Adam Philbin

@fanpubadam

active 1 year, 1 month ago

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.


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.


Competition time: 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.