2019 NFL Week 4 Picks & Previews: Who’s the Real Deal?

Football Sunday is almost here, and it’s time for my Week 4 NFL Picks. Last week, I went 9-7, putting my overall record 30-17-1 (31-17-1) with Week 4 TNF. Who will finish off September strong after a strong start? Who will be exposed as overrated? Keep reading to find out what I think, and feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Note: My apologies for the slightly different formatting, I am writing this from the Flutie 5K, which I am emceeing.

Lock of the Week

Backup QB Kyle Allen put on a show for Carolina last week, but it won’t be repeated against the Texans. RB Christian McCaffrey and TE Greg Olsen will have some success against a slightly weakened Texans D. But QB Deshaun Watson and his receivers will dominate, leading the Texans to easily outplay Allen and his offense,

Upset of the Week

The Falcons have disappointed so far this season. QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense have been inconsistent as they used to be, and they’ve fallen to some teams they shouldn’t have. It will happen again against QB Marcus Mariota and the Titans. Mariota will utilize a healthy Delanie Walker and lead the Titans to victory against a weaker, shallow Falcons D that will be without S Keanu Neal.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted on Thursday Night)

The Packers defense has shown some nice flashes of dominance in the first few games, but I can’t see this young defense consistently keeping this up. Even without WR DeSean Jackson, the Eagles offense, led by a healthy QB Carson Wentz, will outperform Green Bay’s defense and lead Philly to victory.

Everyone expects this to be close, but the Bills have had an easy schedule so far, beating the Jets (just barely), the Giants (in a close comeback) and the Bengals (also close). They are about to be schooled by QB Tom Brady and the Pats, even in Buffalo. The Pats run game will rebound against a weak Bills D and Brady will throw the ball fairly well in a blowout.

With RB Melvin Gordon finally returning from his holdout, the Chargers should easily beat the Dolphins, in Miami. West coast teams often struggle on the east coast, but LA will be used to the hot weather and ready for a struggling Dolphins defense. QB Josh Rosen will score on the Chargers D with S Derwin James out, but the Dolphins will still struggle mightily as they fall to 0-4.

This will be a close one, as QB Baker Mayfield and his offense rebound, led by the efforts of RB Nick Chubb against a Ravens front seven that lost a lot in free agency. But QB Lamar Jackson will continue to show what he’s capable of, as he tosses 4 TDs and leads the Ravens to victory late in the game.

QB Jacoby Brissett isn’t a star quite yet, but the weak Raiders secondary will allow him to look like one. The entire Colts offense will be at their best in Oakland, even without QB Andrew Luck. The Raiders will put up a bit of a fight, but even the young, underrated Colts D will shine in this game.

This one will be an offensive shootout, as the Lions offense shows what they’re truly capable of against a weak Chiefs D. However, QB Patrick Mahomes is only getting better. He’ll rely on his running backs and star TE Travis Kelce to lead the Chiefs to a road victory and stay undefeated.

I’m calling an upset in this one. Without RB Saquon Barkley, QB Daniel Jones simply lacks enough weapons to compete with the Redskins, even in New York. Whoever’s in at QB for Washington should utilize Washington’s healthy TE duo and their backfield to beat out a weak Giants D.

The Rams may have a hard time holding off an improved Tampa Bay pass offense. But QB Jared Goff and his WRs will still lead the Rams to a home victory. The Bucs secondary is no match for a trio of elite WRs, and that will greatly benefit LA.

QB Russell Wilson will work his magic against a weak Cardinals defense in this one. QB Kyler Murray will have some success against a young Seahawks secondary, but RB David Johnson will struggle, and the Cardinals will fall short.

Expect a defensive battle here, as both these defenses throw it back to 2017, when they were both Top 5. The Broncos run defense will hold RB Leonard Fournette without a TD and the Broncos will significantly limit what QB Gardner Minshew can do. The Broncos will struggle on offense more than usual against a strong Jags D, but they’ll edge out a victory with CB Jalen Ramsey sitting out,

QB Mitch Trubisky turned it around last week, but he’ll fail to repeat it against a strong Vikings D. I doubt QB Kirk Cousins will do much better, but he’ll find a way around the best defense in the league and lead the Vikes to a road victory.

The Cowboys did prove something by going 3-0 to start the year. But had a fairly easy schedule, and the young Saints defense will step it up against QB Dak Prescott. QB Teddy Bridgewater is no Drew Brees, but he’ll outplay an inexperienced Cowboys defense in the Saints home victory.

The Steelers will be without QB Ben Roethlisberger once again this week, and this time, it will make a difference. New head coach Zac Taylor will lead the Bengals offense to another strong game, and it will be enough to outscore an incomplete Steelers offensive core.

That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage soon.

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Gonk Knocks Football Night at APEX Entertainment Confirmed

I’m proud to announce that we will be holding a Gonk Knocks and football themed charity event at APEX Entertainment to raise money for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism and the ARHS Boosters.

Check out more information in this flyer:

“Gonk Knocks” Football Night Flyer

We also just posted a site for raffles, auctions, and donations.

With just your cell phone, buying tickets, submitting a donation, entering the raffle, or bidding in the silent auction is easy and can be done in several ways with the first method giving you options for all:

  • Text the word “Auction”to 201.241.4608 and then receive a link to the event site where you can choose all the event options like donate, buy event or raffle tickets, or participate in the auction.
  • Go to Gonk Knocks Football Night site where you can choose all the event options like buy event or raffle tickets, select raffle items, bid on auction items, or make a donation
  • Text the word “Donate”to 201.241.4608 and then receive a link to make your payment
  • Text the amount with the word donate(i.e. Donate100) to 201.241.4608 and then receive a link to make your payment
  • Text“Auction” or a 3 letter raffle item code to 201.241.4608 to participate in an auction or raffle

NoteMore details will be made available for volunteers or inquiring minds like processing cash or check to do all of the above.  Please continue to check website often as additional raffle/auction items will be added/updated weekly.

I hope to see you on 11/25/2019 to raise money for charity and have fun!

2019 NFL Week 3 Picks & Previews: Let the Upsets Begin

Week 1 and Week 2 were very exciting, and they set a dynamic for the season.  But just because a team dominates their first two games, it doesn’t necessarily mean a huge year is ahead.  This week, I expect a lot of surprises. We will see which strong starts and which rough starts are flukes.  We will see multiple heavily favored teams go down. So far, I’ve gone 21-10-1 (22-10-1 with TNF) after going 9-7 in Week 2.  Will my upset picks be on point this week? If so, I’ll likely be able to outdo my Week 2 performance. Keep reading to see which teams I think are set up for continued success (or continued failure), and which teams I have going down in an upset.  As always, feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

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Miami was embarrassingly bad in the first two weeks of the season.  Over two weeks, they were outscored 102-10 between the Patriots and Ravens.  On their home turf, Dallas’ young defense will hold Miami scoreless for the second straight week.  But the Cowboys offense simply lacks the depth to do as much damage as New England and Baltimore did.  I’m still locking the Cowboys in for the win regardless. RB Ezekiel Elliott will lead the offense with over 150 rushing yards and 2 TD, and QB Dak Prescott will add on a couple more TDs.  

Upset of the Week

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The Packers have gotten off to a very strong 2-0 start after defensive improvements.  They took down both the Bears and the Vikings, who have two of the best defenses in the league.  You would think Green Bay can take down Denver. But the Broncos offense can be a little harder to contain once they get started on a strong day.  Especially with QB Joe Flacco under center, I think the Broncos can tire out this Green Bay defense and put up a big game. Green Bay’s shallow offense will also struggle to keep up, especially with edge rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb stopping the run.  

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night, Actual Score: 20-7 Jaguars)

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Despite a strong Week 1, QB Marcus Mariota has continued to struggle with consistency this season.  Even when healthy, he lets certain defenses get to him.  The Jaguars defense will definitely cause him to struggle, and they may even allow QB Gardner Minshew to work his magic and pull off an upset.  Minshew will utilize his chemistry with WR D.J. Chark and underrated WR Dede Westbrook as he leads the Jaguars to victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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With RB James White out and WR Antonio Brown gone, the Pats will not win as easily as they did in Weeks 1 and 2.  The Jets defense will give them a bit of a hard time, and I could see QB Luke Falk exceeding expectations. But QB Tom Brady still has a strong WR corps, including Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, and undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers.  Expect them to hold on for victory despite challenges.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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The Bills will be exposed as overrated in this one after slipping by for wins against their New York rivals in Weeks 1 and 2.  QB Sam Darnold was not himself in Week 1, and the defense blew the game for the Giants in Week 2. The Bengals, under the leadership of new HC Zac Taylor, will not follow the same pattern.  The Bengals D will step it up big time, and QB Andy Dalton will score enough to pull off the upset.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Everyone’s expecting the game of the year here.  I’m expecting two overrated offenses to be exposed.  QB Lamar Jackson will struggle throwing the ball against an improved Chiefs D.  QB Patrick Mahomes will rely on his RBs to win the game for KC, but with WR Tyreek Hill out, his receivers are no match for the Ravens secondary.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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This will be the offensive shootout of the week.  The Colts defense is the most overrated in the league, and Atlanta’s D has some nice pieces, but isn’t much better.  QB Jacoby Brissett will put up a very strong game. We know he’s a capable QB after his stint in New England. However, QB Matt Ryan and his receivers will just be too much for Indy’s defense, as they lead the Falcons to victory for the 2nd week in a row.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Everyone’s talking about Patriots-Jets and Cowboys-Dolphins as locks of the week.  The Raiders looked okay in Weeks 1 and 2. But they are no match for Minnesota’s Top 5 defense and they’re about to be annihilated against an elite Vikings squad.  For Minnesota, RB Dalvin Cook will continue to succeed, and the WR duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs will give the Oakland secondary a wake up call.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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With Eagles WRs Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson missing, this will be close.  But Philly will succeed by relying on the rest of the offense more. QB Carson Wentz will rely on WR Nelson Agholor and his TE duo.  They won’t score as much as usual, so the Lions underrated offense will pose a threat. But regardless, I expect Philly to slip by for victory.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

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A QB switch will revive the Giants offense in this one.  But defense is still a major issue for the G-Men. Tampa Bay’s offense will shine in all areas this week as they take advantage of New York’s defensive weaknesses.  Head coach Bruce Arians will get creative, utilizing TEs and WR Chris Godwin more than usual as CB1 Janoris Jenkins focuses on WR Mike Evans.  
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

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In my original NFL predictions, I predicted a tie in this game. But the Cardinals already had a tie in Week 1, and QB Cam Newton is out.  I’m instead predicting a nail biter, where Arizona slips by for victory at the last minute.  QB Kyler Murray and his receivers will thrive against a young Carolina secondary. RB Christian McCaffrey and TE Greg Olsen will still do well with Newton out, but the rest of the offense will be impacted in this Carolina loss.  
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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The Steelers are about to become a sinking ship.  But I think they’ll have one more glorious game first, as young QB Mason Rudolph looks like the next man up in San Francisco.  49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will also have a strong game against a depth-lacking Steelers secondary, making this one a close offensive shootout.  But the Niners just don’t have as many weapons for Garoppolo as the Steelers have for Rudolph.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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The banged-up Chargers ran out of steam last week in Detroit, and I expect the same here.  TE Hunter Henry is still sidelined, and LA will have to rely on some backups to continue to put up high amounts of points against a strong Texans D.  I think QB Deshaun Watson will have a big game and lead the Texans in a win, utilizing his deep WR corps that can overwhelm almost any defense, even the elite Chargers D.  
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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If QB Drew Brees was healthy, the Saints would have a field day against a weak Seahawks secondary.  But with QB Teddy Bridgewater under center, this will be a close one. Seattle QB Russell Wilson will work some magic and make this close, possibly even taking the game to overtime.  But Bridgewater will still find a way to edge out a win at CenturyLink.  
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

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I don’t know why this Sunday night match-up is getting so much hype.  The Browns only did so well last week because they were facing the Jets.  They are about to get schooled by the Rams. QB Baker Mayfield will rely on star WR Odell Beckham Jr. to move the sticks.  But the Rams WR trio will just be too much for a young Browns secondary.
Sunday, 8:15 PM EST

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Some are expecting a Bears blowout here.  This will not be a blowout by any means, but the Bears definitely have the edge.  Washington will fail to score a TD against the Bears elite defense. But QB Mitch Trubisky will struggle throwing the ball, forcing the Bears to rely on the run game in order to win. 

That’s all for this week’s NFL picks.  Before Football Sunday begins, I’ll be answering more start/sit questions on @bsmfantasyfootball, my new fantasy football Instagram account.  But stay tuned for some big announcements later this week.

2019 NFL Week 2 Picks & Previews: Which Teams Adjust after Wear and Tear of Week 1?

In Week 1, teams set the tone for their seasons.  Week 2 will show which teams can adjust to and overcome adversity, as several players got injured in Week 1, and some teams will have tougher match-ups this week than they did last week.  For me, Week 1 went pretty well. Although I only won in one of my four fantasy leagues, I went 12-3-1 in picks.  It will be hard to beat that this week after getting the Thursday Night game wrong again.  But will I defy the odds and outdo my strong Week 1 performance anyways?  Below are my picks for the week. Feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

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Typically, the Patriots struggle in warm weather.  Last year, they even lost in Miami as the Pats defense blew it at the last minute and gave up a miraculous TD.  But this Dolphins team just lost 59-10 at home against QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.  How do you expect them to beat the Pats?  There’s a huge hole at QB, and the defense won’t have much going for them this week aside from CB Xavien Howard.  Plus, this Pats offense is one of the most talented in history. Expect a blowout here, as QB Tom Brady and offense show off how great they really are, and the Dolphins continue to struggle mightily.  

Upset of the Week 

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This same match-up occurred in Week 2 last year, and it ended in a tie.  But I don’t think we’re getting 2 ties in 2 weeks again. Even though Green Bay beat the Bears, QB Aaron Rodgers looked washed-up, and the backfield was not productive against a strong Bears defense.  If there is a better defense in this league than Chicago’s, its the Vikings D. Expect them to easily stop RB Aaron Jones and hold Rodgers to just 1 TD. The Bears were able to do the same, but they lost to Green Bay last week because of serious offensive problems.  RB Dalvin Cook and the Vikings offense dominated against Atlanta last week. Expect the same against the inexperienced Green Bay defense.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter before game; Actual Score: 20-14 TB)

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Expect a high scoring game as the Bucs defense continues to struggle.  RB Christian McCaffrey will dominate, leading the Carolina offense to a big game against Tampa.  The Bucs will put up a good fight, as Winston utilizes his diverse group of receivers against an unproven Panthers secondary.  But with McCaffrey’s help, Carolina will come out on top.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Look, I understand QB Eli Manning is far from what he used to be.  But against a rebuilding Bills defense, Manning and the Giants should have success.  Manning will rely on RB Saquon Barkley and TE Evan Engram to anchor the offense in a Giants victory, as WR Sterling Shepard is concussed.  The Bills will make it close, as their backfield thrives against a weak Giants D and QB Josh Allen sees improvement as a passer. But the Giants offense has more of a rhythm going, and that will lead them to victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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After their struggles in New England, everyone is saying the Steelers are washed up and on the decline.  At first, I agreed. But the Seahawks aren’t quite the same as they used to be either. They nearly lost to Cincinnati last week.  QB Russell Wilson will struggle against an underrated Steelers pass rush, and the young Seahawks D is no match for QB Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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The Ravens will win this one as they host Arizona, but they won’t see the same success they had last week.  The Ravens defense should have another great game and hold the Cards back from scoring multiple TDs. But DE Chandler Jones and the Cardinals D will limit QB Lamar Jackson as they keep him under pressure.  Jackson will still play like a QB this week and lead his team to victory, but he won’t stay on the elite level he was at last week.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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The Niners thrived against a weak Bucs D last week.  The Bengals defense may be a little washed up, but they should be able to stop a Niners backfield that will be without Tevin Coleman.  QB Jimmy Garoppolo will have another decent game, but it won’t be enough. So long as RB Joe Mixon plays, QB Andy Dalton will continue to look good and this time lead his team in an OT thriller.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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These two defenses aren’t quite elite anymore, but they’ll look like it in this one.  Against a better defense, QB Gardner Minshew II will struggle. The Jags defense will hold back a young Texans offensive core as well.  However, QB Deshaun Watson will get past the strong Jags D and lead Houston to victory.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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The Titans got off to a huge start in Cleveland, and they’ll run with the momentum against a weak Colts defense.  A healthy QB Marcus Mariota and TE Delanie Walker will be huge for Tennessee. If they go down, the Titans have QB Ryan Tannehill and TE Anthony Firkser waiting.  QB Jacoby Brissett should look alright too, but don’t expect as much against a talented Titans D.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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At first, I was thinking this would be a blowout.  But the Chargers already lost TE Hunter Henry to an injury, and this offense is injury prone in general, so their performance in this game may be underwhelming.  The Chargers D should help LA lock up the victory, but the QB Matthew Stafford and his receivers are better this year, so it’ll be close.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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This will be closer than people expect.  Case Keenum may be a system QB, but  the Redskins system fits him, and he’ll lead Washington to make this close against their division rivals.  However, QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, and company are just going to be too much for this depleted Redskins defense to handle.  
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

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WR Tyreek Hill may be hurt, but I still expect QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to win by at least a TD in Oakland.  Look for a big game out of RB Josh Jacobs, who will work around a struggling Chiefs front seven. However, Jacobs’ efforts won’t be enough to outscore a dominant Chiefs offense.  
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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This Bears defense is about to have a huge game.  QB Joe Flacco has led Denver’s offense to a decent year so far.  But the aging QB and his receivers will be significantly outperformed by the league’s best defense, leading to a shutout.  In the meantime, QB Mitch Trubisky will have a slightly better game against a Denver secondary that only mildly resembles 2015’s No Fly Zone.  
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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The Saints will be hungry for revenge in this one.  But I expect the elite Rams defense to hold them back.  QB Jared Goff and the Rams will get out to an early lead.  Now that RB Todd Gurley and WR Cooper Kupp are playing, this Rams offense will be hard for an overrated Saints defense to limit.  Expect another Rams victory here, by a bigger margin this time around.
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

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QB Matt Ryan and a powerful Falcons offense will rebound in this one.  Philly’s defense is good, but it isn’t on the same level as Minnesota’s.  Ryan and his receivers felt overwhelmed in Minnesota. Back home, against a slightly weaker defense, I expect them to rebound, led by Ryan and his elite WR trio.  QB Carson Wentz will have a strong game as well, but Atlanta’s defense has improved, and they’ll prevent Wentz from orchestrating a comeback as he did against Washington.
Monday, 8:15 PM EST

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People expect an exciting game between two rising teams to end the week.  But especially with QB Sam Darnold out, this game could be a bit underwhelming.  I’m expecting a sloppy game, as QB Trevor Siemian struggles against an improved Browns defense, and Cleveland just barely edges out a victory despite offensive chemistry issues.

That’s all for my picks this week.  Feel free to comment with your thoughts, and check back next week to see how I did and see my Week 3 Picks.  In the meantime, I’ll be answering fantasy questions once again on Instagram, so feel free to ask away!

 

2019 NFL Week 1 Picks & Previews: Lots of Scoring in First Football Sunday of Year

Football is back, and I just posted my predictions for the season, but now it’s time to take a closer look at Week 1.   I went 148-106-2 in pick’em last year. My goal is to beat that this year and have less than 100 games wrong.

I expect a lot of high scoring games this week, and a couple surprises too.  Week 1 is all about setting the tone for a new season. Which teams will start off on the strongest note?  Keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

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Don’t expect much of anything from Washington’s offense this week.  RB Derrius Guice is being trusted to anchor the backfield, but he hasn’t even seen an NFL field yet.  Case Keenum is unproven as a starting QB, and he’ll be missing his most reliable target in TE Jordan Reed.  Meanwhile, a healthy QB Carson Wentz should do big things for the Eagles, especially against a Redskins defense that lost several key pieces this off-season.  Wentz will get the Eagles an early lead and the team will not look back from there.

Upset of the Week (MNF)

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Without WR Antonio Brown, QB Derek Carr lacks elite receivers.  But the Raiders will rely on their depth in this victory. The Broncos secondary no longer has much talent aside from CB Chris Harris Jr.  That will allow younger guys like WR Hunter Renfrow, WR J.J. Nelson, and TE Darren Waller lots of opportunities, so long as the o-line gives Carr protection from a strong Denver front seven.  The Broncos offense will have some good moments with veteran QB Joe Flacco leading them.  But Oakland added ILB Vontaze Burfict and S LaMarcus Joyner on defense, moves that many people have underestimated.  The improved Oakland defense will hold Denver under 20 points and allow Carr to lead the Raiders in an upset.  

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night – Actual Score: 10-3 Packers)

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As I said in my NFL predictions, the Packers don’t have much going for them beyond QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams.  I expect Adams to have a huge game and score Green Bay’s lone touchdown. But the elite Bears D will prevent RB Aaron Jones and the Packers run game from success.  Meanwhile, Chicago’s upgraded offense will outperform an inexperienced Green Bay defense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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The Jets will use RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Jamison Crowder to their advantage, as young QB Sam Darnold benefits greatly from his new surroundings.  QB Josh Allen will improve as a passer too, but it won’t quite be enough as the backfield struggles and the Bills fall short in overtime.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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QB Lamar Jackson will throw the ball a little more.  But the Ravens will still find the most success by utilizing their run-first offense against a weak Miami front seven.  I still expect Jackson to toss a TD, but most of Baltimore’s scoring will be thanks to RB Mark Ingram and the backfield. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will put up some points, but the Dolphins offense just doesn’t have enough talent to outdo an above average Baltimore D. 
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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This will be another close one, as the Browns start slow against a strong Titans D.  Plus, at full health, QB Marcus Mariota will lead the Titans to a strong game. But the duo of former LSU WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will lead the way in a Cleveland OT victory. 
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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QB Patrick Mahomes lacks the depth he had on offense last year.  But he still has WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce to help him lead the Chiefs to victory in Jacksonville.  Expect a strong debut by QB Nick Foles and the Jags offense against a weak Chiefs D, but it won’t be enough to take down Mahomes.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Expect a high scoring game here.  If I’m wrong about this game, it’ll probably be because I didn’t predict enough scoring.  The Vikes D is great, but the Falcons have one of the best offenses in the league. They’ll give Minnesota a wake up call.  QB Kirk Cousins will have to keep up with QB Matt Ryan in order to lead Minnesota to victory, but I think he’s capable now that he’s adjusted to Minnesota’s offense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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The Rams star-studded WR corps will dominate in this one, as Carolina still lacks the secondary depth to handle so many elite receivers at once.  QB Jared Goff and the Rams offense will have a field day as a result. RB Christian McCaffrey and others will lead the Panthers to put up a fight, even against an elite Rams D.  But the Rams will hold onto the lead.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

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The Seahawks may be lacking offensive weapons with WR D.K. Metcalf  banged up. But QB Russell Wilson will find a way to victory against a washed up Cincinnati defense.  QB Andy Dalton will have some success against an unproven Seattle secondary, but under pressure from an elite Seahawks front seven, the Bengals offense will fall short.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

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QB Jacoby Brissett will impress in his debut, taking advantage of Indy’s newfound WR and TE depth.  But Brissett is no match for the Chargers, who have one of the most balanced and talented rosters in the league.  Even without RB Melvin Gordon, QB Philip Rivers will lead the Chargers to victory in a shootout.  
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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These two division rivals have played 3 season openers against each other in the last 4 years, and in the other 2, Dallas won at home.  I expect the same here. The Giants have some nice pieces on offense that QB Eli Manning will utilize. But Manning will face too much pressure against an elite Cowboys front seven to do much more than that.  QB Dak Prescott will get off to a huge start with RB Ezekiel Elliott and TE Jason Witten on the field and lead Dallas to another Week 1 victory.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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This will be the shootout of the week, as QB Kyler Murray dominates his debut against one of the weakest defenses in the league.  Detroit will also have a pretty successful day offensively, as QB Matthew Stafford and his receivers outperform a Cardinals secondary that will be without star CB Patrick Peterson.  
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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Expect another OT thriller here, as QB Jimmy Garoppolo works with some of the same weapons he had in 2017 and some new faces to lead the Niners in a strong offensive game.  QB Jameis Winston will miss WRs DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, but he’ll utilize the receivers he has and make it a close one, even against an improved Niners D.
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST (SNF)

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The defending Super Bowl champs debut Sunday Night against a new look Steelers team.  This year, Pittsburgh’s defense will anchor the team, so don’t be surprised if this match-up is lower scoring than usual.  But even without ex-Steelers and current Patriots WR Antonio Brown, the Pats deep WR corps will help QB Tom Brady lead the team to triumphant victory.  Meanwhile, an improved New England defense will hold Pittsburgh’s weaker offense to single digits.    
Monday, 7:10 PM EST (MNF)

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In the first game of an MNF doubleheader, the Texans will look good.  Expect QB Deshaun Watson and his WRs to outplay a young Saints secondary.  But the Saints will come out on top in this one, as QB Drew Brees utilizes his younger receivers and thrives against a Texans D that is still above average, but no longer elite.

That’s all for this week’s picks.  Stay tuned for more NFL articles soon.

NFL 2019 Predictions

Football is almost back, and I wanted to have these out earlier, but here are my 2019 NFL Predictions.  I’ve broken it down by division and put playoff seeding info at the end.  Who do I have winning it all, you may ask?  Keep reading to find out.

The Patriots may miss Gronk, but they have a great defense and one of the best WR corps in Pats history.  After yesterday’s signing, they have Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Demaryius Thomas, with N’Keal Harry returning from IR later this year.  Expect a very strong season, but I don’t expect perfection, as AB and Gordon may cause problems and I worry about DT’s health.

The Jets will be better this year for sure.  Darnold will take a leap forward, and he has Le’Veon Bell in his backfield.  However, I think the Jets are a bit overhyped and will struggle get more than 6 or 7 wins.  The Bills won’t see too much improvement either, as Kyle Williams was a key piece of this defense.  The Dolphins will sit in the basement of the league, even with Ryan Fitzpatrick on the team.  The roster just isn’t talented enough for Fitz to work his magic.  When Fitzpatrick played for Bucs, he had Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, and DeSean Jackson.  Miami has DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson.  That’s not enough for the offense to see improvement.

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Unlike the Jets, I am buying the Browns hype.  I understand there may be chemistry issues between Baker Mayfield and his receivers.  But Cleveland still has Nick Chubb, David Njoku, and Jarvis Landry, all of whom Baker Mayfield played with last year.  OBJ and Kareem Hunt are just extra additions for this offense.  The defense is much better as well now that they’ve surrounded Myles Garrett with some veteran talent in Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon.

The Steelers aren’t going to be as good as they were in the Killer B era, but Big Ben still has James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Vance McDonald.  People also forget how good this front seven can be.  The Ravens will have a decent season, as Lamar Jackson continues to improve and Mark Ingram anchors the backfield.  The defense has regressed a bit though, and the defense is what brought Baltimore to the playoffs last year.  The Bengals won’t be as bad as people say, but they are washed up, and they shouldn’t even be thinking about the playoffs.

This might be the worst division I’ve seen in a long time.  The Texans backfield took some major hits when Lamar Miller went down and D’Onta Foreman was released.  The defense won’t be as dominant either now that Jadeveon Clowney is gone.  The Texans still have some great receivers for Deshaun Watson though, so I could see them edging out the win in a weak division.  The Colts will take a big step back without Andrew Luck.  The defense is still unproven, and the offense needs to find a new rhythm.  The Titans are no more than an average team.  The defense is okay, and the backfield looks good, but the team needs better QB play in order to succeed.  The Jags may have Nick Foles and Leonard Fournette, but the defense lost some key pieces this off-season, so I don’t expect much improvement overall.  No team stands out as a Super Bowl contender here.

The Chargers now have one of the best defenses in the league, and even without Melvin Gordon, Philip Rivers still has some talented surroundings.  But the Chiefs will give them a run for their money when it comes to winning the division.  Kareem Hunt is gone, but Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce will still lead the offense to dominance so long as nobody regresses.  I could see a slight regression from Mahomes, and that would make a difference in the division race.  It’s hard to repeat a 50 TD season.  But the Chiefs are still a surefire playoff team.

Without AB, the Raiders may be a little better than last year thanks to their other additions, but I can’t see too much improvement with Derek Carr lacking trustworthy weapons.  The Broncos still have some good pieces to the team, so they’ll outperform Oakland.  But the defense has regressed, and there’s still question marks at QB, so don’t expect contention in Denver.

Expect the Eagles to return to a dominant form this year.  Carson Wentz will last a little longer after resting for almost half of the 2018 season, and now he’s 2 years removed from his ACL tear as opposed to 1.  The team still has most of what it had in 2017, even though the backfield has some question marks now.  I expect the Cowboys to underperform a bit this year.  Their defense is talented, but some of the younger players have failed to prove themselves thus far.  The Redskins and Giants will still occupy the NFC East basement.  Both of those teams need to find a reliable starting QB and improve on defense before they go anywhere.  Both have some nice pieces on offense, but they need reliable QB’s for everything to click.

I originally thought this division would be one of the hardest to win.  But the Packers don’t have much going for them beyond an aging Aaron Rodgers and star WR Davante Adams.  The Lions have some serious problems on defense, and if Matt Patricia can’t fix those, that’ll be pretty concerning.  The Vikings and Bears will be competing for the division crown.  These two teams might very well have the two best defenses in the league.  But Mitch Trubisky needs to improve for the Bears to become legit Super Bowl contenders, and the Vikings may struggle as they lack depth on offense and have several injury prone players.

My boldest prediction in this article is that the Falcons will beat out the Saints and win the NFC South.  The Saints were dominant last year, and if it weren’t for a questionable no-call, there’s a chance they would’ve made the Super Bowl.  But I think the team will have a hard time moving on, as Drew Brees ages and the defense takes a step back.  This offense still has some talented pieces, but things aren’t going to go as smoothly this year.  The Falcons got a little better on defense, and defense is what held them back from playoff contention in 2018.  With Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley healthy, this team could be going places.

The Panthers will improve this year as well now that Cam Newton and Greg Olsen are back close to full health.  Carolina’s front seven looks pretty scary now that Brian Burns and Gerald McCoy have been added, so that will lead to some improvement as well.  The Bucs will be left on the bottom in this division.  Without DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, the offense won’t be as dominant, and the defense that cost Tampa last year hasn’t gotten so much better either.

The Rams will stay on top despite facing talented division rivals in the Niners and Seahawks.  Aaron Donald will lead one of the better defenses in the league, and LA’s WR corps could be up there with New England’s.  The Niners will see improvement, but I don’t quite trust Jimmy Garoppolo yet.  We haven’t seen a full season of Garoppolo, and it’s hard to tell if he’s back to full health after an ACL tear in 2018.  The Seahawks, on the other hand, will take a step back, as Doug Baldwin and Earl Thomas leave for good.  The defense may be good now that Jadeveon Clowney is here, but it’s no match for LA, Minnesota, or Chicago, and it’s nowhere close to how good the Legion of Boom was.  The Cardinals should see some slight improvement with Kyler Murray here, but we don’t know yet how well Murray will adjust to the NFL.  I expect Murray to make some rookie mistakes and have a similar, but slightly better season than Sam Darnold last year.

Playoffs

Below is my projected seeding and bracket for the playoffs:

 

I think the Super Bowl will be a battle for LA, as the Rams and Chargers duke it out.  The Patriots and Eagles have good chances to return as well, and the Chiefs could make a run.  But I think the Pats will fall a bit short without Gronk, and Philly will fall a bit short as they struggle to run the ball and Carson Wentz wears out a bit.  The Madden Curse will strike KC as they struggle against ex-Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt and the Cleveland Browns, causing them to fall short in the Wild Card Round.

Well, football starts in less than 2 hours.  In the meantime, I’ll be answering start/sit questions on my new fantasy football Instagram account (@bsmfantasyfootball) and working on my picks for Week 1.