TOP 7 PICKS IN THE 2016 DRAFT IF TEAMS COULD HAVE SEEN SIX MONTHS INTO THE FUTURE
1. Titans trade their pick to the Rams, who take Carson Wentz, a quarterback ready to win from Day 1 as the team tries to make an imprint in its new Los Angeles digs.
2. Browns keep their pick and draft Ezekiel Elliott out of nearby Ohio State. After a half-dozen QBs get injured, Elliott takes snaps out of the Wildcat formation and lifts the Browns to a couple wins.
3. Chargers select Joey Bosa and decide not to get too picky with contract language, allowing Bosa to attend training camp and make an immediate impact.
4. Jaguars, sensing Blake Bortles isn't their longterm QB, shock the league by drafting Dak Prescott. Mel Kiper's head explodes, regenerates and continues talking. "Todd, Todd, Todd, I had him as a fourth-round value!"
5. Cowboys take the best available talent, cornerback Jalen Ramsey. After Tony Romo injures his back in the preseason, the team signs Mark Sanchez to play quarterback, quickly becomes dissatisfied by Week 4, and then trades a bunch of future draft picks for suddenly expendable Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
6. Ravens draft a lineman -- just a different one. In a world in which our future president has boasted about groping women, smoking pot out of a gas mask doesn't seem so bad, so they take Laremy Tunsil, who's got all the physical tools.
7. 49ers are thrilled the Cal kid, Jared Goff, falls to them. They release Colin Kaepernick (for "football reasons") after he kneels during the national anthem before a preseason game.
7 BEST TEAMS
1. Patriots (7-2)- No great penalty for losing at home to Seattle. They won a much more important game against the Seahawks 21 months ago, and a first-round bye this year is still comfortably in their grasp
2. Cowboys (8-1)- Is anyone outside of New York, Philadelphia, and Washington not rooting for the Cowboys this year?
3. Seahawks (6-2-1)- Russell Wilson looks like himself again, and Seattle is primed for another late run.
2. 49ers (1-8)- Had been challenging for that top spot, but a competitive performance in Arizona keeps them safely at No. 2 for now.
3. Bears (2-7)- Jay Cutler: Driving Bears fans nuts since 2009.
4. Jets (3-7)- Bryce Petty is not the answer, unless the question is "Which quarterback should we move on from?"
5. Jaguars (2-7)- They flirt with being competitive, which isn't much of an accomplishment.
6. Rams (4-5)- We'll get to the QB news later. But what happened to Todd Gurley? He's averaging 57 yards per game, his longest run all year is for 18 yards, and the offense is ignoring him near the goal line.
7. Buccaneers (4-5)- Who saw them having the same record as the Steelers, Packers and Colts this deep into the season?
7 INTRIGUING MATCHUPS THIS WEEK
1. Eagles at Seahawks (4:25 p.m.)- You'll likely hear comparisons between Carson Wentz and a young Russell Wilson...
- Wentz through 9 career games: 5-4, 2,121 passing yards, 9 TDs, 5 INTs
- Wilson through 9 career games: 5-4, 1,639 passing yards, 13 TDs, 8 INTs
2. Ravens at Cowboys (1 p.m.)- The best run defense against the best run offense. This is the week when talking about 300-pound linemen is trendy. Everyone assumes the Cowboys will continue to plow through their opponents, but they've faced only two top-10 rushing defenses this year, and one of them (the Giants) prevailed.
3. Packers at Redskins (8:30 p.m.)- Something is wrong with the Packers, who never had a chance Sunday in Tennessee. Still, a win keeps them in the thick of the division and wild-card races. The Redskins could also use a win in this playoff rematch.
4. Dolphins at Rams (4:05 p.m.)- Goff was the first player drafted and now, finally, he'll become the seventh rookie quarterback to start a game this season. People assume he's seriously flawed if the Rams used Case Keenum over him for 11 games. Time to see for ourselves.
5. Texans vs. Raiders (8:30 p.m. Monday)- These teams are a combined 13-5 (tied with Ravens-Cowboys for best record in any matchup this week) yet no one is taking the Texans seriously. Monday Night Football in Mexico City adds to the allure.
6. Titans at Colts (1 p.m.)- If the Texans lose, the AFC South tightens up considerably, with the winner of this game feeling really good about itself. Oddsmakers project this to be the highest-scoring game of the week (over/under is 53.5 points).
7. Cardinals at Vikings (1 p.m.)- A desperation game between two preseason favorites in the NFC. The Vikings have lost all momentum after a 5-0 start, but they're still tied for the lead in a division void of a standout team.
7 PREDICTIONS FOR THOSE GAMES
1. Seahawks: Eagles are 1-4 on the road and flying cross-country to play in the league's toughest environment.
2. Cowboys: Elliott's world domination tour plays a bit quietly this week, but he comes alive late to preserve a win.
3. Redskins: Kirk Cousins is working on his second straight season with a better QB rating than Aaron Rodgers. He's earning himself a lucrative long-term deal.
4. Rams: They haven't scored more than 10 points in the past three weeks, but now get a jolt from Goff, who plays conservatively but well in his debut.
5. Raiders: Houston had 99 passing yards in its win over Jacksonville last week. Oakland isn't Jacksonville.
6. Colts: I like the Titans more, but both teams have been incapable of playing well in consecutive weeks. The Titans are coming off their best performance in ages; the Colts are coming off a bye.
7. Cardinals: The Vikings have just one offensive weapon (former Terp Stefon Diggs), and Arizona has a simple strategy to stop him: “Put Patrick Peterson on him and hope that works,” coach Bruce Arians said.
7 PLAYERS WHO COULD HAVE BIG FANTASY GAMES
1. Ben Roethlisberger, QB- Think the Steelers will do just enough to beat the Browns? That's not the offense's mindset. "Thirty points is always our goal, but we would love 35, 40, 45 points, obviously," Roethlisberger said this week.
2. C.J. Prosise, RB- The Seahawks released Christine Michael, which is a vote of confidence for Prosise, a rookie out of Notre Dame who had 153 yards from scrimmage Sunday against the Patriots.
3. Todd Gurley, RB- As documented above, Gurley is having a miserable season for a guy picked in the top five of most fantasy drafts. Buy low before what could be his best week of the season.
4. T.Y. Hilton, WR- That Colts-Titans game will be a shootout, and Hilton is the most explosive player on the field.
5. Julian Edelman, WR- He and his quarterback return to Northern California, where they grew up, and get to play a shaky 49ers defense.
6. Martellus Bennett, WR- With Rob Gronkowski possibly out Bennett will absorb what should be plenty of opportunities in the red zone.
7. Giants defense- Did you see the Chicago Bears offense last week?