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
Advertisements

NFL PLAYOFFS: Wildcard Weekend

It was an interesting week 17 that saw teams like the New York Jets lose their spot in the playoffs, the Patriots lose their number 1 seed and Peyton Manning’s return to claim that spot in the AFC.  And it wasn’t any less dramatic over in the NFC, where the Vikings held off a late charge from the Packers on the road to claim the North, while the Seahawks made a huge statement on the road against Arizona.

And in case you missed it, the top 20 in the NFL Draft looks like this:

  1. Tennessee (picked 2nd last season)
  2. Cleveland
  3. San Diego
  4. Dallas (won the NFC East a year ago)
  5. Jacksonville
  6. Baltimore (1st losing season since 2007)
  7. San Francisco
  8. Miami
  9. Tampa
  10. NY Giants
  11. Chicago (finished 4th in the NFC North for a second straight season)
  12. New Orleans
  13. Philadelphia
  14. Oakland (most wins since 2011)
  15. St. Louis
  16. Detroit (was a wild card team a season ago)
  17. Atlanta
  18. Indianapolis (finished 11-5 prior 3 seasons)
  19. Buffalo
  20. NY Jets (only 10 win team not in the playoffs)

But now the regular season is over.  And the fun is just getting started.  12 teams are left vying for the Lombardi Trophy and it all starts Saturday as Wildcard weekend kicks off with the AFC.

NFC Byes: Carolina (1) and Arizona (2)

AFC Byes: Denver (1) and New England (2)

AFC Wildcard game 1 – Saturday

  • Chiefs (5) @ Texans (4): The hottest team in the league heading into the playoffs are the Kansas City Chiefs.  10-straight wins after starting 1-5, and they allowed just 20+ points once from week four on.  Houston won the South thanks to a 6-2 second half and a very good defense.  So we’ve got two top 10 defenses kicking off the playoffs.  Who comes out on top? I like the Chiefs to keep the winning going.  KANSAS CITY WINS

AFC Wildcard game 2 – Saturday

  • Steelers (6) @ Bengals (3): Pittsburgh has overcome so many injuries this season to make the playoffs, and they enter without another piece after DeAngelo Williams went down in a must win week 17.  Cincinnati had a shot all season at a bye week, but the loss of Andy Dalton late in the season, along with a week 16 loss to Denver, has them playing a first round game again. AJ McCaron has looked pretty good in place of Dalton, and while the Steelers are riding a lucky streak, I think it ends this week, whether Dalton is back or not.  It’s the year the Bengals make it out of the first round. CINCINNATI WINS

NFC Wildcard game 1 – Sunday

  • Seahawks (6) @ Vikings (3) : It’s going to be an extremely cold one in Minnesota. This was always going to be a ground-and-pound type of game, but with kick-off possibly at 0 degrees, it rings even truer.  Seattle and Minnesota enter as the third and fourth best rushing teams in the league respectfully, so this is going to come down to who can at least make the other defense think pass.  Russell Wilson is on fire throwing the football, and with his team knowing how to win in the playoffs, I like them to control time of possession and the air game. SEATTLE WINS

NFC Wildcard game 2 – Sunday

  • Packers (5) @ Redskins (4): The Packers have backed into the playoffs, while the Redskins are flying high.  Kirk Cousins did work at home once named the starter, so this is going to be a tough game for Green Bay. The Packers defense needs to carry the team, and I think they will.  While Washington did a decent job keeping opponents off the board during the season, they gave up the fifth most yards per game.  It’s the type of defense Aaron Rodgers needs to get their offense going. GREEN BAY WINS

 

NFL: Week 13 Picks

I had a very good week 12 picking games, going 12-4 including 2-1 on Thanksgiving and taking the Broncos to end the Patriots undefeated season.  Let’s continue it and improve on my 99-76 season record.

Thursday Night Football

  • Packers @ Lions: The Lions are the hotter team heading into this match-up, the second straight Thursday game for both Detroit and Green Bay.  The offense finally exploded in Detroit’s Thanksgiving day win, catching up to the defense they’ve been playing during their three-game win streak.  Green Bay had another poor showing at home against Chicago, after losing their first home game of the season to the Lions a few weeks earlier. Eddie Lacy showed up in week 12, and they’ll need that again whether Rodgers is healthy or not this week.  And I think they’ll get a good game on the ground and get back on track in week 13.   GREEN BAY WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Jets @ Giants: It’s the battle for New York. and the winner stays relevant in their respective conferences playoff race.  The Giants have an easier path to the playfofs, as tehy still have a shot at the division.  The Jets are fighting with more teams in the AFC for a wildcard spot, with the Patriots a full four games ahead of them with five to play.  Both teams had high hopes for the season, with the Jets getting off to a fast start, while the Giants needed to catch-up after an 0-2 start.  They’ve had issues closing but as bad as they’ve been defensively, I still like Big Blue to move to .500 and stay on pace in the NFC East. NEW YORK GIANTS WIN
  • Cardinals @ Rams: A promising start to the season for St. Louis has turned into another possible losing season.  Now they play host to the second best team in the NFC.  The Rams degense has the abiloty to keep them in the game, but the offense is just too inconsistent.  Arizona has figured out how to limit mistakes and not play down to their opponents.  Larry Fitzgerald is currently questionable, and Arizona will be without Chris Johnson in the run game, but I can’t see this ending in any other way than with the Cards picking up their 10th win of the season.  ARIZONA WINS
  • Falcons @ Buccaneers:  Atlanta started off the season 6-1 and now they’ve lost four straight.  The offense wasn’t going to keep up the crazy prodction of the first half, but they’ve dropped off too much and now they might miss the playoffs.  Tamapa has been playing a lot ebtter on both sides of hte ball here in the second half, so this won’t be easy for the Falcons.  That being said, I still like the birds to keep themselves in the playoff conversation, and not let the Bucs enter said conversation. ATLANTA WINS
  • Seahawks @ Vikings: This might be my favorite game of the weekend.  It’s huge for both teams.  If the season ended today, both teams would be in the playoffs in the NFC, and would play each other in the Divisional round.  Seattle has been inconsistent all season, but are starting to look like their old selves.  Both teams rely heavily on the run game and their defenses, so expect this game to have a low number of possessions.  It’s also going to come down to the wire, and that’s when someone will have to throw the ball.  And I give the edge to Russell Wilson  SEATTLE WINS 
  • Texans @ Bills:  Buffalo hasn’t been able to stay consistent, while Houston took a while to get off the ground.  The Bills need to continue to run the ball effectively in order to have any shot at winning this game.  But I don’t think they’ll get enough going in the run game with the way the Texans defense has been playing of late. I like Houston to win their fifth straight. HOUSTON WINS
  • Ravens @ Dolphins:  Baltimore needed a special teams miracle in week 12 to beat the Cleveland Browns.  Matt Schaub got a lucky win despite another pick six.  Miami  continues to struggle, has seen multiple coaching changes and sit comfortably in the cellar of the AFC East.  So who gets the win? As bad as the Dolphins have looked at times, I feel the changes and the home setting play in their favor, at least for one week. MIAMI WINS
  • Bengals @ Browns:  One of the best teams in the league versus one of the worst.  The Bengals can’t take that for granted though and I don’t think they will.  Cleveland’s offense had a good day in week 12, but we know who to stop.  Cover Travis Benjamin and hope for the best.  Cleveland has shown they can make plays on defense, but the Bengals hold the edge weapon wise on both sides of the ball, and that’s why they get their 10th win of the season. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Jaguars @ Titans: Jacksonville won a close game a few weeks ago on Thursday Night.  Tennessee’s problem hasn’t been on defense. They’ve had trouble getting offensive consistency, let alone back to their explosion of week one.  Jacksonville has been pretty consistent all season in their inability to win the close game. They seem to score big when they allow big, score few, when they allow few.  That being said, I still think the Titans find a way to win their 3rd game of the season. TENNESSEE WINS
  • 49ers @ Bears:  Two of the bigger disappointments face off in Chicago this week.  San Francisco has suffered all season from their massive amount of changes in the off-season.  The Bears picked up where they left off last season, a team that couldn’t stop anyone.  At least the Bears have figured out how to win a respectable amount of games, including a game against the Packers.  Despite how bad they actually are, I think the Bears will move to .500 this week. CHICAGO WINS

Sunday 4/4:25PM Games

  • Broncos @ Chargers: Brock Osweiler and company are flying high after knocking off the undefeated Patriots.  Denver boasts the best defense in the league, and found a way to win eight games with an ineffective Peyton Manning.  And now they have a young, hungry QB that made all the throws to take down Tom Brady last week.  San Diego has been bad all season, despite big numbers from Philip Rivers.  They’re two games back in the West and sinking fast.  These two teams know each other very, very well, but it won’t make much of a difference for the Chargers.  Denver is just too good right now. DENVER WINS
  • Chiefs @ Raiders: Another all AFC West battle in Oakland gives us two teams in the race for a playoff spot.  Oakland has been up and down of late, while Kansas City has been all up.  The Raiders are a young team, so their inconsistency isn’t surprising; not to mention they only won three games a season ago and now look to move to .500.  As for the Chiefs, what they’ve done since losing Jamaal Charles is nothing short of amazing.  The defense has shaped up, and Alex Smith continues to manage the game mistake free.  I’ve liked what Oakland has done this season, and it sets them up for next season, but give me KC on the road. KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Panthers @ Saints: The league’s only undefeated team takes the show on the road to their division rival.  Carolina has gotten better every week, and now they look to move to 12-0.  New Orleans is the best case for the Panthers to do so against, as the Saints have shown they can’t stop anyone in 2015.  And with an inconsistent offense, this should be an easy one for the Panthers.  CAROLINA WINS
  • Eagles @ Patriots: Philadelphia had a shot at the NFC East for a second straight season, but a couple awful performances in a row have put them in a tough position.  Now they have to figure things out on the road against an angry Patriots team who gained more injuries and their first loss in week 12.  Despite New England’s offensive injuries, they’re by far the better team, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t get back on track in a big way in week 13. NEW ENGLAND WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Colts @ Steelers: Indianapolis is finally on a win streak but have company atop the AFC South.  Pittsburgh finds itself in the thick of the AFC Wildcard hunt despite an alarming number of injuries.  Pittsburgh defense has been pretty good all season, even if they have allowed 30-plus two of the last three weeks.  The Colts have had issues on defense, in addition to their offensive issues.  And because of that, despite better play of late, I’m going with the home team in this game. PITTSBURGH WINS 

Monday Night Football

  • Cowboys @ Redskins: Last season, the Skins were in the cellar, and the Boys were in a fight for the division.  A year later, it’s the reverse.  Washington is on fire, and Dallas is without their quarterback again.   Washington’s defense has been up and down, but Kirk Cousins has taken the starting job and ran with it, helping cover up those problems.  Add that the skins have been a lot better at home this season, and I’ll take the home team to stay atop the East for another week. WASHINGTON WINS

NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Round Picks

The second season is here. We have the match-ups, we have the times. The NFL Playoffs are here.  It was an interesting regular season, that saw one division finish under .500, while another sent 3 teams to the playoffs. The rookie wide-receiving class was one of the best we’ve ever seen.  Two of the teams with the longest playoff droughts (Buffalo and Cleveland) both had chances for much of the season to snap said postseason ruts, but neither could. Tom Brady proved he wasn’t done, Aaron Rodgers continues to climb up the ladder and JJ Watt can do no wrong.  How about the defending champs with a chance to repeat? Not to mention all the off-the-field issues. The regular season was full of intrigue, and the playoffs promise to be just as entertaining.

As for my regular season picks record, I ended at 165-90 after a 10-6 week 17, which is pretty good if I do say so myself.

Before we get to my first round playoff picks, let’s see how my preseason predictions for playoff teams went.

NFC Playoff Teams

  • Eagles, Packers, Seahawks, Saints, Panthers, 49ers

(I got the NFC North and West winners right, but I had Carolina in as a wildcard. Not bad, not great.)

AFC Playoff Teams

  • Broncos, Patriots, Colts, Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs

(I was a lot better here, missing on the Steelers and where the Bengals would end up).

Saturday Games

  • Cardinals @ Panthers: It’s the NFC 4-5 match-up that pits an 11-5 West team versus the 7-8-1 South Champions, and the first meeting between the two teams since October 2013. Arizona was the class of the NFC for much of the season following a 9-1 start, but the loss of starting QB Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton saw them close the regular season losers of 4 of their last 6.  They lost possible home-field, a bye and the division they were running away with and now they have to open up on the road, where they were .500 in the regular season.  Carolina is hot and holds the momentum of a 4-game win streak into the playoffs.  Cam Newton seems revitalized after early season injuries and escaping a car accident. The Panthers run game is better than the Cardinals.  Arizona’s defense has been huge all season, while the Panthers has come on of late.  The biggest difference is at QB with Ryan Lindley, the Cardinals 4th stringer, vs Newton.  Midway through the season there was a chance of seeing the Superbowl host city’s team playing the big game, now I see a 1st round knock out. CAROLINA WINS
  • Ravens @ Steelers: AFC North foes meet for the 3rd time this season in a 3-6 match-up.  These two teams split the season series, each winning in blowout fashion.  Pittsburgh reeled off 4-straight wins en-route to the division title, whereas the Ravens needed everything to fall right in week 17 for them to make it in.  The Steelers boast the 2nd ranked offense in the league, who will be up against the Ravens 8th ranked defense.  With rain in the forecast, the ground game becomes even more important.  Pittsburgh could be without their great back Le’Veon Bell, who finished the season 2nd only to DeMarco Murray in rush yards with 1,361.  Baltimore has the 5th leading rusher in Justin Forsett, so this one is going to be fun to watch in the trenches.  If the rain isn’t too bad, Ben Roethlisberger holds the advantage in the air over Joe Flacco. Both teams have won a Superbowl in the past 6 years, so neither will be scared off by the bright lights. I think this will be a close one, but give me the home team to take this one.  PITTSBURGH WINS

Sunday Games

  • Bengals @ Colts: The AFC 4-5 game starts things off early on Sunday with two teams that were in the playoffs a year ago.  Cincinnati lost their chance to host a game in week 17, and now look to snap their 3-straight one-and-done playoff streak on the road.  Indianapolis had been struggling despite locking up back-to-back South titles, but got back on track last week with a big game against Tennessee.  Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton both have something to prove in this game, as both had way too many turnovers in the regular season. That being said, I like Luck better than Dalton in every facet of the game.  Cincinnati’s only real the edge is on the ground with the emergence of Jeremy Hill.  I picked the Bengals to finally advance to the 2nd round, and if they control time of possession they very well could get the road victory.  But I think Andrew Luck is poised to make a run, and because I had them losing to Denver in the AFC Championship game before the season, I’ll stick to that now. INDIANAPOLIS WINS
  • Lions @ Cowboys: The game of the weekend in the NFL pits an 11-5 Detroit team against a 12-4 Dallas team most didn’t see coming.  The Lions finally put all their talent together, but offensive struggles in the 2nd half allowed the Packers to sneak in and steal the division, forcing them to open up on the road.  Most thought the Cowboys defense would be historically bad once again, and while it was still bottom half in the league, they made the stops they needed to.  What really carried Dallas was the three headed monster on offense of Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo, who all broke Cowboy records for yards at their respective positions. Good thing Detroit has the 2nd ranked defense to try and combat Dallas’ 7th ranked offense. Both teams have been regarded as two of the most talented teams over the past 6 years or so, but neither have done much to earn too much praise. So who moves on? Both QBs have been known to commit turnovers in key situations, but Romo hasn’t in a while now. I think the Lions defense finally forces a mistake, while slowing down Murray in the process. It’s going to be close, but I think Detroit finds a way, with Calvin Johnson looking like his old self, to win on the road.  DETROIT WINS

NFL: Week 17 Picks

The regular season comes down to this, one playoff spot in each conference remains up for grabs, with plenty of seeding to be set.  Three divisions are still unclaimed, including the NFC South, the final spot left unclaimed and all three of those battles are winner-take-all on top of it.  We couldn’t have asked for a better end to the regular season.

In Week 16, I went 10-6 to bring my season total to 155-84.  Here’s my final regular season set of picks. Comment with your thoughts!

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Bills @ Patriots: A win doesn’t help either team, as the Pats have already clinched home-field throughout the AFC playoffs, while the Bills are out of the playoff picture.  But as Tom Brady said in his press conference this week, with a bye in the 1st round, they need to make this game count so they stay fresh and ready. I don’t expect the starters to play the whole game, maybe just the 1st half, but I think New England gets the win, their 13th of the season. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Browns @ Ravens: Baltimore needs a win to keep themselves in the conversation, but if the Chargers win, that’s it.  Cleveland is on their 3rd quarterback after Johnny Manziel’s injury and the ineffectiveness of Brian Hoyer.  THey had a good run, but I don’t think the Browns finish with their first non-losing record since 2007, completing a 2nd half collapse.  I’ll take the Ravens to at least give themselves a chance at the final spot in the AFC. BALTIMORE WINS
  • Bears @ Vikings: Jay Cutler is back under center and looking to finish a down year on a high note.  Minnesota has had an okay season for a team that lost it;s starting QB and all-pro running back early.  If the Vikings get the win, the Bears will finish all alone in the NFC North cellar.  And that’s exactly what I think happens.  MINNESOTA WINS
  • Cowboys @ Redskins: The Cowboys are back in the playoffs after 3-straight seasons of finishing at 8-8, and they have a shot at a first round bye.  With a hand injury to DeMarco Murray, and Tony Romo’s back, they could use it.  A lot has to go right, but they have home-field locked up at the very least by virtue of winning the NFC East. DALLAS WINS
  • Colts @ Titans: Andrew Luck is having the worst season of his young career, and yet his Colts are division champs once again. But the turnovers can’t continue, and if you’re Indy, you want to see a crisp game heading into the playoffs. Seeding is still a factor, but they have home field in the first round, so I don’t think a full game will be played by the starters. That being said, I still think the Colts get a much-needed win to make them feel better before the postseason kicks off. INDIANAPOLIS WINS
  • Jaguars @ Texans: Jacksonville has a lot of pieces, especially on defenses, to make the future look bright. Add to that another top 3 pick, and they could make some noise fairly soon.  A loss would help things along, so while I don;t think they’ll go out and throw the season finale, I also don’t think they win. JJ Watt will look to finish the year strong and add to his MVP caliber campaign. HOUSTON WINS
  • Chargers @ Chiefs: When I looked at this match-up earlier in the week, I had the Chargers winning.  Now that Alex Smith is out for the Chiefs with a lacerated spleen, I’m even more sure that San Diego will lock up the final AFC playoff spot. Philip Rivers and company have had an odd season, but they can wipe it all away with a win and playoff berth, and I think that’s exactly what I think they do. SAN DIEGO WINS
  • Jets @ Dolphins: New York has been a disappointment all season, while the Dolphins have been disappointing to close out the season.  We know Joe Philbin will be back for 2015 in Miami, but we don’t know the true fate of Rex Ryan for the Jets. Ryan has had more success than Philbin as a head coach, but they coach in competely different markets so who knows.  All I know is I like Ryan Tannehill better than both Geno Smith and Mike Vick combined, and I saw a better defense all season long for Miami than New York.  So for that, I understand another year for Philbin.  That is also why I think the Dolphins end the season with a win. MIAMI WINS
  • Saints @ Buccaneers: This game means nothing to New Orleans but looking to end the season with a little pride. In a bad NFC South, a playoff perennial squad led by Drew Brees couldn’t even make it to week 17 in contention for the playoffs. As for Tampa, it’s been a lost season from the jump, and here they sit with a chance at the number 1 pick, with only Tennessee in the way, entering action with identical 2-13 records. Give me the Saints to finish the season with a win. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Eagles @ Giants: After being in the lead in the NFC East for most of the season, week 17 finds the Eagles out of the playoff picture and just looking to be a 10 win team that doesn’t make it.  The Giants have turned things around in the 2nd half of the season, and are a different team than when the two played the first time around.  Give me the Giants to finish out the season at 7-9 with another good day from Odell Beckham Jr, the probable Offensive Rookie of the Year. NEW YORK WINS

Sunday 4:25PM Games

  • Panthers @ Falcons: The winner is playoff bound. The loser goes home.  Neither team finishes above .500, but will host a tough 10+ win team in the wildcard round. Cam Newton’s health/ability is questionable after his car accident, while Matt Ryan’s offense is scary good.  Neither team’s defense has been impressive this season, so I’m going to go with the home team in this one. ATLANTA WINS
  • Raiders @ Broncos: The Broncos don’t have to win to ensure a first round bye, but you know they want to go into the playoffs strong and not leave things up to chance.  Peyton Manning is coming off one of his worst games ever in week 16, so you know he’s looking to bounce back.  Oakland has all but knocked themselves out of the top draft spot with 3 wins, but they’re still going to be in prime position.  Derek Carr has shown growth, so all is not lost in Raider Nation.  That being said, this is a home game with a week off at stake, give me the Broncos to get the job done. DENVER WINS
  • Cardinals @ 49ers: San Francisco has been a strange team all season, and they’ll be missing the playoffs after a nice streak of success th past few years under Jim Harbaugh.  With signs pointing to Harbaugh parting ways with the Niners sooner rather than later, I think the team plays hard for him one more time.  I just don’t think it results in a win.  The QB situation for Arizona is less-than ideal heading into the playoffs, but their defense can carry them for a while.  Ryan Lindley gets the start over rookie Logan Thomas, with news that Drew Stanton could be back for the playoffs.  They have a playoff spot no matter what, but they more than anyone else in the NFC, really needed that bye week, but their tailspin has coincided with the Seahawks resurgence.  ARIZONA WINS
  • Lions @ Packers: Winner gets the NFC North crown and home-field in the first round. The loser gets a wildcard spot. A first round bye is also in play for the winner of this one, so it’s the biggest game of the weekend. Detroit has been carried all season by their defense, but their potent offense has started to pick it up of late. The Packers are nearly unbeatable at home, looking to go 8-0 at Lambeau, so you know Green Bay wants to avoid going on the road as long as possible in the playoffs as they can.  Aaron Rodgers has more experience in high pressure games than Matt Stafford, and I think that’s the difference this week. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Rams @ Seahawks: The reigning champs started the season off slowly, but they are peaking at the right time, and a win guarantees a first round bye, and they have a shot at home-field throughout, and in 12-man territory that would be huge.  St. Louis has had a respectable season, their defense is formidable and their wins have come against some of the league’s best.  They will make the tough NFC West tougher next season with a stable QB. SEATTLE WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Bengals @ Steelers: It’s the battle for the AFC North and home-field advantage in the 1st round. Both teams are already in the playoffs, and both could still, with a lot of help, get a bye.  Cincinnati hasn’t been super impressive for most of the season, but in clinching a playoff spot last week, they sure were.  Andy Dalton outplayed Peyton Manning, and the defense stepped up big time.  Not to mention how great Jeremy Hill was out of the backfield.  But Pittsburgh has been coming on strong of late, and their run game is even more dangerous with Le’veon Bell in the backfield.  Ben Rothelisberger looks like his old self, and with this game in front of the black-and-yellow, I’m taking the Steelers to win the most competitive division in football.  Though as I said last week when I picked against the Bengals, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cincy pulls the upset.  I had them finally breaking their 1-and-done playoff streak this season prior to the start of the year, so a huge road in against their division foe wouldn’t shock me at all. PITTSBURGH WINS