Archive for September, 2017


I’m trying to get this blog more about sports than just records. Which was the idea behind this blog, and hence its name. And considering how well by Premier League predictions went last year, I decided to branch out into the obligatory NFL predictions for the upcoming 2017 season. Let’s get this out of the way now. I waited until the day before the season kicked off to post this for the sole reason of waiting to see if any injuries, suspensions or last minute additions would occur that may impact a team’s season. Just like I don’t do fantasy drafts in August, why shouldn’t I take advantage of any and all information?

 

NFC East

One of the topsey turvey divisions in recent years, the NFC East will buck that trend and again be a two team race between the same two teams; the Giants and Cowboys. Only they will swap positions in the standings with the Giants winning the division and the Cowboys finishing a close second. I think the Giants and Cowboys will split the season series, with each teaming winning at home. And both will sweep the remaining division schedule. So it will come down to who has the easier schedule, and since the Cowboys will be playing a first place schedule they will face a tougher road of the two teams.

A lot has been made about Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension. After appealing, it has not been reduced from the six games he was initially served, and in a surprise turn of events he can play in Week 1. But since Elliott is suing the league in hopes of blocking the suspension, the curtains are far from closed on this drama. The way I see it, the Cowboys would still have the same results in the games during Elliott’s suspension, with or without him. And it’s actually more favorable for the Cowboys now after having his suspension pushed back to take effect after Week 1, because at it stands they play the 49ers in Week 7, which would be the final week of the suspension.

There aren’t enough pieces around Kirk Cousins in Washington to have them contend for a Wild Card spot. The Eagles will be better than they were last year as Carson Wentz has a year of experience under his belt. Put Philadelphia in another division, say like the AFC South, and they would probably win it. But playing in the NFC East they’ll be on the outside looking in come January.

  1. New York Giants 10-6
  2. Dallas Cowboys 9- 7
  3. Philadelphia Eagles 8-8
  4. Washington Redskins 6-10

 

NFC North

Is Aaron Rodgers still playing for the Packers? Yes? Well there is your division winner. I can’t see the Lions being as good as last year because the Vikings got better. The Vikings might have lost one of the best running backs in NFL history, but they replaced him with 2 backs who will complement each other nicely. At the very least Latavius Murray will be healthy enough to pay in more games that Adrian Peterson, and that provides crucial carries from a reliable back. Why waste time talking about the Bears.

  1. Green Bay Packers 11-5
  2. Minnesota Vikings 9-7
  3. Detroit Lions 7-9
  4. Chicago Bears 4-12

 

NFC South

Despite the Falcons being one of the more impressive teams last year, this division was actually one of the tougher ones to predict. Not the winner, but the division as a whole. Atlanta should easily win the division again this year, how far they go in the playoffs depends on how bad that epic choke job in the Super Bowl affects them.  I don’t see the Panthers being much better. Sure, the addition of Christian McCaffrey is great on paper. But will Cam Newton actually utilize him to the maximum his potential? McCaffrey is a great receiving option out of the backfield, and should help Newton avoid getting pummeled, but does anyone actually think Cam will give the ball to McCaffrey when he leaves the pocket rather than keeping the ball himself and scrambling? The Saints don’t have enough pieces to contend even though Drew Brees keeps them in more games than they should be in. Tampa Bay goes as Jameis Winston goes, and giving him DeSean Jackson should help tremendously. Even if it only means Mike Evans sees more single coverage.

  1. Atlanta Falcons 12-4
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6
  3. Carolina Panthers 6-10
  4. New Orleans Saints 6-10

 

NFC West

On paper the Cardinals have a very easy schedule. Probably one of the easiest in the NFL. If they can at least split the series with Seattle, they face a favorable run down the stretch facing teams that will likely have nothing to play for. After their bye, which is Week 8 (how nice of the NFL huh) they play San Francisco, Jacksonville at home, the Rams at home and Washington. The biggest problem with their stretch run is that they play Seattle twice, the first time in Week 10 and the second time in the final game of the season, which is in Seattle. So that 49ers game in Week 9 right after the bye could easily be a trap game, something that hurt the Cardinals last year.

I initially thought Seattle would not win the division, losing out to the Cardinals, who I think will surprise people this season. But after the acquisition of Sheldon Richardson, I had second thoughts and put the Seahawks back atop the NFC West. But I have both teams reaching the playoffs, with Arizona as the first wild card team. Why bother wasting time talking about the Rams or 49ers? They will be also-rans.

  1. Seattle Seahawks 11-5
  2. Arizona Cardinals 10-6
  3. Los Angeles Rams 4-12
  4. San Francisco 49ers 3-13

 

 

AFC East

Patriots win the division yet again. Shocking I know. But that is basically all you need to know. The Dolphins have a fairly easy schedule, but one that may present some problems with Jay Cutler as their new starting quarterback. They could easily finish at 9-7, or below .500 if Cutler is his typical self. I will err on the positive side though. If Miami can win one game against New England they will make the playoffs for the second straight season, if not they will be without a seat when the music stops in a very competitive AFC.

  1. New England Patriot 13-3
  2. Miami Dolphins 9-7
  3. Buffalo Bills 6-10
  4. New York Jets 2-14

 

AFC North

Everyone will be interested in hearing this at the end of the 2017 regular season: “The New York Jets are on the clock.” Because you read it here, the Browns will not be the worst team in football. I can see them getting at least 2 wins and losing out on the top pick because they will beat the Jets. All jokes aside, the Steelers will run away with the division. Baltimore will be their only real threat, and even if they lose split the series with Baltimore, they will still win the division by three games. And yes you read that right, I think the Browns will win two games this year; over the Jets and Colts.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
  2. Baltimore Raves 8-8
  3. Cincinnati Bengals 7-9
  4. Cleveland Browns 2-13

 

AFC South

Once again the AFC South will be the worst division in football. There are no dominant quarterbacks in this division, which is the root of the problem. Yes, Andrew Luck is on the cusp of being an elite quarterback, but that is when he is healthy. And that is a huge but. He is coming off surgery and is already confirmed to miss the first game of the season. Plus, there are no pieces around him like in years past. The Titans were a bit of a surprise team last year, narrowly missing out on the playoffs. Marcus Mariota will only get better entering his third season, and giving him new weapons like Eric Decker and rookie receiver Corey Davis presents a scary proposition for opposing defenses. Because Houston still doesn’t have a standout quarterback, I’m not picking them to squeak out the division again. They can only rely on their defense for so long. And because they won the division last year, they will play a first place schedule, which further helps the Titans.

  1. Tennessee Titans 10-6
  2. Houston Texans 8-8
  3. Indianapolis Colts 8-8
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12

 

AFC West

Before Derek Carr broke his leg in the final week of the regular season last year I thought the Raiders stood the best chance of beating the Patriots in the playoffs. The only thing I could see derailing them this year is the huge distraction of the team re-locating, yet again. It’s something fans in Oakland should be use to, but it doesn’t mean the black hole won’t turn on them and make a hostile home environment for the soon to be Las Vegas Raiders. How the Chiefs do so well with a mediocre quarterback and no running game is beyond me. This year will see them lose the division crown but still make the playoffs as a wild card team with a 10-6 record. Of course that could change if the Broncos get great quarterback play out of Trevor Siemian, and they manage to win both games against the Chiefs. Or if the Chiefs manage to lose both games against the Broncos and Raiders (For simplicity reasons of predicting records I have all 3 of them going 1-1 against each other. And also because of how fierce those rivalries are), which would have the Chiefs’ record sink to 8-8 and result in KC missing the playoffs.

  1. Oakland Raiders 13-3
  2. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6
  3. Denver Broncos 9-7
  4. Los Angeles Chargers 3-13

 

Now on to the playoffs, what most people will be concerned with. Here are the matchups I predict:

NFC Wild Card Round

#3 Green Bay vs. # 6 Tampa Bay

#4 New York Giants vs. #5 Arizona

 

AFC Wild Card Round

#3 Pittsburgh vs. #6 Miami

#4 Tennessee vs. #5 Kansas City

 

NFC Divisional Round

#2 Seattle vs. #3 Green Bay

#1 Atlanta vs. #4 New York Giants

 

AFC Divisional Round

#2 New England vs. #3 Pittsburgh

#1 Oakland vs. #5 Kansas City

 

NFC Championship

#3 Green Bay vs. #4 New York Giants

 

AFC Championship

#1 Oakland vs. #2 New England

 

Super Bowl

Oakland vs. Green Bay

 

Super Bowl Champions

Oakland Raiders

 

The Patriots are too easy a pick to win the Super Bowl. That decision was made easier with the Julian Edelman injury, but I had them not even reaching the Super Bowl prior to Edelman being out for the year. I felt last year that the Raiders would be a serious threat to the Patriots throne, but then Derek Carr broke his leg and the rest was history.  So I’m going with them to reach the Super Bowl out of the AFC. The Steelers will be very good this year, but I think they will run out of steam towards the end with an aging Ben Roethlisberger. The Chiefs will win a playoff game in back to back years for the first time in who knows how long, but then they will run into the Patriots, who have been a thorn in their side for quite a while now.

As easy as the AFC is to pick, the NFC is a complete toss up. There are no serious contenders in my opinion. Sure, there will be the perennial winners, like the Packers and Seahawks. But who else amongst the playoff teams would mount a serious title challenge? I’m hedging my bets and going with the fact that I can’t see the Packers losing to the Seahawks twice in one season, and Seattle will be arrogant heading into my predicted Divisional Round matchup after what happened in the 2014 NFC Championship . Starting the season 0-2 will be a wake up call for the Packers, and they will learn from their mistakes after losing to Seattle in Week 1. They will trudge through the playoffs, thanks to what would be a miss match on paper against the Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round, as the infamous warm weather team traveling north to a cold weather team matchup playing out in the Packers’ favor.

While the Packers will learn from past mistakes, collapses and choke jobs to finally reach another Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers, ultimately they won’t have enough to beat the Raiders, who are a well balanced team. Rodgers should be able to carve apart Oakland’s defense, but Green Bay’s shaky defense won’t be able to stop the Raiders. I see Oakland’s defense being able to do just enough to slow down Rodgers and company with their pass rush to hold on to and a very tight Super Bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So now that the summer transfer window has closed, it’s time to revamp my predictions for the 2017/18 season. Last year I didn’t make any changes, but this year it’s a different story. I’m moving some pieces around, mainly Arsenal, who I’m dropping two spots to 7th place. I initially had them in 5th, but so much has gone wrong with them only three weeks into the season it’s mind boggling.

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that Arsenal will struggle this season, but what should surprise everyone is just how bad they actually are. It’s ineptitude both on the field and behind the scenes. Arsenal is no stranger to bungling the transfer market, but this summer window took that to new, epic levels. There appeared to be a mass exodus at the Emirates, as more players wanted out than in. It was no secret Alexis Sanchez wanted out, but as the summer wore on, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain turned down a 180,000 a week contract to remain at Arsenal and instead accepted less money just to get out of dodge and sign with Liverpool. Lucas Perez, who never really settled in with the Gunners, wanted back to his former club in Spain. Shkrodran Mustafi wanted to abandon ship after only one season in North London as well, hoping to escape to Inter Milan. Joel Campbell wanted to be sold rather than be loaned out, yet again. Kieran Gibbs smartly waited for a move to West Bromich Albion instead of heading off to Watford. Jack Wilshere was even weighing his option over a permanent move away from Arsenal. You know things are bad at Arsenal when academy players are shoving to be first out the exit door.

And all that is on top of not unloading dead weight like Mathieu Debuchy, who clearly does not feature in Arsene Wenger’s plans yet remains at Arsenal. Wenger is so daft he’d rather pay Debuchy to not play than just release him from his contract. In all Arsenal sold 10 players, and loaned out a further nine. There will surely be turmoil at the Emirates, it just depends on how much and how big of an impact it has on their performance.

While Arsenal is stagnant, others made significant improvements in the closing days of the transfer window. Tottenham finally made some signings, landing a suitable (and arguably better) replacement for Kyle Walker and not only added more striker depth, but stealing a player away from Chelsea. Everton also finalized their long speculated deal with former Swansea star Gylfi Sigurdsson .

I’m not changing my pick to win the league, Manchester City, nor having Chelsea fall out of my originally predicted second place finish, but I am rearranging the next few places in the table. I originally had Tottenham in third and Manchester United in fourth, but I’m flip flopping them.

Many people are high on United after their dominant start to the season, but I just can’t see them being disciplined enough to maintain that pace the entire season. I foresee some hiccups for United along the way that will see them drop crucial points to mount a title charge, or even take over the second spot from Chelsea. It will be a close race for the second spot, but I see Chelsea holding on by a few points. I could see it being as close as 3 points, if not less.

Tottenham’s struggles at Wembley were well publicized heading into this season, and I brought up those concerns in my preview for Spurs. It was one of the reasons I had them finish lower than they did last season. Even after the addition of Serge Aurier at right back and Fernando Llorente up top, it’s not enough to have them hang with both Manchester clubs and Chelsea. I have them moving down from my original predicted finish of third, to fourth place.

I already touched on Arsenal, who I originally had in fifth place. But after the whipping they suffered at the hands of Liverpool, and how they not only struggled to beat Leicester, but lost away at Stoke yet again, I fear it will be worse than the “same old Arsenal.” Liverpool, who I had in 6th, moves up to 5th place in my updated predictions post deadline day. Despite their attacking prowess, Jurgen Klopp still didn’t improve his defense. Holding on to Philippe Coutinho despite multiple offers close to 200 million, shows their intentions to the rest of the league.

You may be asking yourselves, who is in 6th place since you dropped Arsenal down to 7th and bumped up Liverpool to 5th. Well, I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb and tab Everton for that 6th position. Yes, despite how much cash they flashed in the transfer market, their goal differential is in the negatives. But it will take time for the new squad to gel. Everton will be the biggest beneficiaries of Arsenal being in shambles.

I feel a whole lot more comfortable about having West Brom in 8th place. They added lots of key pieces in the closing days of the summer window. The Baggies added more veteran leadership with Gareth Barry, and taking Polish international Grzegorz Krychowiak on loan was a smart move by Tony Pulis. They also managed to keep Jonny Evans. Should I go out further on that limb and say if Arsenal continue their dreadful form that West Brom would be keen to leap frog them into 7th place?

Huddersfield Town is the biggest surprise of the season so far, but I’m still not moving them out of the relegation zone, nor am I dropping Brighton & Hove down into it based on their lackluster performances. I’m not going to make knee jerk reactions based on only three games. Brighton gets back their talisman, Anthony Knockaert, who was the Championship Player of the Year last season. Brighton also added Davy Propper, who just scored two crucial goals for the Dutch in World Cup qualifiers.  Would it surprise me if Huddersfield avoids the drop and Brighton goes down instead? No. But like I said, I’m going to stick to my guns here.

Looking at other relegation predictions by bonafide pundits, I was shocked not to see more mentions of Crystal Palace. They have been dreadful so far his season, not scoring a single goal while conceding six. West Ham may have a worse goal differential, but at least they have scored. I just can’t see West Ham being this pitiful the entire season. If they do, Slaven Bilic, who is already on the hot seat, will surely be sacked. And whoever takes over the Hammers could be the boost they sorely need.

Watford is another surprise performer in this early stage of the season. But considering they only managed a draw with Brighton, I’m still tabbing them for relegation. But on a bright note, they put on an admirable performance against Liverpool where they walked away with what could be a crucial point. I threw Swansea City into the relegation hat, but they managed to pull off a miracle in the transfer market by adding Renato Sanches on loan and bringing back striker Wilfried Bony, which will help them tremendously in their fight to remain in the top flight. Many people had Burnley going down, especially after selling their top striker to Watford of all clubs, but I wasn’t so hasty. They managed to replace Andre Gray with two strikers; not only stealing a striker from Huddersfield, but also managing to snatch the signature of Championship top scorer Chris Wood from other EPL clubs he was linked with.

Other than the movers around the top of the table, I foresee everything remaining the same as my original predictions. So here is a brief rundown of my updated predications in order of finish (at least for the top half):Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal, West Brom, Bournemouth, Southampton. Bottom half (in no particular order): Leicester, Stoke, Burnley, West Ham, Newcastle, Swansea, Brighton. Relegation (in no particular order): Huddersfield, Watford, Crystal Palace.