After a 38-13 one and done playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, the New York Giants may never win a playoff game again as long as Eli Manning is their quarterback. Giant fans may think I am crazy for saying this, but here’s my reasoning why:
The NFC East isn’t going to get any easier. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot have lived up to the hype and then some. After leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 season and putting up a heck of a fight against the NFL’s hottest team, the Green Bay Packers; Dak, Zeke, and the Cowboys look poised to be Super Bowl contenders for years to come. Maybe one of the most disappointing teams this season was the Washington Redskins. All the Redskins had to do was beat the Giants in the last game of the season at home. No Odell in the second half and a conservative Giants offense proved to be too much for the apathetic Redskins team. However, a new defensive coordinator may be just what the doctor ordered for the Skins’ going into next season. Washington’s defense struggled at times throughout the year, even with recent free agent superstar signing of Josh Norman. The Philadelphia Eagles should be excited about the future with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz under center for years to come. Although the Eagles finished 7-9 and failed to make the playoffs, Wentz was limited with offensive weapons. Below average wide receivers and no run game to speak of made it difficult for the rookie quarterback to keep pace with teams putting up an abundance of points against the Eagles defense. I expect the Eagles to make offseason moves to provide Wentz with more offensive pieces.
Eli Manning isin’t getting any younger. The 36 year old led the Giants to an 11-5 regular season record, but by no means had a terrific year. Manning only threw 26 touchdowns with a whopping 16 interceptions to give him a 86.0 quarterback rating; his lowest since 2013. If it wasn’t for the Giants and their NYPD (New York Pass Defense) defense, the Giants probably would not have even made the playoffs. “Playoff Eli” also did not show up against the Green Bay Packers in which Manning completed just 52% of his passes, and turned the ball over twice resulting in a quick exit from this years playoffs. Victor Cruz very well may have played his last game as a Giant and with below average tight ends and running backs, Manning will struggle to find production on offense with players other than the last name Beckham.
So, where do the Giants go from here? They will likely be very active this offseason as they have over $30 million in salary-cap space. What will they do with that money? Last offseason they focused on defense, signing Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins, and Olivier Vernon. This season they should be focused on surrounding Eli Manning with more offensive weapons. Teams have started to figure out how to better cover Odell and have been able to get into his head during games. The Giants should look to draft or sign an athletic tight end to improve the passing game and a running back to complement Paul Perkins. Even if the Giants make such signings, Eli has to prove that he is capable of playing well and limiting turnovers. His lack of athleticism and age are catching up to him and he is starting to look like Peyton did in his last NFL season. Maybe he will prove me wrong and bounce back next season, but as of now Manning and the Giants look like the odd team out in a division that will be one of the league’s best for years to come.
As the NFL season approaches the halfway point, the pretenders are starting to be separated from the contenders. Week 6 left me with many questions. Was Carson Wentz’s hot start a fluke? Should Dak Prescott continue to start when Romo is healthy? What the heck has happened to Aaron Rodgers? Are Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith (Todd Bowles’s shamed backup last week turned starter this week) and the Jets the most disappointing team of 2016? With these questions plaguing the league, Tom Brady sure has answered whether or not he still has enough gas left in the tank to compete in the NFL. The Patriots top my week 7 power rankings.
Week 7 Predictions:
Packers 27 Bears 20 Giants 24 Rams 17 Chiefs 30 Saints 20 Titans 23 Colts 20 Vikings 17 Eagles 14 Bengals 31 Browns 17 Lions 24 Redskins 20 Jaguars 23 Raiders 19 Bills 30 Dolphins 20 Ravens 24 Jets 14 Buccaneers 31 49ers 24 Falcons 30 Chargers 21 Patriots 27 Steelers 20 Seahawks 20 Cardinals 17 Broncos 23 Texans 14
Week 2 of the NFL season wrapped up with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz leading the Eagles to a 29-14 victory over the Chicago Bears. Wentz takes my weekend MVP as he looked calm, cool, and collective in his first road win of his young NFL career. Yes, his first two professional games have been against the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears, but Wentz has looked impressive. The second overall pick in this year’s NFL draft has completed 60% of his passes, thrown 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 93.8 in his first two games. Wentz looks like he is going to give the Eagles a chance to contend for the NFC East title. My worst NFL week 2 individual performance goes to the entire Jacksonville Jaguars team. As the saying goes, there is no I in team, so I have to give the Jaguars as a whole the worst performance of the weekend. In week 1, the Jags played the Green Bay Packers extremely well on both sides of the ball and were able to contend until the last play of the game where they were stopped on a 4th and 1 wide receiver screen. This weekend, the Jaguars were completely out of the game just minutes into the 3rd quarter trailing by 28 to a Chargers team that just lost their best wide receiver to injury. The Chargers turned the ball over 3 times on offense, missed a field goal, and gave up 38 points on defense. A team that had high hopes of contending for an AFC South title this season and spent a ton of money building their defense in the offseason, looks like the Jaguars of old.
My team of the week went to the Minnesota Vikings who defeated the Packers 17-14 in a defensive showdown. No Teddy Bridgewater? No Problem. Paging Sam Bradford. Did I see this right? Sam Bradford, former Philadelphia Eagle and St. Louis Ram outplaying Aaron Rodgers on Sunday night. Yes. Bradford went 22-31 with 286 yards and 2 touchdowns while connecting with Stefon Diggs 9 times for 182 yards and a touchdown. Bradford ran the offense efficiently and was able to take over the game through the air with Adrian Peterson struggling to get anything going on the ground. The Vikings played extremely well on the other side of the ball as well. They forced 3 fumbles and recovered a crucial fumble in the 4th quarter. Trae Waynes got beat all night in his match ups, but stepped up in the 4th quarter and intercepted an under thrown pass by Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams to put the game away. The Vikings defense has looked solid in each of their games this season and should continue to be a top 10 defense throughout the season barring any injuries.
Moving onto week 3, here are my picks:
Patriots 20 Texans 17 Cardinals 31 Bills 17 Raiders 22 Titans 20 Dolphins 24 Browns 17 Jaguars 24 Ravens 20 Packers 34 Lions 24 Broncos 17 Bengals 14 Panthers 28 Vikings 20 Giants 30 Redskins 27 Buccaneers 20 Rams 17 Seahawks 24 San Francisco 14 Chiefs 24 Jets 20 Colts 35 Chargers 31 Steelers 30 Eagles 20 Cowboys 24 Bears 17 Saints 40 Falcons 34
Week 3 MVP prediction:
Aaron Rodgers. I can’t see Rodgers having two bad games in a row at Lambeau Field this week against the Detroit Lions. Rodgers has struggled dating back to last year. In his last 14 games he has not had a passer rating above 100 and last year he had a passer rating of 92.7, which was lower than his first season as a starter in 2008. With Jordy Nelson getting his legs back underneath him and Randall Cobb 100% healthy, Rodgers is poised for a bounce back game this weekend. I think Rodgers throws for 280 plus yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions.
There’s no question that the New York Mets have suffered from the injury bug throughout the better portion of the 2016 season. Pretty much every player the roster (David Wright, Matt Harvey, Asdrubal Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Reyes, Zack Wheeler, and Neil Walker) has been plagued with DL stints and nagging injuries. Over the next few days, the New York Mets will welcome back Juan Lagares, Lucas Duda, and Jacob Degrom. Even with all of the injuries this season, the Mets have managed to keep their head above water going into tonight 8 games above .500 with 16 games left in the season. Juan Lagares will provide the Mets with a much needed right- handed outfield bat and speed on the base paths. He will improve the outfield defense as his speed allows him to track down balls in the alley that Yoenis Cespedes is unable to get to because of his ailing right quad. Lagares will be a great asset off of the bench for Terry Collins as a pinch runner and defensive replacement late in games down the playoff stretch.
It seems as if Lucas Duda hasn’t seen action in a big league uniform since he made the throwing error from first base to home last year in the World Series. He has only played in 39 games this year and has been out since early May due to a back injury. In those 39 games, Duda hit 7 home runs and was on pace to have another 30 home run season before the injury. James Loney has provided steady defense at first base while hitting .261 with 7 home runs and 29 RBI in 310 at bats. Although Loney has been a decent fill in at first, the 32 year old is starting to look as if his age is catching up with him late in the season. Loney is hitting just .200 with 1 home run and 5 RBIs over his last 30 games and has been losing playing time to Wilmer Flores. Terry Collins has reiterated that Duda will be used in a pinch hitting role for his first few games back and will be able to return as soon as tomorrow. Duda will provide the Mets with power in the middle of the order and protection behind Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup.
The most encouraging news that the Mets have received is that of the return of Jacob Degrom. Sidelined since September 4th with forearm inflammation that has caused Degrom to miss multiple starts, Degrom looks to add to an already potent rotation. Degrom played a huge role in the Mets playoff run last year going 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 13 innings during the postseason. Degrom has carried that success into this year posting a 3.04 ERA, with 7 wins, and 143 strikeouts, while dealing with various injuries and poor run support in his starts. Last year, the big 3 of Syndegaard, Degrom, and Harvey carried the Mets into the postseason and to the World Series. This year, Bartolo Colon will have to join Jacob Degrom and Noah Syndergaard as the big 3 as Matt Harvey is out for the season and Steven Matz has proved to be inconsistent possibly due to bone spurs.
Assuming the Mets continue their strong play over the next two and a half weeks of the season, their roster now contains a nucleus of players that were on the World Series team last season. With the return of Juan Lagares, Lucas Duda, and Jacob Degrom, the Mets now have the depth capable of producing a playoff birth via Wild Card spot and possible World Series appearance.
It was an exciting week 1 of the NFL weekend which featured 3 games with 1 point decisions, and several other well played football games. My weekend MVP went to Jimmy Garrappalo, as he led the New England Patriots to a 23-21 road victory against one of the top teams in the NFC, the Arizona Cardinals. Jimmy G showed great confidence filling in for the NFL’s most decorated quarterback going 24-33 with 264 yards and 1 TD against the highly respected Bruce Arian’s defense. My NFL week 1 worst individual performance went to RG3 as he completed just 12 of 26 passes for 190 yards and 1 interception in a 29-10 loss to the Eagles. The Cleveland Browns look disappointing as ever and once again continue their quarterback search as RG3 capped off his day with a possible season ending injury.
My NFL week 1 team of the week went to the Kansas City Chiefs who overcame a 17 point deficit to defeat the Chargers in overtime. Alex Smith and Spencer Ware were the offensive juggernauts in the Chief’s come from behind win, as Smith threw for 363 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Spencer Ware combined for 199 total yards and a touchdown. My disappointing team of the NFL weekend was the Los Angles Rams, which featured a 28-0 shellacking against the San Francisco 49ers. Not much is expected of the Rams this year; however it would have been nice to see more of a fight put up against the sub-par 49ers on prime time television. Todd Gurley and Case Keenum each drastically under preformed and with a struggling offensive line, it looks like it may be a long road ahead for the newly relocated franchise.
Moving onto week 2 of the NFL season, here are my picks:
Jets 24 Bills 20, Steelers 28 Bengals 24, Lions 24 Titans 14, Ravens 28 Browns 17, Redskins 30 Cowboys 24, Giants 35 Saints 31, Panthers 31 49ers 17, Patriots 24 Dolphins 20, Chiefs 24 Texans 19, Rams 17 Seahawks 14, Cardinals 28 Bucs 24, Jags 24 Chargers 20, Raiders 30 Falcons 21, Broncos 24 Colts 17, Packers 31 Vikings 24, Eagles 24 Bears 21
Week 2 MVP prediction:
Todd Gurley. I think Todd Gurley has a breakout game this week at home in L.A. against a Seahawks defense that just gave up 100 total yards to a declining Arian Foster at home in Seattle. Gurley will carry the offense in what should be a relatively low scoring game. I think he carries the ball 24 times for 147 yards and a touchdown along with 50 receiving yards through the air for another score.