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    NFL 2017 – Week 8 Preview & Picks

    You might have noticed the lack of a preview article last week. Sorry about that – blame man flu! This week things are back on track…

    Miami Dolphins (4-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
    1:25am Friday 27th Oct (UK time)
    The Dolphin’s 4-2 record is a bit of an enigma. Despite a mostly catastrophic performance from Jay Cuter… they’re 4-2. After dropping out of last week’s game with a rib injury though, now Matt Moore has taken over as QB – and he put in a decent performance in last week’s win over the Jets. Is this the rare case of the long time back-up quarterback being better than the Jay Cutler quarterback? Quite possibly. Thursday Night’s game against the Ravens is both a good test for Moore, and quite a winnable game given the Raven’s poor season. Given Baltimore’s lack of receivers and Miami’s QB situation, this could be a game that’s decided by defense. If the Dolphins can run Ajayi through the Ravens D and hold things up on their own end, they could keep their win streak alive.

    Minnesota Vikings (5-2) @ Cleveland Browns (0-7)
    1:30pm Sunday 29th Oct (UK time)
    Magical things can happen in London. Like the Cleveland Browns winning their first game of the season? Nah, probably not.

    Oakland Raiders (3-4) @ Buffalo Bills (4-2)
    5:00pm Sunday 29th Oct (UK time)
    Last week not only saw the impressive return of Derek Carr – throwing for 417 yds and 3 TDs – but a Raiders win over a previously dominant Chiefs team. Buffalo though, have been quietly racking up the wins, with another against the Buccs last Sunday. It seemed like the Raiders were out of it for the season, but now perhaps not, making this an interesting match-up. A Raiders win in Buffalo is certainly feasible, but the Bills won’t be a pushover.

    Indianapolis Colts (2-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)
    5:00pm Sunday 29th Oct (UK time)
    The Bengals’ 2-4 record is a bit deceiving next to the Colts’ 2-5 one. Cincinnati couldn’t pull it off against the Steelers last week, but they have generally improved hugely since their terrible start to the season. The Colts – without Andrew Luck – are still one of the worst teams in the league, and after last week’s 27-0 loss to the Jaguars that view still seems correct.

    Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) @ New England Patriots (5-2)
    5:00pm Sunday 29th Oct (UK time)
    Just a few weeks ago the Chargers were 0-4, an almost undeserved record with a couple of last minute losses. After a three game win streak, their record is starting to look a little less hopeless and making the AFC West a close race (probably for runner-up). This week though, New England are likely to give Los Angeles a 3-5 record, because that’s the type of thing the Patriots do.

    Chicago Bears (3-4) @ New Orleans Saints (4-2)
    5:00pm Sunday 29th Oct (UK time)
    Are the Bears this year’s Texans? A team with a poor quarterback but a defense that can win games – literally, last week, when safety Eddie Jackson scored two touchdowns, from a fumble and an interception. All whilst holding Carolina to just 3 points. However, Trubisky could only complete four passes, so that’s an issue. This week the Saints shouldn’t have any problem scoring a few touchdowns, and that will just be too much for Chicago to overcome.

    Atlanta Falcons (3-3) @ New York Jets (3-4)
    5:00pm Sunday 29th Oct (UK time)
    Ah, the Falcons. From Super Bowl silver medallists, to 23-7 losers against the Patriots last Sunday night. Still, if there’s a good team to face after the Patriots, it’s the Jets, who are slightly flattered by their 3-4 record. Atlanta aren’t bad enough to go 3-4 this week.

    San Francisco 49ers (0-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-1)
    5:00pm Sunday 29th Oct (UK time)
    Two questions here. Are the 49ers worse than the Browns? And are the Eagles, quietly, the best team in the league? The first looks completely possible, whilst the latter… feels just a bit wrong, but that 6-1 record doesn’t lie. The Chiefs have just lost two on the trot, and the Patriots have had a bumpy start to the season – plus Wentz is putting in an MVP-level display right now. If the Eagles aren’t the best team in the league, they certainly are in the NFC East, and they’re guaranteed to be 7-1 next week thanks to San Francisco.

    Carolina Panthers (4-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)
    5:00pm Sunday 29th Oct (UK time)
    Interesting but fundamentally not too important game alert! The Panthers are good, they beat the Patriots. The Panthers are bad – they only managed 3 points against the Bears. Tampa’s Jameis Winston threw for 384 yds and 3 TDs last week despite losing to the Bills. The records and recent performances suggest this could be close, but Carolina are lacking offensive power right now, something the Buccaneers seem to have found. Could Tampa Bay end their losing streak this week?

    Houston Texans (3-3) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
    8:00pm Sunday 29th Oct (UK time)
    There are some (some?) who might call this the game of the week. An improving Seahawks team against a redesigned Texans team with an All Star quarterback. Sure, Houston couldn’t beat the Patriots or Chiefs, but does that stop them from being the best team in the league? Well, yes… and the terminal loss of J.J. Watt doesn’t help. But hey, the Seahawks aren’t quite the Legion of Boom they used to be, so if Houston can snatch a victory here – and they have the offensive power to do it – it puts them in serious consideration for the play-offs (although the Jaguars being their only real competition for first place in the AFC South helps as well).

    Dallas Cowboys (3-3) @ Washington Redskins (3-3)
    8:25pm Sunday 29th Oct (UK time)
    The 3-3 records are a lie. Or, deceptive at least. These really aren’t two 3-3 teams, but the Eagles mean both will be fighting for second place in the NFC East. Coming off a bye week with a chance to refresh and think over their sins, the Cowboys could get their act together to earn the win and remind people that they’re actually one of the better teams in the league. The Redskins really aren’t a bad team either though, with similar offensive power and who knows how these divisional games can go. Redskins have the home advantage, but for now at least, Dallas have the Zeke advantage.

    Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) @ Detroit Lions (3-3)
    12:30am Monday 30th Oct (UK time)
    Detroit are coming out of their bye week having had time to think about the previous week’s loss – but a 52-38 loss to New Orleans isn’t something to cry too much about (unless you’re a defensive co-ordinator). It does appear that the Steelers have bounced back from their humiliating 30-9 loss to Jacksonville though, with back to back wins over the Saints and Bengals. Their records go far suggest this game should be really close, but a Steelers team with Le’Veon Bell back in form isn’t easy to dismiss. The Lions really do need this win though.

    Denver Broncos (3-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
    12:30am Tuesday 31st Oct (UK time)
    Unable to put up any points against the Chargers last week, Denver have problems. As good as the Denver D is, their pass game is bordering on non-existent and now the run game is vanishing too, with opponents realising just how one dimensional their offense is. So in many ways, they’re another team a lot like the old Houston Texans. The Chiefs might have just lost two on the trot, but this being a divisional game should ensure they get the victory and solidify their road to the play-offs. The fact that Denver will have trouble getting anything past their defense helps quite a lot too.

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    NFL 2017 – Week 6 Preview & Picks

    Sure, this is a day late – it’s been a busy week. There’s still a whole weekend of NFL action to look forward to though, so let’s get going.

    Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) @ Carolina Panthers (4-1)
    1:25am Friday 13th Sep (UK time)
    Well, this one happened last night, so you’ll know the Eagles beat the Panthers 28-23 – which is an impressive victory, as Carolina were supposed to be slight favourites going in. The win really cements Philadelphia’s place as a contender though, now 5-1, with a legit QB in Wentz. With Dallas slipping up, the Eagles are strong favourites to take the NFC East.

    Miami Dolphins (2-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (3-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    The Falcons have just had their bye week, but for Miami every week’s a bye week with Cutler at the helm. Despite beating the Mariota-less Titans last week, no one should have any confidence in Miami right now. The Jay Train alone can’t carry the team, so any team that can put up a half decent score – as Atlanta surely will – will be almost certain to beat Miami, unless Jay Cutler can get out of his Jay Cutler ways.

    Chicago Bears (1-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    The Bears aren’t quite as bad as their 1-4 record suggests, coming off a marginal loss to Minnesota, whilst the Ravens are flattered by their 3-2 record, with two easy wins against awful Bengals and Browns teams at the start of the season. Still, Baltimore managed a solid 30-17 win over a Carr-less Raiders team last week, so they haven’t reached Browns levels of awful. As such this could be quite an interesting match-up – the Ravens are the Vegas favourites, but that seems overly generous, this could go either way.

    Cleveland Browns (0-5) @ Houston Texans (2-3)
    6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    Just as Houston find their star quarterback, they lose their defensive Jesus. J.J. Watt is no more – out for the season with a broken leg during last Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs. To make matters worse the Houston D are without Mercilus and Cushing too, and whilst they still did an impressive job of shutting down the Chief’s run game last week, their secondary failed against the pass, especially on third down. But, hey, Deshaun Watson scored 5 touchdowns against a 5-0 Chiefs team, in a 42-34 loss that wasn’t a complete humiliation. DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller are balling out now with Watson – Houston officially has a passing game. Said passing game has opened up Miller’s run game too. The casualties on defense might be too much to make Houston championship contenders this season, but they’re certainly in the AFC South race, and perhaps still real contenders if coaching can fix their defensive worries. This week they’ll beat the Browns as Cleveland go 0-6 in preparation for a possible 0-16 season.

    Green Bay Packers (4-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (3-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    Just as it looked like Dallas would save their season, Aaron Rodgers went and spoiled it all as only he can, giving Green Bay the win in Dallas in the last minute. Yes folks, Green Bay are legit, and definitely contenders for the top spot in the NFC. With the Vikings relying on Case Keenum for their QB needs, there’s no reason the Packers shouldn’t be victorious here, although with that Vikings D and the unpredictable power of the Keenumania, let’s not rule out Minnesota entirely. But yeah, Green Bay 5-1.

    Detroit Lions (3-2) @ New Orleans Saints (2-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    It’s easy to forget the Lions aren’t a bad team. Last week’s loss to the Panthers isn’t one that should damage their stock too much. New Orleans on the other hand have had a slow start to the season, but then an impressive win against the Dolphins in London, followed with the bye week. The home advantage and impressive recent performance have made the Saints the Vegas favourites, but that doesn’t quite feel right. Detroit deserve a little luck and success this season – if only to make their inevitable collapse at the end of the season more tragic – and they have the team to get a win against the Saints this week.

    New England Patriots (3-2) @ New York Jets (3-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    The Patriots have only had one landslide victory this season, against the Saints – Kansas and Carolina beat New England, whilst Houston almost managed the same and Tampa Bay weren’t push overs. This week, the Patriots either crush the Jets, or we might see a low scoring, defensive struggling, that should still ultimately favour the Patriots, because they really can’t lose to the Jets. It must be a worrying time for some New England fans though, because what happens if they do lose to the Jets?

    San Francisco 49ers (0-5) @ Washington Redskins (2-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    “You went to school near west twenty fifth, and learned to play at Brady’s hip, a Cleveland boy with poise named Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer. Brian Ho-o-o-oy-er.” He’s San Francisco’s problem now, and oddly enough battling with the Browns for the worst record in the NFL. Assuming no terrible injuries, pitch invasions or Trump declaring NFL illegal, Washington should get the win this week – they have a team of professional football players, a reasonable 2-2 record and some rest coming off their bye week – so expect to see the 49ers go 0-6 on their own journey to one of the top draft picks.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) @ Arizona Cardinals (2-3)
    9:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    This one’s interesting, but only in the sense that neither of these two teams are likely to be championship contenders this year – but they both could have been and both remain pretty solid. Doug Martin has finally returned to Tampa Bay, and good news for fantasy fans: he’s 2015 Doug Martin. In the absence of David Johnson, the Cardinals had been making do with a combination of Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson at running back… only to sign Adrian Peterson from the Saints this week and drop Chris Johnson hours later. Johnson has now been dropped by the Cardinals twice this season! Shit knows what’s really going on in Arizona. The RB situation together with the mixed bag of a passing game, makes the Buccaneers look positively solid. Whilst this should be close, and difficult for the Buccs on the road, they should be able to take it.

    Los Angeles Rams (3-2) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)
    9:00pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    In 2016 a match-up involving the Rams and Jags would be considered something of a toilet bowl. This season, oh how things have changed. Sure, the Jacksonville passing game is still in the crapper, but the Jags legitimately have one of the best pass rushes in the league, plus a stud of a running back. The Rams on the other hand – the stud running back, Gurley, and a young QB called Goff who suddenly has his shit together. They couldn’t beat the Seahawks last week, but they remain fun to watch and real contenders, whilst the Jags have their own battle for top spot in the AFC South going on. For the first time in forever perhaps, this Rams @ Jags game may be interesting, meaningful and fun to watch.

    Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)
    9:25pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    Coming off a career low, in a game where Big Ben threw five interceptions against Jacksonville, may not be the best time to face the strongest team in the NFL. At home. The Steelers are a good team with real star players, but there’s something bad happening in Pittsburgh. After they lose to a soon-to-be 6-0 Chiefs team this week, the Steelers might be able to sort things out and get back on track.

    Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) @ Oakland Raiders (2-3)
    9:25pm Sunday 15th Oct (UK time)
    Phew, the Chargers didn’t go 0-5 last week. That would have been cruel and undeserved. Without Derek Carr, there’s a reasonable chance the Chargers could pull to 2-4 this week, as the Raiders struggled in their 30-17 loss to the Ravens last Sunday. It’s a shame for Oakland, as they were play-off contenders at the start of the season, but playing in the same division as the Chiefs and Broncos is hard enough even when you have a healthy quarterback.

    New York Giants (0-5) @ Denver Broncos (3-1)
    1:30am Monday 16th Oct (UK time)
    If the 0-5 record alone wasn’t a nightmare for New York, the Giants lost Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall to injury last week. A shakey QB, a flakey O-line, a pathetic run game and no healthy receivers? It looks almost certain New York will be going 0-6 against a formidable Broncos D this week.

    Indianapolis Colts (2-3) @ Tennessee Titans (2-3)
    1:30am Tuesday 17th Oct (UK time)
    It’s odd that this game, the real toilet bowl, has been scheduled for Monday Night Football. Don’t let the 2-3 records fool you – both of these teams have about the same chance of making the play-offs as the Browns and 49ers. Without Luck (the QB and the character stat), the Colts can’t do a whole lot, whilst the Titans are unlikely to have Mariota this week – but it is possible he’ll play. If he does, the combination of an actual quarterback on the field and Tennessee’s potentially impressive run game should give the Titans the win, otherwise it will just be a bum fight for last place in the AFC South.

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    NFL 2017 – Week 5 Preview & Picks

    Last week’s predictions were a mixed bag, but hit the nail on the head for certain games, particularly the Bills. This week kicks off with the Patriots @ Tampa Bay on Thursday Night Football, then seens a Sunday full of interesting match-ups – lots of winning teams facing other winning teams, and a few toilet bowls too (Jets @ Browns, 49ers @ Colts…). Going in to week 5, it’s bizarre to think both the Chargers and Giants are 0-4, but at least one of them will avoid going 0-5 this week as they face off. So yes, week 5 could be summed up as “quite tough to call”.

    New England Patriots (2-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
    1:25am Friday 6th Sep (UK time)
    Who would have predicted the Patriots starting the season 2-2? Last Sunday the Panthers managed to knock down Brady & Co, proving once again that the Patriots really are mortal. That might not bode well for Tampa Bay though – they’ll face an angry Brady on Thursday night. The Buccaneers are at least going into week 5 with a winning record, and the return of Doug Martin from suspension, which should give them a fighting chance. They might go down, but they’ll go down fighting.

    Buffalo Bills (3-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-3)
    6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    The Bills are a sneaky good team, having just clipped the Falcons. Last week I said the Bills @ Falcons match-up would be interesting, and it certainly was. The Bengals finding their first win thanks to the Browns might not mean a lot, but Andy Dalton finally put in a performance. Somehow the bookies have the Bengals as favourites here, which must mean either half the Bills are out with food poisoning, or the bookies are all smoking crack, because the Bills are going 4-1 this week.

    New York Jets (2-2) @ Cleveland Browns (0-4)
    6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    The Jets don’t really have a quarterback, but it appears they have a whole lot of run game in Powell and rookie McGuire, who combined for 256 yards and 2 touchdowns last week in Matt Forte’s absence. The 0-4 Browns are still the Browns, and proof that a potentially great QB still can’t perform when surrounded by Browns. With wins over the Jags and Dolphins though, the Jets aren’t exactly a solid 2-2 team, and still belong near the bottom of the rankings. But above the Browns. Everyone’s above the Browns.

    Carolina Panthers (3-1) @ Detriot Lions (3-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    File this one under potentially interesting, certainly meaningful, but probably nothing to get really excited about unless you’re a fan of big cats. Whilst the Panthers just handed an L to the Patriots and the Lions look like they can beat just about any team on any given Sunday, it’s almost inevitable both of these teams will implode just before or during the playoffs. Detroit look like they can put enough points on the board to stop the Panthers, given that both teams have solid defensive games… so yeah, let’s say Detroit 4-1.

    San Francisco 49ers (0-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (1-3)
    6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    A game with profound implications. If you believe in the string theory multiverse concept. In this universe, only 49ers and Colts fans will be tuning in to this, and maybe not even them. San Francisco have had a couple of close games, so this week perhaps their pride (in addition to Carlos Hyde) will stop them falling to 0-5.

    Tennessee Titans (2-2) @ Miami Dolphins (1-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    Jay Cutler being Jay Cutler, and Mariota being injured this week, make this one interesting. Both teams have stud running backs, a nice bunch of receivers and a huge wad of potential on paper. So far Miami have squandered that potential, losing back to back games against the Jets and Saints, and whilst the Titans came into this season looking strong, they’ll have either Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden at the wheel this week. Bit of a coin toss to predict, but the Dolphins need this win if they want to avoid being a dumpster fire this season. Come on Cutler!

    Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) @ New York Giants (0-4)
    6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    The Chargers don’t deserve the title of a 0-4 team. The Giants arguably do. This week one of these teams should avoid the dreaded 0-5. Despite living on different coasts, these two teams have a lot in common – in terms of misfiring QBs and underperforming run games. At least the Chargers have Melvin Gordon on the roster, and if he’s fit and healthy on Sunday, he could win the game for LA.

    Arizona Cardinals (2-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    Injuries and mishaps have turned the once great Cardinals into a team that barely just beat the 49ers last week. The Eagles are quietly stacking up the wins, even if they are quite messy, marginal and over teams like the Giants and Chargers. Still, this week the Eagles look to be the bigger birds, and due to the often animal influenced naming of NFL teams, they should win this bird fight.

    Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    Bell is back. 144 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Ravens last week. With Big Ben, Brown and Bell all on the same page, the Steelers are potentially unstoppable. Jacksonville started the season strong, and looked bizarrely good in London, but fell flat last week against the Jets. Watch as the Steelers go 4-1 and become serious contenders.

    Seattle Seahawks (2-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (3-1)
    9:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    Things between the Seahawks and the Rams are always interesting, even when the Rams have had otherwise abysmal seasons. This year things are different, and the Rams appear to be hot, especially after last week’s win over the Cowboys – even if they did only score half as many touchdowns as Dallas (so. many. field. goals). The Seahawks have been having a rocky start to their season, with an O-line in crisis, but last Sunday’s impressive win over the Colts should bring back some confidence. Still, the Rams often manage to win against Seattle, and this is the best Rams team in a long time, so they should get the victory this time.

    Baltimore Ravens (2-2) @ Oakland Raiders (2-2)
    9:00pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    Two things we’ve learnt this season: the Ravens can’t travel, and their scary defense isn’t really that scary. Oakland have the team to beat Baltimore, but sadly, after last Sunday they don’t have the quarterback, with Derek Carr out for the next 2-6 weeks with a back injury. Still, if backup EJ Manuel can just hold it together, with a little help from Beastmode, the Raiders should be able to outscore the Raven’s complete lack of offense.

    Green Bay Packers (3-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
    9:25pm Sunday 8th Oct (UK time)
    Week 5 is a week of interesting games, pitting some of the strongest teams against each other. The Cowboys 2-2 record doesn’t quite shout “Super Bowl contenders!”, but this could be the decisive moment in their season – a win over the Packers shows they have what it takes to make it to the playoffs, a loss on the other hand could be fatal. You can never count against Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, but they’re not infallible – especially early in the season – and as long as Dallas don’t mess up their game plan, they can get back on track with a win over the Packers. Dallas really need to win.

    Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) @ Houston Texans (2-2)
    1:30am Monday 9th Oct (UK time)
    The last remaining 4-0 team in the NFL, and a face-off between two of the best BBQ cities in the nation. Kansas have found a new star in Kareem Hunt, currently leading the RB rankings. Finally though, Houston have found their star quarterback in Deshaun Watson. Last week Houston recorded their best victory in franchise history, defeating the Titans 57-14, with Watson himself matching the rookie QB record scoring 5 touchdowns. Last month we’d have predicted an easy win for the Chiefs, but today this looks like a game well suited for Sunday night – an up and coming Texans team will have the chance to test their mettle against arguably the best team in the NFL right now. I’ve often thought the Texans were just a good QB and a better O-line short of being Super Bowl contenders, given their typically strong defense, run game and the hands of DeAndre Hopkins. This should be an incredibly close game, the Chiefs going in the favourites, but anyone could come out the winner.

    Minnesota Vikings (2-2) @ Chicago Bears (1-3)
    1:30am Tuesday 10th Oct (UK time)
    Two NFC North teams. Two strong defenses. Two flakey quarterbacks. One writer wondering why this was scheduled for Monday Night Football. The Vikings are now without star running back Dalvin Cook for the rest of the season, which doesn’t bode well for them getting too many points on the board. The Bears will be starting their first round draft pick Mitchell Trubisky in place of quarterback Mike Glennon for the first time this week, hoping he becomes their new hope. All of this makes it very difficult to predict the outcome of Monday’s game – a poor debut from Trubisky could lead to a defensive Vikings win, but if he puts in half a performance, things might get interesting as we watch the Bears and Vikings both go 2-3.

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    NFL 2017 – Week 4 Preview & Picks

    As far as predictions go, last week’s was miles off. It turns out Baltimore @ Jacksonville in London wasn’t a dull defensive win for the Ravens, but a huge 44-7 win for Jacksonville – not far off one of their biggest ever wins, although they did beat the Browns 48-0 in 2000.

    Houston @ New England wasn’t one of the worst teams in the league being crushed by the Super Bowl champions, but rather, a last minute 36-33 victory for the Patriots in a game that the Texans almost won thanks to rookie of the year level performances from Deshaun Watson. So don’t be surprised if this week’s picks are all wrong.

    Chicago Bears (1-2) @ Green Bay Packers (2-1)
    1:25am Friday 29th Sep (UK time)
    Green Bay should clearly be favourites going in, but after last week’s divisional victory over the Steelers, the Bears won’t roll over. Chicago are all about the run – a defense that stuffs it and a pair of their own running backs that keep on trucking. How well that game will work against Aaron Rodgers though, is another question.

    New Orleans Saints (1-2) @ Miami Dolphins (1-1)
    2:30pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    The season’s second London game. Two whiskey sipping gun slingers, Cutler and Brees, shooting it out. The Saints going up in the rankings after a win against Carolina, and Miami stuttering after a dismal loss against the Jets. London games are strange things though, and as All Or Nothing showed us, the jet lag is real. Could this be a week that favours Miami’s run game, as London born Jay Ajayi returns home? This game’s unpredictable, but it would be a very Cutler thing for Miami to win this with a jet lagged and hungover QB at the helm.

    Buffalo Bills (2-1) @ Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
    6:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    Last Sunday the Falcons only just beat the Lions, in a somewhat controversial final play. The Bills managed a surprising but solid victory over Denver. Both teams have been putting in impressive defensive performances, and whilst Atlanta clearly have the superior weapons on offense, this one should be close. The Falcons deserve to be favourites, but this should be interesting.

    Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    A divisional rivalry between two pissed off teams coming off surprise defeats? The difference being, Pittsburgh clearly have a solid team, whilst the Ravens barely showed up in London last week (that 44-7 loss to the Jags). It’s not quite clear how bad the Ravens are just yet, but despite the home advantage and desire to rectify last week’s humiliation, the Steelers should take it. There are so many off the field factors at play here though – anything could happen.

    Cincinnati Bengals (0-3) @ Cleveland Browns (0-3)
    6:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    They say once a team goes 0-3, their odds of not sucking are very slim. But here two 0-3 teams face-off, and divisional rivals too. The Bengals actually put in a good performance against the Packers last Sunday though, whilst Cleveland remain a mess despite the promising QB situation. This week Cleveland go 0-4.

    Los Angeles Rams (2-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    It’s still a bit early to say, but after last Thursday’s touchdown-athon the Rams are contenders for most improved team of the season. This season’s Cowboys still look as strong, if not stronger, than last season’s Cowboys though – despite, or possibly because of, the loss to Denver in week two. Dallas are favourites, but if the Rams can combine the Rams D with Goff’s sudden ability to throw touchdowns, this could get wild. Or, Zeke and Dak slow things down and run through the Rams. Expect lots of punches to be thrown though.

    Tennessee Titans (2-1) @ Houston Texans (1-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    The Titans are looking strong, and last Sunday’s win over the Seahawks helps their case. Houston have just found their future star quarterback though, after Deshaun Watson’s impressive performance against the Patriots. This one verges between too close to call, and “the Titans, just”, but if Houston can repeat last week, they might manage to go 2-2.

    Detroit Lions (2-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    Detroit where a literal whisker away from going 3-0 last week, but it wasn’t to be. Meanwhile, a Case Keenum led Vikings team scored 34 points to beat the Buccs – that’s ex-Texans and Rams back-up-yet-frequent-starter QB Case Keenum. Sure, Keenum can throw the ball well from time to time and game manage, but it also shows the strength of the Vikings as a unit. This week it’s a divisional game, that should be close regardless but gets interesting in the absence of QB1 Sam Bradford. If Keenum doesn’t implode, the Vikings should have the fortitude to edge a close win at home.

    Carolina Panthers (2-1) @ New England Patriots (2-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    The Patriots are mortal this season. Defeated by the Chiefs, almost losing to the Texans – and yet, still an incredible offense led by an amazing Tom Brady handing out touchdowns like candy. Carolina were outgunned by the Saints last week, expect things to go down in a similar fashion against the Patriots this week.

    Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) @ New York Jets (1-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    Last week in London, the Jags were good. It helped that the Ravens were dismal, but Bortles managed to throw 4 TDs and the Jags defense has a thing for catching balls now. Coming off a win against Miami, the Jets might not be the worst team in the league anymore, but there’s still nothing to suggest they’re a good team. Assuming the Jags have recovered from the international trip, they should find another win this week.

    San Francisco 49ers (0-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
    9:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    San Francisco look to continue their 0-3 run, in what is expected to be their fourth loss, this week to the Cardinals. True, Brian Hoyer put in a decent performance against the Rams last week and the Cardinals aren’t as strong as they were last season, but they’re not going to lose to the 49ers.

    Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-3)
    9:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    Of all the 0-3 teams in the league, the Chargers really don’t deserve the label. Two losses decided by last minute missed field goals, and an understandable loss to the Chiefs. They’re a couple of inches away from being a 2-1 team. The Eagles actually are a 2-1 team, having beaten the Redskins and Giants, and also understandably lost to the Chiefs. This could be and should be really close, with the Eagles the slight favourites, but it would be nice not to see the Chargers go 0-4, so here’s hoping…

    New York Giants (0-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
    9:00pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    New York came so close to turning things around last week against the Eagles, with OBJ springing to action in the fourth quarter, only to be denied by a last second field goal by the Eagles.

    Oakland Raiders (2-1) @ Denver Broncos (2-1)
    9:25pm Sunday 1st Oct (UK time)
    Interesting… or intéressant, as they say in France. Two very solid teams, but it’s still early. One week the Broncos kill the Cowboy’s run game, the next they lose to the Bills. One week the Raiders are handing it to the fiesty Tennessee upstarts, a couple later they’re losing to Washington. Such is life as a 2-1 team, but next week one of these teams will be 3-1 and in contention to come 2nd in the AFC West behind the Chiefs. Tossing a coin, Denver’s defense and home advantage should win this.

    Indianapolis Colts (1-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
    1:30am Monday 2nd Oct (UK time)
    True, the Seahawks O-line is a mess this season. But to equate a 1-2 Seattle team to a 1-2 Colts team, isn’t a fair measurement. The Colts have occasionally shown signs of life this season, but nothing to suggest they can beat the Seahawks at home this week. If Seattle do manage to lose this – which wouldn’t be impossible on recent performance – something will have to change.

    Washington Redskins (2-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
    1:30am Tuesday 3rd Oct (UK time)
    The Chiefs are now one of only two undefeated teams this season. The Redskins are a little unpredictable – their defense controlled the Raiders last week, but couldn’t stop the Eagles. The Redskins are without RB1 Rob Kelly, but that hasn’t really mattered so far. Regardless – playing at the home stadium of probably the best team in the NFL right now? No easy task. It looks like another scalp for the Chiefs this week.

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    NFL 2017 – Week 3 Preview & Picks

    The preview’s a little late this week, so Thursday Night’s game with the Rams and 49ers has already happened. Still, don’t let that spoil things…

    Los Angeles Rams (1-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (0-2)
    1:25am Friday 15th Sep (UK time)
    This one went as expected in terms of the result, but completely unexpected in the manner on it. The Rams @ 49ers sounds like a close faught, low-scoring, defense heavy game. Instead, we witnessed a relatively close faught but incredibly high scoring, fast offense game – the first touchdown coming in just 8 seconds, with both teams scoring 80 points between them. In the end, the Rams’ 41-39 win demonstrated how much they’ve improved over last season, with Goff displaying some of that first pick talent and Gurley back to his rookie season monster form.

    Baltimore Ravens (2-0) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)
    2:30pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    The first of four Wembley games this season, as Jacksonvile “host” Baltimore in London. Baltimore look to have one of the beat defenses in the league, whilst the Jags have a few question marks – their week two loss against the Titans counteracting a lot of their week one win over the Texans. Their run game has certainly improved, but Bortles is still a liability and it’s not quite clear how good their defense is just yet. Expect the Ravens defense to win this, it could be a bit messy.

    Denver Broncos (2-0) @ Buffalo Bills (1-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    After their surprising week two victory over the Cowboys, where Ezekiel Elliott only managed 8 yards the entire game, Denver are looking strong, and defensively amazing. Young Bronco’s QB Trevor Siemian is finally growing into the team. The Bills are a team with a strong run game but no one to catch a ball, and right now Denver appear to have an invincible run defense, so expect to see the Broncos go 3-0 this weekend.

    New Orleans Saints (0-2) @ Carolina Panthers (2-0)
    6:00pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    The NFC South is looking strong this year, alongside the AFC West, with six undefeated teams between them. The Saints aren’t one of those undefeated teams. To their credit, their losses have been to the Patriots and a hardened Vikings defense, but Carolina won’t be much easier. Coming off a 9-3 win over the Bills though, the Panthers aren’t exactly lighting it up offensively. Still, their defense should be enough to keep the Saints under control and earn an unexciting W.

    Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) @ Chicago Bears (0-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    The Bears appear to be in contention for worst team in the NFL right now, although there’s some fierce competition. Whilst Le’Veon Bell still hasn’t quite got his grove back at Pittsburgh, the rest of the offense has, and they should win comfortably against the Bears this weekend.

    Atlanta Falcons (2-0) @ Detroit Lions (2-0)
    6:00pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    Possibly the most interesting match-up of the week, 2-0 Super Bowl losers Atlanta face up against surprisingly 2-0 Detroit. Matt Stafford is in really good form, coming off wins against the Cardinals and Giants. The Falcons just carved up the Packers though. This could be close, and high scoring. Atlanta are slight favourites, but Detroit’s tendancy to surprise and make late comebacks could make this exciting.

    Cleveland Browns (0-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (0-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    A bit of a bum fight this. Cleveland’s rookie QB Kizer looked half decent in week one, but less so last week. The Colts looked appalling against the Rams in week one, but only narrowly lost to the Cardinals last week. The bookies have this as the closest match-up of the week, which seems fair as it’s a hard one to decide – which team will suck more on the day? Kizer could still impress, but the Colts should just about edge this, in a game that could be decided by interceptions and fumbles more than anything else.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    The Vikings are without Sam Bradford for another week, whilst the Buccs looked impressive against Chicago in their late start to the season. Defense could win this for the Vikings, but Winston and Evans should really win this for Tampa Bay.

    Houston Texans (1-1) @ New England Patriots (1-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    Houston managed a win against the Bengals last week in one of the worst games of recent years, whilst the Patriots came back with a vengeance against the Saints. New England will destroy Houston this week.

    Miami Dolphins (1-0) @ New York Jets (0-2)
    6:00pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    Cutler really didn’t look too bad in his first game of the season. There are some who think he could even be an upgrade over Tannehill. Ajayi was on monster form too. The Jets on the other hand are a garbage fire. Being a divisional game might keep this closer and lower scoring than it deserves to be, but Miami should be going 2-0.

    New York Giants (0-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
    6:00pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    The Giants appear to be lacking an O-line and a run game. The Eagles, despite the 1-1 record, are looking pretty solid. If, as expected, Philadelphia outscore New York this week, a 0-3 start might be the end of all hopes for the Giants.

    Seattle Seahawks (1-1) @ Tennessee Titans (1-1)
    9:00pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    Things are messy at Seattle, another team with a struggling O-line. Even fantasy fans are benching the likes of Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham, at least till they sort their shit out. The Titans haven’t started the season as impressively as they might have hoped, but a week two win over the Jags is getting things back on track. A week three win over the Seahawks could help the Titans win the AFC South, even if it’s stupidly early to say such a thing.

    Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) @ Green Bay Packers (1-1)
    9:25pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    Teams that can’t score a touchdown against the Texans on Thursday Night Football really shouldn’t be expecting to win anything. Unless the Bengals have radically improved in the last 10 days, Green Bay will get an easy win this week.

    Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-2)
    9:25pm Sunday 24th Sep (UK time)
    With wins over the Patriots and Eagles, and 3 TDs for Kareem Hunt in his first two games, the Chiefs are making a strong case for the number one spot in the NFL right now. The Chargers have been unlucky more than awful – losing two games due to a missed field goal in consecutive weeks – but the Chiefs shouldn’t have much trouble beating them without relying on luck.

    Oakland Raiders (2-0) @ Washington Redskins (1-1)
    1:30am Monday 25th Sep (UK time)
    The Raiders – the hipster’s choice – are lighting it up on offense this season. Washington on the other hand, aren’t awful, but are making a solid case of being middle of the road. Rob Kelly is out this week, and that might matter if he was a stud running back, but really no RB on the Redskins roster is. Oakland might be up against a strong defense, but they should put up enough points to win this weekend.

    Dallas Cowboys (1-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
    1:30am Tuesday 26th Sep (UK time)
    Was the week two loss to the Broncos an anomaly? Is Zeke still sulking? The Cowboys need to rebound and show they can be the top team in the NFC East. The Cardinals should be a tough opponent for Dallas, but they haven’t quite found themselves this season, and the injury of David Johnson has hurt their chances and many a fantasy player’s hopes too. Dallas should be able to get back on track and win this.

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    NFL 2017 – Week 2 Preview & Picks

    Houston Texans (0-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
    1:25am Friday 15th Sep (UK time)
    J.J. Watt thinks it’s good the Texans have a short week, coming off an abysmal loss to Jacksonville. Hopefully they can quickly put the poor start to the season behind them, and bash some Bengals. However, Cincinnati might be thinking the same, coming off a 20-0 loss to the Ravens, in a game where Andy Dalton managed to throw an impressive 4 interceptions. For the Bengals to bungle isn’t totally unknown though, whereas Houston displayed a complete inability to play football last week, most shockingly with a completely porous defense against Jacksonville’s run game. Things did look up in the second half though, after supposedly-starter QB Tom Savage was replaced by potential star rookie Deshaun Watson, who managed a couple of nice drives and a touchdown before the meagre Texans O-line caused him to panic. Both teams should improve this week (they can’t get any worse), but the Bengals are likely to be the better football team this Thursday night.

    Arizona Cardinals (0-1) @ Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
    6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    Another two teams with poor starts to the season – week one wasn’t a great showing for many teams. The Cardinals were overtaken by the Lions last Sunday and lost star running back David Johnson, with a wrist injury that could take him out for most of the season. The Colts managed to lose 46-9 to the Rams, which could be a combination of the Rams getting good and the Colts being quite bad – especially without Andrew Luck. Neither team looks particularly competent right now, but it remains to be seen how badly the loss of Johnson will effect the Cardinals. They should at least be better than the Colts this week.

    Buffalo Bills (1-0) @ Carolina Panthers (1-0)
    6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    Buffalo managed to comfortably walk over the Jets last week, whilst Carolina solidly stomped the 49ers. Neither team completely lit up the passing game though. This looks like an even match-up with similar playstyles. Expect a tight game, run heavy, with solid defense. The Panthers might just have the edge.

    Chicago Bears (0-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
    6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    Due to Hurrican Irma, Tampa Bay had to take their bye week in week one. That could be good or bad – they’ve had more time to practice, but hopefully they don’t put in a poor season opener like so many teams did last week. Chicago didn’t do too badly in their week one loss to Atlanta, with a solid run game. As this season’s Hard Knocks stars though, it’s hard not to root for the Buccaneers, with Jameis Winston’s charm backed up by solid QB skills and a great pair of receivers in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. Tampa Bay should have the extra power required on offense to overcome the Bears.

    Cleveland Browns (0-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
    6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    Fun fact: the Browns might not be awful this season! Well, more of an observation than a fact. But rookie QB DeShone Kizer put in a respectable performance in his first game, putting him in line to be the best Cleveland quarterback this century. The Ravens have just come off a 20-0 win over the Bengals though, which could be down to an incredible defense or Cincinnati’s inability to keep hold of the ball. Baltimore should be favourites – they have the elite dragon Flacco – but don’t expect Cleveland to roll over.

    Minnesota Vikings (1-0) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)
    6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    On the extensive list of surprising things from week one, Vikings’ QB Sam Bradford looked impressive. Bradford and receiver Stefon Diggs showed good chemistry in their 29-19 win against the Saints last week. The Steelers come into this game as the favourites – it’s hard not to, with Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and the home advantage – but Bell looked uninspiring last week, managing only 32 yards. Expect a hard fought game, and the possibility that the Steelers get their shit together and get the W – just.

    New England Patriots (0-1) @ New Orleans Saints (0-1)
    6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    For half a game last week, the Patriots looked Madden-esque, making football look easy. Then the Chiefs came back to beat them in a huge upset that must have put smiles on a lot faces. The Patriots won’t be so arrogant this week, so expect them to come back with a vengeance – New Orleans being their first victim. Really at this point, how good the Saints may or may not be doesn’t factor into things – throughout the week Brady and Belichick will have performed numerous ritual sacrifices to the football devil, angered at last week’s loss. The Saints playing at home should be helpful, in that it will be a shorter trip home to recover from the beating.

    Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)
    6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    Wentz’s 58 yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor was one of the highlights for Philly last week, in addition to an impressive defense that made Washington look sloppy. The Chiefs on the other hand, are coming off their incredibly impressive week one victory over the Patriots, in a game where Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill all managed to put up insane “fantasy MVP” level stats – Kareem Hunt rushing and receiving for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns, a performance almost worthy of a record book. Based purely on the evidence of one win against the Patriots and too much hyperbole from this writer, the Chiefs could be sneaky Super Bowl contenders. Of course they’ll beat the Eagles at home this week.

    Tennessee Titans (0-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)
    6pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    The Jags are no longer candidates for the worst team in the AFC South – the Colts and Texans are both fighting hard for that position. This season the Jags are a candidate for most improved team in the NFL, with (seemingly, based on a thumping of a very poor Texans team) two things they didn’t have last season: a defense and a run game. The Titans are also an increasingly improved team, but couldn’t manage to win against the Raiders last week. This one could be both interesting and too close to call – even the bookies think so. The team that puts on the better performance this Sunday could claim the AFC South, and with it, the chance to get beaten by the Patriots, Chiefs, or some other top level team come play-off time.

    Miami Dolphins (0-0) @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-1)
    9:05pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    The Dolphins were the other team that had to take a premature bye week for the season opener – pesky hurricanes. So we’re still waiting to get aboard the Cutler hype train and ride it to ProbableDisasterVille. The Chargers couldn’t quite beat the Broncos last week in their first game as the LA Chargers, but you could possibly blame that one on the kicker. Rivers and Gordon still look solid. This one should be quite easy to call, and not as close as the bookies think – Chargers all the way.

    New York Jets (0-1) @ Oakland Raiders (1-0)
    9:05pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    The bookies have this as the most one-sided game of the week, with Raiders -14 against the spread. That’s because the only debate here, is how badly the Jets will lose. The Jets basically have no passing game, whereas Oakland’s Carr and Cooper combo is one of the better ones in the league. Of course Oakland will win, and they could beat the spread too, because the Jets won’t be putting up much resistance.

    Dallas Cowboys (1-0) @ Denver Broncos (1-0)
    9:25pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    Film critics have called this game “superb”, “unmissable” and “the closest match-up of the week”. That last one might have just been the bookies. Denver do come into this with the home advantage, but Dallas as the slight favourites – and that makes sense, because they have one of the better offenses in the league right now, a complete package, and the D aren’t too shabby either. Denver will do everything they can to stop them, turning this into a gritty, low scoring, hard defense game. I’d put your money on Dallas though – and maybe mine too.

    San Francisco 49ers (1-0) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-0)
    9:25pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    Despite the Seahawks’ O-line looking a bit lost against the Packers last week, few teams looked more lost than the 49ers. Whilst San Francisco always have the ability to turn a division game into a battle, there’s a reason why bookies have Seattle as huge favourites here. This might not be quite as lopsided as suggested though – the 49ers can’t put up much points, but their defense should be able to frustrate Seattle to keep the score relatively low and limit the loss.

    Washington Redskins (0-1) @ Los Angeles Rams (1-0)
    9:25pm Sunday 17th Sep (UK time)
    Coming off a 46-9 win over the Colts last week, would it be controversial to say the Rams are a good team now? Goff managed a QB rating of 117.9 – either a fluke or a sign that he has improved hugely over his first season. Kupp looks impressive, and Todd Gurley is back to being Todd Gurley, so it might not be too crazy to suggest new head coach Sean McVay is turning the Rams into a good team. The bookies have the Rams as the slight favourites, and that seems about right really.

    Green Bay Packers (1-0) @ Atlanta Falcons (1-0)
    1:30am Monday 18th Sep (UK time)
    It took Green Bay until the 3rd quarter to finally get a touchdown and beat out Seattle. They did demonstrate that their run game isn’t too bad though, and Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. Atlanta looked solid against Chicago in their week one win, although not firing on all cylinders, and their best receiver was somehow tight end Austin Hooper. Whilst Atlanta are slight favourites this week (with the bookies), the Packers should shore up their offense and rise up against the Falcons. Green Bay for the win?

    Detroit Lions (1-0) @ New York Giants (1-0)
    1:30am Tuesday 19th Sep (UK time)
    The Lions managed a surprising comeback, to beat the Cardinals in week one. Matt Stafford trying to prove that he’s worth that Matt Stafford money. Whether it was the impressive Dallas defense, or other factors, Eli Manning demonstrated how to run around aimlessly and throw the ball nowhere for much of the Giants’ game against the Cowboys last week. There is one notable difference this week though – the return of Odell Beckham Jr. On paper, the Lions should have the weapons to score and the defense to rip apart Eli. However, Detroit being Detroit, they should find a way to blow this. Expect the Lions to throw away a small lead at the last minute – perhaps through an injury, silly turnover or awful kick – and hand the Giants the game. As is the Detroit way.

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    NFL 2017 – Week 1 Preview & Picks

    Kansa City Chiefs @ New England Patriots
    The season opener this Thursday night sees the Chiefs in Patriots territory. You can’t really look past the Patriots to win this, coming off their 5th Super Bowl win and many newborn sacrifices. Brady and Gronk are both playing, that’s all you need to know really.

    Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals
    They don’t call them the Bungles for nothing, but Cincinnati don’t look too bad – they’ve always got AJ Green. Rookie star Joe Mixon isn’t the starting RB yet, but hopefully that just means the team isn’t in a desperate state that requires immediately starting him. The Ravens are always tough, even moreso in divisional games, but the Bengals should take the W home here (that’s yank for win).

    Atlanta Falcons @ Chicago Bears
    The Super Bowl runners-up, versus a team coming off a 3-13 season. Jay Cutler retired from the Bears, then quickly un-retired to join the Miami Dolphins, replacing an injured Tannehill. That he’d arguably be an upgrade for Chicago says a lot. So, Falcons to win, convincingly, if we’re doing pick ’em.

    Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions
    Expect the Lions to try hard, put up a good fight, but ultimately walk off the field in a cloud of defeat. As is the Detroit way. Whilst the Cardinals regressed last season, David Johnson makes them a formiddable team. Both teams could put up somewhere in the region of 20 points, with Arizona putting up slightly more than the Lions.

    Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
    On paper this one sees the Browns getting stomped on. Reality might be slightly kinder though, as the Browns are an improved team. With rookie star quarterback DeShone Kizer, things are looking up. Sure, the rest of the team still sucks, but the receivers have had a slight upgrade in the form of Kenny Britt and Sammie Coates. Expect the Steelers’ trio of Big Ben, Bell and Brown to only moderately murder Cleveland.

    Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans
    The Texans are the bookies’ favourites here, as every team against Jacksonville usually is, but Houston are also suffering from an offense that looks unconvincing. Rookie QB Deshaun Watson should have been a huge upgrade for Houston, but that hasn’t been apparent at all during pre-season. The receivers are looking a little battered, with an injured Will Fuller, an only-just-recovered Braxton Miller and a suspended-for-one-game Jaelen Strong. The Jaguars on the other hand, have star rookie running back Leonard Fournette, and the probability that Allen Robinson could have a much improved year, reverting to his 2015 form, assuming Blake Bortles can throw a ball. Houston still look good for the win, but only just.

    Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
    According to Vegas this is as close to an even game as there is this week, and it makes sense. Two hardened NFC East rivals. Both with reasonably competent young QBs and a decent set of receivers. Both a bit low budget in the running back department this year, although the Eagles have aquired Blount from New England. A toss up really, but let’s say the Redskins with the home advantage.

    New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills
    Josh McCown is the Jets’ starting QB. They basically don’t have any wide receivers of note. Forte will probably break a leg when he steps on the pitch. The only question is whether the Bills will win this convincingly, or embarrassingly.

    Oakland Raiders @ Tennessee Titans
    The Raiders got good last year. The Titans got good last year. Oakland just brought Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. Tennessee had an annoyingly good draft. This game could be interesting. The Titans are slight favourites, and I’d have to go with them, being one of the brightest young teams in the NFL right now.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Miami Dolphins – Cancelled
    Hurricane Irma done messed this one up.

    Indianapolis Colts @ Los Angeles Rams
    The Colts don’t have much Luck right now. So Scott Tolzien (who?) gets to fill his shoes. Yes, the Rams suck (I generally avoid such lazy language but the word fits the Rams quite well), but with a new Head Coach and the hope that Goff isn’t as bad as last year, the LA Rams might get the chance to win their season opener at home.

    Carolina Panthers @ San Francisco 49ers
    Kaepernick is no longer a 49er – too moral for the NFL – so instead the 49ers give the wheel to Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer. Brrrrian Ho-o-o-oyer. He sank the Browns and Texans, this season we get to see him (further) sink the 49ers. So yes, Panthers win.

    Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers
    Two great teams, that both get better as the season goes along – meaning either team could underwhelm this week, or lose out in a close faught battle. Green Bay have the home advantage and are slight favourites, with Rodgers being an MVP contender. Seattles defense could be more valuable than Green Bay’s quick shooting offense in a hesitant first week game though. The Seahawks have looked stronger in preseason, but the Packers come out on top against Seattle more often than not. Give this one to Green Bay.

    New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
    Despite Zeke’s six game suspension, he’ll be playing this week as the NFL didn’t turn up to court on time. Odell Beckham Jr. on the other hand, is likely to sit on the sidelines with his bad ankle. The Cowboys and Giants are always competitive, but the spotlight is on the Cowboys this season and the odds should favour them.

    New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings
    The bookies have the Vikings as favourites – they’re playing at some, solid in defense, horny helmets, etc. The Saints have weapons though. Michael Thomas has stepped up to WR1, and could be a top 5 receiver this year – the man busted out big time towards the end of last season. Adrian Peterson should also be eager to run against his former team. Just to switch things up, I’m going with the Saints here.

    Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos
    This has some of the same ingredients as the previous game, a high powered offense against a tough D. The messy quarterback situation at Denver helps the Chargers, and again Denver are the favourites but you can’t rule out LA here. Expect the Broncos to grind out a tough win, but don’t be surprised if the Chargers put on a performance.

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    New York Giants: 2017 Season Preview

    Can the Giants progress from a solid season last year or will the cracks begin to show?

    The Giants had a solid season last year there’s no doubt about that and with the additions of Marshall and Engram they should do so again, however it’s not all positive as the same problems that have hampered the offense recently remain.

    The Giants did a great job of beefing up the defense last year through a combination of free agency and a much improved Landon Collins who in all seriousness had a tough time as a rookie. The return of Jason Pierre-Paul after a badly timed injury last year should be a real positive if he can pick up where he left off. Along with Vernon, Jenkins and Harrison they could quite possibly have one of the best defenses in the league.

    The problems with the O-line, a QB who is regressing (albeit slowly) and a none existent running game however could prevent them from achieving their full potential.

    The giants appeared to make no real attempt to improve the O-line through the off season which is either a result of the huge amounts of money they spent last year in free agency or quite honestly just a mistake. Eli isn’t getting any younger and his time in the pocket was a real problem last year so adding extra weapons for him to aim for doesn’t resolve the underlying issues.

    On the subject of Eli there’s no doubt that he’s regressing, it may be slow but considering what he’s got in terms of protection it could be significant, especially when you consider the small margin of victory in a large number of games last year. Engram and Marshall should definitely help Eli in terms of options but it remains to be seen if he’ll have the time to find them.

    As hard as it is to forget about the O-line issues, putting that aside for a second there’s no question that in terms of weapons available, the Giants are up there with the best in the league. Odell Beckham Jr. will have the best season of his career in my opinion as he looks to get paid and with the additions of Engram and Marshall not to mention Sterling who had a solid rookie season there are some real positives there.

    Overall there are positives and negatives as there always are. If the O-line can have even a slightly improved year combined with the new additions and head coach going into his second year the Giants could have another solid season and really push for a playoff spot, however there are a still a number of concerns. The schedule is tough and the Giants could know how their season is going to pan out by the end of week 4, therefore a good start is vital. Couple that with the issues highlighted above and the potential that just a couple of injuries could seriously disrupt an already thin looking team, there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

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    NFL Super Challenge (Spreadex Season Long Game)

    Spreadex will be running their excellent NFL Super Challenge game for the 2017 Season.  Here’s a brief summary of the details:

    • Entry is £250 per team (2 teams maximum per entrant), the equivalent of £14.71 for each game week
    • Spreadex takes 0% commission
    • Prizes for the top 7.5%
    • The top prize was £20,000 last year
    • Entry deadline is 6pm on Saturday 9th September 2017

    It’s a very easy game to play, simply choose any 5 teams every week which are based on that week’s handicap. For example, the first game is Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots, you could pick the Chiefs with +7.5 start or the Pats giving away -7.5

    “I have played the game each season (finishing joint 3rd in Year 1), and cannot recommend highly enough. A few other forum regulars played for the first time last year, finishing in the money. I’m told many more plan to take part this year, some individuals and some as a team”.

    This year the Live-Fantasy Drafters plan to form a 16-man team to try and improve on last years 8th place (which won us £500 to share).

    The cost is quite high at £250 per entry, however it’s less than £15 per week and you can team up with a pal to reduce the cost if that suits. The game lasts all season and most players will still be in with a chance in December.

    If anyone needs to ask any questions, please contact me, Dean on The Fan Pub forum or chat.

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    Why does Terrell Davis deserve to be in the Hall Of Fame?

    I had the privilege of watching every game TD played. If you ever watch videos about the TD’s life story it’s very compelling, and a real testament to his character. Due to an injury in his final season at Georgia, he slipped down the NFL draft to the seventh round when Denver finally took a chance on him.

    Initially there was nothing obvious about TD that suggested greatness. Just before an exhibition game in Japan, TD almost called it quits on his NFL career, and was reflecting hard about what he was doing with his life. However, he decided to give the game his best shot and not give up on his life’s dreams. He didn’t know it then but his life was about to change forever. During a preseason game whilst playing on a special team play, TD delivered such a big hit, that it made every coach and first team player sit up and take notice, proclaiming “Who was that?” That play opened the door to opportunities with the first team. TD didn’t waste his chance and quickly gained the confidence of both John Elway and the coaching staff. Not only was it obvious he could run the football but he was arguably one of the very best blockers to have ever played the game, something many people fail to realise the importance of.

    TD was an incredible running back and his stats back that up:-

    Terrell Davis
    Height: 5′ 11″ Weight: 210 lbs Age: 44
    Born: 10/28/1972 San Diego , CA
    College: Georgia
    Experience: 8 Seasons
    Hall of Fame Induction: 2017

    1,655 total carries

    7,607 total yards

    4.6 avg yards per carry

    60 touchdowns

    TD had two Super Bowl appearances and the team won both of them. His playoff record (including those 2 games) puts him in elite company. He played eight total playoff games, won seven and lost only one.

    In an article written some time ago others have realised what I did at the time, that he was simply one of the greatest clutch players of all time:
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/329261-terrell-davis-the-greatest-postseason-performer-in-nfl-history

    In his two Super Bowl appearances he put in two incredible performances in their own right. He was named the MVP in Super Bowl XXXII and made a strong case to have been named the MVP in the following Super Bowl a year later. That was John Elway’s final game though and who can argue that Elway won it?

    Davis also recorded 21 rushing touchdowns in his 2,000 yard season, the only 2,000 yard rusher to do so. Davis had reached the 1,000-yard mark just seven games into the season. People forget he also sat out of six quarters of play, being rested late in games. What could he have achieved with an extra three games?

    It annoys me when some experts claim he’s an NFL network favourite or a product of a system. That he didn’t play long enough to be a true great. They really haven’t researched the man. I was lucky to have watched every game he played, and still have all the tapes. I know how much all his team mates loved him. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe both said that without TD there wouldn’t have been any Super Bowl rings. That tells you everything in my mind.

    It’s sad that his career was cut short by injury, and although he tried to come back he realised he would never be the same and retired.

    Simply put Terrell Davis is in elite company, no matter how you break his career down and was very deserving of his Hall Of Fame entry on August 5th this year.

    I for one have been banging the drum for TD for years and am delighted that he has made it to where he belongs. Alongside the greats in the Hall Of Fame.

    One day soon I will make the pilgrimage to Canton, Ohio, as I promised to do once TD made it in. When I finally get to look down on his bust, I will salute him and thank him for all the great memories.

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    Los Angeles Rams: 2017 Season Preview

    As much as I’m a diehard Rams fan, the truth is we have been steadily going backwards since 2001. When the Rams hired Jeff Fisher I lost it. Like any fan, we all have moments where we just lose it. For the record I hate Jeff Fisher. The low point was last year when the Rams went 4 – 12 and scored less points in all of their home games combined than some college teams’ score in one game.

    Without labouring the point, Fisher took us to a new low, as I always knew he would. However, with the signing of new head coach Sean McVay I have a new found hope, as I’m sure the entire Rams organisation have. I instantly like the man – his approach, his attitude and his knowledge shine through. You get the sense the Rams can finally turn the corner and we can begin to scare people again. However, the journey ahead for McVay this season will be tough. I’m not expecting a lot but I do believe we will at least fight in every game.

    Let’s take an honest look at the schedule, and how I think things could turn out:

    Week 1: vs. Indianapolis Colts (Sunday, CBS) | 1:05 p.m. Assuming the Colts are without Andrew Luck, as currently seems possible – Rams win Record: 1 – 0

    Week 2: vs. Washington Redskins (Sunday, FOX) | 1:25 p.m. We simply don’t have the offense to compete with the Redskins – Rams defeat Record: 1 – 1

    Week 3: at San Francisco 49ers (Thursday, NFL Network) | 5:25 p.m. Horrible mid-week game on the road – Rams defeat Record: 1 – 2

    Week 4: at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, FOX) | 10 a.m. No chance going into Dallas – Rams defeat Record: 1 – 3

    Week 5: vs. Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, CBS) | 1:05 p.m. The Rams always seem to do well against Seattle – Rams win Record: 2 – 3

    Week 6: at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, FOX) | 1:05 p.m. I can see us winning this one – Rams win Record: 3 – 3

    Week 7: vs. Arizona Cardinals (Sunday, FOX) | 10 a.m. London I don’t see the Rams having a chance in London against the Cardinals – Rams defeat Record: 3 – 4

    Week 8: Bye A perfect mid-season break, which is nice.

    Week 9: at New York Giants (Sunday, FOX) | 1:05 p.m. I can only see defeat against the Giants in New York – Rams defeat Record: 3 – 5

    Week 10: vs. Houston Texans (Sunday, CBS) | 1:05 p.m. I fancy our chances here – Rams win Record: 4 – 5

    Week 11: at Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, FOX) | 10 a.m. No chance in Minnesota – Rams defeat Record: 4 – 6

    Week 12: vs. New Orleans Saints (Sunday, FOX) | 1:05 p.m. The Saints will be too strong – Rams defeat Record: 4 – 7

    Week 13: at Arizona Cardinals (Sunday, FOX) | 1:25 p.m. Another tough game continues the losing run – Rams defeat Record: 4 – 8

    Week 14: vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, FOX) | 1:25 p.m. It’s difficult to know what to expect from the Eagles but think the Rams can win this – Rams win Record: 5 – 8

    Week 15: at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, FOX) | 1:05 p.m. Despite our good record against the Seahawks, can’t see a clean sweep of Seattle this year – Rams defeat Record: 5 – 9

    Week 16: at Tennessee Titans (Sunday, FOX) | 10 a.m. No chance here, can’t compete – Rams defeat Record: 5 – 10

    Week 17: vs. San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, FOX) | 1:25 p.m. Rams play tough and win the final game at home – Rams win Record: 6 – 10

    We end the season with six wins, and I actually believe that would be a fair win total to expect of McVay in his first year with the team. The truth is, if we examine the team, it’s unfair to expect more.

    Our rookie quarterback Jared Goff has not won a game in his first seven starts. I don’t blame him for that, however, I’m not sold on him at this stage. This year will give us a good steer about his future in the NFL.

    The running game can bounce back, and I’m sure McVay knows that this, along with the defense, are the key to the Rams first year under his leadership. Last year teams’ stacked eight men in the box to stifle the running of Todd Gurley after having seen his fabulous rookie campaign the previous year. Our offensive line (aptly named) was atrocious. However, if we are being honest, there are question marks about Gurley that will be answered quickly over the first few games as, on paper, we have four nice games for him to get his mojo back.

    The Rams have employed a unique approach at Wide Receiver, taking small ones. In the NFL this rarely works as you need Red Zone threats. Neither Robert Woods nor Tavon Austin offer much in this department. That’s not McVay’s fault, it’s what he has inherited and during the April draft he addressed this by taking two interesting players that could add a lot going forward. Cooper Krupp a 6’ 2”, 204 pound Wide Receiver who finished his college care

    r with 428 catches, 73 touchdowns and 6,464 receiving yards and speedy Tight End Gerald Everett, at 6’3” and 239 pounds. I like both and can see that they will factor a lot by McVay’s second year.

    The defense of the Rams has always, in recent years, been our strength, however, we lost some important pieces through trades and injury. McVay has added Wade Philips, a great defensive coach who can get any defense to play above themselves so I don’t see any issues with our defense. It’s still the Rams main strength.

    So what does McVay have to do to win games? For starters, we have to control the clock. That means having a running game that works. We mustn’t be afraid to take shots with Jared Goff down the field to keep opposing defenses honest. If we can control the clock, we will keep our defense fresh and that will quickly be rewarded in some games as we can apply pressure on the opposing offenses.

    So, it’s that simple for me, establish a Rams identity leaning heavily on the ground game and frightening offenses with defense pressure and, hopefully, the wins will come.

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    Dallas Cowboys: 2017 Season Preview

    Hard to believe, but 21 seasons have now gone by since the Cowboys last made it to the SuperBowl. So will the 2017 season see a return…

    Based on the evidence of last season the answer could well be in the affirmative. However, a great deal has happened since last year’s epic 13-3 regular season and not all of it good. Although the draft and free agency have offered opportunities to improve the team, off the field issues involving suspensions and two retirements have made things much harder than they should be. Add into the mix a competitive NFC East and a tough schedule, it is easy to understand why Vegas expects the Cowboys to win just 10 games, down on last year. This might not be enough to win the division.

    On offense the Cowboys have the talent to score heavily. Much rests on the shoulders of Ezekiel Elliott who as I write has not been hit with a suspension, although one is likely to be forthcoming as the NFL conclude their year long investigation into his off the field behaviour. Darren McFadden will be the back up but Cowboys fans will hope any ban for Elliott is short. Scott Linehan will look to involve Elliott in the passing game more this year. At wide receiver Dez Bryant will look to justify his price tag as the highest paid in the NFL this year at $25 million. Expect him to be targeted heavily in certain match ups. Behind him Terrance Williams was re-signed at a bargain price with Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer likely to offer outlets in the short passing game. Bryce Butler will likely make the team but Noah Brown a rookie might have to settle for the practice squad. At tight end Jason Witten returns but now in the twilight of his career he will be more of a safety valve.

    Where the Cowboys could have problems is ironically along the offensive line. Last year widely regarded as the best in football, two key pieces have departed. Doug Free at right tackle surprisingly retired, whilst Ronald Leary took the money on offer in Denver. The Cowboys have responded by moving La’ell Collins from guard to replace Free (at training camp early reports are that it has not gone smoothly) and seem undecided as yet who should replace Leary with former Cardinal 1st round pick Jonathan Cooper a possibility. There is not much to decide at Quarterback with second year Dak Prescott now firmly established. With Tony Romo retiring, Prescott is now considered a franchise Quarterback whom the Cowboys hope can lead the team for the next decade. Despite preferring Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook the Cowboys got lucky that Prescott fell to them. Expect Prescott to open up the playbook more when necessary.

    Whilst there is continuity on offense, defense is a different matter. All 4 starters were let go in the secondary with the Cowboys ownership deciding that neither Carr, Church, Wilcox or Claiborne were worthy of further investment. Injuries affected Claiborne’s time with the team, but it is worth noting that when scouting the player before the 2012 draft the Cowboys gave him the highest grade they have given a player since Deion Sanders back in 1989. The Cowboys hope the corners drafted this year will be better. Chidobe Awuzie (2nd round) and Jourdan Lewis (3rd round) will compete with veterans Scandrick, Carroll and Brown. Much will be expected of former first round pick Byron Jones at free safety (some interceptions would be nice!) with Jeff Heath expected to man strong safety. Along the defensive line, co-ordinator Rod Marinelli will once again rotate players into the lineup in the hope of generating that all important pass rush. No Cowboys player has produced double digit sacks since 2013. Much will be expected of Taco Charlton. Taken at the end of the first round the Cowboys had higher ranked players on their board but felt the need to draft at the position was imperative. He will join a rotation of players that must improve including DeMarcus Lawrence (one sack last year), Charles Tapper (injured reserve last year) and Tyrone Crawford. At linebacker Sean Lee leads the team and was an All-Pro last year. Anthony Hitchens with play middle linebacker and there is cautious optimism that Jaylon Smith who would have been a Top 5 pick in the 2016 draft, is ready to begin his Cowboys career after a dreadful injury with Notre Dame.

    At kicker and punter the Cowboys are set with Dan Bailey and Chris Jones both at the top end of their positions.

    Looking at the schedule, 2017 looks much tougher than 2016. As always the Cowboys will need to have a positive record against division opponents if they are to make the playoffs. Apart from that they have to travel to Oakland, Atlanta, Denver, Arizona, San Francisco and face home games against the LA Rams, Green Bay, Kansas City, San Diego and Seattle. It could go down to the wire. They have not been helped by multiple suspensions to various players which will make the start to the season even harder. As always injuries will play there part and the Cowboys will hope to avoid being hit by any at the offensive line and quarterback positions in particular. Can they win the division? Yes! Will they win the division? Probably not. They will be competitive and they will win games but they may have to settle for a wild card into the playoffs this time.

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