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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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    Competition time: Win Madden 18

    Win Madden 18

    Fancy getting involved with The Fan Pub and getting your mitts on a copy of Madden 18 for your games console of choice? If so, today’s your lucky day, as we’ve got a little Madden 18 competition!

    Due out later this month on August 25th, Madden 18 continues to deliver the best (and admittedly only) NFL gaming experience, this year with added longshot story mode, where you play as a college star, going through the draft to make it to the NFL.

    One lucky winner will get a copy of Madden 18 on their choice of PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.

    To be in with a chance of winning, just get involved with The Fan Pub and submit a piece of content to the site through our user submission section. It could be a season preview for your favourite team, a piece of fantasy football strategy, an opinion piece, or just anything fun or interesting in the NFL or Fantasy Football domain.

    We’ll pick a winner by August 23rd so they can start playing on release day. Entrants should ideally be from the UK or Ireland, but we probably won’t mind if you’re in the USA or Europe or some place with a modern postal service.

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    Houston Texans: 2017 Season Preview

    How ’bout dem Cowboys Texans, ay? Every season it’s been a case of “great D, shame about the QB”. Houston might have the best, All American defensive end to appear in a Papa Johns commercial or Bad Moms, but the Bayou City has never quite landed a star quarterback. David Carr? Broken. Matt Schaub? Functional yet dead eyed. Warren Moon? Ok, yes, but technically a different Houston football team.

    Things could be different in 2017 though. Enter Deshaun “Son of Watt” Watson, the 12th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, the championship winning Clemson QB with an offensive MVP award to his name. This season The Texans are serious about the quarterback position. How could things be any better? Well, they also offloaded Brock Osweiler to the Browns!

    Watson will need weapons, and Houston have had their guns loaded for a few seasons now. Receiving talent doesn’t get much better than DeAndre Hopkins, whether we’re talking fantasy football stats or spectacular one handed catches in the real world. Will Fuller remains a talent with great potential, Braxton Miller and Jaelen Strong were exciting draft picks from previous years never truly given the chance to shine with a mostly ‘armless set of quarterbacks, then there’s ex-Cowboy Devin Street recently claimed off waivers by Houston. Put simply, The Texans aren’t short of people who can catch a ball, even J.J. likes to get in on the game.

    The run game has always been a strength of Houston, and looks set to continue so. Lamar Miller put up a solid season last year, limited only by a box stacked against him. With an improved passing game, Miller’s threat can only grow, bolstered further by 3rd round pick D’Onta Foreman as RB2, who should serve as a better backup than Alfred “Fucking” Blue.

    Watts up with that Houston D? If Houston’s known for anything, it’s that D. Leading the league in 2016 for yards allowed – a mere 301 yds per game – Houston just need to cut down on the point giveaways. Keeping the offense on the field for longer should help. A healthy Jadeveon Clowney standing next to a recovered J.J. Watt might also help a bit too. For any American readers, that last sentence was an example of British understatement. Expect opposing quarterbacks to tremble this season, lack of injuries permitting.

    So where could it go wrong and why aren’t we already calling The Texans “The Patriots of the South”? Aside from the risk of Deshaun Watson’s rookie QB season, the Houston O-Line could use improvement. A couple of additions from the draft – OT Julie’n Davenport and “yet another” Centre Kyle Fuller provide extra flesh to improve pass blocking. No dramatic improvements though, and it remains to be seen how big an impact a mediocre O-Line had on past, now dead and forgotten QBs.

    Gridiron is a game of strategy though, right? Bill O’Brien arrived in Houston like a hero three seasons ago, billed as Belichick’s Prodigal Son. His experience as the Patriot’s QB coach and offensive coordinator may have seemed somewhat invisible the last few seasons, but O’Brien is certainly creative – remember when J.J. Watt stepped up as running back, or that time Ryan Mallett convinced some people he was an NFL quarterback?

    So Texan fans have a lot to look forward to this season. A potential, possibly not awful new QB. Receivers with a ball to catch. A healthy Watt & Clowney sandwich. Two free wins against the Jags each season. Not forgetting the best BBQ in, well frankly, the world. Sure, they’ve got road games in New England and Seattle, and The Titans are looking worryingly competent, but don’t kill the vibe, 2017 is set to be the year of Watt & Watson. At least in H-Town.

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    It’s Time to Mixon It Up

    Many experts will tell you that it’s a Running Back by committee at best for Joe Mixon, or that he will play second fiddle to Jeremy Hill all year. Then, of course, you have to factor in Giovanni Bernard, the pass catching and change of pace back in Cincinnati, coming back from injury. Also, as I have been told so frequently, rarely do the Bengals turn to rookies in year one.

    However, if you examine the head coaches record, the truth of the situation comes pouring out. Marvin Lewis’ record as a head coach is as follows:

    • 118 wins to 103 losses and 3 ties.
    • 4 division titles.
    • 0 & 7 record in the playoffs.

    This means it’s crunch year for the coach, and they took a huge risk drafting Joe Mixon who, for the purposes of this short article, made a bad life choice – hitting his ex-girlfriend and breaking her jaw. Most teams passed on Mixon due that although, arguably, he is the best talent at Running Back in the 2017 draft class. The Bengals didn’t pass, and that’s telling, however, when you examine the coach’s record it’s obvious why! It’s now or never for the coach. Another poor year will not be accepted so you could say it’s chips all in.

    I really believe in Mixon, so much so that I honestly believe he’ll take the job quickly from Jeremy Hill and he is almost a complete back, however, there is one NFL stumbling block for him to overcome – pass blocking. He has to prove he can do it and it’s something that can, and would, hold him back if he can’t. Last year the Bengals gave up 41 sacks, that’s simply not good enough. Mixon’s talent is unquestionable. I believe he has turned his life around and now he needs to prove himself in the NFL. The route to opening the door is pass blocking. If he can gain the trust of both Quarterback Andy Dalton and the coaches, a Pro Bowl season is not out of the question.

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    New Season Site Refresh

    You might have noticed that The Fan Pub looks a little different lately. We’ve just given the site a lick of paint and a bit of a refresh for the new upcoming football season.

    It’s all still very much a work in progress, so expect to see things shift around in the coming days and weeks. One important new feature for you, is the ability to create and submit user written articles to the site now. Just click the “submit a post” button up in the top right corner (or in the menu on mobile) and you can write your own content to post on The Fan Pub. Just be sure not to blow up the internet.

    THE PUBCAST

    Our podcast, The Fan Pubcast is also going strong and well into season 2 now, so be sure to listen to the latest episode through iTunes or your favourite podcast service, or tune in via Youtube. Be sure to leave some comments for Sean and Al!

    FAN PUB CHAT

    We’ll also be making more of a fuss about the Fan Pub Live Chat, with an ever growing community of UK NFL fans. To get involved, just follow the invite link, which will prompt you to install the Discord mobile or desktop app, then enter the invite code ( EhXSZte ) once you have the app setup to jump in and start talking. A bit of a kerfuffle but we’ll aim to simplify the process soon.

    And there’s still the forum too, if old school online message boards are your thing.

    Welcome to the new season!