The Week 8 NFL Power Rankings

NFL-Power-Rankings

The Cover 4.com presents you with The Week 8 NFL Power Rankings! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @thecover4 or facebook at theCo VerFour

Well, we are already halfway through the 2013 NFL season. Just like any season in football, it has been filled with pleasant surprises and surprising disappointments. If your favorite team is not playing its best, do not fret because a lot can happen the next eight weeks.

Depending on what you think of commissioner Roger Goodell (probably nothing good), you have to give him credit for keeping this league fair and full of parity through various means. You can basically separate the league into three different tiers based on winning percentage, but even then different teams from different tiers blend together due to strength of schedule and/or good and bad breaks in games (Tampa Bay, as bad it is, should have at least one win).  You’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t for parity in professional sports, unless you are me and how it is my job to attempt to rank these teams effectively. Four weeks in, the Denver Broncos seemed to be the clear cut No. 1 team. After the last two weeks, perhaps the gap isn’t as quite as large as we thought. Either way, after I name the team and its rank, in parenthesis will be the amount of spots they climbed or fell from my preseason rankings. This part will be especially funny when we get to TampaBay or the New York Giants. After that, I’ll give a brief explanation on why I put them there, and either me defending why I thought they would be good or me making fun of myself as I pull quotes from my late August column. Let’s get to it.

1. Denver Broncos (+2)

Through four weeks, Peyton Manning and the Broncos were the talk of the town with the most prolific offensive start in the history of the NFL. Armed with so many weapons, Manning looked unstoppable as he was dinking and dunking his way to the record books. The Broncos looked solid on defense even if they were doing it without the second-best defensive player in football, Von Miller, and their best cornerback, Champ Bailey. Well, a loss to the Indianapolis Colts and slow starts against the Washington Racial Slurs (in the first half) and Dallas Cowboys stopped their incredible progress and may have shown a blueprint on how to beat them, by targeting their weak offensive line and playing physical, hard-nosed defense. Using that strategy come December and January, and add in Peyton’s terrible cold temperature record in the playoffs (0-4 in games under 40 degrees), this team will roll through the regular season but might be more exposed than people expect come playoff time.

2. Seattle Seahawks (-1)

This team is probably best fit to beat the Broncos in the postseason (or Super Bowl, considering conference), and not just because it’s ranked second. The Seahawks have the punishing defense whose best asset is their secondary and a coolheaded quarterback who knows the best way to beat Denver is to not let them on the field. This team will always be in the top three, just because they are amazingly well balanced. Great defense, and good distribution of when to throw and when to hand it off to feature back Marshawn Lynch.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (+13)

We have our first double-digit jump! The Chiefs were the sexy pick in preseason to bounce back from a morbid 2-14 season last year, but no one could have predicted an 8-0 start. This team is your best bet to beat Denver in the AFC playoffs, only because it’s a slightly lesser version of the Seahawks. Kansas City’s defense is playing just as well as Seattle’s if not better, but the fall off is on the offensive side of the ball. Say what you want about Andy Reid’s game management (if you give me some time, I can say a lot) but this season he has remained relatively mistake free. Whether that is a fluke, it is nonetheless encouraging. Alex Smith is another great game manager, but just a step below Russell Wilson. He has conference championship experience, and can utilize weapons to overcome his shortcomings. The Chiefs defense, combined with the slow and plodding offense but sudden playmaking ability of Jamaal Charles, presents an underrated challenge to the Broncos.

4. Indianapolis Colts (+14)

The Colts made an even bigger jump than the Chiefs. I wrote about them last week, and how Andrew Luck is a one man regression fighter. In my preseason preview, I said the numbers pointed to the Colts overachieving last season and were bound to come down to earth, but this team is still very good because of who is under center. Well, I was half right. Surely, I didn’t expect them to beat the San Francisco 49ers, Broncos and Seahawks, all of which are incredible wins. One win is a fluke, two you might get lucky, but three wins against three teams in the (spoiler alert) top seven? That demands attention, and respect.

5. New Orleans Saints (+8)

With my initial ranks, the knock against the Saints was never against Drew Brees and his jolly band of bit piece scorers (besides Jimmy Graham) because Marques Colston is taking a fall vacation. I didn’t underestimate the return of Sean Payton either, who now has cemented himself as a top-three coach in the NFL with the dramatic turnaround from last season. Nope, I was dubious of how improved this defense could be under an obese homeless man Rob Ryan. Ryan, compensating for a (still) subpar defense by relentlessly blitzing (without “additional” instructions) has turned the Saints into an overall respectable force for which to be reckoned.

6. San Francisco 49ers (-4)

Through eight weeks, yes, the Saints are better than the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick looks lost without his wingman Michael Crabtree, and Anquan Boldin has not only come back to Earth, but may have tunneled half a mile underground after his hot start in the beginning of the season. Kaepernick is still a good quarterback, although he has been getting a lot of flak for his play, some of it undeserving. The defense has absorbed its fair share of losses, but nothing more significant than any other team. This team can still and will do damage come playoff time, and probably from the wild card spot which presents an interesting dynamic in the NFC playoff picture.

7. Green Bay Packers (-2)

This team moved back two spots just by the detriment of the Chiefs and Colts surprising me. Textbook Aaron Rodgers being Aaron Rodgers, lose your primary tight end (Jermichael Finley) and your main offensive weapon (Randall Cobb), your go to man in offseason (Greg Jennings) and your offense doesn’t miss a beat. The Packers will keep finding random wide receivers to fill in for them until they call me to suit up and I put up a 1,000 yard season. Their defense is average at best, but only needs to do enough to keep it close for Rodgers.

8. Detroit Lions (+14)

Another double-digit jump and we are still in the top 10. I said before the season this team doesn’t jump in my rankings “unless they smarten up on defense” and last time I checked Ndamukong Suh did not try to stomp on anyone’s private parts this season and their head coach hasn’t tried to fight another head coach yet in 2013. Their wins aren’t terribly impressive, but their defense does enough for them to win, which was my primary concern with them (Suh jokes aside).

9. Cincinnati Bengals (+1)

I was particularly high on the Bengals coming in. I still like them, but not as much as I did. They probably would’ve been bumped out of my top 10 (for whatever that’s worth) before Week 8, but then Andy Dalton threw five TD passes and I noticed he has actually strung together a nice set of games recently. If he can sustain his success and build on it, this is probably the fourth-best team coming out of the AFC if you factor in their stingy defense (although losing cornerback Leon Hall hurts).

10. New England Patriots (-4)

The Patriots fall from grace could be easy to blame on the injuries they’ve suffered; namely Jerrod Mayo, Aqib Talib (game to game), Vince Wilfork, Sebastian Vollmer, Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen and Rob Gronkowski. But it started earlier than that, when New England’s calculated risk of letting Wes Welker go ultimately backfired when they surrounded the visibly aging Tom Brady with subpar weapons to work with on offense. Even through eight weeks, this could already be chalked up to a lost season considering their significant losses and Brady’s surprising impotency under center.

11. Baltimore Ravens (-4)

Is it just me, or is this the first Super Bowl champion in the new era of technology to fly under the radar? I feel like I still can’t get a read on this team, nor do I care. Ray Rice got hit with the Shaun Alexander bug, rendering him pretty unthreatening and looking older than his age. His and Flacco’s contracts have hamstrung this team’s cap space, even if they have solid defensive players sprouting up like weeds to plug holes in their defense.

12. Dallas Cowboys (+6)

How ‘bout them Cowboys? I am at the point of feeling bad for them, and in particular Tony Romo. I will not defend Romo here, but the man just can not win. The Cowboys will always be a dangerous team, but I’ve been saying their poor mismanagement of their roster will always drag them down. Luckily, a recent article by Bill Barnwell can explain that much better than I can if you want the real breakdown.

13. Carolina Panthers (+9)

Last year, the Panthers probably lost two or three games due to their incompetent head coach Ron Rivera. Terrible in-game management and failure to pounce on calculated but aggressive decisions, it seemed like this team was already doomed from the start for its 2013 campaign. But Rivera opened his eyes and realized he had the best short yardage back (Cam Newton), despite their very pricey backfield. If the Panthers can add a legit receiving threat and get a worthy starter for their defense, this team has the potential to be dangerous next year.

14. San Diego Chargers (+14)

Boy, what a difference an offensive line does for a quarterback. Philip Rivers is looking good, Ryan Mathews hasn’t exploded into a million little glass pieces and the Chargers might look better than their 4-3 record suggests. They fell apart against Houston, lost to Oakland with that funky 11:30 p.m. Sunday night start time and lost another close game to Tennessee. They are a dark horse to grab a wild card spot.

15. Miami Dolphins (+6)

In the preview, I said both the offense and defense didn’t really improve, but moved more sideways despite them bringing in some well-known names. Although Mike Wallace has yet to answer the call, the Dolphins have been plodding along due to their stingy defense. They have lost four in a row, but wins and losses do not tell the whole story.

16. Tennessee Titans (+10)

I was surprised by the Titans success so far this season. Their last three games before their bye were especially tough; they faced KC, Seattle and San Francisco and managed to keep the first two close contests. That’s pretty much all you can hope for from a middling team.

17. Chicago Bears (-8)

Much like New England, this drop is due more to injuries than anything else. Losing Jay Cutler is obviously huge, but losses to the defensive line and Lance Briggs can not be overlooked, either. If Cutler can return in a timely fashion, this team is poised to make a late season run if the NFC North is still available for the taking, or at worst a wild card spot.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (+6)

I think we know by now that Chip Kelly’s offense is legit. I wrote earlier in the season that the key to their offense is Mike Vick’s health, and right now that situation looks pretty grim. This team is bound to drop in the rankings by the end of the season, just because they are forced to put Matt Barkley and Nick Foles under center. But if Kelly gets a quarterback he wants in this year’s draft that can effectively run his offense, watch out for the Eagles next year.

19. Washington Racial Slurs (-8)

I think it is safe to say that Robert Griffin came back too early. He looks uncomfortable in the pocket, and continually overthrows his receivers. His porous defense lends him no favors, either. Still, we were saying the same thing about the Slurs last season, before they put together a great second-half run to make the playoffs. I am not saying it is out of the realm of possibility, but their remaining games alternate from easy opponents to hard/division opponents. However the NFC East is still somehow open to anyone who wants to take it.

20. New York Jets (+10)

How about Jekyll & Hyde Geno Smith, eh? Some weeks he looks like their new franchise quarterback, and other weeks he looks like a stopgap between trying to find the new franchise quarterback. For the short term however, the Jets are riding or dying with Smith. Luckily, the pressure on him isn’t too intense, Rex Ryan has yet again worked his magic to make the defense a top-five unit in the league. Now only if they can get offensive weapons with which to surround their quarterback.

21. Atlanta Falcons (-17)

Ouch, I definitely did not see this drop coming. Do not let the Julio Jones injury fool you, this team was in rough shape before the devastating injury. Granted, Roddy White and Steven Jackson were hobbled, but given Matt Ryan’s new contract and all the zeroes next to it; you kind of expect him to overcome those types of things. But when Jones went down, their defense giving up 26.3 points per game was just too much for Ryan to overcome. This team is in trouble for years to come.

22. Buffalo (+7)

This team is my darkhorse poised to make a second season run. They have an underrated front seven, and if they don’t end up trading Jarius Byrd, combined with Stephon Gilmore they could possibly make this unit top-five in the league. When EJ Manuel comes back, he will be in the same boat as the aforementioned Geno Smith. He will not be called upon to do much, and even less than Smith because of the weapons around him. Combined with a somewhat soft remaining schedule, consider me in on the Bills to climb to a 7-9 or 8-8 record.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)

Although injuries are nothing to make light of, I remarked after the Steelers lost Maurkice Pouncey that Pittsburgh was ahead of schedule on losing one critical offensive lineman in the beginning of the season. That being said, this line continually lets Ben Roethlisberger get pummeled. Their defense is rapidly aging at all the wrong places, and it looks like the Steel Curtain is starting to draw to a close on an era.

24. Arizona Cardinals (+1)

The Cardinals continue to frustrate me as they fail to get a quarterback to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball in his prime. No, Carson Palmer does not count. However, even if this team had a competent quarterback, two things would stand in their way of success: their miserable offensive line (half by design, half by injuries) and their tough division. Regardless, they have an opportunity to make a significant move in this year’s draft to snag a good quarterback because their defense is top notch and can pay a lot of attention to the other side of the ball.

25. Cleveland Browns (+2)

Oh, Brandon Weeden. Oh, Cleveland. If Cleveland is fully committed to this draft (the trade of Trent Richardson seems to indicate so) then they should us all a favor and just tank in front of our eyes by putting in Weeden. The Browns, like the Cardinals, can focus on their problems under center because of their solid defense and effective offensive weapons (Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon).

26. Houston Texans (-18)

Oh sweet Lord. Matt Schaub is not having a good year, to say the least. Although I stand by this assessment pre-meltdown, this still looks pretty bad: “Matt Schaub is an above average QB. I’m not sure he can win you a Super Bowl, but he can certainly lead this team to 11-12 wins in a weak AFC South.” Well then. I don’t think the worst case for the Texans could have envisioned Schaub combusting this badly, but that is what happened and now the Texans are an astounding 18 points back from where they started in the beginning of the season of my rankings.

27. New York Giants (-13)

I love to pile on Eli Manning as much as the next guy, but his offensive line has resembled turnstiles, and some of his interceptions have been passes that went through his receivers’ hands. Nevertheless, this team is in a bad place on top of the bad quarterback play. David Wilson has taken a, um, step back and their defense is still pretty bad. Luckily, they play in the NFC East and are still in the playoff race.

28. St. Louis Cardinals (-8)

Admittedly hung with the Seahawks in the past iteration of Monday Night Football, but the long term injury impact of Sam Bradford hurts, even if he has supplanted himself in the “disappointment” category of first-round picks. Their defense isn’t half bad, but the lack of impact from Tavon Austin and their trio of wholly ineffective running backs does not bode well for the future.

29. Oakland Raiders (+3)

Hey how about Terrelle Pryor? He and Geno Smith are the new poor versions of Mike Vick. You ride with the highs and deal with the lows. If Darren McFadden can keep producing and their defense plays at a league-average level, if Pryor is on his game this team can sneak games out against lesser opponents. Still showing some spunk this season while GM Reggie McKenzie plans and builds towards the future is always encouraging.

30. Minnesota Vikings (-13)

Christian Ponder? Nah. Matt Cassell? Nope. Josh Freeman? Not a chance. Poor Adrian Peterson. Much like the situation our friend Larry Fitzgerald, AD is wasting away his prime against nine and sometimes 10 in the box but the Vikes still somehow find a way to eke out victories. The signing of Greg Jennings and drafting of Cordarrelle Patterson were nice, but how good do you expect them to be if no one can get them the ball?

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

“I love this team. Couple reasons: Josh Freeman is in a contract year, and I think he has some serious potential.” I am here for your entertainment, people. This description should stop and end at “Greg Schiano” but I will just add in that their MRSA outbreak, the fact you have the best cover corner in the league in zone coverage and Doug Martin’s disappointing season before it got cut short by his injury don’t help.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

This team is No. 32 by default, even though it doesn’t even deserve to be ranked. I will spare you all the hilarious stats, like the Denver Broncos two highest scoring games this season have more points than the Jaguars have all season. At this point of the dreadful Blaine Gabbert experiment, even if Jadaveon Clowney is a once in a decade talent, do the Jaguars take Teddy Bridgewater (or ‘best quarterback X’)? Believe it or not, I think they should.

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Mike Devarenne
Guest Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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What should we make of the Philadelphia Eagles offense?

chip-kelly-2013-9593abc82eb2c8d8If you didn’t watch the Philadelphia Eagles versus the Washington Offensive Slurs on Monday Night Football, you definitely missed out. ESPN was relentless with its pimping of the return of RGIII, but what stole the show was Chip Kelly and Philadelphia’s supercharged offense. The plays were explosive, the formations were wacky, and I loved every minute of it. At the end of the half, the Eagles were up 26-7. Those seven  points were lucky for the Slurs, as Mike Vick threw a backwards pass inside the 10 that was returned for a touchdown. So really, it could have been 33-0. That point aside, the question begs: is this the offense of the future? Well technically, Bill Belichick already implemented it last year at times for New England, but now that the mastermind Kelly jumped to the NFL, it’s the creator himself putting it to use on the biggest stage. His offense ushers in a new era of how we think of the offense, but I don’t think the Eagles can sustain their success they had in their first game. Here’s why:

Did you notice how I only talked about the first half? Once the Eagles got out to such a comfortable lead, it would be detrimental to their goal (winning) to keep playing at a breakneck speed. Their plan should be to draw out the clock and give as little time as possible for Washington to mount a comeback. Well, the plan looked good on paper, but the Eagles couldn’t execute a simple based offense. The offense looked confused and Vick did what he usually does when he is bad: holds the ball too long and tries to make plays when they are not there. The loss of Jeremy Maclin was glaring in the second half. Philadelphia has very explosive weapons, but Vick needs a reliable receiver to go to on third down when they are in a pinch. DeSean Jackson is no doubt talented, but his talents start and end with speed and the ability to run a straight line downfield. However, the Eagles offense isn’t totally to blame. Their defense was mostly in prevent mode, which basically equates to a bend but don’t break mentality. They’ll give up the easy underneath stuff to make sure they are not burnt deep, but unfortunately they didn’t prevent much in the way of touchdowns either because the Slurs made it a game in the second half.

yahoo_michaelvicktpsThe second reason why this type of success is not sustainable for Philadelphia is Vick himself. Vick as a quarterback puts a lot on the table – but also takes a lot off of it. Kelly chose the Eagles job because his offense needs a mobile quarterback to implement its read option, and he thought he could mold Vick into the terrifying force he has the potential to be. However, his bad decision making (stretching plays, slinging balls into tight coverage and not sliding or going out of bounds and causing fumbles) and his chronic ability to get injured could cripple the offense before it even gets a chance to lift off. Given Vick’s history, this has more than a good chance of happening.

For number three, every offense introduced in this age is a fad. Look what happened to the famed Wildcat. The Patriots were completely dumbfounded(much like Washington on Monday) when the Miami Dolphins unveiled it for the first time in a regular season contest in 2008. Now the Wildcat is merely an afterthought, unless you’re Brian Schottenheimer and bring in Tim Tebow to run an offense everyone already knew how to defend two years ago. However, I’ll admit the Wildcat was more gimmicky than what Kelly is currently running. In the Wildcat, the play was predicated on a running back or wide receiver taking a direct snap or lining up in a quirky position, which is obviously not realistic for an entire game. The offense Philadelphia is running is based on receiver route trees and the read option between the quarterback and the running back, which we already know is an established wrinkle for offenses around the league. If there is a counterpoint to be had, Vick said after the game that the Eagles only ran 60% of their playbook. You can read into that as much or as little as you want.

1378817270000-USATSI-7426119Opinions aside, let’s dive into some numbers to get some objectiveness into this argument. The Eagles’ closest comparison in terms of the speediness of their offense would actually be last year’s New England Patriots. Obviously Philadelphia’s one game is about as small of a sample size as you can get, and in the grand scheme of things the 16 games that New England played last year is also a small sample size. Regardless, let’s compare the two. First off, the Patriots were first in plays per game (74) and yards per game (427.9) in 2012. Those are the only two stats I focused on because that is what everyone was talking about after the game. Against Washington, the Eagles ran 77 plays and gained 443 yards, which are better marks than New England’s average. However, some Patriots observers (admittedly, me) would say they didn’t break out their speed offense against every opponent. Taking this into account, New England ran their most amount of plays against four teams: Denver, Seattle, Miami and San Francisco. In those games, the Patriots ran an average of 85 plays for 416 yards, beating Philadelphia’s play total but not surpassing their yardage. But looking at those teams, we can deduce a couple things. For one, three out of four of those teams were elite teams last year, finishing with a winning percentage of .740 (which roughly equates to a 12-4 record). The Patriots went 1-2 in these contests, albeit losing only by a combined eight points. Also, of those previously mentioned three teams, two have elite defenses (San Francisco and Seattle) and one had an above-average defense (Denver) so obviously the Patriots realized the best way to beat these teams was to keep them on their heels. The logic is there, but the execution wasn’t.
After that onslaught of numbers, let’s recap everything that was brought up. Do I think the Eagles’ offense is sustainable? Not at the level they performed at on Monday Night Football, but I think their offense is more than just a gimmick. I also think Philadelphia can’t be as nitpicky about when to turn up its offense like the Patriots. New England’s defense wasn’t spectacular last year, but it also forced the second-most turnovers which in turn let the offense dictate the pace of play. The Eagles don’t have that luxury because their defense is horrible, so they need to score as much as possible to take the pressure off their defense. I believe in this offense, but not in the health of Vick. If Vick can stay healthy, this team has more than a respectable shot to make the playoffs, given how wide open the NFC East is. All that being said, the Kelly offense is legitimate and here to stay.

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Michael Devarenne
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NFL Power Rankings: The Race for the Lombardi

NFL-Power-Rankings

Well, the NFL season is almost upon us. In 2013, you would have to try really hard to avoid any type of coverage on upcoming season. This season looks to be a doozy (as always) with a bunch of storylines that are both extremely interesting and extremely annoying because it has been replayed over and over again (the Robert Griffin saga and the New York Jets sitcom).  Before I present to you my nfl power rankings, I should mention that the entire team’s preseason play had no effect on their placement. However, I do pay attention to individual performance and think that is something tangible that carries over to the regular season. So without further ado, here we go:

Seattle-Seahawks-Wallpaper1. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks claim the metaphorical throne of the inaugural 2013 NFL Power Rankings. They may have lost Percy Harvin before he actually got to see real action on the field for them, but almost all of the teams in the top 5 have suffered significant injuries/suspensions before the season even started. Speaking of suspensions, let’s hope the Seahawks stingy defense stays away from the deer antler spray and other performance enhancers. Just blame it on the Adderall, though. That little tangent aside, Russell Wilson should look to improve in his second season at quarterback, even if he might not put up as good of numbers he did in his rookie campaign. This team is solid all the way through.

49ers-Logo-Red2. San Francisco 49ers

What a competitive division. I gave the Seahawks the slight edge because I think their defense is a little bit better well rounded. San Fran lost their safety Dashon Goldson to free agency and cornerback Chris Culliver to injury, depleting their secondary. Additionally, the 49ers are in a similar predicament with their star wideout, Michael Crabtree, who is also out for an extended period of time. I am expecting Colin Kaepernick to develop into a better, more complete quarterback just like Wilson. Don’t get me wrong, the 49ers are an awesome team despite me picking nits with their secondary. On paper Seattle might be the better team, but if these two teams come face to face in the playoffs, it will be a toss up.

download (2)3. Denver Broncos

I thought the Broncos were overrated last season. After having the toughest first five games in the league, they had a ridiculous cupcake-y schedule the rest of the way through. But this is 2013, and I think Denver is going to be really good. No matter how much Wes Welker has left in the tank, that signing was great. Their running game should be better also, because I think Manning knows the ideal times to rush with his amazing ability to read defenses and adapt. If he can make Knowshon Moreno look good, I’m pretty sure Montee Ball/Ronnie Hillman will be fine. The big problem I have with them is their defense. Even if Champ Bailey continues to defy Mother Nature’s aging process, losing the NFL’s second best defender (Von Miller) for six games is a glaring hole; not to mention the whole Elvis Dumervil contract disaster. Even though I like the Kansas City Chiefs as a bounce back team this year, the Broncos have a very easy road to another division title and possible first round bye.

Atlanta-Falcons-Fantasy-Football-Podcast4. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons just re-signed quarterback Matt Ryan, who is in the prime of his career. Needless to say, their window to win is now. The knock on Atlanta is that they can’t win the big game, which they somewhat proved wrong last year but not completely. People tend to forget San Francisco got just a couple more breaks to go their way to make it to the Super Bowl. Everyone knows how potent and capable this offense is, so I won’t go into that with much detail though I will say I liked the Steven Jackson signing. The offense will have to lead this team to the big game, because the defense certainly will not. They took a step back this year; losing their best pass rusher (John Abraham) and losing a serviceable corner (Dunta Robinson) which depletes their already suspect secondary. Asante Samuel is nice, but he can barely tackle a scarecrow. This team is almost a 100% guaranteed playoff lock, but it will be up to Matt Ryan to see how far they go once they get there.

download (3)5. Green Bay Packers

Notice a trend? The NFC is stacked. The conference has three out of the four most promising young quarterbacks in the game, and they also boast the best one in the league. Aaron Rodgers should look to have another MVP caliber season. Everyone knows Randall Cobb is the new breakout star, softening the blow of losing Greg Jennings to the division rival Minnesota Vikings. They also drafted running back Eddie Lacy, who unfortunately slimmed down after training camp and limited my ability to draw comparisons with my ‘Eddy Curry is overweight’ jokes. No matter, now that they have some semblance of a running game, this offense should be better than their 2012 version. Another NFC trend: great offense, mediocre defense. Of the four teams in the top five, the Packers have it the worst. Who knows if they’ll be able to stop the vaunted read option after sending all their personnel to Texas A&M to be better acquainted with that type of offense. We’ll see if they improve, but this defense doesn’t impress me.

New_England_Patriots6. New England Patriots

Full disclosure: I’m a huge Pats fan. But it should be known that I was trying to decide rankings it was basically a coin flip between them and the Baltimore Ravens, until I realized this was the regular season power rankings. The Ravens always seem to have the Patriots’ number, but I think New England is ultimately the better team. Everyone loves to talk about their offense, so you probably already know the details about it. My two cents: people are overreacting to letting Welker walk, and New England’s offense will adapt as they always do. Their rookie wide receivers will hit a few speed bumps as expected, but with Tom Brady under center they will be just fine. To their defense, real quick: I think they will be better than people expect. The lynchpin of this is Alfonzo Dennard, however. If he misses time due to violating his probation, it moves Devin McCourty to 2nd corner (he’s much better as a safety) and forcing either incompetent Tavon Wilson or unproven rookie Duron Harmon to safety.

download (4)7. Baltimore Ravens

At first glance, you think their defense has taken a big step back. Granted, they let Darnell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger go and the loss of their two defensive leaders Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are obviously huge. But they still have Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata and lost amidst their Super Bowl run was the massive blow of losing Ladarius Webb early in their season. Additionally, the Ravens are known for having bench and situational players step up big when they’re promoted to full time. Know how I know that? Because Kruger and Ellerbe just got a ridiculous amount of money to play for the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, respectively. For their offense, people are overreacting to the loss of Anquan Boldin. Not taking away from his fantastic postseason, but his regular season was remarkably average. The loss of Dennis Pitta is huge because he was Joe Flacco’s security blanket, but the offense as a whole should be fine assuming there are no significant injuries.

download (5)8. Houston Texans

Again, this is regular season rankings. I like the Texans, but they aren’t going far if Gary Kubiak doesn’t stop being stubborn about sticking to his offensive gameplan regardless of how the game is going. That aside, Houston drafted DeAndre Hopkins who should look to finally compliment All-Pro Andre Johnson lined up across from him. Owen Daniels is a good tight end and Arian Foster is Arian Foster. Matt Schaub is an above average QB. I’m not sure he can win you a Super Bowl, but he can certainly lead this team to 11-12 wins in a weak AFC South. Their defense is still above average, even though they lost Glover Quin. Ed Reed is obviously a big name but it is unknown how much he has left in the tank. JJ Watt will still continue to wreak havoc, which will always make this team dangerous on the defensive end.

download (6)9. Chicago Bears

I like the Bears a lot this year and will be a very strong wild card team (same division as Packers). I think Jay Cutler is primed for a big year this year for a couple reasons. One is that he’s in a contract year, but also he has a new offensive coordinator (and head coach). I’m assuming that means Brandon Marshall won’t be targeted 194 times, which is absurd. Everyone knows how good Chicago’s defense is, even if less intelligent people are convinced they won’t be the same without Brian Urlacher. He was a shell of his former self the last couple years, so it’s not that big of a loss. The biggest question mark of this team is if their offensive line can improve to even be a league-average line.

download (7)10. Cincinnati Bengals

Yep, the Bengals! Did you know they had the 8th best scoring defense last year? You already know they have Geno Atkins (who is threatening to be overrated because of how many people love to call him underrated) but they also have a solid secondary and an underrated linebacker core. However, Andy Dalton needs to step up in a massive way. This organization surrounded him with enough weapons to make it out of the first round of the playoffs at least, and if can’t show he has what it takes, this team isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The-Washington-Redskins-Whats-In-A-Name11. Washington Redskins

By the time I started writing this, Robert Griffin III is confirmed a go for Week 1. Obviously he is the entire key to this team, so let’s move on. Alfred Morris is a great story, but he is definitely a product of Mike Shanahan’s running scheme. Regardless, that is incredible value at the 6th round. Their defense is average, but they virtually played the entire season with elite pass rusher Brian Orakpo. Paired along side Ryan Kerrigan, this pass rush is one of the best in the league.

Tampa_Bay_Buccaneers12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I love this team. Couple reasons: Josh Freeman is in a contract year, and I think he has some serious potential. An overlooked storyline last year was that Tampa Bay lost their two best lineman early in the season, making Doug Martin’s already impressive rookie year last year even more legitimate. A certainly well discussed storyline was their acquisition of Darrelle Revis, a trade I would make 100 times out of 100. Also they signed Dashon Goldson, albeit at a pretty high clip but give them credit for fixing the weakest spot on their team.

download (9)13. New Orleans Saints

Man, another stacked conference in the NFC. Sean Payton is going to make a huge difference to this team and Drew Brees and all his awesomeness doesn’t need to be rehashed here. This defense is pretty miserable, but I am also pretty confident that their offense will be able to cover for their mistakes and missteps.

 

new_york_giants_wallpaper_by_pasar3-d2xuv6014. New York Giants

The reason this team isn’t higher is because they are not a good a regular season team, historically. Eli Manning will be his normal, hot & cold self. This defense, who has an above average defense line and secondary, also has an atrocious linebacker core that could end up being their Achilles heel.

 

download (8)15. Indianapolis Colts

This team is a popular pick for a regression season, for good reason. They exceeded their Pythagorean expectation by 3.8 wins (you can read more about that here) and should fall into the 8-8, maybe 9-7 category. Pushing stats aside though, this team does have a fight in them, winning numerous close games last year because Andrew Luck is the real deal. Despite the evidence pointing towards a regression, they certainly didn’t help their case by making questionable free agent signings (Erik Walden and the marshmellow man LaRon Landry)

images16. Kansas City Chiefs

Alas, we are halfway through the rankings. Are you surprised by my pick of the Chiefs? Don’t be, I think this team is legit. Everyone points to the Andy Reid signing as a big event, which it is, but I think this is a secondary point. The upgrade from the Matt Cassel/Brady Quinn debacle to slightly above average Alex Smith could be potentially huge (as Bill Barnwell explains). Besides, he has Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. The defense is really good also, their 2-13 record was more of a product of their quarterback play, or lackthereof.

17. Minnesota Vikings minnesota-vikings

The Vikings season hinges on Christian Ponder. He’s a tough read as a signal caller, considering Minnesota handedly beat Green Bay last year as Ponder scored all their touchdowns that game. And then there’s the other Ponder that we are typically used to. He doesn’t have Percy Harvin this year, who was an early MVP candidate before he got hurt. Adrian Peterson is great, but there is almost no way he replicates his year from last year. For the defense, long time cornerback Antoine Winfield isn’t there anymore, and their linebacking core is spotty. We’ll see if they hold up.

download18. Dallas Cowboys

Ah yes, the Cowboys. What a miserably run franchise. Anywho, let’s push their playoff drought out of our minds for a second and focus on the regular season. Although the new 100 million man Tony Romo led the league in interceptions last year, he also led the league in comebacks in 4th quarter with five. Jason Witten is still his same old All-Pro self, and Dez Bryant is emerging as a legitimate top 5 wideout. Their defense is another story, though. Sean Lee is back, who is an underrated linebacker. DeMarcus Ware is also a premier pass rusher, but that’s where the praise stops. The rest of this defense is bloated with bad contracts and replacement level players at critical positions. I think America’s Team misses the playoffs again this year though.

Pittsburgh-Steelers-Emblem19. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are one or two seasons away from being a full blown mess. We saw last year how abysmal they can be without Ben Roethlisberger, and even if I believe that Mike Wallace is badly overrated his loss is still big. As of right now, Heath Miller is on the PUP list also; a favorite target of Big Ben’s in the redzone. Can Emmanuel Sanders be a number one receiver? I don’t think so, but Steelers fans should certainly hope so. Even worse than their offense is their rapidly aging defense. Troy Polamalu is a shell of his former self and their once feared linebacker group is also showing its age. Bad times this year, but even worse years in the future for the Steel Curtain.

St_Louis_Rams20. St. Louis Rams

I like the Rams, but they are stuck in a very good division. Tavon Austin is as safe of a bet as you can get for a rookie playmaker, but we know what we’re getting with Sam Bradford: a slightly above average quarterback. Their running game has the chance to be good or be really bad with two young guns platooning.

 

Miami-Dolphins21. Miami Dolphins

Miami went on a big spending spree this offseason, paying big bucks to the previously mentioned Wallace and Ellerbe. Interesting decisions to say the least, because they let Reggie Bush walk to free agency and he was big for them last year. Their defense is better than people give them credit for; Cameron Wake is a beast but they did lose Sean Smith, a pretty reliable cornerback.

DetroitLions22. Detroit Lions

The Lions were absolutely putrid last year for all the talent they have. Obviously we all know about Charles Rogers Roy Williams Mike Williams Calvin Johnson, but they also finally got a running back (Bush) to help out Matt Stafford. Their defensive line is awesome but the rest of their defense is pretty bleak. This team doesn’t move up in the rankings until they smarten up and stop taking dumb unsportsmanlike conduct penalities.

Carolina_Panthers23. Carolina Panthers

This is a tricky team. As always, their success or lack thereof depends on their quarterback, Cam Newton. The talent is there, but the intangibles are not. He’s not a leader on the field, and that inevitably grounds the Panthers from being successful. On top of that, this team is bloated with bad contracts and that hinders them from being more successful. Like Newton, you can see the potential in this team but it isn’t going to come to fruition this year.

download (1)24. Philadelphia Eagles

Oh boy. I don’t necessarily hate the Eagles, but I know a lot of people like to make a hobby out of it. I will admit though they deserve everything they got last year, after that bonehead Vince Young painted a target on his team’s back with the “dynasty talk”. The nightmare of Nnamdi Asomugha is over, but their defense is still awful. Worse yet, that’s not even their Achilles heel. That would be their offensive line; and if it’s not improved this team is going absolutely nowhere. Chip Kelly is probably a good offensive coach, but if the line can’t block it doesn’t matter what offense he has the Eagles run.

arizona-cardinals125. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals’ record this year will not reflect the talent of this team because the division they are in is so good. But much like the Chiefs, the fact that even a competent quarterback is under center instead of the train wreck of last year is a big jump. However, the Chiefs have a great offensive line while the Cardinals are the complete opposite. Arizona’s defense is top notch, and will keep them in a lot of games and not force Carson Palmer to play above his talent level.

Tennessee_Titans26. Tennessee Titans

As we get to the bottom feeders of the NFL, you start to see a pattern. Much like the Panthers, this team has some bad contracts. Chris Johnson is a good running back, but I can assure you he’s not worth $13 million a year. The Shonn Greene signing was just an atrocious decision, excuse me because I just threw up my lunch thinking about it. I like Jake Locker as a QB, but he’ll never be anything more than a league average signal caller.

Cleveland_Browns_PHelmet27. Cleveland Browns

Surprisingly, Brandon Weeden had a pretty good end of the year last year. I’m not trying to vouch for him, because anytime you can draft a 29 year old quarterback in the first round you have to pull the trigger (kidding). Regardless, they’re under new management and are off to a solid start. They admittedly overpaid for Paul Kruger; but when you are the Browns you don’t have much say in free agents to start rebuilding with.

SanDiegoChargers28. San Diego Chargers

Alright, last five. Philip Rivers fell off the map fast, and the team did as well. Ryan Mathews is a walking porcelain doll, and despite some well known names, the wide receivers produced terribly last year. Their defense is entirely forgettable save for Eric Weddle who is criminally underrated. Thank me later for sparing you a Manti Te’o joke.

 

Buffalo_Bills29. Buffalo Bills

Not much to say here. Their pick of EJ Manuel was curious, but it wasn’t as preposterous as people made it out to be. CJ Spiller is a nice player, but I am dubious of him replicating his great year last year. Their defense has some bright spots (Mario Williams and Jairus Byrd) but as a whole the unit is below average.

 

NewYorkJets30. New York Jets

I hope everyone is as sick of the Jets as I am, so let’s power through this. The Jets are straight up awful. A once respectable defense has lost their top cornerback, and they resigned above average players to salaries that paid them like stars. Now they’re old and slow and overpaid with no end in sight. Obviously it gets worse, because their offense is almost impossible to watch. Everyone loves to bash Mark Sanchez; but seriously can New York throw him a bone and get him some weapons to work with? They’re under the impression that Santonio Holmes is actually good, and Dustin Keller (Sanchez’s security blanket) is gone. This is going to be another miserable season for them.

Jacksonville_Jaguars31. Jacksonville Jaguars

This is Blaine Gabbert’s year. If he’s successful, then it will be his job for the future. If he plays like, well, Blaine Gabbert, then we’ll probably be seeing Teddy Bridgewater suit up for the Jags next season. Besides that little storyline, I can’t think of one other topic involved with this team that warrants a mention.

 

oakland-raiders32. Oakland Raiders

Jadeveon Clowney, step right up! God, where to start? By all accounts Matt Flynn should be charged for robbery because his 480 yards 6 TD passes on the Packers was the biggest fluke of the century. So Terrelle Pryor step right up as the Raiders QB? Sorry you are being subjected to this. All joking aside, GM Reggie McKenzie is doing the best he can, by signing cheap veteran players and rebuilding through the draft which is the right way to do it. This team is going to be bad for a while, but if McKenzie can push all the right buttons, relevance could be in the future for Raider Black.

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So that concludes the 2013 NFL Power Rankings. There was some praise for the top organizations, but definitely more uncalled for jokes about teams. The NFL is the definition of parity so after a couple weeks there could be some major moves either up or down on this list. Anyways, let’s hope this upcoming season is one to remember and thanks for reading.

 

 

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Week 15 NFL Power Rankings: Is Anyone Really Good Besides New England?

Can anyone stop Tom Brady?!

Can anyone stop Tom Brady?!

Who doesn’t like end of the season power rankings? Everyone wants to know who is the top dog right now and how would you rank the teams after 14 games of the season. Heres how General Peppers of The Cover 4 ranks them:

1. New England Patriots

And it isn’t even close. After a slow start, including a loss at home to the NFL Record Holding Worst Blowout Ever Arizona Cardinals, the New England Patriots have distanced themselves from the rest of the NFL. They’ve beaten the other best teams in the AFC, The Broncos and Texans, by an average of nearly 20 points. They’ve dropped 50+ twice. They lead the league in both yards and points, and this with both of their elite tight ends missing extensive time on the field. They can run the ball efficiently, beat you deep, short, over the middle, in the red zone. This offense has no weaknesses and is lead by quite possibly the greatest quarterback of all time. What makes them scary is that their defense is finally clicking on all cylinders. Their first round picks, Dante Hightower and Chandler Jones, have given the Patriots their most athletic defense in nearly a decade. Fun stat: Did you know the Patriots are 21-0 over the past 2 and a half years in the second half of the season. Belichick’s ability to improve a team is legendary.

2. New York Giants

Colin Cowherd said it best, “I Trust the Giants.” It’s the greatest compliment one can give a football team. I know they’re gonna lose ugly games to bad teams. I also know they’ll probably lose to the Falcons on the road this week. But with everything on the line, do you think the Falcons are within 10 points of the Giants? Me neither.

3. Denver Broncos

Fact: This is the best defense Peyton Manning has ever had.
Opinion: Demaryius Thomas ight be the most athletically gifted player Peyton Manning has ever had on offense.
Fact: The Denver Broncos have beaten 2 teams with a winning record.
Fact: Both those teams are 7-6 and in the AFC North.
Fact:The Broncos 3 losses all came against teams leading their divisions
Fact:The Broncos were down by 14+ points in all three games.
Opinion: I have no clue how good the Broncos really are but it’s Peyton Manning and that’s better than 95% of the league.

4. Houston Texans

Two blowout losses to two high powered offenses. The Texans have distinct problems, but a majority of them are chalked up to injuries. The one truth is this: Texans cannot get behind early. They need to be able to run the ball and achieve big plays through play action. No play action and this offense shuts down.

5. San Francisco 49ers

The AFC’s Houston Texans. With a lead this team is nigh unbeatable. But if you are able to beat or stalemate them at the line of scrimmage you can bring this offense to a stand still. Still, elite players at every defensive position and depth at all offensive skill positions.

6. Green Bay Packers

Do not be shocked when the Packers make it to the Super Bowl. This is, without a doubt, the most injured team in the NFL. These players are slowly coming back. Aaron Rodgers will not forget how quickly you buried him.

7. Seattle Seahawks

There are 4 things we know about the Seattle Seahawks:
1. Pete Carroll, despite his flaws, knows how to coach a defense. His teams tackle in space, don’t give up big plays, and are efficient at all 3 levels.
2. The Seahawks have the best secondary in the NFL. Ask New England. Ask Green Bay. They also have a top 5 special teams. This combination has a history of working well.
3. The Seahawks have the best home field advantage in all of sports. In a league where parity rules, the Seahawks, no matter how bad they may be, always win at home. If they get a home game in the playoffs they will win it. Ask the Saints.
4. Russel Wilson has gotten better every week and so has the Seattle Offense. Sidney Rice is recovering from his knee(finally) and Golden Tate has exploded in his third year(the typical break out year for WRs). Lynch looks stronger than ever.

8. Atlanta Falcons

Giants v. Falcons. In Atlanta. 2nd Round of the Playoffs. Atlanta -2. Who here isn’t taking New York on the Money Line? Exactly. This is the worst best team I’ve ever seen. They are average to below average in all facets excluding throwing the ball, and even that has slipped recently. They’re gonna win this weekend and I won’t move them an inch.

9. Baltimore Ravens

There isn’t more talent on any team in the NFL outside of New England. For the Ravens it’s about putting it together. Oh yeah, and Flacco not throwing up ducks in the playoffs. Good luck with that.

10. Indianapolis Colts

If I have to hear one more person talk about how RGIII has thrown fewer picks than Andrew Luck I’m going to start breaking things again. Andrew Luck has been given the entire playbook. No babysitting, no holding back. They didn’t craft a college offense around him and ask him to throw bubble screens and safe passes. He’s asked to throw it 50 times a game down the field to rookie receivers and tight ends. He is, without a doubt the greatest rookie I’ve ever seen. Rookie of the Year shouldn’t even be a close vote.

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General Peppers
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Week 14 Predictions! ALL GAMES VERSUS SPREAD!

Can AP lead the Harvin-less Vikings to a victory against Chicago?

Can AP lead the Harvin-less Vikings to a victory against Chicago?

Yes Cover 4 fans you read that title correctly! We will be predicting all games this week against the spread. Not only will we be looking at betting lines but you will get opinions from all of the cover 4 activists!

Why the change? Well, we wanted to switch it up near the end of the season. We know our predictions and analysis are doing us justice but we want to give you, the cover 4 fans, a chance to make a little money and see the diversity behind our staff. Additionally, we have had a number of request to predict games versus the spread. I wasn’t giving in earlier in the year but we will now. Going 12-2 and 13-1 is sometimes just too easy!

All of our spreads are from the Las Vegas Hotel (LVH) and are as of Wednesday, December 5th. All favorites will have the (spread) on their team name. Also, all picks were made individually without conversation prior to choices. Each will include a small analysis by myself (James).

We encourage you to join in on the discussion at the bottom of this post!

Denver Broncos (-10) @ Oakland Raiders
James: Broncos
Jesse: Broncos
Long Island Sound: Broncos
General Peppers: Broncos
Analysis: I hate large spreads in divisional match ups but the Broncos are clicking.

St. Louis Rams @ Buffalo Bills (-3)
James: Rams
Jesse: Rams
Long Island Sound: Bills
General Peppers: Bills
Analysis: I really like the Rams defense despite being away. Better defense getting points? Sign me up.

Dallas Cowboys @ Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
James: Bengals
Jesse: Cowboys
Long Island Sound: Cowboys
General Peppers: Cowboys
Analysis: This game can go either way but the Cowboys don’t show up for non-division games; however, they need this W to stay in playoff contention.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns (-6.5)
James: Chiefs
Jesse: Chiefs
Long Island Sound: Chiefs
General Peppers: Chiefs
Analysis: The Browns are almost a touchdown favorite?! When was the last time that happened? Emotional Chiefs cover this one.

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts (-5)
James: Colts
Jesse: Colts
Long Island Sound: Colts
General Peppers: Colts
Analysis: Luck is just too much to handle right now.

Chicago Bears (-3) @ Minnesota Vikings
James: Bears
Jesse: Bears
Long Island Sound:: Bears
General Peppers: Bears
Analysis: Ponder gives the Bears points.

San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers NO LINE (-7½)
James: Steelers
Jesse: Steelers Chargers
Long Island Sound: Steelers
General Peppers: Steelers
Analysis: No line on this one with quarterback issues. We will take Pit tho!
UPDATE: With Big Ben expected to start in this match-up, Jesse has decided to take the TD & hook and jump on the [not so] Super Chargers to cover.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5)
James: Buccaneers
Jesse: Buccaneers
Long Island Sound: Eagles
General Peppers: Eagles
Analysis: Josh Freeman will take advantage of the Eagles defensive woes.

Baltimore Ravens @ Washington Redskins (-2.5)
James: Ravens
Jesse: Redskins
Long Island Sound: Ravens
General Peppers: Ravens
Analysis: I really like RGIII but I can’t see the Ravens losing two in a row.

Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) @ Carolina Panthers
James: Falcons
Jesse: Falcons
Long Island Sound: Falcons
General Peppers: Panthers
Analysis: The first matchup between these two teams was a fluke as the Panthers are inconsistent as they come.

New York Jets (-2.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
James: Jaguars
Jesse: Jaguars
Long Island Sound: Jets
General Peppers: Jets
Analysis: After watching the Jets win 7-6 last week, the Jaguars are a must bet here.

Miami Dolphins @ San Francisco 49ers (-10.5)
James: 49ers
Jesse: 49ers
Long Island Sound: 49ers
General Peppers: Dolphins
Analysis: Dolphins offense won’t be able to get anything done against the 49ers defense who just suffered a tough loss (Jim Harbaugh’s 3-1 ATS following a loss).

New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants (-5)
James: Saints
Jesse: Saints
Long Island Sound: Saints
General Peppers: Giants
Analysis: Drew Brees versus a weak secondary. Advantage Brees

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (-10)
James: Cardinals
Jesse: Cardinals
Long Island Sound: Cardinals
General Peppers: Seahawks
Analysis: We know the Seahawks are good at home but 10 points? Can’t do it. John Skelton, who beat the Seahawks earlier this season, is back at QB & stud corner Brandon Browner will be suspended.

Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (-7)
James: Lions
Jesse: Packers
Long Island Sound: Lions
General Peppers: Lions
Analysis: Something is just telling me stick to the Lions in this one. Calvin Johnson is unstoppable.

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots (-3.5)
James: Patriots
Jesse: Patriots
Long Island Sound: Patriots
General Peppers: Patriots
Analysis: New England in December is a tough place to play.

As you can see, we are on the same page on a number of picks. Seriously, we didn’t do this together!

New to our site:
For our COVER 4 play of the week, we parlay: Bears, Cardinals, Chiefs & Colts.

Lastly, the NFL Play 60 commercial with Cam Newton is one of the best I have seen in a very long time. Here it is! Check it out

Thanks for checking out TheCover4.com

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James Kaikis
Chief Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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Week 13 NFL Predictions: Meme Edition

Calvin Johnson is on fire!

Different week with same results as The Cover 4 is on absolute fire. Don’t believe us? Let me break it down for you.

Last week we finished 11-5 with a number of very close games where we picked plenty of underdogs. Since the first week the Cover 4 made public picks (week six – 5 wins, 9 losses), the Cover 4 is 69 – 14 – 1 aka a winning percentage of 83%. In those 14 losses, the Cover 4 finished with only ONE loss on three occasions (weeks 7, 10 & 11).

If the numbers don’t speak for themselves, we can explore the number of times we have been correct in our analysis, point predictions, key players and fantasy studs! That subject will be saved for another day.

In a quick recap of week 12, Matthew Stafford and the Lions had more than their fair share of opportunities to defeat the Texans while RGIII completed our prediction and went beast mode on the Cowboys. The Pittsburgh Steelers made me chose with my heart and not my brain, something I rarely do, as they were atrocious in Cleveland. Cecil Shorts was a fantasy stud! Tampa Bay puts us at 4 -0 versus the spread after they were upended by the Falcons by just one point. Money makers realized the easy money was on the Rams as they ruined Lindleys day. Finally, the Panthers made me look so good with their underdog matchup on MNF – thank you Cam Newton.

Lets jump right into the picks!

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New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons

Say what you want about this 10 -1 Falcon team. They may have won a number of games this season at the end of regulation but GREAT TEAMS WIN BAD GAMES. PERIOD. How can you not pick the Falcons in this matchup? The Saints may have had the Falcons number once earlier this season but the Falcons will be ready to rock this time around.

Keep your eyes out for: Asante Samuel. The cornerback had a tremendous games last week despite playing through an injury; his health is vital to containing the pass happy Saints attack.

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Pick Center of the Week (1 of 2): Jacksonville Jaguars +6 @ Buffalo Bills

Yikes, did I really just pick the Jaguars to cover? Jacksonville has been steady with Chad Henne behind center and the offense is actually moving the ball. I had high hopes for the playoff bound (or at least I thought) Bills but they have faltered time and time again. Expect the Bills to narrowly come out with a victory in this one.

Score Prediction: Bills 27 – Jaguars 24

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Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears

Seattle is coming off a disappointing loss in Miami and will be traveling into Chicago to take on the Bears, who host a 5 -1 home record. Last week Jay Cutler returned to the lineup and the Chicago defense regained its form against the Vikings. Expect the Seahawks to have a tough time running the ball against the Bears and, as a result, will be very one dimensional.

Fantasy Stud: The Chicago Bears defense. I believe Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will be forced to win this game with his arm, which should result in a few turnovers for the Bears defense (expect one very big play from this unit).

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Game of the Week: Indianapolis Colts @ Detroit Lions

What a heart breaker for the desperate Lions last week. Let me first point out how incredibly disappointed I was watching Brandon Pettigrew play the tight end position. Pettigrew looked terrible on the field for the Lions as he dropped a number of passes and had a costly fumble as well. The former first round pick is vital to the success of this passing game. Did anyone else trade for Calvin Johnson like I did (in two leagues)? Johnson is on pace to finish with the second highest receiving yards in a single season (forget the Madden Curse…knock on wood). This matchup will be very similiar to the Colts game against the Patriots a few weeks ago. The Colts will hang tough for the first half of this game but as the Lions continue to light up the scoreboard, the Colts will struggle to keep up.

Fantasy Stud: Calvin Johnson. How can you not roll with him?

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Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

How the tides have turned as the Vikings, who started out winners in 4 of 5, are struggling while the Packers, winners of 5 of their last 6, are starting to put it all together (excluding last week loss to the Giants- didn’t see that coming). How many more weeks will I pound Christian Ponder as a starting quarterback? What is more important is the impact of Percy Harvin on this teams success. As terrible as Ponder is (10.3 QBR & 58.2 passer rating last week), without Harvin the Vikings have no chance at victory. Adrian Peterson is putting together a magical season in his return from an injury but the Vikings can’t ride the AP train if they continue to play from behind. The Packers are coming off a bad loss against the Giants; I am the first to admit I was terribly wrong in that game as I expected way more than 10 points from the Packers. Rodgers and crew should take care of this Viking defense who allowed the Bears to be 11 for 19 on third downs.

What to Watch: Greg Jennings. The talented wide receiver has spent the majority of his contract season on the sideline rather than the endzone thus less $ at the end of this season. The Packers have a plethora of pass catching options but Jennings, when healthy, is arguably the best of the bunch.

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Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans

Will I ever get a Titans game correct? With Locker running the show, the Titans have a solid nucleus of weapons but, unfortunately, those weapons are never on the same page. While one of the Titans playmakers may be taking aim at a great game, the others decide to take the day off; call it Randy Moss syndrome. The Texans are coming off two close over time gamess but expect this team to be well rested since the Thanksgiving day showdown.

Score Prediction: Texans 30 – Titans 20

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Carolina Panthers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Coming off a strong game on MNF, the Panthers are looking to put together their first two game win streak of the season. We should give the Panthers some slack as they are 3 -8 with 6 of those losses by six points or less (2 of them by a combined 3 points). The Chiefs are playing some teams very tough this year but it just isn’t their year (too bad this wasn’t last year and the Chiefs had a chance at Luck or RGIII because Cassell is not the answer- duh). Cam Newton shows up to play this week!

Fantasy Stud: Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. The Chiefs are giving up a ton of points to tight ends this year and steady Gregy has been a consistent target all season.

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San Francisco 49ers @ Saint Louis Rams

Oh the Colin Kaepernick era has arrived. Tough break for Alex Smith who has done nothing but win ball games since last year. While Smith isn’t going to beat you with his arm, he is a safe bet to finish with a couple touchdowns, no turnovers, and give you just enough to win. On the flipside, Kaepernick is a dual threat with big play potential (he has a pretty deep ball too). Jim Harbaugh knows what he is doing so I’ll back him up on this one (I got you Jim dont worry) but will the Niners still be SB contenders with the second year quarterback? Lets not forget last time these two teams played, they tied! Not this week….

Player to Watch: No brainer here with Colin Kaepernick. The media will have a close eye on Kaep thus any small errors (or another tie) will result in second guessing the coaches decision.

Keep Your Eye On: Aldon Smith. The second year linebacker is on pace to break Reggie White’s record for most sacks in their first two NFL seasons.

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New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins

Another one of my favorite teams, the Dolphins, are tough to pick. Luckily, the Dolphins won’t do me wrong in this one as I am riding Brady and crew. Ryan Tannehill showed big time play making abilities at the end of last weeks games against Seattle; his running game also helped take some pressure off him. That being said, things may get ugly in Miami this week as I doubt Philbin will be pulling out any crazy Wildcat gameplan.

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Arizona Cardinals @ New York Jets

This is a battle of bad teams as the Cardinals aren’t showing any promise while the Jets….

uh…. are the Jets. Rex Ryan and the Jets are the punching bag of the New York Giants media; Mark Sanchez, and his 32.8 QBR, is taking so much heat for his poor performances. To defend this Jets team, they have been derailed by injuries and Sanchez isn’t throwing the ball to the most talented group of players. On the other side, I prefer not to talk about the Cardinals, whom I believe are legitimately in the conversation for the worst team in the NFL. If Beanie Wells can actually put something together and stay healthy, the team may have a chance to be competitive (as they won’t be so one dimensional). The quarterback situation is in flux and Larry Fitzgerald is being wasted as he finished with 3 catches on 12 targets last week (on Lindley’s 52 passing attempts).

Score Prediction: Jets 2 – Cardinals 0 (HAHA)..okay Jets 21 – Cardinals 10

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Denver Broncos

The Broncos survived a trap game last week in Arrowhead but this week they take care of business against a solid Tampa Bay team. Manning must continue to carry this team until the running game gets back on track. Tampa Bay, who are coming off a heartbreaker to the Falcons, will need running back Doug Martin to show up this week as he was held to 50 yards last week. The Buccs will look to rely heavily on Josh Freemans shoulders if they want to cover the 7 to 8 point spread in this one.

Player to Watch: Dallas Clark. Although the tight end isn’t the same player he once was, Clark has opened up the middle of the field for the Buccs this year.

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Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens

It pains me to do this twice in one season but I am going with the Ravens. The Steelers are in a must win situation this week as they can’t afford to lose three straight division games but injuries may hamper them in this one. This testy division rivalry is going to be fierce. If Charlie Batch is starting quarterback in this game, the Ravens will have no problem getting the victory. However, if Big Ben returns from injury, this game will be a good ole’ fashion slobberknocker.

Must Watch: The Steelers quarterback situation. If Big Ben does play in this matchup, the Steelers better find some extra bodies to help block for the injured quarterback. The Ravens and Steelers really don’t like each other and I wouldn’t be surprised if Terrell Suggs is licking his chops to get a shot at the injured Roesthlisberger.

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Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders

The Browns are starting to put things together since a week five beating against the Giants. Although I think it is tough for any east coast team to head to the west and come away with a victory, I believe the Browns get two in a row. Oakland had high hopes this season but is still an organization in flux and rebuilding mode; the team just announced they are releasing former first round pick Ronaldo McClain. Don’t be surprised if this one gets sloppy with the Browns stealing one.

Who We Enjoy Watching: Marcel Reece. I can’t tell you enough how much I respect this guy and how he has played this season. The FULLBACK (yes they still exist in the modern day NFL) is putting up numbers Darren McFadden wished we could consistently finish with. Reece is an all around player the NFL hasn’t seen in a few years. I hope he continues to rumble over players in the run game, make guys miss in the passing game and keep up his devastating blocking.

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Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers

I am trying to pick the underdog Chargers here but I just can’t do it. The Bengals ground game has picked up in recent weeks and this week will be no different. The Chargers are going to have to pay a lot of attention to the Bengal receivers and that alone should open up Lawfirm for another solid game. Norv Turners & AJ Smith time is up in San Diego; this team is just hanging on for dear life.

Key Player: Philip Rivers

Rivers came into this league with HIGH expectations and those expectations are only higher with his fellow companions (Eli & Big Ben) each owning two Lombardi trophies while Rivers hasn’t exactly put together a solid resume. Rivers is a fierce competitor and a tough player but he is forcing the ball too much this year.

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Pick Center of the Week (2 of 2): Philadelphia Eagles +10.5 @ Dallas Cowboys

Two Pick Centers of the Week?! I have to at this point. The Eagles are 10.5 point underdogs in a tough divisional matchup. The Eagles and Cowboys have both had their fair share of ups and downs this season but, at the end of the day, all division games are usually a dogfight. These two teams know each other so well that I can’t see the Cowboys winning by 10.5 points! No Way.

Player to Watch: Bryce Brown. How many of you saw that coming? I know I didn’t but I do know one person who told me that performance would happen. I did research on Brown and found out he was a highly touted player with a strong pedigree. Brown, who once had 50 scholarship offers, was troubled by an adviser who may have been derailed what may have been an outstanding college career. Brown should shine in Philadelphia given the opportunity.

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New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

Again, I am on the Redskins bandwagon at this point. Remember when these two teams battled earlier in the season? I think the Redskins can pull off a victory in this one against the favored Giants. New York is coming off a very impressive win against the Packers but, like I said in my last post, when it comes to rivals something is always different. RGIII is the key factor in this matchup as his style of play gives the Redskins a chance. Although the ‘skins defense is weak, I think RGIII makes enough plays to keep his team ahead in this one.

Fantasy Stud: Hakeem Nicks. Nicks, when healthy, is getting plenty of targets from Manning and this week will be no different as the playmaker should be able to get open plenty during this matchup.

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Thanks for checking out our picks. Dont forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

James Kaikis

Chief Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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Week 12 Predictions- Thanksgiving Edition

Rodgers will be all smiles after he leads his team to a victory in New York this weekend.

The NFL season keeps on rolling and so do the weekly predictions; we can’t stop the fury!

Last week I took a little heat for picking “mostly favorites” but, sometimes, its just a favorite type of week as I call it. Luckily, I was correct in my picks as I finished 13 -1! Oh you pesky New York Jets you got me again. This week is going to be much different though as we have some tight battles; expect the dogs to be barking this week.

As for the short holiday week, nothing is better than some snow on the ground, turkey cooking in the oven and watching some football. I’ll never forget growing up and always watching the Lions and Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

Barry Sanders was always my favorite player to watch; I don’t think there was a more elusive running back than Sanders. The guy could cross and turn fields unlike anyone else and is probably the only player in NFL history to run for as many negative yards as regular rushing yards!

Oh how I miss Thanksgiving and the seasons!

Short week for everyone involved including the Cover 4. Now to these predictions…..

Houston Texans @ Detroit Lions

Analysis: Am I crazy? Yeah I think I might be with all these underdog picks this week but after watching Jacksonville torch the Texans secondary last week, I don’t see how the Lions won’t do the same (if not worse- believe it or not). The Jags have struggled all season while the Lions are the number one passing offense in the league. I don’t expect Houston defense to have two rough games in a row (I know the coaches are sleeping in the office this week). In the short week, the Lions will look to emulate the results of the Jaguars last week. The Lions squeak out a victory against the favorited Houston Texans.

Key Player: Matthew Stafford. If you have been watching the young gun slinger this year you can tell he is forcing the ball entirely too much. The strong armed quarterback is making a number of questionable decisions on the field and is not setting his feet while throwing (he looks like Cutler trying to force some throws!). I put a majority of last weeks loss against the Packers on Stafford, who threw ball after ball into the grass. If Stafford has his act together this week, the Lions will beat the Houston Texans.

Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys

Analysis: I am going with the underdog ‘skins in this matchup. I understand that this in a home matchup and the Cowboys expect to throw all over the Redskins but something inside of me is telling me the Redskins are going to be turning things around for the rest of the season. I expect RGIII to continue to make all the necessary plays to keep his team in this game.

New England Patriots @ New York Jets

Analysis: The loss of Gronkowski is huge for the Patriot offense as Gronk has been one of the most productive players (touchdown wise) in the past three seasons. Aaron Hernandez must return from injury to provide the Pats offense the matchup issues that are vital to their success. The Jets are coming off a much needed W against the Rams but I don’t think they will get things together two weeks in a row.

Score Prediction: Patriots 35 – Jets 17

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears

Analysis: As much as I don’t trust Jason Campbell (if Jay Cutler isn’t playing), I don’t expect Christian Ponder against the Bears defense (granted they were torched by second stringer Colin Kaepernick). The Chicago offensive line is just terrible and will be the reason the Bears offense continues to falter. The Bears defense must slow down Adrian Peterson and continue to make the plays they have made all season.

Key Player: Brandon Marshall. Marshall is putting up monster numbers this season. The success of the offense is heavy on his shoulders as he takes pressure off the rest of the Bears weapons and allows the run game to get going.

Oakland Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals

Analysis: Should we all give up on Darren McFadden? McFadden posses a top five skill set at running back but can’t stay healthy. The Bengals look good on both sides of the ball. The passing attack will create a number of matchup problems with the Raiders terrible defense. I expect things to be ugly in Cincinnati this weekend as Dalton and crew take care of business.

Fantasy Stud: Marcel Reece. The running back put up solid numbers last week on the ground and in the air. Expect much the same this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns

Analysis: Can you believe it? Am I really seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns as a pick ’em?! (Some lines have now moved to Steelers +1 now). Understandably some people believe this may be a little closer than usual but are we all forgetting the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is playing stellar right now? With or without a starting caliber quarterback, the Steelers get the W in this one. Cleveland has had very little luck, if any, against the Steelers since coming back into the NFL just a few years ago. Charlie Batch, although old, has been a more than capable backup in the league and has been productive while doing so. Steelers pull out the W in this one by shutting down the Cleveland offense.

Key Player: Charlie Batch. Obviously this is a no-brainer as Batch must lead the team to victory. Batch won’t be beating anyone with his laser arm but he will manage the game and keep turnovers to a minimum. Expect Batch to make all the necessary (and easy) throws without taking too many big shots down the field.

Buffalo Bills @ Indianapolis Colts

Analysis: After all the sports networks blew up the possibility of the Colts beating New England last week (uh Cover 4 was very correct in how the Colts wouldn’t win if it became a scoring spree), we are now back down to earth and realize the Colts are a good, but not great, football team. The Bills have had their fair share of ups and downs this season but I’m taking Luck in this one.

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

Analysis: The Broncos are really firing on all cylinders right now and that doesn’t bode well for the Chiefs, losers of 7 straight. The Chiefs are 0-5 at home and don’t have much to look forward to for the rest of the season (except obviously the draft boards). Arrowhead is a tough place to play but it shouldn’t be a problem for the Broncos this week.

Seattle Seahawks @ Miami Dolphins

Analysis: I just can’t pick the Dolphins as the team is just too inconsistent and you never know how they are going to play. The Seahawks aren’t the best road team but I believe they go into Miami and come out victors.

Score Prediction: Seahawks 20 – Dolphins 10

Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Analysis: Chad Henne had a great game last week but I don’t expect him to have another monster performance. It was nice to see a Justin Blackmon sighting after his MONSTER game but I like Locker and squad in this one.

Fantasy Stud: Cecil Shorts.

Baltimore Ravens @ San Diego Chargers

Analysis: I really escaped with my pick center last week with the Chargers late touchdown to my fantasy stud of the week Danario Alexander. The Ravens survived a close battle with the division rival Steelers. I fully expect the Ravens to take advantage of the Chargers despite only being one point favorites.

Pick Center of the Week: Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers +2

Analysis: Yup, call me crazy again but I am riding the dogs this week. The Falcons looked horrible last week but still came out with a victory against a bad Arizona Cardinal team. On the other side of the ball, the Buccs looked horrible for the majority of the game until a fourth quarter rally and a win in OT against the beaten Carolina Panthers. I understand the matchup, on paper, looks terrible for the Buccs secondary as they are allowing the most passing yards per game but the team is finding ways to win. I expect a battle to come down to a late field goal in this one.

Score Prediction: Buccaneers 28 – Falcons 27

San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints

Analysis: This game really doesn’t look great for the pass happy Saints. The Saints, who have been very one dimensional for the past few seasons, will look to throw all over the 49ers. But, we all know that really isn’t going to happen, regardless if the game will be in New Orleans or not. The Niners are coming off a very impressive win against the Bears with a backup quarterback. With Colin Kaepernick starting this week, I expect the niners to pound the ball away toward victory in this one.

Key Player: Drew Brees. Brees will have to be near perfect for the Saints to get the W this weekend as the Niner defense has been very tough to pass against.

St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals

Analysis: After watching the Cardinals offense struggle last week with Ryan Lindley, who posted a 4.7 QBR, I am taking the Rams as a no brainer pick. The Cardinals could be 10 point favorites but I don’t expect them to have the same success running the ball like they dad against the Falcons. Rams win this division road matchup behind Sam Bradfords solid game.

Game of the Week: Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants

Analysis: I expect a great game between the Packers and Giants. The Giants are on a downward spiral but this game will allow them to get back on track and control their own destiny in the NFC. The Packers, winners of five straight, will look to Aaron Rodgers to continue his hot hand in the passing game against a Giants defense that has had a number of subpar games.

Fantasy Stud: James Jones. After a hot start and cooling off a bit, look for Jones to get a number of catches in this outing.

Carolina Panthers @ Philadelphia Eagles

Analysis: Andy Reid on Monday Night Football thus should be taking the Eagles at home right? Wrong. I am taking the underdog Panthers as Ron Rivera and squad is due to get a W this week; this team is being tortured by bad luck and late collapses. I hate to see things go this way for the Panthers but lets not forget Newton put up big numbers as a rookie in garbage time playing catchup (aka this team isn’t ready to take the next step). Foles won’t be able to do enough for his squad as the Panthers win.

Score Prediction: Panthers 27 – Eagles 21

Call it a quick week but we expect a wild one this week. With a number of dog picks, we expect another great week out of the Cover 4. Enjoy the Holiday.

A little video of two of the best: Barry Sanders & Tony Dorsett.

James Kaikis

Chief Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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Week 11 NFL Predictions!

Can Andrew Luck lead the Colts to an impressive road victory in New England?

A tie, really? Can you believe it? Mind the ghetto video I found on youtube but..

Well don’t think we saw that coming between the 49ers and Rams (any given Sunday at its finest). This week wasn’t great for some starting quarterbacks who left their games due to injuries; Jay Cutler, Ben Roesthlisberger, Alex Smith, & Michael Vick all left their respective games and did not return. Big Ben & Vick will be on the shelf this week so it is up to the backups to lead these two teams to victory.

What a call on Bengals/Giants! How many people read that and said “he is an idiot”. Yup, I’m talking about you and the rest of the 95% of people who thought I was crazy. The Bengals were poised to win that game and it showed. Now I am 2-0 versus the spread. Will this week be three in a row?

I’m very fortunate for how things have gone for The Cover 4 this season. Not only have winners been accurately predicted but the analysis, key players & fantasy studs have been on point. Turning non-believers into believers and consistent readers; I promise you this will continue!

Another theme of last week is how I can’t accurately predict the Dolphins & Titans; I just can’t get it with these two teams. The presences of Locker and the re-emergence of Chris Johnson helps solidify this Titan squad. If only they figured out how to get Kenny Britt and Jared Cook involved more.

Results speak for themselves: 11-2-1 last week.

I’m expecting a wild week as some dogs are looking good (especially versus the spread). Let’s look at this weeks matchups.

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Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
Analysis: Two of my favorite teams right now (insert sarcastic emoji here :p.. Haha). I’m gonna say it again, I like Tannehill’s potential but I think he belongs on the bench this year. The guy can make all the big throws in the NFL but I’m more on the Moore bandwagon (like that?). The Dolphins were eaten up by the Titans last week while the Bills kept it close with the Patriots. I expect the Bills to take advantage of the Dolphins coming off a bad loss on a short week.

Key Players: Reggie Bush & Ryan Tannehill. Bush needs to find his game after being benched last week. As for Tannehill, he needs to limit his turnovers to keep the Dolphins offense on the field.

Fantasy Stud: Bills Wr Stevie Johnson. Expect the burner to be open all day.

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Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons

Analysis: The nonsense of the Falcons going undefeated is now out of the way with last weeks loss to the Saints (you liked that score prediction though right?- right score, wrong teams). The Falcons defense will be the key for the rest of the season as this unit has been overachieving. I believe this defensive unit should be able to get things together this week versus Arizona. As for the Cardinals, who are coming off a much needed bye (as every struggling team is), they must establish some sort of a running game. This team ranks dead last in rushing and has been very one-dimensional.

Key Players: John Skelton. The quarterback must keep this offense moving and convert on third down for the Cardinals to hang with the powerful Atlanta offense.

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Cleveland Browns @ Dallas Cowboys

Analysis: The Cowboys are heavy favorite in this matchup after a solid game against Philadelphia last week. The Browns used the bye week to recover from their heart breaking loss to Baltimore two weeks ago. Quarterback Brandon Weeden must limit his turnovers after throwing 2 ints two weeks ago. Look for Trent Richardson to have another solid game in this one.

Fantasy Stud: Jason Witten. I think Witten has another solid game as Romo is looking Wittens way more after his 18 catch effort a few weeks ago. The Browns are allowing tight ends to have average days but they haven’t faced a tight end of Wittens caliber.

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Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions

Analysis: The Packers are winners of four straight and things are slowly coming together for this team. The Lions are the number one passing offense in the league and should continue to throw the ball around in this one. The absences of Clay Matthews & Charles Woodsen is big for this Packers defense. I expect a high scoring game with the Packers taking this one.

Players to Watch: Matthew Stafford & Calvin Johnson. After a slow start, the dynamic duo is starting to click again (forget the Madden curse). Megatron is putting up mega numbers and propelling one of my fantasy teams into the playoffs.

Score Prediction: Packers 31 – Lions 27

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Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs
Analysis: The Bengals are coming off an impressive (cough called that cough cough) win against the Giants. Dalton looks terrific passing the ball as his offensive line is giving him ample time to sling the rock; it also helps that his weapons are making plays. Kansas City is coming off a devastating overtime loss to the Steelers. I think this game will be close but the Bengals pull it out.

Key Players: Matt Cassel. I don’t know how to put it any other way except that this team only goes as far as Cassel can take them. His career (including college) has been an up and down roller coaster but something needs to give.

Player to Watch: Vontaze Burfict. The undrafted linebacker is thriving in Cincinnati. Character issues were a concern but a player of his caliber is too hard to pass up. Burfict is second on the team in tackles and watch him have another nice game this weekend.

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New York Jets @ St. Louis Rams

Analysis: It’s funny because I had a dream I was talking with Rex Ryan over some beers about how he is losing control of the team. It dawned on me that if he keeps riding Sanchez and the team keeps underperforming, he is going to go down with the ship. It may not be this year but Ryan could be on the hot seat (I think GM Mike Tannebaum is the first one to go). The Jets are just in a free fall mode right now as Sanchez and the rest of the offense continue to fail the team. Rex Ryan has his hands full with defending this team against the media. On another note, the Rams are coming off an impressive tie against a tough 49er squad. I expect the Rams to take full advantage of a defeated Jets squad.

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Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins

Analysis: The Redskins are coming off a bye as the team started hot and is cooling off a bit. RGIII has been named a team captain and they say he’s “hungrier than ever”. The Eagles will rely on rookie Nick Foles to lead them into Washington for a much needed victory. Andy Reid is going to need to rely on his running game to take the pressure off his rookie QB.

Key Matchup: Eagle Wr Desean Jackson versus Redskins Cb DeAngelo Hall. Both tiny speedsters are known for being feisty players on the field, especially after the whistle. I expect these two to be battling all day. This will be an exciting matchup to watch!

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers

Analysis: This is a good ole’ fashion division rivalry game right here. These two teams will be in a seesaw battle as both teams will get things going on offense; Newton vs Freeman is going to bee fun to watch. In the end, I like my boy Josh Freeman (and all of his offensive weapons) to lead the Buccs to a victory.

Fantasy Dud: All Carolina Panther running backs. Just avoid them!

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Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans

Analysis: This one could get ugly between the battle of 8s (1-8 v 8-1). You have to feel bad for the Jaguar team as they just can’t put it together. Hopefully the long week (and much needed rest) gives them ample time to pregame for the red-hot Texans, who just came away victors in a defensive battle against the Bears.

Fantasy Stud: Arian Foster. Expect a monster day on the ground and in the air from the league’s top running back.

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New Orleans Saints @ Oakland Raiders

Analysis: Someone call the Sheriff because we have a shoot out brewing!! Oh I think this is going to be a game right here. The Saints are starting to gain some steam but so are the Raiders (at least on offense). Expect a very high scoring game with long touchdown after long touchdown. I wouldn’t doubt if this game torches the over (54.5) and heads into the 60s.

Fantasy Studs: Every quarterback and receiver on both teams! Both secondaries are weak and being exploited by passing offenses. Look at what Baltimore did to the Raiders last week.

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Pick Center of the Week: San Diego Chargers + 8 @ Denver Broncos

Analysis: There are a number of games I want to use as pick center this week but I believe this to be the strongest one. The Chargers, well, are the typical Chargers (very inconsistent) thus you never know which team is coming to play. These two teams were in a dogfight earlier in the season with a Rivers meltdown that led to the Bronco victory. I can’t see this division matchup being a two score game. Expect a tight game in this one with the Chargers definitely covering 8 points.

Fantasy Stud: Danario Alexander. Who you ask? The Charger wide receiver is getting a few more looks his way with Malcom Floyd playing well this season. Expect close to 80 yards and a touchdown.

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Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots

Analysis: This game will be a nice matchup of quarterbacks showing off their finest skill sets. Brady has more weapons than the US Military while Luck is playing with subpar talent (besides Reggie Wayne of course). The Patriot offense will be too much for Indy to handle in this one. Expect some points on the board when this game is said and done.

Key Player: Andrew Luck. Luck has the potential to put up some monster numbers in this game and lead his 6-3 Colts to an impressive road victory. We all know he doesn’t have much talent around him but he will have to make play after play or this is gonna be real ugly.

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Game of the Week: Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Analysis: There is nothing like a division rivalry game between the Ravens and Steelers as both teams despise each other. Unfortunately the Steelers won’t have Big Ben due to multiple injuries. Bryon Leftwich is a solid backup but I don’t think this matchup really works to his favor. The Steelers will be getting the ground game going early and often in this one. I hate to say it but I do believe the Ravens will squeak this one out.

Key Players: Rashard Mendenhall, Issac Redman & Jonathan Dwyer. Whoever is in the game at running back for the Steelers must get things going against a depleted Ravens defense. If the run game isn’t established, it will be a long day for this Steelers offense.

Score Predictor: Ravens 24 – Steelers 20

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Chicago Bears @ San Francisco 49ers

Analysis: As of now, Jay Cutler is yet to be cleared to practice while Alex Smith participated in non-contact drills Wednesday. This defensive battle (every week is a defensive battle against the Bears) will be interesting if both starting quarterbacks are held out of the game. I am going to predict this matchup as if both quarterbacks are healthy and starting. If so, I expect the 49ers to take care of business against the Bears (Sorry Bears fans- I know, I know). Jay Cutler relies heavily on the passing game, which plays into the 49ers defense strategy.

Key Players: Matt Forte & Frank Gore. These two running backs are going to have a tough time getting things going against stellar defenses. Whichever running back has a better game will result in his team getting the W.

If the status of one of these quarterbacks change, expect a nice large REVISED by the title.

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Finally, video of the week. I know some of you out there are struggling in your fantasy leagues. We understand your pain….so does this guy!

Week 10, Lets Do It Again…NFL Predictions

Don’t look so upset Eli! Your Giants will rebound against the Bengals…right? …..

Alright readers! Thanks for following our site and reading our weekly predictions. I was so close to going perfect on the week but I’m okay with two losses (one of them being the Steelers). Thats win win situation right?

So the Eagles lose a must win game against the Saints? As usual, Andy Reid has some questionable play calling.

Well Andy, this is all we have to say to you.

I will never understand why Reid refuses to utilize the ground game more? Shady McCoy is a top tier running back- RUN THE BALL! On a real note, I think Reid is one of the best coaches in football but its time for a change of scenery.

As we pass the 65% mark, I am glad to announce I am 1-0 on underdogs versus the spread. Big accomplishment right? I should be so proud. Thank you all for forcing me to do one spread pick. This week I may throw in a few games against the spread or moneyline picks as some of the lines are pretty high. I’ll chose them sparingly.

Glad to say last week I was pretty accurate in my predictions, analysis and key factors/fantasy. Glad Larry Fitz had a touchdown though; it makes me feel good when I am wrong when it helps my fantasy teams.

I know I gave the Chiefs/Chargers a hard time for their Thursday night matchup but we have a DOOZY on our hands tonight. About the only good thing about the game tonight will be Andrew Luck. Luck will have a primetime game and show why he is quietly breaking all of Peyton Manning’s rookie records (Might I add that the NFL is turning into the NFFL- National Flag Football League. I respect what teams are doing now and the evolution of the game but passing and offensive records are being broken with ease. You can’t compare the rookie numbers of Cam Newton & Andrew Luck to the NFL Legends of the Past. This is a tangent for another day though).

Indianapolis Colts @  Jacksonville Jaguars

Analysis: The Colts are quietly sneaking into the playoff picture. Andrew Luck and the rest of the Colt squad are playing fierce and winning close games. Granted the last three weeks haven’t been the toughest opponents for the Colts but NFL games are hard to win. The Jaguars are improving but they aren’t there just yet. I dont know what it is but this team can’t consistently put it all together (oh wait, maybe its the fact that they dont have much talent on the field, ever). They have been beating the spread every week and I think they do again this week.

Score Prediction: Colts 24 – Jaguars 21

Pick Center of the Week: New York Giants @ Cincinnati Bengals + 4

Analysis: Can you say trap game for the Giants? After coming off a disappointing loss to the Steelers, the Giants will be ready to step it into gear. Just hold the brakes though because I think the Bengals cover the spread in this one. Giants may earn a W but the Bengals will keep this one close; they may even pull the upset. Look for the Bengals to throw the ball early and often!

Key Players: Lawfirm & Eli Manning! The Bengal running back must get the ground game going. Green-Ellis is a consistent player but he isn’t a game changer. The Bengals better hope he can make some extra plays this week. As for Manning, the Giants are hoping he responds from a less than stellar effort versus the Steelers.

Fantasy Stud: Andy Dalton.

Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins 

Analysis: I AM ON THE DOLPHINS BANDWAGON THIS WEEK! I still think Matt Moore is the better option (for this season at least) but in Tannehill (and his hot girlfriend) we trust. Although not the most talented team, I really like this Dolphins squad. They are missing some pieces but this week they earn the W from the tough Titans. How many fumbles will Chris Johnson have?

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings

Analysis: This game is a tough one. Division matchup and a home underdog? I am going with the Vikings AS LONG AS THEY RIDE THE AP TRAIN. Have you seen a common theme in Vikings wins v losses? When the Vikings run the ball with one of the best running backs in the past decade, they win the game. Simple strategy right? I think the Lions are going to take advantage of the Vikings secondary. If this game becomes a shoot out, the Lions will win because Christian Ponder isn’t leading anyone to victory (sorry but its true).

Key Players: Lions Wide Receivers. Megatron came on strong last week (as expected) against the Jags but will this week be the same? If Johnson is doubled, it will be up to Young & Broyles to make plays.

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots 

Analysis: The Patriots won’t stop the pain train in this one so expect some major points. I really liked Buffalo this year too!

Score Prediction: Patriots 34 – Bills 17

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

Analysis: Is this the week the Falcons finally lose? The Saints won last week against Philadelphia but can they do it against the leagues hottest team? I expect another thriller in New Orleans this week.

Score Predictor: Falcons 31 – Saints 27

San Diego Chargers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Player: Ryan Matthews. The first round pick has so much potential and promise yet hasn’t had a great game all year. He will need to be more productive with his touches on the ground for the Chargers to win this cross country battle.

Fantasy Stud: Doug Martin. I can’t pick against him right now. He is on FIRE.

Denver Broncos @ Carolina Panthers

Analysis: All good things come to an end, like the Panthers one game winning streak (that was a good call last week right? thanks). Which Carolina team will come out to play? I don’t think the matchup is very favorable for the Panthers in this one. Peyton and the Broncos will get the W easily.

Fantasy Stud: Broncos Defense! You can always expect JaMarcus Russell, I mean Vince Young, er Cam Newton to give the ball up a few times.

Oakland Raiders @ Baltimore Ravens

Analysis: What is going on in Baltimore? A loss to the Browns last week off the bye would have been huge for the city of Cleveland. The Ravens are fading fast but don’t count them out as a top tier team just yet. I really like the Raiders in this one if McFadden was going to be full strength (or even playing). I think this game has trap written all over it. Palmer has been chucking the ball much better recently and I expect that to continue this week. Expect Ray Rice to torch the Raider defense (as long as he gets enough carries).

Fantasy Stud: Darius Heyward-Bay. DHB will have a solid game this week with Moore getting a little more of the coverage shifted his way.

New York Jets @ Seattle Seahawks

Analysis: Is it Tebow time yet? Nope. The Seahawks are easy favorites at home each week. Russell Wilson continues his steady play and the Seahawks defense will terrorize Mark Sanchez (Viva la Sanchez!).

Matchup to Watch: Seahawks defensive line v the Jets offensive line. It could be a very long day for Sanchez as he will be facing steady pressure in his face.

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles

Analysis: Is this the week the Eagles get their desperate W or will the Cowboys put it all together and come away with a victory? I am going with the Cowboys on this one. I think the Eagles are in such a must win situation that it is going to hurt them. Look for Dallas to take a solid road victory in a tough division matchup.

Key Player: Michael Vick. We all know his time in Phili is coming to a close. He needs to have a solid game (without turnovers) to keep his job.

Fantasy Stud: Tony Romo. Did I really just say this? Yeah I did. The matchup doesn’t favor Romo but he will have a nice game (I hope).

St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers

Analysis: Tough division matchup but the 49ers come away with this one; the 49er defense will just be too much for Sam Bradford. I expect a low scoring game on both sides.

Key Player: Vernon Davis. Where are you? Step up to the plate young man and make some things happen.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Houston Texans @ Chicago Bears

Analysis: What a matchup we have this week. Two teams that are ahead of the pack in each conference battling it out for conference supremacy.  In this matchup one team (the Texans) is scoring at will while the other (the Bears) are making things happen on the defensive side of the ball. Texans may struggle to get much going against this stellar Bears defense but I can’t see Cutler doing enough on offense to give the Bears the edge. Expect a great game that will come down to the wire.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Analysis: Are the Chiefs really on prime time again? Even without a healthy receiving core (Brown is out), the Steelers are going to throw all over the Chiefs. Remember how Todd Haley was fired? He seems like the kind of guy that will want to get back at his old team; expect his play calling to be a little looser this week and the Steelers to take a few shots down the field.

Key Player: Matt Cassel. I think its gonna be a rough day for the once benched quarterback.

Lastly, I want to throw this out there. This awesome video of Sam Gordon, 9 year old, wrecking guys in football!!

Granted she probably won’t be able to continue this success as she gets older (and the guys get bigger) but for her age she has tremendous vision! Great Stuff Right Here!

Thanks for reading! See you next week

Wild Week Eight Predictions!

Which quarterback will lead his team to victory this Sunday?

As week eight has arrived we are roughly approaching the half way point of the season. The next few weeks will be very critical for a number of teams as teams will determine who are the contenders and who are the pretenders.

Week seven was a redemption week for me as I finished 12-1 on predictions with my only loss on a one-point Tennessee upset over the Bills (c’mon Buffalo, I thought you would do much better this season). With last weeks results, I am back up to 62% winning percentage on the year. Although last week was more of a “favorites” type of week, this week should prove to be much better for the ‘dogs.

To start off the week, I chose incorrectly on Thursday Night Football Game despite touting the Buccaneers to a number of people earlier in the day. I apologize for the lack of proper grammer in the following text message but had to show it for verification purposes (looks as though I was preoccupied doing something else while having a lot to say). I will omit the individual I was texting but they know who they are.

(Yeah Ponder has sucked lately and Freeman playing very well. Ap has that injury. Thursday games are very hard to predict and all have come down to the wire. No time to game plan on a short week. I might take tampa to win outright on the upset.)

But what do you know? I go ahead and make this prediction just a few hours later.

Oh man I was wrong; 0-1 to start the week off. I love Josh Freeman and I have since he arrived in the league. Despite some struggles last season and earlier this season, the Buccaneers are putting it together on offense. With the addition of Vincent Jackson plus emergence of rookie Doug Martin, the Buccaneers are showing signs of life on offense (LeGarrette Blunt is finally not the lead back). The Vikings again will only go as far as Christian Ponder will take them. Adrian Peterson, only 10 months removed from an ACL tear, looks better each week while Percy Harvin looks like an offensive MVP. Are the Buccs that good or are the Vikings just that overrated?

While you Ponder on that (see what I did there?), lets look at the interesting matchups we have for week eight.

New England Patriots “@” St. Louis Rams

Analysis: This is a home game for the Rams but the two teams will be squaring off in England of all places. The Rams have struggled on the road and I dont expect them to change that this week. New England comes back after a close OT game versus the Jets last week.

Key Players: Stevan Ridley. The running back has struggled in his last two games to go along with some problems holding onto the ball. If Ridley gets things going, it will allow the Patriots offense to spread the ball around more effectively.

Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans

Analysis: Again I bet against the Titans. Although they were road dogs last week and are home favorites this week, I am testing my Luck with the Colts (how many Luck comments can I make in one season?). Andrew Luck should be able to find his targets early and often. I expect this to be a high scoring affair.

Fantasy Stud: Chris Johnson. CJ continues to improve as a runner and the matchup certainly favors him in this game. Johnson’s home run ability has allowed the Titans to stay competitive (as of recently). Johnson is starting to hit the holes much better but which Colts D will show up to play? I expect CJ to have a nice game again this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Green Bay Packers

Analysis: No explanations needed here. Packers will win this one easily. (But I gotta add I feel for Jennings as he is in a contract year and can’t get on the field).

Key Player: Rashad Jennings. This is his opportunity to prove his worth in MJDs absence.

San Diego Chargers @ Cleveland Browns

Analysis: I feel as though this is a trap game of sorts. The majority of betting lines put this game at 3 or 3 1/2. With the way both teams have been playing, I would expect the Chargers to be at least six point favorites. Although the numbers are a bit skewed, Brandon Weeden is playing much better as of lately; his receivers need to learn how to catch the ball (pretend its toilet paper like in the little giants?).

Key Player: Coach Norv Turner. In a twist, Turner is the one to watch. If he loses this game then his seat (as well as GM AJ Smith’s seat) will be just a little hotter. The Chargers consistently underachieve and someone needs to take the blame. On the other side, Browns coach Pat Shurmur must win some games. With a new owner lurking and Holmgren on his way out the door, it doesn’t look like a story book ending for the Browns coach.

Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles

Analysis: Yes, I know the Andy Reid is 13-0 following the bye week and the Falcons have played in a number of close games and are probably due to lose one but I don’t think it is this week. Although the Eagles are favored to win this one, I believe Atl will get the best of this low scoring affair.

Key Player: Michael Vick. If he continues to turn the ball over, the Eagles have no shot at winning this game (don’t expect Matt Ryan to have a high turnover game as he did previously).

Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions

Analysis: I hate to do this but I am picking against the Lions. I thought this team showed so much promise and hope but they look like they are the same old Lions (almost). The Seahawks are keeping games close so I expect them to squeak one out this week.

Keep an Eye on: Seahawks corner Richard Sherman (the self proclaimed Optimus Prime) vs. Calvin Johnson (Megatron). Calvin Johnson was held to 3 catches on 11 targets last week against the Bears (& corner back Charles Tillman who is playing lights out right now!). Megatron isn’t usually held in check for multiple weeks in a row but Stafford & Johnson are struggling to connect. This will be a great matchup to watch.

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

Analysis: This has the making to be a brutal game for both teams. Tensions are growing between the two teams with jabs being taken at each other via the media. The Jets looked much better last week agains the Patriots and almost upset New England in OT. I like the Jets to win this close game.

Key Player: You already know- Mr. Mark Sanchez. Which Sanchez shows up to play Sunday?

Carolina Panthers @ Chicago Bears

Analysis: Cam Newton looked great last year (mostly because he was behind every game thus was able to sit back and throw the ball around) but this year is a different story. Newtons play has been subpar (to say the least). Additionally, Newtons leadership is in question as the former number one pick has made a number of negative comments to the media in his post game interviews ( he is starting to sound like JaMarcus Russell and thats a terrible thing). The Bears defense is playing steller right now and I expect them to keep it up against the shaky Panthers.

Key Player: Matt Forte. Forte hasn’t produced as many expected him to at this point in the season. Look for him to get the ground game rolling in this one.

Game of the Week: Washington Redskins @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Analysis: I expect this game to be dogfight from start to finish. Last week the Redskins narrowly lost to the Giants while the Steelers were able to handle the Bengals. While the Steelers are suffering from injuries, the defense finally looks as though things are coming together (even though they are without Troy again this week). It remains to be seen if the Steelers pass rush can disrupt RG3 and slow down the Redskins run game.

Key Player: London Fletcher. The heart and soul of the Redskins defense, Fletcher has never missed a game in fourteen seasons in the league. Although Fletcher is listed on the injury report, I expect him to play. His presence is vital if the Redskins want to be competitive in this game.

Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs

Analysis: It looks as though the Matt Cassel era may be over (or temporarily halted – depends on how terrible Brady Quinn plays). The Raiders, per usual, are up and down each week. One week the Raiders play the Falcons tough but the next they lay down and get lucky against a weak Jacksonville squad. Arrowhead is a tough place to play and while I like the Chiefs defense, I expect Quinn to struggle in this one.

Fantasy Stud: Jamaal Charles. Although I think the Raiders will be keying him very closely, I expect him to get plenty of touches in this game to make some noise in the fantasy box score.

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

Analysis: Eli Manning just finds ways to win; it has been the story of this team since he joined. Manning and crew should be able to get the W in this tough division matchup. Although I am a fan of the Cowboys secondary, the absence of Sean Lee may be the nail in the coffin for this defense. Lee, an Upper Saint Clair High School alumni, has been a monster for the Cowboys for years.

Key Players: The Giants Secondary. Last week the Cowboy receivers were relatively held in check by the Panthers secondary but this week may be a different story. After being targeted 28 times in the previous two games, Dez Bryant only had three balls thrown his way. The Cowboys must get more production out of their receivers (including Witten) if they want to win this game.

Keep an Eye on: Felix Jones. Jones has never lived up to the expectations he came into the league with. A homerun hitter, Jones has trouble staying healthy. While he may get the start this week, don’t be surprised if Phillip Tanner has more carries when the game is finished.

New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos

Analysis: Peyton Manning and the Broncos look to take control of the AFC West after finishing off the Saints this week; the Saints defense is just too porous to handle the Bronco attack. While I don’t like this matchup for Drew Brees, you have to expect he will keep throwing and putting up stats to keep his team competitive.

Key Players: The Saints Defense. If they allow early touchdowns, expect a long day in Mile High.

Fantasy Stud: Peyton Manning. Expect the quarterback to put up solid numbers this week.

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

Analysis: The 49ers had plenty of time to get the kinks out after a tough Thursday matchup vs the Seahawks. Vernon Davis must get things going to help open up the niner passing game. The Cardinals just look helpless as they have no offensive line or running game. I still don’t understand how or why John Skelton doesn’t throw the ball to Larry Fitzgerald more often?! Fitz finished with 4 catches on 7 targets but he doesn’t seem to get the passes thrown his way with Skelton at the helm.

Fantasy Stud: Frank Gore & Kendall Hunter.

Well expect another wild NFL week. Thanks for reading.

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