NFL Week 6 Predictions: B-B-B-Bunny and the Jets

It’s Week 6 and I’m already reusing title ideas, but the fact that the 2017 Jets are still relevant at this point is incredible.

Patriots at Jets

A battle for first place in Week 6? Really? This is the Jets’ Super Bowl this year. A home game with their hated rival for first place, and a chance to extend to a four-game winning streak. Sure the Jets haven’t beaten a good team, but the Patriots haven’t been playing very good football this year, so it’s still interesting. I’m still going to take the Patriots, because I can’t trust Josh McCown with a limited cast and the defense against a multi-faceted NE offense, but if Todd Bowles can win this game, put him at the top of the list for Coach of the Year race.  And for the record, the Jets almost beat the Patriots at home a year ago when New England was better than this current version.

Packers at Vikings

I’m a bit stunned that Case Keenum ranks so high in DVOA and QBR right now, and he should have been the starter on Monday night against Chicago. The Vikings really botched that quarterback situation with Sam Bradford’s health, and now Stefon Diggs is out as well, a big loss. I think with Diggs (and Dalvin Cook), the Vikings have enough offense at home to outscore the Packers, but it’s just too much of a loss now. Aaron Rodgers seems to be in one of those zones again, and while Mike Zimmer’s defense has fared adequately in the past against him, I think he’ll do enough on the road to get this win and take some early control of the division.

Giants at Broncos

Christ, where is that flex scheduling when you need it? The Giants are one of the worst rushing offenses in the league, and now Eli Manning is down to Sterling Shepard and some nobodies against the best secondary in the league. He should get double yardage credit for any completion to a wideout to make this one interesting. Trevor Siemian turning the ball over for points is the only way the Broncos are losing this one at home. And seriously, how did Denver get four home games out of five to start the year?

Steelers at Chiefs

This is still a very interesting one. The Chiefs can take out some revenge after losing twice to the Steelers a year ago. They’ve really beaten every other contender in recent years. Beat the Patriots in 2014 and Week 1. Beat the last three NFC Super Bowl teams (Carolina game was in 2016, but still). Beat the Colts with Luck last year. Swept the 12-4 Raiders last season. Swept the defending champion Broncos, and gave Peyton Manning the worst game of his career in 2015. This team has done great things the last few years, except in the playoffs. The only contender they really haven’t beaten is Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger (not Landry Jones like in 2015) at quarterback.

And of course, Roethlisberger is coming off one of the worst games of his career. I think the “maybe I don’t have it” quote is troubling, but he also said something smart in that if you play QB long enough in this league, you’ll have a day like this (5 INT). It’s true. And when two of those picks are tipped for touchdown returns, and a receiver falls down on another one, you’re bound to have some bad stats against what’s become a very strong pass defense in Jacksonville. The Chiefs look a bit vulnerable on defense post-Eric Berry, and we’ve seen quarterbacks make some big plays against them. It’s just that the Chiefs have the No. 1 offense with Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt having huge years so far, and that’s going to be a problem for the Steelers, particularly at stopping Hunt, who has gone over 100 yards every week. Pittsburgh’s run defense has looked very shaky at times this year. They haven’t been tested much by a passing game, but this will be the most efficient one they see yet.

I think Roethlisberger redeems himself and plays his best game of 2017, and the Steelers do have a tendency to show up for big games. Only the Patriots have a better record against winning teams since 2014. I don’t think I’d pick the Steelers to flat out win this one, but I do expect a competitive effort.

2017 Week 6 Predictions

I had the Panthers on Thursday night, so 0-1 already. Maybe I just don’t have it anymore.

Winners in bold.

  • Dolphins at Falcons 
  • Packers at Vikings
  • Patriots at Jets
  • 49ers at Redskins
  • Browns at Texans
  • Lions at Saints
  • Bears at Ravens
  • Rams at Jaguars
  • Buccaneers at Cardinals
  • Chargers at Raiders
  • Steelers at Chiefs
  • Giants at Broncos
  • Colts at Titans

I’m assuming Marcus Mariota is good to go this week.

  • Week 1: 8-7
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 9-7
  • Week 4: 8-8
  • Week 5: 6-8
  • Season: 42-35
Advertisements

NFL Week 6 Predictions: Brady, Benny and the Jets

With respect to a locked-in Philip Rivers and the improving Andrew Luck, I’ve known the AFC of the last decade to be dominated by three quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.

They’ve represented the AFC in 10 of the last 11 Super Bowls. On Sunday, they all face a familiar AFC foe with history well in their favor.

  • Tom Brady is 22-2 against Buffalo with 54 TD, 19 INT (100.1 PR).
  • Ben Roethlisberger is 18-1 against Cleveland with 28 TD, 13 INT (97.7 PR).

Those records are as good as it gets for a quarterback against a divisional opponent, but what does it really tell us? I find three main takeaways:

1. Despite many changes around them over the years, Brady and Roethlisberger have been two of the league’s best quarterbacks and will both be in the Hall of Fame. They play consistently well against a lot of different teams.

2. The Bills and Browns are two of the NFL’s most consistent losers. The Bills haven’t been in the playoffs since 1999 and the Browns 2.0 have one playoff season (lost to the Steelers for the third time in 2002).

3. Then there’s the makeup of these teams. Brady and Roethlisberger usually enjoy good defenses, while the Browns and Bills have struggled to find a quarterback capable of scoring many points. So these meetings turn into a lot of easy wins for Ben and Brady. Even when they don’t play well, it’s usually a win (see Week 17 last year for both).

If there was ever a time when Brady and Roethlisberger could both lose to their helpless rivals in the same season, it’s on Sunday.

Both will be on the road. Steelers-Browns is the first rematch of the 2014 season. Cleveland erased a 24-point deficit in the second half in Week 1 and nearly won in Pittsburgh. The Bills have roughed up Brady in the past, holding him under 5.6 YPA in both meetings last year (Doug Marrone’s first season as coach).  The problem is the New England running game usually stomps all over Buffalo’s poor run defense, but some are still skeptical of the offensive line this year.

These games could be very intriguing with first place in the AFC East on the line in Patriots-Bills. I’m not sold that Kyle Orton is ready to deliver against a defense that’s good at creating turnovers. In Cleveland, I think Roethlisberger will have a solid day leading the offense. Joe Haden has not been able to stop Antonio Brown in past meetings and they could pick on the rookie Justin Gilbert again. The problem is on defense. The Steelers don’t create turnovers while the Browns have been protecting the ball very well. The Browns are effective on the ground and with using play-action passing — two things that have plagued the Steelers of recent years.

I know better than to pick against the Patriots again. As for the other game, it’s just not in my nature to pick the Browns over the Steelers even if I think there’s a good chance the Browns take this game at home.

Final predictions:

Patriots 20, Bills 13

Steelers 24, Browns 21

Then there’s Peyton Manning and the Broncos against Rex Ryan’s Jets, losers of four straight. This one has the ingredients for a Denver blowout. The Jets are the 4th defense since 1940 to allow at least 12 touchdown passes and no more than one interception in the first five games of a season. How can they contend with Denver’s receiving corps, especially after Demaryius Thomas got on track with a huge game last week? Shut down Demaryius and the Broncos still have Emmanuel Sanders, who has caught 32-of-42 passes for 435 yards. His implementation into the offense has been immediately effective and highly efficient. Welker’s working his way back from a concussion and suspension. Then of course there’s Julius Thomas, who already has seven touchdowns. The Broncos can’t run the ball well, but that’s not what they’re going to rely on to beat the Jets.

Geno Smith has to start at quarterback, because we know Michael Vick isn’t the answer for any NFL team. Regardless, the Jets need a miracle to win this game to avoid a 1-5 start. I just don’t see any reasonable manner in which they pull this one off. Manning has done very well against much better Ryan defenses in the past.

  • Peyton Manning vs. Rex Ryan as Ravens DC/Jets HC (2005-10): 5-2 record, 126/197 (64%) for 1,738 yards, 8.82 YPA, 13 TD, 2 INT, 109.9 PR

One of the losses was the “Curtis Painter Game” in 2009. The second was in the last meeting, 17-16 in the 2010 AFC Wild Card, after the Jets scored on a last-second field goal.

Since 2009, 17 of the 18 teams to beat Manning scored at least 26 points. That 17-16 Jets game is the outlier. 

That’s also the last time Ryan had a winning team. To beat Manning’s Broncos, you have to score a lot of points and/or shrink the game by being efficient and effective on offense. That’s not the Jets.

Final prediction:

Broncos 34, Jets 14

NFL Week 6 Predictions

I had the Colts on Thursday, and for a change we actually had a good game I get to write about.

Winners in bold:

  • Lions at Vikings
  • Panthers at Bengals
  • Ravens at Buccaneers
  • Steelers at Browns
  • Packers at Dolphins
  • Broncos at Jets
  • Patriots at Bills
  • Jaguars at Titans
  • Chargers at Raiders
  • Cowboys at Seahawks
  • Bears at Falcons
  • Redskins at Cardinals
  • Giants at Eagles
  • 49ers at Rams

I had a lot of road teams, so I ended up changing some 50/50 picks at the last second to go with Vikings and Bengals at home.

Forget DeMarco Murray’s rarefied rushing company to start this season. Forget Russell Wilson’s rushing numbers on Monday night. I will be shocked if Marshawn Lynch isn’t the dominant player in Sunday’s big game against Dallas and its 32nd-ranked run defense. Don’t count the Cowboys out. Tony Romo led Dallas to a win in New Orleans (13-0 at the time) in 2009 and also knocked off the 9-0 Colts in 2006. Those are big wins, and yes, they really happened. This could be a good one, but who really wants to bet against Seattle at home right now?

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Total: 47-29

NFL Week 16 Predictions, Adrian Peterson’s Dominance and Writing Recap

It will be a happy holidays as Jets/Titans didn’t go down as the last NFL game ever played.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 15: 49ers and Patriots Play NFL’s Game of the Year – Cold, Hard Football Facts

We only had five games to recap this week with a ton of blowouts on Separation Sunday, but at least we got the game of the year. San Francisco at New England was deserving of a monster recap, as we look at all the teams to come back from 28+ points, finding that only two of the seven have actually gone on to win the game. Also look at the teams who have come back from 21+ down in the fourth quarter and lost, which includes the Patriots three times now. Dallas and Pittsburgh also played an overtime thriller, and the Cowboys are on their biggest run of clutch wins in team history.

NFL Season Changes in a Day…Again – NBC Sports

The NFL is a week-to-week league, and after Sunday’s results, everything changed. Again. The biggest winners were San Francisco and Denver, as they now have the inside track to the No. 2 seed in each conference. Denver should be in Super Bowl or bust mode this season, as they may never have a better chance at a ring.

After Season of Blowouts, What Can We Expect from 2013 NFL Playoffs? – Bleacher Report

It is hard to define a marquee game during the regular season, but I found it even harder to find ones that were really competitive this season. It’s been a lot of blowouts, so what does that mean for the playoffs? A look at the previous five seasons.

Note: I still contend the title of the article should be 2012 and not 2013, but not everyone agrees.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 15 at Houston Texans – Colts Authority

J.J. Watt led a dominant attack against Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense in a 29-17 win. Luck was pressured on a season-high 51.5 percent of his drop backs. In his last four games Luck has been pressured on 40.8 percent of his drop backs compared to 27.1 percent in the first 10 games. That explains the drop in offensive efficiency.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 16 Predictions – Bleacher Report

I thought this came out as the best edition of the year. A look at why the Bengals need to stop being the Bungles and take care of Pittsburgh. The stat of the year candidate on Adrian Peterson. He has seven runs of 50+ yards in his last seven games alone. That’s as many as the Houston Texans have ever had (174 games), and as many as the Colts and Patriots have combined for in their last 412 games.

AD

 Apocalypse Now: Chicago Bears and the NFL’s Greatest Second-Half Collapses – Cold, Hard Football Facts

The Bears are who we thought they were, or are they? Once 7-1, the Bears are hoping to avoid becoming the fourth team since 1978 to start 7-1 and miss the playoffs. Included is a look at why the Bears have faltered, and which company they could be joining should they complete one of the NFL’s greatest second-half collapses. Anyone remember the 1993 Miami Dolphins or 1996 Washington Redskins?

2012 NFL Week 16 Predictions

The week is about to soon start with the Falcons/Lions, so let me make sure I get this in on time.

  • Falcons at Lions
  • Raiders at Panthers
  • Saints at Cowboys
  • Titans at Packers
  • Vikings at Texans
  • Patriots at Jaguars
  • Colts at Chiefs
  • Bills at Dolphins
  • Chargers at Jets
  • Redskins at Eagles
  • Bengals at Steelers
  • Rams at Buccaneers
  • Browns at Broncos
  • Bears at Cardinals
  • Giants at Ravens
  • 49ers at Seahawks

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Week 5: 10-4
  • Week 6: 5-9
  • Week 7: 12-1
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 11-3
  • Week 10: 9-4-1
  • Week 11: 11-3
  • Week 12: 10-6
  • Week 13: 8-8
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Week 15: 11-5
  • Season: 145-78-1 (.650)

Finally, here’s a holiday flashback to a year ago, when I wrote “The Night Before Christmas” as told by Joe Namath (Jets Edition). It is still topical enough, and I especially like this part about Mark Sanchez:

“I can’t win with him anymore, can’t you see?”
Well that’s obvious, but what did he want with me?
I couldn’t coach the kid to play quarterback right,
Look at my stats; they’re one hell of a sight!

Suddenly a gunshot rang through the air
It rattled my heart; gave me a good scare
Little Plaxico must have confused a bag of toys for tots,
With the stash of automatic handguns he just bought.

As we calmed down to discuss the Sanchez situation,
St. Rex continued to vent his frustrations.
“The kid can’t do this, the kid can’t do that!”
So why did you take him fifth in the draft?

It’s a little too late for a return, Jets.

Greg McElroy Begins Jets Career with Perfect Comeback Start

Mark Sanchez played poorly and was pulled on Sunday in place of the backup quarterback, who promptly led the offense on a game-winning drive for the New York Jets over the Arizona Cardinals.

This scenario has been expected for many months now, but no one imagined it would have been Greg McElroy at quarterback rather than Tim Tebow.

These are the moments Tebow has built his NFL career on, but he was nowhere to be found Sunday, missing the game with a rib injury.

McElroy, on the very first drive of his career, led a game-winning touchdown march, hitting Jeff Cumberland for the easiest 1-yard touchdown pass you may ever see. He even contributed to the last drive which consumed the final 7:55 off the clock in a 7-6 win.

Rarely does a quarterback lead a fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive in his first NFL game, but I have started to compile a list of occurrences.

4QC/GWD in NFL Debut:

  • Bob Waters (1960)
  • Warren Rabb (1961)
  • Sam Etcheverry (1961)
  • Archie Manning (1971)
  • Clint Longley (1974)
  • Jerry Golsteyn (1977)
  • Turk Schonert (1981)
  • Dieter Brock (1985)
  • Steve Young (1985)
  • Bernie Kosar (1985)
  • Brian McClure (1987)
  • Mike Kelley (1987)
  • Jim Druckenmiller (1997)
  • Ryan Leaf (1998)
  • Jake Delhomme (1999; 4QC only)
  • A.J. Feeley (2001)
  • Brian St. Pierre (2004)
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (2005)
  • Greg McElroy (2012)

Not sure anyone on the list but McElroy was able to accomplish it on their very first drive. If you broke it down that way, he’d be batting 1.000 in clutch drive success rate.

Is it the most impressive list? Not at all, but the win should create another quarterback controversy in New York.

Just not the one we all expected.

The Whistleblower No. 3 – Heath Evans and Simple New York Jets’ Math

Looks like The Whistleblower has the first repeat offender after Heath Evans’ latest comments on Monday’s NFL Total Access about the New York Jets’ QB situation.

After three preseason games without a single touchdown, Evans believes the Jets have the wrong QB in Mark Sanchez, and should “salvage the season, which has yet to actually start, by going with Tim Tebow.

According to Evans, “past says Tim Tebow can win football games, the past says Mark Sanchez can not.”

Whoa, Nelly! Time for a simple bit of math here. Forget the fact that Tebow’s lone playoff win, a Wild Card game over a banged up Pittsburgh team, is not better than the two AFC Championship appearances Sanchez has had. Just the regular season alone proves this to be a factually incorrect statement.

Simple math: The past says Mark Sanchez is 31-22 (.585) as a starter, while Tim Tebow is 9-7 (.563).

I know things work in reverse in the Heath Evans’ zone, such as running back carries leading to wins instead of winning leading to carries, but 58.5 percent beats 56.3 percent. At the very least, they have about the same record of winning, and both often need a lot of help to get many of their wins.

The New York Jets may very well be screwed on offense this year, but there is no secret winner on the bench ready to save the day. They need to start with the guy that at least completes over 55 percent of his passes.

After apparently having someone do the stat work for him, Heath just glossed over the actual records, and must have forgot about 2009 and 2010 for Sanchez.

Next time Heath Evans asks someone to do stat work, he can always contact The Whistleblower. I’ll save him the embarrassment of spraying “winner juice” on live TV for the wrong player.

Shout out to @SeanLDurham on Twitter for pointing out the video and comments.

Addendum: as another pet peeve, Evans mentions “QB rating” in the segment. No, not even “quarterback rating.” He said “Q-B.” It’s just passer rating, people. Why is that so hard to understand?