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2017 Season: Week 17 Preview

We have finally reached the last week of the regular season, and mercifully so for some teams.  Either way, this season has gone by in a blink and there is a full slate of 16 games to be played.  Eleven of these games will have playoff implications and there are still a couple of things we have to sort out before getting to the playoffs.  Who will emerge from the final stanza victorious?  Here are my picks.

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 155-85

Locks: 7-9

Upsets: 4-12

Sunday, December 31st, 1:00 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (7-8) @ Detroit Lions (8-7)

This is one of the five games that does not have any playoff implications.  The Lions were stunned by the Bengals last week and now their season is over.  They draw Brett Hundley’s Packers on at home and Green Bay has been a surprisingly better road team than home by quite a large margin.  I think that will show up here as the Pack fights to even its record at 8-8.

Green Bay 20, Detroit 17 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Chicago Bears (5-10) @ Minnesota Vikings (12-3)

The Vikings will lock up a first round BYE with a win over Chicago at home, which will happen.  The Minnesota defense has been dominant while the Bears on offense have nothing much in the way of a passing game.  That does not bode well for them on the road.

Minnesota 31, Chicago 7

Washington Redskins (7-8) @ New York Giants (2-13)

The Giants were shut out on the road in Arizona and will be thrilled once this game comes to an end as their nightmare season will finally be terminated.  Both teams are ravaged by injuries but I like the Redskins to go to 8-8 because they still have spurts where they look like a competent team and the Giants have a lot of controversy surrounding its team and players.

Washington 32, New York 12

New York Jets (5-10) @ New England Patriots (12-3)

The Patriots lock up the #1 seed with a win here and that will be the case over a Jet team that did overachieve this season.  They have done a good job playing competitive football this year but on the road against a Pats team that has a lot to play for, I don’t like those odds.

New England 29, New York 12

Cleveland Browns (0-15) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)

Will the Browns get a win this year?  I’ve been saying no for the past month and nothing about this game will change my mind because the Steelers need a win to maintain that #2 seed in the playoffs.  They will also want to win given the chance that they could slide up to the #1 seed with a New England loss.  Either way, there is no chance for a letdown at home here.  Sorry Browns, you’re joining the 2008 Lions in infamy.

Pittsburgh 30, Cleveland 9

Dallas Cowboys (8-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)

The Eagles were lucky to defeat the Raiders last week and it took a great second half effort from their defense to do so.  Their offense looked lost and this game will serve as a chance for them to right the ship.  Even still it is likely that the backups will be playing a lot of this game and the Cowboys should be running their normal offense, fully healthy.  In the end that should line up for a meaningless Dallas win.

Dallas 21, Philadelphia 15

Houston Texans (4-11) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-12)

The loser of this game will finish in last place in the AFC South and the Texans look like a fish out of water.  Meanwhile, the Colts have been playing some competitive football against playoff hopeful teams lately.  That can show up at home against Houston in a game that means nothing for the playoff picture.

Indianapolis 21, Houston 17

Sunday, December 31st, 4:25 e.t.

Buffalo Bills (8-7) @ Miami Dolphins (6-9)

The Bills, in order to make it into the playoffs, have to hope for a win here and a loss from the Chargers or the Ravens and Titans.  That should motivate them but something tells me the Dolphins are going to come out motivated to play spoiler here.  I think the Buffalo offense struggles to get going and costs the Bills their first playoff shot since 1999.

Miami 23, Buffalo 13

New Orleans Saints (11-4) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11)

The Saints will take a win here (or a Panther loss) and that will give them the NFC South.  There should not be much trouble in putting the Buccaneers away with a secondary that struggles and a “D” that has been having trouble tackling lately.  That should mean for a big game out of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.  Give me N’awlins.

New Orleans 34, Tampa Bay 20

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5) @ Tennessee Titans (8-7)

The Titans will need a win here to edge their way into the postseason, but we are in the midst of a Titanic (pun somewhat intended) collapse at the end of the year here.  The Jacksonville defense was embarrassed by the Niners on the road last week so I think they will come out motivated to show up their division rivals here.  Marcus Mariota has been a turnover machine this year and that is not good news against the defense that leads the league in takeaways.

Jacksonville 24, Tennessee 14 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Kansas City Chiefs (9-6) @ Denver Broncos (5-10)

The Chiefs have nothing to play for here because they are locked in as a #4 seed, so it stands to reason that they will rest their starters as per Andy Reid tradition.  That could mean a random win for the Broncos at home only their offense is really bad so that could thwart this pick.  Even still, I’ll take Denver because I do still like their defense, especially versus a lot of non-starters.

Denver 19, Kansas City 13

Oakland Raiders (6-9) @ Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

The Chargers have a decent chance of getting into the playoffs.  All they are going to need to do is win this game and hope for a Tennessee loss to get in.  Both of these things I am predicting to happen.  The Raiders have a bad defense, even though Nick Foles and the Eagles struggled mightily against them last week.  L.A.’s offense is capable of putting together big days and I think they have the chance to do so here as they sneak into the playoffs.

Los Angeles 38, Oakland 21

San Francisco 49ers (5-10) @ Los Angeles Rams (11-4)

The 49ers still have not lost since naming Jimmy Garoppolo the starter and I think that trend will continue.  Sean McVay has come out already saying that there is not much of a difference in being the #3 seed or #4 seed so there is a good chance that some starters will be rested throughout.  Meanwhile, San Fran will try their best to win this game as they try to create some hope and excitement for the 2018 season.  I like the Niners on the road here.

San Francisco 30, Los Angeles 24

Arizona Cardinals (7-8) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-6)

The Seahawks are in need of a win here and an Atlanta loss to Carolina (which is possible) in order to sneak into the playoffs.  If they do get in they could be that sneaky team that puts a run together.  The Cardinals stand in their way and I think that they will put up a fight but in the end their offense won’t have enough to get the job done on the road against a Seattle “D” that was balling out last week against Dallas.

Seattle 22, Arizona 16

Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) @ Baltimore Ravens (9-6)

The formula for the Ravens is simple: win and you’re in.  That should not be a problem at home against a hapless Bengal team.  Yes, they did upset the Lions a week ago, but the Detroit defense is nowhere near the level that Baltimore’s is.  Cincy will want to get a win in Marvin Lewis’s last game with the team but it just will not happen.  Baltimore’s offense has been picking it up lately and it makes you think that maybe they could make some noise in January.

Baltimore 27, Cincinnati 10

Carolina Panthers (11-4) @ Atlanta Falcons (9-6)

This is the best game on the Week 17 slate.  Here is the scenario: the Panthers win the NFC South with a win and a Saint loss.  The Falcons will make it in the playoffs as the #6 seed with a win (or a Seattle loss).  Desperation will likely rear its head from Atlanta at home here and I think they will pull off a very close win against a Carolina team that has had an inconsistent offense this season.

Atlanta 27, Carolina 23

Projected Playoff Picture (based off of the above picks)

AFC:

#1 Seed- New England Patriots (13-3)

#2 Seed- Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)

#3 Seed- Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5)

#4 Seed- Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)

#5 Seed- Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

#6 Seed- Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

Wild Card Matchups:

Los Angeles Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City Chiefs

NFC:

#1 Seed: Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

#2 Seed: Minnesota Vikings (13-3)

#3 Seed: New Orleans Saints (12-4)

#4 Seed: Los Angeles Rams (11-5)

#5 Seed: Carolina Panthers (11-5)

#6 Seed: Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

Wild Card Matchups:

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

Carolina Panthers @ Los Angeles Rams

2017 Season: Week 16 Preview

It is Christmas weekend, and it is also the penultimate week of regular season NFL action and there is still a lot to be decided down the stretch.  There are a couple of nice NFC matchups this week as well as some more playoff-clinching opportunities.  Who will be eating “W’s” this time around?  Here are my Week 16 picks!

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 143-81

Locks: 6-9

Upsets: 4-11

Saturday, December 23rd, 4:30 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (3-11) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

The Ravens are looking like a team that is loading up to make a run at the AFC title and their offense is peaking at the right time.  The Colts should serve as nothing more than a speed bump for them here as they are going to be playing at home and have a decided advantage on defense.  Look for the Baltimore pass rush to give Jacoby Brissett nightmares as they romp over this hapless Indy team.

Baltimore 31, Indianapolis 7

Saturday, December 23rd, 8:30 e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (11-3) @ Green Bay Packers (7-7)

This game lost all intrigue the minute that the Packers lost to the Panthers last week.  Now Green Bay has put Aaron Rodgers back on injured reserve since there is no need to potentially complicate his injury as the Packers has been eliminated from playoff contention.  Minnesota is still fighting for a first round BYE, so there is no need for them to take their foot off the gas here.  They should smack the Pack on the road here.

Minnesota 37, Green Bay 16

Sunday, December 24th, 1:00 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (9-5) @ New Orleans Saints (10-4)

This contest seems to be the best game on the Week 16 docket and it is a rematch of just two weeks ago when the Falcons stunned New Orleans at home with a thrilling win.  Atlanta does not have to win both games in order to qualify for the playoffs and that is lucky for them because I do not think they will win here.  I don’t trust that defense to make plays on the road against a Saint team that will be much healthier this go-round.

New Orleans 29, Atlanta 21

Los Angeles Chargers (7-7) @ New York Jets (5-9)

Bryce Petty and the Jets kept things close on the road in New Orleans surprisingly enough but in the end their offense could not keep up and they lost 31-19.  This time Petty will have to deliver some good balls under pressure, which I don’t think he will, and that does not bode well for New York.  The Chargers still have a good shot at the playoffs if they win out and that will start here on the road against the Jets.

Los Angeles 42, New York 20

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) @ Carolina Panthers (10-4)

The Buccaneers probably turned in their best effort of the season with their narrow home loss to Atlanta on Monday night but now they will hit the road against a Panther team that is clicking right now.  Cam Newton is on fire and I like this team to roll at home.  Easy final score prediction: Tampa has lost two straight games by the count of 24-21 while Carolina has won two straight of 31-24.  Thus the 31-21 final.

Carolina 31, Tampa Bay 21

Detroit Lions (8-6) @ Cincinatti Bengals (5-9)

No team has looked worse than the Bengals have over the past two weeks and now they have come to terms with the fact that these final two games of the season will be the last for Marvin Lewis.  The Lions will really need to find a running game if they want to go anywhere any time soon but the secondary of Cincy has been atrocious of late and that is not going to bode well at all here.

Detroit 33, Cincinnati 13

Miami Dolphins (6-8) @ Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)

Call me crazy but I really never fell of the Kansas City bandwagon and I think this is a fun team to watch at this point in time.  The same cannot be said for the Dolphins whose defining moment was a couple of weeks ago when they beat the Patriots.  KC’s offense is clicking right now and if it can get back to where it was at the beginning of this year then they are a scary bunch to handle.  That will start right here.

Kansas City 39, Miami 14

Cleveland Browns (0-14) @ Chicago Bears (4-10)

Can the Browns win a game this season?  This is likely their last shot at it as they will draw the Steelers next week on the road.  I really wanted to pick them to win their first game for the second straight year on Christmas Eve, but I can’t.  Chicago’s defense is too good right now and this game will possibly see some snowfall.  The advantage there will go to the team with the better running game and that is definitely the Bears.

Chicago 17, Cleveland 13

Denver Broncos (5-9) @ Washington Redskins (6-8)

The Redskins held on for a tight home win over the Arizona Cardinals last week while the Broncos defense played well for their second straight contest en route to a 25-13 beatdown of the Colts.  On the road against a really beat up team I think the Broncos can pull off another win leaning heavily on their defense and that unit alone.  Although i don’t feel super confident with this pick, I do think Denver’s pass rush will be an issue.

Denver 20, Washington 16 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Los Angeles Rams (10-4) @ Tennessee Titans (8-6)

On paper this should be a good game with two teams with solid records, however I really think that the Titans are a paper tiger and back-to-back road losses to inferior NFC West opponents proves this point.  Their offense has been bad and they still cannot get the running game going.  In comes the Rams who are on fire after destroying Seattle on the road.  There is nothing that has me thinking they won’t blow out the Titans on the road here.

Los Angeles 41, Tennessee 17 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Buffalo Bills (8-6) @ New England Patriots (11-3)

Say what you want about the catch rule and how it is broken, but the Patriots did rally from 11 down to beat the Steelers on the road last week which is quite the impressive accomplishment.  In doing so they locked up the AFC East for the 9th straight season and have their sights set on yet another #1 seed.  There should be no let down at home against a Bills team that does not have the talent on offense to keep up.

New England 30, Buffalo 16

Sunday, December 24th, 4:05 e.t.

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (4-10)

This is actually one of the more intriguing games of the week and one of my favorites.  Let’s forget that the Niners are 4-10 and focus on the fact that they are 3-0 with Jimmy Garoppolo under center.  This game against the Jaguars is a real test and the team will play a road game for the first time in a while, but good defense tends to travel.  This one could be tight throughout but Blake Bortles has elevated his game lately and that could be a big reason why the Jags win this game on the road.

Jacksonvile 27, San Francisco 24

Sunday, December 24th, 4:25 e.t.

Seattle Seahawks (8-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

The late afternoon slobberknocker between the Seahawks and Cowboys should be a good one and it is essentially a playoff game with the loser all but cooked.  Dallas gets Ezekiel Elliot back and that is really going to help them out against a Seattle team that is really crippled on defense.  Coupled with the fact that this will be a road game I really like the Cowboys to get the job done and continue hope for their 2017 season.

Dallas 31, Seattle 23

New York Giants (2-11) @ Arizona Cardinals (6-8)

The Giants nearly pulled off a massive upset of the Eagles at home last week but in the end they came up a bit short.  Their offense looked good as Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram had huge games but I do think that effort was a flash in the pan.  They now have to travel across country to face the Cardinals who have an opportunistic defense that can get after the QB.  The Giants won’t fare as well this time around as the revert back to their old selves.

Arizona 21, New York 3

Monday, December 25th, 4:30 e.t.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) @ Houston Texans (4-10)

A little Christmas football is going to take place in Houston and for the second straight season the Steelers will be competing on the 25th of December.  They are coming off of a very frustrating loss last week against New England and should not have much trouble knocking off the Texans here even without Antonio Brown but Pittsburgh does tend to play down in these types of games.  That might happen, but they should still win.

Pittsburgh 24, Houston 14

Monday, December 25th, 8:30 e.t.

Oakland Raiders (6-8) @ Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)

Week 16 concludes at Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles host the Raiders.  Philly has a first round BYE wrapped up and they can clinch the #1 seed in the playoffs with a win here over Oakland, which they will.  Nick Foles played well filling in for Carson Wentz last week but the defense did not.  Returning home will really help that out here.  Also, the Raiders will likely not be too inspired to play here seeing as how their season was essentially ended when Derek Carr fumbled the ball through the end zone at the end of last week’s game against the Cowboys.

Philadelphia 34, Oakland 16

2017 Season: Week 15 Preview

Week 15 is here and we have two teams from Pennsylvania already ticketed for the playoffs with their division crowns.  The Patriots, Jaguars, Vikings, Saints, Rams can join them this week if things break their way (the easiest being wins by New England and Minnesota giving them their respective divisions or the Jaguars only having to win to at least secure a wild card spot).  Will that happen?  Here are some Week 15 picks!

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 131-77

Locks: 6-8

Upsets: 4-10

Thursday, December 14th, 8:26 e.t.

Denver Broncos (4-9) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-10)

We open the 15th week with a stinker of a game in Indy.  The Colts just got done playing in a blizzard in a losing effort (albeit in overtime) while the Broncos dominated the Jets by pitching a shutout with their defense getting its mojo back.  I think that will carry into this week as Denver does have some playmakers on that side of the ball that can make life tough on Jacoby Brissett and company.

Denver 18, Indianapolis 10

Saturday, December 16th, 4:30 e.t.

Chicago Bears (4-9) @ Detroit Lions (7-6)

The Lions are fighting for their playoff lives right now and they almost let a 14-point second half lead slip away against a poor Buccaneer squad but nevertheless they are still alive.  They will have to win at home over Chicago to keep the dream going, which I think they will, but it wop’t be easy.  Detroit’s weakness right now is passing defense, something that the Bears do not specialize in taking advantage of , and that is the difference.

Detroit 27, Chicago 21

Saturday, December 16th, 8:30 e.t.

Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)

This is a massive AFC West tilt with the winner of this game in prime position to take the AFC West.  In fact, I’d say the winner is pretty much assured of it.  There aren’t many teams hotter than the Chargers right now and I can see them taking out the Chiefs in KC, but I like the home team here.  They are finding big plays on offense and a lot of that was a byproduct of them being able to run the ball.  LA is not good at stopping the run, so that could prove to be their downfall.

Kansas City 30, Los Angeles 27

Sunday, December 17th, 1:00 e.t.

New York Jets (5-8) @ New Orleans Saints (9-4)

The Saints were clipped by the Falcons last week on Thursday night and now things are tight in the NFC South.  I think New Orleans is the best team in that division still and they will need to prove it by taking advantage of a Jet team without its starting quarterback at home.  They will, handily in fact.

New Orleans 40, New York 17

Houston Texans (4-9) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)

The Jaguars will clinch a playoff berth with a win over Houston and I think it will.  They are playing in front of a home crowd that is suddenly making Jacksonville a tougher place for opposing teams to play.  The Jaguar defense is number one in the NFL in total yards, turnovers, and sacks.  They are dominant and the Texans offense leaves a lot to be desired at this point.  The Jags get into the post-season for the first time since 2007.

Jacksonville 26, Houston 7

Arizona Cardinals (6-7) @ Washington Redskins (5-8)

The Redskins, once upon a time, were a frisky team that was capable of beating anybody on their best day.  Now, they have suffered far too many injuries to remain relevant and have been eliminated from playoff contention as a result.  The air has come out of the balloon and normally it is not right to pick the Cardinals traveling to the east coast, but I’m doing it here.  Washington hasn’t much to play for and that is a depressing scene.

Arizona 28, Washington 19

Miami Dolphins (6-7) @ Buffalo Bills (7-6)

The Bills gutted out a tough victory in the snow over the Colts and now they will remain home to take on a Dolphin team that upset the Patriots on Monday night.  Tyrod Taylor is slated to start this game and I think that will help against a Miami team that has a very inconsistent offense.  In the end I still don’t trust that unit to go into what might be another snowy game and get the job done.

Buffalo 17, Miami 10

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) @ Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

The Vikings are home with a chance to win their division by getting a victory over a downtrodden Bengal team that just got waxed at home by the Bears of all teams.  That will not bod well for them.  The Vikes have a great team and an awesome home field advantage.  That will help them overwhelm the Bengals.

Minnesota 38, Cincinnati 14

Baltimore Ravens (7-6) @ Cleveland Browns (0-13)

The clock is ticking on the Browns.  Will they get a win in 2017?  I’m not so sure they will, certainly not here against the Ravens.  Baltimore did lose to the Steelers last week but the one sign of encouragement was that the offense came to play for the second straight week.  If this team can get that unit going then they will be a tough out for any team.  I like them to keep it rolling on offense against the Browns on Sunday.

Baltimore 27, Cleveland 17

Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) @ New York Giants (2-11)

The good news for the Eagles is they can clinch a first round bye with a win over the Giants here.  The bad news is they will be doing it without Carson Wentz.  I’m not sure how far the team can go in January without #11, but I do know they can get by the Giants who appear to be in full-on tank mode here.  Give me Philly on the road.

Philadelphia 22, New York 13

Green Bay Packers (7-6) @ Carolina Panthers (9-4)

Here is a fun NFC battle.  The Panthers just notched their biggest win of the season beating the Vikings 31-24.  Now they will host a Packer team that is still on the fringe of the playoffs and they get Aaron Rodgers back.  The timing could not be more perfect for the Pack either as they will have to win out to even have a shot.  That road begins here.  I like Rodgers to pick up where he left off and bring more hope to Green Bay with a close win.

Green Bay 26, Carolina 24

Sunday, December 17th, 4:05 e.t.

Los Angeles Rams (9-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

Another big contest in the NFC takes place up in Seattle as the West is likely going to be decided with the outcome of this game.  With a Seahawk win they will sweep the Rams and put all the pressure on them while a Ram win would really put the ‘Hawks in a precarious position.  I’m taking Seattle here because they just don’t lose big home games like these.  Also, the Eagles ripped apart the LA secondary in the passing game.  Look for Russell Wilson to do the same.

Seattle 31, Los Angeles 27 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Sunday, December 17th, 4:25 e.t.

New England Patriots (10-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)

Finally we have a massive AFC match-up and this one is a doozy.  The winner will, more likely than not, be the number one seed on the season and thus making them clear favorites to make it to the Super Bowl.  The Steelers offense really got it going against the Ravens late last week while New England’s was stuck in the mud against the Dolphins.  I really hate picking against the Patriots late in the year but I think I am going to.  It is time for the Steelers to finally step up and win that big game against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Pittsburgh 36, New England 33 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Tennessee Titans (8-5) @ San Francisco 49ers (3-10)

It is very easy to jump on the Jimmy G train as he has opened up his Niner career with a 2-0 record.  The Titans are the better team record-wise but I’m not sure how much better of a team they actually are than San Fran and that is really telling.  I don’t trust the Titans or Mariota at this point so I am going to pick the 49ers to pull off their third straight win.

San Francisco 24, Tennessee 20

Sunday, December 17th, 8:30 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (7-6) @ Oakland Raiders (6-7)

The Raiders were a no-show on the road in Kansas City last week and they have not been a good offense this season.  That all starts with the protection being provided by the offensive line.  That is a huge reason why there has been such a drop-off from last year to this.  The Cowboys have been playing the football we all had become accustomed to seeing over the past year and that should continue here in their last game without Ezekiel Elliot.

Dallas 31, Oakland 21

Monday, December 18th, 8:30 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (8-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)

Week 15 wraps up with a divisional game in Tampa.  The Falcons just notched a massive win over the Saints last week and will be able to keep that train rolling against one of the worst secondaries in the league.  The most encouraging thing from Atlanta is that their defense finally made some big plays and that will need to continue if this team hopes to make any noise past January this year.

Atlanta 35, Tampa Bay 17

2017 Season: Week 14 Preview

We have hit the fourth quarter of the 2017 regular season and nobody has yet to fully clinch a playoff spot (although for teams like the Patriots and Eagles, it is all but a formality).  That field should change this week, as should the landscape of the league since there are some huge matchups coming as potential playoff previews.  Who will come out on top?  Here are my selections.

Last Week: 8-8

Season: 121-71

Locks: 6-7

Upsets: 3-10

Thursday, December 7th, 8:26 e.t.

New Orleans Saints (9-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (7-5)

This is a big-time game for the Falcons and they are playing it at home on a short week, but unfortunately I do not see them winning and that is because of their defense.  They let Case Keenum complete 25-30 passes last week and can be run on.  That plays right into the Saints’ strengths and that should add up to a sixth loss.

New Orleans 34, Atlanta 27

Sunday, December 10th, 1:00 e.t.

Chicago Bears (3-9) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)

The Bengals’ playoff hopes are alive but they are in it still by a thread.  They do draw a poor Bears team and should roll this week since the Chicago offense has been very bad as of late (putting up just 10 points over the past two weeks).  As long as Dalton and company take care of the ball, they should be fine.

Cincinnati 27, Chicago 13

Indianapolis Colts (3-9) @ Buffalo Bills (6-6)

The Colts have been embarrassed twice this season by the Jaguars and will now have to hit the road to Buffalo to take on a middling Bills’ team.  The big question going in will be the health of Tyrod Taylor.  Buffalo is going to be a desperate team here and regardless of who starts at QB, I think they will win but it will be a squeaker.

Buffalo 17, Indianapolis 14

Dallas Cowboys (6-6) @ New York Giants (2-10)

Back under center goes Eli Manning as the Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese show has concluded mercifully in New York.  The Giants, at home would be a sexy pick since the team would be playing for pride but I still think they’re in full on tank mode and the Cowboys offensive line is back to its top form.  Dallas should win here.

Dallas 28, New York 14

Green Bay Packers (6-6) @ Cleveland Browns (0-12)

The Packers took down the Buccaneers at home in overtime a week ago and are playing much better team football since getting blasted by the Ravens a couple of games ago.  They should handle a Cleveland team that is on the brink of going 0-16 this season.

Green Bay 26, Cleveland 13

Detroit Lions (6-6) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8)

The Lions lost by 24 points last week and you can largely blame it on their defense as they let Joe Flacco and the Ravens look like a competent offense.  On the year, no “D” has been doing that more on a week to week basis than the Buccaneers.  Matthew Stafford will likely gut out his hand injury to lead his team to a win.  Also, the Lions may have something here with Tion Green.  Feed the kid the rock.

Detroit 27, Tampa Bay 20

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) @ Carolina Panthers (8-4)

No team in the NFL is hotter than the Vikings, and I have been burned the past three weeks for picking against them, so I am all done doing that.  They have proven themselves against some of the finer teams in the league and it starts with their defense.  Case Keenum is balling out as well and I think Cam Newton is in for a rough day against the Minnesota front.  Turnovers will sink the Panthers on Sunday while the Vikes play careful with the ball.

Minnesota 19, Carolina 10

San Francisco 49ers (2-10) @ Houston Texans (4-8)

The Jimmy Garappolo show got underway last week and it gave the Niners’ fans hope as he lead the team to a come from behind win in Chicago.  I think he makes it two in a row here because the 49ers have no reason to tank.  They have likely found their franchise quarterback so they can look elsewhere in the draft when a lot of the top picks will be used on signal-callers.

San Francisco 21, Houston 18

Oakland Raiders (6-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-6)

This is as close to a playoff game between two below-average teams as you are going to get in the NFL.  The Chiefs are still continuing a nose-dive while the Raiders have fought their way back to .500 by playing poor teams.  This is hard to pick but I am going to go with the Chiefs because A) They are the home team and B) I think their offense can get back to making some big plays against a bad secondary.

Kansas City 30, Oakland 24

Sunday, December 10th, 4:05 e.t.

Washington Redskins (5-7) @ Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)

This is an interesting game because you have two frisky teams that can play very entertaining contests.  I did want to pick the ‘Skins to win this one but in the end I cannot see their banged up offensive line standing up to Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and company on the road.

Los Angeles 29, Washington 24

Tennessee Titans (8-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (5-7)

The Titans have been getting by with beating bad teams this season.  I think they were exposed by a Pittsburgh team a few weeks ago and the Cardinals are by no means on that level, but I do think they are better than a lot of the teams the Titans have been beating.  At home, I like Arizona to pull off a close win.  (These teams always play close games).

Arizona 24, Tennessee 22 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

New York Jets (5-7) @ Denver Broncos (3-9)

I think that the Jets are one of the more fun teams to watch this year and that is about the only reason anybody would want to tune into this game as the Broncos have been pitiful as of late, especially on offense.  A team that gives up 30+ points to the Dolphins gets no respect in this column.  I’m going with the Jets.

New York 23, Denver 10

Sunday, December 10th, 4:25 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (9-3)

The game of the week goes down in L.A. and Philadelphia looks to rebound from just their second loss of the season.  This is a hard game to figure and both teams are tied in scoring the most points in the league yet I think this will be a low scoring affair.  Call me crazy but I think the Eagles defense is the better unit and that will be the difference in an otherwise evenly matched game.

Philadelphia 19, Los Angeles 16

Seattle Seahawks (8-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)

Here is another good afternoon game as the Seahawks who are fresh off of their finest effort of the season take on the Jaguars who just demolished a bad Colt team.  Seattle’s defense played very well and Russell Wilson proved why he should be in the MVP discussion with a win over the Eagles.  Going on the road in December is no problem for this team and this is not a time you want to play Seattle.  They will win handily.

Seattle 24, Jacksonville 6 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Sunday, December 10th, 8:30 e.t.

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2)

This is a game that has a little bit of juice to it now since the Ravens have been playing good football (especially on defense) and the Steelers who have been playing some pretty entertaining and close games this season.  That said, Baltimore will be without Jimmy Smith and I just don’t know how they are going to be able to cover Antonio Brown in this game.  Pittsburgh wins the game and the division on this night.

Pittsburgh 27, Baltimore 23

Monday, December 11th, 8:30 e.t.

New England Patriots (10-2) @ Miami Dolphins (5-7)

The Patriots are absolutely rolling right now while the Dolphins have been a joke offensively.  Their defense can frustrate Tom Brady slightly as he will be without Rob Gronkowski for this game but Brady seems to find a way every time despite injuries or takeaways.  Nothing changes as New England should throttle a poor Miami squad.

New England 30, Miami 10

2017 Season: Week 12 Preview

Thanksgiving is here and there are a lot of pundits out there that would argue that this is the point in the year where the NFL campaign actually begins.  We are all done with BYE weeks and are ready to hit the final stretch of the regular season.  Which teams will pick up crucial wins this week?  Here are my picks!

Last Week: 7-7

Season: 100-60

Locks: 5-6

Upsets: 2-9

Thursday, November 23rd, 12:30 e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (8-2) @ Detroit Lions (6-4)

One of the best games on the Week 12 slate takes place in the early Thanksgiving window as the Lions try to complete the season sweep of Minnesota.  I really think they have a shot here but their rush defense has been atrocious over the last two weeks and that will play right into the Vikings hands.  That said, I like Matthew Stafford to bring his team back with the game on the line and pull off the upset at home.

Detroit 23, Minnesota 21

Thursday, November 23rd, 4:30 e.t.

Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

Here is a hard game to pick.  These two teams have been going in opposite directions lately, but Dallas is home for this match-up and that could help.  However, if Tyron Smith isn’t in for this tilt then the Cowboys are really in trouble because the Chargers come at you with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa.  Good luck to Dak who has gotten no help since Ezekiel Elliot was suspended.

Los Angeles 26, Dallas 19

Thursday, November 23rd, 8:30 e.t.

New York Giants (2-8) @ Washington Redskins (4-6)

The Redskins are the hard luck team of the league this season.  They have played some very good teams tight and Kirk Cousins has been on fire.  Sure, the Giants were able to upset the Chiefs last week but I don’t think they stand a chance here on the road.  The defense is still prone to miscommunications and I see Washington torching them.

Washington 35, New York 14

Sunday, November 26th, 1:00 e.t.

Cleveland Browns (0-10) @ Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)

The battle of Ohio sees its first installment of the season here.  The Browns have been playing competitive football lately against good teams but have fallen just short.  On the road in the division I can see them upsetting the Bengals but I don’t have the cajones to actually pick them.  The Cincy offense is due for a breakout game and this might be it for them.

Cincinnati 30, Cleveland 10

Buffalo Bills (5-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

If this game had taken place three or four weeks ago it would have been the premier matchup of the week, but as it is it is another lame-duck contest with both teams flailing at the moment.  The Bills will go with Tyrod Taylor again after the disastrous start from Nate Peterman, but I don’t see him getting his team the “W”.  The Chiefs are limping into this game and will be looking to get off the mat.  This is still a good team and it will show on Sunday.

Kansas City 29, Buffalo 17

Carolina Panthers (7-3) @ New York Jets (4-6)

It is weird how nobody talks about the Carolina Panthers as one of the better teams in the league.  Their defense has been great and the offense is getting there as well.  The Jets have fallen off a bit after their surprising start and I don’t like their chances going against the Carolina “D” this week.  I don’t expect a blowout here, but with the Panthers getting their ground game going, I can’t see them dropping this one.

Carolina 25, New York 19

Chicago Bears (3-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)

The Eagles were sleepwalking through the first half on offense in Dallas a week ago but really got it going after the break.  Their defense was strong throughout.  Meanwhile the Bears were busy blowing a chance to bring the Lions to overtime in Chicago.  Both “D’s” are solid but the Bears offense is not in the same class as is the Eagles.  That is going to make the difference in Philly.

Philadelphia 30, Chicago 16

Tennessee Titans (6-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-7)

So you wanna be a playoff team Tennessee?  Go win this game.  On the road against a division rival, this is a game that the Titans have to have if they want to remain relevant in the AFC.  Marcus Mariota had a tough outing against the Steelers’ defense a week back but this is the Colts’ defense this time around.  He should have a nice bounce-back game against that much weaker unit.

Tennessee 31, Indianapolis 20

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) @ Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

The Falcons put together one of their best efforts of the season in Seattle and look like they are about to go on a bit of a run.  The Buccaneers have won back-to-back games, but not against good opponents.  On the road in Atlanta, I do not like their odds at stopping the Falcon attack given that their defense is still a mess.

Atlanta 37, Tampa Bay 17

Miami Dolphins (4-6) @ New England Patriots (8-2)

The Patriots are headed for a 14-2 or 13-3 season in all likelihood and the Dolphins will prove to be nothing more than a speed bump for them.  The Miami offense his non-existent at times while New England’s is probably the best in the league.  That mismatch is something that I cannot get over.

New England 41, Miami 13

Sunday, November 26th, 4:05 e.t.

Seattle Seahawks (6-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-9)

This might be the week we get to see Jimmy Garappolo under center for the first time as a Niner off of their BYE.  On a short week the Seahawks will have to go on the road to deal with San Fran.  That said, I like them to pick up the “W” because their offense has been pretty good lately and I do not like the 49ers to slow Russell Wilson down.

Seattle 33, San Francisco 21

Sunday, November 26th, 4:25 e.t.

New Orleans Saints (8-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (7-3)

The game of the week takes place in L.A. and the Saints will ride their eight game winning streak into town to take on a Ram team fresh off of an embarrassing loss in Minnesota.  I like the Saints on the road because of their running game.  I can see them controlling the clock with it and keeping the explosive Rams offense on the sidelines, shortening the game.

New Orleans 30, Los Angeles 28

Denver Broncos (3-7) @ Oakland Raiders (4-6)

The Broncos season has taken a total nose-dive after they lost to the Giants and the defense has been gassed.  The Raiders have not been much better but they still have all of their players and are capable of making a run at that #6 seed.  If they are to do that, it will have to start here and I think it will.  This is a good chance for the Oakland offense to get right.

Oakland 27, Denver 13 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-6)

We can call this the Blaine Gabbert Bowl since Blaine Gabbert will be taking on his former team.  The Jaguars have been hot and ride into town on a four game winning streak.  The Cardinals have not been good this year but I really like their chances at an upset here.  They are going to do it with their defense because I don’t necessarily like their offense to stand up to be league’s best “D”.

Arizona 14, Jacksonville 13 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Sunday, November 26th, 8:30 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (5-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)

The Steelers offense finally looked like the one we all thought they were last week versus Tennessee and now they will draw the Brett Hundley led Packers in prime time.  With the Pittsburgh defense balling the way it is now I can see them really spanking Green Bay here.

Pittsburgh 34, Green Bay 13

Monday, November 27th, 8:30 e.t.

Houston Texans (4-6) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

The Ravens recorded their third shutout of the season on the road in Green Bay last week and will get to face Tom Savage’s Texans on Monday night.  Sure, Tom Savage played the game of his life against Arizona last week, but overall he is not a good quarterback and the Ravens have demolished most teams they’ve played without a good one.  That should happen again here.

Baltimore 24, Houston 10

2017 Season: Week 11 Preview

Week 11 is here and there are some huge matchups on the docket for the week.  It is do or die for a few times and there are a couple others who are looking to all but cement their spot atop their respective divisions.  There are also some saucy NFC games upcoming too so this should be a fun week.  Here are my picks!

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 93-53

Locks: 4-6

Upsets: 2-8

Thursday, November 16th, 8:26 e.t.

Tennessee Titans (6-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2)

The first game of the week is a dandy and the best one on tap pitting two AFC teams.  Both of these squads eeked out tight wins against inferior teams last week and are on a collision course at Heinz Field.  The Steelers should not have much trouble winning this one, however.  I expect their defense to step up and smother the Titan rushing attack making life tough on Marcus Mariota throwing the ball.

Pittsburgh 26, Tennessee 14

Sunday, November 19th, 1:00 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) @ New York Giants (1-8)

The Chiefs will win this game easily.  The Giants have given up on this season and are too banged up to beat even the listless 49ers, let alone a quality team from the other conference.

Kansas City 39, New York 10

Arizona Cardinals (4-5) @ Houston Texans (3-6)

This is a hard one to call since both teams are bad without their starting quarterbacks.  I do think that the Cardinals have a slight edge if Houston is planning on rolling out Tom Savage again.  Not to mention, Arizona has spent the entire year trading losses and wins.  It is time for a win on the road.

Arizona 19, Houston 14

Detroit Lions (5-4) @ Chicago Bears (3-6)

Detroit has played well against NFC North competition this year and their offense has cranked it up over the last few weeks.  They did get off to a slow start against Cleveland at home but finished strong.  The return of Kenny Galloday to the lineup helped.  The Lions offense should carry them to the “W” over the Bears on the road.

Detroit 27, Chicago 20

Los Angeles Rams (7-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (7-2)

This is probably the best game on the schedule for the week, and the hardest one to pick.  It pits two teams that could be meeting again in the playoffs also.  This should feature a lot of defense, I think.  Both offenses have been explosive to this point in the season but I can see both getting slowed here.  I think Minnesota’s “D” is better, but the Rams have been a dominant road team.  I like them to win, just barely.

Los Angeles 13, Minnesota 10 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Washington Redskins (4-5) @ New Orleans Saints (7-2)

The Saints proved to everybody that they were a legitimate Super Bowl threat by going on the road and hanging 47 points on a good defense that was previously undefeated at home.  They can run the ball and their offense is in control of games.  That will go over well against a Washington team that has been inconsistent on defense.

New Orleans 30, Washington 24

Baltimore Ravens (4-5) @ Green Bay Packers (5-4)

This is, to me, the hardest game to pick this week.  I am going to lean towards Green Bay for two reasons, however: 1) They are the home team and 2) Their offense is much, much better even with Brett Hundley at the helm.  He looked pretty good in Chicago last week and I like that to continue into this game as well.

Green Bay 20, Baltimore 18

Jacksonville Jaugars (6-3) @ Cleveland Browns (0-9)

I was really tempted to pick the Browns in an upset but I just can’t because the Jaguars pass defense is very good while Cleveland’s passing attack has been abysmal (although much better last week).

Jacksonville 20, Cleveland 7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) @ Miami Dolphins (4-5)

Here is another one that is hard to pick.  The Buccaneers were able to win without Jameis Winston and Mike Evans last week and they should be in good shape to defeat a bad Dolphins team this week, but I think I am going to go with the ‘Phins at home.  That was my original pick to win this game all the way back when it was first scheduled to be played in Week 1.

Miami 20, Tampa Bay 19

Sunday, November 19th, 4:05 e.t.

Buffalo Bills (5-4) @ Los Angeles Chargers (3-6)

Philip Rivers has been in concussion protocol for the week, but the team is optimistic that he will play on Sunday versus Buffalo who plan on tossing the offensive keys to Nathan Peterman for this game.  My one question is: Why?  What do they expect him to give the team over Tyrod Taylor.  This is a bad move in my opinion and one that will cost them the game.

Los Angeles 23, Buffalo 16

Sunday, November 19th, 4:25 e.t.

New England Patriots (7-2) @ Oakland Raiders (4-5) (in Mexico)

The Raiders are hoping to make something out of their season and they have a tough draw with the New England Patriots.  The Pats just played a high altitude game in Denver and are looking to play another one here.  The defense has been holding their opponents to under 17 points per game and Tom Brady is out here doing Tom Brady things.  Oakland won’t have the horses to run with the Pats here.

New England 34, Oakland 24 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Cincinnati Bengals (3-6) @ Denver Broncos (3-6)

Denver’s defense has been trounced in back-to-back weeks surrendering a total of 92 points.  This is a prideful unit, however, and I fully expect them to bounce back and smother an up and down Bengal offense.  Andy Dalton turns the ball over 3+ times and the Broncos win this game handily.

Denver 24, Cincinnati 3

Sunday, November 19th, 8:30 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-4)

This game is a product of bad timing for the Cowboys.  Had the contest taken place two weeks ago, I probably would have picked them but now they will be missing a lot of key players going up against the most balanced team in football coming off of a BYE.  The Eagles will prove to be too much to handle for Dallas, although I do like the ‘Boys to keep it close for most of it.

Philadelphia 30, Dallas 17

Monday, November 20th, 8:30 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (5-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

This may be the best looking Monday night game of the year and it does feature two teams looking to make playoff runs in the NFC.  Year in and out, this is the time where the Seahawks make their surge and I think that begins here in a big way.  I like Seattle to blow the Falcons out at home.

Seattle 37, Atlanta 13

2017 Season: Week 10 Preview

Back at it again for the tenth installment of the 2017 NFL campaign.  There are a lot of intriguing matchups this week that will prove to be paramount in helping develop the playoff picture this year with a lot of teams at the brink.  Who will come out on top?  Here are my picks.

Last Week: 9-4

Season: 83-49

Locks: 3-6

Upsets: 2-7

Thursday, November 9th, 8:26 e.t.

Seattle Seahawks (5-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-4)

The Seahawks were stunned at home by a desperate Redskins team last week and look to bounce back on a short week against an Arizona team that has been trading losses and wins this year.  Seattle should throttle the Cards here, even on the road.  Their defense should smother the Drew Stanton attack as long as they can weather the Adrian Peterson storm.

Seattle 36, Arizona 16 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Sunday, November 12th, 1:00 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (4-4) @ Chicago Bears (3-5)

The Packers were bullied by the Lions last week and I don’t like their odds going on the road against a very solid defense in Chicago.  As long as the Bears can convert on third downs here they should not have any problem disposing of the Brett Hundley led Packers.

Chicago 23, Green Bay 16

New York Jets (4-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)

It is hard to watch Tampa Bay these days since they are a mess on both sides of the ball.  Meanwhile the Jets have a little something going now with their defense and running game.  The Bucs sans Jameis Winston and Mike Evans are in trouble at home against Gang Green.

New York 24, Tampa Bay 12

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-6)

The Colts have been competitive lately which is the best that the team can hope for, but unfortunately they draw the Steelers who are coming off of a BYE and have been on a roll lately.  Mike Tomlin’s team should have no trouble taking care of business on the road here.

Pittsburgh 32, Indianapolis 7

Cleveland Browns (0-8) @ Detroit Lions (4-4)

This game presents a good opportunity for the Lions to get back over .500.  Their offense has been sound in every area outside of short-yardage situations.  That is a problem for them in the future, but not so much at home against one of the two winless teams in the league.

Detroit 30, Cleveland 13

Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)

I feel like the Jaguars are due to disappoint their fan-base at some point here but this might not prove to be the week.  I love their defense and I do not like Philip Rivers’ chances at standing in the pocket against the leading sack unit in the NFL.  I’ll take the Jags in a thriller.

Jacksonville 24, Los Angeles 21

New Orleans Saints (6-2) @ Buffalo Bills (5-3)

This is probably my favorite game of the week.  The Bills are one of just two teams left that are unbeaten at home this year and the Saints come into town riding a six game winning streak.  One of these trends will come to an end and I say it is Buffalo’s home record.  The Saints are clicking in all phases of the game and I like that to continue.

New Orleans 27, Buffalo 22

Minnesota Vikings (6-2) @ Washington Redskins (4-4)

The Redskins have been one of those teams that is hard to figure each week but their offense has been solid behind Kirk Cousins.  On the road, I think the Vikes are prime to drop one.  I love that defense, but the ‘Skins are a frisky team and can stand toe-to-toe with almost anybody when they are on their game.

Washington 28, Minnesota 23 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) @ Tennessee Titans (5-3)

The Titans took care of business last week against the Ravens and should do so again this week against a Cincy team that has really faltered on the defensive side of the ball lately.  There are certainly air yards to be had against them and at this point in the season, that is the strength of this Titan team.

Tennessee 35, Cincinnati 20

Sunday, November 12th, 4:05 e.t.

Houston Texans (3-5) @ Los Angeles Rams (6-2)

If this game had been played two weeks ago it would have been a potential game of the week with two of the most exciting offenses in the league.  As it stands we get Tom Savage’s Texans instead and that lacks serious firepower.  The Rams should grab their seventh win of the year rather easily with their offense being on fire as it is now.

Los Angeles 34. Houston 17

Sunday, November 12th, 4:25 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (5-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-4)

Here is another game that is tough to pick.  Will Ezekiel Elliot be eligible to play here?  That will make the difference yet again.  The Falcons need a win in the worst way and they are playing at home here, so I think they will find a way to get it done.  They will need an effort from the team like they got in Week 2 against Green Bay, however.

Atlanta 31, Dallas 30

New York Giants (1-7) @ San Francisco 49ers (0-9)

Will this be the week that Jimmy Garoppolo starts for the Niners?  I’m not so sure, they may want to wait until after the BYE to make that call.  That said, the Giants will be motivated to play well after getting caught with their pants down at home versus the Rams.  They’ve already made a trek across country and won once this year, I say they do it again in Week 10.

New York 20, San Francisco 16

Sunday, November 12th, 8:30 e.t.

New England Patriots (6-2) @ Denver Broncos (3-5)

The Broncos had a house dropped on them last week in Philly and will look to rebound this week.  Unfortunately they draw the number one offense in football and plan on sending Brock Oswieler out there to answer.  That spells trouble.  I think Denver’s defense will keep the team in it, but I have no confidence whatsoever in their offense to get the job done.

New England 23, Denver 17

Monday, November 13th, 8:30 e.t.

Miami Dolphins (4-4) @ Carolina Panthers (6-3)

The Panthers rushing game re-emerged last week against the Falcons and now they will face the Dolphins who have not been all that terrible on defense.  Their offense finally looked competent last week, but against one of the finer “D’s” in the league, I do not think they will fare so well.  Especially not on the road.

Carolina 20, Miami 17

2017 Season: Week 9 Preview

We have run through half of the games this year and there is still no clear Super Bowl favorite.  And who does not love a little parody?  For the first time in a while it is not set in stone who will be in the AFC and NFC championship games and that is kind of cool.  Let us predict the slate of games on the Week 9 docket; there are some good ones.

Last Week: 11-2

Season: 74-45

Locks: 3-4

Upsets: 2-5

Thursday, November 2nd, 8:25 e.t.

Buffalo Bills (5-2) @ New York Jets (3-5)

The Bills defense is looking good this year and after adding Kelvin Benjamin they finally have a legitimate threat downfield which should bode well for them.  However, I’m feeling a frisky effort from the Jets on Thursday night and I think they can upset Buffalo playing at home.

New York 19, Buffalo 17

Sunday, November 5th, 1:00 e.t.

Los Angeles Rams (5-2) @ New York Giants (1-6)

Not gonna dwell on this one much.  The Rams offense is good and their defense travels well.  The Giants simply have no answers on the attack to keep pace with Sean McVay’s squad.

Los Angeles 31, New York 14

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) @ New Orleans Saints (5-2)

How about the Saints ripping off five straight wins.  They’ve play complimentary football and are for real.  That said, the Bucs are desperate and this is a divisional game.  I see Tampa putting in their best effort of the season and shocking N’awleans with a huge win.

Tampa Bay 31, New Orleans 28 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Atlanta Falcons (4-3) @ Carolina Panthers (5-3)

This is a big game for each team, the winner will be in a good spot to make a run to the playoffs whereas the loser will be having to play catch-up in a major way.  I dont like how the Falcon defense has been playing and the Panthers have a “D” that is hot.  I’ll take them at home.

Carolina 23, Atlanta 16

Baltimore Ravens (4-3) @ Tennessee Titans (4-3)

The Baltimore run defense did bounce back last week, but on the whole they have been bad this year and that does not bode well for them on the road against the Titans who will be trying to pound the rock.  I will go with the home team in this situation.

Tennessee 26, Baltimore 16

Indianapolis Colts (2-5) @ Houston Texans (3-4)

The Texans lost last week but they looked fantastic in doing so.  DeShaun Watson continues to impress and is having no trouble carving up defenses.  Indy doesn’t exactly have a good “D” either so that trend should continue this week also.

Houston 35, Indianapolis 15

Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)

The Jags return home where they hope to take advantage of an inconsistent Cincy team with their solid defense.  In a battle of the big cats, I am going to take the Jags to come out on top because I think they can force a big turnover or two to swing things in their favor.

Jacksonville 26, Cincinnati 22

Denver Broncos (3-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)

I was gonna go with the Broncos here in an upset, but I really do not trust their offense.  They have been sloppy and at times unwatchable whereas the Philly offense has been the total opposite.  I believe that will make the difference in this contest.

Philadelphia 23, Denver 13

Sunday, November 5th, 4:05 e.t.

Arizona Cardinals (3-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (0-8)

The Niners did a thing when they traded for Jimmy Garoppolo and that was an excellent move.  Unfortunately he will not have enough time to get Kyle Shanahan’s offense down pat going into this game and the Cardinals are due to win a game with their defense.  Methinks that happens on Sunday.

Arizona 20, San Francisco 11

Washington Redskins (3-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (5-2)

The Hawks are getting their offense rolling and that is a scary thought for the rest of the NFC.  Their defense was embarrassed last week but that was an aberration.  Washington is reeling and do not have a ton of weapons to threaten the Legion of Boom on the road.

Seattle 30, Washington 16 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Sunday, November 5th, 4:25 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (4-3)

Will Ezekiel Elliot play in this game?  Whether or not he does will influence this pick.  As of Wednesday it seems like he will not, and I am going to bet on that.  Of course I do reserve the right to change my mind if I feel like it.  The Chiefs do have the better team, in my opinion.

Kansas City 33, Dallas 27

Sunday, November 5th, 8:30 e.t.

Oakland Raiders (3-5) @ Miami Dolphins (4-3)

The Miami offense was atrocious once again this past Thursday against the Ravens and they will need to take advantage of a poor Oakland “D” if they hope to remain contenders in the AFC Wild Card picture.  I don’t think they will and the Raiders keep their season alive… again.

Oakland 27, Miami 13

Monday, November 6th, 8:30 e.t.

Detroit Lions (3-4) @ Green Bay Packers (4-3)

Week 9 ends in Green Bay and the Lions need this one.  They played Pittsburgh tough last week but just could not finish drives when they got into the red zone.  I think they will do a much better job at that this week and come away from Lambeau with a big win evening their record once again.

Detroit 28, Green Bay 20

2017 Season: Week 8 Preview

We are just about halfway through the NFL season already and it has been a strange one.  The Jaguars and Rams are relevant, the Eagles have the best record in football, the Browns are winless… okay that one is not so weird, but how about the AFC East finally being a pretty competitive division?  Or the AFC North being a bad one?  It has all been hard to figure but we will continue to pick ’em.  Here are my picks/thoughts for the thirteen Week 8 games.

Last Week: 11-4

Season: 63-43

Locks: 2-4

Upsets: 2-4

Thursday, October 26th, 8:25 e.t.

Miami Dolphins (4-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-4)

The last handful of Thursday night affairs have been pretty solid games, especially last week in Oakland.  This one, on paper, doesn’t scream quality matchup but who knows?  I do like the Ravens at home though, and here is why.  Baltimore’s defense is due for a breakout game and the Dolphins come into town with Matt Moore at the helm.  Is he that much of a downgrade from Jay Cutler, maybe not, but I do think he will struggle with a short week hitting the road against a team desperate to stay relevant.

Baltimore 23, Miami 10

Sunday, October 29th, 9:30 am e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (5-2) @ Cleveland Browns (0-7) (in London)

What a clash at the Twick!  Okay, that was a lie.  London seems destined for another poor game with one of the best teams in the league taking on the worst.  This is actually not the biggest mismatch with records of the week, but it is the biggest in terms of talent.  The Browns hung tough with the Titans at home but that was more of an aberration in my opinion.  They don’t have the skill players on offense to make much headway against this swarming defense from the Vikings.

Minnesota 31, Cleveland 7

Sunday, October 29th, 1:00 e.t.

Carolina Panthers (4-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)

The Panthers are certainly a week-to-week proposition because one week they look like world-beaters and then the next they can fall flat on their face.  I could see them blowing this game out or getting blown out.  Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s offense has been inconsistent on the year.  They’ve yet to put a complete game together and their defense has been very bad to this point.  Against a Panther team with a good defense and an, at times, scary offense, I do not like their odds of pulling this game out.

Carolina 30, Tampa Bay 24

Indianapolis Colts (2-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)

A couple of two win teams hook horns in Cincy here when the Colts face the Bengals.  After getting shut out by the Jaguars, Indy’s season can officially be considered done while the Bengals are desperate to stay alive.  I like them to do just that at home with an offense that until last week under Bill Lazor has looked pretty good.  The Colt “D” is not very good.

Cincinnati 33, Indianapolis 13 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

San Francisco 49ers (0-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-1)

This game pits the team with the best record in the league, at home mind you, against the team that is tied for the worst record.  The Eagles lost two key players in their Monday night win over the Redskins in Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks, but that is not going to matter this week.  Carson Wentz cemented his case for being in the MVP discussion on Monday and he is capable of carrying the team.  He won’t have to this Sunday as the Eagles should win easily with their running game and defense.

Philadelphia 27, San Francisco 14

Oakland Raiders (3-4) @ Buffalo Bills (4-2)

This game is one of the better ones on the docket for Week 8 and it is probably the hardest one for me to pick.  I think I am going to go with the Raiders to win because they seem to have found their mojo on offense and could be at the beginning of an upswing.  Marshawn Lynch will miss his chance to play in Buffalo for the first time since being traded due to a suspension so that could hurt, but I think that Tampa Bay exposed the Buffalo “D” a bit last week and I like the well rested Raiders to pick up on that.

Oakland 26, Buffalo 19

Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) @ New England Patriots (5-2)

The Patriots played their best game of the season last Sunday night at home against a reeling Falcon team and seem to be peaking as we forge towards November, like they usually do.  The Chargers defense did just shut out the Broncos and has been a very underrated unit to this point in the year and I like them to keep this game close through three quarters.  However, you can only slow Tom Brady for so long and I can see them running away with this one in the fourth quarter at home.

New England 33, Los Angeles 17

Atlanta Falcons (3-3) @ New York Jets (3-4)

The Atlanta offense has been struggling lately and has people calling for O.C. Steve Sarkesian’s job.  They are 0-3 against the AFC East and desperately need a win to keep pace with the suddenly hot Saints in their own division.  I think they get something going on offense against the Jets and take this one on the road.  New York hung tough but eventually blew the game against Miami and can do the same thing here.  The thing is, if this does turn into a shootout I don’t think that Josh McCown can keep pace with Matt Ryan.

Atlanta 27, New York 20

Chicago Bears (3-4) @ New Orleans Saints (4-2)

The Saints have won four straight games and will now host the Chicago Bears who just won a game with only five first downs!  They are going to have to do a heck of a lot better than that this week if they want to hang in there against the Saints who can actually lean on their defense and running game a bit.  For the first time since 2013 New Orleans has a winning record and it is no fluke as I believe they are favorites to win the south at this point in the season.  They should improve to 5-2 with a win over the Bears who do not typically travel well this year.

New Orleans 29, Chicago 15

Sunday, October 29th, 4:05 e.t.

Houston Texans (3-3) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-2)

The Texans are coming off of their BYE Week and immediately get thrown back into the fire on the road in Seattle.  DeShaun Watson has been fantastic for Houston this year but I don’t like his chances going against Seattle’s defense on the road here.  The Hawk’s offense looked great against the Giants last week, even though they struggled to finish some drives.  I think they put it together this week and blow out the Texans.

Seattle 39, Houston 14

Dallas Cowboys (3-3) @ Washington Redskins (3-3)

I like this game.  The loser is going to have a tough time getting back into the NFC East race, especially if it’s Washington having already lost twice to the Eagles.  The Cowboys looked phenomenal on the road in San Fran and it was mostly because of the efforts of Ezekiel Elliot.  He makes this team better and Dallas can keep pace with Philly if he stays on the field.  I was going to take the Redskins here because they will be desperate, but I really don’t like the way their defense stacks up to the Cowboys.  Dallas should take this one on the road.

Dallas 28, Washington 22

Sunday, October 29th, 8:30 e.t.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) @ Detroit Lions (3-3)

Will this be the week that Al and Cris finally get a good game?  I think it is.  I really like Pittsburgh and where they are going this year, but I am going to take the Lions at home.  Detroit is coming off of a BYE and almost made a 35 point comeback the week prior.  Of course, they played poorly enough to go down by 35 in the first place but if the game is on the line I think we can all trust that Matthew Stafford will make some plays.  Look for this one to go down to the wire on Sunday night.

Detroit 30, Pittsburgh 28 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Monday, October 30th, 8:30 e.t.

Denver Broncos (3-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)

Both of these teams come into this game having lost two straight contests but I feel much better about KC than I do Denver.  The Bronco offense has vanished over the past couple of weeks while the Chiefs attack looked great against the Raiders.  It was their defense that let the game get away.  Playing at home on a Monday night for the second time this year, I think that they can use that crowd to their advantage and really get after Trevor Siemian.  Look for the Chiefs to get back to their winning ways.

Kansas City 34, Denver 17

2017 Season: Week 7 Preview

The drama that is the NFL keeps on coming and we’ve got 15 games this week to preview.  Let us just hope that there will be no more crushing season-ending injuries to speak of following the action from this stanza in the season.  Let’s get it.

Last Week: 8-6

Season: 52-39

Locks: 1-5

Upsets: 2-4

Thursday, October 19th, 8:25 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) @ Oakland Raiders (2-4)

The Chiefs took their first loss of the season, and perhaps it can serve as a bit of a wakeup call for them as their offense was pretty much handled at home versus Pittsburgh.  Meanwhile the Raiders find themselves in last place in the division and losers of four straight.  I think that streak will run to five in a row here as Kansas City should have a prime opportunity to get their offense back on track against an inconsistent pass “D”.

Kansas City 30, Oakland 20

Sunday, October 22nd, 1:00 e.t.

New Orleans Saints (3-2) @ Green Bay Packers (4-2)

This game would have been a barn-burner if Aaron Rodgers did not exit the game last week against Minnesota with a broken collarbone.  As it stands we get Drew Brees versus Brett Huntley.  I am not among the majority that thinks that the Packers’ season is sunk without Rodgers and in fact I think they can surprise the Saints this week by stealing a win at home.  I’m going to put my faith in their defense to make a stop with the game on the line.

Green Bay 21, New Orleans 17 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Arizona Cardinals (3-3) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-2) (In London)

This looks to be a pretty good matchup for the fans over in London.  Adrian Peterson definitely gave the Arizona offense a spark last week and made the passing game better since Tampa’s “D” actually had to respect a rushing attack.  While that game was going on, the Rams were riding the strength of their defense and two return touchdowns in a road win over the Jags.  This Rams team is a lot of fun to watch and they can win a game in a lot of different ways.  I like them to do the job across the pond against a defense that has not been themselves this season.

Los Angeles 25, Arizona 20

Baltimore Ravens (3-3) @ Minnesota Vikings (4-2)

Remember the last time these two teams got together?  It produced one of the wildest finishes to a game that you will ever see with over an inch of snow on the ground.  Weather will not play a factor in this game, but the crowd noise will.  Now in the driver’s seat atop the NFC North, I like the Vikings to come out and dominate the offensively challenged Ravens with their top 10 defense.

Minnesota 21, Baltimore 6

Indianapolis Colts (2-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)

This game was targeted as the return date for Andrew Luck but as of this writing his status in uncertain.  That said, I will be taking Jacksonville regardless of who starts because I really think that their defense can stifle the Colts’ running game and make the offense one dimensional.  With the number one pass rush in the league versus one of the worst O-lines, I don’t like Indy’s odds of keeping whoever lines up under center clean.

Jacksonville 19, Indianapolis 12

Carolina Panthers (4-2) @ Chicago Bears (2-4)

The Panthers, off a nine day hiatus, look to rebound from a tough loss at home to Philly and they draw a Bears team that shocked the Ravens in overtime last week.  This is a pretty fun matchup of quarterbacks here with Cam Newton and Mitchell Trubisky.  The Panthers have to get their running game going if they are going to be a serious threat this year, but I don’t necessarily think they need to do it this week.  I see Cam bouncing back and throwing for a pile of yards as the Panthers roll over the Bears.

Carolina 30, Chicago 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) @ Buffalo Bills (3-2)

Lost behind the loss of Aaron Rodgers was the shoulder injury of Jameis Winston.  It seems that he will be okay to go on the road against the Bills who always play teams tough at home.  The BYE week came at a good time for Buffalo as well because they got a chance to get healthy on offense.  This is a tough one to pick and I do think that it will end up being one of the best games of Week 7, but this time I am going to go with Tampa Bay.  Outside of LeSean McCoy there aren’t too many plays on the Buffalo offense for their opponents to sweat over.  The Bucs’ “D” will have to play better this week than they did last week, however.

Tampa Bay 31, Buffalo 29

New York Jets (3-3) @ Miami Dolphins (3-2)

In what I think is the most shocking result of the year, the Dolphins went into Atlanta and came back from 17 down to take a win away from the Falcons a week ago.  Now, after a much maligned start to the year, Miami is 3-2 and poised to go 4-2 against a Jet team that did give the Patriots a nice punch before falling.  I do think that the Dolphins are still trying to figure out who they are on offense, but their defense is a good unit and I think that’s going to be the difference in a close game.

Miami 22, New York 20

Tennessee Titans (3-3) @ Cleveland Browns (0-6)

In a wide open AFC South, the Titans need to take control of things if they hope to live up to the preseason hype.  They’re in a good spot to do this against a Browns team that is reeling and doesn’t look like they can beat anybody at the moment.  Yup, the Brownies are on 0-16 watch again and that talk will continue after the Titans come into town and run the ball right down their throat en route to a dominant win.

Tennessee 41, Cleveland 16

Sunday, October 22nd, 4:05 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (2-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (0-6)

Will Ezekiel Elliot be playing this week?  It looks like it as he has been granted permission to play in this game.  With that, I don’t seen any reason to believe that the Cowboys won’t bring their record back to .500.  I don’t see the Niners being as efficient on offense this week because they will not have the element of surprise this time around with new QB C.J. Beathard who did have a slightly above average game against Washington.  Unlike the Browns, however, the 49ers do have some good things to build off of in a winless season.  At least they are keeping their games interesting.

Dallas 26, San Francisco 17 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Sunday, October 22nd, 4:25 e.t.

Denver Broncos (3-2) @ Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)

Just when we were all starting to raise our eyebrows with the Broncos, they come home off of a BYE and get embarrassed by the New York Giants.  Now they hit the road and take on a Charger team that is beginning to get it’s bearings.  L.A.’s offense is still having difficulty finishing drives and that will have to change this week if they want to win.  Phil Rivers tends to play well against Denver, however, and I see that continuing here as the Chargers claw their way back in the AFC playoff picture.

Los Angeles 21, Denver 20

Seattle Seahawks (3-2) @ New York Giants (1-5)

The Giants finally got into the win column against the Broncos in a game that was largely dominated by their defense.  Go figure it came on the road in a tough place to play sans all of their best offensive players.  Good luck figuring this league out.  Anyways, do I see New York pulling off a second straight upset?  No, I do not.  I’m predicting the Seahawks to go on a bit of a run here with an NFC that is very much anybody’s for the taking.

Seattle 36, New York 19

Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)

I love the move of this game to Sunday afternoon because this should be an intense game pitting the surging Bengals and the Steelers who are fresh off of their somewhat surprising road win over KC.  The Steelers defense is becoming the strength of the team and it should show up strong here as Cincy and Pittsburgh typically produce low-scoring affairs.  Running game and defense will get the job done in the Steel City and I am going with the home team on that note.

Pittsburgh 23, Cincinnati 17

Sunday, October 22nd, 8:30 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (3-2) @ New England Patriots (4-2)

The Falcons just lost a close game to Miami a week ago at home while the Patriots closed out a tough road win over the Jets.  Now hosting the Falcons who are in a bit of a tailspin offensively, the Patriots look to regain their position of supremacy atop the AFC with a win.  However, their defense is still getting shredded by every opponent this year and that provides a good opportunity for the Falcons to have a get-well game on the road.  That said I’ve learned my lesson picking against the Pats in prime time in the past so I’m not doing it here.

New England 34, Atlanta 28

Monday, October 23rd, 8:30 e.t.

Washington Redskins (3-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)

The Eagles look like the best team in the NFC right now and have won games with their offense and their defense.  The Redskins always play Philly tough, but I don’t think that will give them a win on Monday night.  The ‘Skins are a little too banged up for me to like their chances going on the road and getting a “W”.  Not to mention, but I’ll mention, the Iggles tend to do pretty well on Monday Night Football, especially against Washington.

Philadelphia 32, Washington 24