Does Arian Foster Have Anything Left in the Tank?

Arian Foster just signed a 1-year deal with the Dolphins. This raises an important question; does he have anything left in the tank? Foster has always taken excellent care of his body, as he is one of the more health-conscious players in the league. That said, he is about to hit the running back’s worst enemy – his 30th birthday. In addition, Foster has hardly been immune to injuries throughout his career, especially in recent years. The good news for Miami is they got him on a very cheap deal, so if he does end up getting injured it won’t be a big blow financially. He’ll also serve as a good mentor for Jay Ajayi, the Dolphins new back out of Boise State. So, regardless of whether he performs well on the field (or sees the field for that matter), there is value in just having him on the roster. Yes, his yards-per-carry were down last year when he was healthy, but he was also playing without a legitimate QB behind center. This meant defenses could key in on the run knowing the Texans only had one legitimate receiving threat and no one to get him the ball. For all his flaws, Ryan Tannehill is a much better QB than anyone the Texans trotted out behind center last season. For that reason, plus the change of scenery bonus, I think Foster will have a pretty productive season with the Dolphins, especially since he will be splitting carries with Ajayi.

 

Keith Shaffer, Easy Streak Contributor

What’s in store for the 49ers in the Chip Kelly era?

 

It doesn’t really need be said at this point, but the Jim Tomsula “era” was a disaster. Not all of this was completely his fault, as there was an exodus of talent on the defensive side of the ball that almost no team would have been able to overcome. Regardless, what’s done is done and there’s no point in wondering what might have been now. What is worth wondering about, however, is how Chip Kelly’s version of the Niners will look.

Kelly experienced some level of success in Philadelphia, in spite of the fact that he made some rather puzzling roster moves. Those moves were part of the reason the Eagles let him go, and full roster control is not something he will have in San Francisco. After the fractious split the Niners had with Harbaugh, Kelly’s relationship with the front office will be one to watch. It is imperative that he get along well with Trent Baalke and Jed York, which is easier said than done if recent history is any indicator. That said, the offense isn’t completely bereft of talent and could actually get back to being productive pretty quickly. Torrey Smith is a good fit for the fast-paced scheme, and any running back is going to put up at least decent numbers. Quarterback is a big question mark. I’m not convinced that Kelly is sold on Kaepernick, as he doesn’t have the accuracy Kelly likes in his quarterbacks and he could suffer a fate similar to that of Michael Vick in Philly. It is also doubtful Blaine Gabbert is the right answer for this position. I think Kaepernick gets the nod this year but that Kelly will view him as nothing more than a stop gap at the position.

Defense is a huge question mark for the Niners, due not only to the talent drain they’ve suffered in the past two years, but also due to the fact that this will be their 3rd defensive coordinator in 3 years. Jim O’Neil has a fairly good pedigree as a defensive coach, and the Niners have some promising young talent especially on the defensive line, but there’s no guarantee his defense will gel well with Kelly’s offensive scheme.

Expect this to be a rough season for the Niners, but one that shows flashes of hope for the future and improves markedly as the season goes on.

 

Keith Shaffer, Easy Streak Contributor

Doug Baldwin

Doug Baldwin – Fluke or Legitimate #1 Receiver?

 

Over the second half of the NFL season, Doug Baldwin averaged just over 90 yards and 1.5 touchdowns a game (all statistics in this article came from profootballreference.com). It was, to say the least, an unexpected explosion of production from the 5th year receiver. Inevitably, almost as soon as the season was over, speculation began on whether it was an actual breakout season or simply a flash in the pan. So, can Doug Baldwin sustain that level of production next season and beyond?

The short answer is that yard-wise, he should be around the 1,000 yard mark again, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Baldwin has always been pretty productive on limited targets, and his yards per catch were not significantly different than in previous seasons. In fact, if you average out his 5 seasons, last year’s yards per catch are almost exactly the same (13.7) as his 5-year average (13.98). His targets were up due to a variety of factors: Jimmy Graham’s injury, injuries to Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, and ever-improving chemistry with Russell Wilson. The place where we will see a drop-off is in touchdowns. Baldwin had 14 last year, 12 of which came in the last 8 weeks. It stands to reason that he will not keep up such a torrid pace; after all, his previous season high for TD receptions was 5.

So yes, Baldwin is a better receiver than he’s gotten credit for; however, he’ll probably have about half the TD receptions he had in 2015 while hovering around the 80 catch, 1,000 yard mark.

 

Keith Shaffer, Easy Streak Contributor

AFC Picks

AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers

They won’t be missing Le’veon Bell to suspension to start the season this year; as long as he, Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown stay healthy, that offense will be a juggernaut. Cincinnati will once again be competitive, but losing a couple of receivers on offense will hurt them just enough to keep them from being repeat division champs. The Ravens should bounce back from a down year and could be a factor, while the Browns are… well, at least Cleveland has Lebron.

 

AFC East: New England Patriots

Next.

 

AFC South (a.k.a. the division everyone tried to lose last year): Indianapolis Colts

The Colts should bounce back from a pretty disappointing season last year to win what is once again a very underwhelming division. The Texans will probably hover around 9-7 again this year, as Brock Osweiler is a functional but unspectacular quarterback.  The Titans and Jags will both be much improved, but there are too many holes on both of their rosters to expect them to contend. Then again, getting to 9-7 might be enough.

 

AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

This division could be a lot of fun to watch as I think every team has a legitimate shot at winning it. The Chargers won’t be as injury-prone as they were last year, and Philip Rivers still has plenty left in the tank. Oakland will keep improving and has some excellent weapons on both sides of the ball. Denver will inevitably fall off from last year’s high but should still be competitive due to their dominant defense.

 

Keith Shaffer, Easy Streak Contributor

NFC Picks

With the start of NFL preseason less than 2 months away, I figure now is as good a time as any to give you my NFL predictions for the upcoming season. Without further ado, here are my predictions for the winner of each division, starting with the NFC.

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings

This division is really a two-team fight between the Packers and the Vikings. The Lions have lost too much talent in recent years and the Bears just don’t have enough on the defensive side of the ball. That leaves the reigning division champs, Green Bay, and the up-and-coming Vikings. As hard as it is for me to pick against Aaron Rodgers, I love what Mike Zimmer is building on the defensive side of the ball. That will keep the Vikings in every game, and in a very tight race I think the offense is just good enough to win a lot of close games.

 

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys

In all honesty, this division is an absolute crap shoot. Having said that, as long as Tony Romo stays healthy and Ezekiel Elliot can locate the giant holes that the offensive line will open for him, the offense will be one of the most potent in the NFL. Couple that with New York’s struggles in recent years, Philadelphia switching systems, and the fact that, in my opinion, the Redskins’ limited success last year was an absolute fluke… Dallas wins it by default.

NFC South: Carolina Panthers

This seems like an obvious choice due to the fact that Carolina was absolutely dominant all last season until the Super Bowl, but I think the race will be much closer than last year. Atlanta will continue to improve and will push the Panthers before ultimately falling short. The Saints should return to competence as that defense can’t possibly be any worse than it was last year. The Bucs should be better in Jameis Winston’s second year, but Carolina is simply too good to fall off enough to lose their grip on the NFC South.

NFC West: Arizona Cardinals

Bruce Arians has been doing great work in Arizona, and I can’t see that stopping anytime soon. The defense will continue to be athletic and hard-hitting, while the offense will continue to put up points as long as Carson Palmer stays healthy. I would have been inclined to pick the Seahawks since Russell Wilson keeps getting better and they’ve once again kept the bulk of their defensive core intact, but that O-line might be historically bad. As good a coach as Tom Cable is, he can’t work miracles. Neither the Rams nor the 49ers should be a factor in the race.

 

Keith Shaffer, Easy Streak Contributor

Future design concept

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Stand out venues

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Technology upgraded

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MLS Picks: Playoffs Edition

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MLS Playoffs First Round

Wednesday, October 28th

(4) D.C. United vs. (5) New England Revolution

Think of the worst possible way you could end your season heading into the playoffs. Now multiply that by 10 and you get D.C. United. Their embarrassing 5-0 loss to Columbus to close the season will do them no favors as they host the Revs in this one-game playoff. New England backed into the playoffs, but have the attacking firepower to beat anyone. With Jermaine Jones finally healthy, they go to D.C. and knock them out of the playoffs.

Winner: New England Revolution

Confidence Rating: 60%

—–

(4) Seattle Sounders vs. (5) LA Galaxy

What a crazy season it’s been for the defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy. They began slow, made a slew of great roster additions and became the best team in the league. Somewhere along the way, they lost their focus and slipped all the way down to the fifth seed in the West. This means they must go to possibly the most intimidating atmosphere in MLS for a one-game playoff. Seattle isn’t exactly clicking on all cylinders either, but with the home crowd behind them and Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, they pull it out in the end.

Winner: Seattle Sounders

Confidence Rating: 55%

—–

Thursday, October 29th

(3) Montreal Impact vs. (6) Toronto FC

All hail Didier Drogba. He is the new king of MLS and we all shall bow to him. What an unbelievable turnaround it’s been for the Impact since they signed the former Chelsea legend. His two goals on Sunday helped them beat TFC. With Toronto’s defensive struggles and Montreal’s impressive home field advantage, it’s hard to see anything different happening when the two face off again on Thursday.

Winner: Montreal Impact

Confidence Rating: 70%

—–

(3) Portland Timbers vs. (6) Sporting Kansas City

SKC snuck into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth and have been in some atrocious form of late. The Timbers are hitting their stride at the perfect time with Fanendo Adi and Darlington Nagbe leading the way. Their 9 goals in their final two regular season games are a cause for optimism. They continue their hot streak in front of the raucous Timbers Army and advance.

Winner: Portland Timbers

Confidence Rating: 65%

—–

 

MLS Playoffs Conference Semifinals

Sunday, November 1st

Highest Remaining Seed vs. (1) New York Red Bulls

The Supporters’ Shield-winning Red Bulls will take on the highest remaining seed in the East after the one-game playoffs. According to my prediction, that team would be the New England Revolution. No matter who they end up playing, be careful with this pick. Playing away during the first leg of a two-legged playoff is a tricky task. RBNY could play it safe and attempt to sit back and counter for the away goal. A draw is likely, but a narrow win for the Revs is not out of the question.

—–

Highest Remaining Seed vs. (1) FC Dallas

Western Conference champs Dallas will take on the highest remaining seed in the West. That would be the Seattle Sounders if I’m correct. This would be a very difficult match-up for Dallas. In this first away leg, Seattle would be the pick thanks to their amazing home support. Same goes for if they end up playing the Galaxy. The only club they’d be favored over away from home is Sporting KC.

—–

Lowest Remaining Seed vs. (2) Columbus Crew

The Crew would match-up against Montreal if my predictions are accurate. Columbus is a difficult team to judge. They always play well in the regular season, but seem to struggle in the postseason. Montreal is the pick if that pairing occurs. If they play D.C., then it’s the Crew.

—–

Lowest Remaining Seed vs. (2) Vancouver Whitecaps

Is a Cascadia Derby match-up on the cards? If my picks are correct, Portland would take on the Caps in the conference semifinals. What a tasty pairing that would be. Both offer talented attacking players and solid overall teams. Portland would have to be favored at home. If it happens to be Seattle they play, the same goes. Pick the home team.

 

Rob Usry, Easy Streak contributor

@RobUsry

MLB Tips: Playoffs Edition

MLB Tips: Playoffs Edition
Here’s a quick sneak peek of the weekly tips that Easy Streak subscribers receive every Thursday!  As soon as you subscribe, you’ll receive 1-3 sports articles with tips + predictions to assist you in making the best picks in the contests on our app.

Remember, on Easy Streak, you pick which real teams will win real games; it’s NOT fantasy and you don’t need to do any research to pick players for a fantasy team.  We do the research on the teams for you, thanks to our expert sportswriters!

Without further adieu, here’s the latest by one of our MLB sportswriters.

*Predictions based off of current scheduled/projected pitching matchups

BLUE JAYS vs. RANGERS

The Blue Jays’ league leading offense is just too powerful for the Rangers’ pitching staff. Though they added an ace (Hamels) at the trade deadline, the Rangers are the only team remaining that ranks in the bottom half (23rd) in the Majors in ERA. The Jays’ lumber and hot pitching at the top of their rotation should be enough to defeat the Rangers pretty handily.

Prediction: Blue Jays win series 3-0 (games 1, 2, and 3)

ROYALS vs. ASTROS

Both teams are very good at their home ballparks, but the Astros are the worst road team in the AL, which could put their backs against the wall as they play the first two games in KC. The Royals’ post-season run from last year should help guide them over a young Astros team that has poor road play and lacks October experience.

Prediction: Royals win series 3-1 (games 1, 2, and 4)

DODGERS vs. METS

Tied for best home record in the Majors, the Dodgers will benefit greatly with home field advantage and being led by two amazing Cy Young candidates (Kershaw/Greinke). The Mets pitchers scheduled to start in LA in games 1-2 (DeGrom/Syndergaard) fare much worse on the road and could show some fatigue as they are in uncharted territory in innings pitched.

Prediction: Dodgers win series 3-1 (games 1, 2, and 4) 

CARDINALS vs. CUBS

For this series, it’s all about momentum and it’s all in the Cubs’ hands with 9 straight victories, including the Wildcard win over the Pirates. Meanwhile, the Cardinals took their foot off the gas in the final week and were swept by the lowly Braves. When in doubt, go with the hot team.

Prediction: Cubs win series 3-2 (games 2, 4, and 5)

 

Jason Kwok, Easy Streak contributor

@TheBackwardsK