Monday, December 30, 2013

Who's Next?

Black Monday was a happy day in the Tampa Bay area as both head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik were axed.  After going 11-21 in two years under Schiano and 28-52 since ’09 with Dominik as GM (with no playoff appearances and just 1 winning season), the Bucs will be filling the two most important off-field positions in the organization at the same time for the second time in 5 years. 

Franchises generally attempt to avoid making the same mistakes, so after two consecutive whiffs on defensive-minded coaches with no professional head coaching (or at least coordinating) experience, I think at least one of those two factors is sure to change this time around. 

Lovie Smith is getting a lot of mention today as an early candidate, but I’m hesitant.  What defensive advances would he implement to improve/replace his outdated Tampa 2 concept-heavy scheme?  The personnel in the three key spots (McCoy, David, and Barron) is there, but the game has changed.  Who would he bring in to run the offense?  Former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford is a name that has been mentioned, but again, the cynical in me has his doubts.  I respect Tedford’s accomplishments at the collegiate level, but aside from the uniquely-gifted Aaron Rodgers, none of his other claims to fame have become professional superstars – Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, and Kyle Boller. 

When I began to grow tired of the Schiano era, the first candidate upon which I fixated was former Cardinals head coach and current Chargers offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt.  There’s a lot to like about the Georgia native.  I prefer head coaches who have variety in their background.  Whisenhunt has coached special teams and tight ends in addition to being an offensive coordinator and head coach.  He’s coached in the Super Bowl for both conferences. 

He groomed a young Ben Roethlisberger to a Super Bowl title and worked with a veteran Kurt Warner to reach another big dance.  His latter Arizona years were marred by “quarterbacks” like Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall, Kevin Kolb, and Ryan Lindley; all QBs with whom no one has won.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence at all that Philip Rivers is having a career year just one season removed from folks wondering what, if any, the former Wolfpack QB had left.  The Chargers thrived offensively with a rookie Keenan Allen, an old Antonio Gates, a small Danny Woodhead, and limited receivers in Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown.  Like Rivers, running back Ryan Mathews experienced a career year under Whisenhunt.  Mathews played in all 16 regular season games for the first time in his career, and his 1,255 rushing yards were a career high. 

I don’t believe Mike Glennon is the future at QB in Tampa, but Whisenhunt would know just about as well as anyone.  One bit of his personal history that stood out to me was his somewhat controversial decision to go with the veteran Warner over the young Matt Leinart as QB of the Cardinals in ’08.  That tough decision paid off as the Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl that year.  Whisenhunt’s track record suggests he will get the best out of whoever lines up behind center, and with a healthy Doug Martin and Mike Williams to go along with Vincent Jackson, it would be hard to say that the Bucs have fewer weapons than the Chargers.  I still think the Bucs are a dynamic slot receiver from reaching the next level offensively, but the cupboard isn’t bare.

The same can be said for the defense.  While pass rush help is an obvious need, they’re not inept in the defensive line interior, at linebacker, or in the secondary.  I don’t know who Whisenhunt would have in mind for defensive coordinator, but his former running mate in Arizona, Ray Horton is a guy I’d support.  Horton has yet to follow Rob Chudzinski out the door in Cleveland, so while he may not even be an option in the end, he’s a proven commodity at this level.

Now more than ever teams will go only as far as their quarterbacks take them, so whoever ends up as the next head coach of the Buccaneers has a tough decision on their hands.  Do you try to strike gold with Mike Glennon, or do you (more wisely) look for your guy in the draft?  Teddy Bridgewater will surely be off the board by #7 and so may Fresno State’s Derek Carr.  Since I can’t draft Jameis Winston this year (or start tanking already), the name who intrigues me most is UCF’s Blake Bortles.  As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, the first thing I look for in a QB is his ability make quick decisions.  Bortles gets a gold star in this area and combines that intangible with coveted tangibles such as his size, arm, and mobility.  The junior passer has yet to even declare for the draft, but since I’m playing fantasy GM, he’s my early pick at #7 for the Bucs.

Getting a coach of Whisenhunt’s caliber along with a true prospect at the most important position in professional sports is a great way to turn around a 4-12 club.  We’ll find out which way the Glazers go in due time, but speculating in the meantime is enough to help forget about those 11-21 and 28-52 records, at least for a little while.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 8

Season Record – 62-42

Struggling after a very disappointing 7-7 last week.  I’m having a tough time getting a consistent read on the ups and downs of a lot of teams this year.  One team I’m not having any trouble figuring out is the Bucs.  With Thursday night’s loss, they’re 0-7 with a loss at Seattle on the agenda next week.  Whether or not the players have quit on Schiano (I believe they have) this is an unrecoverable situation in my opinion, and it’s time for the Glazers to start over.  This includes Mark Dominik, the GM whose tenure may not be as repugnant as Schiano’s but features plenty of failures of its own.  Mike Glennon isn’t the answer to any question I’m interested in asking, so QB should be at the top of the team’s on-field needs.  That’s replacements at the three most important positions – Quarterback, Head Coach, and General Manager.  More on that later.  On with the picks.

Can I get a free W for the Thursday game even though I didn’t make an official pick?  You really think I would have taken Tampa Bay?

Cowboys @ Lions
I actually think this is a good spot for the Lions.  Will Dallas win three in a row?  DeMarco Murray is doubtful.  A rookie from Saginaw Valley State will start at strong safety.  I’m looking forward to the Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant back and forth, and I think the Lions win by at least 7. 

Browns @ Chiefs
Jason Campbell gets the start for Cleveland against the league’s top ranked defense thus far.  Kansas City is going to lose eventually, but I just can’t see it happening at home this week against a reeling Browns team and with the way Alex Smith has taken care of the football.  Chiefs by 17.  Hali and Houston combine for 4 sacks. 

Dolphins @ Patriots
Is there a chance the Patriots slip up at home against a reeling Dolphins team and let the Jets sniff the division lead?  I can’t see it.  Even without Aqib Talib to shadow Mike Wallace, I think the Patriots can effectively limit Ryan Tannehill.  Danny Amendola looks good to go this week, so Tom Brady will have he and Gronk on the field together for the first time.  It’s another ugly one, but the home team wins. 

Bills @ Saints
Sean Payton and the Saints have had two weeks to focus on their faults after that heartbreaking last second loss at the Patriots.  In their way stand the somewhat surprising Bills.  Yes they’re 3-4, but they beat Miami on the road last week and nearly beat the Bengals the weak before with Thad Lewis at QB, banged up running backs, and a depleted defense.  I won’t be surprised if this is close for a while, but I expect the Saints to take control in the second half.

Giants @ Eagles
This is what I was talking about when I said I had no clue about some teams.  I can’t figure out the Eagles.  I liked them last week against Dallas, and while their defense showed up for the first time, their offense laid an egg.  They already beat the Giants on the road in week five.  With Dog Killer back under center, I give the edge to the home team, but then again, what do I know?

49ers v. Jaguars (in London)
I don’t care where they play this one.  The Jags don’t win it.  San Fran may sleep walk through this one making it a lot closer on the scoreboard than it should be, but Jacksonville will still have a 0 in the W column tomorrow morning. 

Jets @ Bengals
Here’s one I’m really interested in watching today.  The Jets look like they may give the Patriots a run the rest of the way, and a win on the road against a Bengals team who plays well at home would be a big statement.  I think their defense keeps them in this one throughout, but Cincinnati gets it done again at home.  Bengals by 4; giving them a very quiet 6-2 record. 

Steelers @ Raiders
Look out, Pittsburgh has won two in a row.  They’re back!  Not so fast.  Wins against the Jets and struggling defending champs don’t tell me a ton.  I’m again going with the home team (this week’s theme apparently).  The Raiders are coming off their bye.  They’ve had two weeks to prepare for the Steelers, and Darren McFadden is reportedly looking sharp.  Raiders by 10. 

Redskins @ Broncos
Is it just me, or did it look like something was wrong with Peyton Manning in last week’s homecoming loss?  His passes looked very “uncrisp” throughout the game, especially in the second half.  Sure it was only Denver’s first loss of the year, but they haven’t exactly looked like Super Bowl material in their last three games - @ Dallas, v. Jacksonville, and @ Indy.  The Redskins had their best offensive output of the season last week against the Bears, putting up 45 points in earning their second win.  They’ll need at least that many this week.  144.  That’s the number of points the Broncos have scored in their three games against the other NFC East teams.  Sticking with the averages, Denver scores 48 today.

Falcons @ Cardinals
This Falcons team sucks, but the Cardinals have that trend of teams facing Seattle losing the following week going against them as well.  They’ve had a little longer to heal up for this one, and will, in my opinion, be able to shut down a Falcons offense missing both Julio Jones and Roddy White.  Andre Ellilngton has a big day for the Cardinals. 

Packers @ Vikings
Here’s the first game where I’m not picking the home team, and they won’t kick off until Sunday night.  This could be a sneaky spot for the Packers to slip up, but I expect them to be focused to stay atop the division, especially if Detroit wins earlier in the day as I expect them to do.  I don’t see Aaron Rodgers having a down game when he has a chance to beat up on the vulnerable Vikings and give his team a fourth straight win and 5-2 record before heading back home for a big MNF matchup against the Bears. 

Seahawks @ Rams
I don’t care if Sam Bradford didn’t tear up his knee.  The Rams weren’t beating Seattle.  Pad up Kellen Clemens.  So not only will the Rams lose this week, by rule of the Seattle trend, they’ll lose next week at home against the Titans. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 7

Season Record – 55-35

Running a little slow this morning, but it was well worth it.  The young man in the picture above put on a hell of a show last night and will be playing on Sunday soon enough.  Go Noles! 

Bucs @ Falcons
Two hugely disappointing teams.  Julio Jones is out for the year, and even if Roddy White is able to suit up, he’s far from full strength.  The Falcons defense is putrid, and the Bucs are running schemes that don’t suit their player strengths.  Going with the better of two bad teams in a who-really-cares tossup. 

Bengals @ Lions
To me Cincinnati is a disappointing 4-2.  They have yet to beat any handily, and that includes poor teams such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo.  They go on the road to face a Lions team that should have Calvin Johnson active.  I don’t trust the Bengals.  Prove me wrong Cincinnati.

Bills @ Dolphins
Miami went into their bye losers of their last two games, but the Bills are exactly what they need to get back on track.  If they can’t control Thad Lewis on their home turf, the Dolphins don’t belong in any postseason conversation.

Patriots @ Jets
It looks like this will finally be the week that Gronk gets back on the field.  New England is banged up on both sides of the ball, but I just can’t pick an upset here.  Even without Jerod Mayo and probably Aqib Talib, the Patriots should be able to scheme Geno Smith into a couple of turnovers and win another ugly one. 

Cowboys @ Eagles
In the division that doesn’t make any sense, I’m taking what I believe is the worse team. 

Bears @ Redskins
I’m not sure I exactly trust the Bears just yet, but I know I don’t trust the Redskins.  RGIII is way off, and that defense blows.  Bears win on the road.  Big day from Forte. 

Rams @ Panthers
A week after running through the Texans, the Rams get a reality check in Carolina.  I really like what the Panthers are doing on defense, and as long as Cam doesn’t make critical mistakes with the football, the home team will get the win. 

Chargers @ Jaguars
If I were a Chargers fan I’d be a little worried about this one.  East coast early game against a nothing-to-lose winless Jags team.  How well San Diego is able to contain Justin Blackmon will go a long way in determining this one.  I like what I’ve seen from Philip Rivers, and I’m counting on him playing like a veteran and escaping with a hard-fought 3 point win.

49ers @ Titans
Jake Locker will be back under center for the Titans, but I’m not sure it will matter if San Francisco’s defense brings it’s A-game.  I think this is a sneaky spot where Tennessee could pull off the upset if Colin Kapernick and the 49ers offense struggles to generate first downs early.  I’m counting on Jim Harbaugh having his team focused.  After this one at Tennessee, they play at Jacksonville before a week nine bye.  They can’t afford to lose games like this and slip further behind the Seahawks. 

Browns @ Packers
Even with his weapons dropping like flies, I can’t go against Aaron Rodgers at home.  Brandon Weeden is really struggling, so the Packers might not miss Clay Matthews this week.  Green Bay has yet to have a statement game this season, but the Browns may be just what the doctor ordered. 

Texans @ Chiefs
Welcome to the big show Case Keenum.  With Matt Schaub unable to go, the Texans turn to the former Houston Cougar to halt their four game losing streak.  I was never really high on the Texans, but I didn’t see them as a team that would lose four straight, regardless of opponent.  Now they get to travel to the loudest football environment outside of Seattle with a rookie QB against one of the league’s best defenses.  If the Texans’ losing streak isn’t intact after this one, the NFL is truly rigged. 

Ravens @ Steelers
Neither team is where they need or want to be.  Both struggle to put together scoring drives on offense, and neither resembles their reputation on defense.  I think it’s too early to completely bury the Steelers.  I don’t think they’re going to put together a meaningful winning streak, but I do think they get it done today at home against the Ravens.   

Broncos @ Colts
Guys like Peyton Manning who are among the elite of the elite are always looking for new incentives, reasons to excel.  I think he and Broncos play with a purpose and overwhelm the Colts.  Von Miller will be back, and he’ll make an impact early on.  Broncos by 20. 

Vikings @ Giants
When the Giants finally get their first win it will happen without me picking them.  As bad as they are on both sides of the ball, I can’t responsibly find a reason to pick them.  In that light I can’t exactly list Josh Freeman being under center as a huge shot in the arm for the Vikings.  Still, he should be an improvement over Ponder and Cassel.  I’m counting on a huge game in prime time from Adrian Peterson – 200 yards and 3 TDs. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 6

Season Record – 46-30

A look around the league reveals three undefeated teams and four winless ones.  Denver and New Orleans look like the real deal, while most are a bit skeptical of the Chiefs.  The Giants are 0-6 after a Thursday’s loss to the Bears, and the Bucs, Steelers, and Jags have combined for 13 losses.  How good are the good teams, and how bad are the bad ones?  I think one of the undefeated teams gets a scare this week, while two of the winless ones finally break into the W column.

Eagles @ Bucs
With no Dog Killer under center, the Eagles offense will be less of a guessing game this week.  I believe the Bucs defense can limit Nick Foles and company enough for their offense to take advantage of a defense that’s 30th in the league in points allowed per game.

Bengals @ Bills
Cincinnati is slow to convert doubters, but this game could go a long way in helping them do so.  With Thad Lewis under center for the Bills, the Bengals must have a dominant showing on the road.

Lions @ Browns
It looks like Calvin Johnson will miss his second straight game, and with the way the Lions floundered offensively last week at the Packers, I don’t like their chances against what I believe to be a considerably better defense. 

Raiders @ Chiefs
I think KC has a very good chance of losing this one, but I’ll give them the W, barely.  Alex Smith and the Chiefs are uncharacteristically careless with the football in this one, and Terrelle Pryor comes up just short on a potential game winning drive.  Chiefs by 3. 

Panthers @ Vikings
Flip a coin.  I’ll take the Panthers defense against Matt Cassel.  Thoughts go out to Adrian Peterson who is going through something no one should have to endure. 

Steelers @ Jets
Are the Jets this good?  Are the Steelers this bad?  How’s this for confusing?  I think the Steelers are this bad, but I’ll take them to get the win today.  My two main reasons are Dick LeBeau scheming against Geno Smith and Ben Roethlisberger working against a secondary with a missing or limited Antonio Cromartie. 

Packers @ Ravens
I feel like I always have to mention that I’m a closet Packers fan when I say things like this, but I really like the Packers to win decidedly at the Ravens.  Both have question marks on defense, but the Packers easily have the better functioning offense.  I think Eddie Lacy comes up big today, and Aaron Rodgers throws 3 TDs.   

Rams @ Texans
Bold prediction – Matt Schaub won’t throw a pick-6 for the fifth straight week.  The Rams and their 29th ranked run defense should be just what the doctor ordered. 

Jaguars @ Broncos
Denver averages 46 points a game, and Jacksonville agerages just over 10.  Final score – Broncos 46-10.

Titans @ Seahawks
Seattle returns home after two tough road games and makes it a long day for Ryan Fitzpatrick and company.  Seahawks by 17. 

Saints @ Patriots
My favorite game of the week.  This has historically been a game where New England gets the win.  They’re off an ugly road load, coming home to face a surging Saints team.  I won’t pick against the Saints until they start losing.  To me, they’re on even ground with the Seahawks as the best team in the NFC.  I really like what they’re doing on defense.  Saints by 10. 

Cardinals @ 49ers
This game worries me a little (since I’m picking the Niners).  I like Arizona’s defense, but I don’t think they’ll be able to generate enough scoring drives to get the win.  San Fran wins an ugly one.

Redskins @ Cowboys
As an admitted Tony Romo apologist, I’m really hoping for a bounce back from him tonight.  The putrid Redskins defense is just what the doctor ordered.  I’m counting on Dallas making more stops than Washington and avenging last year’s losses to the Skins. 

Colts @ Chargers
If you’re into “numbers”, this is the tease of the week.  Given what we’ve seen from these two teams, Indy should roll, but the “numbers” tell me not so fast my friend.  I can’t take the Chargers, so I’ll call a very close road win for the Colts. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 5

Season Record – 38-25

Recovering from my Atlanta trip to see Cy Kershaw and the Dodgers steal home field.  Go Blue! 

Saints @ Bears
Fade dome teams outdoors on a short week right?  Not this time.

Patriots @ Bengals
After unsuccessfully fading the Patriots and backing the Bengals last week, this one is a coin flip for me.  With a projected sloppy/wet field, I’m going with the home team to do just enough to give the Patriots their first loss of the year.

Lions @ Packers
Pack gets back on track.

Chiefs @ Titans
If KC can take care of business against a Fitzgerald-led Titans offense, they’ll be 5-0 with a home game against Oakland on deck.  I’ve got to think they’re focused for this one. 

Seahawks @ Colts
The Seahawks nearly fell at Houston last week, and the Colts are playing better ball than their division foes.  Seattle loses right?  I’m counting on a big game from Pete Carroll’s defense, focusing on shutting down the run and trusting his secondary to man-up the Colts receivers.

Jaguars @ Rams
Jacksonville is on the clock.

Ravens @ Dolphins
Even with the MNF loss at New Orleans, I still like the Dolphins.  They look a hell of a lot more cohesive than the Ravens through four weeks.

Eagles @ Giants
With as bad as the Giants are playing on offense, I’m not sure that they can score enough points, even against the sketchy Eagles defense to keep up. 

Panthers @ Cardinals
I wasn’t impressed with Arizona in their win at Tampa.  Carson Palmer has been a disappointment so far, and he’s facing another stout defense this week.  I’m counting on Carolina to come out of their bye week with a strong road showing. 

Broncos @ Cowboys
With 179 points through four weeks (44.75 per average), teams are just going to have to hope to win shootouts against Peyton and company until the weather gets bad.  Like Tony Dungy said, Peyton know this (Dallas’ cover two) defense better than any in the league.  Broncos score 46. 

Texans @ 49ers
Was last week’s loss the start of a big slide for the Texans?  Hitting the road to face a focused 49er squad that’s chasing the Seahawks isn’t the best bounce back opportunity.

Chargers @ Raiders
I’ll be turning this one on after the Dodgers take care of business a little ways up the road.  Rivers outguns Pryor in an entertaining Sunday capper. 

Jets @ Falcons
After last week’s flop, I don’t have a ton of faith in the Falcons, but they can’t lose at home to the Jets.  Can they?

Bonus Pick
Game 3 – Dodgers v. Braves
MVPuig homers; Dodgers win 5-2; lead series 2-1

Sunday, September 29, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 4

Season Record: 31-18

I had an ugly 9-7 record last week with huge misses with the Giants, Niners, and Steelers getting housed.  The Atlanta-Miami game met expectations, and Cincinnati showed a lot of fight, scoring 20 unanswered points on the Packers.  We’re only three weeks in, but it’s pretty clear how this season is going to go for a lot of teams. 

The good – Seattle, Denver, New Orleans
The bad – Jacksonville, NY Giants, Minnesota, Pittsburgh

Seattle and Denver look like the clear leaders of their conferences, and if New Orleans’ defense is for real, they’re definitely in the discussion.  Jacksonville is clearly the worst team in the league, the Giants are a horrible mess on both sides of the ball, Minnesota looks lost, and Pittsburgh is far removed from being a championship contender.

What will we learn this week?

Cardinals @ Bucs
Even though I’m glad to see the Freeman era end, I don’t believe Mike Glennon is the answer either.  He gets his first chance to prove me wrong today.  Both Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are questionable.  Their absences would make the Bucs virtually weaponless in the passing game.  Doug Martin will be called on a lot regardless.  Arizona doesn’t put a ton of pressure on the passer (5 sacks through 3 games), so that should work well in the rookie’s favor.  The Bucs are a couple of stupid plays from being 2-1, so their 0-3 isn’t as ugly as the rest of the league’s winless teams.  I expect the Bucs defense to be stout and help the rookie not have to get into a TD matching contest.  Assuming, Jackson or Williams plays, look for Mike Sullivan to make use of Glennon’s arm with a few deep balls.  Bucs by 10.   

Ravens @ Bills
This is a big game for BaltimoreBuffalo is really beat up on defense and ranks near the bottom of the league in yards allowed despite having faced teams that haven’t exactly lit it up against other teams so far (New England 19th, Carolina 25th, and Jets 12th in yards per game).  Baltimore is near the bottom of the league in that category thanks to that stinker against the Browns and the defense and special teams scoring last week against Houston.  With Ray Rice reportedly ready to go, I’ll take the champs to win the time of possession and the battle on the scoreboard. 

Bengals @ Browns
I like the Bengals, but I don’t like that they’re without Leon Hall, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Reggie Nelson in this one.  Even if Terence Newman is able to handle Josh Gordon, the Bengals don’t have an answer for Jordan Cameron.  Cincinnati was able to come back with 20 unanswered points to beat Green Bay last week, and I think they’re going to need that kind of focused effort to win this one.  I’m taking Cincinnati, but I don’t feel great about it.  The favored team has won only one of the last twelve matchups between these two. 

Bears @ Lions
Chicago enters this one as the undefeated division leaders, but Detroit is a late TD at Arizona away from being 3-0 themselves.  The Lions will miss Nate Burleson, but Reggie Bush looks ready to go this week.  Look for both he and Joique Bell to see a ton of touches.  The Bears still score defensive TDs, but overall, the Lions are playing better defense so far.  Matthew Stafford has thrown 5 TDs and 2 INTs in his two home matchups against the Bears, so he hasn’t exactly imploded against the opportunistic defense.  I’ll take the home team to even things up in the division.

Giants @ Chiefs
I can’t come up with a reason to take the Giants in this one.  They can’t run the ball or protect Eli.  That’s definitely not going to get any easier against the Chiefs in Arrowhead.  To me it’s as easy as this – KC leads’ the NFL with a +9 turnover differential, and the Giants are the game’s worst at -9.  Those numbers will surely even out as the season progresses, but I don’t foresee an instant turnaround by both teams.  The Giants can’t stop the run (27th most yards per game) and were lit up by DeAngelo Williams for 120 yards on 23 carries (5.2 avg).  If they had trouble containing Williams, they’re really going to struggle with Jamaal Charles.  Look for another boring Alex Smith-led win and a lot of dirt on the back of Eli’s jersey. 

Steelers @ Vikings
Flip a coin.  Both of these teams stink so far.  Pittsburgh can’t run the ball or allow Roethlisberger to set his feet for more than two seconds.  Minnesota couldn’t hold onto a lead if it came with handles.  Both defenses are giving up far too many points.  I’m taking the Steelers simply because I believe in Ben more than Christian. 

Colts @ Jaguars
If the Colts were playing just about any other team this week, I might think they’d be in store for a letdown.  That won’t matter here, as the Colts should be able to get a good audition from Trent Richardson this week with Ahmad Bradshaw sidelined.  It will probably be boring and one of the lower scoring games of the week, but the Colts get the W. 

Seahawks @ Texans
I’m sure they’ll lose eventually, but I can’t go against the Seahawks just because they’re on the road at the Texans.  After basically walking through their week one win at Carolina, over the last 8 quarters of Seattle football, there has been no question as to who was the dominant team on the field.  Like San Francisco, Houston likes to establish the run, and aside from some Kaepernick runs, the Niners were shut down.  Schaub isn’t Kaepernick.   Houston got housed at Baltimore last week, and didn’t look dominant in beating San Diego or Tennessee.  They’ll need to be dominant against Seattle, and I can’t see it happening.  If this is going to be a special season for Seattle, they have to win games like this.  The best team in the NFL moves to 4-0.

Jets @ Titans
Jake Locker played well in a loss at Houston and shined in last week’s win against San Diego, but I don’t think he’ll be consistent enough in the passing game to beat a strong Jets defense.  New York likes to run the ball, and I think they’ll be able to do so successfully against Tennessee.  If Geno Smith can quit throwing the ball to the other team (6 INTs so far), I like New York’s chances of winning an ugly road game.

Eagles @ Broncos
After two home stinkers, how eager will the Eagles be to run the fast paced offense at Mile High?  Unless Peyton Manning just has such an un-Peyton game, I don’t see Philly having a chance.  The Broncos offense is in midseason form and is pretty much unstoppable.  Philly’s defense will be outclassed in this one.  If you like points, you should see a lot of them here.  Denver scores 40. 

Redskins @ Raiders
Washington can’t possibly lose this one right?  They’d be 0-4 heading into their bye week with a road trip to Dallas next on the schedule.  Can’t happen right?  Wrong.  If Terrelle Pryor plays, I like Oakland to win.  They got beat pretty bad on MNF against the Broncos, but the Raiders never gave up.  If RGIII gets off to another slow start, it could be too late once again.  With Washington unable to stop anyone, they can’t be eager to go up against the versatile Pryor.  The DC sports talk airwaves will be on fire Monday morning.   

Cowboys @ Chargers
This is where Dallas usually gives you a stinker – off a strong home win against a team they should beat with a chance to get some separation within the division.  The Chargers have played three three-point games, so they’re staying in ball games.  I like them to do more than stay in this one.  Philip Rivers is off to a hot start (8 TD, 1 INT), and Dallas has surrendered a combined 7 TDs to Alex Smith, Eli, and Bradford.  I think Rivers will be the better QB in this one, and the Chargers win by, yes, 3 points. 

Patriots @ Falcons
New England is a very fortunate 3-0 so far.  Both the Bills and Jets had their chances to knock them off, and the Bucs game was a lot closer than the score indicated.  Danny Amendola isn’t ready yet, and it doesn’t appear that Gronk is ready to go either.  Atlanta is 1-2 but was a last minute TD from beating a Miami team whose bandwagon everyone is stumbling over themselves to get on.  I like the Falcons to get right at home and make some big plays against the Patriots. 

Dolphins @ Saints
In what should be the season’s best MNF game so far, I believe Drew Brees and company will put up just enough points to outdo the upstart Dolphins.  He had an impressive 342 yards and 3 TDs in last week’s win over Arizona that I thought might have been setting up as a bit of a trap.  They’re rolling on defense too, holding all opponents to 17 or fewer points so far.  Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins earn more respect and fans in this one, but the Saints will be the undefeated of the two come Tuesday. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 4 - Thursday Edition - Will San Fran Rebound?

49ers @ Rams

Short and sweet here.  The Niners are coming off a brutal home beating by the Colts, their second loss in a row.  Jim Harbaugh’s team has not lost three games in a row under his watch.  Even without Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, and Nnamdi Asomugha on defense, I have a terribly hard time seeing this team drop a third straight. 

The Rams didn’t lose to the Niners last year, beating them once and tying them in their other meeting, so another upset isn’t entirely out of the question.  But given how bad the Rams have been at putting up points the last two weeks (in non-garbage time), I can’t see them replicating what the Colts did last week.  Look for San Francisco to go with a very run heavy approach against a St. Louis team that gave up 175 yards to DeMarco Murray last week.  I’m expecting a low scoring, fairly boring Thursday contest.

Niners 24
Rams 16

Sunday, September 22, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 3

Season Record: 22-11

That KC win makes me 3-0 on Thursdays, and if I can toot my own horn even more, I’d day I was pretty accurate with how it would play out.  The entire trifecta didn’t dominate, but Justin Houston totaled a whopping 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 TFL, and 2 passes defended.  Wow!  Also, Shady did get his, and Dog Killer did in fact have multiple turnovers.  The Chiefs did slow the game and feature Charles and Smith on the ground (31 combined carries for 124 yards). 

I went 12-4 last week, and two of those losses were upset picks that I whiffed on completely (Rams @ Falcons and Giants v. Broncos).  11 of last week’s games were decided by 8 points or less, and I think you’ll see that become a trend as we continue through the season.  Here are this week’s picks:

Bucs @ Patriots
New England is fortunate to be 2-0 at this point and don’t come close to resembling the team I think they’ll be at the end of the year.  Tom Brady and his receivers are having communication issues, leading to a 36 combined points through two games.  They scored 34 in last year’s season opener at TennesseeTampa Bay is an unlucky 0-2.  After literally giving the Jets the opening week win, they crumbled in crunch time and surrendered a late game winner to the Saints.  I’m leery of the Patriots, especially against this Bucs defense, but I simply can’t count on the Bucs to win tough games as long as Josh Freeman continues to look this poor under center.  The Bucs’ defense does their job, but the Patriots win a close one late. 

Packers @ Bengals
Even considering that the home team Bengals have the better defense, I can’t see Andy Dalton matching scores with Aaron Rodgers.  Dalton should be able to make more plays against Green Bay than he did against Chicago on MNF, but I don’t think it will be enough.  Rodgers rolled through the Redskins last night and could have lit them up even more if the game wasn’t so far out of hand.  I like Cincinnati’s pass defense, but the Packers have too many options.  Rodgers will throw 4 TDs.  Expect a final total in the 60s. 

Rams @ Cowboys
I’m hoping to get a better picture of how good the Cowboys are in this game.  The helped-by-turnovers win against the Giants and the coming-up-short-late loss in KC have me conflicted.  They still can’t run the ball or protect Romo and fall short when it counts.  The Rams got behind early at Atlanta but showed a lot of fight until the final whistle.  The main question I have with them is whether or not they can score when it counts, and that should be the key in this one.  I’m rolling with Romo to put up enough points at home to earn a hard fought, close victory. 

Chargers @ Titans
This one could be interesting.  The Chargers are off a big win at Philly, and the Titans nearly toppled the Texans on the road.  Philip Rivers is off to a hot start, throwing 7 TDs through the first two games, but he’s facing a Tennessee defense that virtually shutout Pittsburgh and picked off Matt Schaub twice (one for a pick 6).  I still don’t have any confidence in Jake Locker.  We all know this is now a passing league, but through two games, Chris Johnson has as many rushing attempts as Locker has passing attempts.  Philly moved the ball on San Diego, and so did the Texans once they woke up in that opener.  I think the Titans get another solid defensive performance and just enough points out of the offense to win by 3 or less. 

Browns @ Vikings
Following the trade of Trent Richardson to Indianapolis, the Browns signed Willis McGahee to be their primary ball carrier.  Oh, and Brian Hoyer is starting at QB this week too.  The football gods could throw a wrench in this one, but everything says the Vikings should win.  The Browns have struggled to generate any offense through two games and now run up against a Vikings team seething to get a win in their home opener.  Expect at least 30 carries by MVPeterson in this one. 

Cardinals @ Saints
New Orleans is off to a hot 2-0 start after beating division rivals Atlanta and Tampa Bay in weeks one and two.  They better not look past the visiting Cardinals in this one, because Carson Palmer has 575 yards through two games as the leader of an offense capable of putting up points of their own.  I don’t think they’ll pull off the upset, but New Orleans’ defense better not get off to a slow start.  Another close one.  Saints by 6. 

Lions @ Redskins
Wow Washington’s a mess.  Will their defense show up for the first time in three games?  Will RGIII finally start using his legs?  If the Redskins want to turn this season around before it gets out of hand, they’ve got to win this one.  They’ll then have Oakland on deck before a week 5 bye.  Detroit’s defense can still be scored on, so Washington should have plenty of chances to get that first win as long as their own defense doesn’t pull another no-show.  Calvin Johnson totals 200 yards receiving in a losing effort. 

Giants @ Panthers
Speaking of 0-2, this matchup features two more teams off to disappointing starts.  A week after giveaway day in Dallas, the Giants were thoroughly embarrassed at home against the Broncos.  Week 3 is too early for “must win” games, but another loss puts both of these teams in a really bad spot.  The Panthers would head into their bye winless with two road games to follow, while the Giants would be in the basement of their division with the Chiefs, Eagles, and Bears next on the schedule.  I think the key in this one will be the Giants passing game against the beat up and not very talented Panther secondary.  David Wilson and the running game will again struggle against an improved Panthers front seven, but Victor Cruz finds the endzone twice.  Giants win by 10. 

Texans @ Ravens
These teams were headed in vastly different directions at the end of last season, and although the Texans are the undefeated of these two squads after two weeks, I think I feel better about the Ravens.  Houston needed a lot of help from San Diego to win the first game and needed OT last week to beat TennesseeBaltimore hasn’t been pretty either, losing at Denver and struggling to outlast Cleveland, and as I type this they’re likely to be without Ray Rice.  I’m counting on the champs to pull one out with Marlon Brown catching the decisive TD.   

Falcons @ Dolphins
This is the most intriguing game of the week in my opinion.  You’ve got the respected Falcons heading south to face the 2-0 Dolphins.  Miami’s offseason expenditures are paying off so far, and they appear to be catching the Falcons at the right time.  Atlanta is banged up pretty good already.  Steven Jackson is out with a thigh injury, Roddy White is walking wounded, and Jeremy Trueblood starts at RT with Lamar Holmes moving to LT, making them worse at two spots up front.  Defensively, they lost Sean Weatherspoon and Kroy Biermann for the year last week, and Asante Samuel is questionable.  This would be a HUGE statement win for the Dolphins, and I think they’ll definitely be the more focused team Sunday.  If the Dolphins can keep Tony Gonzalez from beating them in the middle of the field, I like Ryan Tannehill’s chances of making enough plays against a reeling defense.  Miami moves to 3-0. 

Bills @ Jets
This is a tough one to pick.  I like the Jets front seven, but the Bills look to be jelling much better as a team in the early going.  It should be a slow one out of the gates, but I’m going to count on EJ Manuel carrying that momentum over from last week’s comeback win and make it two in a row.  Buffalo gets their first win at the Jets since ’09. 

Colts @ 49ers
I didn’t give Indy much of a chance to win this one before the Richardson trade, and while, I expect his acquisition to pay dividends this year, tomorrow won’t be one of those days.  Maybe the final score will be closer than the experts think, but I don’t see Jim Harbaugh’s squad dropping two in a row.  A loss here would be a bad bad bad bad thing.  Niners by 20. 

Jaguars @ Seahawks
I don’t talk point spreads much, but 18 points in a professional football game?!?!  The Jaguars own the title of worst team in the league so far, and facing the Seahawks isn’t going to help them shake that moniker.  Seattle faces tougher resistance in a Saturday walk through.  Seattle by 24. 

Bears @ Steelers
Pittsburgh has looked awful so far this year, and the Bears are on the upswing at 2-0.  The Bears are the pick right?  As bad as the Steelers have played, Chicago is a couple of plays from being winless themselves.  The Steelers can get right back on track by defending home field and winning at Minnesota before their week five bye.  I’m sure that’s their focus.  The Bears on the other hand have a division road game next week against the Lions.  I’ve seen this set up too often before.  The house is on the Bears, but the Steelers get the win.  Markus Wheaton scores his first TD as a pro, and the Steelers win a surprisingly high-scoring, entertaining Sunday capper. 

Raiders @ Broncos
If the Broncos could spank the Ravens and Giants that badly, how do you think the Raiders are going to fare?  If I’m not channel surfing by 10:30 I’ll be shocked.  Peyton and company move to 3-0 with a decisive win. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 3 - Thursday Edition - Reid's Return

Chiefs @ Eagles

Ok.  Week two went a little better.  2-0 so far in the Thursday night games, but this figures to be the closest one yet.  The big story in this one is Andy Reid’s return to Philadelphia.  Selfishly, I would have liked them to schedule this game at least another month from now, as week 3 seems a lot too soon to hype up Reid’s return.  Regardless, this one should be highly entertaining. 

Can Chip Kelly’s offense do a better job of controlling the ball this week after the Chargers, a team with zero ground game, held the ball for 40 minutes last week?  This will easily be Philly’s toughest test thus far.  KC held the Cowboys to just one TD last week after kicking around the Jags in week 1.  I think the trifecta of Dontari Poe, Tamba Hali, and Justin Houston is going to play a huge part in this one.  How well the latter two control the edges will go a long way in dictating how successful the Eagles will be.  I think Shady McCoy will still get his, but Dog Killer will have multiple turnovers.  DeSean Jackson will get a boost if Brandon Flowers isn’t able to go in this one.   

Look for the Chiefs to slow the game down and feature a lot of Jamaal Charles and some of Alex Smith on the ground.  Dwayne Bowe has yet to get loose, but you’ve got to like his chances this week given the way Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd, and Eddie Royal have already torched the Eagles secondary.  Philly is favored, but I think the Chiefs are the better football team.  They’re certainly the better defense, and as long as they don’t get in an early multi-score deficit, I like Reid’s chances of earning a homecoming win. 

Chiefs 30
Eagles 24

Sunday, September 15, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 2

9-7 isn’t how I had hoped to start.  It was just one week, but the Bucs, Bengals, and Browns were my early disappointments.  The Eagles are entertaining, the Bears look like an offensive team, and the Chiefs may actually give the Broncos a run for the AFC West.  What does this week have in store for us?

Rams @ Falcons
There’s no way the Falcons can start 0-2 right?  Wrong.  I know Matt Ryan always wins at home, but I trust St. Louis’ defense more right now.  I believe Sam Bradford and the Rams offense will get off to an early start and, surprisingly, control most of this game.

Panthers @ Bills
Carolina looked much improved defensively last week, even if Seattle was being vanilla.  They’re the better defense and the better offense. Cam outplays EJ.  Panthers win. 

Vikings @ Bears
Might this be the week 2 gotcha?  The Bears looked really good offensively last week against a strong Bengals defense, and the Vikings had trouble doing anything after MVPeterson took his first carry of the year to the house.  Hesitantly, I pick the Bears to win handily. 

Redskins @ Packers
I think we see a lot of points in this one.  The Packers faced a more potent versatile offense last week, so they should be well prepared for an obviously rusty RGIII.  Will a week of practice make a ton of difference?  Total game score will exceed 70.

Dolphins @ Colts
Indy barely survived what everyone figures will be a bad Oakland team last week at the same time the Dolphins were imposing their will on the Browns.  This would be an early statement game for Miami.  I’m going with the clearly better defense. 

Cowboys @ Chiefs
Maybe I’m crazy, but I wasn’t too impressed with the Cowboys last week.  The Giants literally gave them the game, yet the score was much closer than it should have been.  After getting knocked around by the Giants, Tony Romo heads to Arrowhead, never an easy place for a visitor, where he’ll be hunted by Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, and Dontari Poe.  Andy Reid knows the Cowboys.  Chiefs by 10. 

Chargers @ Eagles
I’d be really surprised if the Chargers pull off this win.  You know Chip Kelly is going to want to run even more plays than they did on MNF, and if Ben Tate (no disrespect; I like him) can average 6 yards a carry against San Diego, how much will Shady and Vick tally?  It’s an early east coast game for the Chargers, and I just think Kelly is going to have them running a lot more than they’d like that early in the day. 

Browns @ Ravens
Baltimore has beaten Cleveland ten straight times, so I’d say there’s some ownage going on here.  Joe Haden shut down Mike Wallace last week, and he’ll likely be locked on Torrey Smith.  I like Marlon Brown to have a big game on the other side, scoring twice.

Titans @ Texans
Something tells me that the Texans need to be careful in this one.  If they come out sloppy again, they might find it harder to come back on the Titans than the Chargers.  Closer than the experts think. 

Saints @ Bucs
Everything says the Bucs should lose this game.  Even with an improved defense, the Bucs will have a hard time matching scores with the Saints.  Doug Martin will have a lot more room to run, but in the end, Freeman won’t be able to make the necessary plays. 

Lions @ Cardinals
Great week one win by the Lions.  They won’t go to 2-0.  Carson Palmer and the Cardinals win an entertaining home opener 34-27. 

Jaguars @ Raiders
In what should easily be the league’s ugliest game of the week, I’m going to trust Terrell Pryor and Sebastian Janikowski to put the Jaguars in the early driver’s seat for the #1 pick. 

Broncos @ Giants
After that 7 touchdown performance in week 1, the Giants have no chance right?  Wrong.  This one reeks upset.  The Giants home dogs?  Victor Cruz celebrates multiple times again.  Giants by 4. 

49ers @ Seahawks
Can’t wait for this one.  Kaepernick v. Wilson.  Lynch v. Gore.  Elite defense v. Elite defense.  San Fran got blasted 42-13 the last time they visited Seattle, but that won’t happen again.  The 12th man will be in full effect Sunday night, and I think the Seahawks get the early leg up in the division on the Niners.

Steelers @ Bengals
I’m not sure how anyone can back the Steelers after that piss poor performance in their home opener against the Titans.  Nothing against Tennessee’s defense, but they’re not the Bengals.  I trust Cincinnati to play much better in their home opener than did Pittsburgh.  Bengals by 13.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 2 - Thursday Edition

Jets @ Patriots

Not a great week one for me (more on that Sunday), but I did get the Thursday game right.  Hey, I even got Demaryius Thomas’ 2 TDs right, but the game wasn’t as close as I thought it would be.  I think tonight’s game will be different.  If you’ve listened to five minutes of sports talk radio this week you are well aware that the Patriots lack offensive weapons.  They were already without Gronk and lost Shane Vereen last week for at least the next ten.  Danny Amendola is out at least this game and probably longer, and Zach Sudfeld probably isn’t playing tonight.  Who is?  Expect to see a lot of Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins through the air and Stevan Ridley on the ground.  They’d be wise to make use of Leon Washington in the Woodhead/Ridley role. 

The Patriots didn’t exactly shut down the Bills and their rookie QB last week, and I don’t expect them to shutout the Jets and their rookie QB.  New York doesn’t have many offensive weapons either, but that’s because they’re not any good; not because players are hurt.  I expect to see a close, low-scoring, relatively boring game tonight.  Bill Belichick knows that he doesn’t need to throw the kitchen sink at the Jets to beat them, and he wants his players to be as healthy as possible heading into the ten day break before their next game.  Thompkins, Leon, and Ridley score for the Patriots, and I predict the first in-game “Buff Fumble” reference will occur in the first seven minutes of the first quarter.  Geno Smith’s ability to extend drives with his legs will keep the Jets in this one. 

Patriots 24
Jets 20

Sunday, September 8, 2013

NFL Picks - Week 1

Off to a good start with Denver’s Thursday night win over Baltimore.  Here are the rest of my picks for Week 1. 

Bucs @ Jets
They’ll blow it since I’m picking them, but aside from hosting the Raiders, I’m not sure I could have picked a better opener for the Bucs.  Geno Smith is nowhere near ready for prime time, and oh yeah, Darrelle Revis is back in town.  They’ll ignore him like the plague, but taking away half the field for an overmatched rookie QB is a tremendous edge for the Bucs. 

Patriots @ Bills
I’m really anxious to see this Patriots team in action.  In what should be one of the week’s higher scoring games, I think New England wins a close one.  These teams have played entertaining football against each other the last three years.  Last year’s two contest saw a total of 148 points scored.

Bengals @ Bears
My surprise team of ’13 gets it started with a road upset at Chicago.  I concede that they could easily lose this game, but I believe Cincinnati is a clearly superior team.  Defense travels, and they have one of the best in the business.  They force Jay Cutler into a couple of decisive miscues and turn them into points. 

Dolphins @ Browns
Miami has received a ton of hype for their offseason acquisitions, but I actually like Cleveland a little more at this point.  I think we’ll see a heavy dose of Trent Richardson against a defense I’m not loving.  Cleveland wins by double digits.

Vikings @ Lions
Not counting the playoffs, Minnesota won its last four games of ‘12, while the Lions lost their last nine.  It’s a new year, but I’m not sure a ton has changed.  MVPeterson totaled 273 rushing yards in his two games against Detroit last year, and in order to keep Johnson, Stafford, and Bush on the sidelines, he’s going to get fed a ton again.  I predict he gets at least 175 yards in this one. 

Raiders @ Colts
Oakland sucks, and Terrelle Pryor isn’t an NFL passer.  The Colts are going to get scored on a lot again this year, but I don’t think the Raiders have the goods to get it done.  Andrew Luck and company get a nice warm up for week two against the Dolphins.  Colts by 17. 

Falcons @ Saints
Since these two are the early favorites in the NFC South, this isn’t your standard season opener.  I still have a lot of questions about New Orleans’ defense, but having Sean Payton back is a free agent addition in itself.  The Falcons aren’t air tight on defense themselves, and having a limited (at best) Roddy White won’t help them keep up on the scoreboard.  Saints 31-24. 

Titans @ Steelers
As I’ve said, I’m down on the Steelers this year, but I’m even lower on the Titans.  This still isn’t a defense that Jake Locker wants to see, and I don’t think Ben Roethlisberger is going to have a ton of trouble finding Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, or Markus Wheaton.  I think this is going to be an ugly, low scoring game that has Tennessee in striking distance late but unable to convert when it counts. 

Seahawks @ Panthers
If I was to pick a “gotcha” of the week, it’s probably this game.  The Seahawks are going to win a lot this season and are clearly the more talented team in this matchup.  I can see Carolina turning a couple of early turnovers into scores and building a lead via the east-coast-travel curse, but as long as Seattle keeps their composure, they should be able to force enough mistakes themselves and emerge with a hard-fought victory. 

Chiefs @ Jaguars
Week one isn’t a “must win” for anyone, but if the Chiefs want to convince their fans that this is a new year, then they’ve got to beat the Jags.  I see a big day for Jamaal Charles and a rough one for MJD who gets smothered by a KC defense that doesn’t have to respect the pass against a limited Blaine Gabbert who was already limited because he’s Blaine Gabbert.

Cardinals @ Rams
I like Carson Palmer in this offense, but only three teams surrendered less passing TDs last season than the Rams.  I think this one matters more to the Rams since they’re on the road with tough ones at Atlanta and Dallas in weeks two and three. 

Packers @ 49ers
I think this is the best time for the Packers to try and get revenge against the Niners, the team that started and ended Green Bay’s season with losses.  There’s no Crabtree, and Colin Kaepernick is still trying to develop chemistry with his receivers.  Word is Dom Capers spent a Saturday or two this offseason scheming against the read option offense.  I expect Kaepernick to be a one-man-show early on, so if the Packers can avoid the early onslaught, I think the veteran visitors can hang in there.  The Packers get a couple more stops this time, and James Jones scores the winner in the fourth. 

Giants @ Cowboys
New York and Dallas met to kick off the ’12 season, and they’re meeting in week one again this year.  Dallas won last year’s opener 24-17, and I say they win again by the same score.  Jason Witten, who caught 18 passes the second time these teams met in ’12, scores twice. 

Eagles @ Redskins
This one should be entertaining.  You’ve got Chip Kelly’s new offense against the rehabilitated RGIII.  Washington was one of the higher scoring teams in the league last year, and I don’t think this disjointed defense has what it takes to slow and even slowed RGIII.  Points galore in this one.  I’ve got the Redskins winning a MNF thriller 34-31. 

Texans @ Chargers
This one shouldn’t be close, which tells me Houston is going to be sloppy and keep San Diego in this one.  I still can’t see Philip Rivers doing much of anything against this defense, so it will probably be a low scoring, uneventful week one wrap up that Houston has in hand nearly the whole time. 

2013 NFL Predictions - Super Bowl Winner

1) New England Patriots
2) Denver Broncos
3) Cincinnati Bengals
4) Houston Texans
5) Baltimore Ravens
6) Kansas City Chiefs

Just Missed
7) Indianapolis Colts
8) Pittsburgh Steelers

1) Seattle
2) Green Bay
3) New Orleans
4) Washington
5) San Francisco
6) Atlanta

Just Missed
7) Dallas Cowboys
8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Wild Card Round
Chiefs @ Bengals – Bengals                 Falcons @ Saints – Saints
Ravens @ Texans – Ravens                  49ers @ Redskins – 49ers

Division Round
Ravens @ Patriots – Patriots                49ers @ Seahawks – Seahawks
               Bengals @ Broncos – Bengals              Saints @ Packers – Packers

Conference Championships
Bengals @ Patriots – Patriots                Packers @ Seahawks – Packers

I believe the Patriots and Seahawks will be the league’s best regular season teams, but both won’t make it to the Super Bowl.  New England is able to advance, but karma helps Green Bay get redemption in Seattle

Patriots 31
Packers 27

MVP – Tom Brady

Belichick and Brady have their best year to date.
I believe they’re headed for a special season.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

2013 NFL Predictions - Best and Worst

As I’ve done in the past week-to-week, here are my initial rankings for the '13 season.

Elite Eight                                             Sloppy Six
1) Seattle Seahawks                             1) Oakland Raiders
2) New England Patriots                      2) New York Jets
3) Green Bay Packers                          3) Jacksonville Jaguars
4) San Francisco 49ers                         4) San Diego Chargers
5) Denver Broncos                               5) Tennessee Titans
6) Cincinnati Bengals                            6) Philadelphia Eagles
7) New Orleans Saints
8) Atlanta Falcons

My predictions as to the teams that will have the best and worst turnarounds from ’12:

Biggest Surprises                                  Biggest Busts

1) Kansas City Chiefs                          1) Minnesota Vikings
            ’12:  2-14                                             ’12:  10-6
            ’13:  8-8 (+6)                                       ’13:  6-10 (-4)

2) New Orleans Saints                         2) San Diego Chargers
            ’12: 7-9                                                ’12:  7-9
            ’13: 11-5 (+4)                                      ’13:  4-12 (-3)

3) Cleveland Browns                           3) Indianapolis Colts
            ’12:  5-11                                             ’12:  11-5
            ’13:  8-8 (+3)                                       ’13:  8-8 (-3)