Wildcard Weekend Predictions

379551_web1_copy_BillsBortlesRun1240After a regular season that for better or worse featured a little bit of everything, the NFL postseason is finally here. Unlike the other major sports, this is the only one with a “win or go home” playoff format so every game can be very compelling. In past years however, we’ve seen that doesn’t always mean the better team wins. Due to the nature of a seven game series in basketball, baring injuries or bad matchups the more talented team is likely going to win a seven game series. In football, all it takes is getting hot at the right time or a play here and there that could be the difference between a quick playoff exit or a Super Bowl title.

Last week: 10-6, Season: 167-89

Last week against the spread: 10-6, Season: 126-130

Titans 16 Chiefs (-9.5) 26: The Titans aren’t a team generating a ton of buzz right now, but they have some of the old playoff cliches working in their favor. They’ll likely try and establish the run game with Derrick Henry who will once again see increased volume with DeMarco Murray already ruled out. The Chiefs defense has been gashed of late, and  Henry should see 20 plus touches as long as the Titans are keeping it close.

Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense has been better at home this year and going into Arrowhead is no easy task for your first career playoff game. Despite that, the Titans do have some favorable matchups when they look to throw. Eric Decker and Delanie Walker have both proven they can do damage lined up in the slot, and the Chiefs slot corner Steven Nelson has had his share of struggles this season. Look for Mariota to target Decker and Walker early and often.

With Dick LeBeau, the Titans have a defensive coordinator with decades of postseason experience. While the Chiefs will look to continue having Kareem Hunt involved, it may not come through the ground. Since week 12 Titan opponents have averaged less than 3.5 yards a carry. Backs have been able to produce against the Titans in the passing game, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Hunt was more involved there than usual.

This has the makings of a nice matchup for Alex Smith as quarterbacks have fared well against the Titans defense this season. The likes of Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill provide a difficult challenge for a young but talented secondary. While the Titans have  prevented big pass plays this year,  stopping Hill vertically is easier said than done and Kelce might be the best tight end in the league at the moment. The ability of the Titans to get pressure on Smith will be the determining factor in this one as the Titan offense isn’t built to win shootouts.

Falcons 20 Rams (-6.5) 24: The defending NFC champion going up against this year’s feel good story has the makings to be a lot of fun. We all know about the offensive talent the Falcons have, but for whatever reason that hasn’t translated to points. Matt Ryan is still playing at a high level, but has a tough matchup against a tough Rams defense. Not surprisingly, Julio Jones should be called upon often in this one. Jones should be seeing a lot of Trumaine Johnson who is a bigger corner, but it’s a matchup Jones still should have the upper hand in.

The Rams have been vulnerable to wideouts who line up on the inside, so Mohamed Sanu is a player who could have a big impact if the Falcons decide to target that matchup. Against the run, the Rams have also had some struggles so it will be interesting to see how often Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are used even if it’s to keep the Ram offense off the field.

Some bad news for the Falcons is that Todd Gurley comes into this one with fresh legs. While the Falcons the past few months have been stout in run defense, opposing backs have racked up almost 800 receiving yards and six touchdown receptions against them. We’ve seen how dangerous Gurley can be in the passing game, and it’s certain he will be involved there again.

Gurley’s producing will also open things up for Jared Goff in his first playoff start. Don’t be surprised if Goff looks for Cooper Kupp early and often. Kupp will be running the majority of his routes against Brian Poole in the slot who per Pro Football Focus is allowing 1.49 yards per coverage snap. Kupp and Robert Woods are the likely bets to lead the Rams in receiving this game. This game has the makings of a potential shootout, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this one came down to the very end.

Bills 14 Jaguars (-9.5) 24: You wan’t a playoff atmosphere? Then you’ll want to watch what’s going on in Jacksonville this weekend as two teams with playoff droughts of a decade plus entering the game face off. The biggest question for the Bills will certainly be the status of LeSean McCoy. Dealing with an ankle injury, if McCoy is unable to play like himself it would hurt the Bills’ chances against a team who can be beat via the run.

The other question for the Bills is if any of their receivers will be able to create separation against the Jaguar secondary. Tyrod Taylor isn’t a quarterback who will throw a ton of balls into heavy traffic, so it will be interesting how much he looks for a player like Kelvin Benjamin who is at his best in jump ball situations.

For the Jaguars, it basically all comes down to Blake Bortles. We all know the defense is phenomenal and Leonard Fournette will get plenty of touches. But the ceiling for the team this year will be determined by Bortles’ mistakes or lack thereof. If Bortles is able to reestablish the rhythm he had in weeks 13-15, this game could get ugly quickly.

Panthers 21 Saints (-6.5) 26: Sweeping a team as talented the Panthers is a tough task, but now the Saints are needing to beat them a third time. The good news is unlike previous seasons, the Saints aren’t only reliant on Drew Brees and can get it done with the run game and the defensive side of the ball.

For the Panthers, it will be crucial to see which Cam Newton shows up for this one. He has thrown for less than 200 yards in seven of his last nine games, and his yards per pass attempt decreased for a third straight season. Fortunately, Christian McCaffrey has a nice matchup in this one as the Saints have allowed over 700 yards and five touchdowns through the air to opposing backs.

Except for their two games against the Saints, the Panthers were strong against the run so it will be interesting to see what run defense shows up. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are almost matchup proof at this point and should see their usual workloads. For whatever reason after their bye, the Panther pass defense has taken a turn for the worst allowing over 300 yards passing a game. The Saints ideally won’t have Brees throwing 50 times, but this could bode well in the event the Saints are in a two minute situation needing to score.

 

Advertisements
Posted in NFL, Picks against the spread, Playoff Predictions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2017 Fantasy Disappointments

59b728e9f1be1.imageWith most fantasy leagues finishing last week, we’ve seen some nice stories about fantasy players donating money to charities players who helped them win their title are involved with. Those are the picks or free agent pickups that can help swing a league. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the disappointing picks. They seemed like a good at the time, but you might have stuck with them for too long which dug your team in a hole. Players such as David Johnson who went down for the year before it began won’t be counted here.

Remember, at the end of the day the players are more disappointed in their performance than fantasy owners are and while there is skill involved in fantasy football, a lot of it comes down to luck as well. Due to so many of the top tight ends going down with injuries, I’ll also be adding a “flex” spot rather than picking a player who was sidelined the majority of the season. All preseason rankings and scoring totals mentioned are from ESPN in PPR format.

QB: Derek Carr, Raiders: Coming off a 2016 season that led to some MVP buzz before a season ending injury, Carr was a popular pick with the Raiders expected to light up scoreboards. Rated as the ninth fantasy quarterback entering the year, Carr with a game left sits 19th at the position. Carr’s stats are down around the board this year, and he suddenly will have a lot of questions to answer in 2018.

Oddly enough, this might of been the year to rely on streaming quarterbacks in fantasy. There are four quarterbacks who weren’t listed in ESPN’s preseason top 20 who are on pace to finish inside the top 15 at the position: Alex Smith, Jared Goff, Blake Bortles and Case Keenum.

RB: Jay Ajayi, Dolphins/Eagles: The “Jay Train” was full steam ahead after a 2016 that gave him lead back duties in Miami where he became a top fantasy performer piling on big yardage and touchdowns. Expected to see major volume over a full year in a potent offense, Ajayi was a popular pick for many in the first round and ESPN had Ajayi rated as the ninth highest running back entering the year.

Things got off to a rocky start in Miami which led to a trade to the Eagles. While that helped Ajayi’s chances of reaching the postseason, he was now a member of a crowded backfield. With a game remaining Ajayi is 31st among running backs in fantasy points scored. While he has been efficient with his touches, a large part of his scoring downfall has been the two touchdowns scored to this point. Considering Ajayi will have all offseason to get settled in the Eagle offense, he could be a nice bounce back candidate in 2018.

RB: Isaiah Crowell, Browns: Crowell entered 2017 as a potential breakout fantasy star. He had a career year in 2016, playing for his next contract and the Browns invested a nice chunk of money in their offensive line. Some also thought the Browns could be in position to chew up clock when holding onto the lead this year. Well, a lot of that ended up being wrong.

With a game remaining, Crowell is 28th in fantasy points scored and has yet to see more than 20 carries in a game. Then again, when the team is averaging five yards a pop on the ground and can have DeShone Kizer let it rip for 15 play stretches you have to do it. Lack of touchdowns was a theme for Crowell as well with just two for the season. Where he ends up in 2018 could have major fantasy implications.

WR: Jordy Nelson, Packers: While Nelson has had a very nice career, it was pretty eye opening that ESPN had rated him as their fourth wideout ahead of players such as A.J. Green. Nelson always has had big numbers when Aaron Rodgers is at the helm, but saw a dip in production when that wasn’t the case.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened this year. Before Rodgers broke his collarbone, Nelson accumulated six touchdowns in his first four games played but his fantasy production came to a screeching halt after week six. Since then, Nelson has yet to top 40 yards in a game and for the year is now averaging less than ten yards a catch. Currently 43rd at the position in points scored, Nelson would be best served as a touchdown dependent WR2 or 3 next season.

WR: Terrelle Pryor, Redskins: After an impressive 2016 with the Browns, Pryor signed a prove-it deal with the Redskins to potentially be their number one receiver in the absence of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon leaving. Featured in a prolific passing attack with the ability to do plenty of damage in the redzone, Pryor was a popular fantasy pick and was rated as ESPN’s number 14 receiver entering the year.

Things didn’t go as planned. Pryor tried playing through a foot injury, and eventually was placed on IR and his presence or lack of impacted plenty of fantasy teams. In nine games, he hauled in 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown. That total currently has him sitting 101st at the position in points scored. The receiver ranked directly behind Pryor in those preseason rankings was DeAndre Hopkins.

Flex: Mike Evans, Buccaneers: This was a two man race between Evans and Amari Cooper, but the opportunity cost is what won it for Evans here. Rated as ESPN’s 5th receiver and eighth player overall, fantasy owners would have needed to most likely spend a top ten pick to nab the extremely talented receiver. Considering that he was Jameis Winston’s favorite target, the Buccaneers expecting to put up points with ease, and a traditional “Hard Knocks” bump it seemed like a pick well spent.

While still productive, Evans has not lived up to the billing of what it would cost to draft him. With a game remaining, he ranks 18th among receivers in fantasy points scored and just didn’t seem to get on the same page with Winston as often as we’ve become accustomed to. Regardless, Evans is 54 yards away from another 1,000 yard season and the talent is still very apparent. He could bounce back in a major way in 2018.

Posted in fantasy football, NFL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week 17 Predictions

Cam NewtonLast week was a decent showing for my predictions but now we enter one of if not the toughest week of the regular season to predict. With only a few games having playoff implications, many teams who have already clinched will be playing their regulars sparingly or not at all. Some are doing this as they’ve already maxed out their potential playoff seeding, while others such as the Rams seem to be going about it to line up a more favorable second round matchup if they did advance. Regardless, fans are in for a treat Sunday as it will be the last 16 game slate of the season.

Last week: 11-5, Season: 157-83

Last week against the spread: 7-9, Season: 116-124

Game of the weak: Texans vs Colts: Since division realignment in 2002, these are the two teams who since its inception have captured the AFC South title. Now, they’re both playing in week 17 with quarterbacks who weren’t on the roster to start the season.  With five different quarterbacks taking snaps and some key blows on the defensive side of the ball, this is a year the Texans would like to forget. The good news is Deshaun Watson before his injury did show plenty of reasons to be excited about the future.

The Colts season rested on the shoulder of Andrew Luck, and even before being shutdown it became inevitable that he’d be shutdown. While the Colts did add some nice pieces on the defensive side of the ball, their best bet to relevance will come through taking advantage of the draft capital they’ll be given. The hardest thing to find is a franchise quarterback and assuming Luck is fully recovered that’s already in place. Texans 17 Colts (-5.5) 24

Game of the week: Panthers vs Falcons: With the Panthers playing for a potential division title and the Falcons having a “win and in” scenario, you can’t ask for much more than this. It may not be a coincidence at this point that the Panthers are now 6-1 since trading away Kelvin Benjamin. Remember, their 2015 run to the Super Bowl also happened to occur when Benjamin suffered a season ending ACL tear in training camp. Since the trade, Cam Newton has thrown 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions while he threw for 10 touchdowns with 11 interceptions prior.

While the Panther offense is clicking, the same can’t be said for the Falcons. They’ve shown glimpses over the course of the season, but Steve Sarkisian just hasn’t gotten the same production out of this group. If Matt Ryan and company struggle this week, it will be interesting to see if coaching changes are made on that side of the ball in the offseason. Panthers 21 Falcons (-4.5) 24

Cowboys 26 Eagles (+3.5) 16

Browns 20 Steelers (-7.5) 24

Bears 16 Vikings (-11.5) 28

Jets 17 Patriots (-15.5) 33

Packers 21 Lions (-6.5) 26

Redskins 24 Giants (+3.5) 17

Raiders 20 Chargers (-7.5) 28

49ers 26 Rams (+3.5) 20

Jaguars 24 Titans (-3.5) 20

Chiefs 21 Broncos (-3.5) 23

Saints 28 Buccaneers (+6.5) 21

Bengals 16 Ravens (-9.5) 24

Bills 24 Dolphins (+2.5) 23

Cardinals 20 Seahawks (-9.5) 28

 

 

 

Posted in NFL, Picks against the spread, Week 17 Predictions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week 16 Fantasy Surprises

eric-ebron-landon-collinsLast week was a boom-or-bust one for my fantasy surprises, but the ones that hit did so in a big way. Blake Bortles was one of the better fantasy quarterbacks in week 15, while Robbie Gould poured in six field goals. Unless you’re playing daily fantasy this week, odds are that this is the week of your fantasy championship game. If you made it, congratulations. At this point, my advice would be don’t overthink things as hindsight is always 20/20, and stick with the stars who have gotten you to this point.

QB: Nick Foles vs Raiders: Players like Foles are why the dilemma of “stick with your stars” can get confusing. Last week, there was a chance you could have played Tom Brady who turned in a below average fantasy week by his standards and lost, while picking up Foles off the waiver wire would’ve likely led you to victory. Oddly enough, this is a year where simply streaming your quarterbacks could have been a better idea than investing heavy draft capital.

This week, Foles should be counted on again as the Eagles are still playing for something, and the Raiders have been very generous against the pass. Depending on how active teams in consolation games are in your league, Foles might be available. If he is, the matchup is worth playing if you face QB uncertainty. Expect around 250 yards and three touchdowns.

RB: Latavius Murray vs Packers: Despite being in a committee with Jerick McKinnon, Murray has seen 15 plus touches in five of his six games since the Vikings bye week. The only game he didn’t was the loss to the Panthers where Case Keenum was in comeback mode. This week Murray gets a Packer defense that has allowed a dozen touchdowns to opposing backs, and there is a chance for 20 plus touches if the Vikings get out to an early lead. Expect around 90 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Keelan Cole vs 49ers: Cole burst out in a huge way last week, but don’t start thinking he is a one game wonder. The undrafted rookie has big time speed, and on the day I went to Jaguar training camp this summer he was consistently making contested one handed catches over defenders. This week with Marqise Lee out, Cole should see at least six to eight targets in a matchup that appears to be very favorable. With a big game this Sunday, Cole has the chance to enter Fantasy football lore and be described in reverential terms by fantasy players for years. Expect around 80 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Eric Ebron vs Bengals: Don’t look now, but Ebron has been progressing of late. With 27 catches in his last five games, he looks much more comfortable catching the ball and is making the most of his targets. The Bengals linebacker corps has been decimated by injuries, so it wouldn’t be surprising if once again Ebron finds himself heavily involved in the offense. He could make for a nice streaming option at a thin position this week. Expect around 60 yards and a touchdown.

K: Phil Dawson vs Giants: As those who have read these before might know, I tend to target opportunity most when it comes to kickers. Over the past two weeks, you can’t have much more than Dawson whose nine field goals have accounted for all of the Cardinals points in that span. Drew Stanton might have more success moving the ball than Blaine Gabbert, but against a vulnerable Giant defense, Dawson will still get his chances. Expect around three field goals and two extra points.

DEF: Bears vs Browns: The Bears fantasy defense hasn’t been a very reliable option, but they have performed better at home. That is where they’ll be squaring off against the Browns. With DeShone Kizer’s turnover tendencies in the redzone, this matchup could pay off in a big way if you stream your fantasy defenses. Plus, there is always the special teams factor as you’d receive points in the event Tarik Cohen took a punt back for a touchdown. Expect around three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.

Posted in fantasy football, NFL, sleepers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week 16 Predictions

JAGUA1-1024x778.jpgLast week was a very good one for my predictions straight up, but another struggle against the spread. These last two weeks could be tough to predict as there’s no telling how teams out of contention will show up, and what teams will start resting players for the postseason. Entering this weekend, five playoff spots and four divisions have been clinched. The NFL likes to pride itself on parody among teams and if you enjoy that, this is shaping up to be a season for you. If the season ended today, eight of the 12 playoff teams wouldn’t have made it in 2016. Change can be a good thing and these different franchises breaking through would also provide hope for fans whose teams don’t have much to play for at this time.

Last week: 14-2, Season: 146-78

Last week against the spread: 6-10, Season: 109-115

Game of the weak: Browns vs Bears: Could this be another Christmas Eve miracle for the Browns? The potential is there as the defense is an underrated group against the run while that has been the Bears’ most effective way of moving the ball. Also John Fox at times seems to be playing not to lose in close games which could benefit the Browns here. One of the many issues with the Browns this season has been Hue Jackson’s play calling.

Even in close games, Jackson has simply abandoned the run at times. The Browns along with putting money into the offensive line, also have two capable backs in Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. Yet, there have been many instances where Jackson tries to have DeShone Kizer do it all. That isn’t a healthy situation for any young quarterback (just look at what the threat of the run has done for Blake Bortles this year) and the franchise has put on a clinic of how not to handle a rookie signal caller. Kizer might not get another chance with the franchise as a starter, and if the Browns want to move on they’ll have to evaluate if Jackson is someone they can trust with their next highly touted quarterback prospect. Browns 17 Bears (-6.5) 20

Game of the week: Falcons vs Saints: Thanks to head-to-head wins, the Falcons clinch a playoff spot with a win in either of the next two weeks. Despite sitting at 9-5, you could say this has been a disappointing season given the talent they have while also a lucky one at the same time. We all know how the offense hasn’t lit up the scoreboard as they did last year, but even on defense key pieces like Vic Beasley haven’t had the same impact. After leading the league in sacks a year ago, Beasley missed time due to injury but also hasn’t seemed to improve as a pass rusher. Last year he capitalized on his quarterback pressures at a ridiculous rate, but things haven’t gone that way in 2017.

Then there’s how they’ve won. With a point differential of 36, if that stood over the next two weeks, that mark is more reflective of a .500 team. But that’s where some luck comes into play. The Falcons have won two games by opponents missing field goals that would send a game to overtime, one by a overturned touchdown (which while correctly called, was an extremely typical way for the Lions to lose), and then an uncharacteristic Drew Brees interception in Falcon territory when the Saints were down three. Two of those are why the Falcons would clinch a playoff spot with one more win, and the other could determine the NFC South. All I know is the fans of these two teams don’t like each other, Alvin Kamara figures to fully play in this one, and the Superdome is going to be rocking. Can’t ask for much more in a battle of these two teams. Falcons 24 Saints (-5.5) 28

Colts 13 Ravens (-13.5) 27

Vikings 27 Packers (+9.5) 17

Buccaneers 17 Panthers (-10.5) 28

Lions 24 Bengals (+5.5) 20

Dolphins 16 Chiefs (-10.5) 27

Bills 20 Patriots (-11.5) 33

Chargers 28 Jets (+6.5) 16

Rams 30 Titans (+6.5) 20

Broncos 21 Redskins (-3.5) 17

Jaguars 26 49ers (+4.5) 20

Giants 20 Cardinals (-3.5) 21

Seahawks 23 Cowboys (-5.5) 26

Steelers 27 Texans (+9.5) 17

Raiders 17 Eagles (-9.5) 30

Posted in NFL, Picks against the spread, Week 16 predictions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week 15 Fantasy Surprises

mike-davis-seahawks-eagles-Edited-620x370Last week was a solid one for my fantasy surprises as while nobody put up exceptional numbers, many of the guys I selected were more than serviceable options. Jimmy Garoppolo, Giovani Bernard, Marquise Goodwin and Travis Coons all were contributors at their respective positions. If you advanced in your year long fantasy league, congrats on making the final four or championship game. Your savvy on the waiver wire and in the draft I’m sure was very helpful to your season.

If you didn’t make it, well there is always next year but that doesn’t mean the fantasy season is over. Daily fantasy will be an option to get your fix over the next few weeks.

QB: Blake Bortles vs Texans: Don’t look now, but Bortles has been a top ten fantasy quarterback in each of the past three weeks. While he may not ever become a fantastic real life option, Bortles limiting turnovers and contributing with his legs has really helped the past few weeks. The good times could continue this Sunday as the Texan defense has struggled all year against the pass. If you’re looking for a quarterback in daily formats who could make a big difference in tournaments, Bortles is your guy. Expect around 260 total yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Mike Davis vs Rams: Davis is among a handful of backs who have started a game for the Seahawks, but he’s making the most of his chances. In each of his last two games, Davis has seen 15 plus touches and has averaged a little over 80 total yards. Now he gets a Ram defense that has been vulnerable against the run in a game that could be a shootout. If you’re in need of a flex option or second back in deeper leagues, Davis could provide a big boost. Expect around 90 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Mohamed Sanu vs Buccaneers: The Buccaneers’ inability to stop Julio Jones has been well documented, but Sanu the last time these teams played had a game in his own right. He hauled in eight of the nine targets thrown his way, and also threw a 51 yard touchdown pass to Jones. The Bucs will surely try and throw more defenders at Jones, which opens things up even more for Sanu. While he has yet to clear 100 yards in a game, Sanu does have five touchdowns and his six plus targets a game make him a safe bet in PPR leagues. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Jared Cook vs Cowboys: As we’re all aware, the Raider passing attack has been extremely frustrating to all fans this year but especially those who participate in fantasy. In what would have seemed crazy to say back in August, Cook (who can still be frustrating due to inconsistent performances) is their leading receiver. With Amari Cooper looking doubtful to suit up, Cook will most likely be Derek Carr’s second option on Sunday night.

The Cowboys have had some difficulty covering tight ends, so at a thin position Cook is worth a look.  Especially when factoring in that he should see at least a handful of passes thrown his way. Expect around 50 yards and a touchdown.

K: Robbie Gould vs Titans: The 49ers have moved the ball much more successfully with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback. However, due to an inexperienced and banged up supporting cast, that hasn’t turned into touchdowns. That’s why Gould in the past two weeks has made a whopping nine field goals. For kickers all you can ask for is opportunity, and Gould’s certainly had that. The Titans defense has aspects that are vulnerable, so Gould should be in play for all formats. Expect around three field goals and two extra points.

DEF: Giants vs Eagles: This play isn’t one for the faint of heart, but if you’re a risk taker who doesn’t have faith in Nick Foles, the potential payoff is big. To take pressure off Foles, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Eagles emphasized the ground game early on. Run defense is an area where the Giants defense remains pretty strong. When Foles drops backs to pass is what will be the ultimate factor. He doesn’t offer the out of the pocket ability of Carson Wentz, but the strong supporting cast against a banged up Giant secondary is still there. If you’re not a believer in Foles, this defense is one that could swing your daily fantasy lineup at a cheap price. Expect around two sacks and an interception.

 

Posted in fantasy football, NFL, sleepers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week 15 Predictions

102316patsnl23

Photo Credit: Nancy Lane, Boston Herald

Week 14 was a rough one for my predictions, but hopefully as the playoffs get closer I’ll be able to get back on track. With two games on Saturday, we as fans will now have football in our lives for the next three days, and it’s a great time to be a fan. To this point, only two playoff spots (and two division titles) have been claimed so there is certainly a lot on the line for teams who see themselves as playoff contenders.

Last week: 9-7, Season: 132-76

Last week against the spread: 5-11, Season: 103-105

Game of the weak: Cardinals vs Redskins: This matchup is the only one this upcoming weekend that doesn’t feature a team vying for a playoff spot. After a 2016 where they were hit hard by injuries, the Cardinals had it happen again in 2017. In most years, sitting at 6-7 they would have a slim chance of the postseason if they won out, but the NFC is just too deep this season. They could use this game to further evaluate Blaine Gabbert’s future with the franchise.

Like the Cardinals, the Redskins have also been decimated by injuries and as a result have dropped four of their last five games. At one point or another, the Redskins have to decide what they want to do with Kirk Cousins. With no immediate answer that would be better, the franchise if they want to remain competitive the next few years could have no choice but to offer what he’d get on the open market. Cousins may not be a superstar quarterback, but he’s certainly a serviceable option in a league without much of a middle ground at the position. Cardinals 17 Redskins (-4.5) 20

Game of the week: Patriots vs Steelers: As the game that could ultimately decide the one seed in the AFC, I didn’t have much of a choice with this one. The Patriots come in off a surprising Monday night loss which the Dolphins clearly were waiting all season for, but that usually bodes well for them. In today’s social media climate, we love instant reactions and many can be over the top. Sure Tom Brady and the Patriots offense struggled, but writing them off after one game just gives outlets like “Old Takes Exposed” that much more material for when they bounce back.

The Steeler offense has always seemed to perform better at home, and it’s no coincidence the passing attack has really clicked with three of their last four games in Heinz Field. Antonio Brown is producing at a historic rate, and with Le’Veon Bell also seeing so much volume it will be interesting to see who Bill Belichick and company key in on eliminating from the offense as both see such a high volume of touches. Overall I feel the loss of Ryan Shazier could be too much to overcome for the Steelers on defense. Between the running backs catching passes out of the backfield and Rob Gronkowski returning, the Patriots will look to capitalize on opportunities over the middle of the field. Patriots 31 Steelers (+3.5) 27

Bears 20 Lions (-5.5) 24

Chargers 26 Chiefs (+1.5) 23

Dolphins 17 Bills (-3.5) 21

Ravens 24 Browns (+7.5) 16

Bengals 14 Vikings (-10.5) 26

Jets 13 Saints (-16.5) 30

Eagles 23 Giants (+7.5) 16

Packers 24 Panthers (-3.5) 26

Texans 14 Jaguars (-11.5) 27

Rams 24 Seahawks (-2.5) 28

Titans 20 49ers (-2.5) 23

Cowboys 26 Raiders (+3.5) 21

Falcons 28 Buccaneers (+6.5) 21

 

 

Posted in NFL, Picks against the spread, week 15 predictions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment