NFL: Week 12 Picks

Thanksgiving Day Games

  • Vikings @ Lions: After 5 weeks of the season, I never thought this game would be a fight for sole possession of the first place in the NFC North. But thanks to the Lions winning five of their last six while the Vikings lost 4 straight, we have this scenario.  Minnesota has been carried by their defense all season, while Detroit has done a good job of winning close games of late. Neither team’s running game has been impressive.  Detroit is used to playing on a short week during Thanksgiving, and with the edge at quarterback, I’m taking the home team in a close game this week. DETROIT WINS
  • Redskins @ Cowboys: Dallas enters as the league’s best team, but don’t look past Washington. The NFC East is the only divisions in the football with all 4 teams over .500, so this will be a battle.  The Redskins put up 42 on the Packers on Sunday Night, and haven’t lost a game in three weeks. The Cowboys have won 9 straight, but have had close calls the past two weeks.  So this could be the game that ends the Cowboys streak no question, I just don’t think it will be. Look for another big game from Ezekiel Elliot. DALLAS WINS
  • Steelers @ Colts: Both AFC teams enter off wins and at 5-5 on the season.  The Steelers are tied for the AFC North lead, while the Colts are a game back in the AFC South. Le’Veon Bell had a huge game last week in Pittsburgh’s easy win over the Browns. Indianapolis played their best defensive game of the year, holding a red-hot Titans team under 20 points, which was the lowest point total the Colts have allowed this year. So while the Colts are playing better of late, the Steelers defense is better and not to mention their ability to control the clock on the ground will get them above .500 this week. PITTSBURGH WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Titans @ Bears: Tennessee saw their hot streak stopped by Indianapolis last week. That being said, they still played well, coming back from 21-0 to make the Colts sweat late.  Chicago lost their 8th of the season despite scoring more points in the first half against the Giants than they average for a full game.  But they lost another lineman, and Jay Cutler got hurt adding to the loss of their best offensive weapon in Alshon Jeffery. It’s not definite that Cutler is out for the season yet, but even if he was healthy, Marcus Mariota has been so good lately that they have the edge there. TENNESSEE WINS
  • Jaguars @ Bills: The Bills are currently out of a playoff spot, but still very much in the conversation at 5-5.  Jacksonville on the other hand, is facing another top 5 draft pick. Their offense hasn’t been what I thought it could be coming into the season, with disappointing decisions from Blake Bortles in the air, and not enough from T.J. Yeldon on the ground.  Buffalo hasn’t put enough complete games together for a team with a very good defense and an offense featuring an explosive running back, hence the .500 record.  But they’re the better team, and can shut down a mistake prone Bortles. BUFFALO WINS
  • Bengals @ Ravens: As if Cincinnati’s season hasn’t been disappointing enough, they face the rest of the season without their starting running back, and at least this week without their best weapon in AJ Green. If you’re the Bengals, you have to hope the absence of Green means Andy Dalton spreads the ball more, and it means opposing defenses can’t game plan for just one guy.  Baltimore wasn’t going to be scared this week either way, as they come into action as the second ranked total defense in the league.  They are coming off a loss to Dallas, but at 5-5 are very much in the AFC North race, while the Bengals find themselves in third place at 3-6-1.  Give me the home team to get above .500 fairly easily. BALTIMORE WINS
  • Cardinals @ Falcons: Arizona has been disappointing this season after a strong 2015-16 season.  They’ve been up-and-down on defense, and injuries on offense have slowed them down.  Their best chance this weekend is for David Johnson to have a big game, and control the clock.  Even if the Cardinals can do that, Atlanta knows how to score quickly.  The Falcons are coming off their worst offensive game of the season, only scoring 15 points after scoring at least 23 in their previous 9 games. So which bird flies higher this weekend? Give me the home team to rebound offensively in what could be a very high scoring affair. ATLANTA WINS
  • Giants @ Browns: New York comes in winners of five straight, sitting in a Wild Card spot in the NFC. Their opponents are still win-less at 0-11 and after some fight early in the season, have been blown out in their last three games, scoring just a total of 26 points over that span.  This spells trouble for Cleveland, as the Giants defense has been very good during their winning streak.  If the Browns want to get their first win of the year, they’ll have to force New York’s offense into turnovers, and avoid turning over the ball themselves. Even if they play clean, I don’t see them coming away with a victory this week. NEW YORK WINS
  • Rams @ Saints: Both teams enter with identical 4-6 records, and both find themselves in third place in their respective divisions.  But that’s where the similarities end.  New Orleans continues to be carried by their offense, Los Angeles by their defense.  The Rams have made a change at quarterback to help their offense that hasn’t scored more than 10 points in four straight games. The Saints defense isn’t anything to write home about, but they have gotten better as the season has gone by, so while the Rams should score more than 10 this week, they won’t be able to keep Drew Brees down enough to win. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • 49ers @ Dolphins: Tied with the Giants for the second longest win streak in the NFL heading into week 12, the Dolphins have taken down 4 AFC opponents, and have figured out how to win the close games they were losing early. San Francisco is on a nine-game losing streak, and despite some better offensive performances of late, they’re just lacking talent on both sides of the ball. I still think Miami has been disappointing this season, despite the winning streak, but they are by far the better team and will make it six wins in a row. MIAMI WINS
  • Chargers @ Texans: Despite being one of the more confusing teams in the league this season, Houston is two games above .500 and have a one game lead over the Colts for the AFC South title. The Texans running game has been a strength this season, but the Chargers are one of the best at stopping the run.  So if Houston wants to get their seventh win of the season, they’ll need Brock Osweiler to play smart in the passing game.  Philip Rivers will have a similar challenge in the passing game, as the Texans defense is one of the best there.  So who wins on Sunday? I’m taking the upset, San Diego gets the win on the road. SAN DIEGO WINS

Sunday 4/425 Games

  • Seahawks @ Buccaneers: The Seahawks are rounding into form after a tie with the Cardinals and a road loss to the Saints, they’ve won three games in a row are scoring at will.  Tampa is trending up as well, winners of two straight and just a game back in the NFC South.  The Buccaneers offense has been pretty good all season, but their defense is stepping up of late.  So while Seattle has been playing well on both sides of the ball, this game won’t be an easy game to win, especially on the road. But I still think they get the job done and move to 8-2-1. SEATTLE WINS
  • Patriots @ Jets: Before the season started, I thought this game would be the game that ultimately determined the AFC East winner. But now it’s just a chance for the Patriots to maintain their AFC best record and further bury the Jets.  New York’s offense is in shambles, and their defense isn’t much better. Tom Brady missed a couple of days of practice this week, but we know even if he missed a game New England would be in good hands at quarterback. Note to mention how good their run game has been this season. This should be a pretty easy Patriots win on the road. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Panthers @ Raiders: Carolina is still very much alive in the NFC South, but they have a lot of work to do at 4-6 on the season.  Unfortunately for them, they’re playing one of the best and hottest teams in the league this week.  Derek Carr is an MVP candidate, and the Raiders defense is very good. For the Panthers to win this game, their defense needs to play their best game. This game has the potential to be a 10-7 game, and a 35-33 game. Either way, I like Oakland to get to 9-2 this weekend. OAKLAND WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Chiefs @ Broncos: It’s a HUGE AFC West match-up on Sunday night. Both teams enter with 7-3 records, tied for second behind the Raiders in the AFC West.  Both are also wild card teams right now, so a loss means falling to third in the division and moving closer to missing the playoffs altogether. Kansas City’s offense hasn’t been great of late, while the Broncos have found a way to survive without CJ Anderson. This could be a defensive struggle, but I feel better about the Broncos at home, where they don’t lose often. DENVER WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Packers @ Eagles: Green Bay continues to disappoint, coming off an embarrassing performance on Sunday night against Washington. Now they face another NFC East opponent in the last place, despite their 5-5 record, Philadelphia Eagles.  The Packers have the edge at quarterback but that’s about it. And even Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been himself this season. The Eagles defense has been pretty good all season and that’s why they’ll win this week.  PHILADELPHIA WINS

NFL: Week 5 Picks

We’re through a fourth of the NFL season, and 3 undefeated teams remain: the Eagles, Vikings and Broncos.  These are three teams who’s defenses have been smothering, and who are starting different quarterbacks then they ended their season’s with last year.

Through four weeks, I have a 34- 30 record picking games.  Here are my thoughts on week 5.

Bye Week: New Orleans, Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Kansas City

Thursday Night Football

  • Cardinals @ 49ers: Arizona has gotten off to an p-and-down start to the season, and it continued Sunday against LA. The Cardinals out-gained the Rams 420-288 yards, but committed five turnovers, including fourth quarter interceptions by backup Drew Stanton after Carson Palmer left with a possible concussion. They find themselves with a 1-3 record, and tied with their week 5 opponents at the bottom of the NFC West. San Francisco got off a great start in week 4, putting up 14 points quickly on the Dallas Cowboys, but struggled the rest of the game.  So who can get back on track this week and pull themselves out of the cellar? I’m taking the birds, even with them having to start Stanton under center Thursday. ARIZONA WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Texans @ Vikings: Houston is the only team in the AFC South with a winning record, and other than a 27-0 drubbing in week 3, have looked pretty good.  They got their first win without JJ Watt, thanks to breakout performance from Will Fuller, the first player in franchise history to have a TD reception and a punt return for a score in the same game Minnesota’s defense is really, really good and the biggest reason they remain undefeated. Sam Bradford has been pretty good in purple and they’re succeeding without Adrian Peterson. They’ll lose soon, but it won’t be in week 5. MINNESOTA WINS
  • Bears @ Colts: Chicago picked up their first win of the season this weekend, snapping a six-game losing streak. Brian Hoyer was great in his second start for injured starter Jay Cutler, finishing 28-36 for 302 yards and two touchdowns.  The run game got going as well, while the defense picked off Matt Stafford twice in a three-point win.  Indianapolis has to rebound from a loss, in London, to the Jaguars.  Andrew Luck continues to be a no-show in the first half of games, as he threw all three of his touchdowns in the 4th quarter.  The Colts offense was plagued with dropped balls and a costly Luck interception that led to Jacksonville’s first touchdown. And their defense didn’t help, drawing costly penalties to extend a number of Jacksonville’s drives. I want to pick the Colts, who can still rebound from this slow start, but if the Bears can get another game on the ground like they did last week, they’ll get a second straight win. CHICAGO WINS
  • Jets @ Steelers: Two bad weeks in a row for the Jets have them at 1-3 heading into a game with a Steelers team coming off a drubbing of the Chiefs. The same Chiefs who had a field day on defense two weeks ago against New York.  Pittsburgh got Le’Veon Bell back, and it looked like he hadn’t missed any time.  It was another bad week for Ryan Fitpatrick and the New York offense.  The Jets defense let a supposedly hobbled Russell Wilson off the hook, and while they are capable of stopping good teams, I like the home team in this one. PITTSBURGH WINS
  • Titans @ Dolphins: Miami continues to struggle, and you have to ask when changes will be made.  They spent all this money last off-season on the defense, yet they’re bottom five there, with an 0-4 record.  Sure they played Cincinnati a week ago, but they’ve been pretty bad on both sides of the ball all year. AJ Green nearly had more receiving yards (173) than Ryan Tannehill did passing (189). Meanwhile, the Titans haven’t been much better in year two of Marcus Mariota.  They’re middle of the pack on both sides of the ball.  This is a good game for both to get things going and get some confidence, so who gets the win? Tennessee has been in every game this season, so I’ll take them to get the road victory this week. TENNESSEE WINS
  • Eagles @ Lions: Philadelphia is alone atop the NFC East, thanks to a great start from rookie Carson Wentz, and a very good defense.  Detroit has lost its last three games after barely holding on to a week 1 win in Indianapolis. Matt Stafford hasn’t been crisp, and they’re not getting much out of the running game. The Lions have been in every game, win or lose, while the Eagles have had an easy time of it early.  They’ll be well rested coming off their bye week and it will show in another victory.  PHILADELPHIA WINS
  • Patriots @ Browns: New England gets  Tom Brady back from suspension after suffering a rare loss at home, a very rare shutout loss, and their first of the season.  That being said, the Pats are in a good place at 3-1 as they welcome back their starter.  Cleveland remains the lone win-less team in the league, despite being right there at the end the of each game the past two weeks. Brady missing 4-games at his age could mean great things for New England, meaning he’ll be fresh, or it’ll mean he’s a bit rusty this week.  Or both.  Cleveland has looked better on offense the past two weeks, particularly on the ground.  But they couldn’t stop the Skins in the red-zone, where Brady thrives.  It’ll be close, but I’ll take the road team here. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Redskins @ Ravens: Washington comes in winners of two straight; Baltimore; off their first loss of the season.  The Skins were great in the red-zone of the second week in a row, and Kirk Cousins continues to be very accurate.  The Ravens lost a one point game to Oakland at home where they both out-gained and held the ball longer.  A successful two-point conversion on a fourth quarter touchdown for Baltimore was immediately followed by a foolish taunting penalty, and then a game winning drive from Derek Carr. Can Washington make it three-straight wins, or will the Ravens pick up their fourth win of the season? It’ll come down to red-zone defense and the run game.  We know both of these quarterbacks in Cousins and Joe Flacco can air it out.  I like the Ravens run game, and trust their defense at home more. BALTIMORE WINS

Sunday 4PM/425PM Games

  • Falcons @ Broncos: This is a match-up of two of the hottest teams in the NFL.  Atlanta is on a three-game winning streak, scoring at least 45 in the last two.  They’re the only team above .500 in the NFC South and coming off a game where Matt Ryan threw for over 500 yards against the Panthers.  Denver meanwhile, hasn’t lost since a week 15 road loss last year to the Steelers; and their last home loss came in week 10 last year to the Chiefs.  The Broncos defense hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game this season, so this will be a test of an extremely hot defense, versus an extremely hot offense. Which wins out? I’m going with the old adage that defense wins championships; the reigning champs will remain undefeated. DENVER WINS
  • Bengals @ Cowboys: Dallas hasn’t lost since week 1, and even that should have probably been a win.  They’re getting huge production from their rookies with no sign of slowing down.  The Bengals got back on track and evened their record up in week 4 against the Dolphins.  Both teams have defenses capable of making the stops down the stretch when necessary, but with no Dez Bryant, the Bengals have the biggest play threat on the field in A.J. Green, and that’s why I like them to snap the Cowboys win streak. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Chargers @ Raiders: San Diego’s problem this season hasn’t been scoring, it has been their inability to finish games this season, losing by less than a score each time. Oakland is starting to figure things out on offense, winners of two straight including handing the Ravens their first loss of the season. The Raiders defense is actually allowing the most yards per game, and the 11th most points per game, so there’s work to do there.  They’re going to beat the Chargers this weekend, on the strength of their offense. OAKLAND WINS
  • Bills @ Rams: In week 4, the Bills did something most teams in the Belichick era, shut out the Pats in New England. The deefnse, as well as LeSean McCoy had big gmaes for Buffalo.  The LA Rams are playing up to their competition this season, and finishing the job.  They took advantage of the Cardinals losing Carson Palmer last week, and find themselves 3-1.  Considering they havent had a winnning season 2003, this is a huge thing in itself.  Their offense is inconsistent, which is where Buffalo  will take advantage. BUFFALO WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Giants @ Packers: After starting the season 2-0, the Giants have sputtered in all areas of the game the past two weeks.  They’ve allowed big play after big play on defense, while not getting any of their own on offense.  Turnovers on special teams and offense aren’t being nullified with forcing opponents to do the same.  Green Bay hasn’t been as sharp as they’ve been in the past, but will be rested after their bye week.  The Giants have won the last three match-ups in this series, but I’m taking Aaron Rogers in this one. GREEN BAY WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Buccaneers @ Panthers: Carolina should be worried. They looked lost against Atlanta this past week, never having an answer on how to cover Julio Jones, a guy you should always game plan for as a top priority.  Tampa Bay is in the bottom third scoring wise in the league, despite putting 30-plus points on the board in two of their first four games.  Their defense has allowed at least 24 in each game as well.  So this is a good game for the Panthers to figure some stuff out on both sides of the ball before they fall any further in the standings. CAROLINA WINS

NFL Playoffs: AFC & NFC Championship Picks

And then there were four.  After the divisional round, the top 2 seeds in the NFC, the Seahawks and Packers will do battle for the right to play in the Superbowl.  On the AFC side, the Patriots will take on the Colts after a clear passing of the torch.

How did we get here?

The Packers were the first to secure a final four spot when Aaron Rodgers played through an injury to lift his team over the the Dallas Cowboys.  Both teams went over 100 yards on the ground, but Eddie Lacy ran for 22 more than the NFL league leader in DeMarco Murray.  Tony Romo was out-passed by nearly 130 yards and a TD.  The turning point was a 1st and goal catch by Dez Bryant that was overturned with 4 minutes to go in the game on 4th down.  They were down 5, and who’s to say the Packers don’t stop the TD on the goal line?  But the Cowboys weren’t given a chance when it was ruled Bryant didn’t complete the process of the catch to the ground.

Then we saw the Carolina Panthers run end when they went into 12th man territory. The big play was was when Kam Chancellor returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown to seal the victory in the 4th in a game that saw Seattle never trail. The Seahawks became the first reigning Superbowl Champ to win a playoff game since the Pats did so in 2006.

NFC Championship

  • Packers @ Seahawks: This is the game I thought we would see before the season.  And honestly, I think this match-up could be better than whatever turns into the final Superbowl.  Why?  Because you get the reigning champs playing the possible MVP.  You get the best home QB in the league playing on the road in the best home field advantage in football.  It’s a rematch of the season opener, a Seattle blowout at home and the reason why Green Bay didn’t get home-field as both teams finished with identical 12-4 records.  That will not happen again this time around. Aaron Rodgers calf injury is a concern, as is Eddie Lacy’s, but I still think this is the team that can go into Seattle and upset the reigning champs. Rodgers showed he could put this team on his back time and again.  This is going to be fun, and probably the better game of the day, but this is my reach pick, and I’m sticking with the my preseason pick of Packers over Seahawks for the right to play in the superbowl. GREEN BAY WINS

AFC Championship

  • Colts @ Patriots: New England is one win away from the Superbowl… again.  Remember when everyone thought they were done early in the season? They’ll play host to the Colts in a rematch of the 2006 AFC Championship game, except for one very big difference.  His counterpart at QB isn’t Peyton Manning, but the heir apparent in Indy, Andrew Luck. Indianapolis’ defense stepped up on the road, limiting the passing game of the Broncos.  The Patriots need to look to exploit their run defense however, which was the best part of Denver’s offense a week ago. Joe Flacco had his way with the Pats secondary as well, so look for Luck to have more success with deep passes in addition to his stellar short game.  Tom Brady has been here many times before, which is why I would say he has more to lose than the Colts in this game.  The Pats have been eliminated in this round the past two seasons and haven’t won on in a decade.  Indy continues to trend upward under Luck, so while they of course want to advance, but this was a great season no matter what happens Sunday.  Don’t forget that the Pats have blew out the Colts the past 3 meetings, including a 22-point victory in November. I want to pick Indianapolis, but I think it’s time for New England to make a reappearance in the big one.  It’ll be close.  NEW ENGLAND WINS

NFL: Divisional Round Picks

Round 2 is upon us… and the Cardinals, Steelers, Bengals and Lions are no long in playoff contention.  The first round was nothing short of boring, with flags being picked up, a road win for the Ravens and big games from the game winning QBs.

I went in the 2-2 in first round.

Saturday Games

  • Baltimore @ New England: The Ravens showed us once again they aren’t afraid to go on the road in the playoffs.  This is the first postseason match-up between these two since Baltimore defeated New England in the 2012 AFC Championship game during their run to winning the Superbowl.  The Patriots are well-rested coming off their bye week, and look to make it back to a 4th straight Conference championship.  Tom Brady and company finished with the best record in the AFC, but numbers wise these two teams are very similar.  The Pats finished 12th in total offense, the Ravens at 13th.  New England’s defense isn’t top 10 like Baltimore, while Brady out passed Flacco in the regular season.  This is going to be a tough game, and I don’t see it being very high scoring.  Baltimore has a huge advantage on the ground and have to exploit that.  But many doubted Brady early on when they got off to a slow start (for them) and I won’t do that here.  He knows this defense well, and will want revenge for that 2012 knockout.  Give me the top seed to advance in this one. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Panthers @ Seahawks: Two top 10 defenses clash in this NFC battle. Carolina is hot, winners of 5 straight games, playing like the team that made the playoffs a season ago.  Seattle is rested, and look to continue their top rated defense and get a lot out their 9th ranked offense. This won’t be as easy for the Seahawks to win as Carolina’s round 1 win, but I do think the defending champs will get the win.  Proof of that came in their week 8 game, a 13-9 defensive struggle that went the way of the Hawks.  I don’t think this one will be as low scoring as both offenses are in better shape, but the 12th man will be out in force, and this Seattle team is playing like a Superbowl champion looking to repeat.  SEATTLE WINS

Sunday Games

  • Cowboys @ Packers: Two 12 win regular season teams meet up in cold Lambeau this weekend.  Dallas played well in their win over Detroit, but they also benefited from some missed calls including a flag that was picked up on PI that would’ve put the Lions close to the red zone. Aaron Rodgers and company had a week to rest, and now they look to take advantage of their home-field advantage and their 8-0 home record. Dallas did play well on the road, going 8-0 away from home.  So what gives?  There are MVP candidates on both sides, both QBs are hot, and both have capable run games. This is going to be fun, but I think this is comes down to which team I like in big spots, and Aaron Rodgers knows how to come up big in big games, and he has been unbelievable at home.  I think that continues.  GREEN BAY WINS
  • Colts @ Broncos: Before the season, I had this game as a possible AFC Championship game. I love what I saw from the Colts on offense in their win over the Bengals, especially getting Dan Herron and the ground game involved early. Denver is getting used to being here, so a week off did them and their aging QB good.  This could be a shoot out with both high powered offenses, but the biggest change to the Broncos from last season to this is their improvement on defense.  So give me a big stop late at home by Denver, not to mention I think we’re destined for another Brady-Manning match-up. DENVER WINS