2016 NFL Mock Draft

By: David Parks
Twitter: @_Parksie

We’re down to a mere 17 days left until the 2016 NFL Draft. By now, most front offices have zeroed in on a handful of players they want to target. Others are still weighing their options, specifically trades.

I don’t bother trying to project trades, but it’s safe to say several will happen. Last year’s first round featured four moves, the most notable being San Diego trading up two spots with San Francisco to nab Melvin Gordon. Last year was odd however, in that it marked the first year since 2010 that no trades took place in the top ten. [Read more…]

The NFL Playoff Seeding Offers Intrigue in the Final Two Weeks

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

With only two weeks left in the regular season, there is still much in the balance in both conferences. Neither conference has any of its seeds decided for sure yet and the Wild Card spots are still in the mix. There is still a ton of meaningful football left and it’s very likely that few teams in contention, if any, will be able to rest their starter in Week 17 (assuming of course that Carolina goes for 16-0). Elsewhere, 14 teams have already been eliminated and their players and coaches are giving their all to both play spoiler as well as to pad their own resumes for the offseason. Let’s take a look around the league.

NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

In the NFC there are nine teams fighting for the six playoff spots. Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay and Seattle have made the postseason for sure. Minnesota and Washington currently occupy the six and fourth seeds respectively as well. Beyond them, the Eagles, Giants, and Falcons are all still alive for the playoffs. This is a little bit deceiving however. Neither the Giants nor the Eagles can win the sixth Wild Card spot as both are now three games behind Minnesota with two to play. The Eagles and Giants are only in the mix by virtue of a weak NFC East. Washington and the Eagles play next Saturday and then the Giants and Eagles play in Week 17. Those two matchups will decide the NFC East winner who will take the fourth overall seed and host the fifth seed on Wild Card weekend.

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Look Ahead into NFL Week 15

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Jingle Bells and Merry Christmas everyone! This is the last week of NFL football before one of the best holidays of the year. Christmas day itself is devoted to NBA basketball because the NFL decided to let another league have a holiday all to itself. As such, this weekend and next weekend are days of merriment for football fans.

Week 14 Against the Spread 9-7 (107-89 Overall)

After a weak week in Week 13, the home stretch is looking promising. I felt somewhat undone by Andy Dalton’s tragic broken thumb (to say nothing of what his injury did to my fantasy team). Ultimately, I have to feel pretty good about my season. Picking against the spread can be daunting, even for analysts more experienced than I. With three weeks to go, and I may not count Week 17 due to the rather typical benching of star players. Let’s take a look at the games this week.

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Homestretch in Run for NFL Playoffs Getting Clearer

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

It’s hard to believe there are only three weeks of regular season football left. As the season draws to a close, more and more clarity is granted to the postseason picture. Each conference contains a dangerous red-hot Wild Card contender and both conferences feature mediocre divisions (the AFC South and NFC East). Let’s take a quick look at the postseason as we learn more and more from the regular season.

THE TWO MOST DANGEROUS POSTSEASON TEAMS

Photo Credit: Jason Bridge/USA Today Sports

It’s been a year of incredible parity in the NFL. It wasn’t until this weekend that teams really started to get sorted out in the playoffs and other clubs began to get eliminated. That also means that the difference in talent between the sixth seed and the first seed might be a lot less than usual. Maybe the Wild Card clubs had bad injuries. Maybe they played a tougher schedule. Maybe they just suffered rotten luck. Whatever the case may be, the old adage that you want to be the hot team going into the playoffs could certainly hold true again. For the two most dangerous teams in the postseason, that would certainly seem to be the hope.

There are two teams no one wants to face right now in January, the Steelers and the Seahawks. Both will likely end up Wild Cards, possibly the worst seed in each conference. They are also teams that are getting hot at the right time. Now to be clear, neither team in flawless. Seattle has incredible weakness on the offensive line and their battered running back corps, so long a strength for the Seahawks, is taking huge hits. The Steelers, for their part, can’t seem to defend anyone in the passing game. Ultimately, there is a reason these teams will be Wild Cards; they aren’t invincible. Still, both teams are blisteringly hot, and both teams are lighting it up through the air.

Over the past weeks, quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger can do no wrong. They are dropping bombs all over the field. Touchdown after touchdown, both teams have gotten hot by torching teams through the air. They are blowing out opponents left and right and no one wants to see that in December. After all, the Panthers or Patriots might be more balanced, but like a basketball team that can rain threes, a bomber squadron passing unit can get white-hot in an individual game and be almost impossible to stop. Early season struggles may make both teams road warriors for the entirety of the playoffs, but neither team should be considered a long-shot to play in Santa Clara.

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Look Ahead into NFL Week 14

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Here we are, the last quarter of the regular season. Where does the time go? Just about every team knows what they need to do from here on out and despite the parity in the NFL the path to the postseason for most teams is clear: Just Win Baby. As with last week, top matchups this week focus on games with a large amount of postseason meaning. Let’s take a look at all of them.

Week 13 Against the Spread 6-10 (98-82 Overall)

Yikes. Not the kind of week I needed if I want to finish the season respectably. While I do get one freebie on the Pats-Eagles game (honestly who saw that one coming), the rest of the week was mostly a nightmare and if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t bail me out with that home run ball on an untimed down I’d be an even worse looking 5-11. Brutal.

MY THURSDAY NIGHT PICK

Cardinals 23 Vikings 20

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Chris Petersen

Boy the Vikings have had some tough losses in Arizona (Nate Poole anyone?). This is a tough game to lose though going down to the wire and fighting the way they did. Definitely showed that Teddy Bridgewater is the man though. The big consequence of this game is that a Green Bay win against the Cowboys means that Green Bay can do no worse than have the division up for grabs in Week 17. For the Vikings it means they cannot fall another game behind Green Bay because to fall two games back would make Week 17 meaningless. For the Cardinals they cleared a major obstacle to the second overall seed, but a Packers loss would make the Week 17 game massive if Green Bay were to win out. Lots of scenarios there. Let’s take a look at the games.

MUST WATCH GAMES

Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh (Cincinnati -2.5)

In a week of (surprisingly) mostly mediocre contests, this one stands alone. Back when Pitt lost the first leg of this division series most figured them for dead. They’ve surged back to life in the second part of the season with a blistering aerial assault that has them marked as a classic “no one wants to see them in the playoffs” club. Cincinnati, for their own part, is looking to tie off the division and contend for the first overall seed. The Pats dumping two straight to the Broncos and Eagles has the conference looking like it could be more up in the air than we thought with three clubs sharing a 10-2 record. Lots to play for, Dalton and Roethlisberger, offense and defense. It’s good old-fashioned AFC North football. Game of the week.

My take on this game is that the Bengals do just about everything really well, where as the Steelers are just lighting it up on offense. Their defense could get them into trouble though. They just aren’t doing much well on that side of the ball against top QBs. In Cincy I’ll take the Bengals.

(Cincinnati Covers the Spread)

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Look Ahead into NFL Week 13

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Ton of stuff to cover this week ladies and gentlemen. It’s been two weeks since a normal week of posting and I’m a day behind as it is. So let’s get to the pick recaps, my Thursday night pick and then all the action this weekend.

Week 11-12 Against the Spread 8-6 and 10-6 (92-72 Overall)

Thanksgiving and the week before were both solid weeks for me and have officially turned this year into a winner barring some incredibly bad picking weeks. My best picks over this span were easily the Lions on Thanksgiving picking them to win big and for believing in Brock Osweiler who I have been a big fan of for a long time. Time to keep the streak alive.

MY THURSDAY NIGHT PICK

Green Bay 27 Detroit 23

It’s pretty hard to undersell what a phenomenal finish this game was. Green Bay came back from 20 points down to avoid being swept by the Lions. Aaron Rodgers threw, on the untimed game-winning Hail Mary, possibly the greatest throw of all time. Now there might be some other throws that equal it, but in terms of distance, accuracy and arc that throw is likely at the very limits of human capability. It came straight down to Richard Rodgers, the tight end and he snagged it like a rebound. You can watch football another 40 seasons and not see another pro game end like that. Preposterous.

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NFL Thinkbites Week 1

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Thank the powers that be ladies and gentlemen. The long NFL offseason is officially over. No more do we have to worry about Tom Brady’s appeal or NFL arrests, or suspensions. Instead we have actual real football. The games matter now. This is also the perfect time to debut a new feature, NFL Thinkbites. In this column I’ll propose strategic or tactical questions that are going on right now. I’ll give my thoughts on the solution and try to pose it all in a way that invites some actual thought. First up, it’s holdout time!

What should be done with Kam Chancellor?

Kam Chancellor missed practice on Wednesday, leading Pete Carroll to inform the press that Chancellor would not be playing in Week 1 against the Rams. Chancellor’s holdout has now officially extended into the regular season, a point few players are willing to reach. Reportedly, the two sides are only $1 million apart with Chancellor himself suggesting that he was only asking for money to be brought from next year into this year. That is, he doesn’t want any new money. Chancellor seems perfectly willing to miss games and has taken a clear stand. So what do you do if you’re Seattle? If you alter his contract are you inviting other players to hold out as well? Does it change anything in that he’s not asking for more money?

In my opinion Chancellor should be told to jump in a lake. The team owns his contract rights for the next three years. The team has held firm so far and they need to take a hard line. This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated with so long left on the deal. If the team follows my advice Chancellor could miss significant time, including a big game against Green Bay. Does that change your analysis at all?

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Each NFL Team’s Biggest Burning Question (AFC South and AFC West)

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

This is the fourth of a four-part series leading up to the NFL Regular Season Kickoff. Each article will feature two divisions. This post covers the AFC South and AFC West.

As I write this article, the NFL is finishing up its last preseason games. Across the league, rosters are set at 75 players each. Tomorrow, the preseason is over and 22 more players from each team will get the bad news that they didn’t make the cut. Between Friday and Saturday afternoon, more than 700 men will see their football hopes dashed (at least temporarily). Once that is done, the real work begins for each team with the first NFL Sunday only days away. Each team has hopes this season and each team’s hopes ride on the answers to burning questions. Here is the top question for the last two divisions in this series:

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans – What can the Texans do to beat the Colts?

The AFC South is a fairly straightforward division. There is one team that has a clear advantage at quarterback over all the others. Andrew Luck simply gives the Colts an edge that can’t be beaten, only sidestepped. The Texans are the only true threat to the Colts, but with a mediocre slate at the quarterback position themselves, can the Texans threaten the Colts? Even if the defense is murderous, do they stand a chance?

Indianapolis Colts – How will all the question marks on offense be answered?

Even though the Colts have an enviable answer at quarterback for the next 10 years, the rest of the offense is not so clear cut. With a veteran movement at wide receiver, uncertainty at running back, and an offensive line that doesn’t always inspire confidence, the Colts have more than a few question marks after Andrew Luck. The division seems to be theirs for the taking, but how tough can the offense be in the postseason?

Jacksonville Jaguars — Can Blake Bortles take the next step?

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports/Kirby Lee

It’s hard not to feel for the Jaguars. They teased their fans in their second season as a team with an AFC Championship game and have never seen such success again. New owner Shad Khan has made the team seem like it wants to do more than just tread water, but it will be up to Blake Bortles to answer the call. The Jaguars will never climb out of the basement unless they answer the quarterback problem.

Tennessee Titans – Can Marcus Mariota make the Titans respectable again?

Forget the playoffs, right now the Titans are just trying to make Sportscenter. This is a franchise that gets a criminal lack of coverage.  You can blame the stupid logo or the fact that Titans is only their name for the sake of alliteration, but in reality, this is just a bad team and has been for awhile. Not since Steve McNair and Vince Young have the Titans had anyone even competent at quarterback. Mariota looks like he might be the guy though. Despite the specter of RG3 hanging over the NFL with regard to “mobile” quarterbacks, the Titans have to learn if Mariota is more Russell Wilson than Robert Griffin.

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Project Shanks NFL Power Rankings

By Robbie Marbury
PSDC NFL/NBA Editor 

Week 1 was fun, huh? I am glad the NFL is back. Nothing is better than falling asleep on the couch with dried up wing sauce in your beard and on your shirt, and somehow on the back of your pants. I have no idea how that got there. Nonetheless, it is great to have the NFL back.

 Here are this week’s power rankings:

1. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) Best team on paper and they beat another top-5 team, that means they stay number one.

2. Denver Broncos (1-0) How about that noodle arm now?

3. Seattle Seahawks (1-0) The Seahawks still win ugly, but hey, a win’s a win. And winning three times zones ahead of your normal time zone is always impressive, no matter how ugly.

4. Atlanta Falcons (0-1) Atlanta always loses that game in New Orleans. All of their games are close. Not writing them off yet.

5. Green Bay Packers (0-1) Clay Matthews has girl hair and throws girly temper-tantrums. Sit down, and buy a brush, fool. [Read more…]

2013 NFL Team Preview: Tennessee Titans

By Robbie Marbury
PSDC Big Man

The Titans spent the last two season trying to decide whether to hand the reins of their offense over to Jake Locker or let veteran Matt Hasselbeck try to get the ship afloat, but that is no longer an issue in Tennessee. The Titans parted ways with Hasselbeck this offseason and now the team’s future, Jake Locker, has been called upon to lead them back to playoffs and beyond. The Titans have had a troubled history with quarterbacks ever since horrible breakup with fan-favorite Steve McNair. In 2006 McNair was locked out of team facilities because the team did not want to be held liable if he was to get injured on their property before they had a chance to cut him. He was set to make $16 million that season, because of a back loaded contract he had signed, and the team had just spent their first round pick on Vince Young.

Young had a good rookie season, and was even a Pro Bowl alternate, but has since famously flamed out. He almost committed suicide, he beat up a guy in a strip joint and he even signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills. Gasp! And ever since the Titans have been a team of mediocrity at the quarterback position. They made the playoffs in 2008 and 2009, thanks to one of the best run games and defenses in the league, but is has been a decade since Tennessee has won a playoff game. This is a franchise whose fan base is growing weary of rooting for a team without an identity. They have gone from smash-mouth football to dance-around-in-the-backfield football. They have gone from a team that made a living in the trenches to a team that gets mauled in the trenches every Sunday. There one-time 2,000-yard back Chris Johnson is a shell of himself since signing a long-term deal. And the once longest tenured coach in the NFL was run off by a goofy owner. There hasn’t been too many Music City Miracle’s happening in Tennessee these days, but the Titans finally have a young core that they can start building around.

Here is a team preview of the 2013 Tennessee Titans. [Read more…]

2013 NFL Draft Review: Tennessee Titans, Rounds 4-7

By Robbie Marbury
PSDC Big Man

Round 4, Pick 107: Brian Schwenke, OC, California

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2013 NFL Draft Review: Tennessee Titans, Rounds 2-3

By Robbie Marbury
PSDC Big Man

Round 2, Pick 34: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

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