Article by: Justin Imler
We're now a quarter of the way through the 2019 NFL regular season, and I think we have more question marks than ever. A lot of teams have been disappointing on the offensive side of the ball, I'm looking at you Houston and Minnesota, with others seemingly on the rise. The top and bottom tiers look relatively the same this week, with a few teams like the Bears and Eagles making their way up the rankings after some impressive Week 4 performances.
Which teams are on the rise, and which teams took a fall? Take a look below to see where I have your team ranked heading into Week 5!
1. New England Patriots +-0 (4-0)
The Pats got the win in Buffalo last Sunday. Both offenses looked horrible, but their defense and special teams dominated and took care of business. Look for Tom Brady and company to get back on track against a very disappointing Washington defense this week.
2. Kansas City Chiefs +-0 (4-0)
Kansas City survived a close one in Detroit last week. Many expected this game to be another Patrick Mahomes beat down, but it ended up being his only NFL game without a TD so far in his career. Gotta give the Lions credit, they hung with KC for 60 minutes, but when Mahomes has the ball to close out a game, it's all but over.
3. New Orleans Saints +7 (3-1)
Like I said last week, the Saints are doing just fine without Drew Brees at the helm. Teddy Bridgewater has now led this team to back-to-back wins against a tough Seattle team, and now upsetting Dallas in New Orleans. This team has risen to the challenge in Brees' absence, and it's only a matter of time before we get to see this offense fully healthy and ready to strike.
4. Chicago Bears +4 (3-1)
This Chicago defense carried them to victory yet again against Minnesota last week. QB Mitch Trubisky did suffer a dislocated shoulder, but backup Chase Daniel did well in his place. With Trubisky's outlook being murky for at least the next game or two, look for this defense to continue to carry the load going forward, which hasn't been an issue so far.
5. Dallas Cowboys -1 (3-1)
With a lot of top tier teams taking an L last week, Dallas remains in my top 5 and here's why. This Dallas defense is special, they held this Saints offense in check pretty much the whole game. Now on the other hand, their offense couldn't get things going whatsoever, but any primetime matchup in the Superdome is going to put you at a massive disadvantage. They have another tough matchup at home against Green Bay this week, so let's see if they can turn things around.
6. Los Angeles Rams -3 (3-1)
The Rams were playing catch up from the very beginning last Sunday, but ultimately still fell short of Tampa Bay 55-40. This game was by far the highest scoring game of the season thus far, and both defenses looked like they just didn't want to stop a thing. With that being said, I still think LA has one of the best all around rosters in the NFC. They have a tough matchup Thursday night in Seattle to try to bounce back from last week's disappointing performance.
7. Philadelphia Eagles +6 (2-2)
Many believe that Philly saved their season last Thursday in their win over the Green Bay Packers. With Dallas looking to be on the rise, a 1-3 start by the Eagles would not have been an ideal position. But instead their defense stepped up when they needed to late in the game, and now they're 2-2 heading into Week 5 with a much easier opponent in the New York Jets. The secondary still concerns me, but this Philly roster is still one that should not be overlooked.
8. Green Bay Packers -3 (3-1)
The other side of that Thursday night matchup resulted in Green Bay's first loss of the season. However, like I expected, Aaron Rodgers and Devante Adams found their grove connecting for 10 catches and 180 yards. Adams did however suffer a turf toe injury that will most likely keep him on the sidelines this week against Dallas. Let's see if this defense can continue their high level of play, and Rodgers can make do without his favorite weapon.
9. San Francisco 49ers +3 (3-0)
Coming off a bye week, San Fran still moves up in this week's rankings. They'll get their first true test of the season in primetime on MNF against the Cleveland Browns, who are coming off an impressive win of their own. Let's see if the Niners can keep their undefeated season going another week.
10. Seattle Seahawks +1 (3-1)
Seattle handled Arizona pretty easily last week, beating the Cards 27-10. Seattle has looked impressive so far this season, but time will tell to see how they compete when facing tougher NFC competition. They struggled against New Orleans a few weeks ago, but have another favorable matchup against Cinci this week.
11. Buffalo Bills +3 (3-1)
Bills Mafia should be happy, as I still have the Bills moving up in the rankings, despite suffering their first lost of the season to New England this past week. Yes, the offense looked rough, even before Allen suffered a concussion, but what offense hasn't when facing the Pats this year? This defense proved that they're legit, and hung with the league's top team harder than anyone else so far this season.
12. Los Angeles Chargers +4 (2-2)
The LA Chargers handled their business against the abysmal Miami Dolphins last week 30-10, but that's not why I have them moving up 4 spots this week. This team is getting a very talented offensive weapon back at their disposal in RB Melvin Gordon. His holdout didn't go as planned, and even though he didn't receive a new deal, he'll be back on the field this week. Technically he was on the active roster last week, but there was no need to use him when he had minimal preparation, and RB Austin Ekeler has been filling the void so well in Gordon's absence. It seems though that Gordon will take over the starting RB role right away, so let's see if he can make an immediate impact for this .500 Chargers team.
13. Baltimore Ravens -6 (2-2)
The Ravens have struggled in back to back weeks, suffering a loss to Kansas City, and now getting blown out by AFC North rival Cleveland 40-25. Baltimore will look to get back on track this Sunday against Pittsburgh, a game that this team desperately needs to win if they want to regain control of this division.
14. Detroit Lions +4 (2-1-1)
The Lions turned me into a believer last week as they went toe to toe with the Kansas City Chiefs. They played them well, and slowed down Mahomes better than anyone so far. Even though they still took the loss, this Detroit team is sticking around, and continuing to surprise everyone around the NFL. Detroit is on a bye this week, which is beneficial, they now have an extra week to prepare for their primetime Week 6 matchup against Green Bay on MNF.
15. Cleveland Browns +4 (2-2)
The Cleveland hype is back... for now. The Browns made a statement by dropping 40 points on the impressive Baltimore Ravens last week. They're now tied for the division lead at 2-2, and face another solid opponent in San Francisco on Monday night. Let's see if this Browns team can put together two solid outings in a row.
16. Minnesota Vikings -7 (2-2)
The Vikings are continuing to fall in this year's power rankings. This offense is falling apart, with it's sole bright spot being RB Dalvin Cook. Kirk Cousins still looks lost, and his two star WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs aren't happy, not exactly a receipe for success if you ask me...
17. Houston Texans -10 (2-2)
Speaking of disappointing offenses, in come the Houston Texans. I may have overhyped this team a little bit having them inside my top 10 last week, but on paper this team should be performing at an elite level each week. The Panthers had a game plan to stop them, and it worked, holding Deshaun Watson and company to just 10 points. They're going to need to come up with some solutions fast, because the AFC South is looking a lot more competitive than most people originally thought.
18. Indianapolis Colts -3 (2-2)
Right after I made the Colts the highlight of last week's power rankings, and finally became a believer, they lay an egg against the Oakland Raiders. Oakland came all the way to the east coast, and still out performed Indianapolis for the full 60 minutes. Now I'll give them this, they were without star WR T.Y. Hilton, and starting RB Marlon Mack left the game with a sprained ankle in the 2nd quarter. As of right now it looks like both guys will be back for their SNF matchup against Kansas City, which is a tall task even if everyone is healthy. Let's see how they handle the challenge.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars +1 (2-2)
The Minshew mania is alive and well in Jacksonville as they got another victory against a disappointing Denver team last week. This offense looks comfortable, and the defense is continuing to show up. The Jags take on Kyle Allen and the Panthers this week, which should be a great matchup of two young QBs out to prove themselves. If there's one thing i've learned so far this season it's that if Gardner Minshew II is at the helm, it's going to be a fun game to watch.
20. Tennessee Titans +1 (2-2)
Tennessee got the win against the Atlanta Falcons last week, a game in which I didn't expect them to win. I've come to learn that whenever I count out Mariota and the Titans, they like to win, and whenever I think they have a favorable matchup, they lay an egg. This is why I don't have them moving up too much this week. I need to see some consistency from this team. A win in their home matchup against Buffalo on Sunday will be a great way to prove themselves as a legitimate playoff contender in the AFC.
21. Carolina Panthers +1 (2-2)
I'm hopping on the Kyle Allen bandwagon and officially petitioning for a QB controversy in Carolina. This offense has rallied behind Allen, and gotten them their first two wins of the season. We still don't have a timetable for Newton's return, so it's still going to be Allen's team for at least the next few weeks, time for him to continue to prove that he deserves a spot in the league.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1 (2-2)
Tampa is coming off of an impressive win against the LA Rams, but as impressive as a 55-40 win is, their defense still gave up 40 points... Now even though this Rams offense is better than most, this defense is still a major concern of mine, and a reason why I don't have them higher on my list. They have some solid playmakers, but haven't been able to put up consistent performances on that side of the ball. Jameis Winston has been silencing the doubters these last few games, but I'm not so sure he'll be able to keep it going as the Bucs travel into New Orleans to take on the Saints this Sunday.
23. Oakland Raiders +3 (2-2)
The Raiders were my upset pick of the week last week and they indeed delivered, defeating the Colts in Indianapolis 31-24. Whenever this Raiders offense gets going early, they're primed to have a good game. It's something they need to focus on from here on out if they want to stay in football games. Their defense is still well below average, especially after losing LB Vontaze Burfict to a season long suspension. If the Raiders want to win games, they need to find ways to ensure their offense is striking early and often.
24. Atlanta Falcons -7 (1-3)
What is going on with Atlanta? Another team that on paper, should be in playoff contention almost every year, but just continue to disappoint. I had hopes for the Falcons this year, especially after beating Philly in primetime back in Week 2, but they've been going downhill ever since. They face a Houston team who's dealing with their own struggles, so let's see which team can bounce back in their Week 5 matchup.
25. New York Giants +5 (2-2)
Daniel Jones has two wins in two starts, and is showing no signs of stopping there. They took care of business against a rough looking Washington team last week, but regardless, it's pretty impressive how comfortable this rookie QB looks right out of the gate. This Giants team looks to keep the momentum going as they'll host a struggling Minnesota team in Week 5. With RB Saquon Barkley looking to come back earlier than expected from an ankle sprain, and WR Golden Tate returning from his 4 game suspension, this Giants team could potentially be one to watch out for if their defense can step it up.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers -2 (1-3)
The Steelers are finally in the win column for 2019, but it was about as easy of a win that they'll get all season. The Bengals are a mess, and this Steelers team gets the pleasure of hosting back to back AFC North opponents as the much more threatening Baltimore Ravens come to town on Sunday. QB Mason Rudolph has looked pretty good, and this defense has been playing on another level since acquiring former Miami Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Time to put it all together, they'll need a win this week if they want to keep up with Baltimore and Cleveland for the division lead.
27. Denver Broncos +-0 (0-4)
Denver has looked ROUGH so far to start the season. Now granted, they were leading most of their game against the Jags last week, then Gardner Minshew happened. Regardless, it's been a disappointing start to say the least, and to make bad news even worse, 2018 5th overall pick Bradley Chubb will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL. The road doesn't get any easier, as Denver gets to travel to LA to take on the Chargers for Melvin Gordon's 2019 debut, let's see if they can pull off the upset.
28. Arizona Cardinals +-0 (0-3-1)
Arizona has yet to get into the win column after four games, but their most winnable matchup to date is approaching this week in the Cincinnati Bengals. This Cardinals team has been in some close games, but has yet to put it all together, which is expected when you have a young team with a 1st year head coach and starting QB. We'll just have to wait and see if Kliff Kingsbury can get this ship turned around this season before it's too late.
29. Washington Redskins +1 (0-4)
Washington did a little impromptu QB switch in the middle of their matchup against the Giants last week, giving 2019 1st round pick Dwayne Haskins his first regular season action of his career. Not an ideal scenario for the young QB however, with his team already being down multiple possessions, and most likely not practicing with the starters the entire week leading up to the game. However, I expect that it's now the Haskins show moving forward, so Redskins fans still can be optimistic about him in his first legitimate start, with a full weeks preparation. I wouldn't get my hopes up too much this week though with New England coming into town, might be best to just look ahead to Week 6 where Washington takes on the Dolphins...
30. New York Jets +1 (0-3)
The Jets are coming off of an early bye week, but it might have been the perfect time, because it gave QB Sam Darnold another week to recover from mono. All signs point to him being back into the lineup this Sunday as they take on the Eagles. Not the easiest matchup, but let's see how this Jets team will perform with their franchise QB back and 100%.
31. Cincinnati Bengals -2 (0-4)
I'm not even sure what to make of this Bengals team this year. They got embarrassed by Pittsburgh on Monday night 27-3, their offense hasn't been able to move the ball at all the last two weeks, and their defense doesn't even look like it wants to be on the field. The Bengals have a lot of work to do if they want to win more than a few football games this season. On the bright side, they face off against Arizona this Sunday, so one of these teams will get their first win of the season once the clock hits zero.
32. Miami Dolphins +-0 (0-4)
Miami is on a bye heading into week 5, but that doesn't change the fact that they're still at the bottom of this week's rankings. They now have a full two weeks to prepare for one of the only matchups where they have a legitimate shot at getting the W, the winless Washington Redskins. Keep your head up Miami, Tua and Jaylen Hurts are looking better and better every week.
The Wait is Finally Over… Picks for the Four Primetime Matchups in Week 1 of the 2019-2020 NFL Season
Article by: Justin Imler
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears (TNF)
The 2019-2020 NFL season kicks off with an amazing matchup. We get to watch another installment of one of the best and oldest rivalries in the league as the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers head into Chicago to take on the Bears. I have high expectations for both of these franchises heading into the season. Green Bay is coming off a disappointing 2018, but have made several adjustments in the offseason, most notably hiring new head coach Matt LaFleur, and beefing up their below average defense throughout the draft. As long as Mr. Rodgers stays heathy, I expect significant improvements for this Green Bay team. However, I still have them taking the L Thursday, and here’s why.
“Da Bears” just had one of the most dominant defensive seasons that we’ve seen in decades, and who’s to stop them from repeating that again this season? The Bears are coming off of an NFC South title, and don’t plan on giving that title up this year. QB Mitchell Trubisky is starting to come into his own and needs to take another step this year if they want to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender come January. With that being said, behind that ridiculous defense, and rookie RB David Montgomery (remember that name), this team will be dangerous, which is why I have them taking this matchup at home Thursday night.
Official Prediction: Bears: 24 Packers: 20
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots (SNF)
Ohhhhh baby, here we go. As a Steelers fan, I cannot wait for this matchup Sunday night. The Pittsburgh and New England rivalry has been a great one for all NFL fans in recent years, with the Pats getting the best of the Black and Gold more times than not. However, and I’ve been preaching this for months, do not sleep on this Pittsburgh team in 2019. The Steelers did beat New England in week 15 last season 17-10, which is what gives me a lot of confidence heading into Sunday night. Pittsburgh’s defense has improved a lot over the offseason with the additions of CB Steven Nelson (signed in FA), and LB Devin Bush (drafted 10th overall out of Michigan). Their offense will be just fine with Big Ben Roethlisberger throwing the rock to his staff of young playmakers like WR Juju-Smith Schuster, Donte Moncrief (signed in FA), TE Vance McDonald, and RB James Connor.
Now for defending Super Bowl champs, the Patriots are back, and don’t think for a second that this is finally the year that they’ll take a step back, because it’s not. Brady is 42 years old and is somehow still in his prime. Yes, future Hall of Famer TE Rob Gronkowski has retired, but don’t be surprised if he comes back in full pads by Week 9. New England still has some talented playmakers, and they’re the prime example of the “next man up” mentality. They have a system, and it’s clearly working. This will be the first time that two franchises are facing off with six Super Bowls to their names, and both of these teams are primed and ready to be all alone at the top with seven when this season is all said and done.
Official Prediction: New England 28 Pittsburgh: 24
Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints (MNF Pt. 1)
To wrap up Week 1 of the NFL season we get a double header, starting off with the Texans and Saints. These two teams were both playoff teams last season, and I’m pretty sure everyone expects them to be back this year as well. The Texans have already taken some big hits, with losing starting RB Lamar Miller to a torn ACL, and trading star DE Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle. However, with the recent retirement of QB Andrew Luck, I expect the Texans to run away with the AFC South, but will most likely have to wait until Week 2 to get onto a winning streak.
The Saints are just on another level. They’re absolutely stacked on both sides of the ball and playing in the Superdome is one of the best home field advantages in all of football. I like the Texans this season, but not in this matchup. Expect the Saints to dominate Monday night, and for the rest of the 2019 season.
Official Prediction: New Orleans: 34 Houston: 24
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders (MNF Pt. 2)
Part two of Monday Night Football isn’t nearly as flashy as part one. These two teams are out to prove themselves in 2019, so I’m still excited to see what they bring to the table. The Raiders are obviously going to be the fan’s main focus, just to see how HC John Gruden has gotten this team to gel in his 2nd season. They have a lot of new additions this time around, most notably star WR Antonio Brown and rookie RB Josh Jacobs out of Alabama.
Denver on the other hand has made some changes of their own, which started by hiring former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio as their new head coach. Denver also moved on from QB Case Keenum and traded for former Ravens QB Joe Flacco, who will be running the offense for at least the next several seasons. I’m personally not much of a believer in Flacco, but he’s been a guy who can still win football games behind a stellar defense, which Denver most certainly has. I think this game will easily be the lowest scoring of the four primetime games this week, with Denver pulling it out in the end.
Official Prediction: Denver: 20 Raiders: 17
Be sure to be on the lookout for the next Heated Sports Football Podcast episode that drops tomorrow night (Wednesday 9/4) where Kevin and I dive more into these matchups, as well as our full 2019-2020 season predictions!
To keep up with everything sports, be sure to keep it here at Heated Sports!
Article by: Justin Imler
We have more news in the Ezekiel Elliot saga, and the running back is not happy. As we all know, the all-pro has been holding out from training camp and preseason action in hopes of getting a new contract, most likely involving record breaking numbers. Even though most people within the organization and the media expect Zeke to be back for the start of the regular season, Dallas can’t wait around. They’ve had several preseason games so far and Tony Pollard, the running back presumably to be the starting role in Elliot’s absence, made his presence known against the LA Rams Saturday.
Pollard has been playing great football for the Cowboys so far this preseason, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Pollard also capped off a 51-yard drive Saturday with a 14-yard touchdown in their 14-10 win. After the game, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones addressed the media and was asked about Zeke’s status right now, to which Jones responded, “Zeke who?”.
Obviously, this quick comment was meant to be humorous, and trying to show that the team has faith in Pollard, especially after seeing how well he’s been playing as of late, but not everyone saw the humor in Jones’ comment. Elliot’s agent Rocky Arceneaux told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen Monday, “I didn’t think it was funny and neither did Zeke – we actually thought it was disrespectful.”
This is certainly not a comment the Cowboys organization, nor their fans, wanted to wake up to this morning. As of right now, it is still a waiting game between the Cowboys and Elliot, but these comments clearly don’t help either side, and if I’m a part of the Cowboys organization, I would be feeling a little more nervous about this whole situation than I would have a few days ago. In my opinion, this Dallas team revolves around Zeke being on the field. I really like some of their young playmakers on defense and think that side of the ball has improved tremendously the past few seasons, but let’s face it, this team needs Zeke on the field if they want to move the ball down the field.
I personally have never been a huge believer in Dak, and nothing’s changed there. I think he’s a slightly above average starting QB who won’t win you big games on his own. Can Pollard fill Zeke’s shoes? Come on, of course not. Is he playing well in the preseason? Absolutely. Will he be able to make plays if Zeke is absent come week 1? Sure, but Zeke is worlds ahead of a guy like Pollard, and Dallas will need him in the lineup sooner rather than later if they want to have a chance at a Super Bowl in the 2019-2020 season.
Article by: Justin Imler
No, this title is not clickbait, Antonio Brown has literally threatened retirement if he is not able to use his old style of helmet, in place of the new style that recently became mandatory starting this season. The drama surrounding Brown is back into full swing, even though he has yet to have an official training camp practice with his new team the Oakland Raiders. Antonio Brown has completely been away and out of contact with the team for a little over a week now according to reports. He’s been off seeing several different specialists to get opinions on his frostbitten feet. Yes, you heard me right.
Before the helmet drama, it was announced that Brown has been sidelined due to severe frostbite on the bottoms of his feet due to wearing improper footwear in a cryotherapy machine. The details are unknown, as to how long Brown would be out for, but now the Raiders have even bigger problems.
Long story short, Brown is refusing to wear the new NFL mandated helmets and is requesting to wear his old style of helmet he’s been wearing his entire nine-year NFL career. Brown’s reason for this request is apparently due to the new style of helmet obstructing his vision when running routes and catching the football. Brown first knew that this was taking effect back in May, when the one-year grace period for the new helmets was eliminated, which meant that everyone would be required to wear them starting in 2019. It seems that Brown and his team have been attempting to fight this ever since, and unsurprisingly, have failed.
Now we obviously don’t know if Brown will actually retire from football, but what we do know is that the NFL will not make an exception to make sure he stays in the league. The NFL is clearly bigger than one player, and the last thing the league is going to do is roll over and let one egotistical wide receiver make demand after demand. At this point, I’m starting to feel bad for the Oakland Raiders. They’ve been the next team to take on the drama show that is Antonio Brown. Back in March, when they acquired Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers, some said they got a bargain for the all-pro WR by only giving up a 3rd and a 5th round pick in this year’s draft. However, looking at the situation now, the drama and distraction that is Antonio Brown hasn’t gone away since joining his new team, it’s seemingly gotten worse. As a Steelers fan, I’m more than happy that he’s someone else’s problem, but I know what it’s like to have that sort of distraction on your football team, and it is not fun.
News broke out early this morning that Antonio Brown had officially lost his grievance with the NFL (shocker) and will be required to wear the new style of helmet for the foreseeable future. With this news also came an instagram post from Brown confirming that the all pro wideout will not be retiring, and is looking forward to joining his teammates on the field as soon as possible. Brown was seen at the Raiders' practice in street clothes today with his agent Drew Rosenhaus.
Brown's full Instagram post yesterday read:
"While I disagree with the arbitrator's decision, I'm working on getting back to full health and looking forward to rejoining my teammates on the field. I'm excited about this season, appreciate all the concerns about my feet! #AlwaysAFight #Represent #itsbiggerthanme"
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Article by: Kevin Eagleson
The headlines this NFL offseason have been all about superstars holding out for new contracts. On August 31st, the first holdout was resolved as New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas received the new deal he was looking for. After holding out for nearly a week of training camp, the Saints extended Thomas to a five-year deal worth up to $100 million (with $61 million guaranteed). This new deal makes Thomas the highest paid receiver in NFL history, and he is worth every penny to the Saints.
It's no secret the window is closing for forty-year-old quarterback Drew Brees to win his second Super Bowl. Brees is currently surrounded by one of the best rosters he has every played with, and the team has made back-to-back playoff runs over the past two seasons. After seeming to be just one play away from advancing, the team was devastated by the Minneapolis Miracle in 2018 and then a horrific no-call by the referees last season. New Orleans has a chance to make this season different and perhaps even reach the Super Bowl, but this would not be possible without Michael Thomas.
Thomas is a physical 6'3 receiver who boasts some of the best hands in the league. Since entering the league in 2016, he has been nothing short of unstoppable, setting the NFL record for most receptions in a player's first three seasons. Drew Brees' favorite target has been an absolute problem for opposing defenses and has even been dubbed the name "can't guard Mike". Mike is coming off his best season yet, where he was named a first-team All-Pro and racked up 1,405 receiving yards off 125 receptions. Thomas is by far the most talented receiver on the Saints roster, and besides him there are no other proven wide outs for Brees to throw too.
New Orleans had almost no option but to pay their star receiver in order to compete this season. The contract could be considered a win-win for both sides as Thomas got paid, and the Saints locked up their record-setting star. Mike is still only 25 years-old and his five-year contract almost guarantees Drew Brees will have Thomas to throw to for the rest of his career. The Saints will be a major threat in the NFC this year, and their number one receiver is a big reason why.