NFL: Week 2 Recap and Week 3 Picks

It’s pretty amazing how many teams most thought would be good this season are 0-2.

Most Impressive Teams From Week 2

  1. New England Patriots (2-0)– The Tom Brady revenge tour raged through Buffalo this weekend and put up three touchdowns and 466 yards passing on the Buffalo defense.  Rob Gronkowski went over 100 yards, Julian Edelman caught two TDs and nine different Patriots caught passes.  The defense let up late, allowing 19 points in the fourth to the Bills to make the final score close, but it really wasn’t.
  2. Arizona Cardinals (2-0) –Carson Palmer is healthy and it means this team is a force to be reckoned with in a division that has the NFC Champs bringing up the rear at 0-2. Palmer was efficient throwing 4 touchdowns on just 185 yards passing.  The Cards got help from their defense, and special teams with a team record 108-yard kickoff return.  Not to mention that Larry Fitzgerald had one of the best games of his career, catching 3 scores after going nine straight (including the playoffs) without a single one.
  3. Green Bay Packers (2-0) –Make it nine straight regular season home wins for the Packers who got revenge for their NFC Championship loss to the Seahawks. Both defenses played well, but the big play came by Green Bay in the fourth, an interception of Russell Wilson as the Pack went to score 11 to take the lead and the game.  The fact that Green Bay could come out on top after losing both Eddie Lacy and Devonte Adams early to injury shows how deep this team is.

Most Disappointing Teams From Week 2

  1. New York Giants (0-2)– The New York Giants are now 0-2… against the New York Giants. They got Odell Beckham Jr and Shane Vereen going, Eli Manning hasn’t thrown a pick and the defense shutdown Matt Ryan for most of the game.  But it hasn’t mattered. In both games, they played the 55 minutes of football that should have them 2-0 and atop the NFC East. Instead, they’ve shot themselves in the foot to end two games with poor time management and poor play calling.
  2. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) –For just the second time in his young career, Andrew Luck has lost two straight games.  The fourth year QB threw 3 interceptions for the first time in nearly two years, and added a fumble to his bad night.  The defense hasn’t been terrible, but they haven’t been able to make up for the bad offense.
  3. Detroit Lions (0-2) – The defense hasn’t been a strengthlike it’s been in the past. Matthew Stafford has been erratic.  But the most distressing part has the running game. They managed just 38 yards on the ground against the Vikings a week after surrendering 230 yards in week 1.  When Matt Stafford leads you in rushing, that’s a problem. When he has most yards than four other guys combined, that’s a serious problem.

Most Surprising Performances from Week 2

  1. Carolina Panthers (2-0) – I honestly don’t know how they’re doing it.  Sure the defense is good, but offensively they haven’t done anything spectacular.  Cam Newton looks better than last season, and has gotten it done on the ground, but their actual backs haven’t done much. Their big play threat in Kelvin Benjamin is down for the season, leaving Newton under 200 yards passing.  But they’re doing enough and sit tied atop the division.
  2. Oakland Raiders (1-1) – One week after a blowout loss to Cincinnati, they went toe-to-toe offensively with the Ravens and came out on top. David Carr threw for a career high 351 yards, and put a late turnover behind him quickly to throw the game winner with 26 seconds to go.  He’s got two big weapons in rookie Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to throw to, something Oakland has been missing for years.
  3. New York Jets (2-0) –I knew they’d be good this season.  But I don’t even think they’ve played their best football and here they are at 2-0 coming off a nice win in Indianapolis.  Ryan Fitzpatrick has looked great and forged a quick connection with Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall.  Chris Ivory got banged up in practice but has looked good so far.  And the defense after being torched at times in week 1, specifically in the secondary, generated a great pass rush in week 2, and has an incredible 10 takeaways already.

Now we can get to my picks for week 3.  I went just 5-11 to bring my season total to 15-17, so clearly I need a rebound.

Thursday Night Football

  • Redskins @ Giants: Washington’s defense has been one of the biggest surprises this season.  New York’s defense is stopping the run, but allowing QBs to have a field day.  The Giants offense looked a lot better in week 2, but they beat themselves late again. I should probably stop picking New York, but they handle the Skins well and without their late-game mistakes, I still think they’ve looked like the best team in the division.  NEW YORK WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Falcons @ Cowboys: Both teams enter 2-0 but with varying levels of health concerns.  Dallas has been hit at QB with Tony Romo’s fractured clavicle, wide receiver with Dez Bryant’s broken foot and Jason Witten’s knee.  Atlanta will be without rookie running back Tevin Coleman who injured his rib in their week 2 win.  The Cowboys traded for guys to replace their injured stars, including a pick for Matt Cassel, who is a very capable starter.  But Matt Ryan has a very healthy and electric Julio Jones paired with Roddy White and I think he’ll be able to out-pass anything the Boys throw out there. ATLANTA WINS
  • Colts @ Titans: Tennessee went from great to average in a weeks’ time, something to expect with a rookie QB.  I’ve already gone over Indy’s problems so I won’t here.  But the Jets showed you can do damage to the Colts secondary, so expect Marcus Mariota to throw early and often this week.  However, I don’t think it will be enough.  Andrew Luck will figure out how to play past his turnovers and explode in week 3 and get win number 1. INDIANAPOLIS WINS
  • Raiders @ Browns: Johnny Manziel was supposed to get another start after picking up his first win a week ago. Not so fast. Josh McCowan will be back after missing week 2 with injury. I don’t like the move, but I guess Cleveland is operating under the “you don’t lose your job because of injury idea.”  As for Oakland, no one thought they’d be good this year, and yet they’ve done some good things early on.  So who moves to a surprising 2-1? Give me the Raiders in a close one on the road.  OAKLAND WINS
  • Bengals @ Ravens: Andy Dalton is off to one of the best starts of his career, the run game is producing and the defense is doing what it needs to do, holding opponents to 16 points a game. Now they face a hungry 0-2 Ravens team in an AFC North showdown.  Baltimore’s defense has allowed that has allowed the seventh most points per game in the first two weeks.  I thought Baltimore would be in contention for a playoff spot against this season, and while I know they can win this game and avoid an 0-3 start, I like the Bengals too much right nowCINCINNATI WINS
  • Jaguars @ Patriots: The Jacksonville Defense has been solid through two weeks of play, but they’re going to need to get to Tom Brady early and often if they want to unseat the champs.  Blake Bortles looked better in week 2 than week 1, but he’s still got a lot of work to do.  New England is just on another level and at home.  They’ll get to 3-0 rather easily. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Saints @ Panthers: Already at 0-2, the Saints are now without Drew Brees.  Carolina is seeing a better Cam Newton through two weeks than they saw all of last season.  New Orleans defense has been atrocious, the Panthers pretty good.  If all holds true, we’ve got another easy win for a soon-to-be 3-0 squadCAROLINA WINS
  • Eagles @ Jets: DeMarco Murray has been very, very bad.  Sam Bradford has been very bad. The Eagles special teams hasn’t been what it was, nor has the defense.  New York has been good in every phase of the game, but it’s been their defense that has stood out above all. NEW YORK WINS
  • Buccaneers @ Texans: Bryan Hoyer did a better job than Ryan Mallett, but it wasn’t enough.  Houston’s running game has been non-existent without Arian Foster.  The defense isn’t what they can and have been in the past.  Jameis Winston bounced back from a rough NFL debut to show flashes. If the Texans get some help on the ground, I like the Texans at home to pick up their first win. HOUSTON WINS
  • Chargers @ Vikings: Philip Rivers has been on point this season, completing 81 percent of his passes through two games.  But turnovers hurt the Chargers chances at a 2-0 start a week ago.  As for the Vikings, Adrian Peterson got back to his old self, racking up nearly 200 total yards to help get his team to 1-1. MINNESOTA WINS
  • Steelers @ Rams: The Steelers have looked good on offense through two weeks, and that was without Le’Veon Bell. Now with the AFC’s leading rusher from a year ago back, look out.  St. Louis’s defense hasn’t been as good as I thought it would be, and the offense has had one great game, and one they’d like to forget about.  So give me the more experienced Pittsburgh team on the road. PITTSBURGH WINS 

Sunday 4/425 PM Games

  • 49ers @ Cardinals: After a big first week, the Niners looked overwhelmed by the Steelers in week 2, particularly on defense, which is normally a strong suit.  And now they have to contend with a hot Cardinals team on the road.  Arizona is clicking on all cylinders, picking up where they left off last season with Carson Palmer.  They might not give up 48 again, but San Francisco is going to have a tough time stopping the Cardinals. ARIZONA WINS
  • Bills @ Dolphins: Both of these teams looked great in week 1, and not so great in week 2. Buffalo is waiting for LeSean McCoy to look more like the guy Philadelphia ran out of the backfield last season.  The Dolphins shot themselves in the foot with 13 flags for 113 penalty yards including a personal foul that set up the Jags game winning field-goal.  The inconsistent showings of the Bills defense through two weeks makes it hard to gauge them.  For that I’m taking the home team to improve to 2-1. MIAMI WINS
  • Bears @ Seahawks: One of these teams will be 0-3 (barring a tie) when the clock hits zero.  And it’s easily going to be Chicago. While the Hawks haven’t been as good as they’ve been the past two years, they have been in both games and have played well enough to win.  The Bears have looked awful and are now without Jay Cutler, though many are probably okay with that. SEATTLE WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Broncos @ Lions:  Peyton Manning woke up in week 2 but it was the Chiefs mistakes and Broncos defense that won the game in the end.  Detroit is a surprising 0-2, but Matt Stafford always plays better at home than on the road.  Denver is lucky to be 2-0, and I think that luck runs out this week.  Look for the run game to get going for Detroit. DETROIT WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Chiefs @ Packers: Kansas City made some poor choices to end week 2.  But they have to be happy with what they’ve seen from their skill position guys, now they just have to hope Jamaal Charles holds onto the football. Green Bay overcame injuries to key players in week 2 to get revenge on the Seahawks, thanks in large part to their defense.  Both teams have impressed, but give me another home win for Aaron Rodgers and company this week.  GREEN BAY WINS
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NFL: Week 14 Picks

Pretty amazing that it’s week 14 and nothing is really close to being decided as the playoff approach.

I went 9-7 in my week 13 picks, bringing my season total up to 118-73.

Thursday Night Football

  • Cowboys @ Bears: Dallas is coming off a thanksgiving day loss to the Eagles which saw them drop back in the NFC East. Chicago was also blown out on Thursday by their divisional foes, the Lions. So who bounces back? Give me the emote consistent team in Dallas to get the road win. Romo and company aren’t historically good in December, but I think they shake off those demons and ensure their first winning record since 2009, also their last postseason appearance. DALLAS WINS

Sunday 1pm Games

  • Steelers @ Bengals: Questions surrounding the health of Ben Roethlisberger throws  wrench into this game (reports are he has broken his wrist).  But with the struggles of the Bengals (who still managed to win their last two and get a lead in the tightest division in football), this game won’t be easy. I still like Cincinnati at home, especially if Andy Dalton can avoid the redone turnovers. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Rams @ Redskins: The St Louis Rams have impressed me this season more than their 5-7 record might dictate.  But look at some of their wins coming against the 49ers, Broncos and Seahawks.  And now they’re coming off a 52-0 dismantling of the Raiders (who of course stink but still). As for the Redskins, they continue to sleep walk to another high draft pick and questions around who will be their quarterback next year rage on.  Give me the Rams and their impressive defense to move to 6-7 in fairly easy fashion. ST LOUIS WINS
  • Giants @ Titans: The best thing for New York to do would be to lose out, because changes are coming whether they win again this season or not.  A 3-13 record isn’t want you want, but it’s better for draft purposes than say a 5-11 or 6-10. But the Titans are terrible and not in a Jags only had 1 win kind of way. So give me Eli Manning pride to snap their 7-game slide. NEW YORK WINS
  • Panthers @ Saints: A win for Carolina means they snap a 6-game losing streak and remain in the NFC South division chase. If New Orleans can get the job done, they will keep pressure on the Falcons and step closer to respectability record wise. You’d think Carolina would wake up eventually, but it’s hard to win on the road against the Saints. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Jets @ Vikings: It took 13 weeks, but the Jets finally realized they are allowed to run the football, putting up over 200 yards on the ground against a good Miami Dolphins team.  Unfortunately for New York, they started Geno Smith in favor of Mike Vick, to see what they could get from him, didn’t utilize him enough and still lost their 10th game.  As for Minnesota, the Vikings 5-7 record isn’t bad considering their lack of offense without Adrian Peterson and a rookie under center. I truly think Tedddy Bridgewater can get himself going against the Jets non-existent secondary at home. MINNESOTA WINS
  • Ravens @ Dolphins: A win for Baltimore means they gain on someone in the AFC North by virtue of the Steelers/Bengals match-up (unless there’s a tie). The Ravens have been very up-and-down this season, losing a tough one a week ago late against San Diego.  New England’s loss a to Green Bay helped the Dolphins pick up a game in the AFC East thanks to their win over New York.  So this is a big game for both teams who look to secure at least wild card spots.  I like Baltimore on the road because they know what it takes down the stretch, while Miami has shown flashes of breaking down. BALTIMORE WINS
  • Colts @ Browns: Brian Hoyer is still the starting quarterback for Cleveland despite many calling for Johnny Manziel. Andrew Luck is still the guy in Indy, and better than both of those guys combined. Sure Cleveland’s defense will be up to the task, but the Colts team is on a different level right now then the Browns are. INDIANAPOLIS WINS
  • Buccaneers @ Lions: The Lions need this one.  The NFC playoff picture is so jumbled with 4 teams in line for a wildcard spot.  The Bucs are bad and could play spoiler, but I don’t see it happening. They don’t do anything particularly well. Mike Evans is their lone star on offense and the Lions defense will be all over that. DETROIT WINS
  • Texans @ Jaguars: The Jaguars showed something, particularity on defense in their comeback win over the Giants a week ago.  But I like Houston in this one.  JJ Watt is a monster, and there wasn’t anyone like that on New York for Jacksonville to contend with. HOUSTON WINS

Sunday 4/4:25 Games

  • Bills @ Broncos: Another game with playoff implications for both teams in the AFC.  Buffalo is still in contention for a playoff spot, jumbled with a number of 7-win teams. Denver could become the first team to 10 wins in the far superior AFC.  The Broncos haven’t been as dominant this season as they were last season, yet I think they are a more complete team, especially with the emergence of CJ Anderson in the backfield. So I don’t think this will be a blowout, but I also don’t think the Broncos will have too much trouble getting to double digit victories. DENVER WINS
  • Chiefs @ Cardinals: Kansas City, like so many other teams, happens to play in a division with a dominant team, and yet is having a playoff worthy season.  Arizona has dipped of late following the loss of Carson Palmer, and needs a win to keep a hold on their once runaway lead in the NFC West.  So which western team makes a statement?  I think the Cardinals find a way to snap their mini skid at home in a low scoring affair.  Look for Bruce Arians comments post game last week in a loss to Atlanta to spark pride (he said they weren’t ready to play a week ago). ARIZONA WINS
  • Seahawks @ Eagles: The Legion of Boom is back and Philly is in position to defend their NFC East crown. The Eagles offense is doing a good job under Mark Sanchez, and the special teams continues to come up big.  But the reigning champs are rounding into shape at the right time, so give me Russell Wilson and company to get a big road win against a team they could play in the postseason, should they get there. SEATTLE WINS
  • 49ers @ Raiders: San Francisco is putting up a good fight for a playoff spot in a tough NFC West.  Oakland is Oakland.  The niners can’t afford a let down, and despite the questions of where their head coach will be next year, I don’t think a let down happens here in week 14. SAN FRANCISCO WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Patriots @ Chargers: San Diego has been a team of runs this season, and they’re latest hot streak has them back in contention not only fr a wild card spot, but they could still win the AFC West.  New England lost a week ago to a very good Packers squad, so it’ll be interesting to see how they rebound from their worst game in nearly more than a month.  I think the inconsistency of the Chargers versus Tom Brady is a huge advantage for the Patriots.  Big road games have never fazed the 3-time Superbowl champ, and I think he rallies his team to a 10th win on Sunday night. NEW ENGLAND WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Falcons @ Packers: As of right now, this is somehow a match-up of division leaders, but it’s not an evenly matched affair.  Atlanta sits atop the NFC South by default, while Green Bay has taken over the NFC North and look like the best team in football. They’re stellar at home, with Aaron Rodgers having not thrown an interception at Lambeau in two years. GREEN BAY WINS

NFL: Week 8 Picks

So there were a lot of strange happenings last week in the National Football League.  A bunch of last play games, a lot of statement games and a number of big injuries.  Not to mention a record breaking performance from one Peyton Manning, and the number of winless teams moving to just 1.

Took a step back this week at 7-8.  Two of those wins came on final second scores by Washington and Buffalo to save me from a truly terrible week of picks.  Time to rebound. Giants and the 49ers are on their byes this week.

Thursday Night Football

  • Chargers @ Broncos: The two best teams in the AFC West get this week’s slate of games started.  San Diego lost just it’s second gmae of the season to another division foe a week ago, while Denver saw Peyton Manning’s record breaking 509th TD pass in a blowout win over the 49ers on Sunday night.  It’s still early, but this game is more important for the Chargers who have yet to have their bye, and a loss would give them 3 losses to the Broncos 1.  That being said, while I think they are well-matched, Denver has the edge at home. DENVER WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Lions @ Falcons: Detroit’s defense saved them from another home loss a week ago, where as Atlanta continues to struggle, particularly on defense.  Matt Ryan has needed all the help he could get from that side of the football, but hasn’t gotten it consistently. This may not be a high scoring affair, but much as it did in week 7, I think the Lions defense more than their offense wins this game for them.  DETROIT WINS
  • Vikings @ Buccaneers: Minnesota let one slip away on the road in week 7.  The Bucs are coming off their bye week losers of two straight.  So what gives in this one?  It’s going to be ugly, maybe the worst game of the week, and I think it ends with a road win for the Vikings, who at least know how to play some defense.  MINNESOTA WINS
  • Bills @ Jets: Buffalo pulled off the last second comeback win a week ago, but it came with a price.  They lost both halves of their high powered rushing attack in CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson.  But Kyle Orton and Sammy Watkins with a little help from their defense got them over the .500 mark. As for their AFC East rivals, the Jets lost their 6th straight, falling by just 2 points to the Patriots on Thursday night. New York looked better in some ways then they have in a while, but still ended up with another loss.  I want to say that forcing the Bills into a pass first game would be good for the Jets, but their secondary has been horrendous.  I also want to say that the Bills defense can do a number on Geno Smith.  So which team am I picking?  I picked New York to make the playoffs before the season, and while that would take a lot to happen, I am going to think if there’s a game they can win on their schedule, I think it has be this one.  NEW YORK WINS
  • Bears @ Patriots: Chicago is a mess both on the field and off, while the Patriots continue to prove early season doubters wrong.  There is a question of a lack of trust between Jay Cutler and his receiving core, which can be explosive.  New England wasn’t sharp on Thursday Night against the Jets, but made the plays when they needed to.  Another home game to prove themselves against a team in shambles usually means a win for Tom Brady and company. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Seahawks @ Panthers: Is it time for the defending champs to panic?  Probably.  Is it time for Carolina, also a playoff team a year ago to panic? Yes.  Seattle has an improved Arizona team to deal with in its own division, while the Panthers are just lucky the Saints have gotten off to such a terrible start.  The Seahawks are in better shape though, despite shipping out the dynamic Percy Havin and losing two straight for the first time in two years.  They know how to win and aren’t having major struggles on either side of the football.  It’s the Carolina defense that has been very disappointing so far.  And even though they are at home, I have more faith in the defending champs. SEATTLE WINS
  • Dolphins @ Jaguars:  Ryan Tannehill and the fins took advantage of a trouble Chicago squad to move to .500.  Tannehill was efficient, connecting on his first 14 passes in route to the road win.  Now they take on a Jacksonville squad that finally picked up their first win of the season over a much improved Cleveland team.  Denard Robinson broke out for 127-yards on the ground and a score to help Blake Bortles get his first career win.  I like Miami and the progress Tannehill is showing, but you can’t say enough for a team that isn’t playing for much and knows how to win now.  So I like the Jags to get another win this week.  JACKSONVILLE WINS
  • Ravens @ Bengals: Baltimore’s offense continues to shine without Ray Rice in the backfield, and it’s helped them build a lead in the AFC North over their week 8 opponents.  Cincinnati has looked bad since their week 4 bye, with the low point a shutout a week ago in Indianapolis.  I liked the Bengals to win this division before the season, and if they have hopes of doing so, this is a must win game.  So give me the home team to bounce back, because they have to. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Texans @ Titans: Both teams had a chance to pick up wins in week 7,  but neither capitalized.  But looking at the overall picture, Houston has been the far superior team on both sides of the football, so I think they get back on track, picking up a big road win in Tennessee.  HOUSTON WINS
  • Rams @ Chiefs: St. Louis feels really good about themselves coming off a win over the defending champs.  Sure they almost blew a big lead, but they held on and showed something late.  That being said, the Chiefs win in week 7 was even more impressive against a hotter Chargers squad.  So give me KC to continue a good month of sports in Missouri.  KANSAS CITY WINS

Sunday 4/4:25PM Games

  • Eagles @ Cardinals: This is the game I am looking forward to most this weekend.  Two of the best teams in the NFC that both enter action at 5-1.  The key to this one?  Philly’s quick paced offense versus Arizona’s defense, which is allowing less than 20 points a game.  Even deeper, Arizona has the best rush defense in the game, going against duel threat LeSean McCoy, that could be where the game is won or lost for either side.  So who team flies higher, extends their win streak to 3 and improves to a sparkling 6-1?  Give me the red birds at home.  ARIZONA WINS
  • Colts @ Steelers: Remember when Indy started off 0-2 and everyone was freaking out?  Yeah, me neither.  Andrew Luck has this team on a 5-game win streak, and the Colts are coming off a complete team win, an impressive shutout of the Bengals.  Pittsburgh is also coming off a win, a much-needed one.  It wasn’t super impressive, but they did score 24-unanswered late to upset the Texans on the road. So the Steelers feel a little bit better about themselves, but I just can’t pick against the red hot Colts, even on the road.  INDIANAPOLIS WINS
  • Raiders @ Browns:  Oakland needs a win, but so do the Browns after a bad loss to the Jaguars last week.  Going into the season I would’ve thought this was a battle for the number 1 seed.  But it’s not.  The Browns are better than last season, and they just looked bad on the road last week.  I think they can bounce back and keep the Raiders looking at a winless season. CLEVELAND WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Packers @ Saints: Aaron Rodgers is the reigning offensive player of the week for the red hot Packers. New Orleans had a chance to get a much needed win on the road in Detroit to move to .500, but they couldn’t hold on and dropped to a surprising 2-4.  I think the Superdome gets LOUD this week and gets Drew Brees and company going.  NEW ORLEANS WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Redskins @ Cowboys: Did you know that Colt McCoy still exists?  Yeah, neither did the Titans defense.  Washington broke their slide on a last second field-goal, but it wasn’t an impressive game.  Dallas is now on a 6-game win streak and don’t look like they are going to slow down any time soon.  So give me the Boys at home to improve to a very surprising 7-1. DALLAS WINS

NFL Picks: Week 7

Another great week in the NFL is in the books.  A tie, a bunch of blowouts and a bunch of shootouts.

My week 6 went 10-6, including a tie between Carolina and Cincinnati. Here are my week 7 picks, 15 games with just the Eagles and Buccaneers on their byes.

Thursday Night Football

  • Jets @ Patriots: It’s an AFC East match-up to kickoff week 7 action.  Before the season I thought this game could be the first in determining the division.  Instead it’s another chance for the Pats to continue to right the ship, and for the Jets to try to snap out of their funk.  I’m going with the former, because New York is just a mess in every facet of the game except the run. NEW ENGLAND WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Falcons @ Ravens: Atlanta continues to be one of those teams with a lot of talent being wasted.  I thought they’d snap out of it at home last week against Chicago, but instead gave up 30 points again.  And with a Ravens team that clicked on all cylinders to the tune of 5 1st half touchdown passes from Joe Flacco up next, all I have to say is yikes. BALTIMORE WINS
  • Titans @ Redskins: Talk about a game I probably wouldn’t accept money to watch.  Tennessee barely scraped by the win-less Jaguars a week ago, while Washington is on a four-game slide.  I think that skid ends for the Skins however, because they’re home and I’ve at least seen some good things from their offense against good teams.  WASHINGTON WINS
  • Seahawks @ Rams: Seattle is looking to rebound off a rare home loss to the upstart Cowboys in week 6, while St. Louis is coming off their 3rd straight defeat.  I don’t see the defending champs losing two straight and though this is a trap game, I think they get the road win on the strength of a bounce back performance by Russell Wilson. SEATTLE WINS
  • Browns @ Jaguars: I had the Browns beating Pittsburgh a week ago, but I didn’t think it would be in such dominating fashion.  The run game was great thanks to a big game from Ben Tate, while Jordan Cameron anchored a big day in the air for Brian Hoyer.  Not to mention the defense holding Ben Roethlisberger to 10 points.  Oh and Jacksonville is bad. CLEVELAND WINS
  • Bengals @ Colts: This is probably the toughest game for me to pick o the week.  Cincinnati has disappointed me, particularity on defense since coming out of their bye undefeated.  They’ve surrendered 80 points in the last two games, a loss and a tie, after just 33 in their first 3 games.  Now they face a high-powered Colts team, that happens to be on a 4-game win streak, on the road. So I am going to go out on a limb and take the Bengals on the road, because if they’re to take the next step, it’s games like this where they have to prove something. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Vikings @ Bills: Minnesota has had its moments this season, as has Buffalo.  Neither team has had consistent offense, rather relying on their defenses to carry them.  The Bills run game is their strength, and it hasn’t even been that great early.  I think both CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson have big days at home to get their team above .500. BUFFALO WINS
  • Dolphins @ Bears: Talk about two inconsistent teams that need a win. At 2-3 and 3-3 respectively, Miami and Chicago are both still in the conversation in their divisions. Both teams are strong in the trenches, but the Bears have the edge in the air, and that’s where I think they win it.  CHICAGO WINS
  • Saints @ Lions: New Orleans enters rested fresh off their bye week after a huge come-from-behind OT win in week 5.  Detroit won in week 6 in large part because of their outstanding defense.  Calvin Johnson is struggling, as is the run game, but it’s easier to take when your D holds the other team to a field-goal.  It won’t be so easy to do so this week, and even though it’s a road game, I’m taking a leap because of a guy named Drew Brees. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Panthers @ Packers: This is a big game in that it could affect playoff seeding in the NFC for one or both teams.  Carolina’s defense is not what we thought it would be.  Green Bay is surging after a 1-2 start.  I think it’ll be a close one throughout, with Aaron Rodgers coming up big late to help the cheese heads move to 3-0 at home. GREEN BAY WINS

Sunday 4/4:25PM Games

  • Chiefs @ Chargers: Kansas City isn’t fooling anyone this season.  After starting last season with 9 straight wins, their offense just hasn’t been up to snuff this year.  The run game continues to excell, but Alex Smith has the pass game at the bottom of the league.  They’ve kept themselves in games, except for a 41-point game against New England, so there’s still hope.  But with their red hot AFC West counterparts on the schedule, this is going to be a tough one. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Chargers just find ways to win.  Being a home game, I like the Chargers to continue to find ways to win, which will push KC far out for the division and put pressure on the Broncos.  SAN DIEGO WINS
  • Cardinals @ Raiders: Arizona has its QB back, the defense is clicking and the NFC West is a toss up early.  Oh and they get a team on the march for another number 1 pick and a possible date with 0-16.  Oakland did give San Diego all it could handle a week ago, so I don’t think it’ll be easy, but I like the Cards on the road. ARIZONA WINS
  • Giants @ Cowboys: Yes, I know the Giants were manhandled a week ago, while Dallas overwhelmed the defending champs on the road. I also know that DeMarco Murray is a beast and New York isn’t great at stopping the run. But I also don’t think New York is as bad as they looked on Sunday Night.  Not to mention, when these two teams get together, strange things tend to happen.  Eli Manning has had a lot of success in Dallas, and I think he finds a way to get his guys back on track this week. NEW YORK WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Niners @ Broncos: What a great match-up on Sunday Night between two of the final four teams from a season ago.  San Francisco has looked better of late after a slow start at 1-2.  But I still have concerns about their offense.  I know their defense can keep them in most any game, but with Peyton Manning just 3 TD passes away from the all-time record of 509, I don’t know how the Broncos don’t get their 5th win of the season. DENVER WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Steelers @ Texans: Pittsburgh is a straight up mess right now.  Sure they’re 3-3 but it’s been ugly, and having been 8-8 the past 2 years, being .500 is nothing special.  Add to that the surprising start of the Browns, the Steelers find themselves in the cellar of the North.  As for Houston, they’ve already surpassed their win total from last season and look a lot better on offense.  So give me the home team to move above .500 and keep pressure on the division leading Colts. HOUSTON WINS

New York Yankees: August in Review

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What is it about this team that every-time someone gets hot, they get hurt?

Jacoby Ellsbury was back on a hot streak, and then sat for a few days late in the month because of an ankle sprain.  Brett Gardner, one of the only guys to stay healthy this season, missed a few games after fouling a ball of his ankle.  Mark Teixeira had his moments as well. Not to mention a 7-day DL stint for Brian McCann during his best streak of the season due to a concussion.

Derek Jeter, as much as it pains me to say it, has looked like a 40-year-old baseball player who should be retiring.  It’s the final month of his baseball career (unless the Yankees make this final playoff push) and it’s sad, but it’s also time.

As has happened all season, the offense has been lacking, and the pitching has had to pick up the slack.  Guys like David Robertson and Dellin Betances have had to pitch in tied or low scoring losing efforts way too often.  And yet, they remain very much in the hunt for a postseason berth.  But they need to start hitting.

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Best Starter(s): Michael Pineda – He has put his back injury in the past, and could be 4-0 since making his return if not for the lack of run support.  Pineda picked up where he left off in April, allowing just 6 runs in those 4 starts.  But the most impressive thing about the 25-year-old’s return after 3 months on the DL?  His 15 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio in that span.  Most pitchers need time to find their control when coming off a long layoff.

Best Hitter: Martin Prado – He started off slowly after being acquired at the deadline, but had a nice stretch in the middle of the month to help keep the Bombers afloat.

Biggest Surprise: Michael Pineda.

Record vs AL East: 5-5

Overall Record: 70-65

New York Yankees: July in Review

IMGP3471This team might be weirder than last years when the left side of the infield was a rotating door of players.

With 4/5 of the opening day starting rotation down and out, and ll the money spent on bats this off-season (Ellsbury, Beltran, McCann, re-signing Gardner), you’d think the offense would be carrying the pitching.  Nope.  Both facets of the team are in the middle of the pack across the league, but the Yankees lose a lot of low scoring games, and failure with RISP, along with poor defense, have hurt the pitching staff.

Mark Teixeira continues to come up small injuries that keep him out of the lineup, Carlos Beltran is just now starting to heat up, and Brian McCann still hasn’t.  The inconsistency is keeping this team around the .500 mark, but they remain in the hunt for October because of parody in the American League East.  The top of the order has been solid of late, with the hot month courtesy of Gardner, and a good month by All-Star Derek Jeter.  Jeter made his presence felt in the MLB All-Star game, an American League win, when he scored the 1st run of the game.  Jeter also moved into sole possession of 7th on the All-Time Hits list, and he’s just single digits from 6th, where he will most likely finish his career.

MLB TRADE DEADLINE MOVES

  • SS/2B Stephen Drew for Kelly Johnson

It took nearly 40 years, but the Red Sox and Yankees finally made a trade.  Sure it was the equivalent of trading two 5-dollar bills for a 10… but progress is progress. Kelly Johnson wasn’t the guy the bombers thought they were getting, a good defensive utility player with pop.  Instead they got a bad defensive player with very little pop.  Stephen Drew could have been a Yankee in the off-season, instead he brings his even worse batting average, yet better glove to help sure up the infield defense in the deadline trade.

  • Martin Prado for Prospect Pete O’Brien from Arizona

Prado bring versatility with the ability to play the infield and the corner outfield positions, a solid bat and a healthier veteran option who is in, not past, his prime.  He’s signed for two more years after this.

  • Brian Roberts & Alfonso Soriano Designated For Assignment

Roberts stayed healthy, something he’s been known not to do, but didn’t produce, something new for the veteran 2nd baseman.  And to make matters worse for Roberts, the Yankees held him out a couple games, keeping him from hitting the 350 plate-appearance mark, which would’ve bumped up his salary.  The DFA came to make room on the 25-man roster for Prado.  Soriano was let go earlier after a 2&1/2 month slump to start the season.  He was hot in the 2nd half of last season after being acquired from the Cubs, but his age caught up with him at the plate and in the field.

  • Esmil Rogers Claimed Off Waivers from Toronto

The back end of the Yankees bullpen has been a strength, and in an 11th hour move, Brian Cashman finished off his moves adding another arm to the over-worked pen.  Rogers hasn’t been good this season for the Blue Jays, but maybe the change will do some good.

  • Chris Capuano , Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy (prior to the July 31st deadline):

Two veteran starters and a sure-handed 3rd baseman started off the month of moves for the Yankees.  All three have contributed in their short time, McCarthy is undefeated, Capuano had a very good first outing (a no decision) and Headley had a walk-off single in his first game.

The best part of the moves GM Brian Cashman made?  Not giving up big prospects or adding too much money to the payroll.  The only significant loss was Yangervius Solarte in the Headly trade.

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Best Starter(s): David Phelps &  Brandon McCarthy – or two guys not in the opening day rotation.  Phelps went 2-1 with a sub 3 ERA in July, proving my point about the lack of run support.  He quickly shot up to the team’s number 2 behind Kuroda after all the injuries to the staff, and Phelps has not disappointed.  And talk about needing a change of scenery! Brandon McCarthy had a near 5 ERA in the National League before being traded for by the Yankees.  He’s 3-0 (could be 4-0), has given length and brought stability to the rotation.  I’m not totally surprised despite a couple poor seasons, because he’d had a number of very good years in Oakland before moving to the NL.

Best Hitter: Brett Gardner – the guy is HOT! 7 homers in the month (a shortened month thanks to the All-Star break), which is one short of his previous career high for a season, which he set last year!  A team high 16 RBIs to go along with the 7 bombs in July have him just 5 short of tying his career high in that category as well, also set last season.  He’s doing everything you’d want fro ma lead off hitter, and with his recent power surge, the stolen bases are down, while strikeouts are up.  But in a consistently inconsistent offense, Gardenr has been a true bright spot.

Biggest Surprise: Francisco Cervelli – he sure has put injuries and suspensions behind him.  He’s hitting nearly .300, and has handled the makeshift pitching staff well.

Record vs AL East: 2-6

Overall Record: 55-52 (3rd in the AL East)

 

 

New York Yankees: June in Review

IMG_1187June saw the New York Yankees win just two of their eight series (sweeps of the Mariners and Blue Jays), while squandering great opportunities to win more than that.  We’re exactly halfway through another season, and there are still many questions about this team, especially after a very bad month.

But the Ace of the staff isn’t one of them. Masahiro Tanaka is a winner, plain and simple.  The rest of the rotation has been pretty solid as well, though it’s starting to taper off here as we begin July.  Not to mention how good the bullpen has been. Another plus is that there haven’t really been new additions to the injury report this month.  Mark Teixeira made his return on June 3rd against the Athletics.  He drove in 2 runs, including a go-ahead solo homer batting right-handed. It looked like hitting from the left side would remain an issue, but as the month went on, the wrist became a non-issue.

With all that being said, this team is so inconsistent, particularly the offense.  Teixeira is the only power threat, Jacoby Ellsbury seems to have two hot weeks, followed by two very cold weeks and Brian McCann hasn’t really shown up yet. This team needs more from their off-season acquisitions.  Derek Jeter has been on and off, and the same can be said for Brett Gardner.  This team needs Gardner and Ellsbury on base to utilize their speed.  They can make things happen, small-ball is just as, if not more important as the ability to get that 3-run home run.

Best Starter: Masahiro Tanaka – He’s going to win this thing every month because he could be the CY Young award winner in the American League this year.  At 11-3, Tanaka continues to strike out double-digit batters with ease.  Losing streaks with this guy in the rotation won’t go past 4 very often.  Look for him to start possibly start the All-Star game.  He’d be closer to 13-14 wins right now if not for the low run-support he’s been given.

Best Reliever: Dellin Betances – May clearly wasn’t an anomaly.  Betances continues to strike out opponents in 3 or 4 pitches, which allows him to go two innings, AND still be available the next day.  He’s confident, yet humble and cool under pressure.  Like I said last month, this is Rivera in 96 type stuff.  He looked a bit shaky late in the month, but found ways to get out of jams, and that’s all you can ask of a guy.

Best Hitter: Mark Teixeira.  His batting average is hovering around .240 again, but he’s the Yankees only real power source, and almost every big hit this month came from via the switch-hitter.  If only he’d finally figure out how to hit against the shift.

Biggest Surprise: Chase Whitley.  Another month of solid performances and I probably can’t call him a surprise anymore.  He’s doing everything you’d want out of a 4th-5th starter.  He’s giving the Yankees decent length, and he’s staying away from the big innings (for the most part).

Record vs AL East: 6-7

Overall Record: 41-40

The American League East will be a fight for a while, with no one looking like they want to run away with it.  The Blue Jays came back down to earth a bit here.  But if the Yankees continue to do what they’ve done, while getting healthy and guys like McCann slowly coming around, things could be worse in the Bronx.

With that being said, as we approach the All-Star break, the question becomes what do the Yankees need and should they make a splash before the trade deadline?