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My NFL Picks Week 5: Patriots-Bucs, Packers-Cowboys among the games of the week

The surprising results in the first quarter of the NFL season continued in Week 4, with the Patriots, Jaguars and Falcons losing in upsets. The Patriots get a chance to bounce back from their loss on Thursday night when they visit the Buccaneers. Other notable games in Week 5 include two of the NFC’s most popular teams meeting when the Cowboys host the Packers and the Texans, coming off a 57-point game against the Titans, look to knock off the Chiefs, the last remaining undefeated team in the league, on Sunday night. This is the first week of (scheduled) byes, with four teams idle. I went 10-6 last week, giving me an overall record of 37-26 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: Falcons, Broncos, Saints, Redskins

Thursday Night Football

Patriots at Buccaneers (+5.5) – The offense hasn’t been the problem for the 2-2 Patriots as QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski and performing like they usually do, and WR Chris Hogan has stepped up his game in the absence of WR Julian Edelman, but the defense has been among the worst in the league. That means Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston and WR Mike Evans should be able to score points. The Bucs also get back starting RB Doug Martin for the first time this season as he has served his three-game suspension to begin the season. While I think the Patriots probably win the game, I think the Bucs will cover the spread.

Sunday 1PM games

Bills at Bengals (-2.5) – This is a surprising line as the 3-1 Bills are coming off an upset of the defending NFC champion Falcons and are getting points against a Bengals team whose line win came against the winless Browns on Sunday. QB Andy Dalton looked better for the Bengals last week, but you can’t judge him fairly based on an outing against the Browns defense. I think Bills QB Tyrod Taylor will outplay him and expect the visitors to win outright. So if the Bills are getting points, I’m taking them.

Jets at Browns (-1.5) – Another game in which a bad Ohio team is surprisingly favored. Despite their 2-2 record, I’m still not convinced the Jets are a good team but they’re better than the Browns. I think the Jets have a good chance to win the points so I’ll take the points on the road again.

Panthers at Lions (-2.5) – Panthers QB Cam Newton finally looked like his old self last week in the team’s victory against the Patriots. They’ll look to carry that momentum into Detroit against the Lions. Both teams are 3-1 entering the game and I think the Lions will be the team that improves upon that record. I think Matthew Stafford has more weapons on the offense than Newton does, which I think will be enough for the home team to win and cover.

Titans at Dolphins (+2.5) – The Titans got blown out by the Texans last week, 57-14, but they shouldn’t worry about giving up that many points this week because the Dolphins have scored a total of six points in their last two games. The Titans are the better team, but the concern is the health of QB Marcus Mariota, who is day-to-day and could miss the game. If he does, QB Matt Cassel will get the start, which doesn’t instill much confidence in me that the Titans will win the game. But the Dolphins offense has looked so bad in the last couple weeks that I’ll go with the Titans even if Cassel plays.

49ers at Colts (-1.5) – The 49ers are still looking for their first win of the season behind QB Brian Hoyer while the Colts offense has been respectable in the last couple of weeks with QB Jacoby Brissett filling in for injured QB Andrew Luck. With the 49ers having to travel east to play an early game, I give the advantage to the Colts. I’ll go with the home team and give the 1.5.

Chargers at Giants (-3.5) – Both teams are 0-4 and hoping to get their first win of the season this week. The Giants have lost their last two games on last-second field goals and I think they have a better offense than the Chargers, who are taking a cross-country flight for the game. I’ll pick the Giants to get their first win and barely cover the 3.5 points.

Cardinals at Eagles (-6.5) – The Cardinals offense hasn’t looked great since losing RB David Johnson to injury in the season opener. QB Carson Palmer isn’t having a great season with WR Larry Fitzgerald his only reliable receiver. The Eagles are the better team and I expect them to win the game, but I think it’ll be closer than a touchdown difference so I’ll take the points.

Jaguars at Steelers (-8.5) – After losing big to the Jets last week, the Jaguars now have to deal with QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown and the rest of the Steelers. They’re 3-1 but Pittsburgh’s offense hasn’t been as potent this season as we’ve come to expect from the team in recent years so I think 8.5 points is too big of a spread. Steelers win the game but don’t cover. I’ll take the points with the Jags, who have rookie RB Leonard Fournette leading their offense.

Sunday 4PM games

Ravens at Raiders (-3.5) – This would have been an easy pick to make if QB Derek Carr was starting for the injuries, but with him out with an injury and QB EJ Manuel set to make his first start since Week 17 of last season, it’s a tougher call. The Ravens offense hasn’t been good this season but I have a hard time taking trusting Manuel to cover. I’ll say Raiders win the game but I’ll take the Ravens and the points.

Seahawks at Rams (-2.5) – The Rams have had one of the league’s best offenses through Week 4 but they now face a tough task in going against a good Seahawks defense. This could be the week that Rams QB Jared Goff comes back down to Earth a bit so I think the team will have to rely on RB Todd Gurley to score enough points for the win. I think the Seahawks could win outright so I’ll take he points.

Packers at Cowboys (-1.5) – This is a rematch from one of last year’s divisional round games in the NFC playoffs. The Packers won that game by a field goal. This time, though, there is some uncertainty about who may be able to play. Specifically, RB Ty Montgomery and WR Davante Adams are questionable to take the field on Sunday. On the other sideline, the Cowboys offense isn’t as potent as it was last season. With an unexpected shootout in this game, QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott have to step up their game to keep up with the combination of QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Jordy Nelson on the Packers. Even with the potential injuries, I think the Packers are the better points so I’ll take the points again.

Sunday Night Football

Chiefs at Texans (+1.5)The Chiefs are the lone undefeated team remaining in the league, but this week they’re facing a Texans team that just scored a franchise-record 57 points in Week 4. Texans QB Deshaun Watson looks like he could be legit with the way he’s been playing in the 3.5 games that he’s been under center this season. The Texans will be riding high coming off of that blowout against the Jets and they have a good defense with DE J.J. Watt and LB Jadeveon Clowney. I think the Texans can pull off the upset in front of their home fans. I’ll take the points.

Monday Night Football

Vikings at Bears (+3.5) – The quarterbacks are question marks in the final game of Week 5. The Vikings are still calling QB Sam Bradford day-to-day so we don’t know if it’ll be him or QB Case Keenum getting the start for the visitors. The Bears do know who will be starting for them, but it’ll be QB Mitch Trubisky getting the first game action of his professional career as the Bears have decided to bench QB Mike Glennon after their 1-3 start. Making his first start in primetime against a good Vikings defense probably isn’t a formula for success for the rookie, but the Vikings will be without a rookie of their own, RB Dalvin Cook, who suffered a season-ending injury in last week’s game. I still think the Vikings win the game. I’ll give the points.

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My NFL Picks Week 4: Divisional battles, Panthers-Patriots highlight the action

After a few upsets — and near-upsets of the Packers and Patriots — in Week 3, we have what looks like a good slate of games awaiting us in Week 4, including some divisional games — starting with Thursday night’s BearsPackers game at Lambeau Field. There’s another London game, with the Saints and Dolphins going overseas, and the Patriots hosting the Panthers as QBs Tom Brady and Cam Newton do battle. The week ends on Monday night with the Chiefs — one of only two undefeated teams remaining in the league — hosting the Redskins, who are coming off a surprising blowout victory against the Raiders. I went 9-7 last week, giving me an overall record of 27-20 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

Bears at Packers (-7.5) – The Packers offense hasn’t really played up to expectations yet this season, but it’s still quite a bit better than the Bears. Despite upsetting the Steelers last week, the Bears don’t have much of an offense outside of RBs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. On a short week, I trust Packers QB Aaron Rodgers much more than Bears QB Mike Glennon. Packers win the game, and I think they cover.

Sunday 9:30AM game (London)

Saints at Dolphins (+2.5) – The Dolphins looked bad in last week’s loss to the Jets, not putting points on the board until the fourth quarter. The Saints have a bad defense, but Dolphins QB Jay Cutler won’t be able to take advantage of it if he plays like he did last week. On the other side, the Saints and QB Drew Brees are getting back WR Willie Snead, who’s been suspended for the first three games of the season for PEDs. If the Saints are favored by less than a field goal, I’ll give the points.

Sunday 1PM games

Bills at Falcons (-8.5) – The Bills are coming off of a surprising victory against the Broncos that brought their record up to 2-1. The Falcons are 3-0 with QB Matt Ryan leading the way. The Falcons win the game but I think the Bills can keep it relatively close so I’ll take the points with the visitors.

Bengals at Browns (+2.5) – These in-state rivals are a combined 0-6 on the season.The Bengals finally came alive last week after not scoring a touchdown in their first two games, but they couldn’t hang on to beat the Packers and lost in overtime. The Browns are worse than the Bengals, so I’ll go with the visitors.

Rams at Cowboys (-8.5) – This is a surprising line since the Rams offense has looked good in two of their three games so far with QB Jared Goff playing well. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has been underperforming compared to the numbers he put up in his rookie season last year. I think the Cowboys win the game, but the Rams cover the spread.

Lions at Vikings (-2.5) – The Vikings did better than expected last week with QB Case Keenum filling in for injured QB Sam Bradford. Rookie RB Dalvin Cook has gotten off to a fast start in his NFL career and WR Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen had big games last week against the Buccaneers. It’s still unknown, though, if Bradford will be able to play this week and if he can’t I have a hard time picking the Vikings to beat the Lions so give me the road team.

Titans at Texans (+1.5)- The Texans came within a minute of beating the Patriots at Gillette Stadium last week as QB Deshaun Watson looked good in his second career start. The defense struggled, though, as DE J.J. Watt doesn’t look like he’s fully recovered from his back surgery. The Titans have won their last two games, scoring 27 and 37 in the contests. I think they win the game and cover the minimal spread.

Panthers at Patriots – The Panthers may be 2-1, but their offense hasn’t looked good yet this season, with Newton in particular struggling. The Patriots offense looks to be in midseason form after the Week 1 loss to the Chiefs. Brady threw five touchdowns in the Patriots’ win over the Texans last week. That will help make up for deficiencies on the defense. I don’t think there’s any doubt the Patriots will win the game, but the 9.5-point spread is a lot. I think they barely cover it.

Jaguars at Jets (+3.5) – The Jets picked up their first win of the season last week, beating the Dolphins, while the Jaguars looked very impressive in dominating the Ravens in London, winning 44-7. The Jaguars are now 2-1 and look good on both sides of the ball. I expect the Jets to go back to their losing ways this week. I think the Jaguars win by at least a touchdown so I’ll give the points. Give me the Jags.

Steelers at Ravens (+2.5) – Both teams are 2-1 and coming off of a Week 3 loss. The difference is the Steelers barely lost to the Bears in overtime while the Ravens got blown out by the Jaguars in London. The Ravens have to play much better than they did last week to have any chance of getting the win this week. I think the spread is too low so I’ll take the Steelers on the road.

Sunday 4PM games

Giants at Buccaneers (-3.5)The Giants have yet to win a game while the Bucs lost a game last week that many people thought they would win. The Giants offense did better last week than it did in the first two weeks of the season, but I still don’t think QB Eli Manning is playing well enough to beat the Bucs. I have a hard time picking the Giants to start 0-4 but I’m going to do it.

Eagles at Chargers (-0.5) – The Eagles needed rookie K Jake Elliott to make a 61-yard field goal at the end of last week’s game, but the victory brought their record up to 2-1. The Chargers haven’t had a great offense this season other than RB Melvin Gordon. I think the Eagles are the better team so if they’re getting half a point, I’m taking it.

49ers at Cardinals (-7.5) – I don’t trust either of these offenses to put a lot of points on the board. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald has been the only reliable target so far for QB Carson Palmer and the running game has been virtually non-existent with RB David Johnson on IR. I think the Cardinals win the game, but I don’t trust them to win by eight points. I’ll go with the road team.

Raiders at Broncos (-2.5) – Both teams’ offenses disappointed in losses in Week 3. If this game comes down to the defenses, the Broncos have the clear advantage. I still don’t trust Broncos QB Trevor Siemian, though, and trust Raiders QB Derek Carr more. I think the Broncos’ defense wins out, though. I’ll give the points.

Sunday Night Football

Colts at Seahawks (-13.5) – The Seahawks offense has underperformed all season so far as QB Russell Wilson has not looked good. The Colts are still starting QB Jacoby Brissett in place of injured QB Andrew Luck, but he did well last week. I don’t see any way the Seahawks win the game by two touchdowns so I’m taking the points.

Monday Night Football

Redskins at Chiefs (-6.5) – The Chiefs are looking to start the season 4-0 with a win at home on Monday Night Football. They’re facing a Redskins team coming off a big win against the Raiders, but it’s also a team with a passing game that has yet to develop a rhythm this season. That’ll have to change if the Redskins hope to beat the Chiefs, who have a good defense. QB Kirk Cousins is going to be the key to whether the Redskins win the game or even stay within the spread. I think they’ll keep it close enough to cover the spread, but I think Kansas City wins again.

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My NFL Picks Week 3: Giants, Saints among teams looking for first wins

We’re two weeks into the NFL season and there are, as usual, some surprising teams — both good and bad — in the league. Among those on the negative side are the Giants and Saints, who are 0-2, while the Broncos offense has looked surprisingly good en route to a 2-0 start. Some of the highlights of the Week 3 schedule include the Falcons visiting the Lions in a battle of 2-0 teams and the Titans hosting the Seahawks in a game of two teams who have hopes of making the postseason. I went 12-4 last week, giving me an overall record of 18-13 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

Rams at 49ers (+2.5) – Not the most exciting game to start the week as two NFC West teams play each other. The Rams are the better team and I expect them to win the game. I’m not usually comfortable picking a road favorite on a short week, but the 49ers aren’t a good team so I’ll take the Rams.

Sunday 9:30AM game (London)

Ravens at Jaguars (+4.5) – The Ravens look to remain unbeaten when they play the Jaguars in the first London game of 2017. I’m still not sold on QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense being good, but the defense has looked good in the first two weeks of the season. The defense should be able to hold down Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, so I think RB Leonard Fournette will have to have a big game for the Jaguars to have a chance to win it. Give me the Ravens.

Sunday 1PM games

Falcons at Lions (+2.5) – Barring a tie, one of these teams will be 3-0 after the game while the other will have suffered its first defeat of the season. Falcons QB Matt Ryan has led a success Falcons offense, which is coming off of a big win against the Packers last week, while the Lions aren’t as good and last beat the a not-so-impressive team in the Giants. Lions QB Matthew Stafford isn’t as good as Ryan and the visiting team’s running backs are clearly better than the Lions’ so I’ll take the points with the Falcons, who I expect to in by at least a field goal to cover the spread.

Broncos at Bills (+3.5) – The Broncos have one of the best defenses in the league, as expected before the season started. What wasn’t expected, though, was how well QB Trevor Siemian and the offense have been performing through their first two games of 2017. The BIlls offense isn’t that good and the team’s lone win came against the lowly Jets in Week 1. The Broncos should easily win the game and cover the spread on the road.

Steelers at Bears (+7.5) – Another game that appears to be a mismatch with the Steelers being better on both sides of the ball, although QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le’Veon Bell haven’t looked like themselves through the first two games. On the other side, QB MIke Glennon is leading an offense that has been ravaged by injuries, including RB Jordan Howard, who suffered a minor injury last week. After a strong Week 1 performance, RB Tarik Cohen came back to Earth a bit in Week 2. I fully expect the Steelers to win the game, it’s just a question of by how much. I’ll give the points.

Browns at Colts (+0.5)This matchup of 0-2 teams is a toss-up according to the 0.5-point spread. With QB Jacoby Brissett filling in for injured QB Andrew Luck, the Colts don’t have a good offense, but the Browns also don’t have much of an offense to speak of, and WR Corey Coleman broke his hand last week so he’ll miss a few weeks. Neither team is good so I’ll take the home team, which I think is slightly better.

Dolphins at Jets (+6.5) – The Dolphins went to the West Coast and beat the Chargers in their season opener last week, while the Jets got blown out by the Raiders. The Jets did score more points than the Dolphins, though. The Dolphins are clearly the better of the two teams, but they don’t exactly have an explosive offense behind QB Jay Cutler so I think the Jets will be able to keep it relatively close. The Dolphins win the game, but I’ll take the 6.5 points with the Jets.

Buccaneers at Vikings (-2.5) – I’m surprised the Vikings are favored because QB Sam Bradford was inactive last week and there’s a question about whether he can play this week. If he can’t and QB Case Keenum gets another start, I think the Bucs win the game easily. Even if Bradford plays, the Bucs have a good chance of winning. If I’m getting points with Tampa, I’ll take them and count on QB Jameis Winston and WR Mike Evans to take care of business in Minnesota.

Texans at Patriots (-13.5) – That is a big spread for the Patriots against a team that nearly beat them in the playoffs last season. The Patriots offense looked better in Week 2 after a disappointing opening game against the Chiefs. But TE Rob Gronkowski left the last game early with a groin injury, which could call into question his availability for this game. The Texans have a good defense, led by DE J.J. Watt, so I think they will keep the game within two touchdowns. Patriots win the game but I’ll take the points.

Saints at Panthers (-6.5) – The Saints are off to an 0-2 start after dropping their first two games to the Viking and Patriots with their defense giving up 29 and 36 points, respectively, in those games. The Panthers’ offense isn’t as formidable as those teams, which should give the Saints a chance to stay in the game, even with a subpar defense. With the lack of offense for Carolina behind QB Cam Newton — especially with TE Greg Olsen now on IR — I think the Saints have a chance to win the game outright so I’ll take the points.

Giants at Eagles (-5.5) – The Giants offense has not looked good in the team’s first two games, with the lack of a running game one of the team’s weaknesses. QB Carson Wentz has looked good for the Eagles in the early part of the season. With the Giants defense not living up to expectations so far this season, I don’t think this game will be all that close. I think the Eagles win, and I’ll give the points.

Sunday 4PM games

Seahawks at Titans (-2.5)The Seahawks have a bad offensive line that has limited the team’s offensive output early in the season. The Titans have also been underperforming compared to what I thought they would do, but with the way the teams are currently playing I think the Titans win the game.

Bengals at Packers (-9.5) – After playing two games, the Bengals are still waiting to score their first touchdown of the season. Normally, I would expect this to be a blowout, but the Packers are dealing with injuries that caused their offense to suffer last week. That will likely continue in Week 3 if WR Jordy Nelson can’t play. The Packers will still win the game, but I’m not sure they can cover the nearly double-digit spread if Nelson is out. I’ll take the points with the Bengals.

Chiefs at Chargers (+3.5) – The Chiefs are 2-0 while the Chargers have lost a couple of close games in the first two weeks of the season. RB Kareem Hunt and QB Alex Smith have been successful in leading the Chiefs’ offensive attack through Week 2. The Chargers can’t compete with the Chiefs on offense so I’ll take the visitors to remain undefeated and cover the 3.5 points.

Sunday Night Football

Raiders at Redskins (+3.5) – The Redskins offense has struggled a bit in their first two games, while QB Derek Carr has led the Raiders to a 2-0 start, thanks in part to a Raiders defense that so far has been improved over last season. Even though the Raiders are traveling to the East Coast, it’s a night game so it’s not an early start for the Raiders and they’re the better team so I’ll take them to win.

Monday Night Football

Cowboys at Cardinals (+3.5) – The Cowboys are coming off a blowout loss to the Broncos, while the Cardinals needed overtime to beat a bad Colts team without Luck. Regardless of how badly they lost last week, I still trust QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys offense more than the Cardinals, so I’ll go with Dallas here.

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My NFL Picks Week 2: Packers-Falcons open Mercedes-Benz Stadium

With one week in the books, I went just 6-9 last week, getting me off to rough start for the 2017 season. The highlight of the week is the Sunday night game, with the Falcons opening Mercedes-Benz Stadium, their new stadium, against the Packers as two of the NFC’s best teams meet. Other notable games include the Patriots visiting the Saints, as QBs Tom Brady and Drew Brees look to avenge their Week 1 losses, and the Steelers hosting the Vikings in an interconference battle of potential playoff teams. 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

Texans at Bengals (-4.5) – These teams had two of the worst offensive performances of Week 1, with the Texans putting just seven points on the board against the Jaguars and the Bengals getting shut out by the Ravens. The Texans will likely start QB Deshaun Watson after benching starting QB Tom Savage and putting Watson in after halftime of their game in Week 1. Bengals QB Andy Dalton threw four interceptions last week. The Texans didn’t look good last week, but they at least scored. I find it hard to pick a team that didn’t score last week that’s favored by 4.5 points. I’ll take the underdogs on the road.

Sunday 1PM games

Bills at Panthers (-7.5) – The Panthers looked good against the 49ers last week, but I think the Bills have a better offense than them. Even if he doesn’t have a great game passing, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor can pick up yards running and I don’t think Panthers QB Cam Newton is 100% healthy yet. I’ll take the points in this one.

Bears at Buccaneers (-6.5) – The Bucs are coming off of a Hurricane Irma-induced bye so this will be our first look at them this season. The Bears did play last week and they lost another wide receiver for the season, with WR Kevin White suffering a season-ending collarbone injury just weeks after WR Cameron Meredith went out for the season during the preseason. Bears RB Tarik Cohen had a good showing in Week 1, but QB Mike Glennon is running out of receivers to throw the ball to. I don’t think this game will be close so I’ll give the points.

Browns at Ravens (-7.5) – Both of these teams played better than expected last week, with the Browns staying competitive against the Steelers until late in the game. While the Ravens beat the Bengals, RB Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury that will likely keep him out of game action for at least several weeks. After the way the Browns stayed in the game last week with the Steelers, I think they can do the same this week. The Ravens should win the game but give me the points.

Titans at Jaguars (+1.5) – The Jaguars were one of Week 1’s most surprising teams — in a good way. RB Leonard Fournette had an impressive NFL debut, but QB Blake Bortles still isn’t good. And his top weapon, WR Allen Robinson, suffered a season-ending ACL injury that won’t help Bortles’ game. The Jaguars played well last week but I still think the Titans are better so I’ll take them.

Cardinals at Colts (+8.5) – The Colts have ruled QB Andrew Luck out for this game, and they are not a good team without him. QB Jacoby Brissett will likely get the start. He’s probably better than QB Scott Tolzien, who’s started in Week 1, but he’s still not good. The problem is Cardinals QB Carson Palmer performed poorly last week and Cardinals RB David Johnson — one of the best players in the league — is expected to miss two to three months after dislocating his wrist last week. Neither of these teams are at full strength and I think the Cardinals will win the game, but I’m not confident giving 8.5 points in this game so I’ll take the Colts and the points.

Eagles at Chiefs (-4.5)Chiefs QB Alex Smith had one of the best games of his career last week against the Patriots and RB Kareem Hunt had a great game in his debut as the Chiefs pulled off the upset. He’ll look to repeat that success against QB Carson Wentz and the Eagles. I think the Chiefs are the better team so I’ll give the 4.5 points.

Vikings at Steelers (-6.5) – The Vikings looked good on Monday night with QB Sam Bradford throwing three touchdowns, including two to WR Stefon Diggs while WR Adam Thielen had nearly 150 receiving yards. That was against a bad Saints defense, though. It won’t be as easy to move the ball against the Steelers D. And RB Le’Veon Bell likely wants to have a strong game for Pittsburgh after not doing much last week. I’m not confident in this pick, but I’ll go with the Steelers to cover.

Patriots at Saints (+5.5) – The Patriots’ offense was surprisingly subpar against the Chiefs last week and the best cure for an offense looking to bounce back from a poor outing could be playing the bad Saints defense. That’s what QB Tom Brady gets this week. I expect the Pats to have a good game this week. Patriots cover.

Sunday 4PM games

Jets at Raiders (-14.5)It’s a big number, but the Raiders are good on both offense and defense, and the Jets aren’t. I don’t normally like picking a team favored by that much, but I think the Raiders can do it in this case so I’ll give the 14.5 points.

Dolphins at Chargers (-3.5) – The Dolphins are the other team who ended up getting a Week 1 bye when Hurricane Irma postponed their scheduled home game. Between having to deal with the hurricane back home and having to travel across the country, combined with QB Jay Cutler having not played since last November, I think the Dolphins could struggle in their first game of the season. I’ll take the home team.

Cowboys at Broncos (+1.5) – The Broncos have a good defense but the Cowboys have a strong offense, especially with RB Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension postponed indefinitely. That’s why I think the Cowboys will present a bigger challenge for the Broncos than the Chargers did in Week 1. The Cowboys are favored by less than a field goal, and I think they can cover that.

Redskins at Rams (-3.5) – This is a tough one to pick. The Redskins are coming off a tough loss to the Eagles while the Rams put more than 40 points on the scoreboard last week against the Andrew Luck-less Colts. I can’t buy Rams QB Jared Goff being much improved over last season until I see it more than once. So I think Cousins will outplay Goff. Give me the points on the road.

49ers at Seahawks (-12.5) – The Seahawks are clearly a better team than the 49ers and will almost certainly win this game, but I think a 12.5-point spread is a little on the high side. The Seahawks only scored nine points against the Packers, who don’t have a top-tier defense, last week so I’m not going to give that many points the 49ers. I’ll take the underdogs. 

Sunday Night Football

Packers at Falcons (-2.5) – This is a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship and the two teams could meet in that game again this season. This time, though, they’re meeting in Week 2 as the Falcons play their first regular-season game at their new stadium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The question is whether they can open their new home with a win, or will the Packers avenge their loss from January? Both teams have good offenses but not-so-good defenses. I think Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is still better than Falcons QB Matt Ryan. I think the Packers have a chance to win the game outright, so if they’re getting points I”ll take them.

Monday Night Football

Lions at Giants (-4.5) – This line surprises me. The Giants only managed to score a field goal without WR Odell Beckham Jr. against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Even if he plays, I’m not sure the Giants’ offense is good enough to beat the Lions. I expect the Lions to win the game so I’ll take the points.

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My NFL Picks Week 1: Seahawks-Packers — NFC Championship preview?

The first of the 256 games that will be played in the NFL this season resulted in the Chiefs pulling the upset of the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. Though I didn’t pick the Chiefs to win the game, I did take them to cover the spread so I’m off to a 1-0 record against the spread to start the season. There are 14 more games left to play this weekend — the BuccaneersDolphins game was postponed to Week 11 due to Hurricane Irma — with some big games on the schedule, including a potential NFC Championship preview in Green Bay between the Seahawks and Packers. Also on the Week 1 slate, the Giants visiting the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football and RB Adrian Peterson, now with the Saints, returning to Minnesota to take on his former team the Vikings in the first game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight-up, non-ATS) is in red.

Sunday 1PM games
Falcons at Bears (+7.5) – This is the first meaningful game the Falcons are playing since blowing the 28-3 lead to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI back in February. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Falcons will win the game behind the offensive output of QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones. The question is if they’ll cover the spread of more than a touchdown. The Bears are led by QB Mike Glennon and don’t have a proven No. 1 wide receiver after WR Cameron Meredith suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. I think the Falcons are able to cover.

Jets at Bills (-6.5) – These teams should be two of the worst offenses in the league this year. I think the Bills win the game but I don’t think they’ll win by a touchdown so I’ll take the points with the Jets.

Ravens at Bengals (-2.5) Ravens QB Joe Flacco was dealing with an injury in training camp and preseason which didn’t allow him to get in much practice time. That concerns me in Week 1 as it’ll probably take him a couple games to rid of the rust so even though I’m not big on QB Andy Dalton and the Bengals, I’ll take them to win the game and cover.

Steelers at Browns (+9.5) – My thinking on this game is similar to the Falcons-Bears. It’s not a question of if the Steelers will win but rather how much they’ll win by. QB Ben Roethlisberger has one of the best running backs and wide receivers — Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, respectively — in the league while the Browns will be starting rookie QB DeShone Kizer, who likely won’t have much success against a good Steelers defense. I think Pittsburgh can win by double digits so I’ll give the points.

Cardinals at Lions (-2.5) – Both teams have a good offense but I think the Cardinals’ defense is slightly better. I’m expecting a big season from QB Carson Palmer and the rest of the Arizona offense. They have a good running back in David Johnson and I’m skeptical about how much success the Lions’ backs will have in the game. That gives the Cardinals enough of an advantage that I’m picking them to win the game outright, so I’ll definitely take the points.

Raiders at Titans (+0.5)The line indicates that this game is a toss-up and I had a hard time picking it. Raiders QB Derek Carr and Titans QB Marcus Mariota are both ascending in their careers. I think the Titans have a slightly better team overall, though, particularly on defense. I’ll take the home team to win so I’ll take the half-point.

Eagles at Redskins (-2.5) – In the first of two NFC East battles on Sunday, I’m not confident that the Redskins offense will be at the top of its game. WR Jamison Crowder is questionable to play, leaving newly signed WR Terrelle Pryor Sr. as QB Kirk Cousins‘ top target behind TE Jordan Reed. They may not have good chemistry together in their first regular-season game as teammates. I’ll take the points with the visitors.

Jaguars at Texans (-4.5)I’m not expecting much from the Jaguars offense this season behind QB Blake Bortles, who almost lost the starting spot to journeyman QB Chad Henne. The Texans’ offense likely isn’t great, either, with QB Tom Savage beating out QB Deshaun Watson as the starter. Houston’s offense should be better than Jacksonville’s, and I think the Texans’ also have the defensive advantage behind DE J.J. Watt and LB Jadeveon Clowney. The Jaguars’ defense should be improved this season after signing free-agent CB A.J. Bouye away from the Texans, but I don’t think it’ll be enough this week. I’ll take the points.

Sunday 4PM games
Colts at Rams (+3.5)With Andrew Luck ruled out for at least Week 1, Scott Tolzien will begin the season as the Colts’ starting quarterback. Given that, I’m surprised the Colts are favored in this game. I think the Rams win the game outright so I’ll take the points.

Seahawks at Packers (-2.5)This was my projected NFC Championship game when I made my playoff predictions yesterday and the teams are starting the season against each other as well. These are two of the best offenses in the league behind QBs Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. The Seahawks’ running game could be an issue without a true No. 1 running back. I think the Packers have the advantage there with WR-turned-RB Ty Montgomery, who performed well after being converted to the position in the second half of last season. I think that could be the difference in the game. Give me the home team.

Panthers at 49ers (+5.5)I’m going against the grain with this pick, but I think QB Cam Newton and the Panthers will struggle a bit on the road in Week 1 unless RB Christian McCaffrey has a big game in his NFL debut. The Panthers will win the game, but I think 49ers QB Brian Hoyer could keep it close so I’ll take the points with the 49ers.

Sunday Night Football
Giants at Cowboys (-4.5)For much of the preseason, it was thought that Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott would start serving his six-game suspension in Week 1 and miss this game. Now, though, not only will he play in the team’s opener but he could play for the whole season as his appeal works its way through the legal system. I’m worried about the Cowboys’ defense, but I think the Elliott and QB Dak Prescott can put enough points on the board to overcome any deficiencies on the other side of the ball. The Cowboys lost both games against their divisional rivals in 2016 and I don’t see the Giants winning three in a row. I’ll take the Cowboys and give the points.

Monday Night Football
Saints at Vikings (-3.5)Longtime Vikings running back Peterson goes against his old team in his first game with his new team. I don’t think it’ll be a good homecoming for him, though, as I expect the Vikings to win the game. The Saints ave one of the worst defenses in the league so QB Sam Bradford won’t have trouble moving the ball down the field and scoring. Vikings cover the spread.

Chargers at Broncos (-3.5)I think the Broncos’ defense will be able to keep the Chargers’ defense in check in the final game of Week 1. Their offense worries be, but Chargers QB Philip Rivers isn’t exactly the best quarterback in the league either so I’m banking on Denver’s defense controlling the game. I’ll take the home favorites.

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4th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Playoff predictions and Super Bowl LII winner

Time to finish up the season preview posts with my projected NFL playoff bracket for the coming season. I’ve determined what records I think every team will end up with this season and the subsequent playoff seedings. Here are my playoff predictions. Continue reading

4th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Season predictions

Here are my predictions for how the 2017 NFL season will play out. I went through and picked who I think will win each game and these are the final records, standings and playoff seedings. Thanks to the NFL Playoff Predictor for making it easy to track everything. There were some changes in my thinking from wen I was writing the team previews through the summers based on signings, trades and other news items from recent weeks, as well as general changes in my opinions of some teams.


AFC East
Patriots 12-4
Dolphins 7-9
Bills 4-12
Jets 2-14

AFC North
Steelers 12-4
Ravens 6-10
Bengals 5-11
Browns 3-13

AFC South
Titans 10-6
Texans 9-7
Colts 6-10
Jaguars 4-12

AFC West
Raiders 14-2
Chiefs 12-4
Broncos 8-8
Chargers 5-11

AFC Playoff Seeds


NFC East
Cowboys 10-6
Eagles 10-6
Giants 9-7
Redskins 8-8

NFC North
Packers 11-5
Vikings 10-6
Lions 9-7
Bears 4-12

NFC South
Falcons 11-5
Panthers 9-7
Buccaneers 9-7
Saints 8-8

NFC West
Seahawks 12-4
Cardinals 10-6
Rams 4-12
49ers 3-13

NFC Playoff Seeds

You can check out my game-by-game picks for the regular season here. Coming this weekend, I’ll make my postseason picks, including the Super Bowl and my picks for Week 1’s games.

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