Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 NFL Mock Draft

The word around the horn is that there has never been this much uncertainty surrounding a draft in a long, long time. It is mostly because the 49ers are a total wild card sitting at the second pick. If they stay at two, they have so many needs that they really could take anyone. However, they are more likely to trade out of the pick, but who will move up? Will it be for a quarterback? Top defensive player? Or one of the top running backs?

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

There is a lot of quarterback talk around this pick, but I really see no scenario in which the Browns pass on Garrett. He is the best player in the draft and plays a premier position (pass rusher). You simply don't pass on these types of players.

2. TRADE ALERT: Carolina Panthers (from San Francisco 49ers): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Cam Newton is coming off his worst season as a pro and shoulder surgery. They need to protect him from taking a beating, especially in the red zone. In a weak offensive line class, the best way to do that is get a big, dynamic power running back. Everyone is mocking Christian McCaffrey to them with the eighth pick, but this is the team that gave Mike Tolbert a $10 million deal, aka they like power runners. The 49ers want out of this pick bad and I think the Panthers don't give up all that much to get here.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Super Bowl

It's Super Bowl Sunday and the Stubborn OXen have a split decision when it comes to who will win the the game.  Perfect!  We love a good disagreement, and there should be little surprise who is taking the Patriots.

Let us explain why our predicted team will win the game.

Austen on why the Falcons will win:

When the Broncos came into the Super Bowl with a record setting offense, I predicted they would lose by double-digit points. This Falcons' offense is worlds better than that one. This is the most balanced and versatile offense the league has seen in years, if not decades. The reason this offense has gone a bit under the radar is there is not one guy dominating the stat sheets. Matt Ryan just won the MVP, but Julio Jones (the Falcons' biggest star) had a down year, at least by his standard. Jones dropped drastically in targets and catches because the Falcons have an array of offensive weapons that would make any franchise jealous.

Ryan set an NFL record for throwing a touchdown to thirteen different players. That is astonishing. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are only the second running back duo in the history of the NFL to both have double-digit touchdowns, while Freeman has led the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons. Meanwhile this offensive line is a top-five unit in the league to boot. There is no weakness to this offense, so it is going to be fun to see the chess match between NFL Assistant Coach of the Year Kyle Shanahan's offense against Bill Belichick's bend-but-don't-break defense.

Speaking of the defense, the Falcons have seven firs-t or second-year players starters on defense. Yes, this defense was in the bottom of the league in a lot of categories, but they have gotten better every week, culminating two weeks ago shutting out the Packers' high flying offense until the game was way out of hand. They won't have the comfort of playing in the Georgia Dome, but there is a lot to like about this fast and aggressive defense, despite its lack of experience. Vic Beasley is one of those young and inexperienced guys, and he led the league in sacks. Dan Quinn has done an incredible job turning around this team in two years and I think he is going to put his name in the history books with the Falcon's first-ever Super Bowl win.

Score Prediction: Atlanta 30, New England 24

Stally on why the Patriots will win:

I'm not buying into Austen's "under the radar" claim about the Falcons offense.  That offense got plenty of props for scoring the most points in the league.  The unit that didn't get any credit is the Patriots defense, which gave up the fewest amount of points in the league at 15.6 points/game (more than two less than the closest team).

Defense wins championship and that's where this game will be decided.  Despite not having Tom Brady for four games (and getting shutout in one of those), the Patriots still finished third in the league in points scored, so the Falcons don't have as significant of an offensive advantage as Austen has hinted.  But the Patriots do have a significant advantage on defense, as the Falcons ranked 27th in points against and gave up 9.8 points more per game than the Patriots defense.  Good luck trying to stop the most experienced Super Bowl quarterback in history.

Which brings me to my final point: experience is a huge advantage for New England.  This will be the seventh, yes, seventh, Super Bowl appearance for the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.  Austen, for some reason, tried to liken the Broncos to the Falcons in a game that Denver lost 43-8.  I'll keep that comparison going with Atlanta, as both teams were making Super Bowl appearances for the first time in a generation.

The Broncos came back two years later to win the Super Bowl.  Why?  Because they were inexperienced and then gained that experience by getting their butts kicked.  I'm not saying that the Falcons will get beat that badly, but they will be more jittery and inexperienced when the Patriots.  When New England is starting to flex its muscle on both sides of the ball, Atlanta will struggle and the Patriots will take advantage.

Score Prediction: New England 34, Atlanta 27

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Championship of Champions

Will Matty Ice send the Georgia Dome off on a high note?
The 2016 NFL season started unpredictably.  The two of us missed handfuls of games that we thought were obvious wins for the eventual loser, and it took us quite sometime to get accustomed to the state of the NFL this year.

Parity seemed to reign supreme.  Following the Week 13 slate of games, three divisions were led by teams that were within two games of the .500 mark.  (Two at 7-5 and one at 6-6.)

The NFL appeared to be a mess of mediocre teams all vying for a spot in the playoffs.

And then those playoffs arrived, and the cream rose to the top like it always does.  The big dogs in the yard barked the loudest, and here we are at the final four: New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and Atlanta.

The Falcons are the only outlier in the bunch.  New England with QB Tom Brady have won four Super Bowls, Pittsburgh with QB Ben Roethlisberger have won two, and Green Bay with QB Aaron Rodgers have won one.  All three of the those teams are perennial contenders with those QBs at the helm, and it will be up to Matt Ryan and his Falcons to knock off the NFL's equilibrium this season.

Here are our picks for the Conference Championships:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Literal Divisional Round

Chiefs fans at Arrowhead Stadium could be a difference maker.
There are eight teams remaining in the NFL Playoffs, and fittingly it's all eight divisional champions that will be meeting in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.  The Wild Cards are gone after all four home teams won last weekend, so there will be no Cinderella story this year ... unless the Texans win, they'll need a glass slipper to win the Super Bowl, probably two and a pumpkin to turn into their chariot.

Here's a look at who Austen and I are picking this weekend:

Austen's Eight-Point Pick
@New England over Houston

Austen: My head literally might explode if the Texans win this game. While they have one of the best defenses in the league, they also have an offense that got shut out the last time these two teams played. You don't win a lot (/any) games scoring zero points. When was the last time the worst quarterback in the league beat an MVP candidate in the playoffs? I don't know but I'd have to guess never. 

Score: New England 41, Houston 13

Stally: I hate to be an over confident Patriots fan, but I can't see a way the Texans win this game.  As The Pats destroyed the Texans with Jacoby Brissett at the helm, just wait until Tom Brady gets to lead this weekend.

Score: New England 31, Houston 13

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Wild Wild Card

Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning both have aspirations for
another Super Bowl ring, but only one can win this weekend.
It's playoff season, and that means that Austen is back for the stretch run.  Happy 2017, blog readers!

Let's get into our playoff breakdown:

Stally's Eight-Point Pick
@Pittsburgh over Miami

Stally: This is the only game of the four that I find easy to pick.  The Pittsburgh Steelers are a good football team with a ridiculous amount of offensive talent, and Miami is headed on the road with a backup QB.  I just don't see the Dolphins winning this game.

Austen: No argument here. Matt Moore is more than serviceable (I would have Miami favored over both the Texans and Raiders), but they got a road game with the most dangerous offense in the league. Tough draw for a Fins team that has not made the playoffs in almost a decade and has only won one playoff game this millennium.

Austen's Eight-Point Pick
@Seattle over Detroit