NFL Week 11 Picks

Welcome to my NFL Week 11 Picks.  I went 9-5 last week, placing my overall record at 78-68.  How will I do in this week’s slate of games?  Read below and comment with your thoughts.

Teams on Bye: Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers

Note: In the images, the team on the top is the road team, and the team on the bottom is the home team.

Lock of the Week

The Browns will receive a rude awakening against the strong Jaguars defense.  The Jaguars front seven will shut down RB Isaiah Crowell, and the Browns will fail to establish their passing game.  Offensively, QB Blake Bortles and RB Leonard Fournette will keep the Jags going, even without WR Allen Hurns.  Jags win easy.

Upset of the Week (TNF)

Against subpar teams like the Jags, Colts, and Bears, the Steelers don’t bring their A-game.  The Titans will surprise many as Pittsburgh continues their bad run against teams they should beat.  QB Ben Roethlisberger will struggle as he faces unexpected pressure from the strong Titans defensive front.  The Steelers defense won’t fare much better, failing to contain Titans young QB Marcus Mariota and his receiving corps.  Titans pull off the upset.

Sunday’s Games

With WR Mike Evans back, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick should be able to lead the Bucs to victory.  As we’ve seen over the last few weeks, the Dolphins receiving corps will not be able to do its thing with QB Jay Cutler under center.  Their offense can’t do too much without star RB Jay Ajayi.  The young Buccaneers defense will feed on Miami’s struggles.

The Packers may have beaten their division rival Chicago Bears last week, but the Ravens will be a tougher opponent for inexperienced QB Brett Hundley and the Packers offense.  The Ravens defense will flush Hundley out of the pocket and he will struggle to find his receivers.  Expect Ravens QB Joe Flacco to look strong coming off the bye, and his versatile receivers will get open more often than not against the stingy Green Bay secondary.  The well-rested Ravens will be too much for the Packers, even in Green Bay.

Even though both starting QBs are out, and the Texans D is depleted by injuries, this game will be more exciting than one would expect.  QB Drew Stanton and his receiving corps will breeze past a weak Texans secondary.  I also think the Texans offense will put up a big game, even against a strong Arizona secondary.  I expect a strong Texans running game to be the difference in this game.

The Chiefs D will shut down QB Eli Manning, and he will struggle to find the receivers that he’s only had a few weeks to develop a connection with.  The Giants defense will shut down RB Kareem Hunt and the Chiefs run game.  But the Giants will give up big plays to WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce, and that will cost the Giants in this low scoring game.

The Saints offense will dominate in this game, feeding on a Washington defense that has given up 25.8 PPG (7th worst in the NFL).  But it’s the Saints young defense will continue to surprise many as they again do enough to help the Saints win.  The Saints will continue to have a balanced attack, not relying on QB Drew Brees alone. The RB duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram should have big games.  For Washington, QB Kirk Cousins will have a big game, but it won’t be enough to keep up with the Saints.

The Vikings defense will dominate, slowing down RB Todd Gurley and the Rams’ powerful offense.  Meanwhile, the Rams will struggle to cover Minnesota’s versatile group of receivers as QB Case Keenum throws 4 TD.  Rams QB Jared Goff will just be under too much pressure to match Keenum’s stats against Minnesota’s tough front seven, and the Vikings will win.

The Bears will struggle to generate a passing rhythm, but their RB, Jordan Howard, will have a big game.  The Lions D will struggle to slow down Howard, but they will keep QB Mitch Trubisky under a lot of pressure throughout the game.  For the Lions, WR Kenny Golladay and TE Eric Ebron will come up big again, like they did last week against Cleveland.  The Lions will win after the Bears struggle offensively and allow the Lions offense to dominate.

Benching QB Tyrod Taylor for QB Nathan Peterman was a good move for Buffalo.  But it won’t be enough in LA against the Chargers’ electric offense.  In addition, Peterman will have a tough time against the Chargers young defensive front.  DE Joey Bosa and LB Melvin Ingram will flush him out of the pocket.  For LA, the receiving corps will thrive against the Bills strong secondary to lead the Chargers to victory.

The Pats are 12-0 on the road since the start of 2016.  In the high elevation of Mexico City, the Pats should be more prepared than Oakland, since they spent the last week practicing in the similarly high elevation of Colorado Springs.  Expect the Pats TE duo to dominate against the young Raiders secondary, the only secondary without an interception this season.

The Pats secondary will slow down the Raiders wide receivers enough.  QB Tom Brady will have a big game, and the Pats’ four-headed monster at RB will also make an impact as the Patriots outlast the Raiders in an offensive shootout.

The Broncos will win this game as their defense dominates.  The Bengals offense will play some pretty sloppy football against the Denver D, and the Broncos offense won’t do much better.  However, QB Brock Osweiler will have a slightly better game than Bengals QB Andy Dalton.  Osweiler will toss the only TD of the game to WR Emmanuel Sanders, as Bengals WR A.J. Green is shut down against the No Fly Zone.  Broncos win in a defensive battle.

SNF

With the addition of RB Jay Ajayi, expect the Eagles to have a dominant run game, especially with Cowboys LB Sean Lee out.  The Cowboys offense will have a strong game as well, but it won’t be the same without RB Ezekiel Elliott.  Led by their running success and another huge game out of QB Carson Wentz, the Eagles will win in a high scoring Sunday Night divisional showdown.

MNF

The Seahawks defense will slow down Atlanta’s high-powered offense.  The Falcons offense has been very inconsistent this year, unlike last year when WR Julio Jones and QB Matt Ryan led them to be one of the best offenses in the league.  With the help of star TE Jimmy Graham, QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense will begin to get into a rhythm.  But it’s the Seahawks defensive success that will lead Seattle to another big home victory.

That’s all for my Week 11 Picks.  Feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Advertisements

500th Post Special: My ‘Super Sarge Salute’ Tour of WBZ

Wow, it feels like yesterday when I started my website.  Today marks my 500th post.  I’ve had some awesome experiences along the way.  I was a guest writer for Bruins.com, had a 3-day internship at the Boston Herald, had my “Baseball Bits” quoted on Felger & Mazz on 98.5 The Sports Hub, did some sample recordings at 98.5, and was the co-MC of the Flutie Foundation 5K where I handed out awards with Doug Flutie.  Recently, I attended a 98.5 Patriots charity event for Families First at Mr. Sid and met Mike ‘Sarge’ Riley, a sports reporter for 98.5 and WBZ 1030 AM Radio.  He invited me for a tour of WBZ that would be known as the ”Super Sarge Salute.”

Yesterday Sarge gave me and my family an all-access tour of WBZ Studios, home of WBZ-TV, WSBK-TV, and WBZ 1030 AM Radio.  When I first walked in, I noticed images of some of my favorite WBZ Newscasters like Steve Burton, Dan Roche, Barry Burbank and David Wade.  I even saw digital posters of two of my favorite CBS shows, Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory.

fullsizerender 4

Sarge greeted us in the lobby and we began our tour.  He told us about the history of the station.  It started as a radio station in 1921.  It was one of the first radio stations in the country and the first in New England.  In 1948, WBZ-TV began airing.

img_0661
Me in front of a vintage radio and television.
First, we went to the Sports News anchors’ offices that included offices for Steve Burton and Dan Roche.  They had sports pictures all over the walls and it felt like being inside a miniature Boston sports hall of fame!

img_0544

After that, we entered the huge newsroom.  TV reporters were on one side and radio reporters on the other.  The TV side was quiet but the radio side is always busy.  I got to meet Charlie Bergeron, another WBZ Radio sports reporter who I had just heard on the radio on the way to the studio.  He took the time to tell me about the specifics of his job and show me the sports update script he was currently working on.  I even got to go into the studio to watch his next live broadcast!

Next, I met the radio traffic reporters and saw a live image of the current traffic, which was noticeably quieter during the weekend.  I also saw part of their script for their next report.  After the newsroom, we visited a huge control room.  Sarge said that even he’s overwhelmed by it.

img_0584

Then came the best part of my tour.  We got to visit both TV studios.  The first one we visited was mainly used as a backup studio but they did traffic reports there when the other studio was being renovated.

Me on the left on the stage of the old studio and my brother Ryan on the right cheering me on in the studio audience.

 

But when I saw their main studio, I felt like I had just walked into my TV when WBZ News was on.

fullsizerender 5
Me and my brother at the news desk doing a mock broadcast.
When I first walked in, I saw Barry Burbank, a meteorologist who I had grown up watching.  I had previously met him when he came to my elementary school, Peaslee in 2015, but I didn’t get the chance to talk to him until this day.

fullsizerender

Then we saw the news anchors’ desk, the couch that was often used during Patriots 5th Quarter, and the area where they filmed the weather forecast.  We even saw snow in Michigan on the current radar, and according to Barry, it could be coming our way, but he didn’t want to forecast it yet.

img_0620
My brother and I were shocked to see snow on the radar.
On our way out, we got a glance at the WBZ Hall of Fame.  We continued to listen to Sarge on the radio on our way home.

img_0677

That wraps it up for my 500th article on Boston Sports Mania.  This tour was an unforgettable experience and I’m grateful that I got to learn so much as I continue my pursuit to become a sports journalist.  I’d like to thank Mike ‘Sarge’ Riley and give him a huge #sargesalute for this amazing experience.

img_0607
Me with Sarge in the WBZ Studio doing the #sargesalute.

NFL Week 10 Picks: Week Full of Thrillers Kicks off 2nd Half

Welcome to my NFL Week 10 Picks.  I went 8-5 last week, placing my overall record at 69-63.  How will I do in this week’s slate of games?  Read below and comment with your thoughts.

Teams on Bye: Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles

Note: In the images, the team on the top is the road team, and the team on the bottom is the home team.

Lock of the Week

The Texans offense did not look good last week without QB Deshaun Watson.  Expect that to continue.  Watson helped piece together a strong Texans offense, but without him, the Texans offense will struggle.  Expect the Rams front seven to shut down RB Lamar Miller and flush QB Tom Savage out the pocket often.  The Rams offense will have another big game led by RB Todd Gurley against a banged-up Houston front seven.  LA will win big as they dominate on both sides of the ball.

Upset of the Week (MNF)

The Panthers offense has not quite looked the same since WR Kelvin Benjamin was traded to Buffalo.  They will not find their groove in this game without Benjamin.  The Dolphins defense has been strong all year and they will slow Carolina down.  If the Dolphins O-Line can give QB Cutler time, the Dolphins will pull the upset carried by their defensive dominance, and the development of an offensive rhythm against the young, struggling Panthers secondary.

TNF (Posted to Twitter on Thursday Night before the game)

The Seahawks defense will be dominant against Cardinals new QB Drew Stanton and his receivers.  Seattle’s secondary has lots of talent and their front seven is unstoppable.  RB Adrian Peterson will also struggle against Seattle’s tough defense as they stuff the box.  Seattle’s offense won’t be at its best but the Seahawks will still pull off a victory.

Sunday’s Games

The Jets defense will struggle to cover a strong group of Bucs receivers, even without QB Jameis Winston and star receiver Mike Evans playing.  QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will look to show the Jets that they should have signed him to a long-term deal.  And Rookie receiver Chris Godwin and young receiver Adam Humphries will get a chance to prove themselves while WR DeSean Jackson will have a big game as the #1 WR without Evans playing.  The Bucs will get their ground game going as well, rushing for 100 yards and at least 1 TD.  The Jets will do decent offensively but Jets QB Josh McCown will struggle against the Bucs tough defensive front and the Bucs will hold on for the win.

The Bills offense will dominate with TE Charles Clay back from a knee injury and WR Kelvin Benjamin making his Bills debut.  The Saints defense will be off their game in the cold in Buffalo and the Bills will feed on that.  However, the Saints will make it close with a strong offensive showing of their own.  They will get their RB duo going against a Bills defensive front missing standout DE Marcell Dareus.  Look for an especially big game out of RB Alvin Kamara.  But in the end, the Bills will pull away with the win in an offensive shootout.

The Steelers offense will continue to look good in this game.  JuJu Smith-Schuster will get some more snaps after his big game before the bye week.  Le’Veon Bell will also have a big game, rushing for 100-150 yards and 1 or more touchdowns.  He will tear apart Indy’s front seven.  The Colts offense will look decent against a struggling Steelers secondary but it still won’t be the same without QB Andrew Luck under center.  The Colts will be ‘out of luck’ and the Steelers will get their 7th win.

QB Marcus Mariota will get the Titans offense going now that they are at full health.  Led by star TE Delanie Walker and the WR duo of Eric Decker and Corey Davis, they will score 30+ points.  The Bengals offense will struggle without TE Tyler Eifert and WR John Ross banged-up.  But WR A.J. Green will have a bounce back week after getting ejected last week for fighting with Jags CB Jalen Ramsey.  He won’t be enough for the Bengals and the Titans will win big.

The Lions will struggle to produce offensively with TE Eric Ebron having a rough year and WR Kenny Golladay injured.  But the Browns will have an even worse day as no clear cut starting QB has emerged.  The Lions will win in a snoozer as their defense succeeds in shutting Cleveland down.

The Chargers defense has not had a good year.  QB Philip Rivers has led an elite offense into high scoring games but they have blown half of them due to sloppy defense.  The Jags offense will dominate against the Chargers D.  RB Leonard Fournette will have a big game in his return from a team suspension.  However, the young Chargers receiving corps will keep the game close even against a tricky Jaguars secondary.   In the end, the Jags will win in a close one.

The Vikings offense will thrive in this close game, even without QB Sam Bradford.  But QB Kirk Cousins and his Redskins offense will have an even better game, dominating against the Vikings strong secondary.  I have the Redskins winning in an OT thriller.  They have a wealth of receiving weapons and home field advantage to give them the edge.

The Packers have already struggled without QB Aaron Rodgers.  Green Bay will struggle enough again that the Bears will be able to pull an upset against them.  In Green Bay, the Packers annihilated the Bears but it will be different in Chicago without Rodgers.  Led by QB Mitch Trubisky and RB Jordan Howard, the Bears will win a low scoring game.  The Packers defense will try to shut them down but QB Brett Hundley and his offense won’t score enough to grab the victory.

The Giants’ will struggle to produce offensively since many of their top receiving weapons are injured.  But the 49ers offense will struggle to produce without WR Pierre Garcon and TE George Kittle and that will lead to a Giants victory in a defensive battle.  Without Garcon and Kittle, QB C.J. Beathard will struggle and the Giants will win on the road.

This tough NFC match-up will be a close one.  The Falcons will solve their offensive problems against a struggling Cowboys defense.  The Falcons RB duo will dominate and Julio Jones will put up another big game.  Meanwhile, the Cowboys will struggle with RB Ezekiel Elliott suspended and WR Dez Bryant banged-up.  Their offense that typically puts up 30+ points will be held to 24 and they will fall to Atlanta.

SNF

If TE Martellus Bennett plays, then the great TE duo of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett will be too much for the Broncos secondary.  The Broncos have given up a lot of TDs to tight ends this season and the Pats duo could be considered the best in the league.  Either way, QB Tom Brady and the Pats offense will get into a good rhythm and keep one of the best defenses in the league off their game.

The Broncos will stay in this as RB C.J. Anderson rebounds from a minor injury last week and has a big game against the Patriots defensive front.  But Anderson won’t be enough as Broncos QB Brock Osweiler underperforms and suffers his 2nd loss in a row.

That’s all for my Week 10 Picks.  Feel free to comment with your thoughts.  This is my 499th post on this site.  Check back soon for a special 500th article.

NFL Week 9 Picks: Any Given Sunday

Welcome to my NFL Week 9 Picks.  I went 8-5 last week, placing my overall record at 61-58.  How will I do in this week’s slate of games?  Read below and comment with your thoughts.  This week will be full of close games and shocking upsets.  Keep reading to see how I think Week 9 will unfold.

Teams on Bye: Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers

Note: In the images, the team on the top is the road team, and the team on the bottom is the home team.

Lock of the Week

QB Carson Palmer may be out but that won’t stop the Cardinals from winning this game.  QB Drew Stanton won’t produce as much as Palmer would but he has enough experience to lead the Cardinals to victory.   I also expect RB Adrian Peterson to do well and rush for his second 100-yard game in 3 games with the Cardinals.

The 49ers offense will miss standout WR Pierre Garcon.  Even if new QB Jimmy Garoppolo sees the field, he will have limited weapons to help him through the air.  They need to rebuild and it starts at WR now that they traded for the apparent QB of the future.

Upset of the Week

This could be the most exciting divisional game of the season.  Expect the Bucs offense to explode, carried by 150+ rushing yards and 350+ passing yards and at least 5 TDs.  The Saints young defense has been good lately but will be overmatched by the versatile Tampa Bay offense.  Watch for WR DeSean Jackson to have an especially big game as the Saints haven’t established a second starting corner behind Marshon Lattimore.

The Saints offense has been clicking so expect QB Drew Brees to have a big game.  The Buccaneers D will struggle to cover the Saints’ playmakers.  But the Bucs will outlast New Orleans in a shootout.

TNF (Posted to Twitter on Thursday Night)

The Bills offense will kick into gear in this game after the recent acquisition of WR Kelvin Benjamin.  The Jets will struggle early but they’ll get their run game working later on.  However, the Bills will continue to look good defensively, picking off Jets QB Josh McCown multiple times.  In the end, the Bills will be too much for the Jets on both sides of the ball.

Sunday’s Games

The Titans offense will bounce back after the bye week even against the tough Ravens defensive front.  The offensive line will protect QB Marcus Mariota well and he will have the time to get into a good rhythm.  The Ravens will also do well offensively continuing their momentum from last week.  But they won’t produce enough with their receivers banged-up and the Titans will hold on to win the game.

The Jaguars offense will look better in this game.  RB Leonard Fournette has not returned, but young standout WR Dede Westbrook has.  Both players are expected to start in this game.  Westbrook is one of my breakout candidates so I expect he will lead the Jags in receiving today with a 100-yard game and a TD.  Both defenses will be tough and keep the game low scoring.  But the Jags will be able to produce just enough offense with Westbrook back.

QB Deshaun Watson may be out for the season but this offense will still thrive with Tom Savage connecting with an array of top Houston receiving weapons they have.  Tom Savage could have a big game against a Colts defense that has struggled all year.  The Texans defense that is normally a dominant force may struggle especially with almost all of their top pass rushers hurt.  As a result, QB Jacoby Brissett will have time to find his receivers.  The Texans offense will be too much and the Colts will fall short in this division battle.

This game could make for some sloppy football.  The Eagles offense won’t look the same against Denver’s No Fly Zone and Denver’s offense won’t look much better as they turn to QB Brock Osweiler.  The last time Osweiler had a half decent game was back in 2015 when he filled in for Peyton Manning.   The Eagles will win in the end as Denver continues to fall short on the road.

Even with WR Sterling Shepard back, the Giants will continue to struggle offensively because QB Eli Manning will be scrambling all day against a tough Rams defensive front.  The Giants O-Line has had problems for almost 2 years especially against strong D-Lines.  Rams QB Jared Goff will have a good game against a tough Giants D, especially because CB Janoris Jenkins won’t be playing due to a team suspension.  The Giants will keep RB Todd Gurley to a sub-par game but in the end, the Rams offense will do just enough as their defense dominates.

The loss of WR Kelvin Benjamin will have a huge impact on Carolina’s offense.  Who’s their #1 receiver now? That’s the same question people had when Benjamin tore his ACL in 2015.  While the Panthers lack a #1, WR Julio Jones will dominate for the Falcons against the Panthers’ weak secondary.  The Panthers will find a way to score with their young receiving corp but in the end, Julio Jones will have his best game of the season, and lead Atlanta to victory.

The Redskins offense has the potential to dominate but has been struggling lately, and the Seahawks defense will continue to slow them down.   The Seahawks will also continue their own offensive momentum after holding on to beat the Texans 41-38 last week.  They will hold off the Redskins in a back and forth game at home with the 12th man providing the 1 point edge.

How did RB Ezekiel Elliott get out of his suspension again?  At this rate, he might play the entire season.  However, he will fail to score against a tough Chiefs defensive front even though he may play well.  The Chiefs defense will be strong in the red zone, holding the Cowboys without a TD in more than half of their red zone drives.  However, the Cowboys will keep their offensive momentum going with Elliott active once again and win the game at home.

SNF

img_4961

The return of RB Marshawn Lynch will help establish Oakland’s run game which will set up the pass plays in red zone situations.  I expect Lynch to return surprisingly strong after struggling to produce prior to his suspension.  The Dolphins offense will still do OK but will struggle with their run game with RB Jay Ajayi now an Eagle.  In the end, QB Derek Carr and the Raiders offense will lead Oakland to victory in primetime.

MNF

QB Brett Hundley will have a decent game, scoring 2 TD, but the young QB will have problems under the pressure of primetime.  Lions QB Matthew Stafford will have the better game between the two of them, whether he has deep threat Kenny Golladay or not.  The Lions will win a low scoring game despite the fact that the Lions offense has not done well of late.  With Hundley starting in only his second game of his career, the pressure of primetime will be too much and the Lions will win this big division showdown.

That’s all for my picks this week.  Comment with your thoughts, and stay tuned for more! NFL articles.

NFL Midseason Report: 2017 Will Continue to Shock Us

This NFL season has been crazy.  There have been upsets that are unheard of.  Teams have made shocking last-minute comebacks, and almost every game is competitive.  Roger Goodell finally got his way there, almost every team is somewhere in the middle except the few dominant teams and the few terrible teams.  After such a crazy season, who will win it all?  Will the Pats do it two years in a row, or will a dark horse contender come from behind to win it?

Part I: Pats 1st Half Review and 2nd Half Outlook

The Pats were starting to scare me early in the season.  First, they blew it on Opening Night.  Then, they just didn’t look the same in Weeks 2 and 3 and blew it in Week 4.  They were 2-2 and almost went 1-3.  Even in wins against the Bucs and Jets, they didn’t look quite the same.  The defense was horrific early in the season.

But somewhere between their 6th and 7th games, something clicked with the defense.  They began to apply more pressure to the passer and the running back each week.  Even without Stephon Gilmore, the secondary was really containing their opponents, and even got 3 interceptions between Weeks 6 and 8.

The Pats go into the bye with a 6-2 record, and they remind me of the 2014 team that won Super Bowl XLIX.  They have been playing strong complementary football lately, as they’re famous for.  I could see them as the #1 seed, but they have to beat the Bills and Dolphins, and they can’t let the AFC West trip them up.  They are still my favorites to win it all, but it won’t be easy by any means.

 

Part II: Revised Season and Playoff Predictions

AFC East

  1. new_england_patriots New England Patriots 12-4
  2. Buffalo_Bills Buffalo Bills 10-6
  3. Dolphins-logo Miami Dolphins 6-10
  4. Jets-Logo New York Jets 3-13

Right now, this division is very tight.  But the results of the trade deadline will cause a split.  The Pats will continue in the same direction they’re headed right now.  Their defense has continued to improve, and their offense has been on top of things.  The Bills will continue to chase the Patriots.

The acquisition of Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin will boost the offense, and the defense will continue to thrive.  However, the Dolphins and Jets will fall out of it.  What are the Dolphins doing?  They traded away their star RB!  They will fall apart without him.  The Jets will fall to the bottom as their anemic offense burns out.

AFC North

  1. pittsburgh-steelers Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
  2. Baltimore_Ravens_Logo Baltimore Ravens 9-7
  3. cincinnati-bengals Cincinnati Bengals 5-11
  4. cleveland-browns-brown Cleveland Browns 0-16

Unfortunately for Browns fans, the losing streak could continue.  They may be getting Josh Gordon back, but they have failed to produce offense and establish a starting QB.  Their defense has also struggled.  The Bengals will also continue to have problems, their defense has been strong but the offense will struggle without TE Tyler Eifert and WR John Ross.  The Ravens have a great defense as well, but QB Joe Flacco hasn’t developed a passing rhythm lately.  That means the Steelers will run away with the division.  They could be going places after the breakout of Juju Smith-Schuster.

AFC South

  1. tennessee-titans. Tennessee Titans 12-4
  2. jacksonvile-jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars 12-4
  3. hou-texans Houston Texans 7-9
  4. indianapolis-colts Indianapolis Colts 4-12

The Titans and Jaguars will continue to battle it out for the division.  The Jags have a great defense and their offense has been carried by RB Leonard Fournette.  The Titans have a dominant offense that will lead them to success and a strong young D.  The Texans and Colts will fall out of it, as the Texans’ isn’t enough to carry them with the defense depleted, and Indy will fail to win many games with QB Andrew Luck on IR.

AFC West

  1. kansas-city-chiefs-logo Kansas City Chiefs 12-4
  2. oakland-raiders Oakland Raiders 9-7
  3. San_Diego_Chargers Los Angeles Chargers 7-9
  4. denver-broncos-logo Denver Broncos 6-10

The Chiefs have been unbelievable this season, and expect that to continue.  Their offense can make plays sufficiently, and the defense is dominant at times.  I also think the Raiders and Chargers will be in the running for a playoff spot.  LA is finally starting to rebound from some tough times, and the Raiders just need to get the offense going at full speed.  On the other hand, the Broncos are headed downhill as they struggle to produce offensively.

NFC East

  1. philadelphia-eagles-logo Philadelphia Eagles 12-4
  2. dalcowboyslogonew Dallas Cowboys 10-6
  3. washingtonredskins2 Washington Redskins 7-9
  4. new-york-giants-logo New York Giants 2-14

The Giants are out of it at this point.  They are depleted at receiver, QB Eli Manning is struggling and they have no run game.  The Eagles should win this division with ease through offensive dominance and a strong defensive showing.  The Cowboys also have a chance if RB Ezekiel Elliott keeps playing.  They struggle severely on defense though.  The Redskins are in a similar situation, but their offense isn’t nearly as good as Dallas’.  Dallas also has a strong O-line to protect the offense.  This division is a battle of strong offenses, the Eagles should be heavy favorites.

NFC North

  1. min-vikings-logo2 Minnesota Vikings 11-5
  2. Image result for detroit lions logo Detroit Lions 9-7
  3. gbpackers2 Green Bay Packers 8-8
  4. chicago-bears-logo Chicago Bears 5-11

The Packers are without their star QB, and that’s a huge setback.  That opens up the NFC North.  The Lions are decent.  Decent defense, and a strong offense that just hasn’t gotten it together lately.  The Vikings are the new favorites.  Even without RB Dalvin Cook, they have several capable receivers and a strong RB in Latavius Murray.  The Bears will also look better but will remain in last with Green Bay, Detroit and Minnesota all off to strong starts.

NFC South

  1. atlfalcons Atlanta Falcons 10-6
  2. tampabaybuccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6
  3. nosaints New Orleans Saints 9-7
  4. carolina-panthers-logo Carolina Panthers 8-8

This division doesn’t look so great right now, but I still consider it one of the best divisions in the league.  Everyone in this division is projected as .500 or above.  I think the Falcons will win it, as the Saints begin to slow down and the Panthers fall apart without WR Kelvin Benjamin.  The Buccaneers will also be back in it.  I expect them to rebound both offensively and defensively.  Those efforts will grab them a wild card.

NFC West

  1. Image result for la rams logo Los Angeles Rams 12-4
  2. seattle-seahawks Seattle Seahawks 11-5
  3. az-cards Arizona Cardinals 5-11
  4. sf-49ers San Francisco 49ers 1-15

With QB Carson Palmer done for the year, the Cardinals are out of it and this is officially a 2-team battle.  The Seahawks have played great defensively, but the offense has struggled.  The Rams offense has kicked into gear but they need to establish a strong secondary.  Who will be atop the NFC West?  I think the Rams are the stronger team here as they have a front seven that’s almost as strong as Seattle’s.

Playoff Predictions


I still have the Pats winning it all in this exciting season that has continued to surprise us.  The Eagles won’t make it very easy though.  They have continued to put up a lot of points week to week and could be a difficult challenge for Matt Patricia’s defense.  The Chiefs will also cause them problems, similar to those presented on Opening Night.  However, the Pats offense will have more of a rhythm than it did in Week 1 and the defense will look much better, giving the Pats the victory this time around.

The Rams will be tough for the Eagles to beat, especially in LA.  I have the Rams beating Philly in LA in the regular season, but in the playoffs, Philly’s offense will just be too dominant to be stopped, even by the Rams D, and it will take another great offense to beat them out, which is why I have the Pats, not the Eagles, winning Super Bowl LII.  In the NFC, it’s hard for me to say any teams besides LA and the Eagles have a chance.  The Packers would if QB Aaron Rodgers came back for the playoffs, but backup QB Brett Hundley has to grab them the playoff spot first.

The Vikings have a great defense and improving offensive attack, but they’re not good enough to challenge the better teams in the NFC.  Every team in the NFC South has too big a weakness somewhere on their team to challenge.  For Carolina, it’s receiving weapons.  Atlanta lacks protection for QB Matt Ryan.  Tampa Bay and New Orleans lack consistency.  The Seahawks would also contend if they scored more points per game.  They are carried by an unbelievable defense, but in order to win playoff games, the offense needs to step it up.

In the AFC, the Steelers, Jaguars, and Titans may seem like contenders, but the Pats and Chiefs are by far the two best teams in the AFC.  Right now, there are no noticeable holes for either of them.  The Steelers may be good in the regular season, but they’ll go one and done in the playoffs if they can’t mentally prepare, which has caused them problems already this season.  The Titans and Jaguars’ young defenses will not be able to handle the dominant offenses of the Pats and Chiefs. So you can count those three teams out.   Even the Bills or Raiders might be in it if it weren’t for the big gap between the Pats and Chiefs and everyone else in the AFC.

That’s all for my midseason report.  Feel free to comment with your thoughts.

NFL Week 8 Picks

Welcome to my NFL Week 8 Picks.  Last week was my best yet.  I went 12-3, placing my overall record at 53-53.  How will I do in this week’s slate of games?  Read below and comment with your thoughts.

Teams on Bye: Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans

Note: In the images, the team on the top is the road team, and the team on the bottom is the home team.

Lock of the Week

img_4909

Expect the Saints to continue their momentum and dominate offensively in this game.  I know wide receivers Michael Thomas and Willie Snead are banged-up, but that actually opens up opportunities for the offense.  WRs Brandon Coleman and Ted Ginn Jr. could step up with big games if Snead and Thomas aren’t at full health.  Both have had big games this year.

In addition, the pass should set up the run RB Alvin Kamara breaking out for 100 yards and a TD.  The Bears will have to abandon the run to try and keep up with a huge offensive showing by the Saints and it won’t be enough.

Upset of the Week (SNF)

img_4910

With WR Martavis Bryant out, the Steelers offense may struggle.  The Lions defense will have a strong game, pressuring QB Ben Roethlisberger giving him little time to find open receivers.  Even with WR Kenny Golladay banged up, the well-rested Lions should have a strong offensive game at home against a young Steelers secondary in this primetime match-up.

TNF (Posted to Twitter on Thursday Night before the game)


Miami’s success has been tied to their running game.  The Dolphins have leaned on RB Jay Ajayi all season to take pressure off the passing game sorely missing QB Ryan Tannehill.  In this game, I expect the passing offense to step up as Ajayi will struggle against a dominant Ravens defensive front.  QB Matt Moore and the Dolphins receivers will help carry the Dolphins in this game.  Moore shined in his season debut last week after QB Jay Cutler left with a rib injury.  The Dolphins offense will have plenty of opportunities as the Ravens offense will struggle to stay on the field.

The Dolphins defense will shut down RB Alex Collins and the Ravens’ young run game.  Baltimore’s banged up receivers will fail to produce, even against a weak Dolphins secondary, and Miami will pull the upset.

London Game (Posted to Twitter this morning before the game)

I don’t care if the Vikings have WR Stefon Diggs or not.  The Browns secondary has some serious holes and the Vikings receivers will dominate against them, no matter who is under center for Minnesota.  The Vikings receiving game has really stepped it up since RB Dalvin Cook tore his ACL and that has kept Minnesota in the running for playoff contention.

The Vikings D should dominate and shut down RB Isaiah Crowell and the Browns run game.  The Browns may find a way to score but their revolving door at QB keep them from having a chance as the Vikings cruise to victory.

img_4912

The Pats secondary has done surprisingly well of late even without big free agent signing CB Stephon Gilmore.  They will have to succeed without him for the 3rd straight game and I expect Belichick to come up with a good game plan to contain the Chargers’ TE duo of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry.  Brady, Gronk and the rest of the Pats offense will keep the Chargers offense on the bench.  Expect them to control the time of possession with a 4-headed RB attack against a weak Chargers run defense.  Pats should score at least 4 TD on home turf making the Chargers wish they did not have to fly from coast to coast.

img_4913

The Bills have been on a surprisingly good run this season.  Their defense has played will despite losing star CB Gilmore.  But I think the Raiders can be the team to shut the Bills down.  Their versatile receivers will score multiple touchdowns and challenge the Bills secondary all day.  In addition, the Raiders defense will shut down Buffalo’s star RB LeSean McCoy forcing the Bills to rely on their young receivers.  They will come up short as the Raiders come up big in Buffalo.

img_4914

The Jets’ offense will be overmatched by the Falcons D the will bounce back after a tough loss to the Super Bowl champs.  The Falcons QB-RB-WR trio will find a way to regain some of last year’s high scoring success and playing against the young Jets defense should give them the confidence to succeed.

img_4915

The Bengals will thrive against one of the weakest defenses in the league.  The Colts offense is still without their star QB Andrew Luck will struggle to stay on the field.  I think star receiver A.J. Green will have plenty of chances to dominate against Indy’s secondary, even in double coverage.  The Bengals RB duo will have a big game against the Colts depleted front seven and set-up good play-action pass opportunities to Green.  The Bengals defense will slow down veteran RB Frank Gore forcing them to the air with young QB Brissett.  The Colts won’t score enough especially away from their friendly dome stadium.

img_4916

Eagles QB Carson Wentz and his versatile receivers will dominate against the weak 49ers secondary.  They will put up their sixth game in a row where they’ve scored 25+ points and they will continue to lead the league in PPG this season.  The Eagles defense should also have a big game by pressuring young QB C.J. Beathard and forcing him to make bad throws.  The Eagles’ will cruise to a league-leading season record of 7-1 as San Francisco remains winless with their 8th straight loss.

img_4917

The Bucs have blown leads in two straight games but I expect them to bounce back here against their divisional rival.  Their receivers will dominate against the struggling Carolina secondary.  The Panthers will continue to struggle offensively as QB Cam Newton has been off his game without his star TE Greg Olsen.  The Bucs defense will keep him under pressure forcing him to scramble and make bad throws.  Bucs win by at least a TD in this key division matchup.

img_4918

The Seahawks offense will have a better game against the depleted Texans defensive front.  The Texans lost DE J.J. Watt (injury), LB Brian Cushing (suspension), and LB Whitney Mercilus (injury) so expect the Seahawks offense to have success.   The Texans offense led by young QB will struggle against the Seahawks defense that always plays tough at home.  The Seahawks hold on in a close one as their defense gives their offense enough opportunities to outscore the Texans who have shown they can have big offensive games.

img_4919

The Redskins will win in another high scoring divisional game.  The Cowboys offense will continue to thrive after a huge week last week.  However, the Redskins will also get into a good offensive rhythm, dominating against a weak Cowboys defense.  Look for WR Jamison Crowder and TE Vernon Davis to lead the Redskins in this shootout.

MNF

img_4920

The Broncos will lose their third straight here as they have struggled on the road.  The Chiefs offense has been the reason Kansas City has won most of their games, but it’s their defense that will shine in this game.  Expect the Chiefs to hold Denver to 10 points o less as the Broncos have averaged just 10.5 PPG in their last four games.  QB Trevor Siemian will continue to struggle away from the comforts of home field.  The Broncos defense will not be enough to slow down the Chiefs at home.

That’s all for my picks this week.  Comment with your thoughts, and stay tuned for more NFL articles including my midseason report.

NFL Week 7 Picks

Here are my NFL Week 7 Picks.  Last week I went 5-9, placing my overall record at 41-50.  How will I do in this week’s slate of games?  Read below and comment with your thoughts.

Teams on Bye: Detroit Lions, Houston Texans

Note: In the images, the team on the top is the road team, and the team on the bottom is the home team.

Lock of the Week

Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi had another 100-yard game last week and he led Miami to victory.  Expect that to happen again against the Jets.  The Jets have allowed the 5th most rush yards per game this year (138.8), and Ajayi should be the next to dominate against them.  I also think Miami QB Jay Cutler will find an offensive rhythm against the young Jets D, as a good run game should set up the play action passing game.  The tough Dolphins front seven will pressure Jets QB Josh McCown and hold the Jets to field goals.  Dolphins win with ease.

 

Upset of the Week

Just because QB Aaron Rodgers is hurt, it doesn’t mean the Packers won’t win any games, especially at home.  I like Packers new QB Brett Hundley and he will get the chance to prove himself in this game.  The Saints will fail to pressure him and he’ll thrive in this game by spreading the ball around to top GB receivers Jordy Nelson and DaVante Adams.  Even without Rodgers, this will still be an offensive shootout as both teams have struggled defensively especially against strong passing offenses.  The Saints will fall short of the 52 they put up last week without the benefit of the home dome.  Packers pull the upset on the not yet frozen tundra.
TNF (Posted to Twitter on Thursday before the game)

I thought Kansas City would come into this game undefeated after winning their first 5 games but the Steelers had their number.  The Raiders will be able to do the same.  Oakland has struggled over the last couple weeks but at full health I expect them to rebound on Thursday Night.

Chiefs corner Marcus Peters will limit Oakland WR Amari Cooper but Raiders WR Michael Crabtree will have a huge game.  Raiders QB Derek Carr, Crabtree, and Raiders TE Jared Cook will dominate against a Chiefs secondary that lost playmaking safety, Eric Berry.  The Chiefs offense will make it close as QB Alex Smith finds a rhythm with his star tight end Travis Kelce but the rest of the offense will continue to look off their game against the tough Raiders D.  Raiders win in a close one.

 

Sunday’s Games


The Rams offense may have had an off week against Seattle last week, but I expect them to rebound this week and find ways to score against the tough Arizona secondary.  Defensively, the Rams will slow down RB Adrian Peterson after his big debut in Arizona.  However, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer and his receivers will find a rhythm and thrive.  But in the end, I have the Rams winning in a close one as London will feel like home for them after playing there many times before.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston was injured in last week’s game but he’s expected to return this week.  I see him returning strong with 2 TDs as Bucs WRs Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will challenge the Bills secondary and keep breakout star S Micah Hyde without an interception in this game.  Hyde may lead the league in interceptions but he won’t have one this week.  The Bucs defense will shut down the Bills offense that’s without top TE Charles Clay.

The Vikings will find an offensive rhythm in this game even without WR Stefon Diggs.  WR Laquon Treadwell will continue to make an impact in Diggs’ absence and I also expect WR Adam Thielen to keep making plays for Minnesota.  However, they will struggle in the run game without RB Dalvin Cook, especially against the Ravens’ tough run defense.

Even with TE Kyle Rudolph matched up against Baltimore’s star safety Eric Weddle, the Vikings should be successful on offense.  Defensively, the Vikings will do a good job pressuring and shutting down Ravens QB Joe Flacco and give the Vikings offense plenty of opportunities.

The Titans offense will continue to look strong against a young Browns D that is still finding its way.  QB Marcus Mariota will play like he did on Monday Night against the Colts and should have another 300-yard game.  Defensively, I think the Titans will struggle to stop RB Isaiah Crowell and the Browns run game, but without a strong passing offense, the Browns won’t have enough to keep up with the Titans.  Cleveland QB Hogan will struggle and the Browns will fail to challenge the Titans in this game.

The Jaguars run game will dominate against the Colts this week.  The Colts weak defensive front will not be able to stop the Jaguars running game even with RB Leonard Fournette out with an injury.  Fournette was injured late in last week’s game and while his injury was not deemed serious, he has been ruled out for this game.  The Colts, however, will still be without star QB Andrew Luck.  Backup QB Jacoby Brissett will make some plays but the Jaguars versatile defense will limit him enough as Ivory carries the Jags to victory.

The Panthers will dominate offensively in this game as I expect RB Christian McCaffrey to make an impact in both as a runner and as a receiver.  In addition, QB Cam Newton will have a big day against a weak Bears defense.  Expect RBs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to struggle against a tough Carolina defensive front and force Bears QB Mitch Trubisky to carry the Bears offense.  It won’t be enough and the Panthers will win this one on the road.

The Cowboys will have a huge offensive day in San Francisco.  The run game will do especially well against the young 49ers defensive front.  The Cowboys’ dominant o-line will create running lanes for RB Ezekiel Elliott (still active thanks to winning another legal battle) as well as other Cowboys backs.  The 49ers may have some success offensively with rookie C.J. Beathard at QB facing a weak Cowboys secondary but they will be outscored by a large margin.

After seeing what the Steelers did to the Chiefs last week, I’m taking the Steelers.  They proved that they can win a big game against a tough AFC opponent.  Their defense will continue to step it up and they will shut down QB Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense.  I don’t see this being very high scoring as both defenses slow down their opponent.  In addition, neither Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown nor Bengals star receiver A.J. Green will have good games against these tough defenses.  I have the Steelers winning it at home by a touchdown.  

I think this week could be a turning point in the AFC West.  With this win for LA, the Chargers and Raiders will continue to gain on the Broncos and Chiefs.  By the end of the year, I still think the Raiders will take the division lead in the AFC West, as the Chiefs and Broncos falter down the stretch.  

In this game, the Broncos may limit RB Melvin Gordon but they won’t stop QB Rivers who will find enough time to connect with his receivers despite pressure from the Broncos front seven.  Siemian and the Broncos offense will continue to struggle as they did last week to become the only team to lose to the 1-5 Giants last week.  Even against a subpar Chargers defense, the Broncos will fail to find their offensive rhythm, especially without top WR Emmanuel Sanders.


Seattle has one of the top defenses and with the Giants top 2 WRs out for the season, I’m predicting my first shutout game this year.  The Seahawks defense will hold the depleted Giants offense scoreless.  QB Eli Manning will struggle without his star receivers especially because I see the Seahawks pressing him all day.  The Seattle offense will struggle as it has but will score enough to win in this defensive battle. 


Expect a Sunday Night thriller in this Super Bowl LI rematch.  I think Pats QB Tom Brady will thrive against the Falcons D like he did in the 2nd half of the Super Bowl, especially with star LB Vic Beasley banged up.  However, it won’t be easy for the Pats.  Falcons WR Julio Jones will dominate against a banged-up Pats secondary, and RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will have good days against a struggling Pats defensive front.  But in the end, Brady and the Pats offense will find a way just as they did in the Super Bowl.

This one should be fun to watch.  I expect the Eagles offense to explode for 5 TDs as the Redskins defense looks off their game.  The Redskins offense will also thrive, continuing their momentum from last week.  Washington will come close but the Eagles will come out on top in this Monday Night Football division showdown.  

Please comment with your thoughts.