2019 NFL Week 15 Picks & Previews: Which Teams Will Be Held Back by Injuries?

Welcome to my Week 15 NFL Picks & Previews.  Last week I went 13-3, putting my overall record at 125-81-1 (126-81-1 with Week 15 TNF).  As we approach the end of the regular season, many teams, contenders included, have been decimated by injuries.  Some teams have been able to adjust, while others have fallen behind due to injuries. More injuries have occurred in the past week.  Which contenders will be able to adjust? Which contenders will fall short? Keep reading to find out what I think, and as always, feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

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QB Carson Wentz won’t do quite as well with WRs Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Nelson Agholor all sidelined.  But he’ll rely on the TE duo of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert to lead the Eagles past an underrated Redskins defense.  Most teams would be able to put up a fight against a 20 point performance. But without RB Derrius Guice, Washington’s offense will appear anemic against an above average Philly defense.  This will allow the Eagles to win with ease.

Upset of the Week

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Even with QB concerns, expect Jacksonville to pull off an upset, as RB Leonard Fournette has a day up against a depleted Raiders front seven.  QB Gardner Minshew will put up a decent performance as well, but will struggle with consistency. Minshew and Fournette’s success should be enough for the Jaguars victory.  QB Derek Carr and his offense will make this close, but expect them to fall short against a middle of the pack Jags defense.

 

The Other Games

Posted to Twitter Thursday

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Expect QB Lamar Jackson and his offense to thrive against a depleted Jets defense.  However, this will be a run heavy game, as Jackson and RB Mark Ingram lead the way for the Ravens.  Meanwhile, RB Le’Veon Bell will have a strong game for the Jets. But a struggling QB Sam Darnold will fail to keep up with Jackson as the Jets fall short. 
img_6458 This game will go how most of New England’s games against bottom of the barrel teams have gone.  The Pats defense will hold Cincy to just 1 TD. But this won’t exactly be a field day for QB Tom Brady and his WRs.  Until he finds some more help at WR, don’t expect the Pats to drop 30+ points on any defense, even the Bengals.
img_6459 Even against an aging Giants defense, Miami will struggle to put up points.  WR DeVante Parker will be the lone sign of hope for this offense, as the run game struggles without RBs Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage.  Meanwhile, RB Saquon Barkley will lead the way for the Giants against an inexperienced Dolphins front seven as QB Eli Manning takes the back seat in his first victory of 2019.
img_6460 Look for Houston to win with ease here, especially with WR Will Fuller V slated to play.  The Titans will put up some points, but QB Ryan Tannehill will struggle against a Texans front seven that is still good despite the losses of DE J.J. Watt (injured) and OLB Jadeveon Clowney (traded).  RB Derrick Henry will put up a decent game, but it won’t be enough.
img_6461 The Broncos will put up more of a fight here than most people expect.  The run game will thrive against a flawed Chiefs defense. Denver may even take this game to overtime, as their defense limits QB Patrick Mahomes and his receivers.  But Mahomes and the Chiefs will find a way to victory against a team that is highly unlikely to make the playoffs.
img_6462 Look for QB Aaron Rodgers and his offense to edge out a victory as the Packers sweep Chicago, even against a strong Bears D.  Meanwhile, QB Mitch Trubisky and the Bears offense will make this close, but they will fall short against a young Packers D.  
img_6463 Without WR Mike Evans, the Buccaneers will struggle to put up enough points for victory.  Even without QB Matthew Stafford, the Lions offense will do alright against an inexperienced Tampa Bay, leading the way for a Detroit victory. 
img_6464 This will be a pass heavy game, as the WRs thrive against two of the weakest secondaries in the league.  With their WRs wide open, QBs Russell Wilson and Kyle Allen will both have very strong games. But Wilson’s experience will give him the edge over Allen and Seattle the edge over Carolina, even on the road.
img_6465 With unmotivated WR Odell Beckham Jr. covered by CB Patrick Peterson, QB Baker Mayfield will struggle to connect with his receivers.  This will allow QB Kyler Murray and the Cardinals to edge out a victory at home. Against a banged-up Browns defense, Murray will thrive, throwing for 200+ yards and multiple TDs.
img_6466 Expect the Minnesota defense to step it up here, holding aging QB Philip Rivers and the Chargers to just 1 TD.  Meanwhile, the combo of RB Dalvin Cook and WR Stefon Diggs will just be too much for LA’s defense to handle, and their success will allow the Vikings to win comfortably.
img_6467 QB Jared Goff and his receivers will put up enough points here to take down Dallas, even without TE Gerald Everett.  QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott will look alright against the Rams D. But they will be prevented from scoring too much, especially with CB Jalen Ramsey shutting down Prescott’s favorite target, WR Amari Cooper.  
img_6468 The 49ers offense has been dominant all year, and the Falcons defense will struggle to contain them.  Meanwhile, with WR Calvin Ridley out for the season, QB Matt Ryan will lack the weapons to keep up with San Francisco.
img_6469 Without WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, this will be close, as Buffalo will shut down Pittsburgh’s other WRs with ease.  But QB Duck Hodges will lean on RB James Conner and TE Vance McDonald to help the Steelers to victory. However, an underrated Steelers D will nail in the win, shutting down the Bills run game, and significantly limiting QB Josh Allen.
img_6470 Expect a dominant game out of QB Drew Brees, RB Alvin Kamara, and WR Michael Thomas against a rather inexperienced Colts defense.  QB Jacoby Brissett and his offense will find a way to put up some points and make this a bit competitive. But it won’t nearly be enough to give the Colts any kind of chance at a victory.

 

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

2019 NFL Week 14 Picks & Previews: Lots of Scoring, Divisional Match-ups as Playoffs Approach

Welcome to my Week 14 NFL picks and previews.  Last week, I went 8-8, putting my overall record at 112-78-1 (113-78-1 with Week 14 TNF).  As the playoffs approach, this week will be filled with scoring and exciting rivalries. Which teams will come out on top and advance in the playoff race?  Keep reading to find out what I think, and as always, feel free to comment with your thoughts.  

Lock of the Week

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Against an underrated Titans defense, QB Derek Carr and the Raiders will struggle to put up points.  Carr will be without WR Hunter Renfrow, and the Tennessee defense should be able to handle RB Josh Jacobs, WR Tyrell Williams, and TE Darren Waller.  Meanwhile, expect Oakland to struggle stopping RB Derrick Henry. QB Ryan Tannehill will also have a strong game, tossing multiple touchdowns and leading the Titans to a blowout victory with help from Henry.

Upset of the Week

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This one should be close, but look for the Rams defense to slow QB Russell Wilson down more than usual. Meanwhile, QB Jared Goff and his receivers will take advantage of a good match-up against an inexperienced Seahawks secondary.  RB Chris Carson should have a strong game for Seattle, but it won’t be enough as the Rams have too big an advantage against the Seattle secondary.  

The Other Games

Posted to Twitter Thursday

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Look for QB Mitch Trubisky and his receivers to have a strong day against a young Cowboys secondary and lead the Bears to victory.  However, RB Ezekiel Elliott will help Dallas make this close against a strong Bears defense that will shut down QB Dak Prescott.  
img_6380 Led by their strong run game, the Bills will put up a good amount of points and make this close.  But even a rising Buffalo defense is no match for QB Lamar Jackson. Jackson will rely on RB Mark Ingram and a variety of receivers in addition to running the ball himself.  Jackson’s versatile skillset will lead Baltimore to a fairly easy victory.
img_6381 Without RB Le’Veon Bell, the Jets will have to rely on QB Sam Darnold and his receivers.  But against a Dolphins secondary that’s decimated by injuries, I think the Jets are capable of victory without Bell.  The Dolphins will put up a fight, but they won’t win in New York.  
img_6382 With TE David Njoku back, QB Baker Mayfield and his offense will be up to full speed in this game.  They’ve had time to develop chemistry and get healthy. Now they’ll take advantage of a favorable match-up against Cincinnati.  QB Andy Dalton and his receivers will make it close, but the Browns should win in the end.
img_6383 Even without WR Will Fuller V, the Texans should be able to take down Denver here.  Expect the Texans D to severely limit QB Drew Lock and his offense. It’s hard to tell how QB Deshaun Watson and his receivers will do, but the Texans should win with ease regardless.
img_6384 The Colts young secondary will have a very hard time stopping WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.  This will allow QB Jameis Winston to have one of his best games of the year and lead the Buccaneers to victory.  QB Jacoby Brissett and the Colts will put up some points on an inconsistent Tampa Bay defense, but without WR T.Y. Hilton and TE Eric Ebron, they won’t have enough in the tank.
img_6385 This will be closer than people expect, as Washington surprises against a young Green Bay defense.  But the Packers will win in the end, as they rely on RB Aaron Jones and QB Aaron Rodgers, who can make just about any WR look good.  
img_6387 Even without WR Adam Thielen playing, this should be a blowout.  The Vikings will lean on RB Dalvin Cook to lead them. Meanwhile, the Minnesota defense will easily shut down QB David Blough and his receivers, and with RB Kerryon Johnson hurt, Bo Scarbrough is the best RB the Lions have to compete with Cook.
img_6388 This will be an exciting game, as it could preview this year’s NFC Championship.  QB Drew Brees will lean on RB Alvin Kamara and TE Jared Cook with WR Michael Thomas likely to be covered by CB Richard Sherman for most of the game.  QB Jimmy Garoppolo and his receivers will find a way to make this close, but the Saints will prove themselves as NFC frontrunners in this one.
img_6389 In Atlanta, QB Kyle Allen will struggle with TE Greg Olsen sidelined.  RB Christian McCaffrey will have a strong game, but he cannot win Carolina games on his own.  QB Matt Ryan and a strong Falcons offense will be too much for McCaffrey to compete with here.
img_6390 Even with QB Gardner Minshew starting again, the Jags will struggle against the Chargers D.  WRs Dede Westbrook and D.J. Chark will be out-matched by a strong Chargers secondary, especially now that S Derwin James is back. Meanwhile, QB Philip Rivers will rebound against a weak Jags D after a tough loss.
img_6391 This is going to be the biggest shootout of the year.  Against a below average Chiefs D, QB Tom Brady will rebound.  The Pats defense will struggle as QB Patrick Mahomes continues to succeed and makes this close.  As Brady relies on his young receivers, the Pats will edge out a victory. But it won’t be easy.
img_6392 Even with QB Duck Hodges starting, I think the Steelers should be able to take down Arizona.  Hodges and his offense will put up a decent game against a young Cardinals defense, and Pittsburgh’s defense will limit QB Kyler Murray and his receivers to just 2 TDs to allow Pittsburgh to edge out the victory on the road.
img_6393 With QB Daniel Jones out, QB Eli Manning will have to start.  Under pressure from a strong Eagles front seven, he will struggle.  The Eagles won’t have the most flattering of games, but they’ll get by against an aging Giants defense as QB Carson Wentz relies on his tight ends.

 

That’s all for my picks this week.  Stay tuned for more posts soon, including some MLB free agency coverage as Winter Meetings approach.

2019 NFL Week 13 Picks & Previews: Road Upsets Continue in Fight for Playoff Contention

Welcome to my Week 13 NFL Picks.  On Thanksgiving, I went 2-1 as all 3 road teams won, putting my overall record at 106-71-1.  I expect lots of road teams to win today as well, with teams hungry to clinch and other teams looking for their last chance at contention.  Who will lock up a playoff spot, and who will lose their chance at one? Keep reading to find out what I think, and as always, feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

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QB Jacoby Brissett is running out of options.  RB Marlon Mack, WR T.Y. Hilton, and TE Eric Ebron are all injured.  The rest of this depleted Colts offense is sure to struggle against an underrated Tennessee defense.  Meanwhile, the success of QB Ryan Tannehill and his receivers will continue against a young Indy secondary.  TE Delanie Walker will be out, but that won’t come close to stopping the Titans here.

Upset of the Week

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Seattle has a good chance at winning the NFC West at this point.  But Minnesota will be hungry to take over their own division, and I could see them pulling off the upset here.  QB Kirk Cousins and his receivers will have a field day against the young Seattle secondary. QB Russell Wilson and his offense will struggle to keep up, especially as they will be limited by one of the best defenses in the league.  Wilson will find a way to make this close, but the Seahawks will still struggle to keep up in this one.

The Other Games

img_6315 Look for the Jets to keep their win streak alive against the winless Cincinnati Bengals.  RB Joe Mixon will have a strong game, but don’t expect much from QB Andy Dalton and his shallow group of receivers against a young, underrated Jets secondary.  Meanwhile, QB Sam Darnold will throw multiple TDs against a banged up Bengals D and lead the Jets to a comfortable victory.
img_6316 Expect Philly to revive themselves against a weak Miami defense.  QB Carson Wentz will turn things around, and the RB duo of Miles Sanders and Jay Ajayi will succeed against Ajayi’s former team.  Meanwhile, the Eagles secondary will be capable of containing Miami’s receivers, and RB Kalen Ballage will continue to struggle against a strong Eagles defensive front.
img_6317 The Niners defense will be no match for QB Lamar Jackson.  Jackson and his offense will continue to dominate, exposing the 49ers as overrated.  San Fran will have a strong game offensively as well, but this will mostly be a result of a strong game by RB Tevin Coleman against a DB-heavy Ravens defense.  The Ravens should succeed in limiting QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s receivers and outscoring the Niners.
img_6318 Look for QB Baker Mayfield to continue to succeed, even going against an improving Pittsburgh defense without TE David Njoku.  With QB Mason Rudolph, RB James Conner, and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster out of the lineup, the Steelers will fail to keep up.
img_6319 QB Jameis Winston will turn it around against a Jaguars secondary that has struggled without CB Jalen Ramsey.  QB Nick Foles will improve in this game now that he’s been healthy for a few weeks, utilizing all three of his best receivers.  However, it won’t be enough to outscore a strong Tampa offense, even in Jacksonville.
img_6320 The Giants would have a good chance here if they were fully healthy.  But WR Golden Tate and TE Evan Engram highlight a long list of absent Giants players this week.  The Giants have struggled with injuries all season, and those struggles will cost them as they fail to outscore a strong, but flawed Green Bay offense.
img_6321 Washington’s defense has done fairly well this season, but their offense has looked anemic at times.  Expect that pattern to continue in this defensive battle between the Redskins and Panthers. The Redskins will be able to limit Carolina’s offense.  But RB Christian McCaffrey is the one person Washington won’t be able to stop.
img_6322 The Rams are decimated by injuries, and QB Jared Goff has declined throughout the season.  But they’ll be able to take down a below average Cardinals offense. The Rams defense will hold Arizona TD-less, making it easy for Goff to lead the Rams to an important road victory.
img_6323 Oakland’s offense is pretty good, and they will put up a decent game against the Kansas City defense.  But without WR Hunter Renfrow in the mix, Oakland will fall short to QB Patrick Mahomes and an even stronger Chiefs offense.  Mahomes will lean on WR Tyreek Hill in this one, but WR Sammy Watkins, TE Travis Kelce, and RB LeSean McCoy will also put up big games.
img_6324 QB Philip Rivers is in danger of being benched, but the Chargers defense will save him here as they shutout Denver.  Rivers will look alright, throwing multiple TDs despite turnover concerns. But the Chargers D will be the real reason for the LA victory, making Rivers look a lot better than he actually is.
img_6325 In this Sunday Night game, the Pats will clinch a playoff berth as they take down the Texans in Houston.  CB Stephon Gilmore will shut down WR DeAndre Hopkins, forcing the Texans to rely on WR Will Fuller V. The Texans run game will succeed against the Pats defense too.  But QB Tom Brady and co. will find a way to lead the Pats to edge out a victory despite many player absences due to the flu.  

 

2019 Thanksgiving Day NFL Picks: Home Field Advantage won’t mean much

Thanksgiving is here, and so are my Thanksgiving Day NFL picks.  Last week, I went 10-4 in picks, putting my overall record at 104-70-1.  On Thanskgiving, the Lions and Cowboys will continue the day’s tradition of playing a home game.  But will their home field advantage matter that much?  Keep reading to find out what I think, and feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions: 12:30 PM EST on CBS

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The Bears offense may be bad, but the Lions defense just might be worse. After a strong first few games in which the offense led them, the Lions have fallen out of the playoff picture. Without QB Matthew Stafford, there’s little hope for a victory, even against an offense like Chicago’s. The Bears run game will thrive especially against Detroit. Meanwhile, the elite Chicago defense will prevent QB David Blough and his offense from scoring a single TD in a one-sided game.

Buffalo Bills @ Dallas Cowboys: 4:30 PM EST on FOX

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This will be the closest of the three NFL games today, but look for Dallas to pull ahead early and hold on for victory. The Bills defense is pretty good, but they’re no match for QB Dak Prescott and his trio of capable WRs. They may have trouble stopping RB Ezekiel Elliott too. Meanwhile, Buffalo’s WRs will outmatch a young Cowboys secondary. But the Cowboys will stop the run, preventing QB Josh Allen from scrambling as much as he usually does and allowing the Cowboys to hold on for victory.

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons: 8:20 PM EST on NBC

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The Falcons did get RB Devonta Freeman back for this one, but they’re still missing TE Austin Hooper (injured) and WR Mohamed Sanu (traded). The defense was struggling as it is, but they’ve lost S Keanu Neal to an injury. Against one of the best offensive cores in the league, they will struggle. QB Drew Brees and the Saints will go all out here, as RB Alvin Kamara and TE Jared Cook have especially strong games. QB Matt Ryan will rely on WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to keep the Falcons in the game. But it won’t nearly be enough to take down New Orleans, even in Atlanta.

That’s all for today’s picks.  Watch some football, eat some good food, spend time with family, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I just came back from the Algonquin vs. Westborough Thanksgiving game, which Algonquin won 24-7.  Stay tuned for a link to my Harbinger article on that game alongside my other fall sports posts.

2019 NFL Week 12 Picks & Previews: Lots of Scoring Across the Board, who Stands Out?

Welcome to my Week 12 NFL Picks & Previews.  Last week, I went 9-5, putting my overall record at 94-66-1 (95-66-1 with Week 12 TNF).  This week, I expect a lot of high scoring games. But only a few of these high scoring teams will be able to stand out, winning this week’s shootouts and proving themselves capable of playoff contention.  Which teams will stand out? Keep reading to find out what I think, and as always, feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

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After a big win over Pittsburgh last week, Cleveland will begin to turn their season around.  Even without DE Myles Garrett, expect the defense to show promise against an anemic Miami squad.  Meanwhile, QB Baker Mayfield will have another big week, throwing 3 TD and utilizing RB Nick Chubb as he leads the Browns to an easy victory.

Upset of the Week

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RB Devonta Freeman and TE Austin Hooper are still out, so the Falcons will fall short here as Tampa’s deeper offense thrives.  I can’t see both WR Mike Evans and WR Chris Godwin having a big game, but one of them should thrive against a below average Falcons secondary.  Meanwhile, TEs O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate will see improvement, helping nail in a Bucs win.

The Other Games

Posted to Twitter Thursday

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WR T.Y. Hilton is expected to play, but even with Hilton in, RB Marlon Mack will be out.  In Houston, I can’t see the Colts pulling off an upset without their lead RB. QB Deshaun Watson and his receivers wlll thrive in this game as they face an inexperienced Colts secondary.  QB Jacoby Brissett and Hilton will score some points for Indy, but it won’t nearly be enough for victory.
img_6267 The Bills won’t be at their best in this game against a strong Denver D.  But they should still win with margin for error. QB Josh Allen and his offense will work around star OLB Von Miller and CB Chris Harris Jr.  Meanwhile, Denver will struggle against a rising Buffalo D.
img_6268 QB Sam Darnold and his offense will put up a pretty strong game.  RB Le’Veon Bell will lead that effort in his strongest game yet. However, this Oakland offense is one of the league’s deepest, and against a banged-up Jets D, they should thrive.  RB Josh Jacobs and the rest of Oakland’s run game will also look strong, but QB Derek Carr will also throw multiple TD’s to nail in the Oakland victory.
img_6269 This will not be easy for Pittsburgh, as RB James Conner and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster are out.  But look, they’re playing the 0-10 Cincinnati Bengals. A Steelers loss here would be disgraceful.  I think this will be down to the wire, but Pittsburgh will lean on TE Vance McDonald against a weak Bengals secondary.  
img_6262 With WR Josh Gordon on board, the Seahawks have one of the best groups of WRs in the league.  QB Russell Wilson will have a huge game here. But against a troubled Seattle secondary, QB Carson Wentz and his receivers will look even better.  Wentz has the TE duo of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert to rely on. This will be a close shootout, as both passing games thrive and both secondaries struggle.
img_6252-2 Washington will be without CB Josh Norman, but the defense should be able to stop QB Jeff Driskel, preventing the Lions from scoring much.  Meanwhile, the RB duo of Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson has an optimal match-up against a flawed Lions front seven. These two will lead the Redskins to victory.
img_6253-2 You might expect this to be a battle between RBs Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara.  But both these teams are much better against the run than against the pass, so I expect more passing in this game than you might think.  It will be close, but a strong game from QB Drew Brees and WR Michael Thomas will help lead the Saints to edge out the victory.
img_6266 QB Mitch Trubisky and his offense hit rock bottom last week, as Trubisky was benched for QB Chase Daniel.  Even if Trubisky does get the start here, I don’t expect Chicago to outscore an improved Giants offense in this one.  Though the Bears have one of the best defenses in the league and should slow New York down, QB Daniel Jones and his offense will still put up a solid game.  Look for RB Saquon Barkley to be hungry for improvement after regressive struggles last week. Trubisky and his receivers should look alright, but they won’t score enough to top the Giants here.
img_6255-2 This will be a defense heavy game, as QBs Ryan Tannehill and Nick Foles struggle to keep up with the young, energetic defenses they’re facing.  WR D.J. Chark will put up a strong game for Jacksonville, but that won’t be enough in Tennessee after Tannehill’s recent performances.
img_6256-2 Even with WRs Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett banged up, QB Tom Brady will find a way to lead the Pats to victory.  Expect him to rely on TE Ben Watson as well as young WRs N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers. RB Ezekiel Elliott will lead Dallas to make it close, but QB Dak Prescott and his receivers will struggle against a strong Pats defense.
img_6257-2 With TE George Kittle returning, QB Jimmy Garoppolo and his receivers should have enough in the tank to take down Green Bay on Niners turf.  The Packers will make it close, but with CB Richard Sherman zeroing in on star WR Davante Adams, QB Aaron Rodgers will struggle to find enough open receivers to lead Green bay to victory.
img_6258-2 In a Monday Night game that will be featured at Gonk Knocks Football Night, QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will continue to thrive.  But QB Jared Goff will rely on his backfield, as well as WR Cooper Kupp, to lead the Rams to a close home victory.  Meanwhile, LA’s strong defense will limit Jackson’s surroundings, holding the Ravens back from outscoring Goff and Co.

That’s all for my picks this week.  Stay tuned for more NFL coverage soon.  I mentioned Gonk Knocks Football Night in my Rams-Ravens pick.  If you’re wondering what Gonk Knocks Football Night is, you can check out this post for more information.  This Monday at APEX Entertainment, we’ll be showcasing Season 2 of Gonk Knocks as well as MNF while raising money for the Algonquin Football Boosters and the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.  Come on Monday to bowl, eat, and have fun.

2019 NFL Week 11 Picks & Previews: Who Will Come up Big when it Matters?

Welcome to my Week 11 NFL Picks.  Last week, I went 7-6, putting my overall record at 85-61-1 (85-62-1 with Week 11 TNF).  This week, many marquee match-ups will take place. The Patriots and Eagles have a Super Bowl LII rematch.  The next two best AFC teams in the Ravens and Texans face off. AFC South rivals in the Colts and Jaguars will battle it out in an important game for the Wild Card race.  On Monday Night Football, the underperforming Chiefs and Chargers will play an important AFC West game in Mexico. Which teams will emerge as contenders this week, and which teams will fall behind or fall flat?  Keep reading to find out what I think, and as always, feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

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The Dolphins have won two in a row, and the Bills are a bit overrated.  But QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and his depleted offense are no match for a rising young Bills D.  Without CBs Xavien Howard and Aqib Talib, the Dolphins will also struggle to contain WRs John Brown and Cole Beasley.  The Dolphins run defense isn’t in much better shape against the RB duo of Devin Singletary and Frank Gore. The Bills will be at their best in this game, and that will make things too difficult for Miami to pull off another upset.

Upset of the Week

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I’m a believer in QB Derek Carr and the Raiders offense.  But without S LaMarcus Joyner (injured) and CB gareon Conley (traded), I’m worried that the Raiders will have trouble containing WR Tyler Boyd and the rest of Cincy’s receivers.  The young Oakland front seven has improved, but they may also struggle since they’re facing 2018’s AFC leading rusher in Joe Mixon. With help from Mixon, Boyd, and a banged-up but underrated defense, the Bengals will come out on top here and pull off a huge upset, exposing the Raiders and winning their first game of 2019.

The Other Games

Posted to Twitter Thursday

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Expect WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and TE Vance McDonald to outmatch Cleveland’s young secondary, helping QB Mason Rudolph lead Pittsburgh to an upset victory.  With ex-Browns and current Steelers CB Joe Haden out, the Steelers secondary will also be a bit shorthanded, making things easier for QB Baker Mayfield. I do expect Cleveland to turn their season around, and this game will help build momentum.  But I think they’ll need TE David Njoku back on the field to give them the boost they need for wins and contention.
img_6209 I don’t expect much more from Washington this year, but QB Dwayne Haskins, RB Derrius Guice, and WR Terry McLaurin will thrive against a depleted Jets defense, showing promise for the future.  QB Sam Darnold will connect with WR Jamison Crowder here as usual, but he’ll have trouble connecting with his other receivers against an underrated Redskins D, causing the Jets to fall short.
img_6210 I had originally said Houston would pull off an upset here coming off the bye.  But with WR Will Fuller V and CB Bradley Roby still sidelined, I don’t think the Texans have enough in the tank for a victory here.  They should come pretty close, as the run game thrives and WR DeAndre Hopkins outmatches a strong Ravens secondary. However, QB Lamar Jackson will rely on his usual tactics as he leads the Ravens in a close one.
img_6211 Many people have said the Colts’ fate this week depends on QB Jacoby Brissett’s health.  But even with Brissett playing, I don’t think the Colts will be able to take down Jacksonville.  The Jaguars will have QB Nick Foles back to lead them. Meanwhile, the Colts will still be without WRs T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell, leaving Brissett with minimal options as Indy falls short.
img_6212 This will not be as easy for Minnesota as people think.  The Vikes are still without WR Adam Thielen, and CB Chris Harris Jr. will have WR Stefon Diggs in tight coverage throughout the game.  The Broncos run defense should be able to slow down RB Dalvin Cook as well. That will leave QB Kirk Cousins with less options, but with a lot of help from the defense, I still expect the Vikes to come out on top here.  
img_6213 The Lions run game is running out of options, as RB Kerryon Johnson is done for the year now.  Though QB Jeff Driskel will put up a slightly better game against an inexperienced Cowboys secondary, the Lions will fall short at home.  Expect Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott to be able to run all over Detroit’s weak front seven, and the rest of the offense should do alright as well.
img_6214 Tampa’s offense will put up another strong game here, especially against a Saints secondary that’s missing CB Marshon Lattimore.  But QB Drew Brees and his receivers will put up a field day against a crumbling Buccaneers secondary. Tampa’s run defense has been pretty good, but it’s their secondary that will cost them here, as WR Michael Thomas dominates.
img_6215 This Falcons offense just keeps losing weapons.  WR Mohamed Sanu was traded. TE Austin Hooper and RB Devonta Freeman are hurt.  But I think Atlanta will take one last victory lap against a weak Carolina secondary before struggling down the stretch.  The WR duo of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley will thrive, and RB Christian McCaffrey will have another strong game as well.  But McCaffrey can’t lead the Panthers alone.
img_6216 I’m a little concerned about the 49ers right now with WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Dante Pettis, and TE George Kittle banged up.  This game will definitely be close, as QB Kyler Murray and his offense continue to succeed, even against a strong 49ers D. But San Fran will still edge out a home victory.
img_6220 The Eagles secondary has improved, but it is still no match for QB Tom Brady and his receivers.  Especially in a favorable match-up, Brady can make any receiver look like a star. The Eagles will put up a good fight, as their backfield will improve with RB Jay Ajayi in the mix and QB Carson Wentz will have a strong game.  But without WRs Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, the Eagles will fall behind.
img_6218 This will be a very defense-heavy game.  The Rams offense has struggled more and more as the season progresses, and they are no match for an elite Chicago defense.  However, QB Mitch Trubisky and his offense have been even worse, and I don’t expect anything special for them in LA either. In the end, I have the Rams winning in overtime, but this will be an ugly game.
img_6219 QB Philip Rivers has declined significantly this year.  But with help of RBs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, I think he can lead LA past the Chiefs.  The Chiefs run game will struggle against DE Joey Bosa and a strong Chargers front seven. QB Patrick Mahomes and his receivers will thrive as usual, but if the Chargers offense puts up a strong game all around against a flawed Kansas City defense, the Chiefs might not have enough in the tank.

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

In addition, as many of my readers are football fans living in the Boston area, I wanted to mention that I’m putting on a charity event at APEX Entertainment, where you can bowl, eat, and watch Monday Night Football as well as Gonk Knocks, my series about how my high school’s football team prepares for the season.

Go to https://www.accelevents.com/e/GonkKnocksFootballNight to buy event tickets, buy raffle tickets, bid in the silent auction, or make a straight donation.  The event will benefit the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism and The Algonquin Football Boosters.

You can also text “Auction” to 201.241.4608.

 

2019 NFL Week 10 Picks & Previews: Elite Defenses Emerge Despite Multiple Shootouts

Welcome to my Week 10 NFL picks & previews.  Last week, I went 8-6, putting my overall record at 78-55-1 (78-56-1 with Week 10 TNF).  This week, the Patriots are on bye, and without the league’s top defense in action, there will be many high scoring games.  But I expect a few more elite defenses to emerge this week, launching a couple teams on a late playoff run and giving a couple more teams in the playoff picture already a boost.  Which teams will emerge? Keep reading to find out what I think, and as always, feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

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Without QB Matthew Stafford, the Lions offense has nothing on Chicago’s elite defense.  Chicago will assert themselves as one of the best defensive teams in the league. Meanwhile, QB Mitch Trubisky will step it up against a Lions secondary that has significant depth problems.  This will allow the Bears to win in a blowout. I don’t expect the Lions to score much at all, but if they are going to score a TD on this Bears defense, TE T.J. Hockenson might be the person to rely on, as Chicago has struggled a bit against tight ends.

Upset of the Week

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The Vikings will be without WR Adam Thielen.  But regardless, I see them as the stronger team here, even though Dallas is favored by 3.  Minnesota’s defense may not be the league-dominating defense we expected, but they should be able to limit flawed QB Dak Prescott and his receivers.  RB Ezekiel Elliott will still have a strong game, but that won’t be enough. With Thielen out, QB Kirk Cousins and WR Stefon Diggs will connect frequently for a big game against an inexperienced Cowboys defense.

The Other Games

Posted to Twitter earlier on:

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QB Philip Rivers has struggled a lot this season.  But he should be able to rely on his backfield and WR Keenan Allen to take down the Raiders with ease.  Allen significantly out-matches Raiders #1 CB Daryl Worley. Meanwhile, the Raiders backfield will be shut down against a very strong front seven.  That should be enough to stop Oakland’s offense at home.
img_6169 With no real road team here, this will be very close.  But the Jets will edge out a victory, as QB Sam Darnold finds a good amount of receiving options against a young Giants secondary.  RB Saquon Barkley will put up a huge game against a banged-up Jets defense, and QB Daniel Jones will continue to rely on WR Darius Slayton in the red zone.  But with WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram out, the Giants offense just won’t have enough in the tank for victory.
img_6170 QB Baker Mayfield and WR Odell Beckham Jr. may be overrated, and that has caused Cleveland to underperform.  But they’ve also lacked depth with RB Kareem Hunt and TE David Njoku out. Now, Hunt’s return from an 8-game suspension should give the Browns a boost.  Hunt won’t be the starter, and he won’t be quite himself right away. But it doesn’t mean he can’t make a difference. This week will mark the beginning of a turnaround for Cleveland, as they take down an overrated Bills team.  Improved defense for Cleveland will play a big part in that upset victory.
img_6171 This will be closer than some expect, but the Ravens should still win comfortably.  Though QB Ryan Finley will struggle in Game 1 for Cincy against an elite Ravens secondary, he will rely on RB Joe Mixon to keep up with the Ravens.  QB Lamar Jackson will continue to run the ball frequently, but he’ll also have his fair share of big passes here against a flawed Bengals DB corps.
img_6172 QB Patrick Mahomes is back, and he’ll lead the Chiefs to an easy victory here.  Without TE Delanie Walker and WR Corey Davis, QB Ryan Tannehill won’t have enough passing options.  Expect a strong game from RB Derrick Henry, but it won’t be nearly enough to outdo a healthy Chiefs offense.
img_6173 QB Matt Ryan and his receivers will put up a fight here.  But Atlanta’s defense will fail to stop a Saints offense that’s back to full health with RB Alvin Kamara and TE Jared Cook returning.  Kamara and WR Michael Thomas will help QB Drew Brees lead the Saints to a fairly easy win. 
img_6174 QB Jameis Winston and his strong group of receivers and tight ends will just be too much for a young Arizona secondary to contain.  This will lead to an easy Tampa victory. QB Kyler Murray has shown promise, but an improving Bucs defense will limit his abilities and stop RB David Johnson in his return.
img_6175 Despite a win last week, the Dolphins will be back to their former ways this week, as they fail to keep up with a strong Colts offense.  Even without QB Jacoby Brissett, the Colts will dominate against a banged-up Miami defense. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will toss a couple TDs against an inexperienced Colts secondary, but it won’t nearly be enough.
img_6176 WR Brandin Cooks is out.  But it’s hard for any secondary to even stop 2 elite WRs, but this fact will cost Pittsburgh the game, as they struggle against a well-rounded Rams defense without RB James Conner.  TE Gerald Everett will also help QB Jared Goff in an easy victory, but the run game will struggle against a strong Pittsburgh front seven.
img_6177 Expect a close game here. QB Aaron Rodgers will rely on his receivers against an inexperienced Carolina secondary.  Meanwhile, RB Christian McCaffrey will lead the way for Carolina’s offense, but QB Kyle Allen will still toss a couple TDs. Despite a strong game all around for the Panthers offense, Rodgers’ receivers will outdo the Panthers secondary and allow the Packers to win in a close one.
img_6178 QB Russell Wilson may have one of the best groups of WRs in the league now, and he will utilize that in this game.  But CB Richard Sherman will limit these receivers, and the run game will struggle against a strong 49ers front seven.  Meanwhile, QB Jimmy Garoppolo will have a huge game against a young Seattle secondary, leading the Niners to a comfortable home victory.

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

2019 NFL Week 9 Picks & Previews: Contenders Emerge

Welcome to my Week 9 NFL Picks.  Last week, I went 11-4, putting my overall record at 70-49-1 (71-49-1 with Week 9 TNF).  We’re a little less than halfway into the season, and we’re starting to see which teams and going to contend and which teams won’t.  In this second half of the season, we’ll see middle of the pack teams battle it out for the final playoff slots, and these battles could begin as early as this week.  Which teams will pull ahead in the playoff picture this week, and which teams will fall behind? Keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

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The Jets have underperformed for much of the season, even with QB Sam Darnold back in the lineup.  But expect a big game against a depleted Dolphins defense. RB Le’Veon Bell will have the big game we’ve been expecting all year.  Darnold will rely on WR Jamison Crowder to lead the receiving game. Overall, the Jets will thrive in this easy match-up. They’ll also hold an anemic Miami offense from scoring a TD.  

Upset of the Week

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QB Daniel Jones has had success against other below average teams.  But on Monday Night, he’ll prove himself capable of more, and expose the Cowboys as overrated in the process.  This will definitely be a close game. RB Ezekiel Elliott will be hard to stop, and QB Dak Prescott has more reliable WRs this year than he has in the past.  But Jones will rely on his star RB, Saquon Barkley, and should enough receivers healthy to lead the Giants to victory.  

The Other Games

Posted to Twitter on Thursday
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RB Tevin Coleman led the way for the Niners last week.  This week, expect QB Jimmy Garoppolo to throw the ball more in a close one.  The Cardinals will struggle without RB David Johnson, but QB Kyler Murray will benefit significantly from WR Christian Kirk’s return.  He will utilize Kirk as the Cardinals put up a good fight despite falling just short.
Posted to Twitter today

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Against a strong Houston secondary, QB Gardner Minshew will need to spread the ball out more, as WRs Dede Westbrook and D.J. Chark could be outmatched by Houston corners.  The Texans will put up a decent game, and WR DeAndre Hopkins will just be too much for a Jaguars secondary that’s without CB Jalen Ramsey. But Minshew will find a way to London victory.
img_6132 The Bills offense was exposed last week as they scored just 1 TD against a tough Eagles defense.  The underrated Redskins defense will hold them back as well. But Washington will fail to score a TD against an even tougher Bills D.  Their QB problems will define them here.
img_6133 The Colts will be without WR T.Y. Hilton here, so QB Jacoby Brissett will be short on capable receivers in Pittsburgh against an underrated Steelers D.  This will allow QB Mason Rudolph and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to lead the Steelers to home victory against an inexperienced Colts secondary.
img_6143 This will be very close.  But the Panthers will have to rely heavily on RB Christian McCaffrey in order to make this close, and he can only do so much in one day.  QB Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have a clear #1 target, but there’s a lot of capable receivers in Tennessee that will keep the Titans alive and lead them to a road overtime victory.
img_6135 The Chiefs may be without QB Patrick Mahomes for the second straight week.  But his backup Matt Moore has enough talent surrounding him to lead the Chiefs to victory, even against a tough Vikings D.  QB Kirk Cousins will continue to shine against an inconsistent Kansas City defense though, throwing at least 2 TD and making this very close.
img_6136 This will be another defense-heavy game.  Last week, we saw what this Eagles D is capable of.  Even the secondary looked alright last week, and they should be fine again against struggling QB Mitch Trubisky and his receivers.  But the Bears have one of the best defenses in this league, and they won’t let Philly score much here despite an Eagles victory.  
img_6137 Everything I thought Oakland’s offense would be last year, it is now.  QB Derek Carr has found a way to put up a good number of points in almost every game.  Against a flawed Detroit front seven, things should be even easier than usual. QB Matthew Stafford will have a big game as well.  But in Oakland, the Raiders offense will dominate and lead the team to top Detroit.
img_6138 This one will also be very close.  But on home turf, I feel that QB Russell Wilson will throw the ball very well and lead his team to victory.  QB Jameis Winston will also have a big game, relying heavily on WR Mike Evans and also on WR Chris Godwin. But it won’t be enough for Wilson and his deep WR corps.
img_6140 With QB Joe Flacco on IR, the Broncos will fail to do much of anything against a rising Browns defense.  QB Baker Mayfield won’t look much better, but his WR duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will help the Browns edge out a victory at Mile High.
img_6139 Expect the RB duo of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler to thrive in this game.  They have struggled since Gordon’s return as they battle it out for carries. But I think they will both be used frequently and effectively here.  QB Philip Rivers has looked off his game so far this year, but with WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams as well as TE Hunter Henry healthy, he has plenty of reliable guys to help him out.  QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will make this close, boosted by the likely return of WR Davante Adams. But it won’t quite be enough in LA.
img_6141 This Sunday Night game makes for New England’s toughest match-up yet.  But Baltimore’s front seven has weakened, and it will open the door for big games from RBs Sony Michel and James White.  QB Tom Brady will be held back with his receivers out-matched by a strong Baltimore secondary. But the Ravens will be just as limited by a legendary New England defense, and the Pats should win this game without a problem.

That’s all for my Week 9 NFL Picks.  Stay tuned for more NFL coverage soon.

2019 NFL Week 8 Picks & Previews: Which teams can turn their year around?

Welcome to my Week 8 NFL Picks.  Last week, I went 8-6, putting my overall record at 60-45-1 (61-45-1 after Week 8 TNF).  It’s right around the middle of NFL season, and this is the time of year when teams have the chance to turn around their season.  This will come in the form of many upsets. Which upsets am I picking? Keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

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This won’t even be close.  The Bengals are 0-7, and with WRs A.J. Green and John Ross out, the Bengals have been even worse these last few weeks.  Look for QB Jared Goff and his receivers to turn it around in this one, making the Rams look like one of the best teams in the NFC.  The Rams D will outmatch Cincy in every aspect, leading to a blowout.

Upset of the Week

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WR Sterling Shepard is back in the concussion protocol and will miss this game, but RB Saquon Barkley and TE Evan Engram will be at full health this week, giving QB Daniel Jones all the weapons he needs against an imbalanced Lions D.  The Lions run defense will struggle to contain Barkley, allowing him to have his best game yet. Engram will also thrive as CB Darius Clay closes in on WR Golden Tate. The Lions will put up a fight, but without RB Kerryon Johnson, their offense won’t have enough to take down New York.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter)

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The Redskins don’t have much on the Vikings D.  WR Terry McLaurin is no match for CB Xavier Rhodes, and the rest of the offense has been terribly inconsistent.  I don’t expect a blowout here, but in a low scoring game, the Vikings will still win with ease.
img_6087 Look for the mortal opposite of TNF here.  In this game, young QBs Gardner Minshew and Sam Darnold will prove themselves as some of the best QBs their age.  The Jags will rely on RB Leonard Fournette, but Minshew will throw the ball plenty as well against a shallow Jets secondary.  The Jets will see a similar situation, as RB Le’Veon Bell anchors the offense, but Darnold’s receivers thrive against a Jags secondary that lost CB Jalen Ramsey.
img_6088 WR DeSean Jackson is still missing, and with QB Carson Wentz lacking weapons, he will be held back a bit against a tough Bills D.  But I expect the Eagles defense to step it up here, holding Buffalo to just 13 points as S Malcolm Jenkins makes a big impact for the secondary.
img_6089 With Titans star TE Delanie Walker out, I expect the Bucs to pull the upset here.  QB Jameis Winston will rely on his elite WR duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Meanwhile, the Bucs front seven will step it up, causing QB Ryan Tannehill to struggle under pressure.
img_6090 This game will be closer than people expect.  But the loss of WR Emmanuel Sanders is a huge one for Denver.  QB Joe Flacco won’t do as well without Sanders, even though his receivers have easy match-ups against a young Colts secondary.  Meanwhile, QB Jacoby Brissett will step it up again, finding a way to win comfortably as he leans on his TE duo.
img_6091 The loss of WR Keenan Allen hurts, but I think the Chargers can handle this Bears defense.  Not many teams have beat the Bears this season, but look for QB Philip Rivers and TE Hunter Henry to step it up in Chicago and help LA begin to turn their season around.  Meanwhile, QB Mitch Trubisky will struggle against an improved, balanced Chargers D.
img_6092 Even without RB Alvin Kamara, the Saints have a huge edge here with QB Drew Brees returning.  Brees will rely on his receivers as well as RB Latavius Murray against a weak Arizona D. Meanwhile, QB Kyler Murray will make rookie mistakes in New Orleans as he takes on an elite Saints squad.
img_6093 Even with QB Matt Ryan out, I expect the Falcons to pull the upset here.  With WR Mohamed Sanu out of Atlanta, WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley will have more opportunities, especially against weak secondaries like Seattle’s.  QB Russell Wilson will find a way to put up points, but it won’t be easy against an Atlanta D that will step it up on home turf.
img_6094 WR Emmanuel Sanders might be the last thing the Niners needed to become legitimate contenders.  With Sanders on board, their undefeated status could last longer. QB Jimmy Garoppolo will throw the ball frequently now that he has more reliable weapons in the lineup.  Carolina will put up a fight as always, with RB Christian McCaffrey putting up a huge game. But it won’t be enough for San Fran regardless of who plays QB.
img_6095 WR Josh Gordon’s days in New England are over, so we won’t see his revenge game against Cleveland.  Regardless, the Patriots will win as QB Tom Brady relies on his favorite targets, WRs Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett.  Cleveland will put up a fight, led by RB Nick Chubb. But it won’t be enough as the elite Pats defense gets to QB Baker Mayfield’s head.
img_6096 Houston was once defined by their elite defense.  Now they might have the best offense in the league, and everyone will put up a big game against the Raiders D, even though QB Deshaun Watson is without WR Will Fuller V.  WRs DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills will continue to make up for the loss of Fuller in an easy Texans victory. The Raiders will score a couple TDs as well, but it won’t be enough, as Houston still has something good going on defense.
img_6097 This would’ve been a battle between the two best QBs right now, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.  But Mahomes is injured, and so is Green Bay’s #1 receiver Davante Adams. Both offenses will find a way to put up a good number of points, as RB Aaron Jones leads Green Bay and QB Matt Moore utilizes his elite receivers.  But the Chiefs will come out on top at home, led by WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce.
img_6098 This will be closer than people expect.  The Dolphins may be tanking, but without QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh isn’t on top of their game either.  RB James Conner will be the one who leads the Steelers offense. But this will be a defense heavy game, as Pittsburgh holds Miami to just 1 TD.

 

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

2019 NFL Week 7 Picks & Previews: Rise of the Road Teams

Welcome to my Week 7 NFL Picks.  Just 4 CBS Sports and ESPN experts are ahead of my current record of 52-39-1 (53-39-1 including Week 7 TNF).  This week, I expect the trend of road teams winning to continue.  Home field advantage has not had as big an impact this year, and a lot of this week’s road teams outmatch their home opponents.  Which teams will hold on for home victory, and which road teams will prove themselves? Keep reading to find out what I think, and as always, feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

The Lions have been fairly competitive so far this season, but expect a rude awakening against the elite Vikings defense.  QB Matthew Stafford has some nice assets around him, but the Lions offense is far from elite.  Meanwhile, Minnesota will make the most of a favorable match-up against Detroit’s defense, allowing RB Dalvin Cook to lead the way to a big Vikings victory.

Upset of the Week

The Titans made a switch to Ryan Tannehill at QB, but it won’t be enough for victory, even as they host a banged-up Chargers offense. QB Philip Rivers will rely on the WR duo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, as S Kevin Byard contains TE Hunter Henry and the Titans run defense thrives. But LA’s defense will look pretty good themselves, causing the run game to continue to struggle and holding QB Ryan Tannehill and his offense to just 17 points. This will allow the Chargers offense to lead the team to an upset victory.

TNF (Posted Thursday Night, Actual Score: 30-6 Chiefs)

Expect a close game. QB Patrick Mahomes and his receivers will dominate against a declining Broncos secondary. But QB Joe Flacco will step it up and make it a close game at Mile High. Utilizing second year breakout WR Courtland Sutton, the Broncos will come within 1 TD of a victory. But it won’t be enough to outplay Mahomes.

The Other Games

Expect another easy victory over Miami here.  The Bills have been one of the AFC’s best teams so the Dolphins will not slow them down much offensively.  Meanwhile, an underrated, rising Bills defense will shut down QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in his return to the starting lineup after.

QB Gardner Minshew has not let Jacksonville down yet. I couldn’t see QB Nick Foles doing any better than Minshew has so far this year. So right now, the Jaguars have a decision looming with Nick Foles practicing again. That decision will get tougher as Minshew and his receivers thrive against a banged-up Bengals secondary. QB Andy Dalton will lean on his RBs and help Cincy put up a fight, but Jacksonville will pull ahead early and hold on.

This will be a very close game, as QB Deshaun Watson is dominant as usual and QB Jacoby Brissett makes it competitive in a surprisingly strong game against a weakening Texans defense.  Brissett put up 27 points in his debut with the Patriots when Houston had one of the best defenses in the league.  He can definitely put up a fight against the Texans but Watson will lead the Texans to victory in overtime. 

The Raiders have really surprised on offense this season, and I expect them to put up a fight here.  But despite a lack of depth and no shortage of injuries among QB Aaron Rodgers’ receivers, Rodgers has continued to find ways to lead Green Bay to victory.  At Lambeau field, that should be easy as he relies on his RBs against a weak Oakland front seven that’s without LB Vontaze Burfict. 

Look for QB Daniel Jones and the Giants to edge out a victory against a weak Cardinals defense, as Jones relies on RB Saquon Barkley and TE Evan Engram who are returning from injuries.  QB Kyler Murray will fail to put up much of a fight, but WR Christian Kirk’s return will significantly benefit the Cardinals and help make this close as Murray utilizes multiple reliable weapons.

San Francisco should win with ease here, as their young, underrated defense shuts down Washington.  But it will be closer than people think, as CB Josh Norman, edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan, and S Landon Collins step up to lead the Redskins defense to a successful day. They will hold the Niners to just 13 points (1 TD), significantly limiting TE George Kittle, WR Dante Pettis, and RB Tevin Coleman.

This will  be an exciting game, as two high-powered offenses face off.  Atlanta’s defense will struggle to contain QB Jared Goff and his elite group of WRs.  Atlanta will have a pretty strong game themselves against a banged up Rams defense.  But the Falcons will still struggle to keep up as LA’s defense limits RB Devonta Freeman and WR Julio Jones successfully.

This will be a very close game. The Seahawks will rely on RB Chris Carson and the rest of the run game. Meanwhile, QB Lamar Jackson will be forced to throw in order to make this close, as LB Bobby Wagner, edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, and others stuff the run successfully. Jackson will have some success throwing the ball, but it won’t be enough to beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink. However, Baltimore will make it close, and I could even see this going to overtime.

Look for the Bears to win with ease here. QB Mitch Trubisky isn’t the best of the best, but he’ll find a way to put up some points, even against a pretty good Saints defense. At Soldier Field, Trubisky will put up enough points to allow the defense to do its thing and lead Chicago to victory. Despite a very strong season so far filling in for QB Drew Brees, QB Teddy Bridgewater will struggle to break single digits against an elite Bears defense. The absences of RB Alvin Kamara and TE Jared Cook just makes things harder.

SNF

This will be one of the most exciting prime time games all season. Both these teams are contenders, but both have struggled of late. QBs Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott will make it a neck and neck battle, as Wentz is too much for a young Dallas defense and Prescott utilizes whatever receivers get has healthy to lead the Cowboys against a weak Philly secondary. Expect this to go to overtime and even potentially come close to a tie, but I think the Eagles will edge out a victory in the final minutes.

MNF

Without WR Josh Gordon, QB Tom Brady will not be able to lead the Patriots to victory alone. He’ll need the Patriots defense to shut down QB Sam Darnold and the Jets, which I think they are definitely capable of, even without DE Michael Bennett. Darnold will make this close, relaying heavily on RB Le’Veon Bell, but it won’t be enough against one of the best defenses in the NFL.

That’s all for my NFL Picks. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage and NBA coverage soon, including my Week 8 Picks and my NBA season predictions.