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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

Thanksgiving

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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My NFL Picks Week 8: NFC East battle between the Cowboys and Redskins

With six teams on bye in Week 8, there aren’t many must-see games on the schedule. Notable contests include a classic NFC East rivalry reignited when the Cowboys visit the Redskins and the Monday nighter, which features the top two teams in the AFC West as the Broncos visit the Chiefs, who have lost two straight after beginning the season 5-0. I went 9-6 last week, giving me an overall record of 59-47 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: Cardinals, Packers, Jaguars, Rams, Giants, Titans

Thursday Night Football

Dolphins at Ravens (-3.5) – With QB Jay Cutler expected to miss this week’s game with fractured ribs, QB Matt Moore gets the start for the Dolphins on the road. Even with Cutler not playing great this season, the Dolphins offense has been decent. The Ravens, on the other hand, haven’t been good behind QB Joe Flacco. I’ll take the points with the Dolphins, who I think could win the game outright.

Sunday 9:30AM game (London)

Vikings at Browns (+9.5) – The Browns are clearly the worst team in the league and still in search of their first win of the season, which I don’t think they’ll get this week in London. So it comes down to how much they lose by. I think 9.5 points is kind of high because the Vikings aren’t among the best offenses in the league, so I’ll take the points.

Sunday 1PM games

Falcons at Jets (+4.5) – The Falcons offense has underperformed all season after QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones and the rest of the squad put up monster numbers in 2016, but the Jets are led by QB Josh McCown, who is worse than Ryan no matter how much he’s underperforming. Given that, I expect the Falcons to win and cover.

Raiders at Bills (-2.5) – The Raiders are traveling across the country and playing in an early game, which is probably why the Bills are favored. After struggling in recent weeks, the Raiders offense looked better in Week 7 as QB Derek Carr continues to heal from his back injury. The Bills will still likely be without TE Charles Clay. I think the Raiders win the game so I’ll take the points on the road.

Bears at Saints (-8.5) – The Bears won last week’s game thanks to a strong defensive performance as QB Mitch Trubisky had just seven pass attempts. They do have a good running back in Jordan Howard, who I think will be able to keep them in the game against a Saints offense that includes QB Drew Brees and RBs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Saints win, but I’ll take the points.

Colts at Bengals (-10.5) – Here’s another game in which I think the line is too high. The Bengals are a better team than the Colts without QB Andrew Luck, but they don’t have a great offense themselves and I don’t see them winning by double-digits. Give me the Colts.

Chargers at Patriots (-7.5) – The Patriots defense has gotten better after a poor start to the season, and the offense is firing on all cylinders behind QB Tom Brady. The Chargers have the advantage in the ground game with RB Melvin Gordon, but I don’t think this game will be that close. I’ll give the points.

49ers at Eagles (-12.5)The 49ers got blown out last week by the Cowboys, but most of there games prior to that — all losses — were close and I think they can keep this one close against an Eagles team that has the best record in the league. The Eagles win the game, but I don’t think they’ll cover.

Panthers at Buccaneers (-2.5) – The Buccaneers are hoping to win this game to avoid falling further behind in the NFC South. There was uncertainty about whether QB Jameis Winston would play last week — he did, and he played well so he seems to be over the shoulder injury he suffered a few weeks ago. The Panthers didn’t look good against the Bears last week, and I think Winston is playing better than Panthers QB Cam Newton right now, so I’ll take the Bucs to win at home.

Sunday 4PM games

Texans at Seahawks (-5.5) – Texans QB Deshaun Watson has played well in the first few games of his career, but not he faces perhaps the best defense he has gone against to date in his professional career. The Texans defense, meanwhile, is missing two key pieces in J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. That combination leads to an advantage for the Seahawks, who I think will win the game. I will take the points, though.

Cowboys at Redskins (+2.5) – This is a key NFC East battle between two teams looking to remain in second place behind the Eagles. The Cowboys didn’t have any trouble beating the 49ers on the road last week, but the Redskins will be a tougher challenge as they come off a Monday night loss to the Eagles. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott had his best game of the season last week, and I think that momentum will continue for the visitors. Cowboys win and cover.

Sunday Night Football

Steelers at Lions (+3.5) – The Steelers are better than the Lions on both sides of the ball, despite QB Ben Roethlisberger not having a great season. He still has WR Antonio Brown to throw the ball to with RB Le’Veon carrying it on the ground. Steelers win, and I think they cover the 3.5 points.

Monday Night Football

Broncos at Chiefs (-7.5)The Broncos got shut out by the Chargers last week and now face the leaders of their division on the road. It would seem like the Chiefs can cover the spread, but the Broncos have a pretty good defense and I think they’ll be able to limit the points the Chiefs will be able to put on the board 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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My NFL Picks Week 6: Chiefs look to remain undefeated, Giants seek first win

The Chiefs are the lone remaining undefeated team in the NFL this season, and they put their perfect 5-0 record on the line this week against a perennial playoff contender in the Steelers. On the other end of the spectrum, the Giants, Browns and 49ers are still searching for their first wins. With the AFC East-leading Bills on their bye this week, the game between the Patriots and Jets is for the division lead. I went 7-7 last week, giving me an overall record of 44-33 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: Bills, Bengals, Cowboys, Seahawks

Thursday Night Football

Eagles at Panthers (-2.5) – The Panthers and QB Cam Newton seem to have gotten things together in the last couple of weeks, but the Eagles have been playing well all season, with QB Carson Wentz in the top 10 of many of the statistical categories at the position. The Eagles are struggling in the running game due to injuries, but I think they could win the game so I’ll take the points.

Sunday 1PM games

Dolphins at Falcons (-11.5) – It is obvious that QB Jay Cutler isn’t the answer for the Dolphins and, even though the Falcons offense behind QB Matt Ryan has taken a step back this season, they’re still significantly better than the Dolphins. The Falcons will win the game, it’s just a question of the point differential. I think 11.5 is too much — especially with WRs Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu possibly missing the game because of injuries suffered in Week 5 — so I’ll take the points.

Bears at Ravens (-7.5) – Last week was one of the few times this season the Ravens defense played well. In his first game on Monday night, Bears QB Mitch Trubisky looked serviceable. Since neither team has a great offense, I expect this to be a close game, so I’ll take the points again, though I think the Ravens will win the game.

Browns at Texans (-9.5) – Just as the Texans appear to finally have a real quarterback in rookie Deshaun  Watson, they lost two key pieces of their defense on Sunday night, with DE J.J. Watt and LB Whitney Mercilus both likely out for the season. Their loss probably won’t be felt too much against a bad Browns team that has announced QB Kevin Hogan will make his first start of the season, with Deshone Kizer hitting the bench. Texans win, but I think it’ll be closer than 9.5 points so I’ll take the points here as well.

Lions at Saints (-4.5) – I’m kind of surprised the Saints are giving points. While they do well at the Superdome, I think the Lions are the better team and could win the game outright. I’ll take the points with them.

Packers at Vikings (+3.5) – The Packers are coming off a last-second victory against the Cowboys, in which QB Aaron Rodgers led the game-winning drive in under 90 seconds, and visiting a Vikings team that could be without QB Sam Bradford, who left in the middle of Monday’s game against the Bears. Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon looked good filling in for rookie RB Dalvin Cook, who suffered a season-ending injury in the previous game. In Bradford plays, the Vikings have a chance to win but if it’s QB Case Keenum is under center, I don’t think it’ll be that close. I think the latter scenario is more likely so I’ll give the points with the Packers on the road.

Patriots at Jets (+9.5) – Surprisingly, both teams have identical 3-2 records, but the Jets’ wins haven’t come against teams the caliber of the Patriots. QB Tom Brady missed practice on Tuesday but returned on Wednesday, so there isn’t much concern about him playing Sunday, and if he’s on the field I don’t think this will be a close game. I’ll give the points.

49ers at Redskins (-9.5) – These teams are both in the bottom 10 of the league in points scored so you would expect this one to be pretty close, which is why I’m surprised the Redskins are such big favorites. They definitely have the advantage at quarterback, with Kirk Cousins against the 49ers’ Brian Hoyer, but I think the 49ers stay within a double-digit deficit. Redskins win the game, but I’ll take the points.

Sunday 4PM games

Rams at Jaguars (-2.5) – The Jaguars are in the top five of the league in both scoring offense and defense, going against a Rams offense that I feel has overperformed so far this season. Jags win by more than a field goal so I’ll give the points.

Buccaneers at Cardinals (+2.5) – The Cardinals offense is not good, and I don’t trading for RB Adrian Peterson this week will help it because he didn’t do much in the games he played with the Saints. I expect the Buccaneers to easily win and cover the spread.

Steelers at Chiefs (-3.5)Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is coming off the worst game of his career in which he threw five interceptions. Going against a good Chiefs defense won’t go well for him if he doesn’t improve over his performance last season. I think QB Alex Smith leads the Chiefs to another win to remain undefeated, and I’ll give the points.

Chargers at Raiders (-6.5) – The Raiders offense didn’t look good last week when QB Matt McGloin filled in for the injured Derek Carr, but it seems like Carr will be able to go this week at home against a 1-4 Chargers team. While their record isn’t great, the Chargers have lost a couple tight games late and I think they can take advantage of a bad Raiders defense to keep it close. I think the Raiders win the game, but I’ll take the points.

Sunday Night Football

Giants at Broncos (-12.5) – The 0-5 Giants are still looking for their first win of the season, which will be a tough task against a Broncos defense that has allowed the third-fewest points in the NFL this season.And Giants QB Eli Manning will be without WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall — as well as potentially Sterling Shepard — but having said that the Broncos don’t exactly have a prolific offense either. I think nearly two touchdowns is too high of a spread so even though I expect the Broncos to win I’ll take the visitors with the points.

Monday Night Football

Colts at Titans (-3.5) – The Week 6 finale could be a battle of backup AFC South quarterbacks. We already know Jacoby Brissett will get the start for the Colts but Titans QB Marcus Mariota is a question mark. If Matt Cassel gets the start again, I could lean toward the Colts because the Titans offense wasn’t good last week under Cassel. It looks like Mariota could be ready for the game — and it helps that he has an extra day with the Monday nighter — so I’ll assume he’s playing and take the Titans to win, giving the points.

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