2017-18 NFL playoff predictions: divisional round

Matchup: Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles Sat. 3:35 pm NBC

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 23 Philadelphia Eagles 16

Nick Foles is not Carson Wentz. Although Foles has proven he can be a productive starter, Wentz is the one who got the Eagles the NFC’s number one seed. Foles will struggle to move the ball against an improved Falcons defense, and even when he does move the ball, most drives for the Eagles will stall. Philadelphia’s defense will hinder Matt Ryan and Atlanta’s offense but will get tired as the game moves along as their offense will not stay on the field for very long.

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots Sat. 7:15 pm CBS

New England Patriots 31 Tennessee Titans 17

The Patriots will not lose to the six seed. Tom Brady will pick Tennessee’s secondary apart and Marcus Mariota will not throw another touchdown pass to himself. The Titans’ defense will start strong but will tire out as a result of their inept offense. Gronk will have a monstrous game.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers Sun. 12:05 pm CBS

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 13

Blake Bortles threw for 87 yards in the first half, oh no wait, the whole game against the Bills and he won’t throw for more than 125 yards against Pittsburgh. Jacksonville’s defense was tough against the Bills last week but will not be able to replicate that performance against the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s killer B’s, Ben, Bell, and Brown will wear the Jaguars down.

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings Sun. 3:40 pm FOX

Minnesota Vikings 27 New Orleans Saints 20

Minnesota’s defense has been great all year and they will step up on the big stage. Case Keenum will frustrate the Saints’ defense with shallow crossing routes that will then open up the big play. Latavius Murray will expose the Saints’ weaknesses up front, and those runs will lead to big plays on screen passes. The Viking’s offense will do just enough to come out on top.

 

 

Alabama and Georgia to compete in all- SEC National Championship game

In the two national semi-final games held last Monday, Georgia beat Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma in overtime and Alabama handled Clemson without much trouble. This sets up a National Championship game between the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs, SEC rivals and college football blue-bloods. The game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Georgia. The game will start at 7pm central time and can be seen on ESPN.

Prediction:

Alabama 24 Georgia 21

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts has grown from last year’s defeat in the championship game and he will not let it happen again. Jake Fromm, the Bulldogs’ quarterback is only a true freshman and his inexperience will show on the biggest stage. Although Alabama’s defense is tough, only having allowed six points to Clemson in the semi-final, Georgia’s high powered running attack will be able to put up some points on the Crimson Tide. In the end Hurts, a dual-threat quarterback will find a way to get it done. Also, watch for the possible Bears draft pick, Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley to have a big game in his final go around in college football.

 

 

Big Ten impresses in bowl season

 

The Big Ten went a combined 7-1 this bowl season, a big jump from last season when the conference went 3-7.

The only loss for the conference came in the last bowl game with a Big Ten team. South Carolina eked out a 26-19 victory over Michigan on New Year’s Day in the Outback Bowl. Both teams were outside of the top 25.

In the first Big Ten bowl, Iowa beat Boston College, 27-20. Iowa running back Akrum Wadley had a big day, rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown.

The next game for the big ten was the Foster Farms Bowl, where Purdue beat Arizona, 38-35. Boilermakers quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who was playing hurt, threw four touchdowns and accumulated almost 400 yards through the air.

In game number three, Michigan State crushed Washington State, winning by a score of 42-17. The Spartans used a great performance from QB Brian Lewerke, throwing for 213 yards and 3 touchdowns.

In the next Big Ten contest, Northwestern beat Kentucky 24-23 in a crazy game. Read the full article here.

Then came the Cotton Bowl, where Ohio State faced off against USC. In a game many expected the Trojans to win, the Buckeyes buckled down on defense, only allowing one score. On offense OSU QB J.T. Barrett ran for two touchdowns. The final score was 24-7.

The Fiesta Bowl was next, where Penn State took down Washington 35-28. The Nittany Lions used two touchdowns apiece from QB Trace McSorley and RB Saquon Barkley, as well as another score from backup RB Miles Sanders. RB Myles Gaskin had two touchdowns for Washington.

The last Big Ten victory came in The Orange Bowl where number six Wisconsin took down the eleventh ranked Miami Hurricanes, 34-24. Alex Hornibrook, the Wisconsin QB threw four touchdowns, three of them caught by receiver Danny Davis III.

In the Big Ten’s only defeat, a 26-19 loss by Michigan at the hands of South Carolina, the Gamecocks used 10 unanswered points in the final period to sneak by Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines. South Carolina QB Jake Bentley threw for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns.

When the final game ended in the Big Ten’s postseason, they had beaten three of the top 12 teams in the nation and four in the top 25.

Cats reopen Big 10 play with sloppy loss to Nebraska

Although Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern’s starting point guard will not miss much time after an injury on Saturday in a home win against Brown, he did not play on Tuesday night as the Wildcats faced off against big ten foe Nebraska. He was greatly missed.

Even with Northwestern up by five at the half, something didn’t feel right. It was clear that Northwestern was missing its leader.

McIntosh’s absence was no more noticeable than in the final stretch of the game beginning with eight minutes remaining.

At the eight-minute mark, the score was 43-42 in favor of the Cornhuskers. But without McIntosh on the floor to run the show, the lead quickly ballooned to double digits with just under six minutes left at 56-46. Nebraska never looked back, beating the Cats 70-55.

Nebraska didn’t shoot the ball all that well from the floor at 44 percent, but Northwestern’s shooting was horrendous at just 29 percent.

Dererk Pardon was one of the few Wildcats who played well, continuing his great performances against the Cornhuskers with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

The Cats will face off with Penn. St. on Friday, Jan. 5.

Star Performers:

NU: Dererk Pardon 17 pts. 15 reb. Scottie Lindsay 12 pts.

Nebraska: Glynn Watson Jr. 19 pts. 6 reb. 6 ast. James Palmer Jr. 18 pts. 5 reb.

John Fox fired after three miserable seasons

The Bears fired head coach John Fox earlier this morning after a combined 14 wins in his three years with the team.

The Bears will start their search for a new head man immediately. They should look for an offensive-minded head coach to guide Trubisky. Vic Fangio, the Bears defensive coordinator, is one of the best in the league. If GM Ryan Pace can get Fangio squared away with a new contract, they won’t have to worry about that side of the ball.

Some early front-runners for the job are, Jim Bob Cooter, the Lions offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo, the Eagles quarterbacks coach, and Pat Shurmur, the offensive coordinator for the Vikings.

2017-18 NFL playoff predictions: wildcard round

Matchup

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs 3:35 pm Sat. ESPN

Prediction

Titans 14 Chiefs 24.

Marcus Mariota will struggle on the big stage but the Titans defense will force turnovers by Alex Smith and keep it close. Ultimately though, Kansas City’s skilled duo of RB Kareem Hunt and WR Tyreek Hill will prove too much for the Titans. The Chiefs have won four straight and that streak will continue.

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams 7:15 pm Sat. NBC

Falcons 13 Rams 28

Although the Falcons defense has improved from a year ago, MVP candidate Todd Gurley will have a big game. Second-year quarterback Jared Goff won’t make the big mistake.  On the defensive side, the Rams big lineman Aaron Donald will put pressure on Matt Ryan all night and not allow him to get into a rhythm.

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars 12:05 pm Sun. CBS

Bills 10 Jaguars 17

With LeSean McCoy possibly out, the Bills will struggle to move the ball. Jacksonville’s offense did not play well against the Titans last week and the Bills defense will rachet up the intensity. Bortles will find a way at the end,

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints 3:40 pm. Sun. FOX

Panthers 20 Saints 31

Cam Newton looked awful against the Falcons last Sunday and he won’t be much better against the Saints, but Christian McCaffrey will break a few big runs. Even though the Saints lost to the Buccaneers last week, Drew Brees will lead them to victory.

 

 

 

2017-18 NFL playoff picture decided in last minute

The only real drama of teams getting into the playoffs in the NFC was between the Seahawks and Falcons. Seattle needed to win their game against the Cardinals, then needed the Falcons to lose their game against the Panthers to get in. All Atlanta had to do to clinch a playoff spot, and kick Seattle out was beat the Panthers. Seattle lost to Arizona 26-24 and Atlanta beat Carolina 22-10. Falcons in, Seahawks out.

The AFC was a different story. In that conference, there were three teams competing for the two wildcard spots, the Titans, Bills, and Ravens. For the Titans, it was simple. Win and you’re in. They won. The Ravens had the same scenario as the Titans. If the Ravens didn’t win the Bills were in the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Both games, Bills at Dolphins, and Ravens at home against the Bengals were decided by one score. The Bills won 22-16 and the Ravens’ fate was decided in the last 60 seconds of their game. Baltimore had scored a touchdown with 8:48 left in the fourth to put them ahead 27-24. The Ravens were standing 49 yards away from their own end zone with 44 seconds remaining when Andy Dalton dropped back to pass. The one thing that couldn’t happen was a long pass. But Dalton found receiver Tyler Boyd wide open on fourth and 12, and he ran it into the end zone. The final score was 34-27. Bills in, Ravens out.

NFC

Seeds:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Minnesota Vikings
  3. Los Angeles Rams
  4. New Orleans Saints
  5. Carolina Panthers (Wildcard)
  6. Atlanta Falcons (Wildcard)

AFC

Seeds:

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Tennessee Titans (Wildcard)
  6. Buffalo Bills (Wildcard)