Rest of Week 1 Picks and Analysis

The NFL season has started off with a huge win for the defending Super Bowl champs. A huge 36-16 win over the strong Packers proves that the 12th man still have it and that Seattle is a legit contender to repeat. By the way, Aaron Rodgers didn’t throw Richard Sherman’s way all night and still lost big. What that that say about the other side of their defense? It’s just as strong. So if you picked Seattle’s defense, get ready for them to just consistently stop great offenses and put up big fantasy points! 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Safety and 16 Points allowed. If they didn’t fumble the punt return in the 1st quarter, they might’ve only given up just 9 points.

Moving forward, there are 13 games on Sunday sheet. Lots of good matchups with some division games right off the bat. Lets take a look.

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Saints -3. O/U: 51.5:

The Saints take on division rivals Falcons in Atlanta to kickoff their season. Saints have won 8 of the last 10 meetings and only 3 have been won by more than a touchdown. Look for a close game even with the Falcons not having Tony Gonzalez as their tight end for the first time since 2009. The Falcons had an abysmal 4-12 season but don’t let that fool you for this game. Matt Ryan will bounce back having his offensive line upgraded with Jake Matthews and building a better report with Julio Jones and Roddy White. However this game may be close the Saints will take the cake and by more than a field goal. It’s much of the same from the Saints since 2009, with the exception of 20012 when Sean Payton had a 1 year ban for Bountygate, they haven’t finished worse than 11-5. In fact, ever other year since 2009 it’s been 13-3, 11-5, 13-3, 11-5 under Sean Payton. Take the Saints 31-24 in the Over. Go with what works, the Saints always work!

Buffalo Bills @ Chicago Bears,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Bears –7. O/U: 47.5:

Here are two teams that have had trouble making the postseason in recent seasons. Not surprising for the Bills but surprising for the Bears who have the talent to get it done, if Jay Cutler can stay healthy. The Bills had given the reigns to EJ Manuel looked like a rookie most of the season but also showed signs of what could be in the future. Rookie Sammy Watkins is slotted to suite up for the Bills despite having rib injuries the last few years which should see some action coming from Manuel. The Bears however have been 5-0 against the Bills at home all-time even though they have only played each other twice since 2006. The speed of the Bill’s offense will keep them in it but expect the Bears to have their way with the Bills defense with the Cutler/Marshall/Jefferey and Forte on the ground. Take the Bills in the Over but the Bears to win 27-24.

Washington Redskins @ Houston Texans,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Texans -3. O/U: 45:

Houston is still looking for a quarterback (because Fitzpatrick is not the answer) and they even traded for the Patriots backup Mallett. They released their leading passer from last year Case Keenum who fared better than Matt Schaub in the TD/INT ratio) and now have no returning quarterbacks from last years’ roster. Washington has had the same core of guys the last few seasons and even snatched up Desean Jackson from the Eagles after being released by the origination for potential gang relations. Fitzpatrick is an accurate passer who can win some games but the Texans have big and quick receivers that need the ball pushed down the field with strength from time to time and Fitzpatrick is not that guy. Expect Gruden to manage RGIII much better than Shanahan and expect him to return to his rookie form minus the reckless running. I don’t see the Texans putting up big points on offense with Fitzpatrick and don’t see the Redskins blowing up on O either given the Watt/Clowney defensive domination. Take the Redskins +3 and the win in the Under, 20-17

Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Ravens -1.5. O/U: 43:

Another inter-division rivalry game to kick things off, these two have split the last 10 games with both teams being 4-1 at home against each other. That being said, Andy Daulton got a fat extension this offseason, as did Flacco did the pre-season before. Daulton did break Bengals season passer records last year and is the first Bengals QB to lead the team to three straight post-seasons, he has been consistent during the regular season. Gary Kubiak, the ousted Texans coach, is now the Offensive Coordinator for the Ravens trying to reinvent Flacco and put some life into the offense. The Ravens re-upped their defense with some rookies after being average at best last year. Games between these two have been 60% in the Under. Both teams have decent defenses so expect this one to be a snoozer on offense especially since Ray Rice is gone for the first two games of the season. Take the Bengals +1.5 in the Under and the win 21-20.

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Patriots -5. O/U: 47:

11 of the last 13 AFC East titles have gone to the Pats so go with what works. Gronk is back but is probably limited because it will be hot (predicted to be 88 at game time) and he hasn’t had much game action since having his ACL repaired. That didn’t stop Tom from having a good year last year and having Gronk Sunday will only make him look that much better. The Dolphins still have hopes for Tannehill to be their franchise QB but his time is running out and having a completely different offensive line from a year ago will only make it harder. He took a league worst 58 sacks last year, look for that number to be one of the worst again this year. The Dolphins now seem to have a decent running game since their Wildcat days with the addition of Knowshon Moreno, who shredded the Pats for 224 yards last year with the Broncos. The Dolphins have only won 2 of the last 10 games against the Pats, both at home. Take the Patriots -5 and the win in the Over 38-24.

Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Chiefs –3.5. O/U: 43:

Alex Smith comes into the Chiefs opener with a nice new contract and the Titans open their season with a new coach, Ken Whisenhunt. The chiefs come into this game with the AFC leading rusher in 2013, Jamaal Charles and a QB who was once considered in 2010 as one of the biggest #1 overall draft pick busts, Alex Smith (who since the 2011 season is 30-9-1 as a starter), and one of the best defenses in the league. We already know the Titans hired a new coach but they also didn’t resign the speedy Chris Johnson, instead opting to draft Bishop Sankey. With a decent wide out in Kendall Wright and having a great offensive minded coach, the expectations are higher than ever for Jake Locker. Will he be the next Blaine Gabbert? Take the experienced group over the group with a whole new look, Chiefs -3.5 in the Over, 28-20.

Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: St. Louis -4. O/U: 43.5:

As we all know by now, Sam Bradford will miss the season opener, and the rest of the season afterwards. The Rams said that they are sticking with their back up Shaun Hill even after picking up the Texans replacement starter from last year, Case Keenum. Now that failed experiment Christian Ponder is out of the picture, Matt Cassel is actually flourishing with Teddy Bridgewater putting some heat on for the number 1 spot. Even though Minnesota went undefeated in the preseason, that will not continue in the regular season. They do have all 5 starting lineman returning this year which will provide a consistent offense. AP will be as big as every other year despite history showing backs his age wilt starting at 29. Both teams will play good defense so take the Vikings +4 in the over to win 21-13. It would be a miracle if the Rams score an offensive TD.

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Steelers -6.5. O/U: 41.5:

I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about Johnny Manziel, me too unless he is on the field. As for the game, Big Ben is 17-1 against the Browns since being drafted. The Browns didn’t have. Consistent run game last year, expect much of the same this year as well as the pass game. Josh Gordon is out for the year so the only real targets are Andrew Hawkins and Jordan Cameron especially since Brian Hoyer didn’t have a full preseason with the 1st team offense thanks to fending off Johnny Football. Pittsburgh has their top two backs out due to a marijuana issue they had a few weeks ago so look for this game to be low scoring. Expect the defenses to play well against mediocre offenses. Take Big Ben’s record against the Browns to win with the -6.5 points and the Under, 20-13.

Oakland Raiders @ New York Jets,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Jets -5.5. O/U: 40:

As it seems with every year now, the Raiders went through major overhauling on the offensive side. Drafting Derrick Carr was a must since Matt McGloin was the only consistent part of the offense last year. Yes he played well for an undrafted rookie and won Rookie of the week in week 11, but he is no means a franchise QB. Carr beat out newly signed QB Matt Schaub and will have new face Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield as well. With some improvements on defense through the draft, they have a fighting chance for at least a winning or 8-8 season. The Jets will have Geno back as starter and newly signed Chris Johnson who is trying to restart his career. Mark Sanchez is finally out of town and hopefully so is the curse from the butt fumble. Take the Jets to win this with the points -5.5 in the Over 24–17. David Carr looked really good this preseason but he’ll have to wait for his first win.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Philadelphia Eagles,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Eagles -10.5. O/U: 52.5:

There is no doubt that Eagles fans and ownership expect great things this year from Chip Kelly and his guys. The Eagles set team records in points and offensive yardage as well as an unprecedented 27-2 TD/ INT ration from Nick Foles and Shady leading the league with a career high in rushing yards and yards from the lime of scrimmage. But the challenge for them is their receiving core which lost DeSean Jackson due to an ethics decision by the front office dealing with his off the field issues, and Jeremy Maclin’s health. The Jaguars have questions at the receiver position with Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely, Ace Sanders suspended for four games and Cecil Shorts III and Allen Robinson both battling hamstring injuries. Chad Henne was told he gets the reigns for the season and was named one of the teams captains this past week. He has shown in the past that he can win and perform if given the same coaching staff more than one year in a row, he just has to shake off his inner Brett Favre trying to gun passes in where they shouldn’t be, and he’ll be fine. That and with an improved defense and newly inked Toby Gerhart, they should see an improvement from the horrible 0-8 start from last year and continue to build off of the 4-4 ending they had. The Jags had a hard time in the first 8 games causing turnovers but quickly turned that around in the second half of the season and the younger secondary started to look like they were hitting their groove. Don’t let the line fool you, the Jags will keep it close, take the Eagles to win but the Jags for the +10.5 points in the Under. This is a game I would even put on upset alert! Eagles 28-21.

San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys,
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: 49ers -4.5. O/U: 51.5:

The 49ers are chasing that ever elusive Lombardi Trophy and open their season up against a team that is trying to not have another 8-8 year. Sean Lee is back on the shelf for the start of the season. The Boys also lost Demarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher in free agency. Romo has had the most backing and trust from his owner/gm in the history of the NFL, could this finally be the year? Colin Kaepernick’s offense didn’t light the world on fire and is hoping that changes when the games mean something. The 9ers start their season losing Aldon Smith 9 games for multiple off the field issues but faired well in his absence last year. Kaepernick also enters the season with a nice new fat contract after having the whole season to himself behind center, he had your average QB stats. Expect Gore to have his 8th straight 1,000 yard season. Take the 49ers in this one to win with the points in the Over 31-24.

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers,
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Buccaneers -2. O/U: 39.5:

The Panthers enter their season opener wondering if Cam is 100% given his rib situation. Not only does Cam have to worry about his ribs but also who will be his go to receivers this year since his top 4 from last year are all gone. He seems to be favoring big draft pick Kelvin Benjamin but he has had a history of drops and bad route running in college. The Buccs are coming off of a tear down and rebuild year, brining in Lovie Smith (freshly fired from the Bears) for the fired Greg Schiano and sort of upgrading their starting QB with Josh McCown from the Bears as well. McCown will also have a top rookie wide out to be throwing to in Mike Evans. With Vincent Jackson, Evans and Doug Martin, Buccs fans are hoping for at least a winning season with all of the new parts on offense. Expect this division rivalry to stay close, with the Buccs giving 2 you have to take the Panthers for the win and the points +2 in the Under, 20-17.

Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos,
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Broncos -7.5. O/U: 55:

Don’t expect Peyton Manning to be distracted by the guy who replaced him in Indy. This offense is still running on octane even without Wes Welker and his surprising 4 game suspension. The Broncos have had 13-3 seasons the two years Peyton has been there so don’t expect that to change. Andrew Luck has lived up to his #1 overall pick status by leading the Colts to back to back 11-5 seasons while overcoming his head coach Chuck Pagano battling cancer missing most of 2012 and missing his star #1 wide out Reggie Wayne for much of the 2013 season. It didn’t bother Luck much, turning former FIU receiver T.Y. Hilton into a house hold name with his 82 catches for over 1,000 yards. Each of his NFL years, Luck has had 4 fourth quarter comebacks including a Wild Card win last year against one of the hottest teams in the league, KC Chiefs. Denver’s defense has been reinforced with the signing of Demarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and TJ Ward. Look for the Broncos to be just a bit better this year and to kick off the season right against the Colts. Take the Broncos to win and the points -7.5 in the Over, 35-27. Quick stat, Denver is 10-5-1 against the spread last year but 11-5 scoring in the over but started the season with 8 straight games scoring in the over. The Broncos usually start the season faster than anyone else in their offense, look for much of the same this year.unnamed

Look for these two games tomorrow for your Monday Night Football Preview:

New York Giants @ Detroit Lions,
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Lions -5.5. O/U: 47:

San Diego Chargers @ Arizona Cardinals,
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Lions -5.5. O/U: 47:

WHY THE TEXANS SHOULDN’T SELECT JADEVEON CLOWNEY #1 OVERALL

Let’s go down memory lane for a moment. The Texans had this very pick in 2006 and it came with a ton of pressure, as it usually does. Everyone was aware that Vince Young was the most versatile quarterback in the draft and fans wanted to see an actual Texan lead the, still relatively new, franchise with the hopes of the next Michael Vick. Pre-Draft mock experts had Reggie Bush going number one to the Texans, pretty much all across the board. To everyone’s surprise, the Texans talked with Mario Williams and signed him on the night before the draft making him, not Bush, the number one overall pick. Going into the 2006 draft, the Texans needed a ton of help on both sides of the ball which they balanced out with the use of the rest of their picks. They used their first two picks on defense picking up Williams and DeMeco Ryans (2nd round, 33rd overall) and their next five picks on offense (OT – Charles Spenser 3/65, OT – Eric Winston 3/66, TE – Owen Daniels 4/98, RB – Wali Lundy 6/170, and WR – David Anderson 7/251).

Combine Results

40 Yd Dash

3 Cone Drill

225 Bench Press

Broad Jump

Vertical Jump

Mario Williams – 6’7” 295 lbs

4.66

7.21

35 Reps

10’

40 ½”

 

One reason Vince Young wasn’t really on their radar was due to the fact that they still saw major potential with David Carr whom they drafted number one overall back in 2002 but had struggled staying upright being the highest sacked quarterback three of his first four pro years. However, he showed the Texans enough to get another full year of starts before not being resigned in favor of the Texans getting Matt Schaub. The Texans even drafted two offensive tackles to help protect Carr, but he eventually played horribly in other areas. Needless to say, the 2006 Texans had four different rookies start eight games and lead their respected position, while finishing 6-10. Williams had a great start and produced solid numbers over his time with the Texans (averaging 40.16 tackles and 8.83 sacks each year and could’ve been more if he didn’t miss 14 games his final 2 years). The point is, he was also a can’t miss pick, at defensive end, but it didn’t help them win a Super Bowl. Even though Vince Young isn’t employed by the NFL at this point, it doesn’t mean he couldn’t have flourished with Andre Johnson either.

Fast forward eight years and the Texans find themselves in a similar spot come May 8th. This draft seems similar, however on different circumstances this time around, the Texans have the distinct opportunity to select the top college prospect (in their eyes) of this year’s draft. It is an exciting time for any team that holds this pick each and every year but with this pick comes ultimate scrutiny from the beloved owner(s), writers and fans. At the forefront of this year’s draft is Jadeveon Clowney, who after his pro-day, is the can’t miss number one pick for any team in the Texans position, according to mock draft experts. There is just one thing, this year is also packed of NFL talent at the quarterback position as well, which the Texans also need. After the Schaub/Keenum experiment last year, the Texans could really use a new franchise quarterback more than another defensive end that could have the same impact as JJ Watt has on the other end. On the forefront of the needs board, the Texans have three quarterbacks, to which no one really is considers as a true franchise quarterback, and five defensive ends.

The one thing that every team needs to win and on a consistent level, is a consistent quarterback with good size. Bill O’Brien has had that in his coaching career since 2006 (Tom Brady in New England, Matt McGloin and Christian Hackenberg at Penn State). Having Bortles could continue that trend and allow O’Brien to keep the style of offense that has helped make him one of the top offensive minds in football. Taking on Clowney would mean that they would have to scheme defensive plays to make him effective since they also have Watt rushing hard on the other end as well. Their Romeo Crennel defense is a make-up of mostly 3-4 mixed with some 4-3. In his 3-4, the lineman are to draw double teams so that blitzing linebackers don’t get tangled up with offensive lineman. Does that type of defense sound good for a light on his feet, quick and explosive defensive end like Clowney? I think not. In fact, game films show Clowney against double teams all throughout his senior year and he was tossed around and not very effective.

The video below is of the Missouri game in which Clowney played poorly throughout only having 4 solo and 1 assisted tackles as well as a deflection in a two overtime game. Props to whom ever made this montage highlighting every play he was on the field for. You can visibly see some good things but on most plays he isn’t putting much effort in, peeling off of chasing the backs, going 10 yards deep in the back field and if he doesn’t get the edge he lets up. In fact he was mostly blown off of the line of scrimmage where as his other team mates took on double teams as well and were more effective in staying on the line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb-8ePTyOnQ

Top Quarterback Prospects Combine or Pro Day workouts:

 

40 Yd Dash

3 Cone Drill

Broad Jump

Vertical Jump

Blake Bortles – 6’5” 232 lbs

4.93

7.08

9’7”

32 ½”

Tajh Boyd – 6’1” 222 lbs

4.84

7.33

8’10”

30 ½”

Teddy Bridgewater – 6’2” 214 lbs

**4.79

7.17

9’5”

30”

Derek Carr – 6’2” 214 lbs

4.69

9’2”

34 ½”

Johnny Manziel – 6’0” 207 lbs

4.68

6.75

9’5”

31 ½”

**Denotes 40 yd dash was a result from pro day

The Texans are faced with a tough issue at hand with the number one pick overall. Need one, get Clowney and fill a pass rushing need on one of the leagues worse defenses. Need two, improve on the quarterback position which is also a huge need and pick up a defensive end later in the draft with either picks acquired in a trade down or with their second round pick. Huge issues stand in the way of Clowney and the Texans. Numerous experts and former pro athletes who all study the tapes say that the commitment isn’t there. Warren Sapp was recently quoted as saying, “My grandfather taught me something a long time ago. He said ‘You will never get more money by doing less work,’” Sapp said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I look at Jadeveon Clowney’s [game] tape and I don’t see a guy that is playing the game with his hair on fire, making plays, running up and down the field sideline to sideline, doing all of the things.”  That’s not something you want to hear as a team with that number one pick looking to possibly draft Clowney.  Merrill Hodge recently was picking apart his game as recent as his senior year, stating that his technique is flawed, looks like he lacks desire and has limited moves as a defensive end with really only having a good swim move.

Tedy Bruschi has stated that he loves Clowney and sees no reason as to why he shouldn’t be number one.  That was mere moments after Clowney finished his pro day.  First off, pro days are over-rated in some ways and this is due to the fact that it is all schedule and rehearsed.  These players spend weeks and months working out, getting stronger and faster for the combine, doing the same combine drills over and over to get the technique down and to improve for the combine.  After the combine, it’s off to working on areas of your game that you need to improve on to show NFL scouts on your pro day and individual private workouts afterwards, that you are ready to be “their guy”.  Players hook up with a training coach and come up with 50-70 drills/plays to best show off their talents.  Let me reiterate, it’s planned, rehearsed, practiced over and over and over against bags, against no defenses really pressuring them, against upright bags not blocking or applying pressure on them.  Not to knock Tedy Bruschi and his knowledge and experience but why get excited about that?  I would want to see this guy blow by actual players and avoid blockers and pass rushers by moving around in the pocket in that moment and see how they all deal with the similar pressures they will face in a game.  Don’t put too many eggs in the basket of someone’s awesome pro day, put your eggs in the decision on not wanting to pick a guy who was rattled in his pro day like Teddy Bridgewater.  How do you mess up a planned workout?  They say nerves; his nervousness of his pro day and he got rattled?  What happens when you select him and he chokes under NFL pressure?

Enough of that rant, let’s look at scenarios for the Texans.

The Texans have a huge advantage by hanging that first pick over the heads of the rest of the league. A very possible scenario is that the Texans don’t want to play against Clowney if they do pass on him and choose either Khalil Mack or Bortles with the first pick. A team just out of the top five, sitting at number six is the Atlanta Falcons who could use a pass rusher in the worse way. The Browns have been heard to like a wide receiver or quarterback at the number four spot which it’s predicted that Manziel or Sammy Watson will go there, so the Browns will not want to trade up to select either of those players first since they will be there by pick four anyways. Oakland at number five is not in need of a quarterback since they had picked up Matt Schaub and will be looking to bring him pieces to the aerial attack like Sammy Watkins or go defense to go along with newly added Lamarr Woodley and Justin Tuck, if Mack is available. If the Texans can trade down out of the top five and still be in front of the Vikings at eight, they would take Bortles and force the Vikings to take Bridgewater, whose stock has been tarnished with his so-so pro day.

The Texans have a high demand pick for a high demand player in Clowney which they could easily scoop up a ton of early round picks in a trade down scenario to which they could also scoop up Bortles, who experts say is a Bill O’Brien type of guy. If they take Bortles first overall or are able to trade out of the top five with Atlanta, to hope he is there at six, he will more than likely sit behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and either take over later in the season if there are struggles or sit pretty much the whole year and develop to take over in 2015. With their second round pick or if they trade for other picks, they can easily find a decent defensive end in this draft to help on the other side of the line with JJ Watt. That defensive end could be Dee Ford who posted a better 3 cone drill, 225 bench and similar 40 yard dash, broad jump and vertical jump as Clowney. I see the next two years going the same way, if not better for O’Brien, like his two years at Penn State, if Bortles is picked. O’Brien had to deal with a previously under-performing team with an inadequate armed quarterback in McGloin (who doesn’t have great zip on the ball) and had his ideal quarterback (Hackenberg) arrive a year later playing very well as a freshman. Bortles has the NFL frame and arm to get the job done especially with the revamped receiving core and the still dangerous backfield.

Top Defensive End Prospects Combine or Pro Day workouts:

 

40 Yd Dash

3 Cone Drill

225 Bench Press

Broad Jump

Vertical Jump

Jadeveon Clowney – 6’5” 266 lbs

4.53

7.27

21 Reps

10’4”

37 ½”

*Dee Ford – 6’2” 244 lbs

4.59

7.07

29 Reps

10’4”

35 ½”

Kony Ealy – 6’4” 273 lbs

4.92

6.83

22 Reps

9’6”

31”

Scott Crichton – 6’3” 273 lbs

4.84

7.19

24 Reps

9’

31 ½”

Kareem Martin – 6’6” 272 lbs

4.72

7.20

22 Reps

10’9”

35 ½”

*Denotes Pro Day workout (did not attend combine)

Can you name more dominant defensive players that are attributed to winning their teams multiple Super Bowls than quarterbacks? What you may realize is really what the Texans should do with that first pick. Mark my words, the Texans will be contending for a Super Bowl in the coming years and could quite possibly be the next New England Patriots with Blake Bortles as “their guy”.