Biggest Betting Mismatches in the League

One of the more interesting activities to participate in as Thanksgiving approaches is to look at the underlying mismatches in the NFL, or at least some of them (Click Here for the latest Super Bowl picks).

Anyone looking to set their daily fantasy lineup will find this especially interesting:

+Vikings at Detroit Lions

No one thought Minnesota would do so well against the Arizona Cardinals; going into their Week 11 encounter, the Vikings’ defense made it easy to write them off. However, the Vikings refused to be intimidated.

Their sensational performance saw them garner a 30-24 victory over the cards with two field-long touchdowns. The Vikings are very stingy when it comes to rushing scores, and it will be interesting to watch as the Lions find that out.

The one thing you will notice about the Vikings’ first ten games this season is the way they restricted their opponents to five rushing touchdowns. They have simply refused to surrender rushing TDs this season, and you can see that in the way they limited their opponents in this area in the last here games.

The Lions have a pass-heavy red-zone strategy that has given them a mere four rushing touchdowns in 2016. Even Lions fans cannot deny the fact that they are especially inept when it comes to rushing in the red zone.

The Vikings, on the other hand, are determined to shut rushing scores down. The Lions’ offense will be fighting an uphill battle.

+Redskins at Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are riding high on a nine-game winning streak. This means their thanksgiving bout with the Redskins will have added significance because Washington is fighting for second place in the NFC East.

Neither team can afford to not take the other’s offense seriously, not with the talent hiding within each side’s squad. The Cowboys will boast quite the difficult challenge for the Redskins whose defense is definitely lacking.

The Redskins do not do well when it comes to road games; Dallas will be one of their more difficult tests this season, especially seeing as the Cowboys are ranked second in rushing yards per game (overall) and home rushing yards per contest.

The chances of the Redskins overcoming this contest, set in hostile territory, are low, especially if the Redskins fail to contain Ezekiel Elliot.

+Steelers at Indianapolis Colts

Pittsburgh is struggling to change the narrative that they are truly terrible on the road. They only seem to come alive during home games, and convincing pundits that they could turn things around against the Colts will take a lot of effort.

After all, Ben Roethlisberger has only thrown 19 touchdown passes in the last 19 road games; this is as opposed to the 55 thrown in the previous 19 home games. Of course, the Steelers do not necessarily have much to fear.

After all, they have shown that they are very tough when it comes to home teams facing third-down situations. The Steelers are tied with the Miami Dolphins with their tiny 33.3 percent conversion rate, with only Oakland standing ahead of them.

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Playoffs!? Wtf? Playoffs!? Rating the New NFL Head Coaches

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While almost everyone remembers that the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50, few people realize that they did so with a head coach that was brand new to the team heading into that season in Gary Kubiak. In 2016, of the 12 teams that qualified for the playoffs at the end of the 2016-2017 season, two of them were led by first year head coaches: Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants, and Adam Gase of the Miami Dolphins. So, it would stand to reason that the teams who made head coaching changes during this offseason are looking for their new head coaches to immediately replicate the type of success the aforementioned guys had. But who are the coaches in the best positions to lead their teams to the postseason? Here’s our list from least likely to most likely:

Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers — Shanahan and new General Manager John Lynch will start the process of rebuilding the great San Francisco 49ers franchise with the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The problem is, they got the second overall pick in the draft because the team was so bad last year in general. The 49ers could basically use a major infusion of talent at the vast majority of positions on the team, most notably at quarterback. Blaine Gabbert and/or Colin Kaepernick are clearly not the answer, and the new braintrust will likely move quickly in trying to figure out who is the guy that’s going to lead their team for the near and long-term future. But outside of running back, where they have Carlos Hyde, and defensive lineman, where they drafted Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in recent years, there isn’t really a single position on the team that you could point to as a strength moving forward. Shanahan and Lynch will need a few years to restock the proverbial cupboard.

Sean McVay, Los Angels Rams — The Rams went in the total opposite direction of their previous head coach, when hiring their most recent one. They went from a grizzled NFL-stalwart in Jeff Fisher, to hiring the youngest head coach in NFL history in Sean McVay. McVay was considered somewhat of a “wunderkind” after guiding the Washington Redskins’ offense to the third-best ranking in the NFL last season. His job will largely be tied to the development of Jared Goff, the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Even though it’s still way too early to make any type of judgment on Goff, we saw much he struggled last season. The Rams offensive line remains awful for yet another year. They’ve had one wide receiver top 1,000 yards receiving in the past decade. After a superstar-caliber rookie season, running back Todd Gurley looked painfully mortal last year. McVay might be responsible for helping Goff develop, but he’s got his work cut out for him with the rest of this offense. The saving grace for the Rams is that the defense still has talent, including defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who’s one of the five best defensive players in the NFL.

Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills — Halfway through October, the Buffalo Bills looked like they might end up being one of the surprise teams in the NFL. They had a 4-2 record, including a shutout victory over the New England Patriots. But, from there on out, the bottom fell out for the Bills, as they finished with a 3-7 record down the stretch. That led to Rex Ryan’s dismissal, and the hiring of new head coach Sean McDermott. The first order of business for McDermott and Doug Whaley will be to find a starting quarterback, as it looks like Tyrod Taylor’s tenure in Buffalo is all but over. Many people think they’ll use the 10th overall pick in the draft to address the position, but let’s not forget they still have Cardale Jones as a developmental player, and perhaps the long-term answer. Still, the Bills don’t have much in the way of building block pieces around whoever fills the quarterback position. Running back LeSean McCoy looked great last season, but he’ll be 29 years old next season, and hasn’t played in all 16 games as a member of the Bills. Star wide receiver Sammy Watkins has missed 11 of his last 32 games. The offensive line has been inconsistent. The defense was ravaged by injuries and inconsistency last year. Buffalo proved they can be a good team if things break well for them, but they still have more questions than answers.

Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars — In reality, the Jacksonville Jaguars could end up being one of the most interesting and dangerous teams in the AFC, if not the NFL. It all depends on whether Marrone’s staff can resurrect the career of quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles appeared to be on an upward trajectory in his second year, leading a young and talented offense. But last year, Bortles badly regressed, and the offense — as well as the whole team — struggled as a result. But this is still one of the youngest and most talented rosters in the NFL.  It’s not out of the question for young stars like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns to bounce back, edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. to take another step forward. Their group of linebackers is one of the more underrated units in the NFL, and they have talent at both Safety positions. If Jacksonville can make a few upgrades on their still-porous offensive line, and perhaps add a little more consistency from the running game, they could help fix what ails Bortles. But this team will only go as Bortles does.

Anthony Lynn, San Diego Chargers — As snakebitten as this team was with injuries and plain old bad luck last season, San Diego sits near the top of this list for one simple reason: they still have quarterback Philip Rivers, who made the Pro Bowl last season (as an alternate). Even with an offense that continued to lose players seemingly on a weekly basis, Rivers still finished the year ranked among the top five quarterbacks in passing yards, yards per attempt, and touchdown passes. While he’s not exactly getting any younger, he’s still in the prime of his career.  The Chargers will also have some balance on offense, thanks to the second year breakout of running back Melvin Gordon. On defense, they have two of the best young talents in the NFL in defensive end Joey Bosa, who was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year last season, and cornerback Jason Verrett, who admittedly missed much of last year after suffering a season-ending ACL injury. Still, with the offensive and defensive pedigrees that new head coach Anthony Lynn and new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, this team is not that far away from contending for a playoff spot.

Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos — Vance Joseph, the highly-regarded former defensive backs coach for the Miami Dolphins, is probably the one coach in the best position to guide his team to the playoffs in his first year as head coach, mostly on the basis of the defense he’ll be inheriting. That group still has Von Miller, who is still perhaps the best edge rusher in the NFL, as well as the best pair of cornerbacks in the league in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. Even with all the injuries and defections via free agency this team had after winning the Super Bowl, those guys represented the foundation of what was still probably the league’s best defense. Obviously, then, the biggest questions for the Broncos will be on the offensive side of the football, namely at the quarterback position. While most people believe that incumbents Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will battle for the starting job, it’s hard to rule out the possibility of the team acquiring a veteran quarterback — say, Tony Romo? — who could step in and lead this team immediately. If they can get even an average-level of play from the quarterback position, they can rely on their skill position players like Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, C.J. Anderson, and second-year running back Devontae Booker to help spark an offense that sputtered down the stretch of last season.

[Analysis by NFL expert Rajan Nanavati]

P.J. Fleck and the Minnesota Gophers are Going Places

The Minnesota Golden Gophers made perhaps the best coaching hire of the off-season by landing former Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck is only 36 years old, but he helped turn Western Michigan’s football program around in only four years. He went 1-11 in his first season, but he was able to recruit at a high level, finishing with the 36th best class according to 247sports.com before the 2014 season. The Broncos finished 8-4 in 2014 and Fleck was named the MAC coach of the year. In 2015, he finished 7-5 but led the program to its first ever bowl victory with a 45-31 win over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders in the Bahamas Bowl. Fleck was able to put together the 4th consecutive best recruiting class in the MAC, and the talent acquired from those four years really proved to be special in 2016. The Broncos went undefeated in the regular season with a 12-0 record, then won the MAC championship, and qualified for an at-large bid to play Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. They lost 24-16, but it was the best season in program history. Minnesota has talent and has competed in the Big 10 in the past, and they are in the much weaker west division. This is huge because they play Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern and Purdue every year. They also play Nebraska and Wisconsin, who are both steady, consistent programs but it is not nearly as difficult as the east gauntlet of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. Fleck is a proven winner, and a great recruiter, plus he plays a manageable schedule every year.

We think it will take a year or two, like it did at Western Michigan, for him to really get the program going with his system and his players. The first few years may not be great, but once he establishes his program it very well could be a contender in the west every year. We think Minnesota could be a serious contender in the Big 10 in a few years, and that also means they very well could be a dark horse playoff contender if they somehow knock off one of the dominant programs out of the east division. Minnesota is going to go places it has never been with Fleck at the helm, as he is a great coach, recruiter and plays in the weaker division. We think it is very likely that Minnesota will be a very good program in the future that teams such as Ohio State and Michigan can no longer take lightly.

AFC Divisional Playoff Forecast

Houston Texans at New England Patriots: Texans QB Brock Osweiler surprised a lot of people in a win over the Oakland Raiders a week ago. Osweiler was 14 of 25 for 168 yards with 1 TD and no INTs, he also ran for a score. The conservative, do not make mistakes mentality allowed the Texans to score just enough points to get the win in the wild card round. The Raiders were without their star QB Derek Carr and the Texans defense, which ranked 1st in total defense, shut down the Raiders offense. This week, Osweiler will have to continue to not turn the football over as he faces his toughest challenge yet, the red hot New England Patriots and their 8th ranked total defense. We expect the Texans to try and run the ball and keep Tom Brady off the field, but eventually Osweiler will have to hit some big plays downfield if the Texans want a chance for a massive upset. We think the key will be how the Texans defense will play against the league’s 4th ranked offense. They can rush the QB with Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus off the edge, and if you can continue to harass Tom Brady you give your defense a chance to get stops. I believe it will be closer than people expect, as the Texans defense will keep them in the game but eventually the Patriots will force Osweiler into mistakes and too many 3rd and longs which will ultimately decide the game. The Texans inability to hit big plays on offense will wear the defense down as they will be on the field for too long and the Patriots should run away with it in the 4th quarter.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs: These are the two teams with the chance to upset the New England Patriots this postseason. This is the first time the Steelers have had a fully healthy “big three” in QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown, so that will definitely be a major factor. The Dolphins could not stop Brown as he had 5 catches for 124 yards and two TDs in their win last week. We believe the Chiefs star CB Marcus Peters will do a much better job of limiting what Brown can do in the pass game, and force other WRs to beat them. The Chiefs defense has been susceptible this season, as they rank 24th in total defense, but they make up for it with a league leading +16 in turnover differential. The Chiefs defense forces you into mistakes and their offense does not make very many mistakes. The Chiefs are a completely different team with an emerging star in WR Tyreek Hill, who led the league in 60 plus yard TDs this year. He is explosive and a great complement to WR Jeremy Maclin and the All-Pro TE Travis Kelce over the middle. RB Spencer Ware has done a nice job filling in for the injured Jamaal Charles, and we believe the Chiefs will have great balance on offense. The biggest key to this game is QB Alex Smith, he has been called a game manger in the past but he has the ability to rip it downfield. The key will be his legs, which are vastly underrated. Smith runs the read-option and is far more athletic than people think, he can convert big third downs on the ground if the defense plays man across the board which will be a huge factor in sustaining drives. This game is a toss up, but I think that the Chiefs defense will get enough stops, force some turnovers and allow the offense to manage the game, while hitting a few big plays. The Chiefs should get the win with the help of their home-field advantage, but it will be a great game!

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]

AFC Wildcard Round Forecast

Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans: If you love great offensive football, you probably should not watch this game. The Oakland Raiders already lost starting QB Derek Carr for the postseason, and may be without backup QB Matt McGloin as he injured his shoulder in week 17. That means rookie 3rd string QB Conner Cook will start if McGloin cannot play, and that is just not a story with a great ending. The Texans, however, have QB issues of their own as QB Brock Osweiler was benched earlier this year for his poor performance, and backup Tom Savage did not impress so Osweiler is now the starter again. Brock Osweiler is a big QB with a strong arm but he struggles under pressure and is mistake prone. The only thing we like about this move is that he has the arm to stretch the ball downfield to star WR DeAndre Hopkins. The Raiders defense has improved throughout the year but they were helped out a lot by a very explosive offense that could score points with Carr under center. The Raiders offense will struggle and the Texans defense will create turnovers to allow their offense to have short fields and that will be the reason that the Texans win a low scoring, defensive battle at home.

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers: The Dolphins defeated the Steelers 30-15 in Miami earlier this year, but Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was injured. This game has a very different feel to it, as all of the Steelers offensive weapons are healthy. Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and star WR Antonio Brown will all be ready to play. The Dolphins will most likely start backup QB Matt Moore as Ryan Tannehill has not practiced this week. That is a huge advantage to the Steelers despite their defense being susceptible throughout most of the year. The Dolphins must run the football with Jay Ajayi and do their best to keep the Steelers offense off the field. We think the Dolphins can score and keep it close early, but their downfall will be Matt Moore’s inability to hit big plays when they matter most and the Steelers offense exposing the Dolphins defense that ranks 29th in total defense. The Steelers and their explosive offense will eventually run away with the game as the Dolphins will struggle to keep up offensively and their defense will not be able to stop Roethlisberger and company and the Steelers will get the win at home.    Enjoy!

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]

Look for Wild Times in The NFC Wildcard Playoffs!

With the regular season coming to an end a few of the top tier teams can lock in on bringing home the Lombardi Trophy. The NFC teams are going to clash to power their way to Super Bowl LI. Filled with power houses such as Detroit, Green Bay, Seattle, and New York playing in Wild Card matchups the outcomes are unpredictable.

Detroit was snubbed having no players on their roster elected to the Pro Bowl this year, but that didn’t slow them from finishing with a 9-6 record. An offense led by MVP candidate Matthew Stafford it doesn’t seem as if any other offensive weapons are needed. Aside from a QB there is really no great on the Lion’s offense just a lot of good that contributes to filling their schedule with wins. A sub par defense seems to be one of their only weaknesses led by cornerback Darius Slay. If Detroit’s defense can play as a team they will make a case to be true title contenders.

Division rival to Detroit, Green Bay is pretty straightforward. Plain and simple, when Aaron Rodgers is your QB you are gonna win football games. Especially when he is being protected by three of the best pass blocking linemen. Overcoming numerous injuries on their roster to win six straight to finish the season. Receiver turned running back Ty Montgomery has shown flashes that he can play at an explosive level in the NFL. The only thing holding them back is a beat up defense. With arguably the weakest secondary in the NFL it will something Green Bay’s offensive firepower will have to make up for. Green Bay’s front seven unlike its secondary is always bringing the heat. Despite the age of many key players their run stop and pass rush continues to improve.

A team that seemed to be the kryptonite to the Green Bay Packers is the Seattle Seahawks. On the other hand having arguably the best secondary in the NFL with the notorious Richard Sherman. Their defense also known as the “Legion of Boom” causes every opponent’s offense to throw a fit. Questions in the running back spot may hold the offense back, but Quarterback Russell Wilson’s mentality fuels that offense. To progress through the playoffs Seattle will nee complete play by their receivers after suffering a huge loss in Tyler Lockett. Seattle comes with a winning mentality considering their past which will play as a key advantage this time around.

One of the most talked about players around the league seems to be Odell Beckham Jr. His sure hands and quickness can make any quarterback shine. Although recently New York’s defense has been carrying the team. With a loaded young secondary and some bruisers in the front seven New York has been the reason teams are losing sleep at night. An aging and inconsistent Eli Manning has seemed to be the only question mark on the team. If Eli can get hot and use his numerous weapons to his advantage it will make New York a tough team to beat.

 

NFC Playoff Picture Still in Flux

Usually, Week 17 of the NFL’s regular season is mostly meaningless. The teams with nothing left to play for usually play out this last game as nothing but a formality, while those teams in contention have usually solidified their spots in the postseason race.

However, heading into Week 17, while we do have a good idea of who’s most likely to be in this year’s NFC playoffs, there’s still plenty at stake for the participants to play for, and fans of those teams to watch for.

The Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and New York Giants have all clinched postseason berths. We know that the Cowboys have secured the top seed in the conference, meaning they’ll have home field advantage for any game leading up to the Super Bowl. We also know that the New York Giants have secured the fifth seed (the top Wild Card spot), meaning they’ll play against the division winner with lowest win-loss percentage in the playoffs.

But after that? It’s all up in the air.

With the Detroit Lions losing to Dallas on Monday evening, the two biggest “must watch” games for Week 17 are the Washington Redskins hosting the New York Giants, and the Green Bay Packers traveling to Detroit; the latter game was flexed into the Sunday Night prime time spot, due to the playoff implications of the game. If Washington wins, they’ll almost automatically clinch the last playoff spot (the #6 seed). The only scenario in which the Redskins win and still get left out of the playoffs is if the the Lions-Packers game ends in a tie; more on that in a second. But for all intents and purposes, Washington is pretty much in a “win and in” situation.

The interesting wrinkle to the Redskins-Giants affair will be whether the Giants decide to rest their starters in the game. New  York can do no better or no worse than the fifth seed in the playoffs regardless of the outcome of the game, so it bears watching as to whether they’ll still have their star players — like Odell Beckham Jr., among others — participate in this meaningless match up.

If Washington wins, the game between Detroit and Green Bay will not only bear the implications of the NFC North division winner, but will also be a “loser goes home” scenario. Midway through December, Detroit had a 9-4 record. But after losing their last two games, combined with the hard-charging Packers currently riding a five-game winning streak, the Lions grasp on the NFC North title is tenuous at best. But, in an interesting twist, the Lions and Packers can actually both make the playoffs if their game ends in a tie. If that happens, the Packers would win the NFC North, and the Lions would get the last playoff spot in the NFC, as they would have the same record as the Redskins but own the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The other two games that could potentially alter the NFC playoff landscape involve the Atlanta Falcons hosting the New Orleans Saints, and the Seattle Seahawks playing the San Francisco 49ers in the Bay area.  The Falcons presently hold the second seed in the NFC playoffs, meaning they’d get the highly valuable first-round bye and host the playoff semi-final game. However, if Atlanta loses to New Orleans and Seattle beats San Francisco, then Seattle would secure the second seed in the NFC playoffs. But, both the Falcons and Seahawks will be favorites entering the game, so it’s hard to see the current seeding of both teams changing.

With Green Bay entering the game as three point favorites over the Lions and Washington entering their game against New York as eight point favorites, if we assume that the Packers, Redskins, Falcons, and Seahawks all win in Week 17, we would have the Cowboys with the top seed in the NFC playoffs, the Falcons with the second seed, and the Redskins taking on the Seahawks as well as the Giants traveling to Green Bay to take on the Packers in the NFC playoffs.

[Analysis by NFL expert Rajan Nanavati]

Amazing New Tech Devices for NFL’s Biggest Fans

From the first kickoff to the last play of the Super Bowl in February, you want to experience all things football. And with the right technology, you can catch every snap, pass and yard gained. Still, sometimes it’s not about how much football you watch, but rather the quality of the experience. If you care to watch every game through the very best immersive experience possible, here’s the tech items you’ll need as a true NFL fan.

The Full Mobile Experience

For NFL fans on the go, a reliable high-end mobile device is essential. Take, for example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, with its 5.5-inch quad HD AMOLED screen, providing you a crystal clear image for watching every NFL game. It’s also water and dust resistant, so it’ll remain safe even if you get it soaked in beer or soda — or whatever you’re enjoying during the game. The S7 edge is available through T-Mobile, which gives you access to T-Mobile TV. Watch your favorite shows live or on replay. Oh, and this service also includes ESPN, a must-have for any NFL fan.

The Full Home Theater Experience

For those who enjoy watching the biggest games from the comfort of their home, know that not all TVs are created equal. As you look to upgrade your viewing experience, a 4K television is well worth the investment. Top-rated TVs for sports lovers include the LG B6 and Samsung KS8000. The LG B6 comes in two sizes: 55 and 65 inches. The TV’s OLED display reduces blur during swift camera pans, which is ideal for the lightning-quick action of today’s NFL games.

Meantime, the Samsung KS8000 is a cheaper option, but doesn’t include the OLED display, which makes viewing games at an angle a difficult proposition. In spite of this, the KS8000 is one of the best LED TVs on the market for NFL fans.

Your TV is only one ingredient for an immersive NFL gameday experience. A home theater speaker setup, like the Orb Audio Mini 5.1 speaker system, will complete the experience. Other great surround sound options include the Sonos home theater system, which is completely wireless. Or, if you’re more old-school, the Energy 5.1 Take Classic Home Theater System might be for you.

Where Tech Will Take Football

Microsoft is the NFL’s technology partner, and last year the company released a video of what an NFL game might look like in the future — at least from the comfort of your home. The HoloLens headset is an augmented reality device that can turn your living room into a stadium-rich experience. The HoloLens would allow viewers to see a holographic version of the stadium and even check and compare live stats — all holographically.

While the video released directly before Super Bowl 50 was just a concept video, the HoloLens has made major strides outside entertainment, as the technology has been used by surgeons to perform spinal surgery. While this technology is still in the development stage, look for the HoloLens and a more immersive football experience in the years to come.

Preview: Oakland versus Kansas City

Coming off a win against Buffalo, the Oakland Raiders have continued their hot streak and look to catch up to New England for the number one seed in the playoffs. The Kansas City Chiefs on the other hand hold a wildcard spot and hope to hold on to it and make a good postseason run. This is a big game for both teams, and it could play a pivotal role in deciding each team’s playoff rankings.
Derek Carr’s injured finger didn’t seem to play a role in last week’s win against the Bills, as he was able to fight it off and have a great game. He moved the ball efficiently and the Oakland defense eventually got its act together to get him out onto the field as much as they could. However, Oakland overall still has a very poor defense, and Andy Reidâ’s West Coast scheme that he runs with the Chiefs is built to destroy the type of defense Oakland has. Oakland’s main weaknesses on defense are against the run and their linebackers, so not only will running the ball be effective, but short, quick passes will stop Raiders defensive ends Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack from putting their pass rushing skills to good use. Khalil Mack had another big game against Buffalo, forcing the hit that led to Tyrod Taylor’s interception, and also the strip sack that sealed the game for the Raiders. He can be used all over the field, and coach Jack Del Rio will want to use his versatility in defending against the Kansas City Chiefs style of offense.
On defense the Chiefs have good players all around. An interesting player to watch will be Justin Houston, who has been a monster since he came back from injury. While the Raiders have given up the least sacks in the league, they have a noticeable weakness on the right side. The Chiefs may want to put Houston there to do the most damage, but they can switch it up due to teammate Tamba Hali being a very good pass rusher himself. An interesting matchup to watch will be Raiders wideout Amari Cooper against Chiefs corner Marcus Peters. Peters has a knack for being boom or bust at the corner position, and Amari Cooper is known to make great plays on deep routes. Do not be surprised if Peters gets an interception but also lets Cooper have a big game as well. It is also possible that Peters may protect one side and line up against Michael Crabtree on occasion, who is quite good as well. Just another story to watch this week, and it makes for a very exciting game.

On paper the Raiders have the better team, but the Chiefs are no pushovers. This should be a very competitive game, and both teams have their case for a win.

  • Analysis by NFL artificial  intelligence!

NFL 2016-7 Super Bowl Dark Horses

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are 7-4, and just defeated the Arizona Cardinals 38-19 at home. The Falcons are ranked 4th in total offense, and 3rd in passing offense. QB Matt Ryan has looked much more comfortable with an improved offensive line and a steady, reliable run game in Devonte Freeman. The pass defense is ranked 30th but the run defense is ranked 9th, and they are +3 in turnover differential. The Falcons have always been a dominant team in the Georgia Dome, and if they continue to play at a high level they could secure a home playoff game. With the balance they have on offense and the improving defense, we could see this team making a run in the playoffs.
New York Giants: The Giants are 8-3 and are on a 6 game win streak. The Cowboys are the obvious pick to win the NFC East, but the Giants could still sneak in the wild card and make some noise. Eli Manning is an elite QB, and they have one of the best WR trios in football with Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard. The Giants last two super bowl wins, they barely snuck into the playoffs then caught fire. This team has the potential to do that again, with Manning they are never out of a game. The defense has drastically improved from last year as well, ranking 16th in total defense and 5th against the run. The NFC East is always crazy, and we could definitely see the Giants spoiling the Cowboys super bowl run and make a deep run of their own.
Denver Broncos: This is an unconventional pick from the AFC West, most would pick the Kansas City Chiefs. We like the Broncos because of their suffocating defense, they won a Super Bowl with great defense last year and they could make a run again. QB Trevor Siemian has played well, throwing for 2,396 yards 15 TDs and only 7 INTs. The Broncos have proven they can win b y not beating themselves and letting the defense keep the scores close. They still have an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth with games at the Chiefs and a home finale with the Raiders. If they sneak in, they will be a tough out with that stout defense and can cause problems to the explosive offenses in the AFC.

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]