in favor of being placed with the team that they desire to be on, then they should have that power.

Negative

What makes this deal seem sour is the subject at hand, Richard Sherman. Richard Sherman anchored one of the best defenses in five years that led to two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl title. With the right defense, Richard Sherman is arguably the best cornerback in the National Football League. With that being said he should be paid accordingly to his value. Looking at this contract, it seems that he is selling himself a bit short. For example, as an analogy, Richard Sherman believes he should get $10 million dollars a year. Team A is willing to give him $10 million dollars and Team B is willing to give him $15 million dollars.

Your value isn’t the price tag that you put on yourself but rather how much someone is willing to pay. Despite his wishes, Richard Sherman is worth $15 million dollars in actuality. In comparison to the deal made in reality, Sherman would never see those $15 million dollars. If he never talks to Team B, it would be impossible. The idea of him not talking to other teams is quite depressing. He would never fully exercise the potential of the deal. This could be a downside for players who really want to play for a particular team and might be blindsided by their “wants” when they should focus on what should be owed to them.

The Future

At the end of the day, Richard Sherman has to accept or decline a deal. This particular deal is what he wanted and it is what he got. Other players in the future may not be so lucky. Determining a players’ value really depends on a broad spectrum. It’s not a discussion with a team who only really seems to benefit themselves and not the player. Despite this, a lawyer never acts as a legal representation for himself and a doctor doesn’t examine herself.

Agents are there to work out a deal. They know more about the process and are able to twist numbers and squeeze out the best deal possible. If that means shelving off between 1.5% to 4% in earnings so be it, there is no such things as a free lunch. In the future, negotiations should be left to agents as most believe that one would never let Sherman walk away with that deal. Sherman’s deal isn’t bad at all for other cornerbacks.

However, for an all-pro player, that gravitates a brand presence and is arguably the best cornerback in the league, it’s a terrible one. This contract is a deal for players that are on the cusp of proving themselves. For Sherman, he doesn’t have to. Despite suffering an injury and turning 30 years old in a matter of days, Richard Sherman has already proved his worth. A contract suited for someone who hasn’t is deplorable in his situation.

Fortunately, Richard Sherman got the deal he wanted. He went to the team he wanted and is in the best situation for himself. He’s happy and everyone should. More than likely, the deal will mature to be a wise one. It also might open the doors for other players to follow. On the other hand, if it flops, it would be a disaster and cemented as “pulling a Richard Sherman”. Who knows? Only time will tell.

 

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New York Giants 2018 Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just over a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into the NFL Draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. You will find it here. Draftmas will continue with the New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft profile. 

Summary

The New York Giants rode into 2017 hoping to repeat playoff runs. New York finished the 2016 season 11-5 with a Wild Card appearance.

Many Giants fans were shocked at the 0-4 start to the 2017 campaign. This was the second and final season under head coach Ben McAdoo. What finalized this was McAdoo’s decision to name backup quarterback, Geno Smith, as the starter during Week 13.

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft profile

Photo from bigblueview.com

This snapped Eli Manning’s streak of 210 consecutive regular season starts. This move inevitably drew league-wide ire to say the least, especially when one considers Manning’s laundry list of contributions to the organization. The Giants ended their 2017 campaign 3-13.

On offense, the Big Blue averaged only 15.4 points per game and 314.2 yards of total offense per game. On top of that, their running game left no silver linings in this black cloud, averaging just 96.8 yards per game.

Those numbers did not get any better in Week 5 against the Los Angeles Rams. Giants Pro Bowl wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., suffered a fractured left ankle. Furthermore, this injury landed No. 13 on the injured reserve for the rest of the season.

The emergence of rookie tight end, Evan Engram, was a bright spot for the Big Blue. Engram tallied 722 yards on 64 catches, along with six touchdowns.

Defensively, the G-men gave up 24.6 points per game and gave up 373.2 yards per game. Additionally, they ranked in the bottom 10 for rushing and passing yards allowed per game. The only standout from the defensive front was strong safety, Landon Collins. After racking up 104 total tackles and two interceptions, Collins was the lone Giant on last year’s Pro Bowl roster. It was his second Pro Bowl in just three years in the league.

Picks and Needs

The New York Giants have five picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. New York should be able to claim impact players early, along with potential dark horses in later picks.

First round (1 pick): 2

Second round (1): 34

Third round (1): 66, 69

Fourth round (1): 108

Fifth round (1): 139

Sixth round (0)

Seventh round (0)

Offensive needs:

Quarterback – Eli Manning’s days as a quarterback are not infinite. Despite having loads of franchise records to his name, along with two Super Bowl titles, the Big Blue will need to find a dependable successor to their 37-year-old field general.

Running back – The Giants have yet to find a workhorse in the backfield in recent seasons. The recent addition of Jonathan Stewart from the Carolina will improve the picture. But there might not be a lot left in the 31-year-old former Panther.

Offensive line – Although the o-line last year was not terrible, they were not great either. Adding former New England Patriot tackle, Nate Solder, can help bring leadership to this young crew. But in a division full of linemen that are more than formidable, the G-men will need more.

Defensive needs:

Defensive line – The Giants’ defense racked up 27 sacks last season, which was just 29th in the league. In addition, they have allowed almost 2,000 yards on the ground (1,933, sixth most in the league). This, along with Jason-Pierre Paul now being a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, means the defensive line will need more sparks and fury in the lineup.

Targets

These names are the ones the Giants can realistically bring in come draft time.

First round:

Pick No. 2: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft profile

Quenton Nelson (Photo from CBS Sports)

The New York Giants should not go with running back Saquon Barkley if the Browns pass him up. Why? Because someone like Barkley won’t big noise with an offensive line that forced only 1,549 yards on the ground all season is unlikely. Though they are better at pass blocking, they need to grow and mature as a unit.

Even with the addition of Solder, this is a very young offensive line. They still need time to establish their footing. The best interior lineman in the draft, Quenton Nelson, can bring much needed enforcement both in run and pass protection. His frame, strength and technique will be much-needed utility in increasing offensive production. His leadership showcased at Notre Dame can rally up the troops and bring the pain like never before.

Second round:

Pick No. 34: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

Rashaad Penny can be the next big workhorse for the Big Blue, similar to Tiki Barber. With a balance of size and speed, Penny brings a high motor on the ground game. Penny rushed for 2,248 yards and 23 touchdowns last season at San Diego State. Along with being a hard and patient runner, he could also be a surprise weapon on special teams.

Third round:

Pick No. 66: Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis

Though projected as a fifth or sixth-round pick, Riley Ferguson can bring much-needed depth to the thin quarterback roster in New York. He has thrown 70 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions as a Tiger, in just two seasons. He also completed over 63 percent of his passes in both seasons. Ferguson certainly has potential to be a steal in this draft. In addition, his ability to throw on the run is not something to overlook.

Pick No. 69: Derrick Nnadi DT, Florida State

Derrick Nnadi can be a much needed accent for the Giants’ front seven. While a Seminole, he racked 165 total tackles, including 24.5 tackles for loss. He was also on the squad when Florida State won the Orange Bowl in 2016. The NFL has had quite a history of nose tackles at 6-foot-1 doing great under the lights. Given the right coaching and enough progress in off-season training, Nnadi can turn into a force to be reckoned with in the trenches.

Conclusion

The New York Giants will need to put their foot down in the 2018 NFL Draft, furthermore with free agency. With a new head coach and a young crew on board, the G-men will have much work to do for 2018 to avoid repeating the 3-13 result from last season.

Enjoy the days of Draftmas here at The Game Haus! Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft Profile.

 

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Saquon Barkley giants

The Giants need a quarterback of the future, but need Saquon Barkley now

The NFL Draft is just over a month away. The predictions, prognostications and smokescreens are in full effect. While many of the usual suspects like the Browns and Jets are near the top of the draft board, a few teams are in an unfamiliar spot picking so early. This group includes the New York Giants.

With Eli Manning now 37 years old, New York is looking at quarterbacks with the second overall pick, and rightfully so. UCLA’s Josh Rosen is the signal caller who has been most linked to the Giants.

However, assuming Cleveland takes a quarterback with the first pick, there will be a player available to the Giants that they almost have to take. That player is Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

The Giants were awful last year, not Eli

Saquon Barkley Giants

Photo from cnbc.com

Last year, the Giants lost their two biggest pass catching threats for the bulk of the season due to injury. Also, second-year head coach Ben McAdoo was clearly in way over his head. Once the losses started piling up, he was literally at a loss for words during postgame press conferences and was fired before the season ended. Throw in cornerback Eli Apple being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and the league’s 26th ranked rushing offense, and you get a 3-13 record.

Eli Manning was also bizarrely benched for a game, marking the first time he did not start a game for the Giants since 2004. With all of this going on, you would think Manning had a dreadful year. That is not true. All things considered, 19 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions is pretty impressive. Manning may not have much of his playing career left, but he can still play well.

Everything is slowly coming together 

Every quarterback has two best friends: a good offensive line and a solid running game.

One of these things helps create the other. The Giants offensive line was not terrible in terms of pass blocking last year. They ranked 12th in sacks allowed. However, getting the running game going has been a long-standing issue for the Giants.

The Giants have not finished above 18th in the league in rushing since 2012. Now, guys like Paul Perkins, Rashad Jennings and Orleans Darkwa are not exactly future Hall of Famers, but the offensive line is not blameless either.

Thus, New York wisely went out and spent big money on former Patriots left tackle Nate Solder in free agency. Solder has been protecting Tom Brady since 2011. The fact that he was given that responsibility that long tells you a lot. He immediately brings consistency to a unit that has been hit or miss in recent years. He should help a great deal in both the running and passing games.

This is where Barkley comes in. As noted above, the running back talent for the Giants has not been great as of late. There is no such thing as a can’t miss prospect in the NFL, but Barkley is without question a great talent. The Big Ten is one of the strongest defensive conferences in college football. Yet, Barkley never rushed for less than 1,076 yards in a season at Penn State. The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year has also proven to be a decent receiver out of the backfield. He could be the star running back that the Giants have not had in a very long time.

Saquon Barkley Giants

Photo from nydailynews.com

Then, there is new head coach, Pat Shurmur. He failed as a head coach in Cleveland a few years back, but that should no longer be held against anyone. Shurmur was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota last year. His scheme helped the team reach the NFC Championship and turned Case Keenum into a hot free-agent commodity. After what he was able to do with Keenum, think of what Shurmur could do to revitalize the career of a borderline Hall of Famer like Manning.

Even without a new face in the offensive backfield, the supporting cast around Manning and whoever may wind up succeeding him in New York has gotten much better this offseason. Manning is certainly better qualified than Rosen or any other incoming rookie to take advantage of these improvements.

The New York factor

It may be overblown at times, but the New York media is different than most other places. The media firestorm around last year’s dumpster fire of a team was insane. The Giants cannot afford another three-win campaign. Drafting a rookie quarterback in the first round could be disastrous.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the Giants draft Rosen. The second Manning has a bad game, fans and media calling for Rosen to step in would be all anyone talked about. That is damaging to any football team.

Manning is not getting any younger. Thus, the wise thing for the Giants would be to draft and develop a quarterback in the middle rounds without much fanfare and see if he can replace Manning in a couple years. They already have a decent defense. Put Barkley in the backfield behind a revamped offensive line, have Manning throwing to Evan Engram and a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. and you are suddenly looking at a team that could compete in 2018. That is exactly what the Giants have to do.

 

Featured image from yardbarker

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Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant wins Academy Award

On Sunday, at the 90th annual Academy Awards, Kobe Bryant stood on the stage of the Dolby Theater, accepting film’s highest honor.

He and his director and animator, Glen Keane, won the Oscar® for Best Animated Short Film. The short, named “Dear Basketball,” is an animated re-telling of Bryant’s poem of the same name. The poem, originally published in The Players’ Tribune, was written in honor of his final season in the NBA.

In “Dear Basketball,” Kobe relives falling in love with the game. He talks about how he gave basketball everything inside of him, and what it gave him in return. Bryant laments that his heart and mind are still willing, yet his body is unable.

“I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have. ” (Kobe Bryant, Dear Basketball)

Up against the likes of Pixar, and a short based on a book by legendary children’s author Roald Dahl, Bryant’s five minute short emerged victorious. In an interview after the Oscar® win, Bryant said winning this award felt better than winning a championship.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane deliver their acceptance speech. (Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock).

In his speech, Kobe referenced the controversy regarding Fox News journalist Laura Ingraham taking offense to LeBron James’ willingness to discuss politics. He says, “…as basketball players, we are just supposed to shut up and dribble,” using Ingraham’s own words. “But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.”

He does, indeed, do more than dribble, but he was pretty good at that, too.

Kobe Bryant’s 20-year NBA career solidly puts him in contention as one of the greatest to ever play the sport.

He has five NBA Finals victories in seven appearances, winning Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010. He won the NBA’s MVP award in 2008. Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, and took home the All-Star Game MVP four times, along with one Slam Dunk Contest championship.

Kobe led the NBA in scoring twice, in 2006 and 2007. He scored 60 points in his final game, an NBA record. He also owns the distinction of being the only player in league history to have two numbers retired by the same team.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant celebrates winning an NBA championship. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

Other NBA players took to Twitter to congratulate Bryant on his win. Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal showed their support. O’Neal even added, “I’m jealous lol.”

Kobe is the first athlete to win a championship in his sport and land an Oscar®. However, Steve Tisch, Chairman and Vice President of the New York Giants, does own an Academy Award for Best Picture for “Forrest Gump,” and a Super Bowl ring.

It’s clear that Kobe Bryant is not satisfied with simply being one of the best basketball players to ever live. He is also reportedly writing novels, and wants to continue telling stories in many different mediums now that his sports career is over.

You can read “Dear Basketball” on The Players’ Tribune’s website here. You can also watch the Academy Award winning short film here, courtesy of go90, who distributed the film.

Featured image by Getty Images

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NFL Wild Card Weekend

What are the odds of a Wild Card winning the Super Bowl?

NFL postseason action kicks off Saturday with Wild Card weekend. The Tennessee Titans will be taking on the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Atlanta Falcons will face off against the Los Angeles Rams.

On Sunday, fans will get to see two more matchups between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints.

There are plenty of storylines for each game. Will Alex Smith be focused after being benched for Patrick Mahomes last week? Will the Rams’ high-powered offense continue to do damage? How will the Bills perform in their first postseason appearance since 1999? Will the Panthers finally get a win against the Saints this season?

It is definitely going to be an exciting weekend. Maybe the Wild Card teams will pull out a win or two.

A bigger question to ask is what are the odds of one of the Wild Card teams winning the Super Bowl? Or even making it?

The history

Not to disappoint fans of the Wild Cards, but the odds of one of them getting in or even winning it all aren’t great.

Overall, 10 Wild Card teams have played in a Super Bowl since the Wild Card was born in 1970. The first Wild Card team to make a Super Bowl was the Dallas Cowboys in 1975. They ended up losing 21-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl X.

 

[su_table]

Wild Cards in the Super Bowl

[/su_table]​

TEAM YEAR/SUPER BOWL RESULT
Dallas Cowboys 1975 (Super Bowl X) Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 21-17
Oakland Raiders 1980 (Super Bowl XV) Defeated Philadelphia Eagles 27-10
New England Patriots 1985 (Super Bowl XX) Lost to Chicago Bears 46-10)
Buffalo Bills 1992 (Super Bowl XXVII) Lost to Dallas Cowboys 52-17
Denver Broncos 1997 (Super Bowl XXXII) Defeated Green Bay Packers 31-24
Tennessee Titans 1999 (Super Bowl XXXIV) Lost to St. Louis Rams 23-16
Baltimore Ravens 2000 (Super Bowl XXXV) Defeated New York Giants 34-7
Pittsburgh Steelers 2005 (Super Bowl XL) Defeated Seattle Seahawks 21-10
New York Giants 2007 (Super Bowl XLII) Defeated New England Patriots 17-14
Green Bay Packers 2010 (Super Bowl XLV) Defeated Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25

It is also noteworthy to include the Kansas City Chiefs in this talk. In 1969, they won the AFL as a Wild Card and then defeated the NFL champion Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

It is not impossible for a Wild Card to make the Super Bowl, or even win it. However, the chances are slim. There has been a Wild Card in 20.8 percent of Super Bowls since the Wild Card entered the postseason. They have also won just 12.5 percent of Super Bowls. When a Wild Card makes it, they have won 60 percent of the time, including the last four times.

What it takes to win

Is there much correlation between all the Wild Card Super Bowl winners? It is tough to find much.

NFL Wild Card Weekend

Can Cam Newton bring the Panthers back to the Super Bowl? (Photo by Winslow Townson/Associated Press)

One thing all Wild Card Super Bowl teams have in common is that they all won at least 10 games during the regular season. Four of them won 11 games, two of them won 12 games, and one of them even won 13.

Based on that, most of the Wild Cards that make the Super Bowl are pretty dominant teams. There are division winners that win 10 games. Teams are rarely going to be a Wild Card if they have 12 wins.

If fans are confident enough to bet on a Wild Card winning it all, they should look to the NFC. Only the Panthers and Falcons have double-digit wins. Sorry Bills and Titans fans, history is just not on your side.

Defense is something else that almost all the Wild Cards had in common. Seven out of the 10 ranked in the top 10 in yards allowed per game. Seven out of the 10 also ranked in the top 10 in points allowed per game.

Once again, the Panthers and Falcons are the only two Wild Cards that rank in the top 10 in yards allowed per game, and the Falcons are the only one that ranks in the top 10 in points allowed per game.

Will we see a Wild Card this year?

Let’s look at some history again. There was one Wild Card in the Super Bowl in the 1970s, two in the 1980s, three in the 1990s, three in the 2000s and one so far in the 2010s. Does that mean a Wild Card is due to appear soon since there has only been one so far this decade?

NFL Wild Card Weekend

The Falcons are looking for redemption from last year’s epic Super Bowl collapse. (Photo by Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

Actually, any team with a road playoff game is due to win soon. Since 2012, no team that has played a road playoff game has made it to the Super Bowl. The last time it happened was when the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens faced each other, with both winning games on the road.

It is very tough to say. The NFL is always unpredictable. Nobody picked the Jaguars or Rams would make the playoffs this year.

Going on history, it appears the Falcons have the best chance out of all the Wild Cards to make it. However, they just played in the big game last year and making back-to-back Super Bowls is very difficult. Also, each matchup and season is different. Comparing to the past is not always the best way to predict winners, but it does give us an idea of how difficult it is for a Wild Card to win on the big stage.

Either way, get ready. The postseason should be just as exciting as always.

 

Featured image by Getty Images

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Stack your money Sunday’s: Week 17

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

Jacksonville Jaguars (-4) @ San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers 44 Jacksonville Jaguars 33

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

(USA Today)

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

 

 

 

 

Seattle Seahawks (+4.5) @ Dallas Cowboys

Seattle Seahawks 21 Dallas Cowboys 12

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

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

 

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (-6)

New Orleans Saints 23 Atlanta Falcons 13

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

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

 

WEEK 17 PICKS

Washington Redskins (-3) @ New York Giants

PICK: REDSKINS TO COVER

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

(CNBC.com)

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

 

Kansas City Chiefs (+4) @ Denver Broncos

PICK: CHIEFS TO COVER

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

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

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (+2.5) @ Tennessee Titans

PICK: JAGUARS TO COVER

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

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

Featured image by ESPN.com

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