Top 10 Boston Sports Events of 2017

Welcome to my 2017 sports year in review!  This year has been historic in Boston sports, as all 4 of our teams made the playoffs and the Pats won a championship.  Today I will list the Top 10 stories of the year.

10. Patriots lock up home-field advantage throughout 2017-18 AFC Playoffs

Image result for brandin cooks jets @ patriots

With a win over the Jets today, the Pats locked up the #1 seed, giving them home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs.  The Steelers, who also went 13-3, grabbed the 2nd seed, but the Pats have the tiebreaker after a big win over Pittsburgh, which may be mentioned later on our list.

9. Celtics Sign Gordon Hayward

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This summer, the Celts signed former Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward.  Although he did not get to play much due to a brutal leg injury, it was a good signing that will help the Celtics offensive efforts in coming years.  The question is, will Hayward ever fully heal?

8. Red Sox Clinch Division

After a tough fight for the division with the Yankees, the Sox clinched the division in a 6-3 win against the Astros.  The Sox won the division for the 2nd straight year, but it will be tougher this year as the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton.

7. Pats Trade Jimmy Garoppolo to 49ers

Image result for jimmy garoppolo 49ers

This was a surprising move as Brady is 40 years old and should have a young backup ready.  Garoppolo also did really well during Brady’s suspension.  The Garoppolo effect has led the 49ers to a pretty good final record.  How much longer can it last?

6. Celtics Trade #1 Pick to 76ers, Acquire #3 Pick Instead

The Celtics had won the pick in the lottery after their trade with the Nets.  However, it didn’t matter as the guy they wanted, Jayson Tatum, was not going before Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, and the Celtics were able to draft him.  Honestly, he’s doing better than Fultz or Ball.  He’s led the Celtics as a rookie, something that has not happened in a long time.

5. Celtics surprise Wizards as they win Game 7 of Eastern Conference Semifinals

Image result for celtics win game 7 vs wizards

I was losing faith in the Celts, but they pulled it off.  However, they lost to Cleveland the next round.

4. Pats Trade with Saints, Acquire Brandin Cooks

Image result for brandin cooks pats

This was a good move as Cooks became the Pats’ #1 receiver and deep threat this season as Julian Edelman went down with a torn ACL.

3. Celtics acquire Kyrie Irving from Cavaliers, Give Up Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder

Image result for kyrie irving celtics

Irving has made a difference this season, and Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder haven’t done nearly as much as him.  This is a good trade so far, but Thomas has been hurt, so the outcome is still unknown.

2. Patriots shock Steelers to secure tiebreaker, clinch division

Image result for gronk 2 point conversion vs steelers

This was the Game of the Year.  The Pats came back at the last minute with a TD and 2 point conversion.  To read more about it, check out this article: Pats Stun Pittsburgh and Steal Win

1. Pats Win Super Bowl LI as Falcons blow 28-3 Lead

Image result for pats win super bowl 51

If there’s any game this year that was better than the Pats-Steelers match-up this month, it’s this one.  The Pats came back from a 25-point Falcons lead, going to the first ever Super Bowl overtime and winning the game, 34-28.  To read more about it, read this article: Best Super Bowl Ever: Pats Win 5th Ring in OT Miracle

That’s all for this article.  Happy New Year, and stay tuned for playoff predictions coming tomorrow.

NFL Week 17 Picks

Welcome to my Week 17 Picks.  Last week I went 10-6, putting my overall record at 144-101.  With playoff contention and seeding on the line, who will come out on top this week?  Read below to find out, and comment on your thoughts.

Note: Due to continuous technical difficulties with one of my editing apps, I was not able to include the score images.

Lock of the Week

Redskins, 30, Giants, 0

Led by QB Kirk Cousins, I expect the Redskins to rout and shutout the Giants in New York.  The Giants will be without WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram due to injuries, and they are still missing WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall.  Without those four receiving weapons, the Giants will fail to challenge the Redskins D.  That will make it easy for Cousins to lead the Redskins to victory, causing the problematic, injury-riddled Giants to finish 2-14.

Upset of the Week

Panthers, 31, Falcons, 27

I see the Panthers winning in a shootout here.  QB Cam Newton will connect with his favorite target, TE Greg Olsen to help lead Carolina.  RB Christian McCaffrey will also make major contributions to their victory.  The Falcons will challenge them though, as they figure out how to outsmart the Panthers secondary.  WR Julio Jones will dominate, and I think he’ll catch at least 2 TD from QB Matt Ryan.  Their run game will also contribute, but it will not be enough as Carolina snags a victory.

The Other Games

Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Patriots, 23, Jets, 16

Expect a better performance out of the Pats front seven.  They will pressure QB Josh McCown and slow down the Jets run game as new LB James Harrison leads them.  I expect him to come through as he is seeking revenge on his old team, the Steelers.  I also think QB Tom Brady will find his receivers against the young Jets secondary and will avoid being picked off for the first time in weeks.

The Pats secondary will also have a big game in my opinion.  They will also be motivated to beat the Steelers.  They will make it hard for McCown to find his receivers and slow down the rhythm of the Jets offense.  This motivated Pats team will play complementary football and win the game.

 

Steelers, 28, Browns, 20

The Browns will try to grab their first victory of 2017, but will not succeed against the playoff-bound Steelers, who are fighting for a chance at the #1 seed.  The Browns offense will actually look decent here, but the Steelers offense will top that, even without WR Antonio Brown.  QB Ben Roethlisberger will find other options with Brown hurt.  Pittsburgh should grab a victory with ease, even without Brown, as the Browns go 0-16.

 

Colts, 23, Texans, 21

I think Texans QB T.J. Yates will actually look decent against the weak Colts defense, but he won’t be able to do as much without his #1 receiver, DeAndre Hopkins.  The Texans run game will also do well, as the duo of Lamar Miller and Dont’a Foreman will score two of the three Houston touchdowns.  But the Colts offense will get the edge as QB Jacoby Brissett tosses 2 TD and leads Indy to victory.

 

Eagles, 30, Cowboys, 27

The Eagles will top Dallas, but it will not be as high scoring as last time.  QB Nick Foles will have a decent game, but he will not be able to do the same thing that star QB Carson Wentz was able to do.  But the Eagles offense will still do well, and they will also use their run game to their advantage.  The Eagles defense will also do well, holding off Dallas as Philly wins, going 14-2 on the season.

 

Lions, 27, Packers, 6

Unfortunately, I think the injury-riddled Packers will end up finishing the season in shambles, losing to the Lions in 2017 season finale.  Lions QB Matthew Stafford will throw a trio of TD to take the early lead, and Green Bay will fail to fight back.  The Lions will win with ease as the Packers start focusing on next season, hoping to come back healthy in 2018.  This year, they were devastated by injuries to their QB, Aaron Rodgers among other stars.  This week, Rodgers is out, and so are wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams.

Vikings, 28, Bears, 9

Expect the Bears offense to struggle against the tough Vikes defense.  Their run game will be shut down, and QB Mitch Trubisky won’t be able to start an offensive rhythm as there is a lack of receiving weapons in Chicago right now.  On the other hand, the Vikings offense will continue to strive as the Vikes win, led by dominance on both sides of the ball.

Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

Bills, 27, Dolphins, 24

The WR trio of Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Jordan Matthews will help lead the Bills to victory in Miami against the young, struggling Dolphins secondary.  The Dolphins will be able to slow down RB LeSean McCoy, but not the Bills’ receiving trio.  The Miami receiving trio will also do well, but their lack of a run game will cost them as Buffalo wins.

Ravens, 20, Bengals, 13

The Ravens defense will be dominant in this game, shutting down Bengals QB Andy Dalton and holding him to just 1 touchdown.  The Ravens offense will also thrive, even without starting WR Jeremy Maclin and even against a tough Bengals defense.  They will be led by their other starting WR Mike Wallace.  Baltimore will win in a low scoring game after a strong performance on both sides of the ball.

 

Titans, 23, Jaguars, 20

The Titans will edge out the Jaguars in a relatively low scoring game.  The Jags defense will slow down Titans RB Derrick Henry, and the Titans will fail to run the ball with Henry well covered and RB DeMarco Murray out.  However, the Jags will fail to do the same against the versatile group of Titans receivers.

The Jaguars will struggle to perform offensively without some of their key weapons like receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee.  But they will come close to spoiling the Titans’ chances, led by their younger receivers like Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole.   In the end, the Titans will grab the victory.

 

Chiefs, 16, Broncos, 13

The Chiefs offense will not be the same with WR Tyreek Hill resting up for the playoffs, and the Broncos defense will be able to hold the, down early.  But TE Travis Kelce, the run game, and other receivers will help the Chiefs take the lead later on.  Denver will also struggle offensively without a definitive starter at QB and with both WR Emmanuel Sanders and WR Cody Latimer hurt.  But the combo of QB Trevor Siemian and WR Demaryius Thomas will grab the lead early.  However, they will blow it later on as the Chiefs make an effort to come back and succeed.

 

Chargers, 45, Raiders, 34

The Raiders will make a good effort here.  They will target the Chargers’ weakness in the secondary by going with a pass-heavy offense.  QB Derek Carr will dominate, throwing for 350 yards and 4 TD.  But it won’t be enough against the dominant Chargers offense.  LA’s offense will electrify as they play for one last shot to make the playoffs.  With playoff contention on the line, the Chargers will score 5 or more offensive touchdowns, led by QB Philip Rivers as well as their TE duo among others.  The Chargers will win in a shootout as Oakland cannot keep up despite Carr’s huge game.

 

Saints, 30, Buccaneers, 26

QB Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense will come close against the Saints, but the powerful New Orleans secondary will slow them down as they play great red zone defense.  The Saints will also put up another strong offensive performance as Brees tosses 3 TD, leading the Saints to victory.

 

Seahawks, 27, Cardinals, 24

Despite a strong effort by the Cardinals with WR John Brown, the Seahawks will comeback to win at home.  The Seahawks defense will not be able to shut down the Cardinals receivers without CB Richard Sherman, but the TE Jimmy Graham and the Seahawks offense will lead Seattle to victory.

 

Rams, 34, 49ers, 27

The success of new 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will not be enough against the powerful Rams offense.  The 49ers offense will come close though, as Garoppolo connects with multiple receivers for touchdowns.  But it still will not be enough, as RB Todd Gurley, QB Jared Goff and WR Sammy Watkins lead LA to victory in a close game.

 

That’s all for my Week 17 Picks.  If my predictions are right, according to the ESPN Playoff Machine, the playoff seeding will look like this:

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Stay tuned for more NFL preview videos and picks coming soon.  In addition, with MLB free agency kicking into gear, my prediction article is coming soon.  Also stay tuned for my article about 2017 in sports as we ring in 2018 tonight.

Pats Sign James Harrison, Is This the Right Move?

After losing linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower to injuries, the Pats’ front seven needed some help. To resolve this, the Patriots signed veteran LB James Harrison after he was released by the Steelers on Saturday. This is an interesting move as Harrison left his long time team and joined their rivals. But new reports are saying that Harrison wanted off the Steelers. The Steelers continued to say that they needed him, but they did not use him much, and he was released.

Harrison spent his first 14 seasons in Pittsburgh, collecting 80.5 sacks and 7 interceptions during his time with the team. Does Harrison have anything left in the tank, or is there a reason that the Steelers benched him?

Part of me thinks he’ll be unmotivated after wanting to leave his last team. But another part of me thinks that he will be motivated to get revenge on his former team. If he performs, he will be compared to other late season veteran signings made by the Pats, like RB Steven Jackson (2015) and WR Michael Floyd (2016).

Although there is some risk, I think this is a good signing. I expect Harrison to make an impact going into the playoffs, especially if we face his former team. I predict that Harrison will be a leader on the defense, and not only will he perform, but he will also help the younger players in the front seven. Most of the time, Bill Belichick’s decisions have paid off, so I trust him here. Let’s just hope he learns the Pats playbook quickly and doesn’t get into any trouble with the referees like some new Pats players have.

NFL Week 16 Picks: Exciting Week Ahead as Teams Lock Up Playoff Spots

Welcome to my Week 16 Picks. Last week I went 12-4, putting my overall record at 131-95. I was not able to release my Week 15 Picks due to technical difficulties, so here they are:

Broncos, 21, Colts, 19

Lions, 31, Bears, 13

Chargers, 33, Chiefs, 27

Bills, 30, Dolphins, 27

Saints, 23, Jets, 19

Ravens, 24, Browns, 23

Vikings, 27, Bengals, 17

Jaguars, 27, Texans, 19

Eagles, 26, Giants, 14

Redskins, 23, Cardinals, 10

Panthers, 30, Packers, 27 (OT)

Rams, 30, Seahawks, 20

Patriots, 30, Steelers, 27

Titans, 35, 49ers, 20

Raiders, 31, Cowboys, 27

Buccaneers, 31, Falcons, 23

Now for my Week 16 Picks. I was only able to do a full description for my lock and upset due to family commitments, but I have provided the rest of my scores and notes on the other games. Merry Christmas.

Lock of the Week

Jaguars, 28, 49ers, 9

The Jags offense will look good against the weak Niners defense. The Jags defense will dominate, shutting down the Niners receiving weapons. Even the Garoppolo effect won’t be enough to stop them as QB Jimmy Garoppolo fails to find his receivers.

Upset of the Week

Titans, 27, Rams, 24

RB Todd Gurley will try and lead the Rams offense early on, and their defense will shut down the Titans run game. However, the Titans will win in a comeback against the depleted LA secondary. They will be led by their versatile receivers as well as their star TE Delanie Walker, as QB Marcus Mariota grabs a victory.

The Other Games

Saturday

Ravens, 28, Colts, 23

– Ravens TD: Rush TD Alex Collins, Pass TD Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman

– Colts TD: T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief

– Ravens receiving crew dominates against Indy’s depleted secondary

– Colts struggle to fight back against strong offensive day by Ravens

– Ravens win with ease against weak Colts defense

Vikings, 34, Packers, 27

– Vikings TD: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Kyle Rudolph

– Packers TD: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams

– Rodgers looks strong against divisional rivals

– But it’s not enough as Vikings offense dominates, especially with return of Rudolph the Red-Nosed TE

– Vikes win as they slow down Packers, set their dominant offense up for success

Sunday

Patriots, 30, Bills, 23

– Patriots TD: Rush TD Dion Lewis, Pass TD Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks

– Bills TD: Rush TD LeSean McCoy, Pass TD Zay Jones

– Pats look strong again after offense gathered momentum for comeback victory last week

– They use balanced attack to outsmart Bills defense

– Bills challenge, McCoy dominates against weak Pats front seven, receivers give Pats secondary a tough time

– Pats win in the end as Hogan returns, Brady finds receivers

Chiefs, 16, Dolphins, 13

– Chiefs TD: Tyreek Hill

– Dolphins TD: Julius Thomas

– Chiefs offense continues to struggle, especially against tough Miami defensive front

– But Chiefs defense dominant, shutting down Cutler and his receivers

– Dolphins fail to run the ball without Ajayi, Chiefs seal the deal

Chargers, 30, Jets, 27

– Chargers TD: Travis Benjamin, Mike Williams, Antonio Gates

– Jets TD: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse

– Jets have strong offensive day against weak Chargers secondary

– But Chargers continue to thrive offensively even after struggles in KC last week

– Jets come close to stopping them, but Chargers win after another good offensive performance

Lions, 27, Bengals, 19

– Lions TD: Eric Ebron, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones

– Bengals TD: A.J. Green

– Stafford leads Detroit to triumphant victory after finding Ebron, Golladay for big plays

– Bengals offense cannot find its groove without Eifert among others

– Lions win after slowing down Cincy, thriving offensively

Browns, 24, Bears, 21

– Browns TD: Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, David Njoku

– Bears TD: Rush TD Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Pass TD Kendall Wright

– Led by RBs, Bears try to win at home

– But Gordon, Browns offense challenges them, Kizer looks good against Bears weak front seven

– Browns manage to win, and it won’t be the snoozefest you were expecting as offenses do well due to sloppy defense

Redskins, 26, Broncos, 24

– Redskins TD: Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis

– Broncos TD: Pass TD Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Defensive TD Aqib Talib

– Redskins offense slowed down drastically by No Fly Zone, Talib even intercepts Cousins for pick six

– But Broncos offense just doesn’t produce enough to fight back, even after being boosted by Talib’s TD

Saints, 27, Falcons, 23

– Saints TD: Rush TD Alvin Kamara, Pass TD Brandon Coleman, Michael Thomas

– Falcons TD: Julio Jones, Austin Hooper

– Saints continue to look strong on offense, led by Brees, Kamara & Thomas

– Jones & Hooper try to lead Falcons comeback, but fail against tough Saints defense

Buccaneers, 30, Panthers, 22

– Buccaneers TD: O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Mike Evans

– Panthers TD: Greg Olsen

– Panthers struggle to stump Bucs D

– Bucs offense looks good even without Jackson as Winston leads them to victory

Cardinals, 12, Giants, 6

– Cardinals TD: NONE

– Giants TD: NONE

– Both offenses struggle regressively

– Giants secondary shuts down Cards receivers, vice versatile

– Cardinals edge out victory with some of their offensive weapons back from injuries

Cowboys, 30, Seahawks, 24

– Cowboys TD: Rush TD Ezekiel Elliott, Pass TD Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams

– Seahawks TD: Paul Richardson, Jimmy Graham, Tyler Lockett

– Cowboys thrive in Elliott’s return, even against powerful Seattle defense

– Seahawks try to fight back, but can’t produce enough offensively as Cowboys win

Monday

Steelers, 26, Texans, 20 (OT)

– Steelers TD: Rush TD Le’Veon Bell Pass TD Eli Rogers, JuJu Smith-Schuster,

– Texans TD: DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller V

– Steelers manage to win even without Brown against weak Houston D

– Texans try to fight back, taking advantage of Brown’s absence, but they cannot finish them off without Watson

– Steelers get caught in another tight thriller, but this time they win

Eagles, 38, Raiders, 27

– Eagles TD: Rush TD Jay Ajayi, Pass TD Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz

– Raiders TD: Jared Cook, Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper

– Eagles dominate offensively, even with Wentz out as Raiders secondary struggles

– Run game also does well, led by many different elite RBs

– Carr, Raiders offense also thrives, but cannot come close to matching Philly’s numbers

That’s all for my picks this week. Who will get the Christmas gift of a playoff berth this week? Find out soon.

Melican Takes Early Lead, Holds On Against Gibbons

Like last year, I am covering some of my middle school (Melican Middle School) basketball team’s home games.  Here is my recap from the boys team’s second home game of the season against Gibbons Middle School.

The Melican boys basketball team topped Gibbons at home, 71-44. Melican took a huge lead early, but led by #15 Nick B. and #23 James H., Gibbons made it closer later on. Melican was still able to hold off Westboro, winning by a large deficit (27 points)! They were led by a double-double from James J., who scored 15 points and got 14 rebounds. Aidan and Cam S. added 14 and 12 points, respectively.

The game started off low-scoring, as the Melican team made some great defensive plays. The Melican offense began to gain some momentum towards the end of the 1st quarter, making it 15-9 to end the quarter. By about halfway through the 2nd quarter, Melican was on a 17-3 run. Beau O. set the tone to begin the quarter by sinking a huge 3-pointer. They outscored Gibbons 23-7 through the entire 2nd quarter, taking a secure 38-16 lead by halftime.

#15 Nick B. helped Gibbons start the 3rd quarter strong. He led Gibbons to nearly match Melican’s stats in the 3rd. But after gaining such a huge lead before half, Melican was able to hold onto a 56-32 lead. Early on in the 4th, Melican was able to hold off Gibbons. But James H. And Nick B. continued to lead Gibbons. However, Melican was able to keep up, and they held onto their lead. Although James H. made a lot of shots late in the game, Melican won, 71-44. The team heads to Charlton on Thursday? Will they have the same success that they did today?

 

Stats

Melican

#.   Name.     PTS
31 Aidan CF.   4
32 Tucker G.   0
14 James J.      15
10 Joe K.          0
22. Connor L. 6
23.  Adam M. 0
04  Beau O.     5
05 Patrick P.   3
12 Aidan S.   14
11. Cam S.     12
13 Jacob S.    10
03. Harrison S.  2

Total: 71

Other Interesting Stats

– James J. had a double double with 15 points and 14 rebounds
– Jacob S. did not just have 10 points, he also had 7 steals

Gibbons

#. Name. PTS. .

01.                  0
02.                  0
03.                   6
04. Aidan L.  0
05.                  0
11 Luke G.    2
12.                  4
14.                  0
15. Nick B.    18
21.                  4
22. Colin S.    0
23. James H. 14

Total: 44

Team.      1.    2.   3.  4. TOT
Gibbons. 9.   7.   16. 12. 44
Melican. 15. 23. 18. 15. 71

Pats Stun Pittsburgh and Steal Win

With 8 minutes left in the game, the Pats were down by eight points, and I was losing hope.  I don’t know how they won.  They had a nice drive going, but Pats QB Tom Brady was sacked, and they were held to a field goal.  Then they took a 27-24 lead in a 2-minute drill by scoring a TD and a 2-point conversion.  But they left 1-minute for the Steelers.  They almost blew it.  On the first play with 52 seconds left, the Pats couldn’t get their hands on Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster on a short pass over the middle as he escaped tacklers and scurried down the field for 69 yards.  On the next play, TE Jesse James scored a TD on a pass up the middle diving into the end zone.  But video replay reversed the call.  2 plays later with no timeouts left and about 15 seconds left, Big Ben faked the spike and then tried to force a pass up the middle.  Eric Rowe deflected it right into the hands of Harmon, stunning the Steelers, and stealing the win

The Patriots won in comeback fashion in what was arguably the game of the year, as the Pats beat Pittsburgh 27-24.  You could argue that there was no tangible evidence to overturn the Steelers last-minute touchdown but the resilience the Pats showed leading up to the play, they deserved a call in their favor.  It all started on New England’s first drive.

QB Tom Brady and WR Brandin Cooks tried to set the tone early as Brady threw Cooks a 43-yard pass that brought the Patriots into the red zone within the first five minutes of the game.  RB Rex Burkhead ran in for the TD and the Pats took the early 7-0 lead.

Image result for brandin cooks 43 yard catch vs steelers

But the Steelers weren’t about to let New England win easy.  Using the Patriots’ defensive weaknesses to their advantage, they marched down the field and responded with an 18 yard TD of their own, tying the game at 7.

The Steelers didn’t stop there.  In the next drive, their defense thrived, sacking Tom Brady and forcing them to punt.  Led by a 39-yard Martavis Bryant reception, they had another big drive following that.  But after Bryant’s nice catch, the Pats were at least able to hold Pittsburgh to a field goal.  It was now 10-7 Steelers as Chris Boswell made a 51-yard field goal.  But Steelers superstar WR Antonio Brown had hurt his calf, and he was taken to the hospital.

Image result for antonio brown injury

The Pats countered with another big play drive, this time a 31-yard catch by Pats TE Rob Gronkowski and the Pats were able to tie it up again at 10.   This was just one of two catches Gronk made in the 1st half, but he made a huge impact in the 2nd half.  But before the half, the Steelers were able to score 1 more TD, while also preventing a Patriots double score opportunity as their drive burned most of the 2nd quarter clock.  The Steelers clock-eating drives were led by star RB Le’Veon Bell, who dominated against the depleted Pats front seven.  They did not slow down even with Brown out of the game.  The Pats would get the ball in the 2nd half but would have to do so without RB Rex Burkhead who was knocked out of the game with a knee injury.

Image result for leveon bell vs pats

The Pats began the 2nd half with a strong drive as Brandin Cooks scored a touchdown after Gronk began to make a bigger impact.  But they missed the extra point which put them down by one 17-16.  After they shut the Steelers down, the Pats were ready to score again.  But Tom Brady was intercepted early in the drive.  Le’Veon Bell led the Steelers into the end zone quickly, and the Pats were now down by eight, 24-16.

As the 4th quarter began, the Steelers had the ball, and they began to eat up a lot of time as they tried to hold off the Patriots.  They held onto the ball for the first 7 minutes of the 4th quarter, leaving the Pats down by eight with just 8 minutes to come back.  In their first drive of the 4th quarter, they started off strong.  Gronk almost caught a 23-yard pass and the Steelers were penalized for clear pass interference.  However, Brady got sacked on third down after a pair of incompletions, and they were held to a field goal.

It wasn’t over though.  The Pats shut down the Steelers on the next drive with the only 3 and out for either team and got the ball back with a little over two minutes to go.  If they could successfully complete this 2-minute drill for a TD, they could secure a victory.  They marched down the field, as Gronk caught three straight passes for a total of 69 yards.  You could argue that his final catch was almost as good as WR Julian Edelman’s catch in Super Bowl LI.  Gronk just barely saved the ball before it hit the ground.

Image result for rob gronkowski vs steelers 2017

RB Dion Lewis ran it in for the touchdown, but New England scored too fast going 77 yards in 1:10.  They needed to go for the 2-point conversion to take a 3-point lead and at the very least hold Pittsburgh to a field goal and head into overtime.  Brady tossed it to Gronk for the conversion.  Gronk finished the 2nd half with 7 receptions for 135 yards, making a huge impact.  The Steelers had a little under a minute to respond.

The Steelers were confident that they could still win it, and Big Ben completed one 69-yard pass to WR JuJu Smith-Schuster.  As the Pats couldn’t get their hands on Smith-Schuster, the Steelers were able to do what the Pats did in three passes in just one big play.  The Steelers then scored with what was ruled a touchdown by TE Jesse James.  But the call was reversed, giving hope to all the Patriots fans out there, including me.  Two plays later, Big Ben tried to throw a TD again, but this time, he was picked off by Duron Harmon!  The Pats had done it again!

Image result for juju smith schuster vs pats

A couple minutes earlier, I had thought the Pats were done, and I was hoping they could hold on to the 3rd seed.  But now they lead the AFC after a stunning comeback victory.

There were two huge plays that secured the Pats their current #1 seed edge showing #1 seed confidence under tough road pressure in Pittsburgh.  Without the 2-point conversion, Pittsburgh would’ve likely won on a field goal after Smith-Schuster’s catch and run play.  The Pats held on with a great goal-line interception by Harmon.  The Pats lead the league in goal-line stops and today’s play was arguably the most clutch of the year.

This game reminded me of Super Bowl XLIX.  The Pats won in a comeback, a lot of points were scored late in the game, and the Pats secured victory with an interception after the opposing team almost scored.  The one major difference was the time left on the clock.  Super Bowl XLIX ended with a bad coaching decision, but in this game, Big Ben made the mistake forcing a pass instead of throwing it away to give his team a shot in overtime with a short field goal.

With this win, the Pats clinch the division and take the AFC lead.  They control their own destiny and will secure the #1 seed with 2 division wins at home.  Can they do it?

 

 

NFL Week 14 Picks: Goff vs. Wentz

Welcome to my NFL Week 14 Picks.  I went 12-4 last week, placing my overall record at 112-80.  How will I do in this week’s slate of games?  Read below and comment with your thoughts.  This week will be full of many intriguing match-ups, including the battle between sophomore stars Jared Goff and Carson Wentz.  Who will come out on top?

Lock of the Week

The Cardinals go into this game with Blaine Gabbert as their QB, no established starting RB after Adrian Peterson’s neck injury and the release of Chris Johnson, and one of their top two receivers out.  The young Titans defense will shut Arizona’s depleted offense down.  Offensively for the Titans, it won’t take much to top the banged-up Cardinals offense as they win with ease in a clinic.

Upset of the Week (SNF)

The Steelers nearly lost this past Monday Night after underestimating their division rival, the Cincinnati Bengals.  I expect it to happen again against a hard to predict Ravens squad, and this time it will cost them.  Baltimore’s versatile receivers will dominate against a banged-up Steelers defense, who will be without CB Joe Haden.  They will also be without both starting inside linebackers, making it easier for RB Alex Collins to strive in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, the Steelers will struggle to establish a passing rhythm with WR JuJu Smith-Schuster suspended, as Big Ben runs low on options while the Ravens keep eagle eyes on star receiver Antonio Brown.  The Ravens will take advantage of Pittsburgh’s problems, winning them an important primetime game.

TNF

The Saints offense will have a strong game here, led by their RB duo and their receivers, who will dominate against a struggling Atlanta secondary.  But although their own RB duo will struggle, the Falcons will make an effort to fight back, led by QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones, who have big games against the stingy Saints secondary led by young corner Marshon Lattimore.  That will lead the Falcons to victory on Thursday Night.

Sunday’s Games

I know the Bills are without QB Tyrod Taylor, but I think Nathan Peterman’s first game was a fluke.  This time, he’ll lift the Buffalo offense out of a rough patch against a struggling Colts D.  But meanwhile, the Colts will try to fight back as they use a balanced attack to outwit the Bills D, even without WR Donte Moncrief.  However, the Bills will win after their offense is rejuvenated.

The Bengals offense won’t be able to produce much itself, but their defense will shut down the Bears, even without LB Vontaze Burfict and CB Adam Jones.  The Bears offense won’t be able to fight back here, as even their RB duo can’t save them.  Therefore, the Bengals will win this low scoring affair despite the loss of RB Joe Mixon and several defensive stars.

I expect the Packers offense to look a little better against the Browns D, one of the worst defenses in the league.  Browns WR Josh Gordon will try to make it close, but the Cleveland defense will just allow too many points.  Besides, the Browns are still searching for a good QB to consistently find Gordon.  The Packers will win in Cleveland, but not as easily as you would expect since QB Aaron Rodgers is out until next week.  However, the Packers offense will help set up Green Bay for success today, even without Rodgers.

Considering the fact that Houston will be without two of their three best receivers, QB Tom Savage will struggle.  But the Texans will work their ground game to beat San Francisco, taking advantage of their weak front seven.  QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the Niners offense will struggle to fight back, even against a banged-up Houston D, as RB Lamar Miller leads Houston to victory.

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Oakland beat the Chiefs at home, and I think it can happen again on the road.  They will shock the Chiefs in Kansas City in a fight for the AFC West.  Their offense will look dominant, even against a tough Chiefs D.  They have WR Amari Cooper healthy this week, and Chiefs CB Marcus Peters is out.  Cooper and his fellow Raiders WR Michael Crabtree will dominate against the banged-up Kansas City secondary.  The Chiefs offense will do well, but it won’t be enough as the Raiders figure out their depleted secondary.

The Cowboys offense will start to struggle again, even after a big game last week.  They will begin to miss RB Ezekiel Elliott against a tough Giants defense.  The Dallas offensive line will help them, but it won’t do much.  The Giants will try to take advantage as their defense has a big game, but QB Eli Manning will fail to fight back against the Cowboys.  The Cowboys will win as the Giants offense continues to struggle without their top two receivers.

The Vikings will dominate offensively yet again, especially against a weak Panthers secondary.   The Panthers will try to fight back, but they will fail against the tough Vikings defensive front, even with star tight end Greg Olsen back.  Vikes win as QB Case Keenum leads them to another dominant offensive game like they have done all season.

QB Jameis Winston will lead the Bucs offense to victory at home, where Tampa has won most of their games this season.  Their versatile receivers will be dominant against the Lions secondary.  Led by QB Matthew Stafford and WR Kenny Golladay, the Lions will try to fight back in this tight match-up, but they will fall short as the defense gives up 30+ points to the Buccaneers.

The Denver offense will look better against the young Jets defense despite a major QB controversy.  The Jets will still make it close as the Broncos fail to match their early-season feats.  But the Broncos defense will have a big game, shutting down QB Josh McCown as well as the Jets RBs as Denver wins.

The Chargers offense will continue to dominate in this game, especially against a banged-up, weak Redskins D.  The strong Redskins offense will try to fight back, led by star QB Kirk Cousins and his elite receivers.  They will try to take advantage of LA’s secondary weaknesses, even without star TE Jordan Reed.  But LA’s offense is just too strong, and they will lead the Chargers to victory in this offensive shootout.

The Seahawks defense will still look strong in this game, even without key secondary members Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.  But the Jaguars defense will also shine, shutting down QB Russell Wilson and the strengthening Seahawks offense.  This game will bring back memories of Seattle’s early season offensive struggles.  The Jags will win as their offense perseveres, even without WRs Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson.

This will be an exciting match-up as Eagles QB Carson Wentz and Rams QB Jared Goff, who were the top two picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, face off.  Both of them started in their rookie season although they didn’t do much.  But this year, both of them have shined, leading their teams to the top of their divisions.

The Rams will take this one as the Eagles can’t figure out their offense.  LA will fail to shut down Wentz, but they will slow down the many strong running backs who have led Philly this season.  The Eagles will fail to shut down Goff or RB Todd Gurley as the Rams offense dominates, and their young secondary won’t be able to touch a finger on the Rams wide receivers.  LA wins after stumping Philly on both sides of the ball.

MNF

The Patriots will struggle to produce as much offense as they usually do without  TE Rob Gronkowski (suspension).  But QB Tom Brady will come into the game with confidence and find his receivers to beat Miami.  The Pats defense will help as their secondary shuts down a strong group of Dolphins receivers.  The Dolphins will fail to establish a run game and take advantage of the Pats’ depleted front seven, as the Pats win the game due to complimentary football.