TheHaysWay Talk: State of the New York Giants

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Eli Manning – New York Giants|by Mike Lizzi; Image via Flickr

Ever since that disastrous 3-13 season last year, everyone has been wondering if the Eli Manning era is over in New York. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants gambled on the era continuing by using the 2nd overall selection on RB Saquon Barkley, instead of a successor to Manning. With the Giants sitting at 1-4 this season, everyone’s worst fears have been realized: Eli Manning has nothing left in the tank…or does he?

Don’t get me wrong, having watched the Giants’ five games this season, Manning does NOT pass the eye test. He often looks confused, hurried, and weak-armed. But looks can be deceiving, and the numbers tell a different story. So far this season, he’s completed 71.7% of his passes for 1,381 yards with a 7.4 yard average, 6 TDs, 3 picks, and a 96.6 passer rating (stats via NFL.com). How does that stack up to his career numbers?

  • His yardage total he’s on pace for and his TD-INT ratio are his best in three years.
  • His yards per pass average is his highest in six years.
  • His completion percentage and passer rating are both the highest of any season in his career.

How does that stack up against the rest of the league’s starting QBs?

  • 3rd in completion percentage
  • 16th in yardage
  • 12th in passer rating

All of those are in the top half of the league. Which leads me to my point:

Eli is not the problem.

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File:New York Giants wordmark.svg; Image via Wikimedia Commons

Here are categories in which the Giants are ranked in the bottom half of the league (also from NFL.com):

  • 28th in rushing yards
  • 23rd in points per game
  • 10th most sacks allowed
  • 19th in time of possession per game
  • 14th most points allowed per game
  • T-Last in sacks
  • 6th most rushing yards allowed per game
  • T-27th in forced fumbles
  • T-Last in fumble recoveries

What does that tell us? It tells us that new General Manager Dave Gettleman has yet to solidify the front lines as he did during his tenure in Carolina. The lack of sacks and fumbles on the defensive side is a result of poor pass rush, likely due to a combination of OLB Olivier Vernon‘s current injury situation and DE Jason Pierre-Paul‘s departure via trade during the offseason. This is a new issue that I wouldn’t necessarily expect to continue, but we’ll have to see how the pass rush looks once Vernon returns to the lineup.

The high number of sacks and lack of power running game on the offensive side is a result of the same issue the Giants have been facing over the last several years (and this is a highly technical term): a piece of crap offensive line. Here are some not-so-fun statistics on the Giants offensive line from Football Outsiders:

  • 23rd in pass protection
  • LAST in run blocking, with 0.22 fewer adjusted line yards than the next worst team
    • Broken down specifically: LAST in runs up the middle, off the guards, and off the left end of the line. The Giants are one of just TWO TEAMS with NEGATIVE adjusted line yards off the left end of the line.

Look, I get it as a NFL fan: when things go wrong, you blame the quarterback because he’s the guy in charge. The fact that he’s 37 years old and last won a Super Bowl 6 years ago makes it even easier for people to point the finger at Eli. Besides, how can the remade and retooled offensive line be playing this poorly? Gettleman used a second-round pick on LG Will Hernandez spent $62 million on LT Nate Solder, and finally got rid of the cancerous, disastrous T Ereck Flowers. It’s possible that the new combination is still working on chemistry. After all, none of the 5 starting offensive linemen were full-time starters for the Giants before this season (one of them still shouldn’t be, C John Greco is replacing C Jon Halapio who is on IR).

The bottom line lies within the statistics above: RT Chad Wheeler is the ONLY one of the 5 starting offensive linemen who is pulling his weight in run blocking because he’s the only one not directly responsible for any of those problem areas. It’s understandable that the rookie (Hernandez) and the veteran backup (Greco) aren’t perfect, but as for Solder and RG Patrick Omameh…it’s time to earn those paychecks you got during the offseason.

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File:New York Giants logo.svg; Image via Wikimedia Commons

Make no mistake, the success of the 2018 New York Football Giants will continue to revolve around the offensive line and the defensive front seven. If those groups can step up, there is no reason not to believe that the G-men have a legitimate shot at coming back to win the NFC East.

The Eli Manning era isn’t over yet, but it will be over very soon if the offensive line keeps trying to get him and Saquon killed.

 

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College Football Group of 5 Shout-Outs! 2018 Week 6

This is my weekly college football shout-out to Group of 5 teams. Change is needed in the structure of college football to allow Group of 5 teams a chance to make it to the College Football Playoff. Until a Group of 5 team makes the College Football Playoff, I will compose this post every week of the college football season to celebrate the accomplishments of the underappreciated teams in college football. The numbers in parenthesis are the scores, and the bolded games are games won by Group of 5 teams.

American Athletic Conference

No games against Power 5 foes this week.

Conference-USA

No games against Power 5 foes this week.

Mid-American Conference

No games against Power 5 foes this week.

Mountain West

No games against Power 5 foes this week.

Sun Belt

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • UL Monroe (21) @ SEC’s Ole Miss (70)

 

Group of 5 Win of the Week

Due to conference matchups getting into full-swing now, there won’t be as many Group of 5 vs Power 5 matchups. That said, I’d still like to highlight a Group of 5 team who played well, so I’ll still be picking a Group of 5 team of the week that has a good game against another Group of 5 opponent.

Group of 5 Team of the Week

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File:San Diego State Aztecs Logo.svg; Image via Wikimedia Commons

San Diego State University Aztecs (19) @ Boise State University Broncos (13)

This pains me as a Boise State fan, but I’ve over-hyped my team this season and it’s time I own up to that. San Diego State came to Boise and completely stalled the Bronco offense on the blue. While the Bronco running game was already struggling prior to this game, the passing game certainly wasn’t and the Aztecs completely shut it down. QB Brett Rypien was all but taken out of Heisman consideration by throwing for just 170 yds and 2 INTs (going into the game he had 0 INTs on the season) in a game where he was just off, often missing throws he’d been routinely making up to that point in the season (to wide open receivers, too). San Diego State didn’t look particularly impressive offensively, but they were without their starting RB. They won two of the three parts of the game (offense and special teams) and it was enough to get them a big in-conference victory.

College Football Group of 5 Shout-Outs! 2018 Week 5

This is my new weekly college football shout-out to Group of 5 teams. Change is needed in the structure of college football to allow Group of 5 teams a chance to make it to the College Football Playoff. Until a Group of 5 team makes the College Football Playoff, I will compose this post every week of the college football season to celebrate the accomplishments of the underappreciated teams in college football. The numbers in parenthesis are the scores, and the bolded games are games won by Group of 5 teams.

American Athletic Conference

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Temple (35) @ ACC’s Boston College (45)
  • ACC’s Pittsburgh (14) @ #13 UCF (45)

Conference-USA

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Rice (24) @ ACC’s Wake Forest (56)
  • Southern Mississippi (13) @ SEC’s #10 Auburn (24)

Mid-American Conference

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Central Michigan (20) @ Big Ten’s #21 Michigan State (31)
  • Bowling Green (17) @ ACC’s Georgia Tech (63)

Mountain West

No games against Power 5 foes this week.

Sun Belt

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Louisiana (14) @ SEC’s #1 Alabama (56)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group of 5 Win of the Week

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File:UCF Knights logo.svg; Image via Wikimedia Commons

University of Pittsburgh Panthers (14) @ #13 University of Central Florida Knights (45)

Literally only one choice this week. It was not a good week for the Group of 5, but the darlings of the Group of 5 made sure I had one win to spotlight. Pittsburgh isn’t one of the better Power 5 teams in the country, but they are a Power 5 team nonetheless, and UCF thoroughly dominated them. With Boise State already having lost any slim shot they may have had at making the College Football Playoff, it’s all up to UCF to make the Group of 5 proud. Thus far, they have certainly delivered.

Fun fact: this is the second week in a row that the “Group of 5 Win of the Week” segment has featured a team ranked #13.

Not so fun fact: there are only 3 remaining Group of 5 teams with an undefeated record through the first 5 weeks of the 2018 college football season, and they’re all in the East Division of the American Athletic Conference:

  • University of Central Florida Knights
  • University of Cincinnati Bearcats
  • University of South Florida Bulls

College Football Group of 5 Shout-Outs! 2018 Week 4

This is my new weekly college football shout-out to Group of 5 teams. Change is needed in the structure of college football to allow Group of 5 teams a chance to make it to the College Football Playoff. Until a Group of 5 team makes the College Football Playoff, I will compose this post every week of the college football season to celebrate the accomplishments of the underappreciated teams in college football. The numbers in parenthesis are the scores, and the bolded games are games won by Group of 5 teams.

American Athletic Conference

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Tulane (6) @ Big Ten’s #4 Ohio State (49)
  • UConn (21) @ ACC’s Syracuse (51)

Conference-USA

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • ACC’s #13 Virginia Tech (35) @ Old Dominion (49)
  • FIU (17) @ ACC’s #21 Miami (31)
  • Louisiana Tech (21) @ SEC’s #6 LSU (38)
  • ACC’s NC State (37) @ Marshall (20)

Mid-American Conference

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Kent State (17) @ SEC’s Ole Miss (38)
  • Buffalo (42) @ Big Ten’s Rutgers (13)
  • Akron (13) @ Big 12’s Iowa State (26)
  • Northern Illinois (19) @ ACC’s Florida State (37)

Mountain West

No games against Power 5 foes this week.

Sun Belt

No games against Power 5 foes this week.

 

Group of 5 Win of the Week

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File:Old Dominion Monarchs Script Logo.png; Image via Wikimedia Commons

#13 Virginia Tech University Hokies (35) @ Old Dominion University Monarchs (49)

Not a lot to choose from for this segment this week, but the good news is that one of the ones to choose from is the best upset of the 2018 college football season. Old Dominion’s football program was just brought back less than a decade ago for the first time since World War II. This is just their fifth season in the FBS after joining Conference-USA in 2014. Their win today marks the program’s first win against a ranked opponent, first win against a Power 5 opponent, first win of THIS SEASON (in 4 tries), and what is being called “the biggest upset by an FBS team over an ACC opponent in the last 40 seasons” (Heather Dinich, Twitter) (I believe that’s in relation to the spread for the game, which was 28.5 points in Virginia Tech’s favor. It’s also the biggest FBS vs FBS spread-related upset since 2013,–before Old Dominion was a member of the FBS!) This wasn’t just any ranked, Power 5 opponent, either. This was the 13th-ranked, previously unbeaten Virginia Tech team that was the last in-conference roadblock between Clemson and the College Football Playoff (that’s right, barring some catastrophic meltdown, we already have one CFP team locked in just 4 weeks into the season!) Congratulations Old Dominion on a fantastic win for your program! Group of 5 represent!

College Football Group of 5 Shout-Outs! 2018 Week 3

This is my new weekly college football shout-out to Group of 5 teams. Change is needed in the structure of college football to allow Group of 5 teams a chance to make it to the College Football Playoff. Until a Group of 5 team makes the College Football Playoff, I will compose this post every week of the college football season to celebrate the accomplishments of the underappreciated teams in college football. The numbers in parenthesis are the scores, and the bolded games are games won by Group of 5 teams. Sorry this one is coming at you a little late this week, I’ve been sick.

American Athletic Conference

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Temple (35) @ Big Ten’s Maryland (14)
  • SMU (20) @ Big Ten’s #19 Michigan (45)
  • USF (25) @ Big Ten’s Illinois (19)
  • Houston (49) @ Big 12’s Texas Tech (63)

Conference-USA

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Middle Tennessee (7) @ SEC’s #3 Georgia (49)
  • UTEP (0) @ SEC’s Tennessee (24)
  • North Texas (44) @ SEC’s Arkansas (17)
  • UTSA (17) @ Big 12’s Kansas State (41)
  • Western Kentucky (17) @ ACC’s Louisville (20)

Mid-American Conference

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Kent State (10) @ Big Ten’s #11 Penn State (63)
  • ACC’s #21 Miami (49) @ Toledo (24)
  • Ball State (10) @ Big Ten’s Indiana (38)
  • Miami (OH) (3) @ Big Ten’s Minnesota (26)
  • Ohio (31) @ ACC’s Virginia (45)
  • Akron (39) @ Big Ten’s Northwestern (34)

Mountain West

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • #17 Boise State (21) @ Big 12’s #24 Oklahoma State (44)
  • Colorado State (10) @ SEC’s Florida (48)
  • San Jose State (22) @ Pac 12’s #20 Oregon (35)
  • Pac 12’s Oregon State (35) @ Nevada (37)
  • Pac 12’s #23 Arizona State (21) @ San Diego State (28)
  • Fresno State (38) @ Pac 12’s UCLA (14)

Sun Belt

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Georgia Southern (7) @ ACC’s #2 Clemson (38)
  • Troy (24) @ Big Ten’s Nebraska (19)
  • Louisiana-Lafayette (10) @ SEC’s #16 Mississippi State (56)
  • UL Monroe (10) @ SEC’s Texas A&M (48)

 

Group of 5 Win of the Week

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File:North Texas Stacked Wordmark.png; Image via Wikimedia Commons

University of North Texas Mean Green (44) @ University of Arkansas Razorbacks (17)

This was a good week for the Group of 5, despite two of their headliners (Boise State and Houston) losing big. Each G5 conference had at least one of its teams beat a Power 5 team, which is super cool. San Diego State toppled a ranked opponent and all of Troy, Fresno State, Akron, and Temple had impressive victories against quality programs on the road (and USF won @ Illinois, but most teams can pull that off). However, it’s pretty rare that a G5 team heads into the house of a SEC opponent and completely embarrasses them, and that’s what North Texas did this week. Despite a pedestrian offensive performance that saw the Mean Green held under 100 rushing yards and only 3.3 yards per carry, their defense had 6 interceptions (one of which was a pick-six thrown by the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones) to set their offense up for plenty of easy scoring opportunities, and their special teams unit returned a punt for a TD. The Mean Green are potentially a dark horse to win the G5 spot in the New Year’s Six Bowls after this dominant victory put them at 3-0 on this young college football season.

Boise State: The Group of 5’s Most Powerful Contender Yet

Disclaimer: I’ve spent all week writing this post into perfection and, upon completion, realized these are essentially the ramblings of a madman. This is an optimistic outlook from a Boise State fanatic who is seeing a glimmer of hope of a national championship for the first time since 2010 in the midst of the vast, desolate wasteland that is the Group of 5. The scenarios that follow are not only highly unlikely, but may very well classify as impossible. This also might be the wordiest post I’ve ever written. All that said…

Hang on to EVERY LAST WORD.

If this comes to fruition, it will be the single greatest prediction…

no…

GUARANTEE…

of ALL-TIME.

(Sorry Joe Namath)

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File: Boise State “B” logo.svg; Image via Wikimedia Commons

If you don’t follow the Group of 5 because you are a Power 5 snob, you’re missing out this season. In Boise State, UCF, and Houston, the Group of 5 has three teams who could legitimately shock the world and make a run to the College Football Playoff. They will have to go undefeated and get some help, but if they do, they might have what it takes to take on Alabama, Clemson, and the winner of the Big Ten. The strongest candidate of the three is Boise State, and here’s why:

The Talent

As a Bronco fan, I have little to no hesitation in saying that this 2018 team rivals the 2006 Fiesta Bowl team and the 2010 team that lost the overtime heartbreaker to Colin Kaepernick’s Nevada for the title of most talented Boise State roster of all time. QB Brett Rypien looks like Kellen Moore boosted his height and throw power rating in NCAA Football, RB Alexander Mattison is in his junior season, which was the same season that Jay Ajayi and Jeremy McNichols used to springboard themselves into the NFL, and the WR corps might be the deepest in all of college football, with five different players at the position having caught at least 1 TD through 2 games (2 of those guys have 2 TDs). The d-line has gotten constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the LB by committee approach has actually been fairly successful in replacing the production of 2018 first-round NFL draft pick Leighton Vander Esch, and the secondary rivals the 2010 secondary (which saw all 4 primary starters go to the NFL, perhaps you’ve heard of S George Iloka or CB Jamar Taylor?).

The Strength of Schedule

  • Playing #24 Oklahoma State in Stillwater
    • Stillwater will not be easy for the Broncos. Oklahoma State is a good football team with a fantastic offense (as Big 12 teams usually have), which is why the spread is currently 3 points in their favor. Statistically, the yardage favors the Cowboys (OSU 674.5 ypg vs BSU 617; OSU 237 yapg vs BSU 286 yapg). However, the scoring favors the Broncos (BSU 59 ppg vs OSU 56.5 ppg; BSU 13.5 papg vs OSU 15 papg). If the Broncos win this game, it’ll be because their defense is better than the Cowboys’. It would be their first true road win (non-neutral site) over a Power 5 AP Top 25 opponent since September 20, 2008 when Freshman QB Kellen Moore led the Broncos to a 37-32 upset of #17 Oregon in Autzen Stadium. Yes, this would be Boise State’s MOST IMPORTANT WIN IN A DECADE.
  • Mountain West Matchups
    • Simply put, the Mountain West is the strongest Group of 5 conference in college football. Why? Boise State is considered the biggest power in the Group of 5, but every year the Broncos trip up against some Mountain West opponent they aren’t prepared for. Even in 2014 (the only year the Broncos won the Group of 5 since the implementation of the College Football Playoff) and played in their third Fiesta Bowl, they lost a conference game against Air Force. If they want a trip to the College Football Playoff, that ABSOLUTELY CANNOT HAPPEN this year. Luckily the other main powers in the Mountain West (San Diego State, Colorado State, and Fresno State) are all playing on The Blue this season, which gives the Broncos a HUGE advantage. Unfortunately, the road games this season are ones that have tripped the Broncos up at big moments in the past (Wyoming- The Broncos lost their last trip to Laramie; Air Force- Coach Harsin just defeated them for the first time in his tenure last season, he lost the previous 3 times; New Mexico- One of the better coached teams in the Mountain West; Nevada- I mentioned 2010 in the “The Talent” section, the lowlights from that game are still shown before every matchup with Nevada because the Wolfpack have not won the matchup since, nor did they win the matchup much prior.)

The Dominating Performances

The College Football Playoff committee loves the teams that destroy their opponents to the highest degree. The Broncos need to dominate their games. They’re off to a good start; Through two weeks they’re ranked 5th in S&P+. They’ve scored 59 PPG on 617 YPG while only allowing 13.5 PPG on 286 YPG. It’s also worth noting that a sizable chunk of the yards and points allowed were against backup defenders that were put in during both games after it was clear that Boise State would blow out Troy and UConn. If the Broncos finish with numbers half that good and an undefeated season, they’ll have a solid case for the College Football Playoff.

 

Help From the Power 5

As sad as it is, the Broncos will still need A LOT of help to get into the playoff even if they finish with an in-house best-case scenario this season by finishing undefeated with lots of blowouts. Here’s what likely needs to happen in the Power 5 for a Boise State playoff run:

ACC

  • There are two ACC teams in the playoff picture: Clemson and Virginia Tech.
    • Having survived Texas A&M last weekend, Clemson really doesn’t have any challenges left on the schedule. The only two games that Clemson might not win in blowout fashion are @ Boston College (a team that always manages to screw themselves over), and home vs South Carolina (a team that is somehow awful even when they’re good: see blowout loss at home to Georgia last weekend).
    • Virginia Tech’s road is a little harder, with visits from #8 Notre Dame and #21 Miami both on the schedule this season (hopefully, the hurricane doesn’t cause too much damage and both of those games will be played in Blacksburg, VA. Stay safe this weekend East Coast.)
  •  The best case scenario here is probably Virginia Tech dropping both of those games, Miami losing one more game, and Clemson winning the ACC Championship. I just don’t really see a realistic scenario where Clemson doesn’t make the playoff, so hopefully they steamroll the rest of their conference out of the picture.

Big Ten

  • The Big Ten Champion will probably get a playoff spot as well, and it’s a three horse race between #4 Ohio State, #6 Wisconsin, and #11 Penn State.
    • Ohio State has a tough, neutral-ish site game (the Jerry Dome in Arlington) against #15 TCU this weekend. They also have road games against #11 Penn State and #25 Michigan State. The only other bumps in their road are home vs #19 Michigan and the Big Ten Championship (if they win the East division).
    • Wisconsin has the easiest Big Ten path, though they do still play #19 Michigan and #11 Penn State on the road. They’re pretty much always a lock to win the Big Ten West and play in the Big Ten Championship.
    • Penn State has the toughest road as they play all four of the other ranked Big Ten teams. They have #19 Michigan on the road, and the other three (#4 Ohio State, #6 Wisconsin, and #25 Michigan State) are all coming to them. Ohio State is likely to stand in their way of a Big Ten Championship.
  • Luckily, this conference is strong enough to eat each other alive. The best case scenario would be the Big Ten Champion going to the playoff (not really a way to stop that), and no other Big Ten team having fewer than 2 losses. If Wisconsin goes the distance and hands Penn State and Ohio State losses along the way, Penn State would need to lose just one more of its other three games against ranked opponents, and Ohio State would need to lose just one more of its other four games against ranked opponents.

Big 12

  • The Big 12 has four playoff contenders: #5 Oklahoma, #14 West Virginia, #15 TCU, and #24 Oklahoma State. Unlike the Big Ten and SEC, the Big 12 is considered weak enough that one loss should knock these teams out of the playoff hunt (with the exception of maybe Oklahoma)
    • #24 Oklahoma State would see their one loss come at the hands of Boise State this weekend (otherwise, none of the rest of this matters).
    • #15 TCU has four tough games: #4 Ohio State, #5 Oklahoma, #24 Oklahoma State, and @ #14 West Virginia
    • #14 West Virginia has three tough games: #5 Oklahoma, #15 TCU, and @ #24 Oklahoma State
    • #5 Oklahoma has three tough games: #24 Oklahoma State, @ #15 TCU, and @ #14 West Virginia
  • Best case scenario here would be Oklahoma State stepping up big after a loss to the Broncos this weekend by boosting the Broncos’ resume and beating teams that might stand in their way. Oklahoma State beats all of Oklahoma, TCU, and West Virginia. TCU beats Ohio State and West Virginia but loses to Oklahoma. West Virginia beats Oklahoma. The only Big 12 team with fewer than 2 losses is Oklahoma State, who the Broncos would need to have beaten to be in the playoff discussion anyway. Therefore, Boise State>Oklahoma State>The Rest of the Big 12, and no Big 12 team makes the playoff.

Pac-12

  • The Pac-12 fell short of the playoff last season, but it’s an improved conference this year. #10 Washington has already dropped a game, but it was to #7 Auburn, so it does not drop them out of the picture. There’s also #9 Stanford, #20 Oregon, and #23 Arizona State. I think #22 USC already wrote their eulogy with their loss to Stanford (plus their offense looks quite stale this season with QB Sam Darnold in the NFL).
    • #9 Stanford plays four more ranked opponents this season (#20 Oregon, #8 Notre Dame, #23 Arizona State, and #10 Washington), all on the road. They’re probably not going to survive that gauntlet.
    • #10 Washington plays three more ranked opponents (#23 Arizona State, #20 Oregon, #9 Stanford). They should be officially knocked out with one more loss.
    • #20 Oregon has the benefit of hosting all three ranked opponents they play this season (#9 Stanford, #10 Washington, and #23 Arizona State). Autzen Stadium doesn’t have the same home-field advantage it used to have, though.
    • #23 Arizona State plays at: #10 Washington, #22 USC, and #20 Oregon. They also host #9 Stanford.
  • Believe it or not, Arizona State probably has the easiest road in a weak Pac-12 South. Best case scenario would be a dark horse, like Arizona State, winning the conference over Washington, but finishing with at least one loss. The only Pac-12 team that will have a shot at the playoff is the one that wins the conference championship. Even then, I believe the only two Pac-12 teams who could get in with a loss on their record are Stanford and Washington. The Pac-12 will probably miss out.

SEC

  • This one is far and away the most convoluted, so I’ll try to make it simple. The conference champion is guaranteed a playoff spot because the SEC is far and away the strongest conference in college football. Any other SEC team with only 1 loss on their record will also have a shot, especially if it’s Georgia, Alabama, or Auburn (though Auburn may be slightly less likely to get in with a loss and no conference championship). So the best case scenario here is either Alabama or Georgia running the table to get the top seed in the playoff, and the other one finishing with at least 2 losses along with Auburn.

Notre Dame

  • This is kind of the first time that you really have to consider Notre Dame for the playoff. They were experiencing quite the slump for the first few years of the playoff’s existence. They’re in luck, too, because some of the other powerhouses they usually play are now experiencing small slumps of their own (see: Florida State and maybe even #22 USC). The USC game is on the road and they do still visit #13 Virginia Tech and get visited by #9 Stanford, but Notre Dame is a very real threat. Best case scenario would be them slipping up at least once, but twice would make me and the other Boise State fans a little more comfortable.
Image result for college football playoff
College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy; Photo via Wikipedia

So, The Playoff Scenario Looks Like This…

  1. Alabama or Georgia
  2. Clemson
  3. Big Ten Champion
  4. Boise State

 

[Insert Mic Drop here.]

College Football Group of 5 Shout-Outs! 2018 Week 2

This is my new weekly college football shout-out to Group of 5 teams. Change is needed in the structure of college football to allow Group of 5 teams a chance to make it to the College Football Playoff. Until a Group of 5 team makes the College Football Playoff, I will compose this post every week of the college football season to celebrate the accomplishments of the underappreciated teams in college football. The numbers in parenthesis are the scores, and the bolded games are games won by Group of 5 teams.

American Athletic Conference

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Big 12’s #16 TCU (42) @ SMU (12)
  • Pac 12’s Arizona (18) @ Houston (45)
  • ACC’s Georgia Tech (38) @ USF (49)
  • ACC’s North Carolina (19) @ East Carolina (41)
  • Tulsa (21) @ Big 12’s Texas (28)

Conference-USA

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Big 12’s Baylor (37) @ UTSA (20)

Mid-American Conference

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Western Michigan (3) @ Big Ten’s #21 Michigan (49)
  • Eastern Michigan (20) @ Big Ten’s Purdue (19)
  • Big 12’s Kansas (31) @ Central Michigan (7)
  • Big Ten’s Maryland (45) @ Bowling Green (14)
  • Pac-12’s Utah (17) @ Northern Illinois (6)

Mountain West

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • New Mexico (14) @ Big Ten’s #5 Wisconsin (45)
  • Nevada (10) @ SEC’s Vanderbilt (41)
  • Wyoming (13) @ SEC’s Missouri (40)
  • SEC’s Arkansas (27) @ Colorado State (34)
  • Fresno State (14) @ Big Ten’s Minnesota (21)
  • San Jose State (0) @ Pac-12’s Washington State (31)

Sun Belt

Games against Power 5 foes this week:

  • Arkansas State (7) @ SEC’s #1 Alabama (57)
  • Georgia State (7) @ ACC’s NC State (41)
  • South Alabama (13) @ Big 12’s Oklahoma State (55)

 

Group of 5 Win of the Week

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File:Eastern Michigan Eagles logo.svg; Image via Wikimedia Commons

Eastern Michigan University Eagles (20) @ Purdue University Boilermakers (19)

While Houston had the most dominant win, I’m giving the nod to the team who had the closest win: EMU. The Eagles were the only of five MAC teams to win a matchup with a Power 5 opponent this week. Furthermore, they were the only Group of 5 team to beat a Power 5 team on the road this week. Although the Eagles are not generally considered one of the top Group of 5 teams, this game marked the 2nd straight win in matchups against teams from the Big Ten conference (they had lost all 38 matchups with members of the conference prior). The win serves as a statement that the EMU football team is improving and the Big Ten might not be the all-mighty, 2nd-best college football conference many believe it to be.

 

Takeaways: Falcons-Eagles

If you like defense, you really couldn’t have asked for a much better kickoff game for the 2018 NFL Season than the one we received last night. After 45 minutes of weather delay, we were treated to 60 minutes of highly competitive, defensive-oriented football. Here are some of the things I noticed during the Philadelphia Eagles‘ Thursday night win over the Atlanta Falcons:

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File:Philadelphia Eagles wordmark.svg; Image via Wikimedia Commons
  1. If you have Eagles RB Jay Ajayi on your fantasy football team, you are REALLY happy right now. Ajayi was held back last season after the trade from the Miami Dolphins to Philly because he was sharing time with LeGarrette Blount. With Blount now in Detroit, Ajayi is the go-to guy in Philly’s backfield, and that was apparent last night. While he shared some time with change of pace backs Darren Sproles and Corey Clement, he received the majority of first down, second down snaps and goal-line snaps. Until WR Alshon Jeffery is healthy, the Eagles really only have Ajayi and TE Zach Ertz (who seemingly left his hands at home last night) as viable redzone options.
  2. The Falcons did nothing to end the concerns about their offense last night. While WR Julio Jones and RB Tevin Coleman looked themselves, there wasn’t much else to be happy about with the Falcons. The o-line lost protection several times (particularly on the right side) on the way to allowing 4 sacks, 1st-round rookie WR Calvin Ridley was a complete non-factor (0 receptions on 2 targets), and QB Matt Ryan was inaccurate for most of the night as his receivers were regularly having to jump up or stretch out to make catches. OC Steve Sarkisian‘s playcalling was abysmal in its lack of creativity, which showed in 3rd down (26%) and redzone (20%) efficiency. Of course, the most depressing part of the night was watching the fade to Jones in the corner of the endzone fail at the end of the game again.
  3. The Eagles front seven picked up right where they left off at the end of Super Bowl LII. The Falcons o-line is considered one of the better ones in the league, but the Eagles were doing a pretty good job of getting through most of the night. They ended up with 4 sacks and held the RB duo of Devonta Freeman and Coleman (possibly the best RB duo in the league) to just 55 combined rushing yards.

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    Keanu Neal | by Thomson 20192; Photo via Flickr
  4. The Falcons secondary looked pretty good. While the front seven struggled to contain Ajayi, the secondary held QB Nick Foles to 117 yards passing and forced 1 INT when backup S Damontae Kazee popped the ball up into the arms of LB Deion Jones with a big hit on TE Dallas Goedert. Kazee will have to continue to make plays this season filling in for starter Keanu Neal, who the Falcons just announced is out for the season with a torn ACL.

 

2018 NFL Playoff Predictions 2.0

Below are my updated and official NFL Playoff Predictions for the 2018 season and here’s a link to the first version in case you want to see what changes were made.

Playoff Seeding

AFC

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File: New England Patriots wordmark (c. 2000).png; Image via Wikimedia Commons
  1. New England Patriots
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. Los Angeles Chargers
  5. Houston Texans
  6. Kansas City Chiefs

NFC

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File: Philadelphia Eagles wordmark.svg; Image via Wikimedia Commons
  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Los Angeles Rams
  4. Green Bay Packers
  5. New Orleans Saints
  6. Dallas Cowboys

 

Wildcard Round

(6) Kansas City Chiefs @ (3) Pittsburgh Steelers- (3) Pittsburgh Steelers

(5) New Orleans Saints @ (4) Green Bay Packers- (5) New Orleans Saints

(5) Houston Texans @ (4) Los Angeles Chargers- (4) Los Angeles Chargers

(6) Dallas Cowboys @ (3) Los Angeles Rams- (3) Los Angeles Rams

 

 

Divisional Round

(3) Pittsburgh Steelers @ (2) Jacksonville Jaguars- (2) Jacksonville Jaguars

(3) Los Angeles Rams @ (2) Atlanta Falcons- (3) Los Angeles Rams

(4) Los Angeles Chargers @ (1) New England Patriots- (1) New England Patriots

(5) New Orleans Saints @ (1) Philadelphia Eagles- (1) Philadelphia Eagles

 

Conference Championships

(2) Jacksonville Jaguars @ (1) New England Patriots- (2) Jacksonville Jaguars

(3) Los Angeles Rams @ (1) Philadelphia Eagles- (3) Los Angeles Rams

 

Super Bowl

(2) Jacksonville Jaguars vs (3) Los Angeles Rams- (2) Jacksonville Jaguars

Image result for jacksonville jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars | by Keith Allison; Photo via Flickr

2018 NFL Awards Predictions

Below are my official NFL Awards Predictions for the 2018 season. The percentages on the right of the names below are their odds of winning (Note: Those percentages will not add up to 100% because I’m only listing the top 3 guys for each award). My predicted winner is bolded at the top of each category.

 

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Image result for roquan smith
File:Roquan Smith Jan 2018.jpg; Photo via Wikimedia Commons

 

Offensive Rookie of the Year

 

Defensive Player of the Year

 

Offensive Player of the Year

 

Coach of the Year

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File:Dan Quinn 2015 intro press conference.jpg; Photo via Wikipedia

 

MVP

 

Still to come: my 2018 NFL Playoff Predictions version 2.0.