2018 NFL Week 15 Picks & Previews: Locking Up a Playoff Spot

Welcome to my Week 15 NFL Picks and Previews.  Last week was a rough week, as I went 6-10, putting my overall record at 115-92-2 (117-93-2 including TNF and Saturday).  I am still only ahead of 1 expert (Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports). This week, many teams have a chance to lock up playoff spots, but will all of the current contenders keep rolling this week, or will some fall behind as other teams rise?  The Patriots take on the Steelers, and the Saints play the Panthers in Carolina, so there’s bound to be a couple teams knocked out of contention.  Pittsburgh, who’s already just 7-5-1, faces not only New England but also the Saints on their remaining schedule.  This could open the door for the Ravens and Browns in the AFC North.  Keep reading to find out what I think, and feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

The Redskins won’t be able to do much offensively with Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson as their QBs.  The Jags may have struggled this season, but their defense is still easily top 10 in the NFL. This will open the door for young QB Cody Kessler and the Jaguars to put up a strong offensive game in a blowout win.  The Redskins defense will lack motivation considering how badly the offense is doing, allowing Kessler to toss multiple TD and the Jacksonville run game to dominate.

Upset of the Week

Seattle has been strong at home this season with a 5-2 record.  But on the road, they are a measly 3-3. We’ve seen what Niners QB Nick Mullens is capable of.  Against an inexperienced Seahawks defense, I could see Mullens having a big game and leading San Francisco to pull off an upset.  The Niners run game will struggle though, since RB Matt Breida is not 100%.  Seattle should have a decent game offensively, but they won’t be able to compete with Mullens’ dominance, and QB Russell Wilson will struggle to connect with any WR who isn’t named Tyler Lockett.  Mullens will prove that although he’s not the future of the Niners, he is a capable QB who can handle the weaker defenses in the league with ease.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night; Actual Score: 29-28 Chargers)

Look for QB Philip Rivers and his receivers to lead the Chargers past the weak Kansas City defense in a close, overtime game.  The Chiefs should also look very strong on offense, but they won’t be up to full speed without RB Kareem Hunt and WR Sammy Watkins.  This and the defensive struggles will cost the Chiefs late in the game.
Saturday, 4:30 PM EST (Posted to Twitter Saturday; Actual Score: 29-22 Texans)

Expect QB Sam Darnold and the Jets to put up a relatively strong game, even against the tough Houston defense.  But QB Deshaun Watson and the Texans will get by as the Jets are still held under 20. The return of RB Dont’a Foreman will boost the Texans’ offensive performance in the road victory.
Saturday, 8:20 PM EST (Posted to Twitter Saturday; Actual Score: 17-16 Browns)

Look for the Broncos to win at home in a low scoring game.  The Browns will struggle against a tough Broncos defense in Denver despite a stronger offensive season.  The strong defense as well as a big game from the Broncos RBs will lead the Broncos in their victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Led by the WR duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, expect the Vikings to secure a victory at home after losing 2 in a row.  The Vikes defense will help their case as well, but the Dolphins will make this closer than you think.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for QB Josh Allen to lead the Bills to a home victory, taking advantage of his running abilities with RB LeSean McCoy out and RB Chris Ivory banged-up.  The Lions will look better offensively than they have been lately, but the Bills defense will prevent Detroit from providing a serious challenge.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Lamar Jackson will prove himself as Baltimore’s starting QB here, leading the Ravens to victory at home.  The Ravens D will also have a strong game, holding Tampa under 15. The Bucs offense will lack the energy it usually has in the loss, making the Ravens D’s job easier.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for QB Jeff Driskel and his offense to outperform their expectations against the young Oakland defense.  Cincy’s run game will help, as Joe Mixon has 100+ yards rushing. But Driskel will still throw multiple TDs in the victory.  Meanwhile, Oakland will be held to just 1 TD, as QB Derek Carr has a hard time relying on his WRs, instead relying on TE Jared Cook.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Marcus Mariota should be able to find his receivers despite lacking WR depth, as the Giants defense struggles to contain Mariota’s receivers without S Landon Collins (injured) and CB Eli Apple (traded).  The Giants will fall short as the defense struggles and QB Eli Manning throws throws more picks than he throws TDs.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Colts offense should be alright against the young Dallas D.  However, QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will continue to dominate against the weak Colts defense.  Strong games by WR Amari Cooper and RB Ezekiel Elliott will lead them to victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for DE Khalil Mack and the Bears defense to dominate against a Packers team that lacks talent outside of QB Aaron Rodgers.  This will allow QB Mitch Trubisky and the Bears to thrive, winning easily with the help of a strong game by their RB duo.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for QB Matt Ryan and his receivers to dominate against the struggling Arizona defense.  The Cardinals will also put up an underwhelming performance on offense, as QB Josh Rosen struggles to find his receivers without WR Christian Kirk, even against the weak Falcons D.  The Cardinals will fall short after Atlanta’s much better offensive game.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

Check back closer to kickoff for a video preview!

The Pats will get by in Pittsburgh, but QB Tom Brady will still struggle to connect with his receivers on the road.  The Steelers offense will struggle as well and their run game won’t be able to do much of anything without RB James Conner.  
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

QB Jared Goff and the Rams will look good against the depleted Eagles defense, even if they aren’t at their best.  But it’s LA’s defense that will lead the Rams to victory. The Rams defense will shut down a Philly offense that can be explosive at times.
Monday, 8:15 PM EST

The Saints should be able to get by on the road, even against Carolina.  New Orleans will not be at full strength in their third straight road game, especially after losing their momentum in an all out embarrassing loss to Dallas.  The Panthers defense will hold them back, but QB Drew Brees and WR Michael Thomas will lead the Saints to victory. QB Cam Newton and his offense will make it close in primetime, but it will not be enough.

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

 

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2018 NFL Week 14 Picks & Previews: Playoffs on the Line

Welcome to my NFL Week 14 picks and previews.  Last week, I went 12-4, putting my overall record at 108-82-2 (109-82-2 including TNF Week 14).  I am ahead of 1 CBS Sports expert, but no ESPN experts. This week, 3 teams can clinch a playoff berth, and 5 teams are on the verge of elimination.  Who will clinch and who will fall short? Keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

The Bengals won’t be able to do much without QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green.  Look for QB Philip Rivers and the Chargers to take advantage, leading the Chargers to under the radar dominance against Cincy’s aging defense.  This will lead the Chargers to win with ease.

Upset of the Week

The Bucs won’t be as good as they were last time against an improved Saints defense.  But you cannot underrated this Tampa defense, especially up front. This defensive line should easily handle Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, and if the Bucs secondary can keep Michael Thomas locked up, QB Drew Brees will struggle to find open men.  The Bucs will work their magic and take down the Saints for the second-consecutive loss. New Orleans’ win streak is over, so their momentum is gone. Their WR depth issues and lack of momentum will cost them here.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night; Actual Score: 30-9 Titans)

The Jags offense will be slowed significantly by the Titans D.  The Titans won’t be much better offensively, and overtime will be forced thanks to the strong defense on both sides and lack of scoring.  But I think with the home-field advantage, the Titans should pull off the OT victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Dolphins secondary may struggle to contain New England’s receivers without CB Xavien Howard.  Their pass rush should still be on task though, limiting the Pats offense. However, Miami’s young offense will be no match for the postseason hungry Patriots defense.  The Pats will come out on top and clinch the division.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Sam Darnold is back, and after an extra week to recover, I think he’ll come back ready to go, tossing multiple TD.  However, QB Josh Allen won’t have the same success, as his WR depth issues cost him against the strong New York secondary.  For this reason, the Jets will shock the Bills in Buffalo after losing at MetLife.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Chiefs won’t be quite up to speed without RB Kareem Hunt, especially against the tough Baltimore D.  QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will make this close, but the Chiefs should be able to get by at home.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect QB Cam Newton and his receivers to get back into the swing of things against the young Browns D.  Cleveland will have a decent offensive day, but the Panthers run defense should still slow down RB Nick Chubb.  QB Baker Mayfield will have to rely on his young receivers more. Mayfield and his receivers won’t be enough for Cleveland, so Carolina will just barely squeeze by.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect Indy’s struggles to continue after the embarrassing loss to Jacksonville last week that stopped their momentum.  The defense will struggle to contain Houston’s WR trio. Meanwhile, the Texans D should dominate, holding the Colts TD-less.  QB Andrew Luck will struggle to find his receivers against Houston with quite a few of them banged-up. The Colts run game won’t do much either, especially against DE J.J. Watt and LB Jadeveon Clowney.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Eli Manning won’t be able to do much without WR Odell Beckham Jr.  That will allow QB Mark Sanchez (helped by his TE duo) and the Redskins to get by at home.  The Giants will begin to seriously contemplate moving on from Manning after this game.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Aaron Rodgers will thrive after the firing of head coach Mike McCarthy, tossing 3 TD against a weak Atlanta defense.  QB Matt Ryan and his receivers’ will also look good and make this close. But Rodgers’ dominance and a strong game by RB Aaron Jones will lead Green Bay to victory.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

The Broncos won’t be as strong offensively now that they are without WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as well as TE Jeff Heuerman.  But they will be able to rely on their run game against the weak Niners run defense. Meanwhile, San Francisco will be shut down by Denver’s dominant defense, as the Broncos slip by for their third straight against one of the worst teams in the league.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

The Steelers’ run game won’t be any more than subpar without RB James Conner.  But if QB Ben Roethlisberger is at his best, the Steelers should win with ease.  The Raiders only thrived offensively last week because the Kansas City defense is so inconsistent.  Oakland will struggle to do much of anything, even though Pittsburgh’s D is only slightly better. Oakland’s banged-up offense won’t help matters.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

Look for QB Carson Wentz to lead Philly to a surprising victory in a back and forth offensive shootout.  Wentz should rely on his deep group of receivers in order to thrive against the Cowboys secondary. QB Dak Prescott should have similar success against the Eagles defensive backs, making this close.  But Philly will just barely come out on top as Wentz outplays Prescott.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

Look for QB Josh Rosen and the Cardinals to get by against the anemic-looking Lions.  The Lions offense will not be the same without RB Kerryon Johnson and WRs Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.  The Lions D will be better than usual, but it won’t be enough with the offense struggling regressively.
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

A lot of people would expect a shootout here, but this is a battle of two of the better defenses in the NFC.  I don’t expect much scoring here, and I think majority of the TDs that are scored will be on turnovers.
Monday, 8:15 PM EST

Expect QB Kirk Cousins to turn it around after a loss in New England for a big prime time win.  The Seahawks will lack the energy they usually have, but QB Russell Wilson will still toss multiple TD at home to make this close.  However, it won’t be enough, as the Vikings win, getting out to an early lead and sticking with it.

That’s all for today’s picks.  Stay tuned for more posts soon.

2018 NFL Week 13 Picks & Previews: Lots of Crucial Divisional Matchups Occur

Welcome to my NFL Week 13 picks and previews.  Last week, I went 11-4, putting my overall record at 96-78-2 (96-79-2 including Week 13 TNF).  I am still ahead of 1 CBS Sports expert. This week, a lot of divisional matchups occur, with many of them having playoff implications.  The Eagles and Redskins play for 2nd place in the NFC East, and the loser may be knocked out of contention. The Colts visit Jacksonville hoping to increase their chances at a wild card spot.  Who will win these divisional games? Keep reading to find out what I think, and feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

Look for dominance from the Rams defense in the first shutout of the NFL season.  The revamped duo of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters won’t give up anything to Detroit’s depleted WR corps, and DT Aaron Donald and company will shut down QB Matthew Stafford and the run game.  The Rams will not need more than a couple touchdowns for a Rams clinic victory thanks to the strong defense. Meanwhile, The Lions will begin to miss RB Kerryon Johnson and WRs Golden Tate and Marvin Jones in a shutout loss.  

Upset of the Week

The Panthers are coming off two frustrating last-minute losses, and the Buccaneers are coming off a much-needed victory.  Look for QB Jameis Winston to ride the momentum and put up his best performance yet against Carolina. The Bucs D will still give up plenty to QB Cam Newton and his versatile offensive core.  But a 3 or 4 TD game from Winston should be enough for the Buccaneers to pull the upset.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night; Actual Score: 13-10 Cowboys)

QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense will be slowed down significantly by the improving New Orleans defense.  Meanwhile, QB Drew Brees and WR Michael Thomas will lead the Saints to victory despite the Dallas defense’s shut down of the Saints RB duo.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for Miami to hold on for a home victory against a young Bills defense that is not great but can be pesky at times.  QB Ryan Tannehill will lead the Dolphins here, even without WR Danny Amendola. QB Josh Allen and his offense will perform better than they usually do, but expect them to just fall short in Miami against a mediocre, but not putrid Dolphins defense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for the Atlanta defense to step it up against rookie QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, especially with RB Alex Collins on IR.  QB Matt Ryan won’t have an amazing game against this strong Baltimore D, but it will be enough thanks to the improving Falcons defense.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Broncos will ride the momentum to a third straight win as the defense dominates against a banged-up Cincinnati pass offense that will miss QB Andy Dalton, especially since WR A.J. Green is not 100%.  The Broncos will be alright offensively without TE Jeff Heuerman, as QB Case Keenum finally begins to rely on his receivers more in the Denver victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect QB Deshaun Watson to put up another strong game against the inexperienced Browns defense.  Meanwhile, the Texans D will do a respectable job in shutting down QB Baker Mayfield and this young Browns offensive core.  The Texans will win triumphantly as they play strong football all around.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect the Jaguars to win by a surprisingly large margin as they host the Colts.  They came close in Indy, so I expect a win in Jacksonville. QB Cody Kessler will also help the Jags improve as he outperforms QB Blake Bortles.  QB Andrew Luck and his receivers will struggle to handle the Jags strong D, but they’ll still manage to score a couple TDs.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Eli Manning will have to dig into New York’s WR depth here to even score a TD against this improving Chicago defense.  The Giants’ experienced defense will limit the QB Chase Daniel-led Bears offense, but Daniel will still throw multiple TDs in the victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Packers should manage to win at home here, but as they nearly blow it, the “fire Mike McCarthy” campaign will just get louder.  QB Aaron Rodgers will rely on his younger receivers as they just barely get by the Cardinals. QB Josh Rosen will find his receivers more easily against a struggling Green Bay secondary, but it won’t quite be enough.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

QB Josh McCown should struggle regressively as his receivers are out done by a Titans secondary that is no more than average.  This will highlight the Jets’ flaws as the Titans win by multiple TD. A strong all-around offensive game as well as a clutch defensive performance will help Tennessee in the home win.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

The Chiefs won’t be at full strength after the release of RB Kareem Hunt.  But QB Patrick Mahomes II will still lead the Chiefs to victory though, with 3 TD and 0 INT.  The Raiders will come close though as QB Derek Carr relies on his younger receivers (since WR Jordy Nelson is struggling).
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

Neither offense will be up to full speed here as both defenses thrive.  But QB Tom Brady will lead the Pats to get by at home as he uses his WR depth, something New England has at full health.  The Vikings will make this close, led by QB Kirk Cousins and his receivers.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

The Seahawks will be able to get by here, but the 49ers will come close to an upset and play the better all around game, as young QB Nick Mullens throws multiple TD against the young Seattle D.  The Seahawks, however, will find a way to win thanks to veteran QB Russell Wilson.
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

The Steelers offense will look good here, as QB Ben Roethlisberger tosses multiple TD.  But even without RB Melvin Gordon, QB Philip Rivers and his deep WR corps will be too much for the Pittsburgh D to handle as they outperform the Steelers significantly.  The Chargers will be able to handle Pittsburgh’s offense a little easier, helping their case in a road primetime victory, handing the Steelers their second straight loss.
Sunday, 8:15 PM EST

Expect the Eagles to win in a shootout thanks to the strong game by QB Carson Wentz and his receivers.  QB Colt McCoy will outperform his expectations though, tossing multiple TD and making this close. But the Eagles will still get past McCoy’s Redskins as their run game thrives in addition to the pass offense.

That’s all for today’s picks.  Stay tuned for more posts soon, including Part 3 of my MLB free agent predictions.

 

2018 NFL Week 12 Picks & Previews: Contenders Arise

Welcome to my Week 12 NFL Picks and Previews.  On Thanksgiving Day, I went 3-0, putting my overall record at 88-74-2.  However, I am still only ahead of 1 expert from CBS Sports, and none from ESPN.  This week, I think we will see the biggest contenders besides the Rams and Chiefs (who both take a bye after last week’s shootout) will rise to the top with victories this week.  Meanwhile, teams that had snuck into the playoff picture despite an underwhelming season will fall. With the playoffs approaching, this week it will begin to become clear who’s really here to stay.

Lock of the Week

Look for the Panthers to shut down Seattle’s run game here.  This will put a lot on QB Russell Wilson and his receivers, and I don’t think they’ll put up enough for Seattle to make this close in Carolina.  They will fail to step it up in the place of the run game. Meanwhile, QB Cam Newton and his receivers will be all over the Seahawks’ young secondary as Carolina dominates in a blowout victory.

Upset of the Week

The return of QB Ryan Tannehill will give the Dolphins offense a big boost.  Expect Tannehill to throw multiple TDs and shock the Colts in Indy.  The Colts will make it close thanks to dominance by the combo of QB Andrew Luck and WR T.Y. Hilton.  But the Colts will fall short against Miami’s revamped offense, and the weak defensive game will not help matters.

The Other Games

Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect the Jets young, but underrated defense to limit the abilities of QB Tom Brady and his offense.  But the Patriots should find a way to score in New York. Meanwhile, Jets QB Josh McCown will struggle regressively against an improved New England defense.  This will lead to a Patriots blowout victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Jaguars D will get back on task in Buffalo, holding QB Josh Allen and the Bills to just 1 TD.  Meanwhile, QB Blake Bortles will improve against a mediocre Bills defense, throwing 2+ TD. This will lead to a Jaguars road win in a surprisingly easy game.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Lamar Jackson will thrive again here, utilizing Baltimore’s strong run game and tossing multiple TD.  The Ravens will struggle to win the turnover battle against an Oakland D that has forced a surprising number of turnovers.  But the Ravens will come out on top after a very strong offensive game and another clutch defensive performance.  Expect the Ravens to hold the new-look Raiders offense under 20 in the victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for QB Andy Dalton and his receivers to find a way here without WR A.J. Green.  The Browns offense will look alright, but I don’t see it being enough against the stingy Bengals D.  This will allow Cincy to prevail despite an underwhelming offensive game.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect a big game from QB Carson Wentz as he throws 3 TD against a washed-up Giants D.  Giants QB Eli Manning should continue his multi-TD game streak here and look better than usual.  But it won’t be enough against the high-powered Philly offense. The Eagles’ hopes of winning the division will be restored in this divisional victory.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for the Bucs to catch a break at home against the Jimmy Garoppolo-less Niners.  The Tampa Bay run game could look surprisingly strong against San Francisco’s young defense.  If not, QB Jameis Winston will perform better than QB Ryan Fitzpatrick did. It won’t be perfection, but it would be enough for the Bucs victory.  QB Nick Mullens and his receivers will make this close against a struggling Bucs D, but it won’t be enough against the strong Buccaneers offense.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

Look for a surprisingly low scoring game here despite a battle of two strong offenses.  Both defenses will thrive in the red zone, as only 4 total TDs are scored in 10+ opportunities.  QB Josh Rosen and RB David Johnson will lead a strong Arizona offense, but expect them to fall short against QB Philip Rivers and the high-powered Chargers offense.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

The Denver offense may struggle after the Demaryius Thomas trade.  But the Broncos defense will make up for it, silencing Pittsburgh’s typically dominant offense by holding them TD-less in Denver.  The Steelers will continue to miss RB Le’Veon Bell after a tough loss in Denver.
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

Against a strong Vikes secondary, QB Aaron Rodgers will struggle to find his receivers, especially with TE Jimmy Graham injured.  Expect a Vikings victory thanks to the strong defense as well as a strong, multi-TD game by QB Kirk Cousins. This will cause the Packers to begin worrying that their wrath in the NFC North is over.
Monday, 8:15 PM EST

Expect QB Deshaun Watson to utilize his newfound WR duo in a home victory.  The young Tennessee defense will do a good job imitating Houston’s shut down D, but they won’t quite get up to Houston’s level.  The Texans will come out victorious in primetime as they play complimentary football.

That’s all for my picks this week.  Stay tuned for more posts soon, including Part 2 of my MLB free agency predictions.

Thanksgiving Day Picks: Two Home Teams Prevail, One Has Their Thanksgiving Spoiled

Welcome to my Thanksgiving Day NFL Picks. Last week was not great for me. I went 4-9, putting my overall record at 85-74-2. I am no longer ahead of any experts, but I am tied with CBS Sports expert Jason La Canfora. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the food, I love seeing my family, I enjoy watching the parade, and I especially love the football. Who will win in today’s football games? Expect a big week for home teams, but I think one home team will have their Thanksgiving spoiled. Keep reading to find out which team that is, and feel free to comment with your thoughts.

12:30 PM EST

Look for a dominant day by Khalil Mack and the Bears defense against Detroit. Without WRs Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, the Lions offense will struggle to get into a rhythm. Chicago’s offense won’t be at its best either, but the defensive excellence makes up for it. This will allow the Bears to spoil Detroit’s Thanksgiving.

4:30 PM EST

The injury-riddled Washington offense will miss QB Alex Smith and WR Jamison Crowder. But they will manage to keep this close against the young Dallas D. Meanwhile, QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense will continue to improve with the addition of WR Amari Cooper, leading the Cowboys to win their Turkey Day game in a close one.

8:20 PM EST

Expect the Saints defense to perform better than usual, holding Atlanta to 1 TD in New Orleans. New Orleans won’t be at their best offensively either, but expect them to get by against the weak Falcons D. The Falcons will begin to panic as they struggle in all aspects in this game.

That’s all for my Thanksgiving Day Picks. Stay tuned for the rest of my picks later this week.

2018 NFL Week 11 Picks & Previews: Defense Wins Games

Welcome to my Week 11 NFL Picks and Previews.  Last week was a rough week for me. I went 6-8, putting my overall record at 81-65-2 (81-66-2 including TNF Week 11).  I am still ahead of 1 expert from ESPN and 1 from CBS Sports. I’m expecting a low scoring week this week. The top defenses in the league will thrive, and after an offense-heavy year, defense really will win some games.  Which defense first teams will prosper? Which will fall short due to a regressing offensive scheme? Comment with your thoughts, and keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

Both these teams have struggled regressively this season.  At the start of the year, I had projected this to be an exciting match-up between two contenders.  That is not the case, as these two teams have only combined to beat two other teams this year: the Browns and the 49ers (twice).  I cannot see Oakland winning in Arizona. They are now without Marshawn Lynch (injury), Amari Cooper (trade), and Khalil Mack (trade).  QB Josh Rosen and the Cardinals will win triumphantly on home turf. They may be in the basement of the league, but they will touch the ceiling of that basement with 3 wins against other bottom of the barrel teams.  

Upset of the Week (SNF)

This won’t be Minnesota’s best offensive game as the Bears hold them back quite a bit.  But the Vikes defense should be at its best in Chicago, overwhelming rookie QB Mitch Trubisky and his young offense.  The Bears run defense will succeed here, but the secondary may struggle against Minnesota’s deep group of receivers. This will allow the Vikings to pull the upset in Chicago and take the NFC North lead.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night; Actual Score: 27-24 Seahawks)

Note: Not only did Mike McCarthy blow it, he also prevented me from a correct pick and exact score.

This is a battle of two high-powered pass offenses.  However, the X-Factor in this game will be defense. The young Seattle defense will struggle to contain Green Bay’s top receivers, and that will cost the Seahawks.  This would make them the first home team to lose on TNF. The Packers will win thanks to QB Aaron Rodgers’ dominance of the Seattle D. The Seahawks receivers will overwhelm the Green Bay secondary though, making this close.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Jags have regressively struggled over the past few weeks.  But these are the kinds of games Pittsburgh will blow without RB Le’Veon Bell.  They are on the road in a warm-weather stadium against one of the best underrated defenses in the league.  Expect the Jacksonville D to rebound at home. Meanwhile, QB Blake Bortles will turn it around for a multi-TD game, as Pittsburgh’s average defense cannot handle Bortles.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

This could be an ugly game.  Ravens QB Joe Flacco and Bengals WR A.J. Green are both out.  That being said, don’t expect much offense, especially considering this is a match-up between the AFC North’s two best defenses.  I could see QB Lamar Jackson leading Baltimore to victory, but it won’t be pretty.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

This will be another low-scoring game thanks to Houston’s defensive dominance.  QB Deshaun Watson and his receivers have not been all-out dominant for the Texans.  But they should score enough with their defense holding the Redskins to 10 or less points.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

It has been a pass-heavy season around the league.  But I see the run game leading Tennessee to victory here against the rebuilding Colts defensive front.  Look for Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry to combine for 150+ yards in this game, running all over the Indy defense.  QB Andrew Luck and WR T.Y. Hilton will connect in the end zone and keep this close, but I don’t think they will be able to keep up.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect Dallas to struggle in containing QB Matt Ryan and his WR trio.  The Cowboys should keep it close against the weak Falcons defense, using WR Amari Cooper to their advantage.  However, I see Atlanta holding on to win at home despite the struggling defense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Giants will keep this close with QB Eli Manning putting up another decent game.  However, look for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers offense to gather a rhythm on the road.  They will win this thanks to another strong offensive performance.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Matthew Stafford will look better offensively here, but they will miss WRs Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.  They will have to rely very heavily on young WR Kenny Golladay. It won’t be enough against QB Cam Newton and the Carolina offense.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

The Denver offense may struggle here against a rejuvenated Chargers D.  Meanwhile, Denver’s D will slip against a high-powered LA offense. This will lead to an easy Chargers victory.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

QB Carson Wentz will struggle to find his receivers here up against a young but stacked New Orleans secondary.  Meanwhile, Philly will struggle to contain New Orleans’ WR duo without CB Ronald Darby. The Eagles will give the Saints a scare, but the Saints should win easily in the end.
Monday, 8:15 PM EST

In 2016, the Saints and Giants played and we were expecting the shootout of the season.  What we received was a dud. I see the same thing happening here as the Rams D comes out of hibernation to severely limit QB Patrick Mahomes II.  Meanwhile, the Chiefs defense will be able to handle the Rams’ receivers with WR Cooper Kupp done for the year. I see the Rams winning in the end thanks to the defensive dominance.

 

2018 NFL Week 9 Picks & Previews: Contenders Keep Going with Close Wins

Welcome to my Week 9 NFL Picks & Previews.  Last week I went 7-7, putting my overall record at 68-51-2 (69-51-2 including Week 9 TNF).  I am ahead of 3 ESPN experts and 1 CBS Sports expert.  Look for a lot of the borderline contenders to prove themselves this week with important wins.  I think the Ravens will shut down the Steelers for the 2nd time this year, the Vikings will silence the Lions, and the Chargers will dominate the 4-3 Seahawks coming off the bye week.  The Chargers had put a 4-game win streak together prior to the bye.  Although some of these contenders will win, some will be upset. Who will fall in a shocking upset?  Who will remain elite?  Keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

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Expect LA’s explosive offense to embarrass the young Seattle D in a blowout.  With WR Brandon Marshall a free agent, QB Russell Wilson will also struggle to find reliable open men.  Meanwhile, QB Philip Rivers will lead the Chargers to a blowout victory with 4+ TD.  

Upset of the Week

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I don’t think WR Amari Cooper will make much of a difference for QB Dak Prescott and the troubled Dallas pass offense.  Their big week against Jacksonville is a sign of big things to come, but it won’t happen this week as Tennessee’s secondary steps it up.  The Titans will bounce back from a rough October with a triumphant Monday Night victory coming off the bye as they shock the Cowboys in their first home loss of the season.  

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter on Thursday Night; Actual Score: 34-3 49ers)

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Even with their third-string QB starting, I think this young 49ers offense can put together a big game considering how bad the Oakland D has been without DE Khalil Mack.  Oakland’s season will begin to fall apart despite looking okay on offense.  I don’t think they will win many more games with RB Marshawn Lynch out and WR Amari Cooper gone.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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QB Brock Osweiler somehow led for the Dolphins to victory in Week 7.  But I don’t see him winning against the Jets elite secondary.  Expect multiple interceptions here, even on Osweiler’s home turf.  QB Sam Darnold will step it up to secure a Jets victory on the road.  QB Ryan Tannehill spoiled New York’s home opener.  Darnold will look for revenge with Tannehill injured for the third straight game.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Look for Chicago’s defense to lead them to victory against another banged-up AFC East team in the Bills.  Buffalo will have to settle for Nathan Peterman at QB, although they did add another weapon in Terrelle Pryor Jr. for him.  I think Peterman will look better than usual and make this close, but there’s no way he leads the Bills to victory against this Bears defense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Pittsburgh was starting to look alright without RB Le’Veon Bell.  But there’s no way they get past this versatile Ravens run defense without their star running back.  This will make it hard for Pittsburgh to outscore Baltimore.  I don’t see the Steelers defense performing any better than usual against this deep Ravens receiving corps.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Against a rebuilding Browns defense, QB Patrick Mahomes II should be dominant as usual.  I could even see him throwing 4 TD in this game. The Chiefs defense will slip a little against QB Baker Mayfield and an improved Cleveland offense, but Mahomes’ field day will be enough for them here.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Look for the Redskins to play complimentary football here in an all-around strong game.  They will utilize their versatile roster as they win at home. Atlanta’s washed-up defense will also struggle to contain QB Alex Smith’s deep receiving corps.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Look for serious regression from Detroit’s offense as they face one of the league’s best defenses without WR Golden Tate.  I have the Vikes holding them under 10 here. QB Kirk Cousins and his receivers won’t look much better, but they should manage to get by.  Don’t expect many more losses by the Vikes either. With RB Dalvin Cook healthy, things should be smooth sailing.  They’ve really only had one concerning loss this whole season.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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QB Cam Newton and the Panthers offense should ride the momentum they gathered in Week 8 to beat the Bucs in Carolina.  They should not be concerned about facing a Buccaneers D that has struggled all season. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will not be enough to lead Tampa to victory here as Carolina shuts down Tampa’s run game.  That puts a lot of pressure on Fitzpatrick, which could cause him to struggle.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

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Houston will struggle offensively, as WR Demaryius Thomas doesn’t provide much of an upgrade over WR Will Fuller.  Plus, Denver’s secondary knows Thomas very well and will be able to shut him down. The Broncos will edge out a victory in a low scoring game as WR Courtland Sutton steps it up with Thomas flipping sides.  Don’t expect much scoring though. This is a battle of two of the AFC’s best defenses.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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The Rams will stay undefeated with a road win over New Orleans.  Their elite defense will come ready to shut down QB Drew Brees, RB Alvin Kamara and the Saints offense.  Even with WR Cooper Kupp back, the Rams won’t be at full speed on offense. But they should get past the Saints thanks to elite defense and a last minute, victory-securing TD.  
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST

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If RB Sony Michel and TE Rob Gronkowski are healthy, this will be a blowout.  Otherwise, it could be close.  QB Aaron Rodgers will struggle to find open men here, as the Patriots secondary will keep Rodgers’ small number of dependable receivers well covered.  The Pats offense will be back to dominance if they have Gronk and Michel.  But after New England’s hiccup without them last week, I don’t think the offense would be the same without them.  I think they will be able to play, but I’m not an injury expert. Either way, New England should win and remain undefeated at home.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for more NFL posts soon, including my mid-season report (I usually post it after Week 8, but have delayed it until after Week 9 to the chaotic playoff picture we have right now).  Hopefully, Week 9 will settle some things.