NFL: Week 4 Picks

5 undefeated teams remain as we head into week 4 of the NFL season.  I went 9-7 a week ago, bringing my season total to 26-22.

Bye Week: Philadelphia and Green Bay

Thursday Night Football

  • Dolphins @ Bengals: Miami barely squeaked by the Browns last week, while the Bengals were beat down by the defending champs at home.  The Dolphins got a big day from Jarvis Landry, but inconsistency continues to plague Ryan Tannehill, who threw a pick six in the win. Cincinnati got their running game going, but still lost to 1-2 for the first time in five years.  After two very good weeks, Andy Dalton couldn’t do much against the Broncos defense. I like the Bengals at home with another good rushing game to get their second win of the season. CINCINNATI WINS

Sunday Morning Football 

  • Colts @ Jaguars: London here they come! Indianapolis got their first win of the season last week, while Jacksonville is still looking for theirs.  Andrew Luck has the uncanny ability to turn a bad day into a big day passing the ball, but the Jaguars defense isn’t the problem so far, so he’ll need help.  Blake Bortles on the other hand, has been pretty awful for Jacksonville in his third year under center. So what happens this weekend across the pond? Give me a cleaner day from Luck to lift the Colts. INDIANAPOLIS WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Bills @ Patriots: Three different quarterbacks have started for New England, but that hasn’t stopped the winning.  And as for the Bills, they got their first win over a team many think, myself included, are a playoff team destined for a deep run.  Both teams got big two-touchdown games out of their number 1 running backs, so look for another day of running the clock. The Patriots have to get through one more week without Tom Brady, and while they’ve done a great job doing so, and are very, very good at home, I’m taking the road team in this one. BUFFALO WINS
  • Titans @ Texans: It was a very bad week for Houston, who not only lost their Thursday game versus New England 27-0, they learned that JJ Watt re-injured his back and will be out the rest of the year.  Tennessee’s week wasn’t much better, as they scored just 10 points in their loss to Oakland. Both teams enter action having scored the same amount of points through 3 games, but of course that’s skewed with the Texans O-fer last weekend. Marcus Mariota and Brock Osweiler have both thrown 4 interceptions so far this season, so whoever can limit mistakes has the edge. A Titans win puts them in a tie for the division early.  But I don’t think they get it, because I like the Texans skill position players better. HOUSTON WINS
  • Lions @ Bears: The Lions are 1-2, but haven’t struggled in the passing game, as Matthew Stafford has found a new weapon in Marvin Jones after Calvin Johnson called it a career in the off-season.   The silver lining there for the 0-3 Bears is that their defense has actually done okay against the pass so far this season.  Chicago got a pretty good game out of Brandon Hoyer, who finished 30-49 for 317 yards, though most of that came with the game out of hand already. Both teams have the ability to get the points in the air, and with two middling defenses, that shouldn’t be a problem.  So this game will be won in the trenches, and the edge there lies with the Lions. DETROIT WINS
  • Panthers @ Falcons: Carolina is another team I thought would have a great season, but has disappointed so far.  Thanks to the struggles of the Panthers and the rest of the NFC South, Atlanta finds themself atop the division early on in the season.  This dispite allowing 31, 28 and 32 points in their first three games.  The Falcons may not be getting sustained success in their ground game early, they are getting it when it counts.  Tevin Coleman has just 110 yards on the ground, but has 4 rushing touchdowns, including 3 on Sunday in New Orleans. Carolina entered action red-hot at home dating back to 2014, but we shut down by a red-hot Vikings defense a week ago.  I still believe in the Panthers defense, and as hot as Atlanta has been, I think Carolina gets the win on the road. CAROLINA WINS
  • Seahawks @ Jets: The good news for Jets fans? Ryan Fitzpatrick can only be better than he was a week ago. The bad news? He has to be a lot better against the top defense in the league. After scoring just 3 points against L.A. in week 2, the Seahawks exercised some demons putting up 37 against the Niners.  Russell Wilson was hobbled in the game, but still managed to leave with a nice lead.  Big games from Christine Michael and Doug Baldwin helped get the offense back on track.  New York can solace in the fact that they have had a pretty good run game all season, and while some of it came in garbage time, Seattle did allow the Niners to get over 130 yards on the ground, finding pay dirt twice.  This shouldnt be as ugly for the Jets as it was last week, but it will still be a loss. SEATTLE WINS
  • Raiders @ Ravens: Baltimore finds itself among the undefeated teams heading into week 4, in large part thanks to their defense and a good day from kicker Justin Tucker.  The Ravens are second in total defense through 3 weeks of play.  Their opponents won their 2nd game by  forcing three turnovers, with a sack after entering week 3 having allowed the Saints and Falcons to walk all over them.  So based on defenses, Baltimore should have an easy win.  But I actually like Oakland’s offense a lot more, and as someone who thinks this is a playoff team, I’ll take the Raiders in the upset. OAKLAND WINS
  • Browns @ Redskins: Cleveland should’ve gotten their first win of the season in Miami a week ago, but an inability to stop the air attack, and three missed field goals left them at 0-3. They gave themselves a shot, but couldn’t take it.  Cody Kessler’s first career start wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good for Cleveland, though at this point, coming out healthy is huge for the Browns. Washington did get their first win, taking down the Giants on the road. After a couple lackluster offensive weeks, Kirk Cousins let it loose and got a number of big plays in the passing game to help get that first win and move back in the right direction to defend their NFC East title.  So can the Browns get their first win this week? Yes. Will they? I don’t think so. They stayed in last week thanks to mistakes by Tannehill, but Cousins won’t make those same mistakes. WASHINGTON WINS

Sunday 4/425PM Games

  • Broncos @ Buccaneers: The Superbowl Champs are showing no signs of slowing down as they look to start the season 4-0.  Denver got off to a slow start last week against the Bengals, but came on strong late thanks to a big day from rookie quarterback Trevor Siemian.  Siemian threw four touchdown passes, including two in the fourth quarter for the win.  Not to be outdone, the Broncos are a top flight defense that held down Andy Dalton and their rushing attack.  They’ve got another tough test when they take on Jameis Winston this weekend.  The Bucs 2nd year quarterback is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes so far with 8, though he has thrown six picks to.  It won’t be a blowout, none of Denver’s games really have been, but it will be another win for the Broncos. DENVER WINS
  • Rams @ Cardinals: I’m shocked at the start the Cardinals are having at just 1-2. Carson Palmer has had a bad TD-turnover ratio through 3 weeks.   Arizona isn’t getting quite out of David Johnson on the ground, while their defense is allowing the 5th most rushing yards per game.  This is as good a week as any to get back to what they want to do in all phases as they take on their division rival Rams, who find themselves tied atop the division at 2-1.  Los Angeles has rebounded nicely from a shutout on opening day, winning their last two games.  The Rams tend to play up or down to their opponents, evident by a 9-3 home win over Seattle and a 37-32 shootout on the road in Tampa Bay.  Going off those results,  I’ll take the Cardinals at home in what should be a close game throughout between these two West foes. ARIZONA WINS
  • Cowboys @ Niners: Dallas couldn’t have asked for more from rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot through three weeks.  The Tony Romo-less Cowboys were a game-winning field-goal away from being 3-0 right now. Dez Bryant has a hairline fracture in his knee but is still expected to play this weekend.  San Francisco was manhandled in week 3, and still isn’t making a change back to Colin Kaepernick.  The biggest thing the Niners have going for them is Carlos Hyde has looked pretty good.  I like what the Caowboys have done this season, but I have a feeling about San Fran this week. It might be a bad feeling, but I’m rolling with it. SAN FRANCISCO WINS
  • Saints @ Chargers: It’s still early, but the Saints need to start picking up some wins quickly if they want to make the playoffs as I predicted they would as a wildcard team in the NFC.  The offense hasn’t been the problem.  Drew Brees is already over a 1,000 yards passing, with an 8-1 touchdown to interception ratio, though that one interception last week was a fourth quarter pick six for Brees.  New Orleans defense hasn’t been been able to stop anyone, as they’ve allowed the 2nd most total yards.  Worst at stopping the run, that’s where the Chargers will need to take advantage this week.  But without Danny Woodhead, San Diego needs Melvin Gordon to get going, so this is the perfect opportunity for that.  I like Philip Rivers, but I like Drew Brees more.  Give me the road team to get win number 1 this week. NEW ORLEANS WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Chiefs @ Steelers: What a defensive performance put on by the Chiefs this past week! Two defensive touchdowns and six interceptions helped Kansas City get the easy win over the Jets.  The offense wasn’t great, but they didn’t need to be with that showing on defense.  Alex Smith continued to show his game management skills, and why Travis Kelce is one of the better tight ends in the league right now. They’ve got a desperate Steelers team thsi week, who didn’t score a touchdown in a week 3 beatdown by the Eagles.  After two very good weeks, DeAngelo Williams was stymied on the ground, so the rushing attack will gladly welcome back Le’Veon Bell from suspension this week. The biggest test for the Kansas City defense will be stopping Antonio Brown, but I don’t think it will matter much even if he does have a big day. KANSAS CITY WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Giants @ Vikings: This should be a battle of two unbeatens, but a late game collapse left the Giants at 2-1 heading into today.  Too many penalties, a couple late turnovers and allowing Washington to open up the field multiple times led to the home loss for New York.  They lost Shane Vereen to a triceps injury as well.  Eli Manning and company need to do more in the passing game, and they have the capability with three wide receivers.  The bad news for New York is that the Vikings are running on all cylinders right now.  Their defense has been relentless through three weeks, and despite losing starting QB Teddy Bridgewater before the season started, the offense has been very good.  Sam Bradford has come in and fit in better in two weeks then he’s done in the first few seasons of his career.  It’s going to be tough for the Giants on the road, but I like New York will figure things out and get back in the win column.  NEW YORK WINS

NFL: Week 3 Picks

We’ve reached week 3 of the season, and still have 8 undefeated and 8 winless teams. There have also been a lot of big injuries early that will have a big impact on week 3 and beyond.  As for my picks, I’m 18-14 through 2 weeks. Here’s what I’m thinking going into week 3.

Thursday Night Football

  • Texans @ Patriots: Jimmy Garoppolo left with a shoulder injury for New England, who still managed to move to 2-0.  This was thanks in large part to Garoppolo’s 3 touchdown passes before his injury as well as a big performance from LeGarrett Blount in the run game. The Texans took down the Chiefs on the strength of their defense to move to 1-1, a stark difference from their 33-0 loss to Kansas City in the playoffs.  Without Garoppolo, I think the Texans will do enough to get another win to start off the week 3 action. HOUSTON WINS

Sunday 1pm Games

  • Ravens @ Jaguars: Baltimore got very lucky in week 2, as they overcame a 20-0 1st quarter deficit to improve to 2-0.  Cleveland never scored again, while Joe Flacco brought his team back with a 25-45, 302 yard performance.  Their opponents have been disappointing to me so far.  While I didn’t think the Jaguars were going to make the playoffs this season, I thought they’d be better than they’ve shown, starting 0-2 again after They crossed midfield only six times and committed three turnovers. BALTIMORE WINS
  • Lions @ Packers: Both teams enter 1-1 after losing in week 2, and are looking to keep pace with the 2-0 Vikings.  The Packers lost their game in the 4th quarter, turning the ball over twice, while allowing Rodgers to be sacked 5 times. Detroit also lost their game in the 4th quarter when they were outscored 13-0 by the Titans, including a 93-yard game winning drive.  The Lions didn’t have a go to back in week 2, losing Ameer Abdullah to an injury.   So who gets back in the win column this week? I’ll take the Packers at home with a much-needed big day from Eddie Lacy. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Redskins @ Giants: Washington won the NFC East a year ago, but have opened up this season 0-2.  Struggles in the red zone and an inability to force turnovers meant a loss in a back-and-forth affair with Dallas last week. New York’s offense moved up and down the field pretty easily on Sunday, but also struggled in the redzone, and had too many turnovers in the 1st half.  But the defense and special teams stepped up and they moved to 2-0. So who takes this division matchup?  Give me the home team to get over their redzone struggles and take advantage of Eli Manning’s league leading completion percentage, which should be even better as the Giants receiving core dropped at least 5 balls in week 2. NEW YORK WINS
  • Browns @ Dolphins: For the 5th week in a row (dating back to last season), Cleveland will be starting a different QB.  Someone should tell them this isn’t baseball, there’s no starting rotation in football.  Even with the QB carousel, the Browns almost, and should have, pulled out their first win in week 2.  They were up 20-2 on the Ravens, thanks in big part to their ground attack, but fell late.  Miami isn’t in any better a position than their week 3 opponents, as they enter action at 0-2 as well.  The Dolphins were down big early to the Pats, but made a comeback after Jimmy Garoppolo went down with an injury.  Cleveland will be in this game until the end because Miami has had issues stopping the run early.  But even of Isaiah Crowell goes big on the ground, I still think they pull out the win at home. MIAMI WINS
  • Vikings @ Panthers: Minnesota will now be without their starting QB and running back for the rest of the season after Adrian Peterson went down in their game on Sunday night. The Vikings defense looked stong against Aaron Rogers in week 2. As for Carolina, they rebounded offensively in week 2, but they still struggled a bit on defense, allowing the Niners to score 27.  They’ll be without their running back Jonathan Stewart, but were picked up by Fozzy Whittaker on the ground.  Despite the 27 points allowed, I like the Panthers chances of stopping Sam Bradford and the new Vikings weapon and league receiving yards leader Stefon Diggs. CAROLINA WINS
  • Broncos @ Bengals: Andy Dalton has gotten off to a nice start this season, leading the league with 732 passing yards, so here’s a good test for the Broncos league leading defense.  CJ Anderson is having a good start to the season, and we’ve seen the Bengals give up the most rushing yards per game to start the season, so he should be able to help eat a lot of clock for Denver. DENVER WINS
  • Cardinals @ Bills: Arizona rebounded from a tough week 1 loss by handily beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Cardinals led the league in total offense, while the Bills dropped to 0-2 despite putting up 31 points of their own in week 2. Buffalo has let their offensive coordinator go, so they really need this game.  Too bad I don’t think they’ll get it.  Look for a big game from running back Daniel Johnson. ARIZONA WINS
  • Raiders @ Titans: Oakland has not been able to stop anyone through two weeks, something I wasn’t expecting, allowing 70 points so far.  Tennessee has actually done a very nice job on defense.  Both teams are 1-1 heading into this game, but I still like the Raiders better.  The Titans offense hasn’t shown the big play ability the Raiders have, so Oakland should be able to hold them down better than they did with New Orleans and Atlanta. OAKLAND WINS

Sunday 4/425pm Games

  • Rams @ Buccaneers: LA’s defense showed up in week 2, Tampa’s did not.  The difference between these two teams is the offense.  While the Bucs went from scoring 4 TDs to 1, I feel more confident about their offense than the Rams, who have scored just 9 points in two games.  The best chance the Rams have is if their defense can do what it did a week ago, and good game out of Todd Gurley. That being said, I’ll take the home team in this one. TAMPA BAY WINS
  • 49ers @ Seahawks: This is a big (albeit early) NFC West battle between two 1-1 teams.  San Francisco followed up a surprise week 1 win with a defensive breakdown against Carolina.  Seattle had one of their worst offensive games in this recent stretch of Superbowl quality teams, scoring just a field goal against the L.A. Rams. I can’t see the Seahawks being held down again, especially by the Niners.  Russell Wilson should be able to dominate in this one. SEATTLE WINS
  • Steelers @ Eagles:  I never thought this would be a game where both teams have a chance to move to 3-0, but here we are.  DeAngelo Williams has been huge for Pittsbrgh in the abscense of Le’Veon Bell, who is out one more week due to suspension. Philadelphia has gotten about as good as you can ever hope to from a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz, who hasn’t turned the ball over yet. It should be a good game, but I will go with the experience in this one. PITTSBURGH WINS
  • Jets @ Chiefs: Two teams I picked to make the playoffs in the AFC face off in Kansas City this weekend.  New York picked up their first win last week, thanks to the offense.  Off-season acquisition Matt Forte finished with 100 yards rushing, and three rushing touchdowns. Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall both finished with 100 receiving yards as well.  The Jets defense wasn’t as impressive as it was week 1.  The Chiefs hope that’s the case again this week, as they couldn’t get much of anything started against Houston. A lot went right for New York last week, and I can’t see them doing quite that well against Kansas City’s defense as they did against Buffalo.  If this were a home game for the Jets I might choose differently, but it’s a home game for the Chiefs, so I’ll go with them this week.  KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Chargers @ Colts: San Diego is 2-0, Indianapolis is 0-2.  I really thought that the Colts would be able to do better than they have on defense, but they haven’t. San Diego has looked very good on offense to start this season, Indy has been very up and down. INDIANAPOLIS WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Bears @ Cowboys: Chicago is 0-2 despite holding early leads in both week 1 and week 2.  And now they’ll be without starting quarterback Jay Cutler due to a thumb injury.   Their best hope to beat the Cowboys is to continue limiting the passing game, as the Bears rank 4th in the NFL allowing 224 yards a game.   As for Dallas, they picked up their first win thanks to another clean day from Dak Prescott and a big night on the ground. The Boys were already a better team than the Bears before the Cutler injury, so give me Dallas at home to move to 2-1. DALLAS WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Falcons @ Saints: Atlanta picked up their first win against an impressive Raiders team in week 2, while New Orleans dropped to 0-2 after a game winning field goal by the Giants.  Atlanta hasn’t had any problems scoring this season, but their defense has struggled at times.  New Orleans’ defense was much better in week 2, forcing 3 turnovers, but it wasn’t enough.  I picked the Saints to make the playoffs, so this is a huge game for them.  If they want to get their first win, they have to figure out how to run the ball.  The Falcons tend to be very inconsistent, so give me New Orleans at home in a shootout. NEW ORLEANS WINS

NFL: Week 2 Picks

Week 1 sure didn’t disappoint.  We had a ton of close games, a few massive comebacks and plenty of big performances.

The Broncos showed why they are the defending champs, the Patriots showed they are all about the next man up and the Raiders offense made us all pay attention.  Over in the NFC, we learned that Jordy Nelson doesn’t take long to get back into the flow after an injury, Victor Cruz can still get past defenders and into the end-zone, and that Jameis Winston can score with the best of them.

I went 8-8 for my week 1 picks. Here’s to hoping week 2 goes better.

Thursday Night Football

  • Jets @ Bills: In both teams first division game, it’s a battle to avoid an 0-2 start.  Both teams had impressive defensive showings in week 1.  The Jets were able to get to Andy Dalton for a record 7 sacks thanks to a big day from their defensive line.  Darrelle Revis was exploited by A.J. Green like few others have been able to in the corner’s 10-year career.  Buffalo held Baltimore to one touchdown, and not much on the ground.  New York was hurt by missed PAT and FG from the usually on-point Nick Folk and a late Ryan Fitzpatrick interception. So which team should feel better about their chances in week 2?  I like the Jets to fix their little mistakes on offense this week. NEW YORK WINS

Sunday 1pm Games

  • Saints @ Giants: If there’s one thing we learned in week 1, it’s that the Saints defense isn’t much better than last season, while the Giants defense finally learned to limit damage.  New York shouldn’t be happy about allowing the Cowboys to dominate time of possession, but Big Blue should be very excited about how their wide receiving core looked.  Victor Cruz scored his first touchdown since 2014, rookie wideout Sterling Shepard got his first and Odell Beckham Jr. took pressure off both.  The game-winning drive for New York featured solid offensive line play they’ve desperately lacked the past couple of seasons.  New Orleans had no issues on offense in week 1, with Drew Brees throwing 4 touchdowns.  Oakland took that game with a late drive and two-point conversion on the road, leaving a hungry Saints team looking to avoid an 0-2 start.  Last year’s match-up between these two meant 101 combined points. While I don’t think it will get that bad this time around, it could still be a shootout.  Obviously, I liked what the Giants did a lot more in week 1 than the Saints, but I can’t see an 0-2 start for this Saints team. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Titans @ Lions: Detroit’s offense looked very good in week 1. The defense struggled in the second half, blowing a 21 point lead only to hold on in the end for a 1-0 start.  Tennessean saw signs of life from DeMarco Murray on offense, but allowed Minnesota to score not one, but two defensive touchdowns.  The Lions definitely hold the edge in offense heading into week 2, but I don’t think Detroit can replicate that again.  Look for Marcus Mariota to have a big day.  TENNESSEE WINS
  • Cowboys @ Redskins: One team lost by a point at home in week 1, the other got beat down.  Dallas had a shot to get rookie QB Dak Prescott a win in his debut, but time management cost them a shot at a game-winning field goal.  Washington looked pretty good defensively early against Pittsburgh on Monday night, then Antonio Brown showed up.  The Cowboys were able to eat up a lot of clock Sunday, and the way the Skins played the run against Pittsburgh, Dallas can absolutely do that again.  Washington’s run game gained less than 60 yards. That’ll be the difference. DALLAS WINS
  • Chiefs @ Texans:  Both teams come into this match-up at 1-0, but with work to do. Slow starts could’ve doomed both in their first games, but things got going late. Brock Osweiler led the Texans on a 23-0 run after spotting the Bears 14 early.  KC had to come back from down 21-0 and get the win in overtime.  At least both teams know they can comeback from an early deficit? If Houston wants to win this game, they need another big day from Lamar Miller.  While I absolutely think they can get that big day, I think the Chiefs are simply the better team. Alex Smith had one of his best games, without needing to run the ball like he is known to do.  KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Dolphins @ Patriots: No Tom Brady? No Rob Gronkowski? No problem.  Jimmy Garoppolo showed his game management skills in their week 1 win over the Cards. The Pats won the battle of special teams, as Stephen Gostkowski went 3-f0r-3 on field goals, including a 53-yard footer, while the Cards missed a potential game winner with 41 seconds to go. Miami was able to stand pat against the Seahawks in week 1, putting together a masterful 86-yard touchdown drive to take a lead in the fourth quarter. But they fell anyway.  NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Ravens @ Browns: Baltimore’s defense was at a peak level it hasn’t  been at in years in week 1. That being said, the Ravens offense wasn’t very impressive, though give credit to Tennessee there. Joe Flacco was sharp throwing the ball, and got his team into the red zone four times.  Cleveland is already on quarterback number 2 after Robert Griffin went down in his Browns debut. As if that wasn’t bad enough in week 1, the Browns couldn’t stop Carson Wentz, who they passed on in the draft.  Whoever said the curse was broken in Cleveland after the Cavs win wasn’t looking broadly enough. Cleveland needs to establish the run in week 2 if they have any shot of winning, and even then I don’t think it’ll be enough. BALTIMORE WINS 
  • Niners @ Panthers: The team entering this match-up 1-0 isn’t the team I thought would be doing so.  San Francisco laid the goose egg on the Rams in week 1, while the Panthers lost a heart-breaker to the defending champs.  As good as the Niners looked Sunday night, they still aren’t in the same league as this Carolina team, and there is no way the team I tabbed for a Superbowl this season starts 0-2, especially with this game taking place at home.  Blaine Gabbert won’t have it so easy in week 2.  CAROLINA WINS
  • Bengals @ Steelers: Cincinnati escaped week 1 with a road win in New York in a back-and-forth affair. Then, the Steelers rebounded from a slow start to take an easy one from the Skins. Both teams got huge performances from their number 1 wide receivers, meaning the game comes down to the ground and pound.  DeAngelo Williams made up for the lack of Le’Veon Bell and then some. So who gets this first AFC North win?  Give me the black and yellow in week 2.  PITTSBRUGH WINS

Sunday 4/425pm Games

  • Buccaneers @ Cardinals: Jameis Winston had his best game as a pro. And Tampa’s defense did a great job stopping the run against Atlanta, but need to figure out how to stop the big plays.  As for the Cardinals, they fell late to the Patriots on a field-goal.  What gives in week 2?  I love this Arizona squad. Larry Fitzgerald looks amazing.  It took them some time to get going in week 1, but I think they can get going earlier at home against this Bucs defense and get their 1st win of the season. ARIZONA WINS
  • Seahawks @ Rams: Seattle escaped week 1 with a win on the strength of their defense.  L.A. on the other hand, looked like the worst team in the league by far.  They couldn’t stop a Niners offense that wasn’t expected to do much this season, while their own offense looked lost. Last year, the Rams seemed to play up to their competition or down to them, so they could look a bit better this week. But I also don’t expect the Seahawks to look so bad on offense again this week. SEATTLE WINS
  • Falcons @ Raiders:  Atlanta has missed the playoffs the last two seasons, and their defense did little to reassure their fans that this wouldn’t be a third straight.  Scoring has never been the Falcons’ problem, but if they can’t get the run game going this week, they’re in trouble.  The Raiders showed why a lot of people (myself included) have tabbed them to make the postseason this year.  They can score with anyone, and no one believes that more than head coach Jack del Rio who went for two late to give the team a 1-point win on the road.  The Falcons have to control the clock or the Raiders will put them in an 0-2 hole.  OAKLAND WINS
  • Jaguars @ Chargers: I was impressed with both of these teams in week 1.  Both teams lost, but they held their own against two of the league’s best teams (Green Bay and Kansas City). The big play ability of the Jags defense will keep them in most games offensively.  San Diego got a big game on the ground, but the defense let up big time in the 2nd half.  This could be a high scoring game, but I like Jags on the road. JACKSONVILLE WINS
  • Colts @ Broncos: Andrew Luck woke up big time in the 2nd half last season, but the defense left a lot to be desired.  Denver looked strong coming off their Superbowl win, doing big things on the ground with C.J. Anderson.  Indianapolis isn’t facing quite the QB that Matthew Stafford is, and while I liked this Colts team coming into the season, give me another win for the Broncos this week. DENVER WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Packers @ Vikings: The Packers looked good last week, getting Jordy Nelson back into the flow of the offense right away.  Minneosta pulled out a week 1 win thanks to their defense scoring two touchdowns against the Titans.  Adrian Peterson was stuffed by a lesser front than the Packers.  Sure it’s a division game, which is always tougher no matter if there is a talent gap.  But with Green Bay getting Nelson going so quickly is bad news for the Vikings.  I like the Pack to get to 2-0. GREEN BAY WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Eagles @ Bears: Carson Wentz didn’t look like a rookie in week one, while veteran Jay Cutler got shut out in the 2nd half to drop his first of the season.  I don’t particularly like either one of these teams, and while Jay Cutler can put up big numbers, I feel like the Bears don’t have many big play makers right now.   It won’t be as easy for the Eagles this week as it was last week, but I still think they’ll pull this one out. PHILADELPHIA WINS

NFL: Preseason Predictions and Week 1 Picks

Another year is upon us! The Denver Broncos are the reigning World Champions, and look to repeat with a brand new man under center with the retirement of Peyton Manning. Nope, not Brock Osweiler. And no it’s not Mark Sanchez either.  Another AFC powerhouse in the New England Patriots will also be without their future hall-of-fame quarterback as Tom Brady serves a four game suspension.  Absences and shakeups at the top means a lot can change from last season’s playoff picture.  My team to watch this season will be the Oakland Raiders.

For me, the NFC is where the powerhouses will be in the in the 2016-2017 season.  Carolina is fresh off a Superbowl loss, but were able to keep together their core.  Arizona and Seattle will be there once again in an absolutely loaded NFC West.  Green Bay gets back one of their biggest weapons in Jordy Nelson to go along with what the Packers hope is a reinvigorated Eddie Lacy at running back.  And not to be forgotten are Superbowl vets like Drew Brees and Eli Manning who are looking to regain control of their respective divisions.

NFC Playoff Teams              AFC Playoff Teams

Cardinals                                  Chiefs

Panthers                                   Bengals

Packers                                      Broncos

Giants                                        Colts

Seahawks                                  Jets

Saints                                         Raiders

NFC Championship

  • Cardinals @ Panthers: CAROLINA WINS

AFC Championship 

  • Bengals @ Chiefs: KANSAS CITY WINS

Superbowl XLI

  • Panthers vs Chiefs: CAROLINA WINS

Now that I’ve gotten ahead of myself, here are my week 1 predictions.

Thursday Night Football

  • Panthers @ Broncos: The season kicks off with a rematch of Superbowl XL. Denver will raise their banner, and get their first look at Trevor Siemian at QB.  Cam Newton and company will begin their quest to get back to the Superbowl. The Panthers have put the big loss behind them, and with their core still in tact, they are better prepared for a run than Denver is for their title defense.  The Broncos will still be good, especially if CJ Anderson can continue to grow in the run game.  But I like the Panthers to get the win this time around. CAROLINA WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Buccaneers @ Falcons: The battle for the South gets going quickly with a Bucs team with ambitions of not finishing last in their division, and a Falcons team looking to get back to the playoffs. This is going to be a shoot out with two great offenses going head-to-head.  I simply have more trust in Atlanta during the regular season right now, so I’ll take their defense to make the big stop down the stretch over Tampa Bay. ATLANTA WINS
  • Bills @ Ravens: I see both of these teams being better than they were last season, but not by much.  Buffalo has a higher ceiling right now, especially if Tyrod Taylor can figure out his fumbling problem.  He makes pretty good decisions in the passing game, should get more out of LeSean McCoy this season and has a defense capable for being near the top of the league.  Joe Flacco won’t be without back Justin Forsett, who led the team in rushing the past two season, as previously thought since he has re-signed after being cut days ago. Beyond that, I’m not a fan of the Ravens offense past Mike Wallace and Steve Smith Sr.  I’m going with the AFC in this one. BUFFALO WINS
  • Bears @ Texans: Chicago finished last season in the cellar of the NFC North, while Houston won the AFC South.  I see little evidence to suggest the Bears can get back into relevancy this season, while I think the Texans will lose the division to the Colts once again.  The Bears let Matt Forte walk, as well as the franchise leader in scoring, kicker Robbie Gould. Houston is expected to have their defensive weapon in JJ Watt ready to go, so expect Jay Cutler to feel the pressure all day.  HOUSTON WINS
  • Browns @ Eagles: Both teams will have new starting quarterbacks this season.  Former rookie of the year Robert Griffin III gets a fresh start with Cleveland, while actual rookie Carson Wentz will become the first rookie to start week 1 in Eagles history (ELIAS). The Browns were bottom 10 in total defense and offense last season, resulting in a 3-13 record. Philly hopes their new QB and another year with DeMarco Murray will help get them over the .500 mark and challenge in the East.  Opening at home with these pieces means a week 1 win for the birds.  PHILADELPHIA WINS
  • Raiders @ Saints: Week 1 features a matchup of two teams I think will make the playoffs this season. The Saints defense wasn’t anything to write home about a season ago, allowing at least 20 points in every game but two (17 allowed in each of those).  But Drew Brees had another stellar year, leading the league in passing yards.  New Orleans parted ways with the team’s all-time leader in TD receptions, Marques Colston, but expect big things from Mark Ingram.  Oakland gets another year of Derek Carr and Amari Cooper doing big things in the pass attack.  A lot of moves on defense in the offseason has the Raiders poised for a big season.  That being said, I like the Saints in a tight one at home.  But I will not be surprised at all if Oakland steals one at the Superdome either. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Chargers @ Chiefs: Kansas City’s offense never really looks pretty on paper after Jamaal Charles, but they continue to make it work.  Their defense is one of the league’s best and that will carry them again this season.  The opposite can be said for San Diego.  Philip Rivers has a very good group of pass catchers that should give the Chargers a chance in every game.  Their consistency is always questionable on defense, and in a tough AFC West, they’ll need to figure that out.  I really like the Chiefs this season, they return a lot of key pieces off a second round playoff appearance last year. KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Bengals @ Jets: Here’s another game with two teams I think will see the postseason.  New York hopes their run game will be revitalized with the acquisition of Matt Forte, while getting even more out of Ryan Fitzpatrick than they did a year ago.  I’ve said it before, but it’s time for the Bengals to take the next step. There’s some concern that Cincinnati is lacking depth at defensive end, but they’ve been able to dominate defensively in the past, and I think they can figure it out. It won’t be easy, but I like the Bengals to get a road win off the jump. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Packers @ Jaguars: Aaron Rodgers has his favorite target in Jordy Nelson back.  If he can get 2013-14 Eddie Lacy back, look out for the Packers once again.  Jacksonville’s offense took a step in the right direction last year, and they were much better at home.  But while the Jaguars are still a few pieces away, the Packers are primed to make a deep run through the NFC once again. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Vikings @ Titans: Coming into the season, I thought this was going to be a very good game against two teams looking to prove themselves.  Minnesota is coming off a playoff year where they lost to Seattle in the Wildcard round… by one point at home.  Tennessee on the other hand are coming off a 3-13 season in which they won their first two games. Offense wasnt exactly their issue, with the 2nd ranked running game.  But losing Marcus Mariota didn’t help. I really like the Vikings, but losing Teddy Bridgewater before the start of the season is tough, and now they look to Sam Bradford to keep them afloat in an always competitve NFC North.  Give me the Titans on the ground with a healthy Mariota in week 1. TENNESSEE WINS

Sunday 4/425PM Games

  • Dolphins @ Seawhawks: Miami was one of the more disappointing teams a season ago.  They spent a lot of money on defense in the off-season leading up to last year, and it didn’t do much.  The Dolphins allowed the second most yards a game in the AFC.  Add a bottom 10 offense, and you can see why they finished below .500 and last in the East. Miami is a case of just hoping their talent will come together all at once (sound familiar with Miami teams?). Seattle had another good season in 2015, though they didn’t look great in the playoffs after two straight Superbowl appearances.  They lost Marshawn Lynch, but return most of their stars on offense and always have the Legion of Boom to fall back on.  This should be one of the easier wins of week 1 for the Hawks. SEATTLE WINS
  • Giants @ Cowboys: If ever there was a year for the New York Giants to run through the NFC East, it’s this one.  Even in their Superbowl seasons they couldn’t win the division.  But with Tony Romo out, and two rookies starting in Dallas and Philadelphia, the Skins are the only other team returning their starter from a year ago. Yes, Kirk Cousins got his team to the playoffs last season, but Eli Manning was the best QB in that division last season, and if his defense can at least be middle of the pack, and not dead last, this should be an easy return to the playoffs.  Dak Prescott was impressive for Dallas in the preseason, but Big Blue has never had problems playing in the lone star state, and I don’t see it being a problem this season either. NEW YORK WINS
  • Lions @ Colts:The worst defense in the AFC last season belonged to the Colts.  Not having a run game again meant they couldn’t sustain drives the way you’d want to mask that. The hope is veteran back Frank Gore can regain some of his old magic along with keeping Andrew Luck healthy.  As for Detroit, they are another case of talent never panning out for an entire season.  And with the retirement of Calvin Johnson, the Lions lose their most consistent and explosive weapon.  It could be another ugly season in Detroit, while I expect a bounce back from Indy. INDIANAPOLIS WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Patriots @ Cardinals: New England starts the season without Tom Brady and defensive end Rob Ninkovich due to suspensions.  In an improved AFC East, those 4 games without them could be trouble, especially since im not a fan of their rushing attack. Add a hungry and dangerous Cardinals team, and you’ve got a recipe for a week 1 loss.  Arizona’s depth on offense is pretty impressive, and their defense should be really good again.  A home win to kick off the season is in the cards for the birds. ARIZONA WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Steelers @ Redskins: Washington got some help on defense in the off-season acquisition of Josh Norman, but I still don’t think it’s going to be enough.  The skins do get a break on defense since Pitt will be without top flight running back Le’Veon Bell who is suspended to start the season.  But the Steelers have more than enough big play threats and I don’t know if Kurt Cousins can replicate what he did last season. PITTSBURGH WINS
  • Rams @ 49ers: Blaine Gabbert gets the starting job in San Francisco as that organization looks to distance itself from off-the-field stories.  They open up against a Rams team ready to take the next step.  The newly name Los Angeles Rams biggest issue was inconsistency last season, beating the Cardinals and Seahawks, but losing to the Bears at home.  They’ve got a top flight running back and a better than average defense.  It’s going to be another long season for the Niners. LOS ANGELES WINS

Well that’s it.  Time to sit back, relax and wait for kickoff! Enjoy week 1 everyone.

NFL: Week 17 Picks

The final week of the regular season is upon us, the Panthers are undefeated no longer and there is still a lot to decide for the postseason.  There are two spots left up for grabs, both in the AFC, but seeding isn’t even close to set yet.  We still don’t know who wins the NFC North and we don’t know who wins the AFC South.  Three different teams can finish with the number 1 seed in the AFC, while two teams have a shot in the NFC.  So sit back and enjoy what is essentially the first week of the playoffs!

I went just 7-9 in my picks last week, making my season total heading into the final slate of games 134-106.

Sunday 1PM games

  • Jets @ Bills: It’s simple for the Jets. Win and you’re in. New York has won five straight and are back to doing what got them out to a quick start to the season.  Buffalo has been up and down all season, and the money they put into the defense didn’t pay off. There are other ways for the Jets to get into the playoffs if they lose, but with a shot to get in against their former coach, I’ll take Gang Green on the road. NEW YORK WINS
  • Patriots @ Dolphins:  New England’s loss to New York in week 16 means they still have something to play for this week, and that’s the number 1 seed in the AFC.  They need to win and they get it.  If they lose, and the Broncos win, Denver gets it.  Miami is playing for pride and to play spoiler.  But they won’t.  The Patriots injuries are concerning, but Tom Brady in a most win situation and a chance to have the AFC go through Foxborough? I like those odds.  NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Saints @ Falcons: This wasn’t the season I thought we’d see from New Orleans.  I thought they’d bounce back from a down 2014-15 season, but an 1-4 start was too much to come back from, though they tried, getting themselves to .500 at 4-4, before the wheels fell off.  The defense was never there for the Saints.  It’s been an even stranger year for the Falcons, who got off to a fast 6-1 start, then went on to lose six straight.  Now they’ve won two straight, including ending the Panthers undefeated season.  They were eliminated from playoff contention thanks to the Vikings win on Sunday night, but they can salvage the season and finish at 9-7, which i think they do in front of their fans. ATLANTA WINS
  • Ravens @ Bengals: A win secures a first round bye for the Bengals, which is always big, but for a team that has been bounced in the first round four straight years, would be huge. Baltimore was plagued with injuries all season, and are just looking to end the season on a high note.  Cincy is coming off a tough OT loss to Denver, but AJ McCaron showed he can succeed while Andy Dalton gets better.  At home, with that defense, I am taking the Bengals to give themselves a shot at the bye. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Steelers @ Browns: Pittsburgh can still make it to the playoffs, but they need to win and they need help.  Good thing for them is they are playing the Browns, who can still finish with the worst record in the league.  And continuing issues at QB leaves Cleveland with another off-season of questions ahead.  Give me the road team to end on a high note, even if they don’t make the playoffs. PITTSBURGH WINS
  • Jaguars @ Texans: Houston doesn’t have to win to take the AFC South crown, but you always want to take the division, not back into it.  They get a tough match-up in Jacksonville, who has shown the ability to score in the second half.  But the Texans defense at home with a chance to punch their own ticket will be too much for the Jags to handle. HOUSTON WINS
  • Titans @ Colts: Indianapolis needs to win this game and get a whole lot of help if they’re to win the South.  But as I have already picked the Texans, I don’t think they get there.  However, they will win this final game of the year.  Tennessee benefits more from losing, plain and simple. INDIANAPOLIS WINS
  • Redskins @ Cowboys: The Redskins already have the division and can’t finish anywhere but fourth in the NFC.  But capping off the season on a four-game win streak and a 9-7 record will further validate their being in the playoffs. Dallas will want to finish on a high note, but they’ve put so many key people on IR that even if the Skins take it easy and rest most of their players,  I can’t see the Boys winning their season finale. WASHINGTON WINS
  • Eagles @ Giants: The loser finishes the season in third place in the NFC East, despite both leading the division at different parts of the season. New York had a clear path to the division, had they played better in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter this season.  Good teams finish, and they weren’t able to consistently enough. 7 of the Giants 9 losses were by one score. As for the Eagles, they never got their running game going, and Sam Bradford was a turnover machine.  The Eagles destroyed their NFC East rivals at home in their first meeting of the season, so I’ll take the Giants to finish with some pride and return the favor to end both their seasons. NEW YORK WINS
  • Lions @ Bears: The loser gets the NFC North cellar all to themselves, a far fall for the 11-5 Lions of a season ago.  Both teams have played better here in the second half of the season, just good enough to fall closer to the middle of the pack record wise in the league. So who avoids the basement? I like the Lions on the road to finish strong and take a three-game win streak into the off-season. DETROIT WINS

Sunday 425 PM Games

  • Buccaneers @ Panthers: Tampa Bay showed flashes in 2015 under 1st year QB Jameis Winston, staying the playoff race most of the season.  But finishing up the season against the no longer undefeated Panthers is a tough way to go out.  Carolina still has something to play for as they haven’t locked up the number 1 seed, and with the Cards playing at the same time, they can’t go into this one knowing if they can rest players or not.  Either way, I like the Panthers to finish up at 15-1 and force the NFC to come through Carolina en route to Super Bowl 50. CAROLINA WINS
  • Raiders @ Chiefs: Oakland could linger on what could’ve been this season after a decent 4-3 start, but they should be excited for the future, after winning just 3 games a year ago, they stayed in the playoff hunt for most of the season with a young team.  As for Kansas City, they’re the hottest team in the AFC, and are getting the best of Alex Smith.  It’s amazing how the Chiefs got off to such a slow start BEFORE losing Jamaal Charles.  Oakland will make this tough, but I think the Chiefs make it 10 straight heading into the playoffs. KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Chargers @ Broncos: San Diego is going to finish with one of the worst records in the league, while Denver can finish anywhere but 4th in the AFC. A win and a Patriots loss would give them the 1 seed.  I think they get the win, but as I think New England wins,  I see the Broncos finishing as the two seedDENVER WINS
  • Seahawks @ Cardinals: Two of the NFC’s best take flight in week 17.  Both teams are playoff bound once again.  Seattle has been on fire in the second half, looking more like the two-time defending NFC Champs they are as each week passes. That was before they looked bad at home against the Rams last week.  As for Arizona, why are we not giving Carson Palmer more praise for what he’s done with the Cardinals? The team is 29-8 with him under center, 19-2 the past two seasons.  They still have a shot at the number 1 seed if the Panthers lose again. This division match-up will have a playoff feel, but I think the home team gets the W. ARIZONA WINS
  • Rams @ 49ers: San Francisco’s season was shaped in the off-season when they moved too many pieces. The defense played better as the season when on, and they got a couple more wins after changing QBs, but they’ve got a lot of work to do if they want to get back to their winning ways.  As for the Rams, they showed their age, defeating some of the league’s best, including a season sweep of the Rams and handing the Cardinals their first loss. This is also a chance for the Rams to finish 8-8 for the first time since 2006, and I think they finish the job. ST LOUIS WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Vikings @ Packers:  The battle of the NFC North title caps off the regular season slate.  Minnesota has been carried by their defense and rushing attack all season, while Green Bay has been extremely up and down since starting the season 6-0.  The Packers rushing attack has been severely underwhelming, and Aaron Rodgers offensive line hasn’t been doing him any favors. The Vikings will be able to hold time of possession, but as the calendar turns to January and the playoffs, I think we will get the best version of Aaron Rodgers, and the Pack will clinch the division on the seasons final day, as they did two years ago against the Bears. GREEN BAY WINS

NFL: Week 14 Picks

Carolina remained undefeated in week 13, but it took a huge second half to do so.  Meanwhile in the AFC, there’s a three way tie for the best record at 10-2 between Denver, Cincinnati and New England, who managed to lose their second straight game and fall out of a bye if the season ended today.

Lucky for them, and us, we still have plenty of football left.  I moved to 109-82 in my picks this season with a 10-6 mark in week 13.

Thursday Night Football

  • Vikings @ Cardinals: Minnesota couldn’t make a move in week 13, losing badly to a streaking Seahawks team. They allowed the Packers to get back into first place.  As for the Cards, they are sitting comfortably in the two spot in the NFC and still have a three game in lead in their division.  Both teams have been solid in all phases all season, but Arizona holds a huge edge in the passing game. Until Teddy Bridgewater can consistently put up big numbers in the air, this team is going to be one dimensional on offense.  And against an above the fourth best rush defense in the league, Minnesota is going to need more from their second year QB.  So as much as I like this Vikings team, I like the home team even more.  ARIZONA WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Bills @ Eagles: Both team are coming off nice wins against playoff hopefuls, while keeping their own playoffs alive.  Philly took down the Patriots, giving them their second loss in a row, a rarity in the Tom Brady era.  Buffalo evened up their record taking down the Texans, who remain tied atop the AFC South.  This is another game where both teams have been inconsistent all season, hence the .500 and below records.  I have a lot more faith in the Bills defense however, so give me the road team to move above .500, while the Eagles drop out of first in the East. BUFFALO WINS
  • 49ers @ Browns: Two of the worst teams in the league square off this weekend in Cleveland.  The Browns currently hold the worst record, with San Fran sitting two games better than them.  The Niners hurt their “chances” at the top draft pick when they took down the Bears in OT.  Neither team has had the season they would’ve hoped for and while both teams have a lot of on and off the field questions, I think the Niners find a way to pull out another game this week.  SAN FRANCISCO WINS
  • Lions @ Rams: St. Louis started off the season with a lot of promise, but have totally collapsed in the second half.  The opposite can be said for Detroit, who took two months to get a win, and have looked a lot more like the team we expected here the past six weeks or so.  Both enter with 4-8 records, but the Lions are the hotter team, and the more talented team.   DETROIT WINS
  • Saints @ Buccaneers: Early on this season, both of these NFC South teams looked like they’d be in-contention for the number 1 pick.  And while New Orleans still has an outside shot, both teams have shown glimpses of hope.  Tampa Bay knew there would be struggles with a rookie QB, but the number 1 overall pick in Jameis Winston has his team at .500 and in a spot for a possible wild card.  Drew Brees and company had gotten to .500 after a very rough start, and despite a two-touchdown lead on the undefeated Panthers in week 13, the Saints are in the middle of a four-game slide.  So wins this division match-up? While the Bucs running game is one of the best in the league, and the Saints defense hasn’t been anything to write home about, I’m going to go out on a limb here and take the road team to pick up their fifth win this weekend.  NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Titans @ Jets: The Jets needed OT in week 13, but they kept their playoff hopes alive against their stadium mates.  As for Tennessee, they remain in line for another prime draft pick with a 3-9 record. While the Titans have the ability to score in bunches, they don’t have the ability to stop good teams most days. And the Jets are a good team that can beat you in several ways.  That’s why I like the Jets to better their chances at a wildcard berth this week. NEW YORK WINS
  • Steelers @ Bengals: Pittsburgh has been the most resilient team in the league this season, sitting in a playoff spot in the competitive AFC despite stretches with Ben Roethlisberger and their top flight running back Le’Veon Bell.  But they still enter action three games behind the Bengals for the AFC North, and a Cincinnati win this week gives them that crown.  This should be a fun game, and despite two good defenses, could be a high scoring one.  But whether it is a shoot out or not, I think the Bengals get the job done and move closer to a much needed first round bye. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Colts @ Jaguars: Neither team has a winning record, but one team has a shot at a division crown.  Indianapolis, despite a bad start to the season and losing their Pro-Bowl caliber QB remain in a fight for the AFC South crown.  Jacksonville is just playing out the season, preparing for another high draft pick.  Sure the Jags have shown promise, but they’ve also shown how young they are.  Indy and the ageless Matt Hasselbeck have something to prove and fight for, so give me the Colts to move above .500 here in week 14. INDIANAPOLIS WINS
  • Chargers @ Chiefs: San Diego has been a disappointment this season, on both sides of the football, while their counterparts have rebounded from a rough start and find themselves in the playoff hunt. Kansas City has won six straight, and are the second hottest team in the league.  Their defense has been great all season, and now their offense has closed the gap.  They’re playoff vets, and not a team to be taken lightly.  The Chargers can definitely play spoiler with Philip Rivers under center, I just don’t think they will.  KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Redskins @ Bears: Washington had a chance to take hold of the NFC Least in week 13, instead they lost a strange game to Dallas.  Chicago lost another game late, this time to San Francisco.  If the NFC East wasn’t so bad, this would just be a game between two bad teams looking for better draft position.  Instead, it has playoff implications too.  And while Washington has been a lot better in the second half of the season, I like what the Bears have been able to do in the ground game of late.  So give me the Bears to make things more difficult and hard to define in the NFC East. CHICAGO WINS
  • Falcons @ Panthers: After starting off the season on fire, the Falcons have come crashing back to earth in a big way.  Not only are they on a five-game losing streak they are no behind two teams in the NFC South.  And a road tilt against the league’s last undefeated team isn’t a great confidence boaster.  Cam Newton is playing like an MVP and the defense is playing like champions.  Will Carolina stay undefeated through the regular season? Who knows. But unless Atlanta stops turning the ball over and gets the offense of weeks 1-4 back, the Panthers should stay undefeated another week.  CAROLINA WINS
  • Seahawks @ Ravens:  Which bird will fly highest in week 14?  That’s easy.  The Seahawks are on fire, while the Ravens wings were clipped weeks ago.  The NFC should be scared with how great Seattle’s offense has looked in recent weeks.  And despite the fact that Baltimore hasn’t been horrible defensively, there’s no way they can compete with what the reigning NFC champs are bringing on either side of the ball, not this year.  SEATTLE WINS

Sunday 4/425PM Games

  • Raiders @ Broncos: Another week, another win for Denver, who enters week 14 as the two seed in the AFC.  As for the Raiders, who sit two games out of the playoffs, they are just looking to get to .500.  This AFC West match-up should still be a good one, but I don’t think it will end in any other way but with another Broncos win.  Denver’s defense is too good, and the Raiders offense too inconsistent. DENVER WINS
  • Cowboys @ Packers: 4-8 versus 8-4 and yet somehow, both teams have a shot at their division.  It’s the sad state of the NFC East that a Dallas team on QB number 3 can say that, but after Matt Cassel picked up his first win in a Cowboys uniform Monday against the Redskins, they are just a game out.  Meanwhile, the Packers wild finish in Detroit on Aaron Rodgers game ending Hail Mary, coupled with the Vikings loss has them back atop the NFC North.  Both teams want this game, but Green Bay needs it.  The Packers can’t miss the playoffs after tehir 6-0 start, while Dallas should really focus on getting better in the draft and looking ahead to getting Tony Romo back for next season.  Dallas and their fans probably don’t see it that way, but the knowledge they can win this division and be this bad, should tell them a healthy, revamped team in 2016 could go far.  Besides, Rodgers and company have been bad at home lately, something they’re not used to.  I can’t see another letdown for them. GREEN BAY WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Patriots @ Texans: It’s a huge AFC battle on Sunday Night with playoff implications on both sides.  As previously mentioned, both teams took unexpected losses in week 13.  After starting 10-0, the Pats are now in danger of losing a bye, as both the Bengals and Broncos enter the week with identical 10-2 records.  Houston is .500 and could have a shot at having the AFC South all to themselves if the Colts fall this week. I though the Pats would come out angry last week, and instead were embarrassed by the below .500 Eagles.  Give me an angry Tom Brady to get back on track and hurt Houston’s playoff chances in week 14.   NEW ENGLAND WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Giants @ Dolphins: One team still has a shot at the division, while the other has a lot of work to do just to get into the playoff discussion and stay out of the cellar in their own division.  Both teams enter action with 5-7 records. Of New York’s seven losses, six of them have come by one score (18 combined points), meaning if they’d converted even half of those, they’d be 8-4 and be well on their way to the NFC East crown. Instead, they’re in a three way tie for 1st.  As for Miami, they’re up, yet mostly down season has them looking up at everyone else in the AFC East.  I keep doing this every week, but for a team led by a coach/QB tandem that have won championships, in years where they were written off about this time, I’m going with New York one last time to save their season. NEW YORK WINS

 

NFL: Week 16 Predictions

15 down. 2 to go. I can’t believe we’re down to just two weeks of the regular season already, and so much is yet to be decided. It’s a football fan’s dream finish.

No more Thursday night games, so you have to wait til Sunday, but that just means more fun jam-packed into the weekend.

1PM Sunday Games

  • Miami @ Buffalo: Don’t look now but the Dolphins have come back to life, and are currently a spot out of an AFC Wildcard.  The Bills are just playing out the season, and I think Miami keep things interesting, and force other teams to eliminate them from playoff contention. MIAMI WINS
  • New Orleans @ Carolina: It’s the game that could ultimately decided the NFC South.  A Saints win wraps it up by virtue of winning the season series.  A Panthers win would give them their first lead in the division of the season, and would ensure at least a tie.  The Saints had a very bad game against the Rams on the road a week ago, as they continue to play poorly away from home.  The Panthers defense can beat anyone.  I know this might not be fair, but this will be Carolina’s 1st playoff game of the season.  They played poorly in New Orleans, and while they’re at home, Drew Brees knows how to turn it up and win the big game. Cam Newton has played well all season, but I want to see him do it this weekend. They make the playoffs, but I’m not sure they do it as division champs. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Minnesota @ Cincinnati: Just when the Bengals looked like they were going to cruise to an AFC North title, the Ravens are now a game back.  They take on a Vikings squad that has looked much better in the 2nd half of the season under Matt Cassel at quarterback.  But I think Cincy will find a way to right the ship at home and keep their lead in the division, and lock up a playoff spot.  CINCY WINS
  • Denver @ Houston: The Broncos have a playoff spot locked up, but still have a lot to play for after a loss to San Diego last week.  The division and the number 1 seed are still there for the taking, so Denver can’t look past a Houston team on a 12-game losing streak.  Matt Schaub will start under center for the Texans who look to at least find a way to get to 3 wins before the season ends.  But I don’t think the change back to their Opening Day starter changes things for a hungry Broncos team. DENVER WINS
  • Tennessee @ Jacksonville: The Titans had a shot at a playoff spit, but that’s gone now.  As for the Jags, they’ve shown great fight the second half of the season, giving fans in Florida some hope for the future.  And I think those good feelings continue at home for the jags. JACKSONVILLE WINS
  • Indianapolis @ Kansas City: The Colts need this one badly.  The Chiefs still have a great shot at the division, but are ensured a playoff spot no matter what.  I know it’s a road game for the Colts, but I think they find away to get back on track and secure their spot in the postseason.  Andrew Luck has shown he can come up big in big situations. INDY WINS
  • Dallas @ Washington: This is a case of a really bad team in Washington, versus a really bad December team in Dallas. The Redskins have been stuck on 3 wins for what feels like forever, and have benched RGIII.  The cowboys continue to waste a talents roster and golden opportunities.  But I think the boys, even if it’s against a bad team, get a December win and force week 17 against Philly to mean playoff or bust. DALLAS WINS
  • Cleveland @ New York Jets: A week after coming back to life, the Jets were shutdown by Carolina, while the Browns lost a win in the final seconds to New England.  I think the browns defense can handle the inconsistent New York offense, so that’s why I have them picking up the road win. CLEVELAND WINS
  • Tampa Bay @ St. Louis: Much like the jags, the Buccaneers have put together a nice 2nd half, in relation to their awful start.  As for the Rams, they’ve been up and down all year, but have a defense to build around,  giving them much hope for success in the not-so distant future.  Give me St Louis in a close one at home.  ST LOUIS WINS

4:05PM Sunday Games

  • Arizona @ Seattle:  A win ensures the road to the Superbowl in the NFC  lies in Seattle. And for that to happen would at home would be huge for arguably the best hoe field advantage league wide.  The argument can be made for the Superdome, who’s inhabitants, like the Seahawks, are light years better at home, that’s huge.  The Cardinals have something to say here, looking to clinch their own postseason berth.  It’s going to be a good game, but the 12th man comes into play, as it will throughout Seattle’s postseason run. SEATTLE WINS
  • New York Giants @ Detroit: It’s just the 2nd losing season under head coach Tom Coughlin, and it’s been a rough one.  On the other side, you’ve got a Lions squad that doesn’t do well with prosperity.  They held the division in their hands, and have let it slip.  I think with this game benign at home, and the state of the Giants, a Detroit goes off for a big win. And if they don’t, look for head coach Jim Schwartz to possibly be on the hot seat. DETROIT WINS

4:25PM Sunday Games 

  • New England @ Baltimore: The AFC Championship game rematch pits two teams that haven’t locked up a playoff spot yet, but that both currently sit in position to do so.  The Pats can wrap up the AFC East with a win, while the defending Champs can help out their cause as well.  I know it’s a home game for Baltimore, but their offense just hasn’t been up to snuff of late. They only won last week because Justin Tucker is automatic on field-goal attempts.  The Pats have been inconsistent this year, but I think they find a way this week. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Oakland @ San Diego: The Chargers inconsistent season has them at 7-7, and they remain the hunt for a playoff spot.  While I don’t see them getting in, I also don’t see them knocking themselves out.  Oakland has fallen off from a pretty solid start, but I just don’t see them getting the win this week. SAN DIEGO WINS
  • Pittsburgh @ Green Bay: Matt Flynn continued to show a lot of good things last week in their big come-fro-behind win over Dallas.  The Steelers were shut down by the Ravens, and were beaten by a kicker in week 15.  Aaron Rodgers could be back under center this week, and at home, that would give this team a huge lift, but even without A-Rod, I see the Packers keeping the pressure on Chicago in the North.  GREEN BAY WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Chicago @ Philadelphia: Both teams have a spot in the playoffs in their sights, as division leaders heading into action.  It all depends on what happens earlier in the day, but a win by either team ensures at least a tie heading into the final week of the season.  Nick Foles has had a fantastic year to get the Eagles to this point, but I think the return of Jay Cutler revitalized the Bears and they make things easier on themselves playoff wise.  CHICAGO WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Atlanta @ San Francisco: Depending on what happens on Sunday, the Niners could still have a shot the division.  But even if the Hawks do wrap it up, they still hold the edge for a wildcard spot, and we all know that San Francisco knows what it takes to go on a playoff run.  The Falcons are a team many, myself included, would have a shot at a Superbowl run, but instead they are just a game ahead of the Skins for the worst record in the NFC.  Atlanta will attempt to play spoiler, but at home, I don’t see the 49ers falling prey. SAN FRAN WINS

That’s it. Enjoy all the playoff clinching, playoff heartbreak fun that will ensue in week 16.

NFL: Week 14 Predictions

Week 14 is here, and as the temperature drops, the match-ups are heating up.

Last week I went 11-5, including 3-3 on Thanksgiving.

Thursday Night Football

  • Houston @ Jacksonville: This inst the best game to kick off the action, with two teams with a combined record of 5-18, but it’s nice to see the Jaguars on prime-time.  Early on you thought this would be an easy win for the Texans, but this once highly thought of Superbowl contender enters on a 10-game losing streak, while the Jags are playing much better in the 2nd half of the season.  I have picked Houston to win far too often this season, and I am going to do it again.  HOUSTON WINS

1PM Sunday Games

  • Minnesota @ Baltimore: The Vikings have looked a bit better of late, while the Ravens have played themselves back into the playoff picture.  Adrian Peterson is really the only weapon Minnesota has, while Baltimore has relied on their defense and superb kicker to keep them in games.  Give me Joe Flacco to keep his team in the hunt to defend their title. BALTIMORE WINS
  • Indianapolis @ Cincinnati: It’s a match-up of division leaders that boast very solid defenses.  The Colts have struggled in the 2nd half of the season, while the Bengals have looked good all year.  If the Colts can keep this one close, they have a chance, but if they give Andy Dalton and company a sizable early lead, I think the Bengals will clamp down and move closer to wrapping up the North. Indy is closer to a division crown in the South. CINCY WINS
  • Atlanta @ Green Bay: The Falcons finally snapped their losing streak, while the Packers haven’t won many games since losing Aaron Rodgers a few weeks back.  Green Bay could have their starting QB back, but they won’t know until later in the week.  Even if he doesn’t make it back under center, I think the Packers defense gets re-energized at home and get back on track and fight their way back to the top of the NFC North. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Cleveland @ New England: The Browns have gotten a lot out of receiver Josh Gordon of late, but they haven’t been able to turn it into wins.  The Patriots have had a couple weeks in a row of big comeback performances.  And I think their offense continues to come up big at home this week.  NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Oakland @ New York Jets: Two teams that aren’t very good right now. Oakland has more wins than last season, while the Jets have dropped out of a playoff spot with their 3-game losing streak.  Both teams have run games that can be potent, but the Jets defense has been pretty good despite the losing.  I think New York finds a way at home this week.  They have to in order to have a shot at the wild card.  NEW YORK WINS
  • Detroit @ Philadelphia: Two teams that lead their divisions (the eagles own a share) square off in Philly.  Both teams have been clicking on all cylinders to climb the division ladder.  Nick Foles has done nothing but win since taking over for Michael Vick.  But I think the Lions are a more complete team, and despite being on the road, I think they snap the Eagles 4 game win streak. DETROIT WINS
  • Miami @ Pittsburgh:  Two teams that have had up and down years, that still have an outside shot at a playoff berth.  The Dolphins are playing better following the bully scandal, and the Steelers have played better since their 0-4 start.  The Steelers have had more consistency on the ground, and I think Ben Roethlisberger is going to outplay Ryan Tannehill in this one to get the Steelers their 6th win. PITT WINS
  • Buffalo @ Tampa Bay: Two teams that just want to finish strong and hope to not finish last in their divisions.  The Bucs are winners of 3 of their last 4 and the Bills, are not.  The Bills promising start to the season ended when EJ Manuel went down early in the season.  The Bucs started out the season 0-8, and have rebounded to play better in the 2nd half.  That being said, I think the Bills go into Tampa and get a win on the strength of their run game. So give me the road game. BUFFALO WINS
  • Kansas City @ Washington: The Chiefs are on a downslide following a 9-0 start.  The defense suffered a lot of injuries in week 11 against Denver and it’s shown in their 3-game losing streak.  The Redskins continue to falter after a good 2012.  The Chiefs offense has played very well of late, after the defense carried them in the 1st half, and I think both sides come to get to stop the slide in the nation’s capital this week. Give me the 9-3 Chiefs to get back on track. KANSAS CITY WINS

4/4:25PM Sunday Games

  • Tennessee @ Denver: The Titans are playing for a wildcard spot, the Broncos are looking to move one step closer to a bye and the AFC West title.  The Titans defense has been pretty good this season, but their offense is just not enough to match Peyton Manning and all his weapons. DENVER WINS
  • St. Louis @ Arizona: These two NFC West foes boast very good defenses. And both have improved greatly from a year ago.  But I think the Cardials offense is much more consistent, and with a better chance at a playoff spot, I think the veteran Carson Palmer gets his team a home win. ARIZONA WINS
  • New York Giants @ San Diego: A couple of 5-7 teams square off in California this weekend.  The Giants have shaken off a horibble start to the season to win 5 of their last 6.  The Chargers have been up and down all season, something we’ve grown accustom with Philip Rivers led teams.  This game not only keeps the winner in the hunt for a playoff spot, it also means something more, dating back to the 2004 draft when Eli Manning was drafted number 1 by San Diego and didn’t want to play there. So who wins? Give me the Giants to continue their comeback from 0-6. NEW YORK WINS
  • Seattle @ San Francisco:  If the 49ers want any chance of winning the division, they have to win this game.  Both teams are coming off big wins at home.  The Niners made easy work of the Rams, while the Seahawks made a statement to the whole league that they are true Superbowl contenders.  And for that reason, give me the Hawks to continue to move closer to wrapping up the number 1 seed in the NFC. SEATTLE WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Carolina @ New Orleans: One of the better games you will see all regular season.  It’s a battle for the NFC South.  A top flight defense and a team on an 8 game win streak in one corner.  A playoff perennial who was embarrassed in prime-time last week, that looks to rebound in their own home-field advantage in the other.  Who prevails?  The Panthers have had a number of close calls during the 8-game win-streak, and the Saints don’t lose at home often.  So I see New Orleans taking this one, with a very different result possible when the two face off in Carolina. NEW ORLEANS WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Dallas @ Chicago: This is an interesting ending to week 14.  The Cowboys are on the upswing, the Bears, on the down.  But neither team has a shut down defense, and both have run games that can go off at any moment.  The Boys don’t have a playoff spot locked down, and the Bears are still in the hunt for one.  Tony Romo has never been very good in December, but I think he leads his team to a road win in this one. DALLAS WINS

That’s it.  Enjoy all the fun in week 14.

NFL: Week 13 Thoughts

13 down. 4 to go.

It’s not often that 1 player goes off for 200+ yards on either the ground or in the receiving game.  But this week we saw 3 players have exception games.  How about 3 to 4 touchdowns for one player?  There were a few of those as well.

NFC EAST (This One’s Going Down to the Wire)

  • Cowboys: They got off to a slow start, but were able to come back from a 21-7 deficit to maintain their tie atop the division. An opening kick-off fumble by Terrence Williams was returned for a score, putting them down as quick as you can be down.  DeMarco Murray was huge in the redzone, scoring 3 rushing touchdowns, adding a number of big catches to help lead the comeback. Tony Romo managed the game well, finishing with 235-passing yards and a touchdown pass to Dez Bryant.  Back-up rusher Lance Dunbar added a career-high 82 yards in the ground game.  It’s the first time all season Dallas is 2 games over .500.  (7-5)
  • Eagles: Make it 19 touchdown passes with no interceptions for Philly savior Nick Foles. Though he did throw a pick in the game, it didn’t go against him as it was called back on a defensive penalty.  No matter what, Foles continued to shine against a very good Arizona defense, throwing 3 touchdown passes for 237-yards in their 4th straight victory.  He also set an Eagles record for most passes without an interception (233), breaking Michael Vick’s mark of 224 set in 2010. DeSean Jackson went over the 1,000 yard mark for the season.  Rookie receiver Zach Ertz on 2 of his 5 catches on the day.  The only concern is this team continues to be shutdown in the 4th quarter, something that gave Arizona multiple chances to steal a win on the road.  But the defense held, and the division crown still remains in play. (7-5)
  • Giants: Big Blue rallied from 14-0 down to at least keep their slim playoff chances alive, thanks in big part to their run game in the red-zone, and their defense.  Justin Tuck looked like his old self, racking up a career high 4 sacks, and after a bad start, the defense held the Skins to just 95 2nd half yards.  The run game overall wasn’t spectacular, but Andre Brown made his 35-yards count, scoring two touchdowns including the go-ahead score.  Eli Manning threw touchdown, and one interception, the Giants lone turnover of the game.  They’re the only team with at least 1 turnover in every game this season. (5-7)
  • Redskins: RG-still-stuck-at-3-wins and company got off to a very hot start Sunday night, but cooled off late.  Griffin was 16-for-17 at halftime, but went just 8-for-15 in the second half, and was dropped 5 times.  Washington had a chance to go the length of the field in the final minutes to try and tie. But a mix-up by officials with a 1st down being called a second with no measurement, the Skins play calling suffered and ultimately resulted in having to go for it on 4th down, and not converting.  The loss officially eliminates them from the playoffs.  (3-9)

NFC NORTH (Detroit Puts Some Separation Between Themselves and the Rest of the Division)

  • Lions: The Thanksgiving Day skid came to an end at 9 thanks to a big day from just about everyone.  Matt Stafford got off to a shake start, but he finished with over 300-yards passing, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.  Calvin Johnson caught one of those TDs, his 5th straight Turkey day score, as well as his 5th straight game this season.  Reggie Bush put an opening drive red-zone fumble behind him, rushing for 117-yards and a score in the rout.  The win helps put them in the driver’s seat for the division title. (7-5)
  • Bears: Matt Forte finished with 120-yards on the ground, and that wasn’t even the best total on the ground in the game, let alone the best from scrimmage total on his team.  Rookie wide-out Alshon Jeffery went off for two touchdowns and 249-yards receiving, giving him the two best receiving games in Bears history, ever.  The usually sure-footed Robbie Gould wasn’t so on point though, missing 2-of-4 field-goal attempts, including a 47-yard attempt that would’ve won it in overtime. (6-6) 
  • Packers: Matt Flynn “savior” wasn’t to be this week.  After a 10-3 start, the Pack were completely shut down by the Lions.  The defense did all it could, forcing 3 turnovers, including the early fumble they returned for Green Bay’s lone touchdown of the game.  But they couldn’t outplay their quarterback. Flynn threw a pick, lost two fumbles and was sacked in for a safety in the 3rd quarter.  The loss doesn’t put them out of contention for a wildcard spot or the division title, with a game against Chicago left.  But it does make things harder.  Aaron Rodgers could be back in week 14.  (5-6-1)
  • Vikings: Down 20-10 after 3 quarters, 10 unanswered in the 4th forced overtime for the second straight week.  The Vikings were 1:43 away from their second straight tie, but a Blair Walsh 34-yarder gave them the win instead. Walsh missed a 57-yarder earlier in overtime but Minnesota was given new life after the Chicago miss. Oh and in case you forgot, Adrian Peterson is really, really good.  Peterson ran for 211-yards on 35 carries for a 6-yard-per-attempt average.  Christian Ponder went down with an injury early in the game, and Matt Cassel came in and did a good job in his place.  Cassel threw 1 touchdown to Greg Jennings, a pick and finished with 243-yards in the air. (3-8-1)

NFC SOUTH (We Have a Battle For 1st Place on our Hands)

  • Saints: Other than one long drive in the 1st to cut the deficit to 17-7, the Saints offense looked like a shell of themselves. The one touchdown went to Jimmy Graham.  Drew Brees was held under 200-yards passing, and the run game was non-existent.  Just one turnover, but it was recovered for a touchdown early. Those 7 points scored by New Orleans, according to NFL.com, are the lowest scored by the Saints since Sean Payton became headcoach in 2006.  Making things worse, plane troubles kept them in Seattle overnight. (9-3)
  • Panthers: 8 straight wins and this time around, it was never in doubt.  The defense ravaged Tampa’s offense, holding them to just 2 field-goals, recording 5 sacks and forcing two turnovers.  Cam Newton did throw 2 picks, but he also threw for 263-yards and two touchdowns to go with 68-yards on the ground and a rushing score.  5 receivers finished with at least 35-yards, with Brian LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr each finding the end-zone.  Now they sit tied for 1st, with 2 games to go against New Orleans. (9-3)
  • Buccaneers:  They actually led the Panthers, not for long and not by much, but in a 21-point loss, I guess you take any positives you can find.  Mike Glennon has been very good for Tampa, but not this week as Tampa saw their win streak snapped at 3 games.  Glennon went on to post 14-21 completions, 180-yards, no touchdowns and an interception in the loss.  The defense did all it could, forcing a couple turnovers, but they had no real answer for Newton short of those takeaways. (3-9)
  • Falcons: It took overtime, but the skid ends at 5 for Atlanta.  Steven Jackson had his first multi-touchdown day as a Falcon as a part of an 84-yard rushing performance.  Matt Ryan didn’t throw any interceptions, something foreign to him this season, but he did lose one fumble.  Ryan was good throwing the rock though, finishing with 311-yards passing and a touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez.  Roddy White had nearly 150-yards receiving. They never led in regulation, and won it thanks to Matt Bryant’s 2nd field-goal of the game in the extra frame. (3-9)

NFC WEST (Seattle Just Continues to Fly Higher)

  • Seahawks: It was all Seattle early, thanks to a fumble recovery for a score for Michael Bennett, his first careers touchdown.  And it stayed Seattle’s night, thanks to Russell Wilson, whose throws we’re on point all game long.  The 2nd year quarterback threw for 310-yards, 3 touchdowns and added another 47-yards on the ground.  The defense was huge against a potent Saints offense, holding them to under 50-yards rushing and Brees to under 200-yards passing, a rare feat. Home field throughout the playoffs looks way more likely now with a 2-game lead over the rest of the NFC. (11-1)
  • 49ers: There was a big time Anquan Boldin sighting in week 13, as the wide-out caught 9 passes for 98-yards.  Tight-end Vernon Davis added an athletic leap over a defender, 82-yards and a score to San Fran’s 10-point division win. Colin Kaepernick threw for nearly 300-yards and a score. 3 Phil Dawson field-goals and a Frank Gore rushing touchdown was the rest of the niners offense as they put a game between themselves and Arizona.  They never trailed, and currently hold the 6th and final playoff spot in the NFC. (8-4)
  • Cardinals: They put themselves in a 21-7 hole early, and they were never able to fully recover.  Carson Palmer threw 3 touchdown passes, but also threw 2 interceptions, as well as lost a fumble.  Those 3 turnovers proved costly in a 3-point game.  Rashard Mendenhall had one of his better games of the year, picking up 79-yards on the ground, but it wasn’t enough.  Michael Floyd came up just short of the 100-yard receiving mark, while Larry Fitzgerald added another 72 in the passing game.  Both scored touchdowns.  The loss hurts drops them back in the hunt for a wildcard spot, but they still have a better shot than most.  (7-5)
  • Rams: They did a decent job of holding down the 49ers early, but the offense couldn’t do much against San Fran.  Kellen Clemens finished with over 200-yards passing, a touchdown and an interception, while Zac Stacy gained 72 on the ground.  But drives stalled, and they had to settle for field-goals rather than touchdowns on 2 of them.  They are still much improved over last season, but with 3 teams to jump in their own division, the playoffs aren’t realistic.  (5-7)

AFC EAST (It’s Still The Pats Division)

  • Patriots: They won, but I wouldn’t be too proud of myself if I was a Patriots player after Sunday’s performance  Down 17-7 at the half to a 2 win Houston team, they needed a big 2nd half to save themselves from a bad loss.  The game saw 5 lead changes as Tom Brady finished with 371-yards passing, 2 touchdowns and an interception. Both Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman finished with over 100-yards receiving.  LeGarrett Blount added a score in the run game.  But they couldn’t stop the run in the red-zone, allowing 4 rushing touchdowns.  They rallied again, but the defense was suspect and their run game wasn’t great. (9-3)
  • Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill finished the must-win game completing 28-of-43 passes for 331-yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception.  4 players combined for over 120-yards on the ground, including 22 from Tannehill.  The defense took advantage of a down New York offense, holding them to just 3-points. Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace combined for over 200-yards and 2 scores while  3 Caleb Strugis field-goals book-ended the scoring for Miami, who keeps playoff hopes alive.  (6-6)
  • Jets: Well, they’re in a free-fall now.  Geno Smith hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since before the World Series began, and was finally benched in favor of Matt Simms. not that it made a difference.  Smith went 4-for-10 for 29-yards with an INT before being replaced by Simms, who completed 50% of his passes for 79-yards, a fumble lost and a pick. The only offense New York could muster was a 2nd half Nick Folk field-goal.  After not winning or losing 2 straight, the Jets are now on 3-game losing streak, and see their playoff hopes die  with each loss. (5-7)
  • Bills: They had their chance to win in regulation on a possible game winning drive, but a lost fumble ended those hopes, and they eventually fell in overtime.  It was a good day for the running backs, with CJ Spiller nearing the 150-yard mark, while Fred Jackson scored a rushing and receiving touchdown.  But a couple lost fumbles, and their defense’s inability to stop Atlanta, meant disaster. (4-8)

AFC NORTH (The Ravens are Trying to Fly Back into the Race)

  • Bengals: Andy Dalton’s 190-yards passing put him over 3,000 for the season, making him just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 3,000 in each of his first 3 seasons.  Peyton Manning is the other.  Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis had one of his better games of the season, picking up 92-yards and finding the end-zone for the games first score. The defense showed up big time, forcing 3 turnovers, and 2 sacks to help maintain their 2 game division lead. (8-4) 
  • Ravens: It was close throughout on Thanksgiving night, but Baltimore held on in the end, stopping Pittsburgh on a late 2-point conversion to hold on and keep playoff hopes alive. It was a first quarter Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith 7-yard touchdown pass that put Baltimore up for good.  And then it was the Justin Tucker, who continues to have a monster season, hitting on all 5 of his field-goal attempts. (6-6)
  • Steelers: Jerricho Cotchery’s 1-yard touchdown catch with a minute left in regulation looked like it might force overtime, but a failed 2-point conversion meant a loss.  The Steelers couldn’t recover from an early 13-0 deficit, despite 73-yards and a rushing touchdown by Le’Veon Bell.  Ben Roethlisberger did everything he could to help lead his team to a comeback win on Thanksgiving, throwing for over 250-yards, 2 touchdowns and no turnovers.  But the road win and a .500 record wasn’t to be. (5-7)
  • Browns: Cleveland scored a touchdown in every quarter, but it wasn’t enough as they allowed a late score to Jacksonville.  The loss spoiled a historic effort from wide-receiver Josh Gordon, whose team record 261-receiving-yards made him the first player in NFL history to have back-to-back 200-yard receiving games.  Gordon also had 2 touchdowns, including one late in the 4th that looked like it might be the game-winner.  Brandon Weedon had a very up and down day in his return to the starting lineup.  He threw for 370 and 3 scores, but also threw two picks, lost a fumble and took a 4th quarter safety. The loss brings their losing streak to 3 games.  (4-8)

AFC South (Indy on the Verge of Wrapping This One Up)

  • Colts: 1 more win, another Titans loss, or a tie would give them the AFC South crown thanks to their 8-point victory over Tennessee.  It wasn’t an impressive win for the offense, but sometimes you have to win ugly.  Adam Vinatieri continues to show why he’s one of the best kickers to ever play the game, hitting all 5 of his field-goal attempts, including a go-ahead 49-yarder in the 3rd quarter.  Andrew Luck struggled again, finishing with just 200-yards passing, no touchdowns and an interception.  Donald Brown’s touchdown run in the 4th sealed the victory. (8-4)
  • Titans: They held in there against Indy, even taking a 14-12 lead in the 3rd quarter, but the Colts defense got to Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Tennessee’s quarterback finished with 201-yards passing, a touchdown, 54-yards rushing, but 3 interceptions and a fumble loss.  Those turnovers helped a struggling Colts offense to set up those 5 Vinatieri field-goals. The loss basically puts them out of range of a division crown, but they are still in the hunt for a wildcard. (5-7)
  • Jaguars: Dont look now, but the Jags are on a winning streak, and no longer have the worst record in the league.  Their 2nd straight win came in comeback fashion, capped off by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne to Cecil Shorts with just 40-seconds left in regulation.  Maurice Jones-Drew had himself a day, picking up 77-yards on the ground, and throwing an 8-yard touchdown, his first (you know because he’s a runningback). The defense wasn’t great, but they got the win anyway. (3-9)
  • Texans: Early on, it looked like they might snap their skid, instead the losing streak hit 10 thanks to a 3-point loss to New England. Ben Tate was huge in the red-zone, scoring 3 touchdowns of 20, 10 and 8 yards.  Case Keenum added a rushing score of his own, to go along with his 270-yards passing and 1 interception. Andre Johsnon finished with over 100-yards receiving. They put up a good fight against a very good team, but a final game-winning drive stalled and they couldn’t get that 6th lead change for-the-win. (2-10)

AFC WEST (The Chiefs Picked the Wrong Time to Start Losing)

  • Broncos: They put themselves in a touch position early against a good team, but for the 3rd straight game KC’s defense was lacking, and Peyton Manning took advantage.  After 2 early interceptions, Manning went on to throw for 400 yards and 5 touchdown passes. Eric Decker was the beneficiary, registering a career day 174-yards and 4 touchdown passes. Rookie running back Montee Ball added a career high 103-yards on just 4 carries.  One concern was the fact that Von Miller went down twice in the game, though he would continue both times. The win all but ensures them the AFC West crown after taking both games of the season series against Kansas City.  (10-2)
  • Chiefs: From 9 wins in a row, to 3 losses in a row.  The offense did all it could, picking up over 400-yards of total offense, and going up 21-7 in the 1st half.  Add to that a franchise record 108-yard kick-off return touchdown  from rookie Knile Davis, and it looked like it might be their day. But the Chiefs defense betrayed them again, allowing Eric Decker to run circles around Champ Bailey all day. They’re lucky the AFC wildcard isn’t as tightly bunched as the NFC, as they have a 3 game lead over the 6th seed, so their playoff dreams are still very much in tact.  (9-3)
  • Chargers: The defense wasn’t the problem, it was the offense against a good Cincinnati squad.  Their lone touchdown was scored by tight-end Ladarius Green, in the 2nd quarter.  San Diego was held to just 1 field-goal in the 2nd half.  Keenan Allen found a way to have another good day, catching 8 Philip Rivers passes for 106-yards.  Rivers finished the loss with 252-passing-yards, the Green TD pass, and an interception.  This team has been inconsistent all year, and Sunday was just another example of that. (5-7)
  • Raiders: They returned the opening kick-off fumble for a touchdown.  And gave themselves a nice 2-score cushion on Thanksgiving, but the Cowboys are just a better team.  After those 21 first half points, they managed just 1 field-goal in the 2nd half.  2nd year wide-out Andre Holmes had a nice game, 5 catches for 136-yards, but that’s where the good days ended.  Sure, Rashard Jennings found the end zone twice, but only had 35-yards rushing.  Matt McGloin threw a pick, and no touchdowns as a part of his 255-yard passing performance. (4-8)

There you have it.  If week 13 wasn’t fun enough for you, week 14 promises to be even more eventful as the playoffs inch closer.

Enjoy.

NFL: Week 13 Predictions

It’s time for the holidays, which means three games kick off the action on Thursday. I’d say that’s a good enough reason to say Happy Thanksgiving.

Last week I was 7-7 (including the tie) last week. Here’s to a better showing in week 13.

Thanksgiving Day Games

  • Green Bay @ Detroit: It’s a battle for first place in the NFC North to kick-off all the holiday action. A Packers win vaults them back into 1st thanks in part to their tie from a week ago.  A Lions win gives them a big edge over the rest of the field.  Aaron Rodgers is still not back, and it remains to be seen if Matt Flynn or Scott Tolzien gets the call for the Pack, though Flynn is expected to get the nod.  So for that reason, give me Matt Stafford to bounce back from a rough performance in week 12. DETROIT WINS
  • Oakland @ Dallas: The Raiders have looked a lot better this year, and the Boys have been up and down.  But Dallas is used to playing on Thanksgiving, and if ever there was a time for them to live up to their potential, it’s now in a weakening NFC East. The biggest threat to a Cowboy loss is their inability to stop the run a week ago against New York, with Rashad Jennings having a breakout season this year for Oakland.  But even if Jennings can put up a lot of yards on the ground, I still see the Boys pulling out the Turkey day win. DALLAS WINS
  • Pittsburgh @ Baltimore: Both teams got of to slow starts, but have been coming on strong of late.  The AFC North rivals now battle for 2nd place, and a possible wild card berth.  The Steelers are on a 3-game win streak, but I think the Ravens defend their home turf and get the run game going again. BALTIMORE WINS

Take a second and tell me which of these  games sounds best with a side of turkey?

and now back to my picks.

1PM Sunday Games

  • Tennessee @ Indianapolis: Both teams currently have spots in the playoffs.  But a Colts loss would mean just 1 game separation in the AFC South.  Indy has been getting off to horrible starts of late but the Titans offense hasn’t been great either.  I just think the Colts are the better team, and this will be a good test and game to get back on track heading into the playoffs. It will also all but lock up the division crown. INDY WINS
  • Jacksonville @ Cleveland: The Jags have played better in the 2nd half of the season, where as the Browns are struggling after a fast start. And it hasn’t gotten any better for Cleveland, who lost a 3rd different starting quarterback to injury last week. That means Brandon Weedon, or their opening day starter is back under center.  And I think that makes the difference.  The Jags have been pretty good defensively of late but I think the Browns find a way to get their 5th win of the year.  CLEVELAND WINS
  • Tampa Bay @ Carolina: Two teams on win streaks  do battle in Carolina.  The Panthers have rebounded in a big way from a 1-3 start, while the Bucs haven’t lost since picking up their 1st win of the season.  The division foes may both be hot, but the Panthers have something to fight for, and playing at home, I see win number 8 in their future.  CAROLINA WINS
  • Chicago @ Minnesota: The Bears defense hasn’t been good since their 3-0 start.  The Vikings get very little offense outside of Adrian Peterson these days.  Jay Cutler is expected to remain out for this one, but Josh McGown has done a pretty good job.  I think the Bears can get back to their take-a-way selves, and rattle Christian Ponder. CHICAGO WINS
  • New England @ Houston: The Texans season has been very disappointing, while the Pats just continue to chug along.  I don’t see the Texans losing out the rest of the season, but I also can’t see them winning this week, especially with the good feelings New England is coming off after a huge comeback on Sunday Night over the Broncos. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Arizona @ Philadelphia: Both teams are flying high, and both are in the hunt for a playoff spot.  Nick Foles will in fact remain the starter for the Eagles, and for good reason, as he’s one of the biggest reasons for their 3-game win streak.  Philly hasn’t been good at home this year.  And I think the Cardinals are defense is for real, showing why this team got off to a 4-0 start a year ago.  With a real quarterback this team has been good all year.  And I think they take another step towards a possible Wild Card berth. ARIZONA WINS
  • Miami @ New York Jets: Neither team has been good lately.  Geno Smith is starting to hit the rookie wall, and the run game for the Jets hasn’t been consistent.  The same can be said for Miami, who continue to struggle after the loss of offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. I can’t see this being a clean game, but I think the Jets get back on track, at least for a week. NEW YORK WINS

4/4:25PM Sunday Games

  • Atlanta @ Buffalo: The Bills are coming off a bye, the Falcons have the worst record in the NFC.  It’s crazy to say that, but a Vikings tie dropped them in the 16th spot. Buffalo isn’t too much better off, sitting at the bottom of the AFC East. The Falcons defense was pretty good against a very good Saints team last week, and the Bills aren’t even in the same league as New Orleans.  For no other reason than I have liked Atlanta’s roster all year, despite the losses, I think the Falcons finally snap their 5-game skid.  ATLANTA WINS
  • St. Louis @ San Francisco: This should be fun.  Both NFC West teams boast shutdown defenses and good run games.  The 49ers have been up-and-down lately, while the Rams are coming off two very good blowout wins.  I think this will be more of a defensive struggle, with the Rams finding a way to come out on top.  This team gave the Niners fits a year ago, and I think it continues. ST LOUIS WINS
  • Cincinnati @ San Diego: The Chargers are coming off a huge win over the Chiefs, further showing the potential of this team.  But they have been very inconsistent basically the time Philip Rivers has been there, so it’s hard to trust them.  The Bengals have had it easy all season in the AFC North, and are coming off their bye.  San Diego has been shut down by lesser defenses, and only took off last week following Kansas City’s defensive injuries.  So give me the road team to pounce on the previously mentioned inconsistent Chargers. CINCY WINS
  • Denver @ Kansas City: They enter action tied for 1st, with the Broncos holding the edge thanks to a big win two weeks ago.  Whoever wins this time around could end up the number 1 seed in the AFC this year.  If you asked me who was winning this game based on how the Broncos played last week, I’d say KC.  But while the Chiefs played very well on offense, they lost a lot of key pieces on defense, and if they get into another shootout, I can’t see them out-dueling Denver.  After a 9-0 start, it’s hard to say they’ll lose a 3rd in a row, but I can’t see Peyton Manning having a 2nd bad performance in a row.  DENVER WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • New York Giants @ Washington: Both teams are coming off losses, and are just trying to stay out of last place in the East.  New York got a lot of good out of their offense a week ago, with Eli Manning committing no turnovers for just the 2nd time this season, and a huge effort on the ground.  The defense wasn’t bad either.  As for the Redskins, they were not impressive offensively yet again, and the defense wasn’t anything to write home about.  So give me the road team to have one of their better games of the year. NEW YORK WINS

Monday Night Football

  • New Orleans @ Seattle: One of the better Monday night match-ups of the season.  It’s a huge game in terms of who finishes as the number 1 seed in the NFC, with these two teams entering action with the 2 best records in the conference.  The Saints are not the same team on the road as they are at home, and having to go to the place with arguably the best home-field advantage in football isn’t going to help that.  I thin it’ll be a close game throughout, but give me the Birds at home. SEATTLE WINS

There you have it.  Enjoy your long holiday weekend Scoreboard watchers. May the turkey be as juicy as the story-lines that pop up this week in the NFL.

Happy Holidays.

– Alex