Gameday Predictions – Week 6

Each week I will break down each of the Sunday games and predict who will triumph. To make things more interesting I will be placing an accumulator bet on all the teams I pick.

Buccaneers @ Falcons

These are two of the worst defenses in the league this year so expect this to be a high-scoring game. This game will almost certainly come down to the offenses and with Fitzmagic over, I would expect the Falcons to take this one. Watch out for rookie WR Calvin Ridley who has been very impressive thus far.

Steelers @ Bengals

An interesting divisional game with an intense rivalry that should bring plenty of action. The Steelers have had a mixed start to the season and the Bengals are currently 4-1 – both of those storylines look unlikely to continue and I expect normal order to be resumed this weekend. I’ll take the Steelers.

Chargers @ Browns

The Chargers were my “dark horse’ team coming into the season but Cleveland seem to have something good going on. Mayfield fever seems to have taken hold and the defense is making plays. Moreover, this team is super-exciting to watch and with a home fixture this week, they’re my pick.

Bills @ Texans

Buffalo have pulled off a couple of miraculous wins early in the season including a memorable victory over the Vikings but Josh Allen is the most sacked QB in the league coming into week 6. The Texans and Deshaun Watson haven’t quite recovered their form from early last season but looked quite convincing last week against the Cowboys – they should have it this week.

Bears @ Dolphins

Dolphins started 3-0 but have lost last 2 in a row – I see that streak continuing against a Bears team that has gone from strength to strength. The bears should dominate this game.

Cardinals @ Vikings

The Vikings, like the Steelers, have had a mixed start to the season but I would expect them to dominate this game. The Cardinals have struggled so far this season but Josh Rosen is interesting to watch – they will lose but hopefully we will see some encouraging signs from this offense.

Colts @ Jets

I like the Jets for this game coming off their strong performance last week and playing at home. The Colts should be better but have looked unconvincing this season and have a few injuries coming into this game.

Seahawks @ Raiders (London Game)

Gruden’s Raiders have seemingly failed to get going this season and it’s hard to see how this will change against the Seahawks. Pete Carroll’s team have varied in their performances this season but they should triumph here.

Panthers @ Redskins

I like the Panthers here – the Redskins haven’t looked great and Alex Smith certainly hasn’t looked as good as he did at this stage last season with the Chiefs.

Rams @ Broncos

A lot has been made of the weather conditions for this game and it will be interesting to see if/how this affects the game but the 5-0 Rams are Super Bowl favorites and it’s hard to see them losing to a Broncos team that struggled and lost last week against the Jets.

Jaguars @ Cowboys

The Jaguars had a tough week last week and Blake Bortles is, well, Blake Bortles but I see them bouncing back this week. This Cowboys team has really struggled on offense and I don’t see that the situation will improve against the best defense in the league. Jags win.

Ravens @ Titans

This is probably one of the tougher games to call – neither team has overly impressed me but neither team has been particularly bad either. Both teams have a 3-2 record and both teams have defenses in the top 5 in the league so far this season. I personally am backing the Ravens but this could be a game to watch.

TNF Preview – Eagles at Giants.

Thursday Night Football this week really is a great matchup. Who doesn’t love a sweeping statement to start an article? But I think it would be hard to argue against this matchup – here we have a divisional matchup in a wide-open division that both teams need to win. Then consider the players on display – Carson Wentz, Odell Beckham Jr. and the second overall pick Saquon Barkley. And the dynamics – the Eagles fresh off their first Super Bowl win with a taste for more, the Giants who have four Super Bowl wins with the last coming in 2012.

I would argue that, at this stage of the season, no division is more open than the NFC East – Redskins are 2-2, Cowboys 2-3, Eagles 2-3, and Giants 1-4. Jay Gruden’s Washington team were looking fairly strong before MNF this week – in their last game before a bye week they handily beat the Packers – but they didn’t seem to click in any area of the game against the Saints. The Cowboys are really struggling on offense – Zeke is great but with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten gone, Dak has no one to throw to. With the exception of the Week 5 match against the Panthers, the Giants have been the most boring team in the NFL so far this season – a statement that is all the more alarming when one considers that this team includes two of the most exciting players in the league in OBJ and Saquin Barkley. Watching the Eagles this season it is hard to believe that this team won the last Super Bowl in superb style against the five-time champion New England Patriots. And they did it, for the most part, without their franchise QB after he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 14.

All that said, it’s clear that both teams need to win this game and find some form. But how they get there is not quite clear. It certainly looks like Eli Manning is well past his prime – he is not reliably delivering the ball downfield to his weapons, instead focussing on shallow passes for little/no gain. It’s clear that it’s not just fans getting frustrated, with OBJ becoming something of a tabloid headline writer’s dream as he frequently throws shade at various parts of the Giants team. There will be those that argue that with their no. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft New York should’ve taken Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen or Josh Allen, a sentiment I have to agree with. Whilst Saquon Barkley is undeniably a truly great talent, this is a Quarterback league and the Giants had a wealth of QB talent to pick from in that draft to potentially replace Manning at some stage. I think it’s unlikely that the Giants will make the playoffs all the time they continue to lead with Eli Manning. Which is not to take away from all that he has achieved in his career but merely to suggest it’s, perhaps, time to move on.

Is it even possible to win a Super Bowl in this era with a second-rate QB? Well after the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII win over Brady, Belichick, and the Pats, there’s plenty of people that would say it’s definitely possible. When Carson Wentz left the field during last year’s Week 14 game against the Rams, no one thought that the Eagles with Nick Foles would have a chance of getting to, let alone winning, the Super Bowl. To his credit, he proved everyone wrong and played mostly well as the Eagles won their first Super Bowl. That said, the Eagles are definitely glad to have Wentz back as they attempt to make it two years running. That might be easier said than done as they appear to have lost running back Jay Ajayi for the season and LeGarrette Blount left for the Lions at the end of last season. They have so far seemed unable to recapture their dominant form from last year with a string of disappointing games, most notably a Week 4 loss to the Titans.

What is clear to all though is that season has not disappointed with tons of great match-ups every week thus far and that looks set to continue this week starting with Eagles vs. Giants on Thursday Night Football. The game will be available to watch on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon Prime.

NFL Week 6 Power Rankings Reactions​

It’s that time of the week when Elliot Harrison and the team at NFL.com release their weekly Power Rankings of all 32 NFL teams. Unsurprisingly the Rams continue to lead this week from Kansas City. The Saints have moved up a place to third after a convincing display on Monday Night Football (Congrats Drew Brees on most passing yards in a career). Jaguars have slipped to sixth as Blake Bortles started to look more like, well, Blake Bortles and the defense couldn’t stop Showtime Mahomes. Bengals are somehow still in seventh which is my first major disagreement – I know they recovered a 17 point deficit to beat the Dolphins but I don’t see why any team should be lauded for beating Miami. This Bengals 4-1 start is just a phase and you have to believe it will end soon.

From an overrated team we go straight to an underrated team – Chicago in eighth. Khalil Mack and the Bears defense have been superb thus far this season and if Mitch Trubisky continues his sensational form from the Bears’ week 4 rinsing of the Bucs, this team could be a serious contender. The Chargers were my dark horse pick coming​ into the season so its good to see them crack the Top 10 (just!) – Philip Rivers put in a solid performance at the weekend. Like, really solid. Packers slip four places from last week and I think that 13th is a much fairer assessment of that team – Rodgers might be the most talented quarterback ever but that team has problems all over.

I know the Titans don’t always get the respect they deserve but I think maybe this season they’ve been given a bit too much. They did not look good this weekend. A trend that I predict will continue this week vs. the Ravens. I hope you’re sitting​ down – the Browns are sitting pretty at 16th. Yes, the Cleveland Browns are 16th in the Power Rankings. Maybe Baker Mayfield (#BookerMayhem) still has too many turnovers but this team are so damn exciting to watch. I was on the edge of my seat watching OT vs. the Ravens on Sunday – everyone loves a plucky underdog and Cleveland are plucky as hell! Bucs are at 19th which I think will turn out to be much too high – need I say any more​? Ditto the Dolphins one place behind them. Cowboys are somehow in 23rd even after the lamentable decision to punt on fourth down in OT, Dak needs weapons on the outside and Zeke needs to not be the only option.

The Jets rise five places to 25th making them the highest-ranked​ New York team – a feat that’s hard to argue with. Isaiah Crowell rushing for 219 yards from 15 carries is the most impressive number from an all-around​ impressive performance against the Broncos on Sunday. The Giants are down in 27th after yet another loss – though I will concede that losing to a 63-yard field goal is a tough pill to swallow no matter who you are. There’s been a lot of noise surrounding this team and OBJ hasn’t shied away from controversy of late, but when arguably the most impressive New York play is a ball thrown by a wide receiver​ something isn’t right. Even at 1-4,​ they might have a chance – the NFC East is wide open this season.

At the bottom of the rankings this week is San Francisco after a poor showing against divisional rivals Arizona. As a 49ers fan I would like to protest their positioning but with Garoppolo out for the season its hard to hold out much hope of a recovery, especially with the shockingly mediocre C.J. Beathard at the helm. So, sorry Niners Nation but this season might be a write-off. And that wraps up the week 6 Power Rankings and as usual,​ they made for an interesting read – if you have any thoughts, drop them in a comment below. The full Power Rankings including links to previous weeks’ rankings can be found here.

As an aside, congratulations to Drew Brees on overtaking Peyton Manning to become the all-time passing yardage leader. In a league with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers,​ it’s easy to overlook Brees and all that he has achieved on and off the field – not only is he a tremendous football player but he’s also a great role model. Enjoy your moment Drew, you deserve it!

What We Learned – Week 5

This is a weekly series where I talk about  5 things we learned this week in the NFL.

1) Chiefs can defend

In a week where Patrick Mahomes threw his first interception, it was clear that Kansas City is a far more complete team than we thought. The first four games of the season were all about Showtime Mahomes and that offense but this week the D stepped up and made plays and the Chiefs go to 5-0.

2) Cleveland are the most exciting team in football

Cleveland have 3 OT games so far this season – 3! The Browns’ defense leads the NFL in total takeaways this season. Baker Mayfield threw for 342 yards this week. Everything about this team is exciting and after hard knocks you just can’t help but want them to succeed.

3) Steelers are not missing LeVeon Bell

James Conner had 100+ rushing yards and 2+ rushing TDs against the Falcons – that is the second time this season he’s had numbers like that. LeVeon Bell has never had multiple 100+ rush yard, 2+ rush TD games in the same season. Personally, I understand why LeVeon Bell is taking the stance he’s taking but he had way more clout when the team couldn’t replace him.

4) Pats are back

After a shaky start to the season, including a loss to Matt Patricia and the Lions, the Patriots seem back to their old selves with a convincing win over the Colts. Brady looked good – really good! Josh Gordon had a TD, Julian Edelman is back, James White and Sony Michel look incredible – it’s hard to see the Patriots not making the playoffs.

5) Miami Madness is over

After a 3-0 start to the season it looked as if the Dolphins were a real contender. Blowing a 17-3 lead in the fourth quarter to the Bengals has dashed all hopes of a good season for the ‘fins. Questions have to be asked of any team that allows the Bengals to score 27 unanswered points (Sorry Bengals fans!).

Another great week of football and I struggled to choose just 5 things for this article. let me know what I missed in the comments.

The Journey Begins

This is an opinion site. Most of the posts I make will be an opinion – usually mine. That is unlikely to change. However, football is a team sport and I’m a team player – if you have an opinion I want to hear it. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me why you think I’m wrong (or right) but please allow others to do so as well.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. – Andre Gide.