Both teams last week completely disappointed me and I realized how bad the Raiders really are. The Chiefs had to lose eventually but they need to find a way to get that defense going because they are struggling right now. The Chiefs have Kareem Hunt and Kelce who are unstoppable freaks of nature and I believe with the Raiders current struggles and their defense it will be too much for them to handle. Chiefs win 37 - 26 over the Raiders. - Matt Koontz.
This week the Chiefs head to Oakland to take on their divisional rivals the Raiders. The Raiders have had a relatively disappointing season so far, while the Chiefs have only lost one game. This is a team that is accustomed to winning so far this season, and should be hard to beat in a divisional game. I expect the Chiefs to win this one in a close matchup. Final score: Chiefs 35, Raiders 33.--Mike B.
Both teams last week completely disappointed me and I realized how bad the Raiders really are. The Chiefs had to lose eventually but they need to find a way to get that defense going because they are struggling right now. The Chiefs have Kareem Hunt and Kelce who are unstoppable freaks of nature and I believe with the Raiders current struggles and their defense it will be too much for them to handle. Chiefs win 37 - 26 over the Raiders. - Matt Koontz.
Miami Dolphins @ Atlanta Falcons. The Dolphins are decent this year, but the Falcons are better. I expect them to put together a phenomenal showing as they defeat the Dolphins at home. Final score: Falcons 28, Dolphins 3.
Chicago Bears @ Baltimore Ravens. I believe in Trubisky's ability to lead this team to a few wins. While Trubisky is not a Pro Bowl caliber talent yet, the Bears already knocked off Pittsburgh this year. Maybe they beat the Ravens as well. Final score: Bears 28, Ravens 27.
Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns. This is a classic trap game for Houston. The Browns look better than in the past and the Texans are coming off a loss. That being said, nothing makes me believe that the Browns 28th starting quarterback since 1999 will be any better than the previous 27. Therefore, Texans win, even without Watt. Actually, Tim Couch was pretty good and actually led the team to the playoffs. And then there was this guy, the Browniest Browns quarterback of them all. Final score: Texans 21, Browns 17.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings. Playoff implications? This game is full of them as the Packers and Vikings play for the lead in the NFC North. That being said, the Packers are the better team and should win this one. Final score: Packers 28, Vikings 17.
Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints. No clue what to say about this game other than Alvin Kamara is suddenly looking like the star player in the Saints backfield. This one's a toss up, but going with the Saints at home. However, Zach Zenner scores one touchdown for the Lions. Why doesn't Detroit use this guy more often?! Final score: Saints 21, Lions 18.
New England Patriots @ New Jersey Jets. This week the Patriots head to New Jersey to face the Jets for the top spot in the AFC East. Yes, you read that correctly. The winner of this game will be the top team in the AFC East heading into week 7. The Patriots are the better team, and I have to go with Belichick on this one. Final score: Patriots 35, Jets 21.
San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Politically Incorrects. This week the San Francisco 49ers (who have yet to win a game) head to Washington to take on the Politically Incorrects. The Washington football team has more weapons on both sides of the ball, and should win. Final score: Politically Incorrects 24, 49ers 13.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Arizona Cardinals. This should be an outstanding game, with used up Adrian Peterson's first game as a Cardinal coming at home. That being said, the Buccaneers have the better team and should win this one by a close margin on the road. Final score: Buccaneers 27, Cardinals 24.
LA Rams @ Jacksonville Jaguars. Both of these teams are surprising everybody but me this year. Both have outstanding defenses and lackluster quarterback talent. Both are 3-2. Both have put up some impressive wins. This is going to be a phenomenal defensive matchup, but I think the Rams have slightly more weapons (including my boy Cooper Kupp) and squeak out a close one on the road. Final score: LA Rams 7, Jacksonville Jaguars 6.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ KC Chiefs. This week, the Chiefs stand for the National Anthem and defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers at home to start the season out 6-0. Chiefs win. Final score: Chiefs 28, Steelers 24.
LA Chargers @ Oakland Raiders. Both of these teams are huge disappointments this season. The Raiders are slightly less disappointing, and will win this game at home. Final score: Raiders 14, Chargers 7.
New Jersey Giants @ Denver Broncos. Who is lining up at receiver for the Giants? Beckham? Nope. Shephard? Nope. Marshall? Nope. Buehler? Buehler? BUEEEEHLER?!?! The Giants have no wide receivers and the Broncos have a great defense. Therefore, Broncos win. This pick is as obvious as the fact that rain wets. Final score: Broncos 28, Giants 7.
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans. If Mariota plays, then this pick is easy, Titans win. If not, the game gets interesting, but the Titans should still win. I'm going to go with the Titans. Final score: Titans 27, Colts 18.
Also, a shoutout to all the Cincinnati Bengals fans (like me) who won't be disappointed by their team this week! Here's a song dedication for you (us)!--Mike B.
Week 6 is here and we will see the Bengals, Cowboys, Seahawks, and Bills on bye week this week. Here is how i see the other games unfolding.
Falcons win 30 - 17 over the Dolphins.
Packers win 28 - 23 over the Vikings.
Saints win 26 - 24 over the Lions.
Patriots win 31 - 20 over the Jets.
Redskins win 27 - 23 over the 49ers.
Ravens win 26 - 20 over the Bears.
Texans win 41 - 17 over the Browns
Buccaneers win 29 - 21 over the Cardinals.
Jaguars win 17 - 13 over the Rams.
Chiefs win 27 - 24 over the Steelers.
Raiders win 33 - 30 over the Chargers.
Broncos win 32 - 18 over the Giants.
Titans win 23 - 20 over the Colts.
- Matt Koontz
Bears @ Ravens - Ravens win, 24-20.
Browns @ Texans - Texans win, 24-13.
Packers @ Vikings - Packers win, 27-20.
Lions @ Saints - Saints win, 33-30.
Dolphins @ Falcons - Falcons win, 23-10.
Patriots @ Jets - Patriots win, 24-17.
49ers @ Redskins - Redskins win, 27-13.
Bucs @ Cardinals - Bucs win, 20-14.
Rams @ Jaguars - Jaguars win, 17-14.
Steelers @ Chiefs - Chiefs win, 30-20.
Chargers @ Raiders - Raiders win, 26-20.
Giants @ Broncos - Broncos win, 24-16.
Colts @ Titans - Titans win, 23-20.
Week 6 of the 2017 NFL season is upon us, as the 4-1 Eagles head to Carolina to take on the 4-1 Panthers. Nobody expected both of these teams to be this strong this season, but this game could have serious playoff implications with regards to seeding once the playoffs begin. While Thursday night games are usually unexciting as far as story lines, these two teams are fighting for control of the NFC. When the dust settles, this will be an important game as the winners will gain a major edge in the conference. Who do we see winning this one? Here are some thoughts.
This game could realistically go either way, but I have to give the edge to the Panthers at home. Cam Newton is on fire right now, and Devin Funchess is emerging at just the right time. I think the Panthers do just enough to pull off a close victory against the Eagles, although this may be a high scoring game since Carolina still has some holes in their secondary. Panthers win. Final score: Carolina Panthers 28, Philadelphia Eagles 27.--Mike B.
I am a big fan of what the Eagles have been doing this season. I will admit I have been pleasantly surprised by Carolina at the same time. I truly thought they had nothing to play for this year with some holes all over but they have played above any level I saw coming from them. I think this game will be a great Thursday night game and should really give the fans a showing of defense and two young QB's. I am going opposite of mike though and taking the Eagles 24 - 21 over the Panthers. -- Matt Koontz
Carolina Panthers win 27 - 24 over the Eagles. - Tyler B.
New Jersey Jets @ Cleveland Browns. The Jets look surprisingly not terrible this season, and the Browns are coming off of a brutal loss to the Cincinnati Bungles. This would suggest that the Jets are the team to pick this week. However, Cleveland is a better team than they showed last week against Cincy, and they will be hungry to win in front of their home fans. Cleveland wins. Final Score: Browns 14, Jets 10.
Carolina Panthers @ Detroit Lions. The Panthers are coming off of a statement game in week 4, and hope to keep their momentum going against the Lions. I think they pull that off, as Cam Newton and Devin Funchess again both have big games. Panthers win. Final score: Panthers 24, Lions 14.
San Francisco 49ers @ Indianapolis Colts. Is this game part of the battle for the 1st overall pick? Fortunately for the Browns, the 49ers also break through for a win this week in what should amount to a sloppy game. Final score: 49ers 35, Colts 28.
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins. The Titans just got destroyed by the Texans. That makes me nervous about this team. That being said, Miami is pretty sloppy too. If the Titans come to play, they can win this game with a better offense than Miami's. Final score: Titans 24, Dolphins 10.
Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals just beat the Browns. They do not, however, have the offensive line talent to beat the Bills. Their offensive line is, well, offensive, and I think the Bills capitalize on that this week. Bills win. Final score: Bills 34, Bengals 28 in overtime.
LA Chargers @ New Jersey Giants. One of these 0-4 teams has to win, right? I'm going with the Chargers in this one as Philip Rivers puts together a good game and gives Eli Manning yet another reason to hate the Chargers. Chargers win. Final score: Chargers 10, Giants 7.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jaguars are clearly a team on the rise this season. However, they are not ready to beat Pittsburgh. Steelers win this one. Final score: Steelers 35, Jaguars 27.
Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are an improved team this year, but I don't think they beat the Cardinals this week. Arizona should win this one. Final score: Cardinals 21, Eagles 17.
Seattle Seahawks @ LA Rams. This Rams team is greatly improved from last year, but the Seahawks are about to come out of their slump and get hot. I think the Seahawks win this one on the road. Final score: Seahawks 24, Rams 22.
Baltimore Ravens @ Oakland Raiders. Will Derek Carr be healthy this week? If not, can Joe Flacco put together a solid game? Something is up with Flacco and I don't trust him. Raiders roll at home. Final score: Raiders 14, Ravens 10.
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys. This game could decide playoff seeding in the NFC. Both of these teams are loaded with talent, but the Packers are dealing with injuries. However, Mike McCarthy won a Super Bowl with half of the Packers roster out due to injury (I'm exaggerating, but only a tiny bit). Packers win this one on the road. Final score: Packers 24, Cowboys 23.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans. Are the Houston Texans for real? Is DeShaun Watson the best QB in this year's draft class? I think the answer to both of those questions is yes, and I think the Texans prove that this week with a huge victory over the Chiefs. Final score: Texans 23, Chiefs 20.
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears. Are the Bears who we think they are? This is a team that is giving Mitch Trubisky his first career start against a strong Vikings defense. Mike Zimmer is strong against rookie quarterbacks; over the past decade, no quarterback who has posted their first career start against a Mike Zimmer defense has thrown for a touchdown. That streak continues this week as the Vikings beat the Bears. Final score: Vikings 35, Bears 21. Trubisky puts up an approximately 50% completion percentage (one pass over 50% is my guess).
NFL Week 5: Every team in the league this year with exception to Kansas City have been inconsistent this season. This year has been hard to call games but here our my best thoughts for this week. We will see the Falcons, Saints, Broncos, and Redskins be the first teams with the originally scheduled bye weeks.
Bills (3-1) @ Bengals (1-3): Bills win 20 – 16 over the Bengals.
Jets (2-2) @ Browns (0-4): Browns win 23 – 20 over the Jets
Panthers (3-1) @ Lions (3-1): Lions win 27 – 20 over the Panthers
49ers (0-4) @ Colts (1-3): 49ers win 25 – 21 over the Colts
Titans (2-2) @ Dolphins (1-2): Titans win 21 – 20 over the Dolphins
Chargers (0-4) @ Giants (0-4): Chargers win 29 – 21 over the Giants
Cardinals (2-2) @ Eagles (3-1): Eagles win 30 – 20 over the Cardinals
Jaguars (2-2) @ Steelers (3-1): Steelers win 26 – 17 over the Jaguars
Ravens (2-2) @ Raiders (2-2): Raiders win 24 – 20 over the Ravens
Seahawks (2-2) @ Rams (3-1): Rams win 17 – 13 over the Seahawks.
Packers (3-1) @ Cowboys (2-2): Packers win 30 – 26 over the Cowboys
Chiefs (4-0) @ Texans (2-2): Chiefs win 28 – 26 over the Texans
MNF 8:30 PM/ET:
Vikings (2-2) @ Bears (1-3): Vikings win 29 – 23 over the Bears.
--- Matt Koontz
Jets @ Browns - Jets win, 19-17.
Panthers @ Lions - Lions win, 26-22.
49ers @ Colts - Colts win, 24-13.
Titans @ Dolphins - Titans win, 23-20.
Bills @ Bengals - Bills win, 24-16.
Chargers @ Giants - Chargers win, 23-21.
Jaguars @ Steelers - Steelers win, 27-20.
Cardinals @ Eagles - Eagles win, 23-17.
Seahawks @ Rams - Seahawks win, 16-13.
Ravens @ Raiders - Raiders win, 20-13.
Packers @ Cowboys - Packers win, 27-26.
Chiefs @ Texans - Chiefs win, 23-20.
Vikings @ Bears - Vikings win, 19-16.
This week's Thursday night football game between the Bucs and the Patriots will be a solid game. I expect Tampa Bay to put up big numbers, especially with Doug Martin returning from suspension. At the same time, I expect the Patriots to be hungry after a loss to the Panthers. New England does not lose consecutive games under Bill Belichick, and I expect them to win this one. Final score: Patriots 28, Buccaneers 27.--Mike B
I agree with Mike about this one being a good one between two teams looking to prove they are what people said they would be this season. On the other hand i think this young hungry Buccaneers team will pull off a rare possibly never before seen occurrence. I am going crazy but so has the league I mean the Bills beat the Falcons and the Jets beat the Jags. Something weird has to happen on Thursday night. Buccaneers win 32 - 28 over the Patriots. ---- Matt Koontz
Patriots win, 33-30. - Tyler B.
New Orleans Saints @ Miami Dolphins. I still don't trust the Saints, but I trust the Dolphins less after their loss to the Jets. The Saints offense is just too good for Miami to handle. Saints win. Final score: Saints 28, Dolphins 24.
Buffalo Bills @ Atlanta Falcons. The Boy-I-Love-Losing-SuperBills look like a better team this season. However, they'll struggle this week against another team that loves losing Super Bowls, the Falcons. Atlanta wins this one. Final score: Falcons 28, Bills 3.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens. This is a game a lot of people expect Baltimore to win, but is Joe Flacco ok? I'm not sure, and I'm picking the Steelers to win this one...even if they got beat by Chicago after not taking the field for the National Anthem. Final score: Steelers 27, Ravens 20.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns. As a die-hard Bengals fan, it hurts me to say this, but I do not believe in this team's capability to compete this season, not with a complete lack of offensive linemen. While the Bengals SHOULD win this game, their suspect free agency moves leads one to wonder whether they actually could. The Browns defense is better than people think, and the Browns could surprise this week. Final score: Browns 17, Bungles 7.
LA Rams @ Dallas Cowboys. This is going to be a great matchup of two second year quarterbacks and two great running backs. The Rams will keep this game close given their dominant defense, but do they have enough weapons to beat the Cowboys? I'm not sure about that. That being said, the Cowboys are coming off of a short week, the Rams are well-rested, and Wade Philips is looking for revenge. This smells like an upset. Rams win. Final score: Rams 24, Cowboys 14.
Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans. This is one of those rivalry games that could logically go either way. In what amounts to a coin flip matchup, I have to go with the team who's quarterback, DeShaun Watson, donated his first game check to cafeteria workers effected by Hurricane Harvey. Watson just put himself into the running for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, and this week he makes a statement against Tennessee that puts him in the conversation for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Texans win. Final score: Texans 27, Titans 17.
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings. Matt Stafford and the Lions look like one of the better teams in the NFC right now. Although Keenum has done wonderfully for the Vikings, I think the Lions are actually the better team. In fact, both of these teams will be competing for a playoff game, and this game will prove to be pivotal towards the end of the season. I think the Lions squeak out a close one, however, with Bradford injured. Lions win. Zach Zenner surprises and runs in the game winning touchdown. Final score: Lions 21, Vikings 20.
Carolina Panthers @ New England Patriots. Two words. Tom Brady. Two more words. Gillette Stadium. Two more words. Bill Belichick. This is a game that the Panthers are capable of winning. However, this is the type of game the Patriots usually shine in. I have to go with the Patriots in this one. Final score: Patriots 28, Panthers 17.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New Jersey Jets. The Jaguars are an NFL team. The Jets, even after winning last week, look more like a farm team. Jaguars win this one. Final score: Jaguars 27, Jets 7.
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are clearly the better team in this matchup, but crazier things have happened. The 49ers had a breakout game against the Rams and nearly won against the Rams. After a long period of rest, they face a struggling Cardinals team. For the first time in forever, I'm going for the 49ers here! 49ers win. Final score: 49ers 17, Cardinals 13.
Philadelphia Eagles @ San Diego Chargers. The Eagles have lost eight out of their last 9 road games. The Chargers have lost their last eight games. This is going to be an ugly matchup between two ugly teams, but I think the Chargers squeeze out a close one. Final score: Chargers 14, Eagles 13.
New Jersey Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I've lost faith in the Giants this season. I still believe in the Buccaneers. Buccaneers win. Final score: Buccaneers 23, Giants 21.
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos. This might be the game of the week, as both of these teams have shown that they are playoff-caliber teams so far this season. That being said, the last time the Raiders beat the Broncos, they did it on the ground. The Broncos held Zeke Elliott to only 8 yards when they faced the Cowboys this season. Broncos win, barely. Final score: Broncos 21, Raiders 20.
Indianapolis Colts @ Seattle Seahawks. I don't trust the Colts at all. I do trust the Seahawks to get hot after a cold start to the season, like they always do. They'll begin to get hot this week at home against Indy. Final score: Seahawks 28, Colts 13.
Washington Redskins @ KC Chiefs. The Redskins had a great game against Oakland, but the Chiefs look phenomenal this season. Chiefs win, because more weapons. Final score: Chiefs 28, Redskins 24.
Week 4 Of the NFL: We want to be clear with what is going on around the NFL because it has now become the focus of the league so it seems. The National Anthem is supposed to be just a simple measure of respect to stand with your hand over your heart while we remember those who died for this nation’s flag. We believe in the idea of peaceful protests but there is a better way to reach out and do so then during a moment of respect for our nation. The staying in the locker room though is an insane joke and the NFL allowing that to happen even though it is against their own rules is mind blowing and is causing a large amount of hate and disgust towards each other as American citizens. I hope these athletes one day soon see that they are causing hate more than a belief in peaceful protest. Anyway on this week’s games which will have another game in Wembley in London.
Sunday 9:30 AM (London):
Saints (1-2) @ Dolphins (1-1): I had a hard time last week figuring out why everyone was against the Saints and I stood by them with a pick and they rewarded me with a dominant performance on defense and offense against the Panthers. I love seeing this team show they can be competitive still against teams considered at the top because Atlanta and New Orleans could always be a fun offensive showdown at the end of the year for the division if they find a way to stay in the picture. The Dolphins on the other hand went from lucking their way past the Chargers to getting flat out embarrassed by the Jets, I mean losing to the Jets is embarrassing in itself. They found no offense and their defense couldn’t do much to stop the Jets either and sadly for them they are playing a more complete team this weekend. Saints win 30 – 17 over the Dolphins.
Bills (1-2) @ Falcons (3-0): The Bills last weekend shocked the NFL world by making the Broncos look bad and gave us all the question of is this team legit. I thought I had them figured but now with the impressive win they put together last weekend I am questioning what the Bills really have for the rest of the league but this weekend in the ATL against the Falcons should be the perfect showing of what they might really be. Now the Falcons left Detroit with a win but they left with a win handed to them by a horrendous officiating crew who were blind and cost the Lions the game. The Falcons though are a top team and there is no doubting that and I expect them to be unbeatable at home in their beautiful brand new stadium where the fans were going nuts in week 2. This should be a fun season to watch for ATL fans. Falcons win 28 – 20 over the Bills.
Bengals (0-3) @ Browns (0-3): Alright well the Bengals almost caused the Earth to stop rotating last weekend when they took the Packers to overtime. If they would have pulled off that win I think the entire league would have been completely lost in confusion. Maybe they just suck at home and will be good on the road this season? Or maybe they really did just need to replace their offensive coordinator? I am not sure what the case was but if they can finish this game unlike last week with the way they started this one they will be set. The Browns almost came back against the Colts last week but fell short and are still looking to get a 1st win in a season where I expected them to get 8 they aren’t looking as good as I hoped. But they do have a rookie QB who I do not believe was fully NFL ready and he has shown that with some bad decision throws for INT’s that have put the Browns down early in games or stopped drives for the Brown’s, but he is learning. I would love to see a tie and both teams remain winless just you know, for fun but I don’t see that happening here. Browns win 23 – 21 over the Bengals.
Rams (2-1) @ Cowboys (2-1): The Rams played one of the ugliest yet most entertaining Thursday night games we have seen in a long time last week and walked out with a narrow victory in the process. Now they go on the road to Dallas and take on a much tougher opponent. I don’t see the Rams offense keeping pace with the Dallas offense regardless of the points they have scored this season. I mean realistically look at the Rams two wins. The 49ers who are in rebuild mode and the Colts who are denial mode of needing a rebuild. So the real teams are where I think we will see what the Rams really have this year and it will be an improvement to last year but not fully there yet. The Cowboys defense is weak but they did what they had to last week to stop the Cardinals and showed the other teams in the league to beat Arizona all you need to do is stop JJ Nelson. Zeke woke up in the 2nd half last week for the Cowboys and their offense took off and Dak showed his ability to escape the pocket and make great throws on the run are where he excels. In the pocket I don’t think Dak is that great but if he can continue to bootleg and throw he will have Russell Wilson type success which could mean a future ring. Cowboys win 33 – 24 over the Rams.
Lions (2-1) @ Vikings (2-1): Well I mentioned earlier that the Lions were robbed of a win last week against the Falcons so I won’t go into that. The Lions in order to win games seem to just need to be behind in the 4th quarter and then they will most likely win. That has actually become a strong belief of mine that to beat the Lions you must either blow them out or be behind and take away the comeback from them in the 4th, certainly do not be up by less than 13 points entering the 4th because then watch out for the comeback kid Matt Stafford. Now the Vikings on the other hand even with Case Keenum looked incredibly good last week. That being said the Buccaneers had a case of the flu running rampant through the team and could have really helped the Vikings look better than they are. So I am not fully convinced of what the Vikings bring to the table yet without Bradford or Bridgewater but we could see Teddy back soon honestly as we are approaching week 6. For now they will go on with Case Keenum and I do not believe he will out sling Matt Stafford. That being said Lions win 23 – 17 over the Vikings.
Panthers (2-1) @ Patriots (2-1): The Panthers showed their true colors last weekend against a great offense and a weak defense. They are going to have to figure out a way to get Cam to take less hits and get McCaffery games like he had last weekend at the same time. They could be close to becoming a contending team again but I believe they need to get Cam more than just Kelvin Benjamin out wide to throw to. Without Greg Olsen though who is Cams security blanket and possibly no Kelvin this weekend I do not expect to see the Panthers figure out offense at all. The Patriots on the other hand struggled last week to face a rookie QB who looked much more improved last week. The Patriots are going to come into this game with passion though as they heard questions about them after last week’s performance. They will blow the Panthers out without their weapons. Patriots win 37 – 23 over the Panthers.
Jaguars (2-1) @ Jets (1-2): The Jaguars embarrassed the Ravens last week in London and showed how good they can be if their defense plays lights out like that. The offense even looked really good which is weird considering Bortles is their QB but maybe he gained some much needed confidence and momentum. We will see this week returning from their trip to London. The Jets pulled off a win which I honestly didn’t see coming this season at all so they impressed me last week a small bit. The Jets are still a bad team but they have some confidence now especially in the face of all the hate and doubt they were receiving. The Jaguars though defensively aren’t the Dolphins and will stop everything the Jets have. Jaguars win 26 – 13 over the Jets.
Steelers (2-1) @ Ravens (2-1): The Steelers got a serving of American justice last week with their idea to sit in the locker room and get mad at Villanueva for standing on his own for the anthem on the field. So they were rewarded with a loss to the Bears and now they get to go against Baltimore who they have technically struggled with the past few years especially in Baltimore. The Ravens are coming off a complete beat down at Wembley in a game where they were so embarrassed by the Jaguars and had to eventually remove Flacco from the game. He looked horrendous posting a 12.0 QBR through the first 52 minutes of the game. If he is really hurting that bad they might need to consider Mallet for a few weeks so Flacco can get his knee and back to 100% because last week it looked like it was really affecting him. I am torn on this game because I believe the Ravens defense if they are back to the way they looked the first 2 weeks then they are set to go. I am going with my gut here though. Ravens win 24 – 21 over the Steelers.
Titans (2-1) @ Texans (1-2): Well the Titans seem to be firing on all cylinders but they definitely need to figure out how to slow down the Texans pass game because they seem to be struggling with slowing down pass games. The Titans are incredibly talented and I hope they can get healthier on offense with Corey Davis hopefully returning soon to the team. The Texans are coming in off a really disappointing loss for them considering they controlled their fate against the Patriots last week and chocked the loss away late. They are a good team but their defense is so banged up I am not sure how long they can hang with the Titans because their secondary doesn’t seem all that great with the
injuries they have piled up. Titans win 31 – 26 over the Texans.
49ers (0-3) @ Cardinals (1-2): The Niners are really weak defensively and their QB situation is horrible because they are auto starting Hoyer but I believe they have better behind him in Beathard. Carlos Hyde has shown what a monster he can be and to believe they thought about cutting him earlier this summer. Kyle Shannahan and John Lynch are really building something great in San Francisco. The Cardinals offense is inconsistent and to really be high scoring like we are used to from Palmer they need JJ Nelson to remain healthy and continue to do damage. The Cardinals without David Johnson need that spark plug on offense from somewhere and JJ is easily the best player for that job in this offense and they must get him going this weekend. Cardinals win 29 – 24 over the 49ers.
Eagles (2-1) @ Chargers (0-3): The Eagles are looking really good right now they just need the offense to find some more consistency and really put some pieces together. I believe the loss of Sproles is sad but they could get Corey Clement into this offense and he could do some damage with this unit. The one negative for the Eagles offense I have found is that I would like to see Alshon really pick it up and become a constant threat for Wentz. The Chargers are just not great defensively and Rivers needs to get his INT numbers back down and keep the defense off the field and the offense on the field. This game will be a test for the Chargers at home because they need to really make sure they don’t fall to 0-4 but they seem to be headed that way here with a tough opponent rolling into LA. Eagles win 30 – 27 over the Chargers.
Giants (0-3) @ Buccaneers (1-1): The Giants are struggling all over. They can’t run the ball, they can’t protect Eli, Odell is still bringing them a weekly distraction. The Giants are in a world of trouble if they don’t right the ship now because they will lose sights of the Cowboys and Eagles quickly if they continue to spine their wheels. The Buccaneers on the other hand have played a good game followed by an atrocious car wreck last week. They were sick with the flu last week as a team and they played like it. I really like what the Buccaneers have as a team regardless of last week. Buccaneers win 23 – 14 over the Giants.
Raiders (2-1) @ Broncos (2-1): Offense vs defense once again this season. The Raiders were embarrassed on Sunday night last week and I was blown away by such a terrible performance. Their offensive line really needs to step up and show that they can protect Carr and give him some time to get the ball to his great wide receivers. The Broncos need to find just some good flowing consistent play on offense and Siemien needs to get his decision making to improve. I am worried that if the Broncos defense has a bad game against an offensive team like the Raiders they will get blown out because of the lack of a real offense. That being said no Crabtree means the Raiders passing game is going to much easier to stop for the no fly zone defense especially at home. Broncos win 17 – 13 over the Raiders.
Colts (1-2) @ Seahawks (2-1): The Colts got lucky with a win last week and held on to survive against the Browns. The Colts have shown some improvement with Brissett and Hilton’s connection starting to form as he learned this offense. If that continues to happen things are going to get good in Indy really fast. The Seahawks need to find their footing soon which I did mention last week that they tend to start slow and they are looking like that is the case this year but they need to get moving soon. The offensive line for the Seahawks needs to become a serious fix for them because they can’t protect the ground game and they definitely can’t protect Russell and this team needs to build some offensive firepower. Seahawks win 27 – 18 over the Colts.
MNF 8:30 PM/ET:
Redskins (2-1) @ Chiefs (3-0): The Redskins impressed the hell out of me last week because I thought they were dead to rights with that game but they really turned it on in primetime and blew us all away with their impressive performance. The Chiefs are so good and if their defense can keep playing at an elite level they might honestly be the best team in the league. The Kareem Hunt and Alex Smith are really making this offense so good this year and I love that they finally seem to have an elite offense. Watch out for these Chiefs this season because they are legit. Chiefs win 32 – 24 over the Redskins.
--- Matt Koontz
Saints @ Dolphins - Saints win, 24-16.
Bills @ Falcons - Falcons win, 34-16.
Steelers @ Ravens - Steelers win, 28-13.
Bengals @ Browns - Browns win, 23-17.
Rams @ Cowboys - Cowboys win, 23-19.
Titans @ Texans - Titans win, 27-17.
Lions @ Vikings - Lions win, 29-24.
Panthers @ Patriots - Patriots win, 30-17.
Jaguars @ Jets - Jags win, 24-13.
49ers @ Cardinals - Cardinals win, 16-13.
Eagles @ Chargers - Eagles win, 19-17.
Giants @ Bucs - Bucs win, 23-20.
Raiders @ Broncos - Broncos win, 26-20.
Colts @ Seahawks - Seahawks win, 23-10.
Redskins @ Chiefs - Chiefs win, 26-17.
Bears (1-2) @ Packers (2-1): The Bears pulled off a miracle last week and managed an upset against the Steelers but that won't be a repeat fairy tale in back to back weeks. The Packers have to figure out how to slow down the duo of RB's because if they do they have this one locked up and sealed. The Packers offense should dismantle this defense and make this offense stray from the ground game as they try to play catch up. Packers win 31 - 23 over the Bears. -- Matt Koontz.
This is one of the greatest rivalries in professional sports, dating back to 1921. Much like Yankees-Red Sox in baseball (a rivalry dating back to 1901) and Cats-Griz in college football (Montana State vs. Montana is a rivalry dating back to 1897 and as a Montana State graduate, GO CATS!), this rivalry has along history. This is a marquee game on the NFL schedule regardless of the performance of the teams involved. That being said, the Packers are the superior team this season (and in recent seasons) and should take this one, as long as they can stop the two headed monster at running back in Chicago. This is the NFL's oldest rivalry, but I think the Packers win this game at Lambeau, regardless of whether Aaron Rodgers can get fans to lock arms for the National Anthem. Final score: Green Bay Packers 35, Chicago Bears 28.--Mike B.
Packers win, 27-17. -Tyler B.
Week 3 NFL Season: The 3rd week of the NFL season is here and it kicked off with a sloppy shootout on Thursday night. It made for an exciting night of football and made me excited for this weekend’s games hoping they are as exciting. Week 2 was definitely an improvement over week 1.
9:30 AM/ET: (NFL Network):
Ravens (2-0) @ Jaguars (1-1) (London): The first game of the year to take place in London will be a defensive showdown at Wembley. The Jaguars defense is so good but they will struggle this year to stay consistent for an entire game because they will tire due to Bortles not being able to keep them off the field. We will see that take place again in this game once the 2nd half rolls around. The Ravens are going to play the way they always play, like scavengers. They will play great defense and mediocre offense and take advantage of mistakes on the offensive side of the ball. Bortles will be in literal hell against the Ravens turnover machine defense. This game will be tight until the second half when the Jaguars defense will be tired and the Ravens dominate. Ravens win 27 – 10 over the Jaguars.
Broncos (2-0) @ Bills (1-1): The Broncos are amazing defensively I was wrong before the season when I said the Broncos defense wasn’t going to be able to carry them. They are doing so well offensively as well as CJ Anderson has been reliable and Siemian has been great this year. The Broncos are a legit threat this season with the way they are built. The Bills on the other hand look rough offensively and are decent on defense. I hope the Bills can find some way to make the offense work and that Zay Jones can really break out and become reliable for Tyrod. This game will be easy for the Broncos to me. Broncos win 24 – 13 over the Bills.
Steelers (2-0) @ Bears (0-2): The Steelers were able to beat the Vikings defense with relative ease. The Steelers offense is great and I believe they could compete with the Patriots this season as long as Bell and Brown stay healthy. The Steelers are taking on an easy game here where they will show how great they can be as a top team even on the road. The Bears are throwing in the towel as proven by sticking with Glennon instead of letting Trubisky get some time because I believe he is a great improvement over Mike Glennon. The Bears really are an ugly mess and they need to figure things out fast because they are looking like a 0-16 team. This one is the easiest game of the weekend. Steelers win 31 – 13 over the Bears.
Falcons (2-0) @ Lions (2-0): The sole battle this weekend of the 2-0’s takes place in Detroit. I think the Lions fans are already believing too much in this team as I have seen claims to a top team in the league and they aren’t there yet. They beat a struggling Giants and a bad Cardinals team. This is going to be the way to prove they are a real contender. The Falcons impressed me last weekend and I am not making excuses but we shouldn’t forget the Packers were without Nelson and Cobb for a large part of the game which could have hindered them but they were incredible nonetheless. Desmond Trufant if he stays healthy is a game changer and could be the ride to the Bowl this defense needs. This game will be one sided until the 4th when Matt Stafford shines the brightest. I think that it will come down to a one possession game but think the better team will win. Falcons win 30 – 26 over the Lions.
Browns (0-2) @ Colts (0-2): A battle of 0-2 team’s will be an interesting one as it will be a rookie QB vs Jacoby Brissett. The Colts are ugly defensively and last week they looked good for most of the game but their offense look is rough even with a better backup now. The ground game is weak as can be though and they struggle to run no matter what RB they have in at the time. The Browns are going to struggle offensively as Kizer learns the league and shifts on defenses but he will learn over time and gain confidence. I think the Colts weak defense might give Kizer the chance to shine and impress this weekend and I will take the Browns. Browns win 29 – 20 over the Colts.
Buccaneers (1-0) @ Vikings (1-1): Well Bradford is already officially out and the Vikings will need Dalvin Cook to step up this week and break out for them if they want to have a chance. The Vikings are amazing defensively but they really need help offensively. The Buccaneers slammed the Bears in their first game of the season and now are on the road to take on the Vikings in what should be a defensive game but Winston and company are the better offense. I love watching these teams because they both have a lot of exciting talent scattered around their roster. Buccaneers win 27 – 17 over the Vikings.
Texans (1-1) @ Patriots (1-1): The Patriots came out with their normal bounce back vengeance following their week 1 loss. This game will show the Patriots what they have offensively against a tough defense with an already banged up Gronk and without Eddelman. The Texans offensive line is atrocious with Derek Newton out for the year and Duane Brown being a classless and selfish teammate holding out. He is openly letting Watson get hit and run for his life instead of suiting up and getting out there doing his job which he gets paid well enough to do for the season. This game will just come down to what team’s defense controls the game. I believe home team wins, Patriots win 30 – 17 over the Texans.
Dolphins (1-0) @ Jets (0-2): This Jets team starts games decently defensively before they get gashed and this game will be a more defensive one which I believe is what they need for a win this season. The Dolphins got lucky to start the season and with Ajayi and Landry both possibly not playing Sunday they might need a bit more luck this weekend. I do believe they are still the better team even without their real starting QB, their #1 WR, or #1 RB if they are all out. Dolphins win 23 – 19 over the Jets.
Giants (0-2) @ Eagles (1-1): The Giants have been struggling hardcore and this game will be so tough with Odell still banged up head to Philly. The Eagles lost last week due to some questionable coaching but they are showing themselves to be the better team over the rest of the division if you ask me. The Giants are a tough defense but they are a bit like the Jaguars and their lack luster offense can’t keep them off the field. The Eagles will take this game as a division decider already in week 3 and they are coming into this game with a fire in their belly. Eagles win 21 – 17 over the Giants.
Saints (0-2) @ Panthers (2-0): The Panthers offense is still lacking the offensive explosion we expected to see from them this season thus far. The Panthers defense though is gritty and they are tough and fly to the ball, they could make a significant difference for this team this season. The Panthers need everything to go well against the Saints bad defense and they could control this game. The Saints are incredibly talented on offense but their defense is a nightmare and it will continue to cost them games like it has after the previous two this season. I think that Brees knows how important it is to not go 0-3 to start a season. Saints win 30 – 26 over the Panthers.
Seahawks (1-1) @ Titans (1-1): This game is so interesting to me and I have been debating it all week. The Seahawks always start the season so slow and this year has been completely the same. The Seahawks the past 4 years or so to my memory take at least 4 weeks to get really rolling like the freight train that they are and they do tend to struggle on the road more than normal and I worry about the Titans defense causing that issue. The Titans offense seemed to finally click on all cylinders last week and if they can figure that out again against the Seahawks stellar defense they will prove they belong in the top AFC team talks. This game is going to be a real test for both teams. Titans win 17 – 13 over the Seahawks.
Bengals (0-2) @ Packers (1-1): The Bengals might be the complete joke of the league with all honesty and there are rumors people in the locker room don’t want Dalton anymore and they might gut their entire system. The Packers are getting banged up at WR but they are deep there regardless and should be okay. They had a tough situation going into Atlanta returning home after their super bowl collapse into their brand new stadium for the first time, it was bound to be tough. I still think the Pack are a top team but they need to get that offensive line healthy if they want to continue to be. This one is really simple to me though because I could see the Bengals going 0-16. Packers win 37 – 9 over the Bengals.
Chiefs (2-0) @ Chargers (0-2): It doesn’t really matter what happens in this game because we know that Younghoe Koo will miss any game winner or game tying kick that will cost the Chargers the game because you know why keep Lambo? Maybe the 0-2 record is why? The Chiefs and Alex Smith look really good and Kareem Hunt once again became incredible in the 2nd half and sparked this team to a victory. This game will be a true close division rivalry but I believe we will see the Chargers blow another close one because I mean the proof is in the pudding. Chiefs win 26 – 24 over the Chargers. (Koo misses again)
Raiders (2-0) @ Redskins (1-1): The Raiders are really good and will continue to look good. I really like what they have everywhere on this team and the return of Lynch to his home town team seems to have given this team a spark at the RB position and we should see his dominant downhill running again this weekend in primetime. The Skins are ugly to watch they seem to have found a ground game but I don’t like their WR situation and I don’t like their defense too much. This game might be close early but it will get some separation on the scoreboard as the game goes on. Raiders win 31 – 20 over the Redskins.
MNF: 8:30 PM/ET:
Cowboys (1-1) @ Cardinals (1-1): The Cowboys get another top defense after they were embarrassed by a tough defense last week. The Cardinals struggled with the Colts and I am not sure they are really a team that can rely on their offense because Palmer is showing his age big time and their backfield is weak without JJ Nelson. I think Dallas will bounce back this week but I think Zeke will still struggle against this defense. Cowboys win 21 – 17 over the Cardinals.
Denver Broncos @ Buffalo Bills. These aren't Rex Ryan's Bills anymore, but the Denver defense is terrifying. Denver should win this one in dominant fashion. Final score: Denver Broncos 24, Buffalo Bills 10.
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers. Shootout time! The Panthers look good again this season as the Saints defense looks horrid. That being said, the Saints defense is most vulnerable to big plays. The Panthers just lost Greg Olsen. This gives the Saints a chance. Final score: New Orleans Saints 38, Carolina Panthers 35.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Chicago Bears. Fun fact of the week: the Steelers have lost 5 games to teams with losing records since 2014. Another fun fact: Tarik Cohen is looking like a stud early in his career, just like I thought he would when he came out of North Carolina A&T. Still, the Bears are who I think they are, and they lose to the Steelers this week. Final score: Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Chicago Bears 27.
Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions. It's Austin Hooper time. I love this kid and he's the hidden secret ingredient in the Falcons offense. The Lions are also looking good this year, and will put together a close game this week. That being said, I have to pay tribute to the Super Bowl and pick the winner 28-3. Therefore, final score: Atlanta Falcons 28, Detroit Lions 3.
Cleveland Browns @ Indianapolis Colts. I believe in Hue Jackson and I believe in the Cleveland Browns. They will get it done in Indy this week without Andrew Luck under center. This is surprisingly good Cleveland team that will be playoff-bound over the next few seasons if they can find stability at the quarterback spot, and they win their first game of the season this week in Indy. Final score: Cleveland Browns 28, Indianapolis Colts 14.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings. This week the Vikings are missing both Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. The good news? Case Keenum is 2-0 against the Bucs as a Ram the past 2 seasons. The better news? Dalvin Cook has the talent to put up a good game. The bad news? The Buccaneers are an extremely good team who should still win this week. Final score: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21, Minnesota Vikings 20.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots. This is not going to be a good week for Houston. Sorry Houston. Gotta go with New England at home. Final score: New England Patriots 35, Houston Texans 14.
Miami Dolphins @ New Jersey Jets. I don't know if the Jets will win ANY games this season after gutting themselves in the off-season. Move back to New York and build a team, THEN hope to win games. Dolphins win. Final score: Miami Dolphins 28, New Jersey Jets 7.
New Jersey Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants look pretty bad this year but always play it close in divisional games. This week, they break through for a win against the Eagles. Final score: New Jersey Giants 6, Philadelphia Eagles 5.
Seattle Seahawks @ Tennessee Titans. The Seahawks always struggle in the first 4 weeks of the season, and the Titans are at home. This Tennessee team is on the rise, and they take home a win this week. Final score: Tennessee Titans 9, Seattle Seahawks 7.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Green Bay Packers. This week we see an intelligently run organization face an unintelligently run organization that let its two best offensive linemen walk in free agency. The intelligent organization wins at home. Final score: Green Bay Packers 35, Cincinnati Bengals 12.
Kansas City Chiefs @ LA Chargers. This is going to be a close game among rivals, but after watching Kansas City dismantle the Patriots in week 1,I have to go with the Chiefs. Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 9, LA Chargers 6.
Oakland Raiders @ Washington Redskins. The Raiders are a potential Super Bowl team. I still don't trust the Redskins. The Raiders win this one on the road. Final score: Oakland Raiders 27, Washington Redskins 14.
Dallas Cowboys @ Arizona Cardinals. I'm not a Cowboys fan, but can the Cardinals keep it together without David Johnson? After last week's loss, Dallas will be hungry, and may feast even on an Arizona team filled with talent. Final score: Dallas Cowboys 28, Arizona Cardinals 27. --Mike B.
Ravens @ Jaguars - Ravens win, 24-16.
Broncos @ Bills - Broncos win, 30-20.
Saints @ Panthers - Saints win, 24-20.
Steelers @ Bears - Steelers win, 32-13.
Falcons @ Lions - Falcons win, 33-27.
Browns @ Colts - Browns win, 23-20.
Buccaneers @ Vikings - Bucs win, 27-24.
Texans @ Patriots - Patriots win, 45-15.
Dolphins @ Jets - Dolphins win, 24-16.
Giants @ Eagles - Eagles win, 27-20.
Seahawks @ Titans - Titans win, 26-17.
Bengals @ Packers - Packers win, 27-16.
Chiefs @ Chargers - Chiefs win, 26-23.
Raiders @ Redskins - Raiders win, 28-17.
Cowboys @ Cardinals - Cowboys win, 24-13.
-Tyler B. (22-11)
This week, the Rams travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers. This San Francisco offense has been as bad as the bungling Bengals offense to open the season, and has yet to score a touchdown. The Rams have one of the best defenses in the league. For me, this one is easy. Rams win, and 49ers continue to lose until they put CJ Beathard in at quarterback. Hoyer is not the answer. Beathard just might be. Final score: Rams 14, 49ers 6. --Mike B.
The Niners are still without a TD and I believe they will continue to look lethargic while Hoyer is at the helm. They need to make the change to Beathard as soon as possible because he is probably the better answer. The Rams didn't look as good last week as they did week one but they aren't going to be full systems go each week as they need to adjust to a new coach and a young rebuilding team. They are a good team just not fully developed yet.
Rams win 24 to 9 over the 49ers -- Matt K.
Rams 28, 49ers 13 ----- Tyler B.
Week 2 NFL: Week 1 lacked the entertainment that almost every week last year had but week 2 is poised to be an explosion of excitement. There are some incredibly close games and I expect the Sunday Night game to be extremely close and thrilling but we will see that later. Here is how we see them going.
Browns (0-1) @ Ravens (1-0): Well the Browns played an intense and close game last week with the Steelers and Kizer looked really impressive and had moments of brilliance. The Ravens on the other hand were hard to judge because they pitched the only shutout but they weren’t impressive at all on offense. They scored but they picked off Dalton 4 times and really seemed to be bad on offense so I think it was just beating a weak opponent. I am going to take an upset here and it seems crazy when you look at the line but Browns win 24 – 23 over the Ravens.
Bills (1-0) @ Panthers (1-0): The Bills surprised me last week by struggling to handle the Jets and has me worried they will once again be lackluster and not be as good as we all expected this year. The Panthers on the other hand were a team I doubted and they showed me I was wrong last week by handling that road trip to San Fran and an injured QB well. I think this one will be a defensive showdown until Cam finds that magical moment to steal the momentum. Panthers 21 – 13 over the Bills.
Cardinals (0-1) @ Colts (0-1): The Cardinals lost the best RB in the league to start the season for over 10 weeks so we will see how they bounce back from that this week against a really bad defense and a bad offensive line. I think we will see Brissett feel a lot of pressure from an aggressive Cardinals defense but he will put on a decent display though it will be in a losing effort. Cardinals win 27 – 17 over the Colts.
Titans (0-1) @ Jaguars (1-0): This game is going to be very interesting and it is way harder for me to pick than I originally thought. I love Mariota and I think the sky is the limit for this kid but they have arguably the best defense in the league facing them this week and they might shut down a young impressive kid with their incredible pass rush. This one will come down to which offense can score last honestly I expect this to be a nail biter. Titans win 18 – 16 over the Jaguars.
Eagles (1-0) @ Chiefs (1-0): Both teams in this one were good looking week 1 and I expect this game to be a great one as both teams are out to prove they have a playoff run in them and shut the critics up. The Chiefs have a superstar in the making in Kareem Hunt which is what I said when he was in college so I knew this was coming. The Eagles have a confident young QB with receivers finally and honestly a consistent RB which they haven’t had since probably Brian Westbrook. I think the advantage is going to be the home field factor this week. Chiefs win 23 – 18 over the Eagles.
Patriots (0-1) @ Saints (0-1): I thought both of these teams were going to come out swinging week 1 with a win for both but they both disappointed me. The Patriots gave up the most yards they have ever given up under Bill Belichick and looked bad everywhere. The fleet of RB’s I actually believe is causing them some issues because James White is a spark in their offense but Bill seems to not see it and keeps plugging in some of these 3 yard scramblers like Gillislee in open field. I love Gillislee but I believe he is a red zone back more than anything. The Saints once again just don’t have a defense and their offense seems to be missing something this season, probably Willie Snead. Bill won’t let them drop 2 in a row so I think this one will be all Pats early. Patriots win 31 – 20 over the Saints.
Vikings (1-0) @ Steelers (1-0): This game should be interesting I wasn’t as impressed week 1 by the Steelers as I expected to be but divisional rivalries are always hard to judge. I think the Vikings showed week 1 that they can still play defense and Bradford looked good but is coming into this game hurt and it could affect him a little. This one will have Steelers football all over it once they find their first TD. Update: Case Keenum starting week 2 for the Vikings means Vikings get mauled. Steelers win 32 – 14 over the Vikings.
Bears (0-1) @ Buccaneers (0-0): The Bears shocked me by playing as well as they did in week 1 but I wouldn’t get too excited and believe they have something we didn’t see. I think the Falcons just had some post Super Bowl stuff to shake off. The Buccaneers were gifted a giant screw job by the NFL by not just moving the game last week to a neutral site they had a whole weeks’ notice of the storm and they are the NFL they can make things happen. So, they are coming off a week 1 bye and have to settle down for a 16 straight games. Buccaneers win 30 – 13 over the Bears.
Dolphins (0-0) @ Chargers (0-1): The Dolphins are in the same boat as the Buccaneers and will have to play 16 straight now after starting the season with a bye. The Chargers are coming off a upsetting loss because they in my opinion were the better team and shouldn’t have cut Lambo at kicker, proof already in the pudding? Anyway this game is tough for me because I have no idea what to expect out of Jay Cutler. I will take the Chargers here as the home team against Cutler. Chargers win 28 – 22 over the Dolphins.
Jets (0-1) @ Raiders (1-0): The Jets didn’t look horrendous last week but a division rivalry plus a weak Bills team make me wonder how many people believe they are better than they are. The Raiders defense showed up and I didn’t believe they had one to show up with honestly. So I was wrong and I am not complaining about that because I would love to see what the Raiders can do with a great defense to support that offense, not saying they are great defensively yet. Raiders win 30 – 10 over the Jets.
Cowboys (1-0) @ Broncos (1-0): I know both teams came off with a win last week but I wasn’t very impressed with either. The Cowboys beat a team without their best overall player while at home. The Broncos looked good to start and I was like wow this team is nice but they collapsed late and were lucky the Chargers downgraded at kicker this season. I think the Cowboys are favorites no matter what if you ask the experts any week but I am taking the Broncos to win 21 – 17 over the Cowboys, trusting that defense in Denver.
Redskins (0-1) @ Rams (1-0): The Rams defense looked amazing and Goff looked good but I could look good against the Colts defense so I am not sure what was real. I love what the Rams have and I believe they are building back though so I expect we will see them continue to grow even if things this season look rough. The Redskins looked good at points last week but they came up short and I feel the travel to the west coast will show the same result. Rams win 25 – 21 over the Redskins.
49ers (0-1) @ Seahawks (1-0): This one is self-explanatory to me. Rebuilding team vs a super bowl contender. Seahawks win 34 – 17 over the 49ers.
Packers (1-0) @ Falcons (1-0): GAME OF THE WEEK. NFC Championship rematch!!! This game is going to be so thrilling and I expect an offensive showdown regardless of either teams defensive quality because it’s Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers. I love both teams in this game and am beyond excited to see this game because I believe it will come down to the final drive of the game. This will be Julio and Jordy Nelson showdown and a rivalry might seem to form here because these two teams know they are going to start seeing a lot of each other. This is going to be a nail biter for the fans here. Packers win 37 – 34 over the Falcons.
Lions (1-0) @ Giants (0-1): The Lions were good looking week one but they are now on the road and could be a different story for this team this week. The Giants are without Odell for who knows how long as the drama queen is injured and won’t stop posting about it and his attacks on fantasy players. I don’t believe the Giants are good without Odell offensively and that is because they are missing the one big star to put on a great game without him. I believe with Odell this ends differently but Lions win 21 – 17 over the Giants.
Arizona Cardinals @ Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are playing without Andrew Luck again this week. Brissett is an upgrade at QB, but Indy will still struggle. Cardinals win this one on defense. Final score: Arizona Cardinals 28, Indianapolis Colts 7.
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are likely to win this game, but man this Cleveland team looked good against Pittsburgh. If there's an upset to be found this week, it could be here as Cleveland finally looks like a professional football team. Browns win!! BROWNS WIN! Final score: Cleveland Browns 21, Baltimore Ravens 20.
Minnesota Vikings @ Pittsburgh Steelers. Both of these teams are likely headed to the playoffs, but the Steelers are the more complete team. After a close game against Cleveland in week 1, I expect Pittsburgh to come in ready to win. Steelers take this one. Final score: Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Minnesota Vikings 21.
New Jersey Jets @ Oakland Raiders. Say something positive about the Jets. Say something positive about the Jets....they have their own stadium? Nope. They play in New York? Nope, only once a year in Buffalo. They're a good team? Nope. Oh here's something....they're in line for a very high draft pick in 2018. Raiders win this one. Final score: Oakland Raiders 35, New York Jets 7.
New England Patriots @ New Orleans Saints. Always go with New England coming off of a loss. Bill Belichick does not lose consecutive games. Therefore, the Patriots will beat the Saints. Final score: New England Patriots 35, New Orleans Saints 31.
Buffalo Bills @ Carolina Panthers. This could legitimately be the game of the week, and I think it will be a close one. That being said, the Panthers are a more complete team than the Bills, and that will show at home. Panthers win. Final score: Carolina Panthers 10, Buffalo Bills 7.
Chicago Bears @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears are who I think they are. That's a football team with some really nice pieces like Tarik Cohen but not the roster to put together a dominant game. The Bucs have one of the best young rosters in the NFL and are coming into this game well-rested. The Bucs win. Final score: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, Chicago Bears 14.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Kansas City Chiefs. This is a tough game but I think the Chiefs have better offensive weapons, especially Kareem Hunt. I'm going with KC in KC against the Eagles. Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 28, Philadelphia Eagles 14.
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars had a huge game in week 1, but the Titans are proven playoff contenders with something to prove this week. They'll take this one. Final score: Tennessee Titans 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 17.
Miami Dolphins @ LA Chargers. This is going to be a good game since the Dolphins are well-rested. Still, they're no match for Philip Rivers on defense. I think the Chargers win this one at home. Final score: LA Chargers 20, Miami Dolphins 14.
Dallas Cowboys @ Denver Broncos. Both of these teams looked really good in week 1. That being said, the Cowboys looked better. I think Dallas wins this one in a close game. Final score: Dallas Cowboys 21, Denver Broncos 20.
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks. This week the 49ers travel to Seattle to face a professional football team. The professional football team wins. Final score: Seattle Seahawks 27, San Francisco 49ers 14.
Washington Redskins @ LA Rams. Wow the Rams have a defense. Cooper Kupp doesn't look bad either. I think the Rams take this one at home to start out a surprising 2-0 to open the season. Final score: LA Rams 14, Washington Redskins 3.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons. Want an offensive slugfest? Watch this game. This might be the best offensive matchup of the season, and it is going to be a shootout. That being said, I think the Packers win it. Since we don't count the spread I have to memorialize the last Super Bowl. Packers win. The score will be closer than this but I'm having fun here. Final score: Green Bay Packers 28, Atlanta Falcons 3.
Detroit Lions @ New Jersey Giants. This should be a close game, but even without a healthy Odell Beckham, I think the Giants will be tough to beat at home this week. I'm picking the Giants. Final score: New Jersey Giants 21, Detroit Lions 17.
--Mike B. (10-6).
Browns @ Ravens - Ravens win 24-17.
Bills @ Panthers - Panthers win 20-13.
Cardinals @ Colts - Cardinals win, 35-13.
Titans @ Jaguars - Titans win 20-19.
Eagles @ Chiefs - Chiefs win, 35-20.
Patriots @ Saints - Patriots win, 28-24.
Vikings @ Steelers - Steelers win, 26-13.
Bears @ Buccaneers - Bucs win, 23-17.
Dolphins @ Chargers - Chargers win, 27-24.
Jets @ Raiders - Raiders win, 30-9.
Cowboys @ Broncos - Broncos win, 17-13.
Redskins @ Rams - Rams win, 24-13.
49ers @ Seahawks - Seahawks win, 24-3.
Packers @ Falcons - Packers win, 27-24.
Lions @ Giants - Lions win, 28-24.
-Tyler B. (9-7)
Week 2 of the 2017 NFL season is upon us as the Bengals travel to Houston to take on the Texans. Both of these teams are coming off of brutal Week 1 losses. The Texans situation seems to be fixable as they have one of the best defenses in football, and also are giving quarterback DeShaun Watson a chance to take over the starting role. The Bengals, on the other hand, may be headed for a long season. This is a team that is historically bad in prime time under Marvin Lewis and a team that left their best two offensive linemen walk in free agency prior to the 2017 season. As a result, it could be a long year for the Bengals.
While the Bengals are usually decent against rookie quarterbacks making their first career starts, they are historically terrible in prime time under Marvin Lewis. Andy Dalton throws lots of picks usually as the team comes in with an ultraconservative mindset that makes it easy for opposing defenses to feast. Against a team such as the Texans, such an approach is deadly, as the Bengals look to start the season 0-2 on the road in Houston. I have to go with the Texans in this one, because history. Final score: Texans 27, Bengals 17.--Mike B. (9-6).
This one is simple for me. Marvin Lewis in prime time is horrendous. The Bengals aren't great under Dalton and Lewis against the Texans either. I think this game will get ugly in the 2nd half for the Bengals and show how good Watson can look under the center for the Texans. Texans win 31 - 20 over the Bengals. --- Matt Koontz (9-6)
Texans win, 23-17. -Tyler B (8-7)
WEEK 1 Is Here of the NFL 2017 Season:
Crazy off-season has come to an end. I read an article that said 30 total torn ACL’s since OTA’s until this week just during this off-season. This week is loaded with good games as well as a few snoozers but the two big stories are simple. Zeke should be out 6 games but the NFL is using the round about excuses to make sure he is in on primetime on Sunday against the Giants. Secondly, the Dolphins and Buccaneers were supposed to play Sunday in Miami but with a Cat 5 hurricane on the way instead of moving the game to a neutral site the NFL is hurting both teams by making them play week 11 and giving them their bye week to start the season.
Jets @ Bills: The Jets enter the season as a team we all could see going 0-16 this season. The Bills have an interesting roster but I think they are just short of the playoffs this year. They are going to have a grind out attitude and they will play the Jets tough beginning to end. There is a chance the Jets play hard but a lot of people believe they are tanking this season already. I do see a defensive battle on this one. Bills win 17 – 9 over the Jets.
Falcons @ Bears: The defending NFC champs take week 1 on the road and should walk through with what should feel like a warm up game. The Bears are going to have their hands full all season but this game is going to be ugly quick and stay ugly. I think the one positive we will see is Adrian Amos shows off his improving talent and gets an INT to start the season. The Falcons have revenge on their mind this season after the Super Bowl collapse and no better way than to start off with the worst team in the NFC. Falcons win 27 – 13.
Ravens @ Bengals: This game is a really tough AFC North show down because these two teams have gaping holes. The Ravens have a weak offensive line, iffy tight ends, a pathetic WR corps, an aging beat up QB, a weak group of corners, and a rough group of RB’s. They going to rely on that safety help and linebackers to stop opposing offenses and Justin Tucker to win games for them. The Bengals have no offensive line they might as well throw 10 year olds out there and their secondary worries me entirely I also believe they are poorly coached and it will cost them games this season, plus Burfict is suspended AGAIN. This game is going to be ugly and sloppy a normal AFC North flag fest. Ravens win 16 – 13 over the Bengals, Tucker with the game winner.
Steelers @ Browns: I really would love to see the Browns prove the world wrong but this year I think they are at that last stage of the movement to greatness. They have their franchise QB they just need to let him develop his rookie season and take the good games and the bad as they come and keep his confidence up. The Steelers are a top 3 AFC team if healthy and they will probably show signs of it but remember it is a AFC North showdown which means they will play tooth and nail and keep this close. Steelers win 23 – 18 over the Browns.
Cardinals @ Lions: This game is the battle of 2nd place teams in their respective divisions this coming season. I think Palmer has started his decline as seen by the numbers last season but that defense is a good group and their WR’s are stacked, plus they have the best RB in the league. The Lions need this defense to hold up this year and Stafford to remain healthy especially after his ridiculous contract. Their group of RB’s is their biggest question mark to start the season but I am ready to see where they stand this year if they are all healthy. Lions win 18 – 13 over the Cardinals.
Jaguars @ Texans: The Jaguars need a QB and if they got that they could become one of the best teams in the league with that group of RB’s and WR’s on offense. Their defense is as elite as it gets and they could be the best in the league this season. The Texans are entering this season with Watson ready to take the job at QB and their defense is going to be incredible with Watt and Clowney together for a whole season. I have the Texans going to the AFC title game this year. They win this one for their city and use the energy and passion to play this one through. Texans win 10 – 7 over the Jaguars in a defensive showdown.
Raiders @ Titans: This game is my favorite game of the 1 games because of the Derek Carr vs Marcus Mariota matchup. I am so excited for this one and I believe we will see the Raiders subpar secondary get scorched and that will be the difference maker of this battle. I am expecting an offensive showdown and believe the home team will see an advantage here. Titans win 34 – 29 over the Raiders.
Eagles @ Redskins: I have made my opinion vocal on both of these teams and I will repeat them here because I believe they will be the difference makers. The Eagles have their offensive line, they have WR’s finally, they have Wentz with confidence again, and an improving defense not finished yet but improving. The Redskins have an average defense and weak RB’s until they let Samaje Perine. Their QB is a top 10 QB but he doesn’t want to be there and I am a big believer in passion and dedication and think his lack thereof for this team will show this season. Eagles win 30 – 20 over the Redskins.
4 PM ET:
Colts @ Rams: No Luck is a big problem for the Colts entering this weekend especially because I believe the Rams will be better this season than people expect from them. I think the Colts defense is a perfect welcoming party for the Rams offense because the Colts have a pathetic defense. I expect a 100 yard game from Gurley as well. Rams win 26 – 10 over the Colts.
Seahawks @ Packers: Best NFC game of the week but doesn’t get Sunday night? Yeah that makes sense NFL. Lacy returns to Green Bay and the Seahawks seriously look good everywhere this year but offensive line. I believe this defense will get themselves to the top 3 this year and their ground game with the 3 man combo they have will become a top ground game this season. The Packers need to cut ties with the money hole that Matthews is and upgrade that group of corners. I love the Packers offense and believe they will be lethal this year but this game should be tough for them with the opposing defense. This will be a great game and go down to possibly the final drive. Packers win 21 – 17 over the Seahawks.
Panthers @ 49ers: Cam is going to play injured and this could cause some questionable decisions when we see him run or choose not to run. Cam’s health and decision making could be the deciding factor for the Panthers because they are the superior team. I believe the 49ers are rebuilding beautifully and they are going to be top contenders again in the next few years especially with Beathard learning and waiting. I don't think Cam will be able to run comfortably like normal and it will change the game play for the Panthers and cost them this one. 49ers win 25 - 20 over the Panthers.
SNF 8:30 PM/ET:
Giants @ Cowboys: Zeke is playing and Odell probably isn't playing. If he does play he will be less than 100% and will be seeing a lot less snaps. I had the Giants originally but without Odell fully there to shred the Cowboys weaker defense I struggle to see the Giants pulling this off. Cowboys win 23 - 18 over the Giants.
Saints @ Vikings: AP is headed back to his long time team Vikings to face them this time and he will be looking for vengeance for them letting him go. The Vikings will need to rely on their defense I still believe Sam Bradford’s completion percentage stat was a diluted stat because he doesn’t do anything spectacular with the ball and believe he can’t go and win a game for them. Dalvin Cook is going to need to follow Kareem Hunt’s blazing pace to help carry this team. The Saints will have to do what they have had to do the past 2 years, use their offense to overcome their poor defense. Saints win 23 – 20 over the Vikings.
Chargers @ Broncos: Offense vs. Defense here at its finest. The Broncos offense is horrendously bad with pathetic QB’s and a weak ground game. Their offensive line isn’t anything special and their tight end play is below average. The Broncos are going to have to rely on their defense this year like most years if they plan on doing anything special. The Chargers are going to miss Perryman but their corners are back to health this year with Verrett back this year and they finally offensively have a healthy Keenan Allen. This Chargers team could surprise a whole lot of people and make a good run this year and I think it starts week 1 on the road. Chargers win 24 – 13 over the Broncos.
Atlanta Falcons @ Chicago Bears. The Falcons travel to Chicago to take on the Bears this week. Chicago isn't as bad as they were a couple of seasons ago. However, they are not ready to contend against the reigning NFC champions. Falcons win this one. Final score: Atlanta Falcons 28, Chicago Bears 3.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have really good offensive weapons, but no offensive line to block for them. They are also missing Pacman Jones and Vontaze Burfict this week. This spells trouble for Cincy, who could be in for a long year. Ravens win. Final score: Baltimore Ravens 24, Cincinnati Bengals 20.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns. The Browns are starting their 27th quarterback since 1999 with Kizer. The Steelers are starting a future hall of fame QB in Roethlisberger. Cleveland is building a good defense, but they're not ready to take on the Steelers. Steelers win. Final score: Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Cleveland Browns 24.
Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions. Both of these franchises could be playoff teams this season. That being said, the Cardinals have more pieces than the Lions this season. I think that tips things in the Cardinals' favor. Final score: Arizona Cardinals 21, Detroit Lions 20.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans. The Jaguars are a team on the rise with some really nice pieces on offense and defense. However, their quarterback situation is unsettled, and they face one of the best defenses in the league in Houston. This is going to be a tough game for the Jaguars, but they will play close. Final score: Houston Texans 17, Jacksonville Jaguars 14.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Miami Dolphins. Our thoughts are with all in the path of inclement weather in Florida, as this game is cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. Game postponed until Week 11.
Oakland Raiders @ Tennessee Titans. This could be the game of the week, and these teams could be in line for a postseason rematch. Both of these teams are loaded with talent, and the Titans defense will be surprisingly good with Dick LeBeau at the helm. I think the Raiders take this one though, barely. Final score: Oakland Raiders 28, Tennessee Titans 27.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins. Classic NFC East rivalry game. This game could go either way, but the Redskins have a slightly better team and are at home. Therefore, I have to go Washington. Final score: Washington Redskins 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21.
Indianapolis Colts @ LA Rams. Scott Tolzien was a good quarterback for Wisconsin. He's not a good quarterback in the NFL. Rams win this one with Aaron Donald. Final score: LA Rams 28, Indianapolis Colts 7.
Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers. It's Fail Mary time again! Too soon? This is going to be an outstanding game to watch with two of the best teams in the NFC. The Packers are tough to beat at home, but they do start slow from time to time. I'm going with the Seahawks in this one, barely. Final score: Seattle Seahawks 20, Green Bay Packers 17.
Carolina Panthers @ San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick is gone, but I still can't pick the 49ers to win a game until they start Beathard. Especially against Carolina. Panthers win. Final score: Carolina Panthers 27, San Francisco 49ers 6.
New Jersey Giants @ Dallas Cowboys. This game could help decide the NFC East title this season. Both of these teams play each other really tough, and this game could go either way. I think the Cowboys have a slight edge at home with Beckham dinged up. Final score: Dallas Cowboys 35, New Jersey Giants 31.
New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings. This week Adrian Peterson and the Saints travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. While Peterson may not be fantasy relevant through the entire season due to his age and the Saints' depth at rb, I expect him to have a huge game this week. Even then, the Vikings will win this one at home. Final score: Minnesota Vikings 28, New Orleans Saints 27.
LA Chargers @ Denver Broncos. This is going to be a great defensive matchup to watch. Both of these teams have great defenses. The Chargers also have a great offense. That will be the difference as the Chargers beat the Broncos on Monday night. Final score: LA Chargers 14, Denver Broncos 10.
--Mike B. (0-1).
Jets @ Bills - Bills win, 24-17.
Falcons @ Bears - Falcons win, 30-17.
Ravens @ Bengals - Ravens win, 26-20.
Steelers @ Browns - Steelers win, 30-10.
Cardinals @ Lions - Cardinals win, 27-24.
Jaguars @ Texans - Texans win, 23-17.
Buccaneers @ Dolphins - I don't know, you tell me.
Raiders @ Titans - The offensive showdown. Titans win, 42-38.
Eagles @ Redskins - Redskins win, 20-17.
Colts @ Rams - Rams win, 20-16.
Seahawks @ Packers - Packers win, 24-20.
Panthers @ 49ers - Panthers win, 27-17.
Giants @ Cowboys - Cowboys win, 23-20.
Saints @ Vikings - Saints win, 27-20.
Chargers @ Broncos - Chargers win, 24-13.
-Tyler B. (0-1)
Chiefs @ Patriots: The 2017 season starts off with the defending Super Bowl Champs and a tough gritty Chiefs team. The Chiefs drafted Mahomes this year and showed where they are planning on going with the QB position in the future so for Alex Smith this is an audition season and what a better way to start it off than to take down the reigning champs. The Chiefs will have their normal top level defense and great pass rush keeping them in this game even against the great Tom Brady. The issue that concerns me is the passing game in KC with Hill as their one which I don't believe he is built for that role as a pure one. The big excitement factor of the Chiefs offense is Kareem Hunt and I am so excited for his season this year starting week one. Now the Pats are coming in with a healthy Gronk but have lost Eddelman for the season and they will need Chris Hogan to step into that role for Brady. Either way we know that their defense will allow yards but they won't allow touchdowns and that Brady and Bill will put on a masterful season with or without any player. The Pats are just too good for me this year to doubt them here especially at home to kick of a defending season. Pats win 23 - 17 over the Chiefs.
- Matt Koontz
Chiefs @ Patriots. This week, the Kansas City Chiefs head to New England to take on the Patriots. This is a tough game for the Chiefs; Tom Brady and the Patriots are almost unstoppable at home. That, and the team has upgraded this offseason, even with the loss of star receiver Julian Edelman. The Chiefs have a decent team and will be competitive this season, but they will not be competitive enough to defeat the Patriots tonight. Patriots win. Final score: Patriots 28, Chiefs 20. --Mike B.
Chiefs @ Patriots: Hi there football fans, welcome back. I'm excited for the 2017/18 NFL season, and the ups and downs that come with it. This is a great opening game for Thursday night football. KC has a good defense, and the Pats have a great offense. The battle in tonight's match will be a good one. The Patriots are definitely the dominant team here though, so Patriots win, 20-13.
Rick Mirer was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks with the second overall pick of the 1993 NFL Draft. Prior to his selection by Seattle, Mirer put together a phenomenal college career at Notre Dame under head coach Lou Holtz from 1989 to 1992. He threw for 18 touchdowns in 1991, then a record. In his final game with Notre Dame in the 1993 Sugar Bowl Classic, he helped lead the team to a 28-3 victory over Texas A&M. He finished his college career with 5997 passing yards, 41 touchdown passes, and a 139.0 passer rating. In the NFL, Rick Mirer put together a career spanning more than a decade playing for the Seahawks, the Bears, the Packers, the Jets, the 49ers, the Raiders, and the Lions. He finished his career with 11969 passing yards and 50 touchdown passes. Today, Rick Mirer co-owns the Mirror Wine Company and the Mirer Family Foundation. His foundation focuses on assisting children with both health care and education. We were fortunate to have an opportunity to interview Mr. Mirer, and here it is. Questions in blue, Rick Mirer's replies in gold:
Mr. Mirer, first off, we'd like to take a moment to say thank you for taking the time to interview with us here at Matt and Mike Sports. As one of the great players in Notre Dame history, what was it like playing under head coach Lou Holtz?
Thanks. I feel really fortunate to have been at Notre Dame the years I was. Coach Holtz created an environment for us where we completely expected to win every game. It’s hard to do that in such a convincing way, but coach Holtz had us believing in ourselves and it showed.
The 1992 Notre Dame-Penn State game stands out as one of the great college football games of the 1990s. Tell us a bit about your experiences in that game.
It was senior day and that was significant. Our class was very close and winning the final home game was important to us all. Although we fell behind we believed in each other and the drama that day is unforgettable. Basically we made the plays necessary coming down the stretch. We had great respect for Penn State and their style of play. Winning with a 2 pt play was particularly satisfying considering there was no overtime back then. I’m forever grateful that Reggie caught that last pass in the old stadium.
How did your time at Notre Dame help prepare you for a career in the NFL?
The media attention never overwhelmed me at the next level. I had already lived it. The football at ND and the schedule we played was the best prep for the NFL available at the time.
You were selected by the Seahawks with the second pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, and opted not to attend the draft. What factors led to your decision?
It felt like a good day to spend with my family and closest friends. We did not know which way Seattle and New England were going to go so I didn’t feel like being in NY with unknown. Going to the draft is a different responsibility now. I wanted to go about draft day my way and that's what happened.
How has the draft changed since you were drafted in 1993?
Its a circus now.
As a rookie, you threw 2833 yards and 12 touchdowns while being sacked 47 times. Many young quarterbacks struggle when facing pressure; you thrived, putting together a successful rookie year. How were you able to perform at a high level while taking a huge number of hits?
It was tough, but I competed and I’m proud of that. A little more prep would have been nice however. Playing all 16 games was an achievement few rookie QB’s have been able to achieve. The situation was what it was following a 2-14 season in 1992. I just did my job.
You played through a coaching change between the 1994 and 1995 seasons. What effect did that transition have on you as a player? How difficult is for a young player to learn a new offensive system in the NFL after a year or two in a different one?
It’s always tough when the coach who drafted you leaves. I feel terrible that we couldn’t win enough to keep Tom Flores his job longer. He was truly a gentleman and deserved better. The NFL is a business though and tough decisions constantly need to be made. I had many more changes over the next several years.
Speaking of coaching, what NFL coach (head coach, positional coach, or coordinator) had the greatest impact on you as a player? Which coach impacted you the most in college?
That’s tough, but I would say Matt Cavanaugh in Chicago, Mike McCarthy in GB and Gregg Knapp in SF all helped me learn how to play QB in the NFL. They all taught the West Coast Offense and had very similar styles. Unfortunately, those guys didn’t appear for me until year after my 4th season.
What are some of the challenges faced by a quarterback selected early in the first round of the NFL Draft? How did you prepare to meet those challenges?
Mostly it’s the style of play. Passing is such a big part of NFL football and the protections, audibles, sight adjustments etc that need to be second nature. The college kids being taught pro style offense have such an advantage. I did not have that.
Fans often expect first round picks at quarterback to carry their team on their shoulders. Do these expectations put added pressure on a young quarterback to succeed? Are these expectations unfair?
It’s human nature to expect a high pick to make a big impact. Sometimes its a perfect fit stylistically and guys hit it running day 1. Those who have to learn the language and system need some time.
From your perspective, does the recent growth of social media put additional pressure on young players?
No. Its a potential distraction however. If used properly it can be a great tool to develop your personal brand and connect with those who care about what you have to say. If mis-used it can be very dangerous.
What are your thoughts on the growth of fantasy football? As a player who played through the early development of web-based fantasy football (the first free online fantasy football leagues were launched in 1997), have you noticed a difference in the way that fans approach the game?
I can’t believe what it has become to be honest. It’s such a selfish way to look at players in my opinion. I do understand the popularity that football has and that's why it exists and keeps growing.
What are some of the most significant changes in the game since you retired in 2004?
The biggest one is the PAT. They aren’t a gimme anymore.
If you could go back and retroactively (in 1993, your rookie season) enact one rule change enacted by the NFL since you retired, what rule change would it be? Why?
I would have liked roughing the passer to be enforced the way it is now. Its amazing what a penalty is these days. I was roughed hundreds of times based on the new rules.
As a player, how did you prepare for life after football? What advice would you give to current NFL players planning for their futures?
It’s important to understand that its actually going to end someday. It does not feel like it ever will as you are going through the first several seasons. Life is long and guys need to develop other interests and prep for other things.
Many NFL players struggle to end their NFL careers. Brett Favre returned from retirement multiple times, and Marshawn Lynch recently came out of retirement to play for the Oakland Raiders. Did you have moments following your retirement where you considered returning to the game?
No. When I was done I moved on. I know I could have physically played longer, but when you know you know.
What are some of your favorite memories as a player?
The camaraderie is what I miss the most. Being on a Super Bowl team was such an honor as expected. I was with the Raiders in 2002 vs Tampa and it was my 10th season so I completely respected the experience.
As a former NFL player coaching youth football, have you ever had a moment where a young player has caught your eye and made you think "wow, he could have a future in the sport?”
Yes, there are moments where guys jump out at you. Time will tell if some of our youth studs turn into big time players. Health, academics, luck all play a part.
Following your career as an NFL player, you helped launch Mirror Wine Company. Tell us a bit about your company.
Passion project turned real business. It’s been a crash course and I have learned a lot along the way. We are really proud of our product and how we have been able to develop.
You and your wife founded the Mirer Family Foundation (link here) in 1996. Tell us more about the work your foundation does. What are some of your most rewarding experiences with the foundation?
It’s awesome to look back and see how many people we have been able to help. The letters I receive from the kids at Notre Dame that we scholarship always make my day.
Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to interview with us, and we look forward to following your work with both Mirror Wine Company and the Mirer Family Foundation in the future.
-Mike Bertasso and Matt Koontz, www.mattandmikesports.com
Pre Pre-Season Predictions: These are my predictions of the coming 2017 NFL season before the Pre-Season and injuries pile up. I will make an updated prediction following week 4 of the pre-season.
1. New England Patriots (13-3): The defending Super Bowl champs are going to be tough to beat this year. They added so much talent in the off-season with people like Stephon Gillmore, David Harris, and Brandin Cooks. This team didn’t need more fire power but they got it. They might have lost Blount but they got Gillislee and Rex Burkhead. This team is potent and will be a team to watch for the Super Bowl. I mean Bill is god is a fair expression to describe this team's continued success.
2. Buffalo Bills (10-6): The Bills got better just by letting Rex Ryan leave before the season ended. Then they were smart and drafted Zay Jones since they allowed Robert Woods to leave. They got a defensive genius as their head coach and I believe they are better this year defensively and are giving Tyrod faith which should provide him the confidence he needs. They went and also got him Patrick DiMarco and Mike Tolbert at full back to help protect him and the run game. I think if the Bills can find some offensive spark they are sitting in 2nd well. The real test is do they become a offensive team or is it defense only because they need to find the fire power.
3. Miami Dolphins (9-7): I have heard a lot of positive news around DeVante Parker showing even more improvement. I also read that Tannehill is seemingly healthy again and if these reports are true I could be wrong by putting them in third but I am relying on the pre-season to see what they really have. I am very happy to see Raekwon McMillan in the middle for this team moving forward as he is their potential superstar defensively. I will be watching them carefully during the pre-season. This is the final year Tannehill has to prove he was worth a first round pick in my mind because so far he has failed to reach that level.
4. New York Jets (3-13): I mean worst team in the league this year is all I can really say. They have the worst QB competition battle I have ever seen in the NFL for the starting job. They have no WR’s because I believe Enunwa is good but I do not believe he is a number one WR like they are relying on him to be this season. Their secondary is a nightmare and their linebackers took a major step back with the loss of David Harris. Sorry Jets fans but you will be enjoying the 1st pick overall if you need the silver lining. Todd Bowles should have never taken this job because Woody Johnson is giving him nothing to work with at all. Jets fans should brace for years of nothing at this pace.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): I wanted to put the Steelers at 12-4 but Ben normally misses a game so it seems due to taking so many shots through his career and I believe that’s the difference between 12-4 and 11-5. This season they get Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Big Ben healthy and no suspensions entering the pre-season on offense and that is a huge positive for them. A lot of people are sleeping on this defense and I personally believe their defense is going to be like Atlanta’s last year start shaky and become top level by the end of the season.
2. Baltimore Ravens (9-7): The Ravens scare me to give them an above .500 record because they have 1 WR that they can rely on and that’s Jeremy Maclin. I like Mike Wallace I worry about him tailing off at the end of the season last year and his age. Perriman can’t figure out how to be healthy nor can he catch the ball consistently. They lost Pitta already due to a hip injury and Tavon Young a top corner to an ACL injury. Their defense is sexy good with the exception of their cornerbacks but I think they could survive with Weddle and Tony Jefferson at safety to help. They need to pray for no more injuries. IN Ozzie they trust, so they claim. Let's see if that is still what they claim if they miss the playoffs again.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-9): The Bengals could compete for the division, but they apparently thought an offensive line wasn’t important and left Andy Dalton poised for a season of running away from the pocket. He does have a potent set of weapons to throw the ball to and he has a great trio of backs behind him. The Bengals will need to rely on the defense if they want to be competitive this season. This will be a team to keep an eye on at least in front of Dalton in the pre-season. Sorry Bengal fans but your hopes and dreams of losing in the first round of the playoffs is going to fall short this season.
4. Cleveland Browns (6-10): The Browns could be better than 6-10 but I need to see that Kessler or Kizer can really lead this team offensively. Their defense is set and almost completely ready to go for a run at the division but their offense needs a little more depth at tight end because if anything happens to Njoku they have nothing else to rely on. I also believe they are using two platoon number 2 talent RB’s as their starters and they could use improvement there. But they have built a great team and would love to see what they have in a year or two. Lets hope they stick with this current system because it could work but with their ownership who knows.
1. Houston Texans (11-5): They might start slow as Savage is a good NFL QB but I believe if Watson gets the chance mid-season at some point he will help this team sky rocket but I do believe they are a good team even with Savage. I love their defense because this year we get Watt and Clowney together for a full season (hopefully). They have a complete offense if they can all stay healthy with Brock Osweiller not holding them back. This team could be a title team to watch if they can figure out the one question that this roster has which is who is QB and can they solve their issues from last year. Now Watt can finally enter the realm of greatness if this team can get to the Super Bowl. In Savage/ Watson I trust.
2. Tennessee Titans (10-6): The Titans are that team to watch that are flying under everyone’s radar but they could easily sneak in and steal this division and make a playoff run. I mean Mariota is a complete freak especially under pressure and I am so excited to see how this team develops moving forward. I am glad to see this team is finally ready to go and make a big run and if they fall short of the playoffs this year I personally consider it a let down. Mariota in the Red Zone is the king of the Red Zone and pressure situations.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7): Yeah the Jaguars not the Colts! This team is going to have the top defense in the league if they can stay relatively healthy. This offense is slowly, very slowly, coming along but I believe Fournette if he can remain healthy will help put a spark into this team especially with Yeldon as a back-up RB. I hope the offensive line can help Bortles stay up-right and find time to throw the ball to his weapons. I really like the Jaguars as a sneaky pick this year, I wish we could see them on hard knocks this season because this would be fun to watch.
4. Indianapolis Colts (6-10): Because regardless of Andrew Luck, offensive line and defense are important and their front office has seemed to forget that. I am sorry Colts fans but your own front office has completely left you out to dry because they are not building anything around Luck entering his prime years. I feel bad because his talent is through the roof but besides Hilton they have nothing for him to rely on and their line was abysmal last year. The defense makes me laugh when they face a top team especially since their top corner, Vontae Davis, has had a hard time staying healthy. This team truly worries me as long as their front office doesn't have a complete overhaul including ownership. This team is a mess mentally they just have failed to build a roster.
1. Oakland Raiders (12-4): The Raiders have the most potent offense in the AFC West and a defense that is growing more and more and I believe they are the team to watch in this division as a contender with the Patriots. I like Carr a whole lot and believe Marshawn successful or not will bring that spark to this team and leadership that could help them reach that next level. They are in the toughest division in the league but they will survive it and show off their talent. Too bad you built a team for your fan base and can't stay with them. So sad.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): The Chiefs have their normal lethal defense and I believe their tight end is the 2nd best in the league. I love Kareem Hunt more than any entering rookie RB and believe if he proves himself in camp like he has the skills to do he could become a top RB in the league, a lot like Jordan Howard. I like Alex Smith as a game manager but the Chiefs have Tyreek Hill and they need an exciting QB which Mahomes gives them next year when I believe he will take that job. But this year I believe strongly Alex Smith will help this team reach a shot for the division. This will be fun a full season of Tyreek Hill and potentially Hunt that could make this team explode. Game manager QB just won't be enough to reach the super bowl this team has the talent to reach.
3. LA Chargers (9-7): The Chargers are getting to the point where they could run away with this division. But I believe they are a season short as they need to build their offensive line a little bit more and hopefully Mike Williams can become healthy. They still have Melvin Gordon and hopefully he is healthy because they still have Antonio Gates and a young freak in Hunter Henry. I love what the Chargers have done and I think their new coaching staff gives them an excellent chance to compete all season. I hope they stop letting us down as fans of good football. This is the season that tells us how close they are to where they should be. Welcome to LA you will be the best team in this city football wise this year.
4. Denver Broncos (7-9): I like what the Broncos have but I hate their QB battle. Look he did okay last year but Siemian is far from the answer that they need to reach a division title but they still apparently believe he could be that piece and I think that is crazy. I like Paxton Lynch a lot heck I believe Chad Kelly is better than Siemian personally. Now to the rest of the team, adding Jamaal Charles made their RB’s depth insane and their defense is crazy good as always. I personally believe if they could solve their QB issue then they could actually become a contending team where they belong but you can’t enter every week wondering who is taking the snaps. Maybe the pre-season will be more telling. Remember this isn’t my final prediction. Elway says he know's QB's but since he has gotten there he got Manning, not like it was hard to know he was talented, and then now this mess at QB? Does he really?
1. New York Giants (11-5): I really doubted them a lot last year and even more during the off-season but I keep looking at their roster and I believe they are the best in this division. They have an amazing trio of WR’s and they got a machine in the draft at TE in Evan Engram. I personally like Paul Perkins and believe if that offensive line can protect him he will become a top 10 RB in the next year or two. The Giants defense last year got so good at the end of the year and they are a feisty 11. I absolutely love what Steve Spagnuolo brings to his team as a defensive coordinator. The Giants could be a top 5 team in the league. Odell needs to keep his childish act under control.
2. Philladelphia Eagles (9-7): Wentz grew last year but he couldn’t do it all with no ground game and WR’s who drop every pass, can you really blame him for the tailing off of stats? Well that is over because the Eagles got Blount to run with Sproles, Pumphrey, and Smallwood. They added Alshon to pair with a healthy Jordan Matthews and for depth they have Torrey Smith’s speed and depth abilities. Their defense is silently great as long as they remain healthy in the secondary that should remain. I personally believe the best part of the Eagles is going to be their offensive line as I believe they are the best offensive line in the league. Watch out for the one team everyone is sleeping on this year. The Corners are the only part of this team I worry about. In Philly the fans will finally have a winning team again.
3. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Look I got no idea what is going on with Zeke and that makes a significant impact in my eyes to their first few games of the season. I also believe they have no WR’s behind Dez that Dak can rely on weekly. I also do not believe Dak is a top QB like everyone was claiming. He is in the spotlight and Zeke carried that team on his back last year. I personally believe Dak will level off now that teams have figured him out and he is a Russell Wilson-esque QB but with a slightly less complete skill set. I do believe he is a good QB just not top 8 like everyone went on claiming last year. That being said their defense is a big worry this year as they lost Carr and Claiborne who were stand outs last year for the Cowboys. Defensive schemes are easy now, cover Dez and stop Zeke it will be solved this year a bit more than last year too. I can be wrong of course but just their defense and the lack of WR's and TE's behind Witten makes me just say they don't have the depth this year to compete offensively or defensively. Skip will probably disappear if this happens.
4. Washington Redskins (7-9): I love Cousins but he has no desire to be there and they lost a lot with Jackson and Garcon both leaving. I thin Jordan Reed has to step up even more because they have Crowder and Pryor then it gets questionable as far as options go. Their defense is good but not top of the line. I personally believe they are going to have to start finding pieces for another weapon at WR and they need to get Rob Kelley out of the top spot and move Perine to the starting job so they can see what they have at RB. I also believe this team could prove me wrong because they have upsides but I worry about them with a QB who has no desire to be here. This team won't win another Super Bowl in a player drama filled era if Dan Snyder stays as owner of this team because he isn't well liked.
1. Green Bay Packers (12-4): The Packers are scary good. I believe their ground game got a huge plus when they let Montgomery take the reins because he is impossible to game plan for because he can run or scat out for a pass it basically forces a team to always line up a spy on him at all times. They have the deepest WR corps in the league and their tight end position go a whole lot better with the addition of Martellus Bennett. The defense had secondary issues beyond belief last year but they drafted Josh King and added Davon House to give the Pack a set of 3 corners that can hold their own on the roster now along with Damarious Randall. I really think they are the best competition for the Patriots this year. If the secondary falters then they are doomed and so should Capers job.
2. Detroit Lions (10-6): The Lions have a sneaky good defense and their offensive line got better when they added T.J. Lang and they have a complete 5 to protect Stafford. I believe they have a very good sleeper on their roster in Kenny Golladay. I am really always a Matt Stafford fan and believe he could really show that he still has even more to prove this year because of the weapons his team has provided him and if Abdullah can stay healthy watch out. Mo-Town might have a team again to get behind. Maybe Calvin left too early because they could make him look like a fool.
3. Minnesota Vikings (9-7): The Vikings defense will be the stellar defense we all know. Their run game should be pretty great this year but I have no idea who their QB is this year because Bridgewater might not be ready week one but he could be by week 6 who knows. I am a big fan of Stefon Diggs but I worry about the rest of the receiving corps. This team could be competing with the Packers or could fall short and hit 3rd in this division with the offense being such a mystery they are hard to call. Hope they realize Bradford completion % last year was a diluted stat with his lower pass attempt numbers and length of his passes. Sorry Vikings fans you better hope Bridgewater is back soon.
4. Chicago Bears (5-11): Look I have no idea. They have a decent defense and their offensive line is good along with their ground game. The issue I am having is simply WHO IS THEIR QB. I get that they traded to get Trubisky and does that say he will become their QB this year or is it going to be Mike Glennon like they originally planned for the whole season. I am just torn by this along with the loss of Alshon as well as Kevin White never being healthy so far. This team could see a nightmare season and Bears fans should brace themselves for a rough season. The Bears are who we thought they were.
1. Atlanta Falcons (12-4): This team proved their worth last year and they are only going to get better because their defense is young and hungry and growing more and more. I love what Dann Quinn brings to this team and yes they lost Shannahan but they will be fine because their offense is so potent. I am thrilled to watch this team this year and week 2 Green Bay vs Atlanta could be the NFC Championship preview. Just no 28-3 blown leads this year is all that we can hope for or the memes won't ever go away.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5): The Buccaneers will give the Falcons a run for their money as their defense will continue to improve and the weapons for Winston are unreal. This team if they can get a ground game going are going to be one to watch out for as a stealthy dark horse for the Super Bowl. Mike Evans is going to break into the top 4 WR conversation with Julio, Odell, and Antonio. Everyone needs to wake up and watch this team because they are coming and are no longer a bottom division team and won’t be again any time soon. We will get an exclusive inside look of this roster and their progress as Hard Knocks will be featuring them. August 8th is the premier date for that on HBO.
3. New Orleans Saints (10-6): The Saints are going to be nipping at the heels of the Buccaneers but I believe their defense hasn’t been built enough just yet to hang in there long enough. I love their offense because they have Ingram and AP splitting the work load behind Brees. While Drew has one of the best young WR’s in the game in Michael Thomas who I see becoming a top 6 WR this year and cementing his name into Saints record books before the end of his career. I love what their offense has and their defense is coming close to competitive so this team deserves a bit of attention as they could really be top of division at seasons end if their defense surprises the world. Brees don't get hurt or they are doomed.
4. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Eh this team has pieces but their defense is okay nothing like it used to be and their offensive line isn’t too great. Cam lost me last year as a believer and Ted Ginn was important to this team and letting him walk was kind of shocking to me. This team has issues I believe they failed to address in the off-season which is their secondary and line. I really got no clue what they thought they had this year but the holes they have will show against their division and other top opponents. Guys Cam's lack of top level play isn't funny just ask his back-up.
1. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): I love this team’s defense and their WR’s and the showing of Jimmy Graham excite me but then they signed Eddie Lacy and I have no idea why. Lacy isn’t a number one and I personally don’t think he is better than Rawls, not even close to me. The biggest issue is the Seahawks believed paying other positions was more important for the past few years and they forgot offensive lineman help their ground game and QB and only have 2 truly good OL-man. This team could collapse if they can’t protect Russell. There are two young guys to watch that have excitement factors to them on this roster C.J. Prosise and Amara Darboh! Guess they thought they could trade Sherman and save money for Lacy's appetite?
2. Arizona Cardinals (9-7): I think their defense is going to have to carry them because Carson Palmer went MIA last year and that worries me at his age. David Johnson can’t carry this team forever they need to get this passing game going again and find the perfect balance if they do so with this defense they will become a contending team. I think this year tells the story of do they need to find a QB or are they okay for a year or two longer. Maybe it is time for Carson to retire again and the torch to be passed.
3. LA Rams (8-8): Too many people were negative about Goff but it was a learning process and I believe we will see development this year and improvement on last year’s stats. I have no clue why a player can’t have a down season without it being oh he was a one year wonder but I believe Gurley will be back to his rookie form this year and I hope he personally shuts every doubters mouth this year. I love the Rams defensively and their new coaching staff is actually set to give them the best outcome for the future. Hang in their Ram fans your time is coming again soon just give Goff another year.
4. San Francisco 49ers (6-10): Hey don’t sleep on the 49ers for too long as John Lynch did an incredible job in the off-season addressing their issues. I love what this team could develop into and personally they made a sneaky pick when they drafted who they have called their “possible Franchise QB” CJ Beathard as he could become their QB late in the season as he learns because this guy is a freak. Now I have heard reports Carlos Hyde might be a surprise cut this pre-season and that kind of has me saying how in the hell do you do that. I guess they like Joe Williams as a rookie incoming RB enough to replace Hyde? The defense is a good unit with a lot of potential to become a top half defense this year in points allowed. I don’t see them putting it all together this year but they are surely better this year just with John Lynch and Kyle Shannahan on the staff alone. I believe they are a year away from being able to make a run at the division. We shall see.
- Matt Koontz
The NFL's substance abuse policy is fatally flawed as it currently stands. Today, we are looking at a broken system that is doomed to fail unless significant changes are made. The current system criminalizes drug use without addressing the underlying causes of the league's current drug epidemic. It also fails to enact policies and programs which might help address these causes. In this post, I will address some potential changes which could plausibly end the drug epidemic in the NFL.
Professional players become addicted to drugs such as heroin for a number of reasons. Ultimately, these reasons can be boiled down to three main causes: pain management, stress management, and social factors. While the decision to use substances which violate the league's substance abuse policy is a personal one, often it becomes impossible for a player to give up an addiction without significant assistance. The drug use itself is a choice, but at some point, the player becomes a slave to his own addiction. The league needs to do a better job at both addressing the underlying causes leading to addiction and also at helping players to combat addiction once addicted.
Football is a physical sport. Players experience constant jarring impacts, immense physical stresses, and a large amount of physical pain. In today's league, players are constantly asked to play on short weeks thanks to the advent of Thursday night football as a weekly tradition. The league is sacrificing player safety and health to further its own economic bottom line. Although the Goodell era has been partly defined by attempts to make the game safer for players (especially with concussions), regularly asking players to play on a short week puts extra physical stress on the bodies of players. The league is ok with Thursday night football since it generates extra advertising income. The league's insistence on extending the schedule to Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and some Saturdays shows that the league cares more for advertising revenue than it does for the physical well-being of its players. By allowing players a full week to recover from the previous week's game every week, the league will avoid putting excess physical stress on players (and also potentially helping alleviate chronic pain among players). If the NFL is serious about ending drug use among players, one simple step that can be taken is to end Thursday night football. Keep football on Thanksgiving since it is a longstanding tradition, but do we really need NFL games 3 or 4 days a week, every week? Most Thursday night matchups are lackluster anyway, so let's get rid of this broken concept.
Speaking of physical stress, besides ending short weeks and allowing players ample time to recover physically each week, another step that the league can take is to focus more on pain management for players. Football is a physical sport, and many players deal with physical pain on a daily basis. If the league is able to find improved ways to treat the chronic pain dealt with by many players, then opiates and other illicit drugs will be less attractive to players. Many addicts turn to drugs such as heroin as a way to manage pain. They start with prescription pain killers, try heroin, and their pain disappears. This often leads to a long struggle with addiction, since quitting a drug such as heroin is much easier said than done. Simply suspending a player for heroin use is not an acceptable strategy if the league hopes to end drug use among players. The league needs a program which looks out for the needs of the individual player, as well as remains strong against drug use.
Why do many players continue to use illegal drugs even after being punished by the league? The answer is simple. The league's approach to punishment and treatment is incomplete. Simply slapping a player on the wrist and saying "no you can't do that" does not treat the underlying cause of the addiction. Instead, it puts a band-aid on a bigger problem and makes the casual fan think that the league is being hard on drug use. This keeps the average fan happy, since the average fan will likely simply view the player as an addict rather than a person. Most who have never used drugs wonder why players don't simply quit since they have the world at the feet. I have never and will never use drugs, but quitting the addiction is easier said than done. Drugs, especially opiates, generate physical symptoms that are only alleviated by the use of that drug. An addiction that starts as a way to ease pain turns into an addiction to ease another sort of pain, "dope sickness." When an addict comes down from heroin, the addict experiences body aches that may be worse than the pain that they turned to heroin to treat, nausea, and other physical symptoms. This is why people who seek to quit heroin usually need to turn to methadone clinics or other rehab programs which offer a physiological replacement for the drug as they try to quit, alleviating dope sickness. The league needs to do a better job at helping players quit the habit; don't just suspend a player for drug use, but also put the player into a league mandated drug rehab program.
Of course, rehab programs are hit or miss. Many addicts who are forced into rehab either for legal or employment reasons relapse after leaving the program. Some find ways to beat the system, using other people's urine for drug tests for example. Others simply go through the motions until the treatment is over, and then turn back to their old habits. If the league hopes to beat the drug epidemic while also not losing talented players such as Josh Gordon to addiction, then the league needs to find ways to help a player want to get clean. Simply telling a player that they get to play in the NFL if they can get clean may not be enough to get a player to quit their addictions; professional athletes are constantly in the spotlight and every mistake or poor choice that they make comes with loads of criticism. Of course, many players are able to cope with these stresses without turning to drug use.
However, all players in the NFL would benefit from counseling which helps them cope with the every-day emotional and psychological stresses that come with playing professional football. Having a strong system in place which provides players with emotional and psychological support to help handle the unique stresses that come with playing in the league would be beneficial to all players. Another step that would benefit all players is placing a stronger emphasis on helping players prepare for life after football. Most NFL careers are exceedingly short. Some players find ways to prepare for life after football. Others never transition smoothly from the football field into everyday life. A program which not only helps players transition into life after football but also provides needed emotional and psychological support to players would go a long way to both curbing some of the struggles faced by players after leaving the game and also to helping players with an addiction problem combat their addictions. How can the league build a program that would effectively combat drug use amongst players and also prepares players for life after football?
The most effective program would start at the college level. Many of the legal and drug use issues plaguing today's NFL stem from college football. Any time you have eighteen year old kids thrust into the spotlight and portrayed as heroes with little or no parental guidance on a day-to-day basis (since in many cases these players are playing far from home), there is a risk that individuals will turn to crime. If a young adult is suddenly told that they are God's gift to football, then it is easy for that player to not adequately consider the consequences of illegal actions. Many college football players come from tough, underprivileged neighborhoods. For them, the sport may be the only way that they can pay their way through college. If a player grows up in an environment where drugs and crime are common, then the player may be tempted to turn to that type of lifestyle. Some players have the emotional and mental maturity to act professional and build a career out of football. Others (a small percentage, to be sure) need guidance. At least some of this guidance should come from the college which the player is attending. However, the NFL can help as well.
If the NFL is serious about cleaning up its public image, then I suggest a peer mentoring program starting out at the college level. Assign current or former NFL players with strong positive characters to each college team, and have these individuals work with young college athletes. Such a program will cost some money to implement, but the benefits outweigh the cost in my opinion. This program would require the NFL and the NCAA to work together, but would provide tangible benefits at both levels of football. How do I suggest building such a program? Here's a thought.
Whenever possible, find a retired player who played for the university where he will be stationed. By employing former players from a given university, the program gains the added benefit of someone familiar with the area and program in question. A former player will know at least some of the temptations faced by players at a given university. Is there a strong drug culture on campus or in the surrounding area? The former player assigned as a mentor should be familiar with this culture. Is other crime common in the region? There again, the former player should be (or make themselves) familiar with the risks facing players at a given university. The player should work with student-athletes on a number of levels. First, they should oversee a mentoring process which helps players succeed on the field and in the classroom. Many student-athletes will never play professional football. However, by providing guidance to all college football players at a university, many who may be hundreds or thousands of miles away from their families, this program would provide a strong, tangible benefit to all student-athletes in the university's football program. Second, the mentor should work to identify players who may be at risk of turning to crime or drug use. Risk factors include a family history of drug use and also a player who comes from an area where drug use and crime are extremely common. Not all players at risk of crime will turn to crime. However, players who are at risk should not be allowed to slip through the cracks of the system. If a player who comes from an at-risk background emerges as a strong character individual, then the player (if comfortable with such a role) should be encouraged to become a leader in the locker room. With this system, we are encouraging the college player not only to reject drugs and crime, but also to become high character individuals who are marketable both in the NFL and also in the off-the-field job market. Finally, the player mentor should also help prepare players for life after football. If the league is able to attack drug use and crime at the college level, then perhaps it will be possible to create a drastic decline in drug use and crime within the NFL. Such an outcome would far outweigh the expense of such a program.
Ultimately, if the NFL truly desires to end the drug epidemic facing the league, then it needs to start treating the underlying causes of drug use. I've suggested some strategies, but there are, of course, other potential ways to treat the drug epidemic in the NFL as well. The current epidemic stems, at least partly, from the league treating players as a commodity to sell a product more than as human beings. The league cares about player safety enough to offset lawsuits and bad public opinion. However, at the end of the day, the driving force of the NFL (and all businesses) is revenue generation. If the league hopes to effectively combat drug use, it needs to stop simply criminalizing the habit and instead also work to combat the underlying causes leading to drug use. Only then will we see a decline in drug use in the NFL. I suggest beginning this process at the college level; if the NFL can begin the process by providing mentors to college programs, then it might prove easier to avoid these struggles once players make it to the NFL. One thing is for sure, if the NFL hopes to defeat the drug epidemic, then much more work needs to be done.--Mike B.
The Super Bowl is finally here, as the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots. The Brady-Belichick era has been nothing short of historic for the Patriots, as this pair of future first-ballot hall-of-famers is nearly unstoppable in the post-season. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of his era, but entered the league as an unheralded sixth round pick in 2000; six other quarterbacks were selected before him. Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaching minds that the league has ever seen, but was let go by the Browns/Ravens organization when the franchise moved to Baltimore. This pair of cast-offs joined forces to create one of the greatest dynasties of football's modern era.
The Atlanta Falcons come into this game as unheralded underdogs, but showcase a dynamic offense led by Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and two great running backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Their defensive unit also has some dominant pieces. This team has been on a tear the entire season, and this franchise has never won a title. A win this Sunday would be huge. The franchise also stars one of our personal favorite players here at Matt and Mike Sports, Jhurell Pressley, as a practice squad running back. This kid has a bright future, and has a chance to win a title as a rookie. Who do we like in this matchup? Here are some picks:
Who do I think will win? Even though history suggests that the Patriots are the team to beat this week, this is an Atlanta Falcons team that is hot. Matt Ryan is in the twilight of his career and will do anything he possibly can to win a ring before he retires. I have to go with the 3 point underdog in this matchup; this is the year that the Atlanta Falcons will finally win one. Falcons win. Final score: Atlanta Falcons 37, New England Patriots 35.--Mike B.
There are hundreds of high school football programs in the United States. It's a big deal when a school sees one player drafted; in 2016, out of 253 players drafted, 247 high schools were represented. Only 6 programs had multiple players represented. Each of these programs saw two players selected. Sometimes, a player's talent sends them on a pipeline to the NFL regardless of their high school program. In other cases, the development of a future NFL star is inextricably shaped by the hard work of a caring and attentive high school coach. There are a few great high school football programs in the United States. Clairton High School, located in Clairton, PA, is quickly becoming one of these elite programs.
On November 24th, 2012, the Clairton Bears won their 60th consecutive game, setting a Pennsylvania state record for most consecutive wins. The victory, a 58-21 win over Sto-Rox at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, gave the team the 2012 WPIAL Class A championship. One of the big stars of that game? Current Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd. This is a team that is clearly capable of competing at a dominant level, and also capable of producing NFL-caliber talent. Boyd alone makes this program relevant at the highest level, but their record of player production does not stop with Tyler Boyd.
Tyler Boyd was not the first Clairton player to be drafted; Mike Micka was a first rounder picked by Washington in 1944. Jim Kelly was drafted by the Steelers in the 2nd round in 1964, Charles Braswell was drafted in the 8th round by the Lions in 1976, and Davlin Mullen was also drafted in the 8th round by the Jets in 1983. Daven Holly was drafted in the 7th in 2005 by the San Francisco 49ers. Clearly, this school has a history of producing NFL-caliber talent. However, while those players are spread out over a period of 61 years, Clairton has been a special place for high school football in recent years. Between 2006 and 2015, the Clairton Bears won 8 WPIAL championships and 4 PIAA titles.
This successful run is extremely intriguing given the state of Clairton as a city; a shrinking town initially built around the steel industry, Clairton has seen its share of struggles with crime. Yet this program sets its players up for success, both on and off the field. Much of the success of this program can be attributed to the passion and drive of two coaches, Tom Nola and Wayne Wade. While Nola gets much of the credit for turning the team into a powerhouse, winning 141 games, 6 WPIAL titles, 4 consecutive PIAA championships, and 66 consecutive games between 2009 and 2013, current head coach Wayne Wade has played a key role in the program's rise to national prominence. He was with Nola for the program's rise to relevance, and took over for Nola as head coach in 2014.
Wade is an unsung hero in the coaching world. He is a coach who always puts his players first. He cares about them as individuals, and pushes them to be their best at all times. When hired as head coach, Wade noted that "I have been around the program helping the kids and being their rock and helping them do things and I am going to continue to do that. I don't need to prove myself to anybody." (source here) This is a man who strives to coach to the best of his ability, but also a man who pushes for the best in his players at all times. Wade began working with Nola in 2008. The team began its rise to dominance in 2009. Clearly, his touch has played a crucial role in the development of the program.
In fact, this is a program brimming with NFL-caliber talent in recent years. Current Pitt player and NFL prospect Terrish Webb is a Clairton graduate. Lamont Wade, the top high school cornerback and 8th rated prospect in the nation as a high school player in 2016, also graduated from Clairton (source here). Wade spent time as a ball boy for Clairton while Tyler Boyd played for the team. Now Lamont Wade has committed to Penn State as a player, and the NFL is very likely in his future. In fact, with credentials like Wade's, he could easily be a first or second round draft pick in the NFL when all is said and done. Clairton graduate Trenton Coles recently spent time at the Kansas City Chiefs rookie camp (source here). Noah Hamlin has committed to play college football for the University of Cincinnati.
These are exciting times for the city of Clairton. As a small city on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, the Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh football programs loom large. So too does Penn State. However, the Clairton Bears are giving Clairton football fans something to get excited about. While the town has faced economic struggles as a result of a downturn in the steel industry, football is putting Clairton back on the map. Through the hard work of coaches Wayne Wade and Tom Nola, the Clairton football program has developed into a national powerhouse. As long as coach Wade continues to develop talent and mentor players, this program will remain relevant. Great things are on the horizon for Clairton, and we are witnessing the growth of a great football program.
The presence of a strong football program can help youth across a community. Some players will go on to successful college and NFL careers. Others will use football as an outlet for aggression and stress. For all players, football provides a structure that helps to keep a player driven for success. The legacy of the Clairton football program cannot be measured solely by the great college and NFL players that it has (and will continue to) produced. It must also be measured by the impact it has had on the players who have not gone onto play college or professional football. One of the best parts of Clairton's program is the emphasis that coach Wade places on helping his players. Wade is clearly a strong mentor to his players, and this role allows him to act as a strong role model for every player on his roster. Football may be a big deal, but the Clairton football program prepares players for futures both on and off the field. Here at Matt and Mike Sports, we look forward to watching the continued success and growth of Clairton Bears football. This is truly one of the nation's great high school football programs, and a program that should remain relevant for years to come. While Florida and Texas are often described as NFL pipelines, the newest NFL pipeline runs straight through the mill towns of Pennsylvania, through Clairton, PA.--Mike B. and Matt K.
The 2016 NFL Conference Championship games are upon us as the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to New England to take on the Patriots (6:40 PM EST on CBS) and the Green Bay Packers travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons (3:05 PM EST on Fox). These teams are all one game away from the Super Bowl, and have all had extremely successful seasons so far. One of these four remaining teams will win the Super Bowl this season. Three of the quarterbacks playing this week have had a lot of postseason success throughout their careers (Roethlisberger, Brady, and Rodgers). Matt Ryan has never won a Super Bowl, and neither has the Falcons organization. Which of the teams playing this week will go on to compete for a Super Bowl title, and who will go home? Here are some picks!
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots. Both Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady are grizzled Super Bowl veterans, and both of these teams have had recent success in the postseason. That being said, Bill Belichick's Patriots are almost unstoppable at home during the regular season. During the postseason, they tend to be even better. I have to go with Brady and Belichick to return to the Super Bowl one more time. Patriots win. Not because the Steelers didn't try hard enough, but because Bill Belichick is a genius. Final Score: New England Patriots 35, Pittsburgh Steelers 24.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons. The Green Bay Packers are on an eight game winning streak heading into this matchup. The Atlanta Falcons have only been to the Super Bowl once, following the 1999 season. To get there, they knocked off an NFC Central opponent that was heavily favored by both fans and odds-makers. This year, the Falcons find themselves in a similar position. The team has changed; this year they face Green Bay instead of Minnesota, and the NFC Central has since become the NFC North. However, there is a good chance that history might repeat itself this year. The Packers are struggling with injuries, and may go into this game without Jordy Nelson. I'm all in on Jhurell Pressley and the Atlanta Falcons this week. Falcons win. Final score: Atlanta Falcons 27, Green Bay Packers 23.
-- Mike B.
Packers @ Falcons: The Packers are coming into this game with a decimated secondary and some pretty questionable corners and some debatable health at WR. The Falcons defense is young but i think Keanu Neal and Dion Jones speed can be something the Packers offense hasn't seen too much of this year. I am a Packers fan and have been since I was 5 but I am going to say this task is too much for the Packers secondary. Falcons win 30 - 27 over the Packers to go to the Super Bowl.
Steelers @ Patriots: The Pats under Brady and Bill are almost unbeatable at home especially in an AFC Championship game atmosphere. I honestly believe Antonio Brown's distraction that lasted the team all week might hurt them. I think were talking to good of a team in New England to see the Steelers winning this one. Patriots win 24 - 20 over the Steelers to go to the Superbowl and look for more to the Brady and Bill dynasty.
--- Matt Koontz
Falcons beat Packers, 43-30.
Patriots beat Steelers, 30-20.
Saturday 1/14 (4:35 PM)
Seahawks @ Falcons: If this was in Seattle i would go with the Seahawks and maybe if they had Earl Thomas but they have neither of those things going for them. Falcons Win 27 - 24 over the Seahawks.
Saturday 1/14 (8:20 PM)
Texans @ Patriots: Brock is not the man to get the job done against a real QB. Patriots win 31 - 9 over the Texans.
Sunday 1/15 (4:40 PM)
Packers @ Cowboys: The Packers are rolling and they have playoff experience. The Cowboys are entering with two rookies at their two most important offensive positions. They also might be without Tyron Smith. I think if this game can stay on the ground for Dallas and they don't need to score back and forth with the Packers they win but if they fall behind the Packers will blow Zeke out of the water. Packers win 30 - 28 over the Cowboys.
Sunday 1/15 (8:30 PM):
Steelers @ Chiefs: This game by many is being called a surprise underdog for the Steelers but i think they belong the underdog. I think we will see them struggle to keep Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce covered and the Steelers will fall too far behind to be able to lean on Le'Veon. Chiefs win 21 - 17 over the Steelers.
---- Matt Koontz
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots. The Patriots are almost impossible to beat in Foxboro in the playoffs, and they already destroyed the Texans once this season. This week, the Patriots take one more step towards the Super Bowl and beat the Texans. Final score: New England Patriots 35, Houston Texans 14.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers are the lower seed this year, but they're the team to watch in this matchup. Pittsburgh's offense would worry me this week, even against a solid Chiefs defense. That being said, the Steelers have no defense, rendering the Chiefs the team to beat this week. Chiefs win, barely thanks to the lack of a Steelers defense and the game-changer Tyreek Hill in KC. Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 21.
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons. This might be the game of the week. The Falcons are almost impossible to beat at home, and the Seahawks are a Superbowl threat every season. That being said, I think the Falcons squeak out a close one at home this week. Final score: Atlanta Falcons 27, Seattle Seahawks 24.
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys aren't playing in the regular season any more, and while this is an extremely talented team, they are also extremely inexperienced in the postseason. The Packers win this one based on the fact that they are always tough to beat in the playoffs. Final score: Green Bay Packers 28, Dallas Cowboys 24.
Falcons beat Seahawks, 27-24.
Patriots beat Texans, 35-13.
Packers beat Cowboys, 23-17.
Chiefs beat Steelers, 27-23.
Sports give us as the human race something to cheer for and support and give hope to all of us.