• AFC West: 2017 NFL Previews

    Written by AccuScore Staff
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    AFC West: 2017 NFL Division Previews

    AccuScore previewed every team and division in the NFC last week, and it’s time to move onto the AFC in our trot to the start of the 2017 NFL season. For the NFC, AccuScore is starting out West where the Raiders, Chargers, Chiefs and Broncos offer one of the most intriguing divisions in the NFL.

    2017 AFC West Projections and Preview

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    Denver back in the Playoffs?

    The AFC West is one of the toughest division in the NFL. Denver hopes to return to the playoffs after a Super Bowl hangover that left them out of the postseason last season for the first time since 2010.

    Accuscore played out every game of the 2017 NFL season 10,000 times to project out the season, and the Broncos mirrored their 9-7 mark from a season ago. This time, though, that record should be enough for a wild card spot. The probability to win a very tight AFC West is just under 30% for Denver, but their chances of reaching the playoffs are 50%. Not helping the Broncos is that Denver has the toughest schedule for any team in NFL based on last season’s performance.

    Roster Moves

    The biggest change in Denver was the retirement of their Super Bowl winning head coach Gary Kubiak. New HC Vance Joseph with new coordinators Mike McCoy and Joe Woods inherit a team with expectations a Mile High. Denver struggled last season with the running game and made a few notable additions to the offensive line. Also former 1,500+ yards running back Jamaal Charles joined the team to compete with CJ Anderson in the backfield, along with promise two potential revenge games against the Chiefs this season.

    Fantasy Analysis: Denver Broncos

    On fantasy projections, Anderson is top 30 RB in the league, but the backbone of the team will be the defense. It is ranked the best in the league in Accuscore’s fantasy projections. One of the best WR tandems Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are both ranked into the top 30 among all receivers in the league, too.

    Other 2017 NFL Previews:
    NFC North Division Preview
    NFC East Division Preview
    NFC South Division Preview
    NFC West Division Preview

    Kansas City Chiefs Still Solid

    Andy Reid has been the head coach of Kansas City Chiefs for four years. During this time they have reached playoffs three times. While his postseason success has been less than impressive, the Chiefs have turned into a near-perennial playoff team. Before Reid, the Chiefs had reached the playoffs three times in 15 years. So, will it be 4 out of 5 trips to playoffs for the Reid’s Chiefs?

    Accuscore’s numbers sure seem to think so. The computer predicts 10 wins for the Chiefs and a first place finish in the AFC West. The probability to win the division is 45%, so it’s technically more likely the Chiefs don’t win the division than do win it, but no other team out West has odds as high as Kansas City. Over all, the Chiefs have a 68% probability of making the postseason either as a Wild Cart team or a division winner.

    Roster Moves:

    As the Chiefs have performed at a high level in recent years, there hasn’t been a major roster shakeup. The Chiefs changed Dontari Poe to Bennie Logan at defensive tackle. Also, they traded up and drafted QB Patrick Mahomes, but his contribution during season don’t exactly move the needle for AccuScore. Generally, the Chiefs are counting on essentially the same roster that recorded 12 wins last season.

    Fantasy Analysis: Kansas City Chiefs

    Accuscore’s fantasy projections show many quality players on Kansas City. Even though they are not the pinnacle of the respective position, they can be considered as a valuable picks from later rounds. The Defense is ranked within top 15, QB Alex Smith is 13th, TE Travis Kelce 12th and WR Tyreek Hill is projected to be among the top receivers after his impressive rookie campaign. If he is not going to play any special teams, it may hurt his fantasy value slightly even if he is set to establish himself as a no. 1 receiver for the Chiefs.

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    Chargers - New Coach, New City, Same Result

    The San Diego Chargers changed to the Los Angeles Chargers during the offseason. Their head coach for last three season, Mike McCoy was fired and first time head coach Anthony Lynn was hired to begin a new chapter in LA. The Chargers finished last season with five straight losses and only five total wins.

    Once again, the Chargers are projected to only win five games, which gives Philip Rivers and company only a remote shot at making the playoffs. The Chargers may be in a new city and a new stadium, but this team expects to look a fair bit like the team struggling to find support in San Diego a season ago.

    Roster Moves

    For a team that underachieved last season, there are remarkably few changes on the roster. Tackle Russell Okung, who won a Super Bowl with Seattle, moved from Denver to LA this summer. The Chargers used an early draft pick on WR Mike Williams, who provides additional tools for 35 years old Philip Rivers. At its roots, a healthy Rivers is the key to the Chargers’ offense.

    Fantasy Analysis: Los Angeles Chargers

    Accuscore’s fantasy projections highlight TE Antonio Gates among Top 5 TEs in the league. Some other notable players are more second tier options for your fantasy team. QB Philip Rivers and RB Melvin Gordon are around 20th when ranking fantasy players by their respective positions for this season’s fantasy points. There could be some sleepers on the Chargers’ roster, but those are sleeping so deep on the projection list that it is difficult to point out at this moment.

    Is Oakland’s sword still pointing up?

    Jack Del Rio has been the Oakland Raiders’ head coach for two season, and the team’s record has improved from 3-13 to 12-4 during this time. Last season ended quickly in the wild card game as QB Derek Carr was injured, and team couldn’t come close to filling that hole. Raiders’ fans feel like this is their year—well, at least according to the bets being placed in Las Vegas.

    Accuscore predicts the AFC West to be very competitive. In simulations, Oakland averaged nine wins and has a 25% probability of winning the division. Reaching the playoffs won’t be as easy, and AccuScore projects the Raiders’ chances at 47% to return to the postseason.

    Roster Moves

    There were few changes in Raiders’ roster. On the offensive side, RB Latavius Murray moved to Minnesota and Oakland lured Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to plug in his beast mode into Oakland. On defense, one of their leading tackler Malcolm Smith took off to San Francisco and Oakland signed Jelani Jenkins from Miami to fill this gap.

    Fantasy Analysis: Oakland Raiders

    Fantasy projections show that there should be still something left in RB Marshawn Lynch tank. If he can stay healthy, he would be still Top 20 running back in Oakland’s system. Considering his ability to get into the end zone from close yardage, those fantasy points may rack up in a hurry. QB Derek Carr will also be around the Top 20 at his position when counting all predicted fantasy points during the season. The Raiders have one of the top WR duos in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. However, if the offense continues to be more running heavy, they won’t be collecting top fantasy points compared to WRs in more pass-heavy systems.

  • NFC East: 2017 NFL Previews

    Written by AccuScore Staff
    Follow @AccuScore on Twitter

    NFC East: 2017 NFL Division Previews

    AccuScore is previewing ever NFL division ahead of the 2017 regular season, with every team in each division getting a detailed preview and projections, along with fantasy tips. For the NFC East division preview, AccuScore previews the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles below:

    2017 NFC North Projections and Preview

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    Other Previews:
    NFC North Division Preview
    NFC South Division Preview

    Dallas Hoping Sophomores Don’t Slump

    Projected Wins: 10.4
    Division Rank: 1

    The Dallas Cowboys surprised many experts during last season, as Jerry Jones’ men rode two rookies and a strong offensive line to the best record in the NFC: Thirteen wins. But the playoff run ended quickly in divisional game against the streaking Green Bay Packers.

    For the 2017 season, Accuscore simulated every game of the upcoming season 10,000 times to project win/loss records, and Dallas projects to repeat as NFC East champions, even with Ezekiel Elliott suspended for six games. This time, simulations show 10 wins for Dallas, but that’s still good enough to finish top of the division pile, though the Packers and Seahawks project to finish with a better record in the conference. Based on these numbers, Cowboys would reach playoffs this time with 76% probability.

    During the last season Dallas’ defense wasn’t anything close to great. In 13 wins they managed to keep only Cleveland at or below 10 points. More than likely, the offense will need to replicate numbers from a year ago, when the Cowboys scored at least 24 points in all but one win.

    Roster Moves

    The biggest changes in Dallas are in secondary. Brandon Carr, Barry Church and Morris Claiborne took off, and Nolan Carroll from Philadelphia signed to replace at least part of the hole left behind. Otherwise, Dallas continues more or less with the offensively dependent team that produced 13 wins. However, there are two big questions hovering around Dallas. Will Dak Prescott keep improving and step up as franchise quarterback after Tony Romo retired? How will Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension affect the team? If these key players can perform, Dallas should hit double digit win and earn the right to play in the postseason yet again.

    Fantasy Analysis: Dallas Cowboys

    Usual suspects are on the list when we think best bets for your fantasy team. Elliott would be second of the running back list if he got the full six games, but he will likely be a monster after coming back from suspension. QB Dak Prescott is among top 8 quarterbacks based on Accuscore’s fantasy predictions. Also TE Jason Witten is among top 10 tight-ends and WR Dez Bryant is knocking on the door of top 10 wide receivers. With Elliott out, Prescott could be even more pass happy than usual.

    New York Giants’ window of opportunity

    Projected Wins: 9.9
    Division Rank: 2

    New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo did better than expected during his rookie season. They went clearly over Vegas line of 8 wins when the team managed to win 11 games before losing to the same streaking Green Bay in the wild card round of the playoffs. And considering the Giants are projected for 10 wins and a 67.5% chance at the playoffs, the expectations have been raised from a season ago when Vegas had the Giants’ win-total line at 8.0.

    The Giants’ chances to win NFC East division are around 38%, but the projected difference between the Giants and the Cowboys is only half a game. Eli Manning project to take this division race down to the wire.

    Roster Moves

    Offseason moves were quite limited in New York. The high profile free agent signing was receiver Brandon Marshall that moved from local competitor, NY Jets, to the Giants. He would provide additional weapon for 36 year old Eli Manning that hopes to engineer a third trip to the Super Bowl. The Giants will be the fifth team of Marshall’s career. On the defensive line, starter Jonathan Hankins departed to Indianapolis, which adds more of a load on Damon Harrison at DT.

    Fantasy Analysis: Dallas Cowboys

    For fantasy players Giant’s WR tandem of Beckham and Marshall generate a lot interest. Beckham will be top3 WR based on Accuscore fantasy predictions and clearly number one receiver to produce a high amount of fantasy point week after week. Marshall is a bit on decline in his career, but can still be top 20 receiver in this league. It looks like he would give more value in many leagues compared to Beckham.

    QB Eli Manning is ranked to 17th when all predicted fantasy points during the season have been summed up. As the running back situation is a bit open, there is no reason to spend draft slots on Giants running back in early rounds.

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    Washington continues without step forward

    Projected Wins: 7.5
    Division Rank: 3

    Washington’s chances to win NFC East are around 6% as Dallas and NY Giants are ahead of Redskins in many areas. However, their chances to reach playoffs are a bit over 20%. Last season was a small step backwards for the Washington Redskins. A freak tie led to eight wins, which was effectively 8.5 wins behind the nine win the team claimed in 2015. The Redskins missed out on the playoffs, and Accuscore predicts the Redskins will win between seven and eight games, and that likely would not be good enough for a wildcard berth.

    Washington needs to get off to a fast start with games against the wounded Eagles in Week 1 and a trip to the rebuilding Rams in Week 2. Washington has the toughest schedule among NFC teams, highlighted by tough non-division road trips to Seattle in Week 9, New Orleans in Week 11 and Kansas City in Week 4.

    Roster Moves

    The most notable changes in roster take place in receiver corps. Both starting WRs Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson took off from the nation’s capital. As a response, the Redskins signed Terrelle Pryor to be their no. 1 receiver.

    Fantasy Analysis: Dallas Cowboys

    When reviewing fantasy predictions, Pryor could be one of the top value players among WR. Accuscore’s season fantasy prediction lists him as number seven when all fantasy points are calculated. Tight end Jordan Reed is projected to be an early favorite to collect the most fantasy points among all TEs. His performance has been great, and we don’t have any reason to expect drops. Franchise tagged Kirk Cousins is a top 10 fantasy quarterback in the league but is a couple levels below the likes of Rodgers, Brees and Brady in fantasy.

    Too tough division for Eagles

    Projected Wins: 5.9
    Division Rank: 4

    The second pick of the 2016 draft, QB Carson Wentz had a reasonably good rookie season in the helm of Philadelphia Eagles offense. It cannot be compared to Dallas’ Dak Prescott, but he was performing better than no. 1 pick Jared Goff. Unfortunately for Wentz, he's in a tough division. The NFC East has two clearly better teams in the Cowboys and the Giants. Even though the Eagles made some good additions to the offense, simulations predict only 6 wins for Philadelphia. That would be one less than year ago. Based on Accuscore’s predictions, the Eagles will have 5% chances to playoffs. To win the division, they need a minor miracle, as the current probability win the division is around 2%.

    In games that the Eagles lost a season ago, they gave up at least 24 points to opponents. Comparatively, games the Eagles won only saw them give up 12 points on average.

    Roster Moves

    Philadelphia added running back LeGarrette Blount from the Patriots to bolster their running attack. There have been numerous examples of players exceling under Bill Belichick and not quite replicating the same output elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how Blount performs in Philadelphia. There are two high profile additions to wide receivers: Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. This gives more tools to QB Wentz and will improve the offense quite a bit. All three players should gain from each other’s presence. There weren’t any significant additions to the defense through free agency, but the Eagles spent their first three picks in the draft on defense. That should pay off for years to come.

    Fantasy Analysis: Dallas Cowboys

    Fantasy projections rank QB Wentz to number 24, RB Blount to number 22 and best WR Jeffery to number 30 among all players in their respective positions. These guys can be considered sleepers, but it won’t make too much sense to build the core of your fantasy team with these guys. Based on Accuscore’s fantasy predictions Eagles defense is ranked at fourth from the bottom.

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