Cleveland Browns @ New England Patriots Preview

Josh Capps (@JCapps_) believes the Patriots can make it eight wins from eight as they host the Browns on Sunday night

The New England Patriots welcome another second year QB to Foxborough on Sunday, looking to make the half way point of the season undefeated. The Browns are coming in to this one on a bye week after suffering back-to-back defeats at the hands of Seattle and San Francisco. A well rested Browns team may still find it a huge challenge against Brady and that number one defence in football. read more

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New England Patriots @ Washington Redskins Preview

Josh Capps (@jcapps_) believes the Patriots defence will give Colt McCoy a tough time as he takes over as starting quarterback for the Redskins

It doesn’t look good for Washington heading into this weekend’s visit of New England but they will be hopeful of another weak offensive showing from the Patriots. Just 150 yards posted by Tom Brady last week was his lowest figure this season but was enough to get past the Bills with a huge helping hand from the ever impressive defence. Washington are still looking for their first victory in 2019 and last week’s trip to New Jersey was far from impressive.

Washington’s first challenge will be the start of veteran QB Colt McCoy and how he can avoid the scary stats of the Patriots defence. Another four interceptions and five sacks last week – the same amount the Skins have all season – against a young QB suggest this could be a very daunting task as McCoy returns for his first game since breaking his leg last season. Gruden has advised he knew this decision to play McCoy was made a long time ago, even with Haskins and Keenum looking likely starters this weekend and has come as a shock to some. Adrian Peterson will need to improve on his slow start of the season to help McCoy in what looks to be a near impossible task before a ball has even been kicked.

The Patriots are 4-0 but confidence could be at its lowest after a far from positive performance last weekend. The lack of penetration from Sony Michel left Brady with very few options when driving forward and different personnel again had to come to the party, with Brandon Bolden getting his first touchdown on his only rush of the game. A very concerning week for Patriots fans but Brady doesn’t have many weeks like that.

Another road trip for the Patriots will be a tough test against the veteran quarterback but I fear for Washington and expect their woes to continue come Sunday.

Ones to Watch

Patriots: James White – Brady will prefer the option of a runner who can catch the ball after last weekends poor showing. Expect White to see plenty of the ball.

Redskins: Chris Thompson – Other than Peterson on the ground, expect Thompson to be the primary target in the air.

Score Prediction

Washington 6 Patriots 27

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New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills Preview

Josh Capps (@jcapps_) believes the Patriots defence will just be too much for Josh Allen and the Bills to handle

New England head to Western New York looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the season, but will come up against a fighting Buffalo team who also have a 3-0 record to protect.

Josh Allen and the Bills have proven they know how to win a game with two wins in New Jersey and a come from behind win against Cincinnati last weekend. They won’t go down with a whimper.

Buffalo will be looking to cause an upset at New Era Field, sending Brady & Co home with their first defeat, but it won’t be an easy task. Josh Allen will be a vital figure in the match-up, but he could well need an immaculate game if he wants to come away with a first victory against the Patriots.

So far this season Buffalo have turned over the ball six times, including multiple fumbles to which the Patriots defence will relish and want to keep their strong start.

The Patriots defence is going to be key if the Pats are going to win a seventh Superbowl and so far this year they have proven up to the fight. No touchdowns conceded with the defence on the field in three games finally suggest they don’t necessarily need Gronk in the fourth quarter to win them games.

The lack of personnel at wide receiver is a concern for Belichick but as happens every year, the Patriots always find a way!

This isn’t likely to be an easy ride for Brady, but the experience should prevail and hand Buffalo a first loss in 2019.

Ones to Watch:

Patriots: Josh Gordon – Some big catches for good yardage against the Jets last week. Could see lots more of the ball with Edelman not 100%.

Buffalo: Frank Gore – Game winning TD last weekend and leading rusher for the Bills. Keep and eye on Frank to penetrate the goal line if the Bills get in that red zone.

Prediction

Buffalo 13  New England 28

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Week three NFL power rankings – The AFC is dominant

32 New York Jets

Just a terrible, terrible team. They are not hiding their desire to get the number one pick. It is hard to see where they even get a win from.

31 Cincinnati Bengals

There is a lot of talented players on the team but the offence is just awful. The offensive line is where all the issues start. They had a below average line last season and then let their best two linemen walk away. It’s going to be a long season in Cincinnati.

30 Indianapolis Colts

I think the start to the season proves just how good Andrew Luck is. He could drag this dumpster fire of a roster to eight wins. Without him they may well be the worst team in the league. Chuck Pagano should have been fired a couple of season ago. It just feels inevitable now.

29 Chicago Bears

They showed some promise in week one but that all went away when they travelled to Tampa Bay. It is hard to see Mike Glennon keeping his job too much longer – the same goes for head coach John Fox.

28 Cleveland Browns

0-2 but heading into three very winnable games against the Colts, Jets and Bengals. They need to win at least two of them. If not, we are looking at the same old Browns. There is some promise but they need to start converting that to wins.

27 San Francisco 49ers

Played the Seahawks close and really could have come away from Seattle with the win. It is going to take at least another season but there is some hope if you are a 49ers fan.

26 Arizona Cardinals

This team looks like a disaster. They got the win – just – against the Colts that may well be the worst team in the league while Andrew Luck is on the sidelines. It is sad to say but Carson Palmer is done. The Cardinals do not really have any other options but do not expect Palmer to be playing this time next year.

25 Buffalo Bills

This almost feels a little high. The Bills are not a good team. They traded away some of their best players in the offseason and if it wasn’t for the Jets, many people would have spoken about the Bills tanking. They look like they are starting a big rebuild, and the performances on the field show that.

24 New York Giants

The offence is just awful. Eli Manning can’t seem to get the ball down the field and the running game is non-existent. The offence appears to be Odell Beckham only, and he is struggling with injury. The defence will win them some games, but they look a longshot to make the playoffs, even this early in the season.

23 Los Angeles Rams

There is some promising signs for the Rams. The defence can be very, very good. Wade Phillips is a genius and he could make this a formidable unit. The offence is still where the worries are, even after putting up huge numbers in week one. Sean McVay is one of the brightest young coaches, and the team are in good hands, but it could be a couple of years before we really see the Rams challenge again.

22 Jacksonville Jaguars read more

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New England Patriots fan preview: Do your job!

The latest in this series of fan previews comes from David Fierro and his team – the New England Patriots.

The reigning champions have arguably had the best offseason of any team in the league with the additions they have made. A scary prospect for the rest of the league.

How long have you been watching the NFL?
13 years but properly I’d say seven years now

How did you become a fan of the Patriots?

Febrary 1 2004 woke up and couldn’t sleep- turned on TV and watched the Patriots beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl – ever since then Pats fan and MVP Brady is my idol.

Who was the biggest loss for your team in the offseason?
I think it was LeGarrette Blount – powerhouse guy can never be replaced.

Who was the best addition?
Brandin Cooks – will be a big impact for the WR corp

Assuming no major injuries, what is the floor and what is the ceiling for your team this year?
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London to have its own NFL franchise within five years according to Neil Reynolds

“We will have a team here that we can call our own within five years.” That was the verdict of Sky Sports’ Neil Reynolds when asked about the future of the NFL outside of America.

A London based franchise has been the biggest talking point for those involved in the game in this country for a number of years and it is becoming more and more clear that it is a hot topic for those in charge of the league as well.

In 2017 there will be a record four games played in London at and it once again raised the question, ‘could a sport that couldn’t possibly be more American really be a success in the UK full time?’

The idea has drawn support from within the NFL, particularly from league officials and owners such as the New England Patriots Robert Kraft and Jim Irsay whose Indianapolis Colts team played at Wembley for the first time last season.

Irsay, speaking during his time in London, said that he believes that there will be a franchise here before 2025. Not quite in line with Reynolds’ prediction but it is yet another influential figure that has suggested that a British based franchise may well be a reality in the not too distant future.

It’s not too hard to see why team owners would want a team based outside of the US. There isn’t really anywhere to go in terms of growing the league (and revenue) in the country any more. With the recent announcement that the Chargers will make the move from San Diego to Los Angeles to join the Rams, there is now two teams in the country’s biggest market. The Raiders have filed to move to Las Vegas but that could still change. London could well be the next big goal for the NFL.

Jeff Fisher was full of praise for British fans and the idea of a team moving here when he was over here with his now former Rams team in October. When asked if he thought that a franchise moving here could be possible he said:

“The enthusiasm and the support is clearly here. There’s no doubt about that. I think it will be great for the National Football League if it happens at some point.”

Of course, Fisher may have just been pandering to the British-heavy collection of journalists at the press conference that day but if you take his words at face value, this is a big show of support from one of the most senior coaches in the game.

Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner, has made global expansion a big part of his plans for the league since he took over in 2006.

Reynolds said: “We’ve got government support. The powerful support of NFL owners and the commissioner. It feels like he wants to make it his legacy.”

It’s not all positive regarding a London team though. The players haven’t exactly been supportive in their time over here.

The Colts arrived on the Friday before their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and following a quick practice, didn’t sound too thrilled about being in London.

Anthony Castonzo was asked how he felt following the long plane journey from Indianapolis and his response seemed to sum up the feelings of his teammates pretty well. “I feel like death.”

While Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said: “You try to prepare as best as you can. It’s not ideal.”

Luck actually lived in England as a child when his father, Oliver Luck, was president of the now defunct NFL Europe league but didn’t come across as too approving of a team making the country he once called home its permanent base.

One of the main issues that is brought up in opposition of a UK team is that most fans of the sport will already have a team that they support and may not switch teams. Switching teams is seen as a big no-no for many in British sport.

What seems more likely is the London team will become a second team for many people. British fans turn out year after year to watch games that do not involve their own teams. You only need to head to the stadium on a gameday to see that the majority of fans there on the day support one of the franchises not involved on the day. It is hard to imagine fans will stop going because it is the London team and not any of the other 31 teams that they do not support.

There are all sorts of reasons why a franchise wouldn’t work here. From travel, to scheduling and tax and passport issues. But if those in charge want to make it work, and when they see all the dollars it could make them, then they will find a way.

 

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Super Bowl Prop Bets: Don’t care if the Falcons or Patriots win? Look this way.

The Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the world but for fans of 30 of the 32 teams in the league, they really don’t care that much who wins. So why not bet on everything but the result. Lady Gaga’s first song. We’ve got it covered. The colour of the Gatorade poured over the coach. Covered. The most important of them all – the coin toss. Covered.

 

Coin Toss – Heads (Evens)

It’s been a bad run for heads on the biggest stage of them all. After dominating between 2007 and 2013 with a quite incredible run of six wins in seven, tails has taken over with three straight victories. The trio of wins for tails have left them leading the overall series 26-24 but look for heads to come up big here. Start your Super Bowl off right by backing heads.

 

Longshot MVP winners – Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal (Both 250/1)

This game has been built up as a battle of the offences but the defences could be the ones that really decide the game. These two have emerged as two of the most important players on each defence and have the potential to make a couple of picks to really decide the game. If either can run them back for a pick six then they could put themselves in position to steal the award from the quarterbacks.

 

Gatorade colour poured over the winning coach – Orange (7/2)

Have a quick look through the latest images of the Gatorade showers here. http://blog.masslive.com/patriots/2015/01/super_bowl_49_gatorade_shower.html

Notice anything? Of course you did. Lots of orange. Sure, there was some water earlier on but this isn’t 2007. Make the smart bet and back Bill Belichick or Dan Quinn to be covered in orange Gatorade at the end of the game.

 

National anthem length – under 128.5 seconds (5/6) read more

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True or False: Super Bowl edition

So here we are, the season is almost over and we have just one game left between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons and with it we have the last true or false of the season.

Things have changed in the past week or two on firstandten.co.uk and we now have a number of new writers. There is already a lot more content so check some of it out.

Anyway, on to this week’s statements where we will decide if they are true or false. This week Dave Gray (@djg23), Dave Matthewman (@edwinrumbledove), Dan McLaughlin (@GridironGents), and John Macdonald (@HeelMacca) will be the ones making the decisions.

 

The Patriots will win the Super Bowl

Dave G – True. The more I look over the teams and their games from this season the more I feel like the Patriots win. I think the defence has more chance of slowing down (not stopping) the Falcons offence than the other way round. I also think people are underestimating just how good the Patriots offence is. Falcons have been incredible but New England haven’t been a million miles behind. Would it stun me to see Atlanta win? Do I think it is most likely? Not at all.

Dan – True… I think. This is a closer game than I think people think. I, however have the Pats winning.

John – True. I want Atlanta to win and I really think that could but it would be asking for a few things. If Atlanta get up by two TDs in the first half and the Pats have to chase the game. Pats don’t normally start strong in the Super Bowl. So maybe.

Dave M – I hope not. But probably. If there’s one thing history has taught us it’s that defence wins Championships and frankly, the Falcons don’t have one. Yes, they have a historical offense and are capable of scoring a bunch of points, but the Pats have a top-5 defence and a Coach who has a history of shutting down explosive offenses in Playoff situations.

 

If a quarterback does not win MVP, Julio Jones is the most likely to receive the award read more

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Super Bowl LI: MVP Candidates

The obvious choices

Tom Brady (5/6) and Matt Ryan (15/8)

It seems easier to just group these two together. Whoever wins, the quarterback will be the favourite to take the award.

This game has the highest over/under in Super Bowl history so that tells you that the game is expected to be about the offence.

These have arguably been the best two players in the league this season and there is no reason to think that they won’t be the best players on the field on Sunday.

I’m sure a lot of Patriots fans will be delighted to see Brady pick up the award from Roger Goodell.

Excluding the quarterbacks

Julio Jones (16/1)

Probably the most important non-quarterback on either roster with Rob  Gronkowski injured.

Jones seems almost unstoppable at times but Bill Belichick has shown time and time again that he is the master at drawing up a game plan to slow down a team’s key weapon.

If Jones can continue his fantastic postseason though, he will be right at the top of the list of candidates come Sunday night.

However, even with a huge game for Julio, it is still more likely that Matt Ryan gets the award. 180 yards and three touchdowns may not even be enough to take the award for a wide receiver in this game.

Dion Lewis (33/1)

In terms of outsiders, Lewis may be the most intriguing. The running back contributes to this team in so many different ways including special teams so he is going to have a lot of opportunities to produce the sort of moment that sees people named MVP.

If he can return a kick for a touchdown and add a rushing or passing score then Lewis is one of the players that really could take this award away from the quarterbacks.

The long shots

Devin McCourty and Robert Alford (Both 150/1)

Malcolm Smith showed in Super Bowl XLVIII that turnovers can lead to a win in this award and at 150/1, these defensive backs might be worth a bet if you are looking for a long shot.

If either can make a couple of interceptions or even one that they run back, they will catapult themselves straight into contention for the award.

 

Dave Gray

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