NFL Week 5 Power Rankings

Best 3 Headed Monster in the NFL
After 5 weeks of NFL football we can begin to separate the pretenders from the contenders.  Old school football is making a comeback as teams like the Vikings, Broncos and Steelers are playing excellent defense, running the football and keeping turnovers at a minimum.  The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl using this formula last season although they got away with a few turnovers because how great they played on the defensive side of the football.

Teams like the Falcons, Patriots and Raiders are winning by taking advantage of the league rules that benefit the offensive passing attack.  Ryan to Jones, Carr to Cooper and Brady to, well everyone!  If you can have a solid scoring offense and a defense that limits the opposition and create turnovers, you have a great chance to take home the Lombardi Trophy.

Through week 5 of the 2016 season we have a very good idea which teams will be playing come January.  Of course things can and will change due to injuries, especially to quarterbacks and other variables.  Despite these obstacles, the best teams in the league find a way to replace players and continue to win.  Two of the best examples of this are Pittsburgh and New England who keep winning even when All Pro's aren't on the field like Le'Veon Bell and Tom Brady. That's why they are top 5 teams.  Let's see how all 32 teams rank according to The Sports Prophet:

*On a side note the Cleveland Browns remain in the cellar of the NFL because they have the worst personnel in the league from owner to management to coaching and ultimately the horrific play on the grid iron.  It's truly sad...

1. Minnesota Vikings
2. New England Patriots
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Denver Broncos
6. Green Bay Packers
7. Dallas Cowboys
8. Philadelphia Eagles
9. Oakland Raiders
10. Seattle Seahawks
11. Arizona Cardinals
12. Kansas City Chiefs
13. Buffalo Bills
14. Cincinnati Bengals
15. Houston Texans
16. Carolina Panthers
17. Washington Redskins
18. Tampa Bay Bucs
19. Detroit Lions
20. L.A. Rams
21. Tennessee Titans
22. Baltimore Ravens
23. San Diego Chargers
24. Indianapolis Colts
25. New York Giants
26. Chicago Bears
27. New York Jets
28. San Francisco 49ers
29. New Orleans Saints
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
31. Miami Dolphins
32. Cleveland Browns
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NFL Quarter Power Rankings

It's definitely too early to create your power rankings until at least a quarter of the season has been played.  Sill a few teams have only played 3 games but I'll guesstimate those teams as well as those who have played every game up til week 5.  I would assume that at the halfway point, the top ten teams will remain in the mix.  We'll see...

1. Denver Broncos
2. Minnesota Vikings
3. New England Patriots
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Seattle Seahawks
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. Cincinnai Bengals
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. Oakland Raiders
12. Los Angeles Rams
13. Houston Texans
14. Baltimore Ravens
15. Kansas City Chiefs
16. Buffalo Bills
17. Arizona Cardinals
18. Carolina Panthers
19. San Diego Chargers
20. Washington Redskins
21. New York Giants
22. New York Jets
23. Tampa Bay Bucs
24. Indianapolis Colts
25. San Francisco 49ers
26. Chicago Bears
27. Detroit Lions
28. Tennessee Titans
29. New Orleans Saints
30. Miami Dolphins
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
32. Cleveland Browns
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Defending Champion Denver Broncos Get No Respect

Reigning Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos are feeling like the late great comedian Rodney Dangerfield.  They get no respect!  Why?  Well there are a few reasons but when you think about it, not much has changed since their 2015 championship season.

The Broncos bucked their way through the 2015 post season with average quarterback play at best.  They haven't lost since and the only thing that changed was the man taking the snaps behind center on game day.  Peyton Manning had his worst professional football season since he was a rookie last century.  Despite his poor play, Denver was able to ride a successful rushing attack and rely on one of the best defenses we've seen in the past decade.

Denver lost a few players like defensive star Malik Jackson to the Jaguars and others to retirement like Peyton.  The team also aged in a few key positions in the secondary and linebacker squad.  Yet they brought in Russell Okung to anchor the offensive line at the left tackle position and still have Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller.  But as always the talk comes down to the quarterback and most figure if you don't have a Tom Brady then you don't have a chance.

The Broncos fans didn't know who could replace Peyton Manning because you basically can't.  Nevertheless you must move on.  The Mark Sanchez experiment failed miserably, they couldn't or wouldn't resign Brock Osweiler and therefore were stuck choosing between their first round draft pick in Paxton Lynch or sophomore Trevor Siemian who's only NFL experience was taking a knee and I don't mean during the National Anthem.

Siemian ended up winning the job and fear began to strike the hearts of Broncos fans everywhere.  But their hearts quickly filled with joy after beating NFC champion Carolina Panthers in the 2016 season opener where Siemian played sound football by completing 18 of 26 passes with a touchdown.  People started to say that he could be a game manager and perhaps keep hope alive if they don't turn the ball over.

The sophomore QB then threw for 266 yards in a beat down over the Indianapolis Colts to go to 2 - 0.  With the Broncos first two games at Mile High and maybe some home field help, fans and experts figured Siemian would have some trouble in their 1st road game against a perennial playoff team in the Cincinnati Bengals.  Well 4 touchdowns and 312 yards later after a route on the Bengals those game manager and inexperience questions started to cease.

In week 4 the Broncos rode their perfect 3 - 0 record into Tampa Bay and their new QB was off to another hot start throwing TD's and moving the ball easily as he maintained control of the offense.  Unfortunately right before the first half ended Siemian went down with a shoulder injury to his non throwing arm and gave the fans a big scare.  In comes rookie Paxton Lynch and the team didn't miss a beat.  The rookie saw his first NFL action by tossing the football for 170 yards and a touchdown to boot!

Folks let's not forget that the Broncos defense is still the cream of the crop and their are skilled players all over the offense.  Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders can make any QB look good.  Maybe except for Mark Sanchez!  C.J. Anderson has run the ball well so far this season and the team isn't turning the ball over.  Despite the name on the quarterbacks jersey, this is a recipe for a Super Bowl contender.  Now that we know the name on the back of the QB's jersey, people should feel more comfortable with the Broncos chances of repeating as Super Bowl champs.

Yet all we hear out of the AFC is how amazing the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is who couldn't find the end zone against the Eagles last week.  And of course most of the chatter revolves around the return of Sir Thomas Brady.  But the defending champs aren't getting any love and no respect.  To those who think that way I say watch out because Denver has already proven they're a top team not only in the AFC but the entire NFL.
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NFL Week 1 Predictions

As I've said before, picking any week 1 game is more difficult than any other throughout the season.  Even the Super Bowl!  But I'm gonna make my picks anyway as I'm sure you fellow degenerate small time gamblers will as well.  Time to put our money where our mouth is.

It can be tough picking a game straight up because hey "any given Sunday!"  Now add the Las Vegas point spread into the equation and we're talking some serious thought.  With Vegas, the point spread is made for a reason.  They simply want to balance out the betting evenly and collect on the vig (interest).  Sometimes they'll get hurt like when the Broncos pulled out that upset Thursday night over the Panthers in Denver.  Let's see if we can best Vegas here ourselves.  Here are the NFL week 1 predictions including point spread and winner!

@ Atlanta - 2.5 vs Tampa Bay:  Buccaneers 22 - Falcons 16
Minnesota -2.5 vs @Tennessee:  Titans 32 - Vikings 27
@Philadelphia -3 vs Cleveland:  Browns 17 - 14
Cincinnati -1.5 vs NYJ:  Jets 24 - Bengals 20
@New Orleans -2.5 vs Oakland:  Saints 35 - Raiders 34
@ Kansas City -6.5 vs San Diego:  Chiefs 20 - Chargers 14
@Baltimore -3.5 vs Buffalo:  Ravens 16 - Bills 13
@Houston -5 vs Chicago:  Bears 16 - Texans 15
Green Bay -5 vs Jacksonville:  Packers 26 - Jags 23
@Seattle -10.5 vs Miami:  Seahawks:  20 - Dolphins 10
@Dallas (even) vs NYG:  Giants 34 - Cowboys 24
@Indianapolis -3 vs Detroit:  Colts 31 - Lions 24
@Arizona -7 vs New England:  Cardinals 33 - Patriots 17
@Pittsburgh -3 vs Washington:  Redskins 25 - Steelers 23
@Los Angeles -2.5 vs San Francisco:  49ers 18 - Rams 12

Best Bets:

  • 49ers +2.5 at home
  • Giants (pick em) too much offense for NYG
  • Browns +3 will beat a weak, rookie QB Philly team
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2016 NFL Kick Off - Broncos vs Panthers

The 2016 season kicks off with a rematch of last years Super Bowl.  Well kind of!  The biggest and most important difference is the quarterback situation in Denver.  The living legend in Peyton Manning has hung up his cleats for good. So the Broncos now need to hand the ball over to a guy in Trevor Siemian who's NFL experience adds up to a kneel down.

Despite the QB change, the 1st week of the season is always the hardest to predict because it's the first time teams will get to go full speed for 4 quarters or more.  Half of the people in Eliminator Challenge leagues will pick what looks like a lock game like Green Bay over Jacksonville and we get a major upset because week 1 is so unpredictable.  So my advice is don't gamble on NFL games so quickly.

Back to tonight's game and rematch of Super Bowl 50.  The Carolina Panthers are favored in Vegas by 3 points on the road in Denver.  People are jumping all over the Panthers because it appears their arrow is pointing upwards and the Broncos are a potential debacle behind center.  Here's a couple of things to take into account.  First is that Denver is one of the toughest places to play for road teams because of the thin air as visitors can become winded more quickly because they aren't as adapted as Broncos players to the climate.  It's also statistically proven that the team who won the Super Bowl the previous season usually wins week 1 of the following season.

The Broncos still have a great defense and it isn't as if they had great QB play in 2015 en route to the title.  The new version of the Orange Crush Denver defense carried the offense to the Lombardy Trophy.  It's also never a good idea to bet against a home underdog.  For some reason the favorite usually doesn't cover the points or loses outright.

Reigning MVP Cam Newton was the offense for the Panthers last season.  He tried to beat the Broncos in the Championship by himself due to lack of skilled personnel.  If that's the case again tonight then you can expect a similar result.  Luckily for Cam, he has his top wide receiver back in Kelvin Benjamin.  Benjamin may explode as he showed incredible promise in his 2014 rookie season.  Then again he may get off to a slow start. If the Panthers defense can play the way they did last season then they could possibly once again own the leagues best record.  They were 15 - 1 last year and while I doubt they'll reach that mark again, they could very well win 12 or more.

I'm worried about the Broncos.  I don't believe they'll make the playoffs.  The QB situation is a hot mess, they're running game can be suspect and Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders who are Pro Bowl receivers will see a certain drop in numbers.  I mean the quarterback issue in Denver is so bad that they actually cut Mark Sanchez.  Wow!

Despite what seems to be a lopsided game as America is salivating over Carolina tonight, the game will be much closer.  I honestly expect some sloppy play from both sides.  Siemian won't be asked to do much as Gary Kubiak loves to run the football.  But Denver will surely be in 3rd and 10 situations tonight and how much faith will Kubiak rest on his new QB to make a play to keep a drive going?

Now on the other hand the Panthers coach Ron Rivera will rely heavily upon his quarterback.  Cam Newton has risen to the top tier of QB's in the NFL.  I have him ranked as 4th going into 2016 behind Rodgers, Brady and Roethlisberger.  He can do it all and has incredible confidence in himself.  Hopefully the very few skilled talent around him will be healthy enough so Cam doesn't have to put his life on the line in order to win a game.  Between his talents on offense and a top level defense led by Luke Kuechly, we could be seeing the Panthers back in the Super Bowl.

If you've read my previous article you know I have the Cardinals defeating the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.  But it's not written in stone and Carolina has the goods.

So who will win tonight.  As long as Cam doesn't turn the ball over I see no reason why Carolina can't outscore the Broncos in a low scoring game.  I don't expect Denver to score more than 14 points.  I believe the Panthers can score close to 20.  I'm going against my natural instinct to take the home underdog but I like the Panthers tonight for all the reasons I mentioned plus revenge from February.

Final score: Panthers 24 - Broncos 13 
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10 Things to Know for the 2016 NFL Season

If you know me you know I love making predictions.  Below is my top 10 things to know going into 2016.  Last year I did a Fantasy Football version of this and just for proof I have the link here  Now of course not every one was on the nose but look at it from a Fantasy Football perspective.  The first one is tricky.  But first things first.  Here's the top 10 things to know considering the NFL in 2016:

1.  Some things simply never change!  We know the Patriots will be in the playoffs again even without the great Tom Brady for the first quarter of the season.  Odds are Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Green Bay, Carolina, Seattle and Arizona are gong to be playoff teams unless they lose their quarterback or other significant players.  So while it's a beautiful thing when those few teams surprise us every year and exceed expectations, we already know at least half of the teams that will be in the post season.  So if we see two powerhouse teams in the Super Bowl like the Cardinals and Patriots like I picked for the 2016 season, don't be surprised.  The usual suspects usually rise!

2.  Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston will both have excellent sophomore seasons.  Both of these players show tremendous potential and each has a special quality.  For Winston it is his ability to bring his team back in the game quick, fast and in a hurry.  He's a very smart football player and understands the situation around him pertaining to the mental and physical aspects of the game.  It appears he may have that "It" factor.

Mariota certainly has intelligence and a solid arm but his ability to scramble and run effectively is what brings Mariota up to the next tier of QB's along with Winston.  It will become more clear as we reach the halfway point of the season.  Marcus showed great ability last season to find a whole to run through when the play breaks down.  He only threw 10 interceptions last year and if his offensive line can do a better job protecting him then I would expect some special play out of Mariota in 2016.

3.  Ezekiel Elliott will NOT be the stat machine everyone expects out of the gate.  This has little to do with Romo going down for the next 2 months and a rookie QB in Dak Prescott having to step in.  This is more about Elliott playing against competition he's never seen before.  Sure there are some big boys in the Big 10 Conference where Elliott played his college ball at Ohio State.  The kid has skill and power but so do the 11 men he'll be trying to elude on Sundays, not Saturdays.  If Jason Garrett decides to use Elliott early and often then he'll just break down that much quicker and be exploited that much easier.  What I'm saying here is...let's wait and see.  Don't forget names like Trent Richardson, Reggie Bush, Ryan Mathews and Knowshon Moreno just to name a few.

4.  Eli Manning will be the MVP of the NFL.  That's right Eli, not Peyton.  Little brother will shine again with his solid receiving corps.  It will help having who I think will be the offensive player of the year in Odell Beckham Jr.  The Giants have a lot of fire power on offense and if Eli can manage to keep the turnovers down and have his wide outs catch the ball more often then drop it, little bro can throw for about 5,000 yards and 40 TD's.  That sounds like an MVP to me.  Plus he'll have to carry the team since not much is expected of the defense this season.  New head coach Ben McAdoo and Eli have been working together for years as McAdoo was the offensive coordinator before being promoted this season.  Eli, Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Rashad Jennings and rookie Sterling Shepard.  This could be the best offense in football!

5.  Jimmy Graham will return to form this season.  He won't put up the numbers he did with Drew Brees in New Orleans but expect Graham to be a much bigger part of the Seahawks offense in his second season in Seattle.  With Marshawn Lynch retired and a small but good WR corps, Graham will have many more plays drawn up for him which means more opportunities to put up some sweet numbers.  Look for Graham to have 1 on 1 match ups down near the goal line and go for that 50 - 50 ball. I predict about 800 yards and 12 TD's for Graham this year.  If fantasy teams got him late in the draft then I say to you well done!

6.  The Philadelphia Eagles will be terrible!  I was going to write this before they traded Sam Bradford to Minnesota.  Now they'll rely on either rookie Carson Wentz or the long time back up in Chase Daniel depending upon his rib injury.  It's not only that but the lack of a running game and any resemblance of a wide receiving unit.  The defense is certainly suspect and on top of that they have a new head coach in Doug Pederson.  This will be Pederson's first season as a head coach who has been a long time protege of of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.  Philly was 7 - 9 last season.  I'd add on about 2 or 3 more losses as the rest of the NFC East has improved and the Eagles have declined as far as personnel is concerned.  At least the 2017 NFL Draft is in Philadelphia so the fans may be cheering for the #1 pick.

7.  Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders will lead the league in receiving yards.  I know most of you think it will be Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. or even Julio Jones.  But you're wrong.  It will be Amari Cooper as he and Derek Carr have developed a solid QB to WR combination in a short period of time.  Not to mention That Carr doesn't have many other places to throw the ball.  Cooper has proven to be as hyped when drafted 4th overall by Oakland in last years draft.  He broke 1,000 yards in his rookie season with the Raiders and I can see him adding another 700 or so to that total.  Big jump...yes.!

8.  Andrew Luck will be back in the mix for MVP this season.  I don't believe he'll win the award but I see him being determined and focused to make up for the miserable and injury riddled season in 2015.  Luck showed great leadership ability and plenty of skill since he arrived in Indianapolis.  After getting a lot of rest and having his studs back at wide receiver in T.Y. Hilton, Colby Fleener and Donte Moncrief, I'm guessing Luck will put up huge numbers and lower his turnover rate significantly as he undoubtedly watched film the entire time he was rehabilitating.

9.  Todd Gurley will lead the NFL in rushing this season.  This is for a few reasons.  First of all Jeff Fisher loves to run the ball.  Second is they have a rookie quarterback in Jared Goff who will be taking over for Case Keenum sooner than later.  But most importantly is that Todd Gurley is an absolute beast!  This guy has all the tools to be the best overall back in the game.  He's elusive, fast, tough, great vision and he's young.  With the exception of Adrian Peterson, it's usually a very young RB that leads the league in rushing.  That position takes a toll on you.  You get hit every play whether you carry the ball yourself or have to block a blitzing pass rusher in throwing situations. The rookie had over 1,100 yards last season in only 13 games.  Gurley's going wild this year.

10.  Despite Tom Brady missing the first 4 games of the season, the New England Patriots will win the AFC.  I have the Arizona Cardinals defeating the Pats in Super Bowl LI but the point remains that New England is still the class of the American Football Conference.  Ironically these two teams will kick off their seasons against one another in the Sunday Night Opener.  The Cards will be facing Jimmy Garrapolo at QB instead of the great Tom Brady.  So let's say the Pats lose and start 0 - 1.  Okay, they then play the Dolphins, Texans and Bills before Brady comes back.  Maybe they're 2 - 2 at that point or at worst 1 - 3.  Once Brady returns the Patriots will become that well oiled machine that Tom has perfected for over a decade.

On top of all that, the fact is that the AFC isn't all that good!  I like the Steelers but they always seem to have injury issues.  The Bengals can't even get out of the first round.  For some reason people think the Houston Texans are going to b a powerhouse because they signed a giant in Brock Osweiler.  The Chiefs are solid but do you really think my man Alex Smith can out-duel Tommy Boy on the big stage?!  Forget about the Colts, Broncos, Jets or whoever comes across your mind.  Once Brady is back they'll rarely lose.  Even if they are a wild card team heading into the post season they still have more than enough to get through the AFC.  Plus they'll be more rested due to suspensions like Brady's or even Rob Ninkovich for 4 games.

- Hope you enjoyed this and please feel free to comment here and check out my full 2016 predictions including every teams record, MVP's and more!
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NFL Predictions 2016

Oh how we love to make predictions!  We all become the Nostradamus of football once the season kicks off.  I'm guilty of this as well since my Twitter handle is @SportsProphet1.  I have a decent track record if I do say so myself.  Let's see how I do this year and I would love to hear your predictions in the comment section so we may compare after the Lombardi Trophy is hoisted up.

Unfortunately some fans feel like their season is over before it even starts.  Tony Romo will be out for at least half of the year and while Dak Prescott has shined in the pre-season, this is not the ideal scenario for Cowboy fans.  Teddy Bridgewater tore his ACL and the Minnesota Vikings will now rely on journeyman Shaun Hill to be under center.  Again, not what Vikings fans were hoping for.

But let us not forget when Trent Green went down for the Rams back in 1999 and some guy who was stocking groceries ended up taking over "the greatest show on turf" by winning a Super Bowl and the MVP of the league.  His name is Kurt Warner and not only did he lead the Rams to two Super Bowls, winning one, but later in his career taking the underdog Arizona Cardinals within seconds of winning another championship and would have been the only QB in history to accomplish such a feat.

There's also a guy named Brady that was thrown into the mix in week 3 of the 2001 season when Drew Bledsoe was knocked silly by Mo Lewis of the New York Jets, putting Bledsoe out for most of the season.  The Patriots were about to throw in the towel until Tom Brady took control of the offense and New England started winning games consistently.  Four rings and six Super Bowls later, Tom Brady became an NFL legend because the starting quarterback got injured.

The point is you never know!  Maybe Warner and Brady are extreme examples but these things do happen and it occurs more often than you think.  How about when Jeff Hostetler, yeah remember him, took over for Phil Sims as the New York Giants defeated the favored Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV.

I happen to think this is one of the most difficult years to pick playoff teams let alone the Super Bowl champs.  We know who the usual suspects are and which QB's and defenses are strong enough to make the tournament.  We also know that  few organizations have next to no chance to make the post season.  Then again we get surprised by a handful of teams every season.  Teams will perform to a higher level than previously predicted and others will disappoint and underachieve expert expectations.  It occurs every year folks and it will again.  Which teams will creep up on us and which will crumble apart?  I don't know but here's my prediction:


New England Patriots (10 - 6)*
New York Jets (9 - 7)
Buffalo Bills (9 - 7)
Miami Dolphins (6 - 10)

Pittsburgh Steelers (11 - 5)*
Cincinnati Bengals (10 - 6)*
Cleveland Browns (8 - 8)
Baltimore Ravens (6 - 10)

Tennessee Titans (10 - 6)*
Indianapolis Colts (10 - 6)*
Houston Texans (8 - 8)
Jacksonville Jaguars (6 - 10)

Kansas City Chiefs (11 - 5)*
Oakland Raiders (9 -7)
Denver Broncos (8 - 8)
San Diego Chargers (7 - 9)


New York Giants (10 - 6)*
Washington Redskins (9 - 7)
Dallas Cowboys (8 - 8)
Philadelphia Eagles (5 - 11)

Green Bay Packers (11 - 5)*
Minnesota Vikings (9 - 7)
Chicago Bears (7 - 9)
Detroit Lions (5 - 11)

Carolina Panthers (11 - 5)*
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10 - 6)*
Atlanta Falcons (8 -8)
New Orleans Saints (7 -9)

Arizona Cardinals (12 - 4)*
Seattle Seahawks (11 - 5)*
Los Angeles Rams (8 -8)
San Francisco 49ers (4 - 12)

* Playoff Teams

Super Bowl LI

Arizona Cardinals 34 - New England Patriots 31


MVP:  Eli Manning
OFF MVP:  Odell Beckham Jr.
DEF MVP:  Luke Kuechly
ROY:  Ezekiel Elliott
COY:  Dirk Koetter
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