Tag Archives: Super Bowl

Super Bowl LII: Foles brings the Eagles their first Super Bowl title, earns MVP honors

Heading into Super Bowl LII, it figured to be a battle of the Eagles defense trying to hold down Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. The Eagles D got the better of the Patriots early on, with QB Nick Foles helping get the Eagles get out to a 15-3 lead, but the Eagles couldn’t feel comfortable with a lead of that size just a year after the Patriots overcame a 28-3 deficit to beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

Both offenses had long opening drives stall to come away with field goals for an early 3-3 score. The Eagles picked up the next two scores, with a passing touchdown from Foles to WR Alshon Jeffery; a missed PAT made it a 9-3 game after the first quarter. A LeGarrette Blount rushing touchdown about halfway through the second quarter made it a 15-3 Eagles lead after a failed two-point conversion attempt.

On the ensuing Patriots drive after the second touchdown, RB Rex Burkhead found a hole for a 46-yard catch-and-run, but the offense couldn’t capitalize on it and had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, who had missed a 26-yarder on his previous attempt, to cut the lead to 15-6 midway through the second quarter. After that field goal, the Patriots announced that WR Brandin Cooks was out for the remainder of the game with a head injury after he took a big hit at the hands of S Malcolm Jenkins earlier in the quarter. The loss of Cooks would make a Brady comeback harder to come by.

The game’s first turnover came with 5:01 remaining in the first half when Patriots S Duron Harmon intercepted a pass that was deflected when Jeffery nearly made a one-handed catch that would have put the Eagles in the red zone.

The Patriots took advantage of the takeaway — their first since Week 15 — with a 90-yard drive, helped by a holding penalty against the Eagles, that was capped off by a 26-yard touchdown run by RB James White, who scored the winning touchdown for New England in overtime of Super Bowl LI. Gostkowski missed the extra point, however, to make it a 15-12 game with 2:04 to go in the opening half.

It looked like the Eagles wouldn’t get much offense on the ensuing drive, but a 55-yard pass to RB Corey Clement on a third-down play put the Eagles inside the 10-yard line with under a minute to go before the break. The Eagles couldn’t find the end zone on the first three plays in the red zone. Rather than going for the chip shot field goal, they decided to go for it on fourth down inside the two-yard line. They went deep into their playbook for a trick play, with TE Trey Burton throwing a touchdown pass to Foles. The extra point made it 22-12 with 34 seconds left in the half.

The Patriots couldn’t get into field goal range on their drive following the Burton-to-Foles score and came up empty on their final play of the half. After nearly 700 total yards of offense in the first half, the Eagles had a 22-12 halftime lead. But that is far from an insurmountable deficit for the Patriots to overcome, especially with them receiving the second-half kickoff.

The Patriots came out with a quick scoring drive to start the second half. They went 75 yards in 2:45 with TE Rob Gronkowski making four catches on the drive, including a five-yard touchdown catch to make it 22-19 after Gostkowski tacked on the extra point.

The Eagles responded with a long drive of their own that ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Clement in the back of the end zone. It’s not clear that he actually made the case, but the call was upheld on the review to put the Eagles’ lead back up to 10, 29-19, following the successful extra point attempt by K Jake Elliott.

Neither offense let up in the fourth quarter, with the Patriots taking their first lead of the game with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter following another touchdown pass to Gronkowski — this one from four yards out — and the subsequent extra point, which made the score 33-32 in favor of New England. With that, the Patriots officially eliminated a double-digit deficit for the second straight Super Bowl.

The lead wouldn’t hold up, though, as the Eagles responded with another touchdown drive, culminating with a 11-yard touchdown pass to TE Zach Ertz that, like the Clement score, held up when it was reviewed. The Eagles missed the two-point attempt, leaving them with a five-point lead, 38-33.

The Eagles left Brady with 2:21 left on the clock, which could have been enough time for him to lead a game-winning drive for the Patriots. But that drive was cut short when Eagles DE Brandon Graham knocked the ball out of Brady’s hand on a sack and DE Derek Barnett recovered it for the Eagles’ first takeaway of the game to go with their first sack.

They had the ball with 2:16 left and came away with a 46-yard field goal to make it 41-33, leaving Brady and the Patriots about a minute to go 90 yards for a touchdown and convert the two-point try to tie the game and force overtime. Brady was able to attempt a hail mary in the end zone to Gronkowski, but the tight end couldn’t catch the ball. And that was the ballgame. Led by Foles, the Eagles won their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

The game certainly wasn’t lacking for offense, with Brady breaking his own record for passing yards in a Super Bowl with 505 yards through the air. Foles threw for 373 yards, and the teams combined for a Super Bowl-record 1,151 yards with nine total touchdowns. There was only one punt in the game, which fell one point short of the all-time record for most points scored in a Super Bowl. Although it was close essentially the whole game and the Patriots had a brief fourth-quarter lead, the team that played better tonight ended up hoisting the Lombardi trophy — the first time the Eagles have been able to do that as the best team in the NFL. Not surprisingly, Foles was named the MVP following his tremendous performance in the biggest game of his life.

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Super Bowl LII Preview: Patriots seek 6th championship, Eagles looking for first Super Bowl title

We’ve made it through the NFL regular season and playoffs, and it’s time to determine the league’s next champion in Super Bowl LII. The top seed in each conference is playing in the game, with the Eagles representing the NFC and the Patriots having made it out of the AFC. It’s the Patriots’ second straight Super Bowl appearance and third in the last four years. For the Eagles, it’s their first appearance in the title game since Super Bowl XXXIX — when they lost to the Patriots, 24-21. The Eagles are looking for their first Super Bowl title in franchise history, while the Patriots are going for their sixth, which would tie them for the most all-time.

The Eagles didn’t have any problem winning the NFC Championship game, blowing out the Vikings by a final score of 38-7 behind a fantastic performance by QB Nick Foles, who had his best game of the season since taking over for injured QB Carson Wentz. He was 26-for-33 for 352 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. Three Eagles receivers had at least five receptions, with TE Zach Ertz leading the team with eight catches for 93 yards. WRs Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith had five receptions apiece, with Jeffery scoring two touchdowns and Smith getting one score. On the ground, RB Jay Ajayi had 73 yards and LeGarrette Blount — who was part of the Patriots’ championship team last season — scoring a touchdown on six carries. As good as the offense was, the defense may have been even better. After allowing a touchdown on the Vikings’ opening drive, the defense held them scoreless the rest of the way while recording two interceptions and recovering a lost fumble.

Things didn’t go as smoothly for the Patriots in the AFC title game. They needed to score 14 fourth-quarter points to help overcome a deficit to beat the Jaguars and continue their quest for back-to-back titles. QB Tom Brady completed 26 of 38 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. He did much of that without his top weapon, TE Rob Gronkowski, who left the game with a concussion after securing just one reception for 21 yards. WRs Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks picked up the slack in Gronkowski’s absence, catching seven and six passes, respectively. Amendola had two touchdowns and a total of 84 yards on his catches, and Cooks went for 100 yards on his six grabs. None of the running backs did much in the running game, but James White had a rushing touchdown and Dion Lewis had seven receptions for 32 yards. Defensively, the Patriots had one forced fumble but no interceptions.

The Patriots are favored by 4.5 points, which is down 1.5 points from the opening line, with an over/under of 48, a point higher than where it opened.

Looking ahead to the game, it’s a battle of the strong Eagles defense against the Tom Brady-led offense of the Patriots, which can seemingly score against any team. Gronkowski has been practicing this week and officially cleared the concussion protocol on Thursday, so he will be in the game, which will of course help the Patriots offense. Foles needs to come close to a repeat performance to what he did in the NFC Championship for the Eagles to have a chance to win the victory. The defense will keep the Eagles in the game and I think it’ll be close, but I don’t think the Eagles offense will be able to match up with the Patriots enough to get the win. I’ll go with the Patriots to win the game, but I’ll take the 4.5 points with the Eagles. I’ll go under the 48 as well. I think Gronk has a big game and takes home the MVP trophy.

(Spread and over/under from Vegas Insider)

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My NFL Picks: Conference Championships — Vikings play a road game hoping for a Super Bowl at home

Before the season started, not many people probably expected the starting quarterbacks in the conference championship games to be Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Tom Brady. The latter is probably the only one of the quartet that would have had many votes. But thanks to injuries and an upset in the AFC divisional round, that’s where we stand as we enter the semifinals of the tournament known as the NFL postseason.

The first game of the Sunday doubleheader features Bortles leading the Jaguars — whose defense has carried them to this point — into Foxboro to take on Brady and the Patriots, who are playing in their seventh-straight conference championship game — and 12th overall during the Brady era — as they look to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Then the nightcap features the top two seeds in the NFC, with Foles and the Eagles hosting Keenum and the Vikings, who are one win away from becoming the first team in league history to play in a Super Bowl being held in its home stadium.

I didn’t have a good week with my picks last week. I was 1-3 picking games, 0-3-1 against the spread, and 2-2 on over/unders. For the postseason, I’m 3-5 straight up, 1-6-1 ATS, and 4-4 on over/unders.

No. 3 seed Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 1 seed New England Patriots (-7.5, over/under 45)

The Jaguars were underdogs by a full touchdown against the Steelers last week, but they won a high-scoring affair, 45-42, to make it to their third conference championship game in franchise history. Bortles had one of his typical games last week, completing just over 50% of his passes for 214 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. RB Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. The defense kept the Jaguars in the game, with two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery, which LB Telvin Smith returned 50 yards for a touchdown.

In the Patriots’ 35-14 thumping of the Titans, Brady was 35-for-53 for 337 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He threw one touchdown each to TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Chris Hogan and RB James White, while WR Danny Amendola had 11 receptions for 112 yards. On the ground, RB Dion Lewis had 15 carries for 62 yards, and RB Brandon Bolden and White each had a rushing touchdown. The Patriots didn’t have any defensive scores or any takeaways, but the defense did sack Marcus Mariota eight times in the game and limited the Titans to one touchdown until late in the game when they added a second when the game was already out of reach.

That brings us to this week. There’s not much of a chance that the Jaguars will score in the 40s again this week, so if the defense gives up 42 points again, the home team will be celebrating another AFC title. Bortles has to make sure he doesn’t¬† turn the ball over, but Fournette will be key to success for the Jaguars. Not only is he the team’s best offensive player, but the Jags have to run the ball a lot to keep the clock moving and keep Brady off the field. That is essential if the Jags want to make it to the first Super Bowl in franchise history. Also essential, the defensive players being at the top of their game. The Jaguars have one of the best defenses in the league, and good defenses have had success keeping Brady in check this season. The big story for the Patriots is Brady’s throwing hand. He injured it in practice earlier in the week and is questionable for Sunday. It a near-certainty that he’ll play, but if the hand is a real issue, it could prevent him from playing up to the level we’re used to seeing from him. He has a history of performing well in big games, and I think that will continue this week. I don’t think the hand will be much of an issue. I expect the Jaguars to give the Patriots a more competitive game than the Titans did last week, but the Patriots should come out on top. I’ll go with a final score of 30-20, so that’s Patriots (-7.5) and over the 45.

No. 2 seed Minnesota Vikings at No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles (+3, over/under 39)

The Vikings needed one of the best finishes in NFL history to beat the Saints last week after giving up a 17-0 halftime lead. Keenum was 25-for-40 passing for 318 yards, one touchdown and one interception. WR Stefon Diggs had six receptions for 137 yards, including the game-winning touchdown on the memorable final play. WR Adam Thielen added six catches of his own for 74 yards. RBs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon each had a rushing touchdown, with Murray running for 50 yards and McKinnon 34 yards. The defense sacked Drew Brees twice to go along with two interceptions.

The Eagles relied largely on their defense to beat the Falcons and get the chance to host the NFC championship game. Foles was 23-for-30 for 246, with neither a passing touchdown nor an interception. The Eagles’ lone touchdown last week came on a run by RB LeGarrette Blount, just one of nine carries in the game for him. RB Jay Ajayi was the most production Eagle on the ground, which isn’t saying much because he only had 54 yards on 15 carries. The leading pass-catcher was WR Alshon Jeffery, who had four receptions for 61 yards. RB Corey Clement caught five balls for 31 yards.

For this week’s game, it’s a battle of backup quarterbacks, with Keenum filling in for Sam Bradford and Foles seeing action because of the injury to Carson Wentz. Of the two quarterbacks, Keenum is probably better but neither is likely going to be the reason his team wins the game.This is going to be¬† a defensive battle. Both teams have good defenses, but the Vikings have the better unit on that side of the ball. The Vikings also have the better receivers with Thielen and Diggs, but Eagles TE Zach Ertz could be an X-factor for his team. The Eagles have¬† a slight advantage in the running game, with Ajayi versus the Vikings’ duo. Overall, I give the Vikings the edge in what should be a close, low-scoring affair. I’m going with a Vikings win, 21-17, which means Vikings (-3) and just under the 39.

By the end of the night Sunday, we’ll know which teams will be playing in Super Bowl LII in Minnesota. In the NFC, it’ll definitely be a quarterback playing in his first Super Bowl. In the AFC, it’ll be either another first-timer or a quarterback with a lot of Super Bowl experience.

(Spreads and over/unders from Vegas Insider)

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My NFL Picks: Divisional Round — Can the Titans, Jags pull off upsets

After a couple of surprising results in the Wild Card round, we’re now at the NFL Divisional playoffs. After their bye weeks, the Patriots, Steelers, Eagles and Vikings are back in action and hosting games this weekend. The Vikings are just two wins away from becoming the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium, while the Patriots are looking to repeat as back-to-back Super Bowl champions. The Eagles are hoping they’ll be able to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history, but that’ll be tough with Nick Foles starting at quarterback.

In last week’s games, I went 2-2 straight up, 1-3 against the spread and 2-2 on over/unders for a mediocre start to the postseason with my picks.

Saturday

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No. 6 seed Atlanta Falcons at No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles (13-3, NFC East champions) (+3, over/under 41)

The Falcons are coming off somewhat of an upset, beating the Rams on the road last week, and they now face the top team in the conference in the Eagles. The Eagles aren’t at full strength, though, with Foles continuing to start with Carson Wentz injured. The Eagles have played so poorly since Wentz went down that they’re the underdogs in this game despite being the top seed in the conference and playing at home.

In the seven games he’s played this season, including three starts, Foles has completed 56.4% of his passes for 537 yards and five touchdowns, with two interceptions. He won two of his three starts, but¬† those games were against the Giants and Raiders; the Falcons will present a much bigger challenge. The Eagles don’t have much of a running game, with RB LeGarrette Blount the most productive back this season with 766 yards but just two touchdowns a season after scoring 18 touchdowns with the Patriots. In the passing game, TE Zach Ertz was the team’s leading receiver this season with 74 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns, but WR Nelson Agholor wasn’t far behind him with 768 yards and eight touchdowns — but most of that production was with Wentz throwing them the ball. Defensively, the team gave up the fourth-fewest points in the league this season and had the fourth-most takeaways.

The Eagles will likely have to rely on the defense to stop the Falcons, led by QB Matt Ryan, RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and WR Julio Jones. With the way Foles has played since Wentz went down, I think the Falcons are the better team. I’ll give the points and go with the Falcons (-3), 27-20, and over 41.

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No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans at No. 1 seed New England Patriots (13-3, AFC East champions) (-13.5, over/under 48)

This seems like the biggest mismatch of the weekend, with the Titans nearly two-touchdown underdogs in Foxboro. They fell behind the Chiefs early in last week’s game but came back to win by a point. They ultimately scored 22 points, which likely won’t be enough to beat the Patriots on Saturday.¬†

Patriots QB Tom Brady had one of his typically strong seasons, throwing for 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns with eight interceptions. For much of the season, the team didn’t have what would be considered a lead running back, but RB Dion Lewis came on strong late in the season to take on that role. He ended the year with 896 yards and six touchdowns on 180 carries.¬† Despite playing in 14 games, TE Rob Gronkowski still surpassed 1,000 yards for the season, with eight touchdowns on 69 receptions. WR Brandin Cooks was right behind him, with 65 catches for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns. The defense gave up the fifth-fewest points in the league during the regular season but was in the bottom 10 with just 18 takeaways.

The Titans offense is clearly worse than the Patriots’, especially with RB DeMarco Murray already ruled out, leaving RB Derrick Henry as the team’s lead back. For the Patriots,¬†RB Rex Burkhead, who played a pretty big role in the passing game this season, missed the last couple games of the regular season with a sprained knee, but he is listed as probable to return to action this weekend.¬†Like Burkhead, WR Chris Hogan is probable to return to the field this week after missing some time due to injury. I’m not expecting a competitive game here. Titans QB Marcus Mariota isn’t in the same league as Brady. I’m picking the Patriots, 34-21, so the Titans (+13.5)¬† barely cover. And over 48.

Sunday

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No. 3 seed Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 2 seed Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3, AFC North champions) (-7, over/under 41)

The Jaguars may have beaten the Steelers when they played during the regular season, but they needed Ben Roethlisberger to throw five interceptions in order to do it. The Jaguars offense looked terrible last week and only won because the Bills were worse. QB Blake Bortles isn’t good, and the defense will have to make sure this is a low-scoring game for the Jaguars to have any kind of chance to pull off the upset.

Roethlisberger played in 15 games this season, throwing for 4,251 yards and 28 touchdowns with 14 interceptions — more than a third of which came in the Jaguars game. RB Le’Veon Bell ran for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games, adding 85 receptions in the passing game for an additional 655 yards and two touchdowns. Those 85 catches were the second-most on the team, behind WR Antonio Brown, who caught 101 passes in 14 games. He totaled 1,533 yards and nine touchdowns on the year. Rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster came on strong late in the season — taking advantage of Brown missing the last two games with an injury — and ended the season with 58 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. WR Martavis Bryant had 50 receptions for 603 yards and three scores. Defensively, the Steelers gave up the seventh-fewest points in the league and was near the middle of the pack with 22 takeaways.

Brown hasn’t played since leaving the Steelers’ Week 15 game against the Patriots early with a partially torn calf, but he has been practicing this week and is expected to return to action. That doesn’t bode well for the Jaguars, whose best receiver, WR Marqise Lee had just 56 receptions during the season. The Jags’ best offensive player is rookie RB Leonard Fournette, but he’s only surpassed 100 rushing yards twice since Week 11. Steelers (-7) win easily, 27-14, and that’s a push of the 41.

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No. 4 seed New Orleans Saints at No. 2 seed Minnesota Vikings (13-3, NFC North champions) (-5, over/under 46.5)

For the second straight week, the Saints are playing in what appears to be the most competitive game of the four. Last week, QB Drew Brees threw for 376 yards and two touchdowns on the way to beating the Panthers, but star running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for just 45 rushing yards.

An early-season injury to Vikings QB Sam Bradford led to QB Case Keenum becoming the team’s starter. In his 15 games, including 14 starts, during the regular season he threw for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns with seven interceptions. RB Latavius Murray led the team on the ground, running for 842 yards and eight touchdowns and his backfield mate Jerick McKinnon ran for 570 yards and three touchdowns. McKinnon also had 51 receptions for 421 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings had two strong receivers with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Thielen caught 91 balls for 1,276 yards and four touchdowns, and Diggs caught 64 passes for 849 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games. TE Kyle Rudolph also had eight touchdown catches, on 57 receptions. While the offense was good, it was the defense where the Vikings shined all season, allowing the fewest points in the NFL, but the Vikings finished in the bottom third of the league with 19 takeaways.

This is the classic matchup of a strong offense against a strong defense. People say defense wins championships, but in this case I think the better offense will come out on top. The Saints are strong both in the passing game with Brees and WRs Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn and on the ground, with Kamara and Ingram. The running backs will have to do better than they did last week, though, if the team is going to be successful on the road against the Vikings. I expect it to be a close game, so I’m going to take the points with the Saints (+5) winning 28-24, with the score going over.

After this weekend’s games we’ll have the final four set, and they will each be one step away from making it to Super Bowl LII.

(Spreads and over/unders from Vegas Insider)

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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 7: Super Bowl rematch, Packers start life without Aaron Rodgers

In Week 5, a couple NFL superstars suffered season-ending injuries, with Texans DE J.J. Watt and Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.¬†out for the season. In Week 6, it was one of the league’s best quarterbacks that probably suffered that same fate when Packers QB Aaron Rodgers left the game against the Vikings with a collarbone injury that will likely cause him to miss the rest of the season. The Packers are at home this week for their first post-Rodgers game, taking on the Saints in what is expected to be a shootout. The game of the week is the Sunday nighter, featuring a Super Bowl LI rematch when the Falcons visit the Patriots. I went 6-8¬†last week, giving me an overall record of 50-41 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: Lions, Texans

Thursday Night Football

Chiefs at Raiders (+2.5) – Coming off their first loss of the season, the Chiefs look to get back to their winning ways on a short week when they visit the Raiders, who are a disappointing 2-4 on the season. Raiders QB Derek Carr returned from his injury last week, but that didn’t help the offense like people thought it might. Facing the Chiefs defense won’t help the Raiders put points on the board. Give me the Chiefs.

Sunday 1PM games

Buccaneers at Bills (-2.5) –¬†The Buccaneers may be heading to Buffalo with veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starter with QB Jameis Winston day-to-day with a shoulder injury. The Bills are coming off their bye, giving them plenty of rest for this game at home. I’ll take the Bills.

Panthers¬†at Bears (+3.5) –¬†The Bears needed overtime to beat the Ravens on Sunday, and they now face a more potent offense in the Panthers. QB Mitch Trubisky has helped improve the Bears offense since being named the starter, but I don’t think the Bears have enough weapons to compete with QB Cam Newton and the Panthers. I’ll give the points.

Titans at Browns (+5.5) –¬†The Browns are still winless on the season, and I think that will continue after this game. QB Marcus Mariota came back in Week 6 after missing the previous game and played well despite his hamstring injury limiting his production on the ground. I fully expect the Titans to win the game, it’s just a question of whether they cover the spread. The Browns offense is so bad I think they will. Give me the Titans.

Saints at Packers (+5.5) – This was expected to be a matchup of two of the game’s best veteran quarterbacks with Drew Brees leading the Saints and Aaron Rodgers the Packers. With Rodgers sidelined with his injured collarbone, though, it’ll be QB Brett Hundley leading the Packers against an offense that put up 52 points last week. While they probably won’t score that much again, I don’t think Hundley will be able to keep up with the Saints offensively. Saints win and cover.

Jaguars at Colts (+2.5)¬†–¬†The Colts don’t have many weapons on offense, and Jaguars QB Blake Bortles isn’t very good. The Jags do have the best offensive player in the game with RB Leonard Fournette and a much better defense, so I give them the edge in this one. I’ll give the points.

Cardinals at Rams (-3.5) – RB Adrian Peterson played better in his first game with the Cardinals last week than he did all season with the Saints before being traded to Arizona. It seemed to invigorate a Cardinals offense that had been struggling of late¬† with QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald putting up good numbers. I expect this to be a close game that I expect the Rams to win, but I think the Cardinals to keep it close enough that I’ll take the points.

Jets at Dolphins (-2.5) –¬†The Jets only scored 17 against a bad Patriots defense last week while the Dolphins overcame a deficit to beat the defending NFC champion Falcons. Neither Jets QB Josh McCown nor Dolphins QB Jay Cutler — both former Bears — is great at this point in their careers, so I’ll go with the team with the best running back, which would be Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi, who I think will lead his team to the win. Dolphins cover.

Ravens at Vikings (-5.5) –¬†The Ravens’ offensive struggles continued last week, losing to the Bears. The Vikings, on the other hand, has continued to perform decently with QB Case Keenum filling in for injured QB Sam Bradford. I expect the Vikings to win the game, helped in part by RB Jerick McKInnon, but I don’t think they cover so I’ll take the Ravens with the points.


Sunday 4PM games

Cowboys at 49ers (+6.5) There was some uncertainty early in the week over whether Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott would be able to play this week or if he’d begin serving his six-game suspension. He will play, which helps the Cowboys offense coming off the bye. They’ll win the game, and I think they cover the spread.

Bengals at Steelers (-5.5) The Steelers are coming off an impressive win against the Chiefs that came a week after QB Ben Roethlisberger had a five-interception game. RB Le’Veon Bell had his best game of the season for Pittsburgh last week, and I think the offensive momentum continues on Sunday at home against the division-rival Bengals. Give me the Steelers.

Broncos at Chargers (-1.5) – The Chargers are looking to rebound from a surprising loss to the Giants on Sunday night in which they only scored 10 points. I expect the offense to play better this week, but the Broncos will still rely on the defense to keep them in the game this week. I think the defense will be able to do that against the Chargers, I’ll give the minimum points.

Seahawks at Giants (-5.5) – The Giants are looking to start a winning streak after picking up their first win of the season on Sunday night. It’ll be tough to do against a strong Seahawks defense and with the Giants offense still not at full strength. WR Sterling Shepard may be back this week, but QB Eli Manning still doesn’t have many other weapons in the passing game to throw to. The Seahawks should win the game, and I think it’ll be close as to whether they cover. I think they’ll barely cover, so I’ll take Seattle.

Sunday Night Football

Falcons at Patriots (-3.5) – The Falcons seek revenge against the Patriots, who overcame a 25-point deficit to beat them in Super Bowl LI in February. This year’s Falcons team isn’t the same team that came within minutes of winning the Super Bowl, as the offense has struggled this season. The good news for them¬†is the Patriots defense isn’t as good as what last season. That’ll give QB Matt Ryan a chance to shine, but I don’t think he’ll be able to outplay Patriots QB Tom Brady, which he’ll likely have to do if he wants to lead his team to victory. I’ll give the points.

Monday Night Football

Redskins at Eagles (-4.5)¬†– The Eagles may be the best team in the NFC with Rodgers likely out for the year in Green Bay. QB Carson Wentz has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league this season. It’s never easy to beat a division rival, but it’s a home game for the Eagles, and I think they’ll be able to continue the success they’ve had this season. I think they’ll win to improve to 6-1 on the year, and I’ll give the points again.

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