NFL Halfway way report for 2016

Written by :
Published on : November 3, 2016

 

 

NFL Week 8 is in the books are we are officially halfway through the 2016 season. Damn, things are moving fast. Don’t blink because the postseason is around the corner. Let’s look back at the first part of the year and see what we’ve learned so far.

 

The Standings

The quickest and most superficial way to know a squad is by looking at their record. Who did they beat? Who did they lose to? Was it at home or on the road? These are all telling bits of information. Your current division leaders are:

 

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys (6-1)

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons (5-3)

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1)

 

 

AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

AFC East: New England Patriots (7-1)

AFC South: Houston Texans (5-3)

AFC West: Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos (both 6-2)

 

With Brady back under center, the Pats are the best team in the league. They are the first to 7 wins and should be the favorite in every game for the next 8 weeks. The Cowboys are the only other 1 loss team and they lead the only division where all members have a winning record. The NFC East is finally playing some good football. Houston and Minnesota both seems like crews that could get pushed out of their current standings. The AFC West should be a three horse race going down the stretch as Kansas City starts to string wins together. Stats aren’t everything but number of wins is still huge in the playoff picture.

 

Surprises

One of the biggest shockers of the year has to be the Oakland Raiders. The 6-2 record is nice but it’s the 5-0 on the road that makes you double-take. They are on track for their first playoff appearance since 2003. The second longest postseason drought in football (only the Bills have been waiting longer). I hope they get there. Either by winning the AFC West or locking up a wild card spot.

 

 

How awful the Carolina Panthers are. They are 2-5 and last in the NFC South. Talk about a Super Bowl hangover. I don’t think anyone, including Cam Newton saw that coming. Their D is weak, Cam is getting lit up and nothing is clicking.

 

The Cowboys getting it done with rookies at QB and RB in Dak Prescott and Ezekial Elliot. Enough with the Romo talk. Prescott is winning, you don’t mess with success. Let Tony ride the bench for awhile. Maybe he can come back during the playoffs just time to to throw an interception.

 

How average the Packers look. They are 4-3 but have lost to every team over .500 they have played. Eddie Lacy is on IR, they can’t run the ball and defenses aren’t giving Rodgers all day to throw. This football giant seems very killable.

 

Less Surprising

The Jacksonville Jaguars still suck. Many talking-heads hyped the Jags in the preseason as some sort of dark horse. Their offense (mostly through the air) worked last year and they drafted all these great defensive players but it’s not that simple and this franchise is still years away. Also, what’s with the jerseys in the photo below? They look like the knock-off/unlicensed NFL uniforms from Any Given Sunday.

 

 

The Steelers are good. Even without some of their stars, this roster steps up and fills holes. They started without RB Bell because of a suspension, then QB Roethlisberger got hurt, but Pittsburgh keeps winning. Look for them to make another playoff run.

 

Everyone on San Diego is hurt. I can just save this part and copy-paste it next year because it’s the same story every time. Tons of talent and potential, awful luck and injuries leaves Phillip Rivers in a hole fighting for his life. One almost has to wonder, what would the Chargers look like healthy? A bizarre and perverse thought. Don’t linger on it.

 

The Colts can’t stop anyone. They are wasting QB Andrew Luck. Every game, Luck is forced to throw it downfield because they are playing from behind. Great for fantasy, not for reality. Kind of reminds me of Matthew Stafford. Anyway, Indy needs to shore up both sides of the line and spend some draft picks retooling the whole defensive unit.

 

 

The best part about all of this is there is still time. 8 games is a lot. Go 6-2 over the second half and you may just be in the playoffs. Stranger things have happened. At this moment, I can only guarantee maybe 5 teams will make it. That leaves plenty of spots for your team. All they have to do is get hot.

 

Playoffs?

 

 


SBS NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 3

Written by :
Published on : September 23, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

I seem to be developing a pattern of mediocrity as far as it concerns these NFL Picks Against the Spread. It’s like I’m the Bengals or something. With an 8-8 record last week and a 15-16-1 record overall, I just haven’t been able to take that next step. That’s all going to change this week. Now that the identity of these  NFL teams is a little more clear, I’ve got this thing figured out and am sure that these picks are on the money. Sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy these winners.

 

Winning picks in italics

 

Redskins at Giants (-4)Giants

The Giants have now lost 2 games that they should have won and they are going to come out pissed as all hell. The Redskins on the other hand, are going to show that last week was a fluke. Eli goes off and the Giants get their first win, at home, in a big way.

 

Steelers (-1) at Rams: Rams

This is a tough one for me because it’s going to be Le’Veon Bell’s first game back with the Steelers, but I think the Rams defense is going to shine. The home field advantage is going to play a big part here and we are going to see a repeat of what St Louis did when Seattle came to town in week 1.

 

Chargers at Vikings (-2.5): Chargers

The Vikings were lucky to be playing a Lions team last week that seems to have no offensive line whatsoever. They will not be so lucky this week with Phillip Rivers & Co heading the land of 10,000 lakes. Rivers and Keenan Allen will get back on track and cover the spread in what will be a high scoring matchup.

 

Buccaneers at Texans (-6.5): Buccaneers

Can somebody please explain to me how the 0-2 Texans are a 6.5 point favorite? Don’t worry I’ll wait….. Exactly, it makes no sense. Vegas obviously knows something that we don’t (as usual) but regardless I’ll take Jameis and those points all day.

 

Eagles at Jets (-2.5): Jets

The Eagles are a mess. They can’t run the ball and Bradford looks like a fat, steaming pile of dog shit on the field. The Jets, however, look surprisingly good. And they’re at home. Jets FTW.

 

Saints at Panthers (-7.5): Saints

I know Drew Brees is probably about to miss this and perennial bum, Luke McCown, is likely to back him up, but 7.5-points in a division game? I’ve got to go with the Saints here and hope that Sean Payton can dial up some serious magic to keep this one somewhat close.

 

Jaguars at Patriots (-13.5): Jaguars

There’s no way I see the Jaguars having a chance at winning this game straight up, but they did beat the Patriots’ division rivals, the Dolphins, last week. The Pats will go up early and then let their older starters get some rest. That’s when Blake Bortles is going to get some garbage-time TDs and cover this ridiculous 13.5-point spread

 

Bengals at Ravens (-2.5): Ravens

The Bengals have looked damn good so far this season, and the poor Ravens are 0-2, including an embarrassing loss to the Raiders. But this is their home-opener and it happens to be against a division opponent. The Ravens are going to come out fired up and smack the Bengals back down to Earth.

 

Raiders at Browns (-3.5): Browns

The Raiders have some young talent, probably more so than the Browns, but they are on the road and they got lucky last week against the Ravens. This is going to be a real dumpster fire of a game and surely going to piss off both fan bases, but home field rules and Johnny Football gets the win.

 

Colts (-3.5) at Titans: Colts

Andrew Luck has got to get his shit together at some point, right? This is the perfect time to pull his head out of his own ass and lead the Colts to a big win.

 

Falcons (-1.5) at Cowboys: Falcons

If Tony Romo and Dez Bryant were on the field this pick would be different, but the Falcons have actually looked good this year. Brandon Weeden is going to fumble-fuck all over this game and get the Cowboys their first loss.

 

49ers at Cardinals (-6.5): Cardinals

Has Carson Palmer ever even been injured? I mean seriously, he looks amazing out there. The 49ers are headed into a world of pain when they travel to Arizona this week. The Cardinals will get after them early and often, and run them right back to Santa Clara (They don’t actually play in San Francisco anymore).

 

Bears at Seahawks (-14.5): Bears

The Bears were already so bad and now Jimmy Clausen is set to start in Seattle this week. Fans in Chicago should be shitting themselves right about now. The Seahawks haven’t looked great but they are vastly superior to the Bears. That said, just like with the Pats-Jags game, I can’t see past that spread. Call me crazy, but I take those 14.5-points, Matt Forte and the Bears.

 

Bills at Dolphins (-3): Bills

When Ndamukong Suh was with the Lions he was my favorite player. When he left for the Dolphins I was sad but wished him the best. Now I would be lying if I said it didn’t please me just a bit to see that defense under-achieving. The Bills, however, are looking great on defense and seem to have the offense more figured out than I would have thought. I think they win straight up, but if you’re giving me 3, I’m gonna take it without thinking twice.

 

Broncos (-3) at Lions: Broncos

Until they show me otherwise, I give up on the Lions. After seeing what their o-line has looked like against the likes of the Chargers and Vikings, it make me sick to my stomach to think what Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are going to do to sweet, handsome Matt Stafford. Get your 40 oz ready Lions fans, cuz we might be pouring out a little liquor for our dead quarterback on Monday.

 

Chiefs at Packers (-6.5): Packers

What can I even say about the Packers. It doesn’t matter who they play or how many people on their team get hurt, with Aaron Rodgers all they do is win. And they are at home? So long, Chiefs. The god damned Pack wins again.

 


Last week’s record: 8-8

 

Season record: 15-16-1

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: AFC West

Written by :
Published on : September 5, 2015

 

This season’s AFC West promises a grueling divisional battle between a Broncos team that may be on the decline and a solidly improved Chiefs defense. Meanwhile, Oakland is looking for a new start with a potentially impressive QB/WR connection, and though you shouldn’t sleep on the San Diego Chargers, you know you will anyway.

 

Let yourself go as we gaze into this hazy quartz sphere…

 

Oakland Raiders:

 photo oaklandraiders copy_zpshxurehnc.jpg

 

Who do you like better as a second year quarterback in a hurting franchise, Blake Bortles or Derek Carr? It’s a trick question. They’re both promising, and they’ve both got a long way to go. I think Carr has the edge at the moment due to having Amari Cooper as a target. I try not to get too excited about any draft prospect before I see them in the regular season (which has been nearly impossible with Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston on hand in the preseason), but with Cooper it’s hard not to think that the Raiders made a wise decision.

As far as the coaching switch-up goes, it’s tough to get too excited about Jack Del Rio. That said, it can’t get any worse than Dennis Allen’s attempt to bring Oakland back from the brink. The dude tried, and it just didn’t work. It does help to have a guy like Justin Tuck in the locker room though. Sure his production has declined pretty significantly from his glory days in New York, but you’ve got to imagine he’s worth the contract for his ability to mentor the younger guys.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

As with so many other teams on the lower rungs of the NFL’s ladder, this one has some new talent that it needs to mold properly in order to start winning. This is the definition of a building season, and the Raiders are once again destined to remain at the bottom of the AFC West, even if Del Rio’s strategies take hold. At least we get some new Khalil Mack highlights.

 

Denver Broncos:

 photo denverbroncos_zpsj9y7wmvl.jpg

 

The NFL’s eternal bridesmaids return this season with some elephant-in-the-room-questions regarding Peyton’s continued high level of production, his health, and his age. These are questions worth asking but I don’t see Manning losing much steam this season. He’ll remain a class-A quarterback, but what about next season? What about the season after that? There’s gonna come a day (sometime soon) when Manning’s going to have to hang up the cleats, giving up the game he loves in favor of pursuing his other passion: endorsements.

I’m also a little concerned about the departure of John Fox. I know Kubiak has a history with the franchise but it’s not like the Broncos exactly suffered under Fox’s reign. Sure, there was an embarrassing Super Bowl drubbing at the hands of the Seahawks, but I find it hard to give up on a top tier coach for one loss, even if it is in THE game. Hey, remember when Danny Trevathan dropped the ball before the end zone on a guaranteed pick-six against Baltimore in the 2013 season, resulting in an automatic touchback? I started paying attention to him after that mostly because of schadenfreude, but was soon impressed by how good a player he actually is. I love that defense in Denver. They’re as fun and dynamic as the offense is methodical and boring.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

A strong season will be marred by a few hiccups in adjusting to Kubiak’s return. It’s a strong possibility Denver doesn’t make the playoffs, which will cause that overly earnest fan-base to go apoplectic. This is a team currently in decline, even if that decline is almost imperceptibly gradual.

 

San Diego Chargers:

 photo sandiegochargers_zpsjys5xbok.jpg

 

The Chargers are a weird team because they’re sort of a non-factor when you look at the league as a whole. It’s strange because they aren’t a “bad” team, and they usually finish the season with an over .500 record, or something close to it. The Chargers are also a team for which that hoary old “any given Sunday” adage was invented for: it doesn’t matter how good you are, you can’t take the Chargers for granted. It’s not entirely surprising when they make the playoffs, and it’s even less so when they don’t, but something is missing here. For all of Phil Rivers’ manic facial expressions and gnashing of teeth, this is a team that seems to suffer strongest from a lack of heart. They’re the vanilla pudding of the NFL: good, but unremarkable.

Rivers is the rock here and his contract extension was much deserved, but it seems like he’s got an ever shrinking coterie of talented receivers to throw to, and all the while the running game has remained stagnant. Gates does a great job bucking body image norms (even in the position of tight end), but his age is going to lead to a drop in production that I think we’ve already seen a preview of. There’s a bad stereotypical comparison to make with the SoCal locale they play out of, with a relaxed and lackadaisical attitude. Obviously the players and coaching staff don’t feel that way, but looking in from the outside, it’s hard to believe that this is a club with a strong work ethic or culture.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Rivers will be reliable as ever, but he can only do so much. The run game continues to struggle and the Chargers win just enough games to satisfy fans with another .500 or over season. Keep an eye on that defense though, they’re good and they may start to develop the kind of identity this team sorely needs.

 

Kansas City Chiefs:

 photo kcchiefs_zps56nfs0dy.jpg

 

I love Andy Reid and I don’t care who knows it. I love his comeback with the Chiefs after leaving Philadelphia, bruised, broken, and disgraced. Along with Reid, we’ve got another guy with something to prove in QB Alex Smith. He was let go by the ‘Niners, despite playing quite well, in favor of a shinier new model (though I’m guessing plenty of 49ers fans would be happy to have Smith back over Kap at this point). Justin Houston turns an already great d-line into arguably the league’s most terrifying and amped up pass rush. While it’s certainly not the best look to call yourself “the LeBron James of the NFL,” Jamaal Charles’ point is well taken in that he is one of the NFL’s premier running backs. C’mon Jamaal, let’s not forget that LeBron’s favorite athlete is Calvin Johnson!

There are some potential concerns here with a lack of big play receivers, and Charles was hung up with some injuries last season. For a team that doesn’t throw many touchdowns, I’m curious to see if Maclin will be used as a deep threat option, modifying the Chiefs’ game-plan somewhat.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

I think the division goes to the Chiefs this year. It’s going to be a tooth and nail street fight with Denver, and it’s going to get nasty. Even if the Broncos do edge them out of divisional champ status, they definitely still make the playoffs in the wildcard spot. The defensive front continues to dominate and the offense grounds, pounds, and stays consistently productive.

 


Eli Manning Can’t Be Serious

Written by :
Published on : August 19, 2015

 

 

 

With the recent rash of NFL QBs inking lucrative contract extensions, it looks like Eli Manning is next up to the plate.

 

First it was Ben Roethlisberger, who got the ball rolling with his whopper of a contract that will earn him $60.75 million over the first 3 years. Then it was Cam Newton, Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson, and most recently, Phillip Rivers. All of these guys are pretty talented and deserve to make their money, but some of them have accomplished more than the others. Big Ben and Russell have both taken their team to the mountain top, while Cam, Tannehill and Rivers certainly have not, which is fine. There’s a difference between paying for a known commodity and investing in your future. Get your money guys.

 

What they’ve done is inflate the market and that has two-time Super Bowl Champion, Eli Manning, seeing dollar signs big time. To the point that he reportedly now wants to be the highest paid player in the NFL.

 

 

That’s right, Peyton’s little, interception happy brother, Eli, wants to be paid more than Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best quarterback in the game.

 

When’s the last time you heard someone arguing that Eli Manning is the best QB in the game? Don’t worry, I’ll wait. That’s what I thought. Never. You know why? Because he isn’t even close.

 

Eli’s face when he’s thinking about all that money.

 

He must be crazy to think that the New York Giants and Tom Coughlin are going to break the bank on a 35 year old (when his current contract ends) QB. One who routinely places in the top 10 in interceptions thrown. Sure, he has won 2 Super Bowls, and both of the wins were only possible due to late comebacks orchestrated by him (and helped mightily by some amazing catches), but let’s get serious. He is in the twilight of his career and almost certainly will begin to decline very soon.

 

If Giants fans are getting nervous about this prospect and are looking for someone to blame, then they should look across the country at the man they traded away for their starting QB, Phillip Rivers. Last week he inked a huge extension that guaranteed $65 million. That’s for a a guy with a 4-5 playoff record who has never played in a Super Bowl. That’s just about as crazy as Eli wanting to be the highest paid player in the game, but after Rivers screwed the market, you can’t really blame the guy.

 

That face.

 

I’ve heard the argument that with the salary cap increasing every year, contracts like Rivers’ and (potentially) Mannings’ aren’t that crazy, but I just don’t buy that. The fact is, Aaron Rodgers is the standard among quarterbacks, and no one who is that much worse than him should be making more than his $22 million per year, even if that contract is 2 1/2 years old.

 

Sorry Eli, but you just don’t deserve it. I know about the wins, the championships, the pro bowls. But I also know about the interceptions and that you haven’t been to the playoffs since 2011. Sure, you can play out your last year and get that one year, $24 million franchise tag payday, but after that you can be sure that the Giants will not be making you the highest paid player in the game. And if they do, fans in New York should get out the torches and pitchforks, because their team will have just sacrificed their salary cap, and future, for a much-too-close-to-40 years old quarterback who has proven he can’t carry the team anymore.

 

 


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