Author Archives: scottj326

About scottj326

I write for my job and figured I'd write a blog in my free time.

MLB Hot Stove: Ohtani to the Angels, Stanton in pinstripes

It’s been more than a month since the Astros won their first World Series title, but it’s been a slow start to player signings and trades in the offseason. Part of that is probably teams and players waiting to see where the winter’s two biggest available names — Japanese sensation Shohei Otani and reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton — would land. They have now both found new homes in the last two days, which means the hot stove should start to heat up, especially with the Winter Meetings now upon us.

Ohtani was the first domino of the two to fall, signing with the Angels on Friday. Earlier in the week, his camp announced that he had narrowed his choice to seven teams, and the Mariners were thought by many to be the frontrunners of that group. The 23-year-old, who comes to Major League Baseball from Japan’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, signed a six-year deal with the AL West runners-up that will pay him just $2.3 million (with a $20 million posting fee paid to his former team) due to the way MLB’s international free agency rules work.

Ohtani has been referred to as the Babe Ruth of Japan for his ability to both pitch and hit. Joining an American League team gives him the chance to hit as a DH on some days when he isn’t the starting pitcher. He was hampered by injuries last season, but Ohtani was named the MVP of Japan’s Pacific League in 2016. That season, he went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA on the mound and at the plate he hit .322 with 22 home runs and a 1.004 OPS. Joining an Angels rotation that includes SPs Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker, Ohtani is expected to serve as the No. 1 guy in the rotation. Offensively, he’s joining former MVPs Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Pujols has served as the team’s DH in the majority of the games he’s played over the last two years, but if Ohtani is in that role a couple games a week, that will force Pujols to play first base more often, which could hurt the team defensively as he will be 38 years old by Opening Day on March 29.

The other coveted player who was expected to be on the move this winter was Stanton. News came out Saturday morning that the Marlins reached an agreement in principle, pending physicals, to send the right fielder and approximately $30 million to the Yankees in exchange for 2B Starlin Castro and minor leaguers Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers. Stanton had a full no-trade clause so could choose where he wanted to go. He would not waive his no-trade clause to the Giants or Cardinals. His first choice was reportedly to go to the Dodgers, but they couldn’t agree to terms of a deal with the Marlins. The Yankees were reported to be second on Stanton’s wish list, and they were able to reach a deal with the Marlins’ new co-owner Derek Jeter.

Stanton hit .289 last season with a MLB-best 59 home runs and 132 RBI on the way to earning the first NL MVP  honors of his eight-year career. Over that time, he is a .268 hitter with 267 home runs and 672 RBI. He does have a history of missing time with injuries, however. He played in 159 games last season, the first time he surpassed 150 games played in his career; he played 119 in 2016 and just 74 in 2015. Going to the AL could help his durability as it gives him a chance to take a break from playing the field and settle in at DH some days, but the Yankees have other players who split time in that role.

Stanton joins a Yankees lineup that includes OF Aaron Judge, who hit 52 home runs in his rookie season in 2017, and C Gary Sanchez, who launched 33 homers in 122 games last season. There’s no question that the Yankees have power hitters in their lineup but also some guys who strike out a lot — including Judge who led  the majors in that category last season.

Other transactions that have been made since the conclusion of the World Series include the Diamondbacks trading for RP Brad Boxberger, the Mariners acquiring 1B Ryon Healy in a trade with the A’s, the Rangers signing Ps Doug Fister and Mike Minor, the Tigers signing P Mike Fiers and OF Leonys Martin and the Cubs inking P Tyler Chatwood. The Mariners also traded for 2B Dee Gordon and international signing money from the Marlins in a deal that was thought to help them land Ohtani, which of course didn’t come to pass.

The Winter Meetings, which is traditionally when a lot of signings and trades happen, begin in Orlando on Sunday and last through Thursday. Notable free agents still on the market include pitchers Yu Darvish, Wade Davis, Jake Arrieta, Greg Holland, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Brandon Morrow, CC Sabathia, Jaime Garcia and position players J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jay Bruce, Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Gonzalez, Jonathan Lucroy and Mitch Moreland.

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My NFL Picks Week 14: Eagles face the Rams in a battle of NFC elites

For the second straight week, there are some big games in the NFC playoff picture in Week 14. It starts on Thursday night with the Saints visiting the Falcons, and it continues Sunday with the Eagles looking to bounce back from their loss to the Seahawks to take on the Rams in Los Angeles. Other games of note include the Panthers hosting the Vikings and a Sunday night AFC North matchup between the Ravens and Steelers in Pittsburgh. I went 9-7 last week, giving me an overall record of 104-88 for the season. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red

Thursday Night Football

Saints at Falcons (+0.5) – The Saints offense continues to roll with rookie RB Alvin Kamara making his case to earn Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. He is providing a boost to future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. For the Falcons,’WR Julio Jones had a fairly quiet game last week after a strong performance in Week 12. I expect the Saints to win, so I’ll take them in what is essentially a pick ’em.

Sunday 1PM games

Colts at Bills (-3.5) – With QB Tyrod Taylor having suffered an injury last week, Nathan Peterman will be under center for the Bills this week, which didn’t go well last time he started. Given Peterman’s poor performance a few weeks ago, I don’t expect the Bills to score a lot of points so Colts QB Jacoby Brissett should be able to keep his team in the game. The Bills may win the game, but I’m taking the points.

Bears at Bengals (-6.5)The Bengals came close to beating the Steelers on Monday night, but RB Joe Mixon left the game early with an injury and may miss this week’s game with the Bears. That shouldn’t prevent the Bengals from winning the game, however.

Packers at Browns (+3.5) – This could be Brett Hundley‘s last start as the Packers’ quarterback before Aaron Rodgers‘ potential return in Week 15. If this is Hunley’s last game, he has a relatively easy opponent in the 0-12 Browns. Browns WR Josh Gordon had a good performance in his return from his lengthy suspension last week, but he won’t be enough to help the Browns pick up their first win. I’m giving the points.

Cowboys at Giants (+4.5) – The Giants’ soap opera continued this week with the firing of head coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese. Eli Manning will return to the starting quarterback role after Geno Smith played last week. For the Cowboys, RB Alfred Morris had a big week last week. If he can follow it up with another 100-yard performance, it’ll help the Cowboys pick up a much-needed win. I’ll take the road team.

Lions at Buccaneers (+3.5) – Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston performed well in his return to the field in Week 13 but he has a tough task ahead of him to keep up with the Lions offense led by QB Matthew Stafford. I think the Lions win the game but the Bucs keep it close so I’ll take the points.

Raiders at Chiefs (-3.5) This is an important game in the AFC West race, particularly for the Chiefs, who have gone 1-6 since their 5-0 start to the season. Chiefs QB Alex Smith has regressed in recent weeks and if the Chiefs fall out of the playoff picture, they may choose to get a look at backup QB Patrick Mahomes. This game could go either way so I’ll take the points with the Raiders, who I’m also picking to win the game outright.

Vikings at Panthers (+2.5) – The Vikings are looking to stay alive in the race for the top seed in the conference as QB Case Keenum leads them into Charlotte to take on the Panthers and QB Cam Newton, who faces a tough test against a Vikings defense that ranks among the best in the NFL. I think the Vikings D will be too much for the Panthers to overcome and the Vikes will pick up their 11th win of the season. I’ll give the points.

49ers at Texans (-2.5)49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo did well in his first start for the team last week and he’ll try to follow that up with another good game against the Texans. He’s going against a better opposing quarterback than last week, though, in Tom Savage, who has improved in recent weeks compared to when he first took over as the starter when Deshaun Watson suffered his season-ending injury several weeks ago. I think the Texans win the game and cover at home.

Sunday 4PM games

Jets at Broncos (+0.5) – The Broncos have lost their last eight games and now face a Jets team that is looking for a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Jets QB Josh McCown has had some good games in the last few weeks and I think he’ll be able to continue that streak this week against a Broncos defense that has regressed of late. I’ll go with the Jets on the road.

Titans at Cardinals (+2.5) – I don’t think the Titans are as good as their 8-4 record would indicate they are, with QB Marcus Mariota having a down year. The Cardinals, however, are beset by injuries that are forcing QB Blaine Gabbert to continue to start and RB Adrian Peterson is expected to miss another game due to injury. The Cardinals offense just isn’t very good as it currently stands, aside from WR Larry Fitzgerald, so I have to go with the Titans.

Redskins at Chargers (-6.5) – The Chargers are trying to keep pace in the three-way race for the AFC West title against a Redskins team that will again be without oft-injured TE Jordan Reed. I think the Chargers win the game, but I think it’ll be relatively close so I’ll go with the Redskins to cover.

Eagles at Rams (-2.5) – The Eagles stayed on the West Coast after last week’s loss to the Seahawks to avoid having to take two cross-country flights this week, which they hope benefits them in this game between two teams hoping to get first-round byes in the NFC playoffs. i think the Eagles are a slightly better team and I trust Carson Wentz a little more than Jared Goff at quarterback, so I think the Eagles will win the game outright. Given that, I’m taking the points on the road.

Seahawks at Jaguars (-2.5) – The Jaguars will have to be at the top of their game to win this game because Jacksonville’s offense can’t match up with the Seahawks. Despite some notable injuries, the Seahawks still have a decent offense that will likely be able to shut down Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, leaving it up to RB Leonard Fournette to lead the offensive attack. I don’t think he’ll be able to do enough to get the win for his team. Seahawks win outright so I’ll take the points again.

Sunday Night Football

Ravens at Steelers (-5.5) – The games in this divisional rivalry are usually close and the Steelers almost lost on Monday night so the Bengals, who aren’t as good as the Ravens, so I expect this game to be decided by about a field goal or so. I’m taking the Ravens, but I think the Steelers win the game.

Monday Night Football

Patriots at Dolphins (+11.5) The Patriots will be without TE Rob Gronkowski on Monday night as he serves a one-game suspension for a late hit in last week’s game, which puts the offense at a disadvantage. QB Tom Brady still has some good targets to throw to, including WR Brandin Cooks, and the Patriots should still win the game even without Gronk. On the road in Miami, though, I think 11.5 is too many points so I’ll take the points with the Dolphins.

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My NFL Picks Week 13: Two of the NFC’s best teams meet when the Eagles visit the Seahawks

There are some big games scheduled for this week in the NFC with playoff contenders playing each other, with the Vikings visiting the Falcons, the Saints hosting the Panthers and the Eagles meeting the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. The week starts, however, with a matchup of disappointing NFC East teams when the Cowboys host the Redskins. I went 7-9 last week, giving me an overall record of 95-81 for the season. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red

Thursday Night Football

Redskins at Cowboys (-1.5) – It’s surprising to see the Cowboys favored in this game. They have failed to score more than nine points in each of their last three games, and the Dallas offense has not looked good without RB Ezekiel Elliott, who is in the midst of serving his six-game suspension. Even though it’s a Thursday game, neither team is on a short week because both teams played on Thanksgiving so being on the road midweek shouldn’t be an issue for the Redskins. I expect Washington to win outright, so I’ll take the points.

Sunday 1PM games

Vikings at Falcons (-2.5) – The Vikings take a seven-game win streak into Atlanta to take on the defending NFC champion Falcons, who haven’t been the same team this season. The Vikings offense has performed well behind QB Case Keenum, but the defense has also played a big role in the team’s success this season. On the other side, Falcons WR Julio Jones had his best game of the year, with a 253-yard, two-touchdown performance. The teams are pretty evenly matched, but I think the Vikings may be slightly better so I’ll take the points.

Patriots at Bills (+8.5) – Tyrod Taylor is back at quarterback for the Bills, but that won’t help them much against the Patriots, with QB Tom Brady leading the offense and a strong defense. I expect the Patriots to win big so I’ll take,the road team.

49ers at Bears (-3.5) – The 49ers have announced that QB Jimmy Garoppolo will make his first start for the team, which is a difficult task against a pretty good Bears defense. The Bears offense, on the other hand, has struggled this season behind QB Mitch Trubisky. With Garoppolo getting the start for the 49ers, though, I think the Bears will be able to score enough to win and barely cover.

Broncos at Dolphins (-0.5)This is a meeting of two teams who have not done well this season. Dolphins QB Jay Cutler is out of the concussion protocol and is expected to start after Matt Moore played last week. QB Brock Osweiler is expected to draw the start once again for the Broncos, which isn’t necessarily a good thing for them. I’ll give the home team the advantage and go with the Dolphins.

Lions at Ravens (-2.5) – The Ravens beat the Texans on Monday night but face a better offense this week with the LIons and QB Matthew Stafford. I don’t think Ravens QB Joe Flacco will be able to score enough to keep the Ravens in the game so I’ll take the LIons with the points.

Buccaneers at Packers (-2.5) Packers QB Brett Hundley played perhaps his best game of the season last week, barely losing to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. For the Buccaneers, QB Jameis Winston has been named the starter, returning to action after Ryan Fitzpatrick has started in his absence for the last few games. I don’t think the Bucs are very good right now and Winston will probably be rusty and not at 100% so I’ll reluctantly take the Packers at Lambeau.

Texans at Titans (-6.5) – With injuries to QB Deshaun Watson and DE J.J. Watt, the Texans aren’t a great team right now and they’re facing the first-place team in their division this week. Titans QB Marcus Mariota hasn’t been good this year, but he’s still better than his counterpart, Tom Savage, so I expect the Titans to win and I think they can be a touchdown better so I’ll give the points.

Colts at Jaguars (-9.5) – The other two AFC South teams are meeting in this game, with the Jaguars nearly double-digit favorites. After losing to the Cardinals last week, I’m not confident that Blake Bortles and the Jaguars will be able to cover that type of spread despite having one of the best defenses in the league. I’ll go with the Colts.

Chiefs at Jets (+3.5)- The Chiefs have lost three straight and five of their last six after beginning the season 5-0. I think they get back on track against the Jets. The defense should be able to keep the Jets offense from scoring a lot, which means Chiefs QB Alex Smith won’t be much of a handicap for the team if he keeps playing the way he has been of late. Give me the Chiefs on the road.

Sunday 4PM games

Browns at Chargers (-13.5) – It’s Week 13 but the Browns are still looking for their first win of the season. A few weeks ago, I would have thought they could get it against the Chargers, but they have been playing better of late so I’m not so sure the Browns will be able to pull off the win on the road. One thing working in Cleveland’s favor is the fact that they will have WR Josh Gordon for the first time since Week 16 of the 2014 season. With nearly three full years since the last time he played in a regular season NFL game, I’m not sure if Gordon will be able to play at the level he did before he started facing suspensions by the league. I think QB Philip Rivers will lead the Chargers to victory, but I don’t think they can win by two touchdowns to cover the spread so I’ll take the points despite expecting the Browns to fall to 0-12.

Giants at Raiders (-6.5) This will be the first regular season Giants game since Week 10 of the 2004 season to be started by a quarterback other than Eli Manning after the team announced that it will bench the veteran — ending his consecutive starts streak at 210, the second longest in NFL history behind Brett Favre — in favor of Geno Smith, making his first start since Week 7 of last season. The Raiders will be shorthanded on offense, with WR Michael Crabtree suspended for the game and WR Amari Cooper likely missing the game due to injury. If the receivers can’t go, that gives the Giants a better shot to win the game, but I don’t think Smith can be trusted to play well enough to win. I’ll go with the Raiders.

Rams at Cardinals (+6.5) – Both teams are coming off of wins last weekend, but the Rams’ victory over the Saints was more impressive than the Cardinals barely pulling off the upset of the Jaguars. The Rams are clearly the better team and I don’t think the game will be that close. I’ll give the points.

Panthers at Saints (-3.5)It’ll be a tough test for Panthers QB Cam Newton to keep up with the strong Saints offense led by QB Drew Brees and impressive rookie RB Alvin Kamara in this key game in the NFC South race. The Saints are the better overall team and I think they’ll be able to cover.

Sunday Night Football

Eagles at Seahawks (+5.5) – The Eagles, who are among the best teams in the league, head to take on a Seahawks team with a defense that has been depleted by injuries. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will have to have a tremendous game to be able to keep up with Eagles QB Carson Wentz, and I don’t think he’ll be able to do it.,Go with the Eagles.

Monday Night Football

Steelers at Bengals (+6.5) – The Steelers barely got passed the Packers last week but I don’t think they’ll have such troubles with the Bengals on Monday night. I think Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell are too good and the Bengals offense won’t be able to score enough points to keep the game close, despite last week’s breakout performance by RB Joe Mixon. I’m giving the points on the road.

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My NFL Picks Week 12: Saints-Rams leads a weak Thanksgiving weekend

With byes done for the year, there are full 16-game slates each week the rest of the year. This week features the now-traditional three games on Thanksgiving, including a battle of the top two teams in the NFC North. The game of the week, however, is looking to be Drew Brees leading the Saints to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in a game between two of the top teams in the NFC. Most of the rest of this week’s schedule features either mismatches or games involving two teams that are already out of the playoff hunt. I went 8-6 last week, giving me an overall record of 88-72 for the season. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red


Vikings at Lions (+2.5) – The Vikings are coming off an impressive win against the Rams and are looking to maintain their division lead over the Lions, which currently stands at two games. They’re facing a road game on a short week, but I think QB Case Keenum and the Vikings will be able to full up the victory by at least a field goal, so I’ll give the points.

Chargers at Cowboys (-0.5) – The Chargers won’t score more than 50 points again this week because Cowboys QB Dak Prescott won’t throw five interceptions in a half like Bills QB Nathan Peterman did last week. The Cowboys offense, however, hasn’t looked good the last couple of weeks with RB Ezekiel Elliott serving his six-game suspension. Things should be better for the Cowboys on Thursday if OT Tyron Smith can play to help shore up the offensive line. Even if he misses another game, though, I think the Cowboys will have just enough offense to beat the Chargers at home.

Giants at Redskins (-7.5) – The Redskins gave up a lead last week to lose to the Saints, while the Giants secured their second win of the season by beating the Chiefs, who are on the decline, despite needing overtime to score 12 points. Despite those Week 11 results, I expect the Redskins to win this divisional game rather easily with the lowly Giants hitting the road on a short week. I’ll give the 7.5 points.

Sunday 1PM games

Buccaneers at Falcons (-8.5) – The Buccaneers will be without QB Jameis Winston for a third straight game, giving Ryan Fitzpatrick another opportunity to start — which could actually be beneficial for the Bucs. I don’t think they’ll be able to score enough points to beat the Falcons and QB Matt Ryan, but I think Fitzpatrick can keep it relatively close. l’ll take the points but expect the Falcons to win the game.

Bills at Chiefs (-9.5) – Both teams are coming off bad losses, with the Bills having lost by 30 to the Chargers, and the Chiefs losing in overtime to a Giants team that had just one win at the time. As of the time of this writing, the Bills have not yet announced if they’ll give Peterman another start or go back to QB Tyrod Taylor as the starter. They should do the latter as he is clearly the better quarterback and is more likely to keep the Bills in the game. But regardless of who gets the start for Buffalo, I find it hard to give so many points with the Chiefs against any team right now after they scored just nine points a week ago, so I’ll take the points with the Bills.

Bears at Eagles (-13.5) – The Eagles continued to roll last week, with QB Carson Wentz helping them improve to a 9-1 record on the season, and I don’t see the Bears giving them much of a challenge this week. I think 13.5 points is a little too high, though, so I’ll pick the Eagles to win the game but I expect the Bears to keep it within 13.5 points.

Browns at Bengals (-8.5) After losing their first 10 games, the Browns are still looking for their first win and this could be one of their best chances to get it as they take on a mediocre Bengals team. Even against the Browns, I find it hard to envision the Bengals winning by at least a nine-point margin so I’ll take the Browns to cover the spread but they’ll likely fall to 0-11.

Titans at Colts (+3.5) – Both teams have had an extended period of rest coming into this game, with the Titans coming off a Thursday night game last week while the Colts had their bye in Week 11. With those extended periods between games, both teams have had plenty of time to prepare for the game. I think that gives the Titans the advantage since they are the better team. Although QB Marcus Mariota hasn’t had a great season, he’s still better than Colts QB Jacoby Brissett and should be able to lead the team to a win. The spread is only 3.5 points so I think the Titans will be able to cover it.

Dolphins at Patriots (-16.5) – This is one of the biggest spreads you’ll ever see in an NFL game. There is uncertainty about who will start at quarterback for the Dolphins with Jay Cutler in the league’s concussion protocol, opening the possibility for Matt Moore to get the start against a tough Patriots team. The Patriots are certainly going to win the game behind QB Tom Brady, but I don’t like giving so many points so I’ll take the points and hope the Dolphins don’t get completely blown out.

Panthers at Jets – The Jets are just 1-4 in their last five games after starting the season 3-2 and they continue to fall out of the playoff race. i expect that decline to continue this week when they face a Panthers team that is fighting for the lead in the NFC South. QB Cam Newton should lead the road team to a win, and I think it’ll be by at least a touchdown so I’ll give the points.

Sunday 4PM games

Seahawks at 49ers +6.5) – The Seahawks are coming off a tough loss to the Falcons but they should be able to rebound this week against the 49ers. The Seahawks defense is depleted due to injuries, including season-ending maladies for CB Richard Sherman and S Kam Chancellor, but that shouldn’t be much of an issue against the 49ers. I think the Seahawks cover.

Broncos at Raiders (-5.5) – The Broncos have announced that QB Paxton Lynch will get the start on Sunday against a Raiders defense that has yet to record an interception this season. Facing a subpar defense may help Lynch have a decent performance, but it probably won’t be enough to win the game. I think the Broncos will keep it relatively close, though, so I’ll take the points.

Saints at Rams (-2.5) – The Saints continued their winning ways last week, coming back to beat the Redskins and extend their winning streak to eight games. The Rams, on the other hand, only scored seven points against a Vikings defense. Rams QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley will have a better chance at success this week against an improved but still not great Saints defense. I don’t think Goff will be able to outplay Brees, however, and I expect the future Hall of Famer to lead New Orleans to a road victory. The Saints are getting points so I’ll take them.

Jaguars at Cardinals (+4.5) – The surprising Jaguars have been leaning on their defense all season to win games, and that will likely continue this week with the Cardinals expected to give QB Blaine Gabbert his second straight start. Neither offense is very good and the Jags defense is the best unit in the game, which I’m expecting to be the difference. I’m giving the points.

Sunday Night Football

Packers at Steelers (-13.5) – The Packers were shut out by the Ravens last week, and with Brett Hundley at quarterback they likely don’t have much of a chance to beat the Steelers at Heinz Field in a primetime contest. Keeping that in mind, 13.5 points is a big spread, especially with the Steelers having a tendency to play down to opponents who aren’t very good. I think the Steelers will win the game by about 10, but I think 13.5 points is a little too many so I’ll take the Packers.

Monday Night Football

Texans at Ravens (-6.5) – Texans QB Tom Savage had his first career two-touchdown game last week and, while he’s not very good, he has some offensive help, notably with WR DeAndre Hopkins, who can help him put some points on the board. The Ravens don’t have a strong offense themselves so I think this will be a pretty close game. I’ll take the points.

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My NFL Picks Week 11: Patriots play the Raiders South of the Border

Week 11 sees the Raiders play in Mexico City for the second straight season, this time taking on the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. Some other games between playoff contenders on this week’s slate include the Rams visiting the Vikings, the Saints hosting the Redskins and the Falcons battling the Seahawks in the Monday nighter. I went 7-7 last week, giving me an overall record of 80-66 for the season. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red

Byes: Panthers, Colts, Jets, 49ers

Thursday Night Football

Titans at Steelers (-7.5) – Both of these teams are leading their divisions, but the Steelers seem to be a level above the Titans. Neither quarterback has had a great season thus far, with neither having thrown more than two touchdowns in a game this season. Titans QB Marcus Mariota has just seven scores in eight games. With the quarterbacks struggling, it may come down to the running game and defense to decide a winner, and I give the Steelers the advantage in both of those categories, especially with RB Le’Veon Bell. I think the Steelers win the game but I’ll take the points.

Sunday 1PM games

Lions at Bears (+3.5) – The Bears lost last week to a Packers team led by QB Brett Hundley. They face a much better passer this week in Lions QB Matthew Stafford and I don’t expect this game to be very close with Bears QB Mitch Trubisky having a subpar rookie season. The Lions have better offensive weapons in most areas of the game, as well, so I’ll give the points.

Jaguars at Browns (+7.5) – After the 49ers beat the Giants last week, the Browns are the last winless team remaining in the NFL at 0-9. I think they’ll be 0-10 after this game when they face a tough Jaguars defense that I think will help the Jags cover the 7.5-point spread.

Ravens at Packers (+2.5)With Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on IR, neither of these teams has a good offense so I’m expecting a low-scoring game at Lambeau Field. The Ravens could get RB Danny Woodhead back from IR, which would help them, but that’s still up in the air. I think this game could go either way so since I’m expecting a close game I’ll take the points.

Chiefs at Giants (+10.5)After starting the season 5-0, the Chiefs have dropped three of their last four games, but they’re coming off their bye. The 1-8 Giants, on the other hand, are coming off a loss against the previously winless 49ers. I expect the Chiefs to win this game, but I think the spread is a little too big because the Chiefs generally don’t win big. I’ll take the points.

Rams at Vikings (-2.5) – Both of these teams are 7-2 on the season, but the Rams have looked like one of the best teams in the league this season behind QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley. QB Teddy Bridgewater is expected to come off of IR this week but QB Case Keenum will get the start for the Vikings, who have won their last five games. I think that streak ends here. The Rams could be the best team in the NFC so I’m picking them to win outright. Given that, I’ll take the points.

Redskins at Saints (-7.5) – The Saints are coming off a 47-point outing at the Bills and now return home, where QB Drew Brees generally plays better than on the road, to take on the Redskins. The Saints aren’t likely to put up more than 40 points again this week, but I think they’ll win the game. The Redskins have a better offense than the Bills so they should be able to keep the game closer than last week’s blowout so I’ll take the points with the road team.

Cardinals at Texans (+1.5) – This is a battle of bad fill-in quarterbacks, with Blaine Gabbert getting the start — his first since Week 5 of 2016 — for the Cardinals and Tom Savage going for the Texans. The Cardinals are coming off their bye so they’re well-rested but I think the Texans have the better overall offensive weapons with WR DeAndre Hopkins and RB Lamar Miller so I’ll take the points at home.

Buccaneers at Dolphins (-2.5) – This game was scheduled for Week 1 but was rescheduled for the teams’ common bye week due to Hurricane Irma. The schedule change means veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center for the Buccaneers in place on injured QB Jameis Winston. With QB Jay Cutler opposing Fitzpatrick, this is another meeting of mediocre quarterbacks. I trust Fitzpatrick more than Cutler, and the Dolphins don’t have much of a running game since trading RB Jay Ajayi so I’ll take the points.

Sunday 4PM games

Bills at Chargers (-4.5)With the news that the Bills are benching QB Tyrod Taylor in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman, I think the Bills offense will take a hit as Taylor, while not great, is a serviceable quarterback. On the other side, Chargers QB Philip Rivers is in the concussion protocol and his availability for Sunday’s game is in question though team officials are indicating they are optimistic about his chances to play. If he can’t go, QB Kellen Clemens will get the start in his place. I think Rivers plays so I’ll give the points. If it’s Clemens, I think I’d take the points.

Bengals at Broncos (-2.5) This is a meeting of two mediocre offenses but I think the Broncos have the advantage on defense, despite the fact that it hasn’t looked as good lately. Regardless, i think Denver’s D will be able to stop the Andy Dalton-led Bengals offense.

Patriots at Raiders (+6.5) The Raiders have an advantage in this one in that they played a game at Estadio Azteca last season, but I don’t think it’ll do them much good. The Patriots offense behind QB Tom Brady and the defense has gotten significantly better over the last month or so. I don’t think this game will be that close. I’ll give the points.

Sunday Night Football

Eagles at Cowboys (+3.5) – QB Carson Wentz is having a breakout season for the Eagles, who look to win their eighth game of the season against a Cowboys team that didn’t look good without RB Ezekiel Elliott last week. Without him, QB Dak Prescott will have to outplay Wentz to give the Cowboys a chance to win. I don’t think that’ll happen so I’ll give the points as I think Philly could win by a touchdown.

Monday Night Football

Falcons at Seahawks (-3.5)The week ends with the Falcons heading across the country to take on the Seahawks, who will be without CB Richard Sherman on defense after he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in last week’s game. QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense are playing better than the Falcons behind QB Matt Ryan, and I expect that to continue this week. I’ll give the points in this one.

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My NFL Picks Week 10: The last two Super Bowl champions do battle

Week 10 features some games that looked good on paper but in reality will likely disappoint due to injuries or other factors. One such game is PackersBears; the Packers have not looked good since losing QB Aaron Rodgers to injury a few weeks ago. Two of this week’s featured games include the Vikings visiting the Redskins and the Falcons hosting the Cowboys. The Sunday night contest is between the last two Super Bowl winners as the Broncos host the Patriots. I went 7-6 last week, giving me an overall record of 73-59 for the season. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red

Byes: Ravens, Chiefs, Raiders, Eagles

Thursday Night Football

Seahawks at Cardinals (+6.5) – RB Adrian Peterson seems to have regained some of his youth since being traded to the Cardinals, but there’s not much around him on the Cardinals offense with QB Drew Stanton replacing injured Carson Palmer. On the other side, QB Russell Wilson is leading a potent Seahawks offense that I think will be able to win by a touchdown to cover the spread.

Sunday 1PM games

Saints at Bills (+2.5) – The Saints have won their last six games after starting the season 0-2 as they head to Buffalo to face a Bills team that lost to the Jets last Thursday. The Saints traditionally aren’t as good on the road as they are at the Superdome, but it’s hard to pick against QB Drew Brees when he’s opposed by a team with QB Tyrod Taylor leading the way. Expect WR Kelvin Benjamin to be more involved in the offense than he was in Week 9, two days after he was acquired by the BIlls in a trade with the Panthers. The home team won’t have enough offense to keep up with the Saints, though. I’ll give the points.

Packers at Bears (-4.5) – The Packers haven’t had much success on offense since QB Brett Hundley became the team’s starter, but the Bears don’t have a very good offense behind QB Mitch Trubisky either. Based on that, this should be a fairly low-scoring game. I think the Bears will win the game at home, but I expect it to be close so I’ll take the points.

Bengals at Titans (-5.5) – The Bengals only scored seven points against a good Jaguars defense last week, and they’ll need to do significantly better than that this week to beat the Titans, who have a decent offense with QB Marcus Mariota and RB DeMarco Murray. I don’t think QB Andy Dalton is good enough to keep up with the Titans so I’ll give the points.

Browns at Lions (-11.5)I normally don’t like to give points when a spread is this big, but the Browns are bad. They’re one of two winless teams remaining in the NFL heading into Week 10, and they don’t seem to be getting any better as the season goes on. I think Lions QB Matthew Stafford is good enough t put enough points on the board to cover a double-digit spread so I’ll take the Lions at home.

Steelers at Colts (+9.5) – Here’s a case where I think the spread is too big for the matchup. Unlike the Browns, Colts QB Jacoby Brissett does seem to be getting better as he gets more reps the deeper he goes into the season. And the Steelers seem to play down to their opponents in games like this that appear to be mismatches. Combine that with the fact that QB Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t always do well on the road and I don’t think the Steelers win by more than about a touchdown. I expect them to win the game, but I’ll take the Colts and the points.

Vikings at Redskins (+1.5)I’m surprised the Redskins are the underdogs at home against a team led by QB Case Keenum. Keenum’s been doing all right this season, but he’s not as good as Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. I think the Redskins could win the game outright so I’ll take the points.

Jets at Buccaneers (+2.5) – The Jets have surprised many people — including me — with the way they’ve played this season, which is due in part to the way that QB Josh McCown has played in the team’s first nine games. This week he faces a Buccaneers team that will have former Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick under center as starter Jameis Winston is shut down for a couple weeks with a shoulder injury. The Bucs also look to be without WR MIke Evans who will be serving a one-game suspension this week. Given the Bucs’ missing weapons on offense this week, it shouldn’t be hard for the Jets to cover the 2.5 points so I’ll go with the road team.

Chargers at Jaguars (-4.5) – The Jaguars defense has been impressive this season and has helped them get out to a 5-3 start to the season despite an underwhelming offense behind QB Blake Bortles. The Jags beat the Bengals last week without RB Leonard Fournette, their best offensive player, so with him expected to play this week I’m pretty certain the Jags will win the game and I will give the points.

Sunday 4PM games

Texans at Rams (-11.5) – The Texans looked bad last week with QB Tom Savage taking over for injured Deshaun Watson. With Savage under center, the team won’t be able to put many points on the board, so the Texans will have to rely on their defense to limit the offensive output of QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley and the rest of the Rams. I think the Rams win easily, but I’ll take the 11.5 points.

Cowboys at Falcons (-2.5) The Falcons clearly aren’t the same offense they were last season so I’m kind of surprised that they’re favored over the Cowboys, even if it is a home game for them. That said, with Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott finally beginning to serve his six-game suspension and WR Dez Bryant potentially limited, I think the Falcons will be able to do enough to win by a field goal or so.

Giants at 49ers (+0.5) These teams are a combined 1-16 so this is likely going to be an ugly game. The 49ers will give QB C.J. Beathard the start as they are likely saving recently acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo for after their Week 11 bye. Both teams are bad so the game could go either way. I’ll go with the 49ers to pick up their first win simply because they’re the home team.

Sunday Night Football

Patriots at Broncos (+7.5) – This game is more of a mismatch than recent Patriots-Broncos games have been. QB Brock Osweiler will again get the start for the Broncos. Despite the fact that he led the Broncos to a victory over the Patriots in a Sunday nighter in 2015, I don’t think this game will have the same result. Patriots win, and I’ll give the points even though that a lot of points to give on the road.

Monday Night Football

Dolphins at Panthers (-9.5) – Neither of these teams has a great defense so I’m surprised there is such a big spread in this one. I trust Panthers QB Cam Newton more than Dolphins QB Jay Cutler so I think the Panthers win the game, but I think it’ll be much closer than the spread indicates so I’ll take the points.

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My NFL Picks Week 9: Redskins-Seahawks and Chiefs-Cowboys highlight the week

There are six teams on bye for the second straight week, but there are still some big games on the slate in Week 9. In a battle of NFC playoff contenders, the Redskins head across the country to take on the Seahawks and the Cowboys host the Chiefs in an interconference game involving teams vying for playoff berths. I went 7-6 last week, giving me an overall record of 66-53 for the season. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red

Byes: Bears, Browns, Chargers, Vikings, Patriots, Steelers

Thursday Night Football

Bills at Jets (+2.5) – Both these teams have been surprisingly good this season, with the 5-2 Bills looking like they have a pretty good chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Bills made a trade before Tuesday’s deadline, acquiring WR Kelvin Benjamin from the Panthers for a couple of draft picks. I don’t think he’ll have much of an impact on this game with a limited amount of time to learn the offense, but I don’t think the Bills need much production out of him to win this game. I’ll give the points on the road.

Sunday 1PM games

Falcons at Panthers (-2.5) – These two disappointing teams are playing to stay alive in the NFC South race. The Panthers were on the other end of the Benjamin trade, and losing him downgrades their passing game. I think the Falcons are the better team so if they’re getting points I’ll take them.

Bengals at Jaguars (-4.5) – The Jaguars are leading the AFC South based on their defense, not their offense. QB Blake Bortles isn’t good, but RB Leonard Fournette is having a good rookie season. He missed the team’s last game before the bye, but he is practicing this week and may be able to play on Sunday. I think the Jags’ D will be able to limit Cincinnati’s offensive production so I’ll take the home team.

Broncos at Eagles (-7.5) – The Broncos offense hasn’t looked good in recent weeks and QB Trevor Siemian is being benched this week, with the team announcing that QB Brock Osweiler will make the start. They’ll have to rely on their defense if they want to beat the 7-1 Eagles, who made a trade of their own this week and acquired RB Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins. I expect the Eagles to win the game and I think they cover.

Ravens at Titans (-5.5)The Titans are saying QB Marcus Mariota is at full health, but the same may not be true about Ravens QB Joe Flacco, who left the team’s last game with a possible concussion. Head coach John Harbaugh is saying Flacco is not suffering from any symptoms, but if he can’t play — at all or for the whole game — that would leave the offense in the hands of Ryan Mallett. Either way, the offense is questionable. I’ll give the points with the Titans.

Colts at Texans (-12.5) – The Texans have had one of the best offenses in the league this season with rookie QB Deshaun Watson starting for them. He has a couple of good targets to throw to in WRs DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V, but the team hasn’t had much of a run game this season with RB Lamar Miller. On the other side, QB Jacoby Brissett hasn’t been great for the Colts this season. I am certain the Texans will win, but I don’t like that big of a spread. The Colts were at least competitive with the Bengals last week, losing by just a point, and I think they can keep it within 10 points in Houston.

Rams at Giants (+3.5) – It’s always a challenge for a West Coast team to fly to the East Coast and play in an early game, but I don’t think that’ll hurt the Rams too much because they’re a significantly better team the Giants. QB Jared Goff should lead them to a road victory, and I think they’ll cover the 3.5 points.

Buccaneers at Saints (-7) – The Saints look to stay atop the NFC South against the last-place team in the division. The Buccaneers didn’t look good at all last week as QB Jameis Winston had a bad game. For the Saints, their defense has been better this season than it has been in recent years and with QB Drew Brees leading the offense, I don’t think this game will be that close. I’ll give the points.

Sunday 4PM games

Cardinals at 49ers (+2.5) – This may be the best chance yet this season for the 0-8 49ers to pick up their first win. With Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, backup Drew Stanton will make his first start in more than a year. The opposing quarterback will likely be C.J. Beathard. The 49ers traded for QB Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots this week, but he probably will not be ready to go under center on Sunday. It’s a battle of bad quarterbacks so I’ll go with the team with the better offensive weapons around the pass-thrower, and that is the Cardinals with WR Larry Fitzgerald and RB Adrian Peterson.

Redskins at Seahawks (-7.5) The Redskins are coming off a loss to the Cowboys while the Seahawks scored 41 in winning a shootout against the Texans. After that game, they made a trade with the Texans to acquire OT Duane Brown, who should help the offensive line and, in turn, provide a boost for the running game. The Seahawks are the better team, and although I’m not confident in it, I’ll give the points.

Chiefs at Cowboys (-0.5)- Once again, the Cowboys don’t know the status of star RB Ezekiel Elliott for this week’s game. Earlier in the week, a federal judge reinstated his six-game suspension, but he is seeking an emergency stay while he appeals. As of now, he is suspended and won’t be able to play Sunday. If that holds, RBs Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden will get the bulk of the work on the ground, which would be a significant downgrade. Whether Elliott plays or not I think the Chiefs are the better team, especially on the defensive side, so in what is essentially a pick ’em, I’ll take the Chiefs but I’ll feel better about that pick if Elliott doesn’t play.

Sunday Night Football

Raiders at Dolphins (+3.5) – This looked like a good Sunday nighter coming into the season, but it doesn’t look as good now that both teams have struggled to live up to expectations in 2017. Dolphins QB Jay Cutler missed last week’s game while recuperating from a rib injury but he is expected to play this week as he has been fully practicing. That said, he’s not good anymore and even though Raiders QB Derek Carr has regressed from last year, he’s still the better quarterback in this game. And with the Dolphins having traded Ajayi this week, it’ll be up to unproven RBs Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake to carry the run game. That probably won’t go well. I’ll take the Raiders on the road.

Monday Night Football

Lions at Packers (+2.5) – Another game that doesn’t look as promising now as it did at the beginning of the season, but that’s mainly because of QB Brett Hundley filling in for injured Aaron Rodgers for the home team. The Packers are getting points at home, which is tempting even without Rodgers under center. But it’s essentially a field goal and the Lions have a pretty good offense behind QB Matthew Stafford so I’ll take the visitors and give the points.

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