Fundraiser: 2021 Flutie Foundation Fantasy Football League

The second year of the Flutie Foundation Fantasy Football League is underway! While we compete for the belt TrophySmack generously donated as pictured above, we are all raising money for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism through Facebook fundraisers.

You can learn more about the fundraiser by watching this video from The Adam Jones Show on November 16.

Click here to donate and help people and families affected by autism live life to the fullest

Featured on For the Fans Network

I was recently interviewed by Tom Eschen Jr., a sports reporter for For The Fans who is running the Falmouth Road Race for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. For The Fans (FTF) is an award-winning global sports provider delivering world-class international and domestic sports and lifestyle entertainment to dedicated fans everywhere.

You can also see a shortened version on Twitter.

The long and short versions of the interview will run sporadically on the “For the Fans” digital channel, which is on platforms like Roku Channel and Xumo TV among others. The pieces will run as filler content after live games and events, so they will be seen by many different audiences.

I’d like to give a special thank you to Tom Eschen and For the Fans for taking the time to highlight my story and talk sports with me. I wish Tom luck in the Falmouth Road Race, and you can donate to Tom’s Falmouth fundraiser for the Flutie Foundation here, which will help raise money for people and families affected by autism.

Featured on WCVB Boston’s A+ Segment

Recently, I was featured in a news segment known as the “A+ Report” on WCVB, Boston’s ABC affiliate:

The A+ Report is a segment about students in New England doing exceptional things in and out of school.

WCVB picked up my story after watching my Keynote speech at the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) Visions of Community conference.

At the conference, I told the story of how I got into sportscasting and overcame adversity after being diagnosed as autistic.

You can see some clips of the speech below:

Since the feature on WCVB, Stitch has also picked up my story.  They included a shortened version of my A+ segment as well as an article about me and my story.

I’d like to thank Kristin LaRose and FCSN, Antoinette Antonio and WCVB, and Stitch for allowing me to share my story.  I look forward to more opportunities to share my story in the future.

My 2019 Visions of Community Keynote Speech

Special Needs Conference
Photo By Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Yesterday was one of the most memorable days of my life.  I told my story so far to 300+ people, and hundreds more were watching it live.  In my speech, I told the story of how I turned my obsessions of sports and writing into a passion – this blog.  My goal of the speech was to inspire others and teach people that obsessions aren’t always something that need to be controlled or discouraged.  After the speech, several parents came up to me asking me to get in touch with their kids.  If you have something you’re obsessed with, I encourage you to start a blog about it.  Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new passion – and eventually find a career.  I have found my passion, and that is the highlight of this first chapter of my life.  But this is only the beginning of my story.  Hopefully, I can take this passion and make it a career.  It all starts with the little things – internships, volunteering, etc.

For those of you who missed out on the livestream, I posted a video with just my speech:

Special Needs Conference
A picture of me walking up to deliver my speech taken by the Boston Herald for an article about the day (Photo By Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

After delivering the speech, I was featured in the Boston Herald.  You can check out the article they wrote below:

https://www.bostonherald.com/2019/03/09/teen-with-autism-turning-sportswriter-dream-into-reality/

I am so thankful to the Federation for Children with Special Needs (https://fcsn.org/) who gave me this incredible opportunity to be the keynote speaker in front of hundreds at the Seaport World Trade Center Ampitheater.

 

I’d also like to thank Joe Sciacca, the editor-in-chief at the Herald.  I met him back in 2015, and he has continued to provide me with awesome opportunities, the latest of which was appearing in the April 2, 2019 paper. Now I am officially on their website as a contributing writer. I also guest co-hosted one of their radio shows last summer.

Most of all, I have to give some credit to my loving, supportive family, who have helped me overcome my challenges and encouraged me in my budding sports career.

img_0055

I really enjoyed this opportunity, and I hope that this is not just another milestone in my sports career, but the beginning of a public speaking career.

 

2021 NFL Week 12 Picks: Expect lots of close games, surprises

After an action-packed Thanksgiving Day, Sunday brings us a full slate of NFL action with a lot of intriguing matchups that could go either way. Below are my predictions for each game (as well as my predictions from Thanksgiving). Last week I went 9-6, bringing my overall record to 102-62-1.

Lock of the Week

It’s hard to say that there’s any locks this week, but this is the closest thing to it. I don’t think people have given enough credit to the amount of raw talent the Broncos have in their backfield. RB Melvin Gordon has continued to play at a high level, and RB Javonte Williams has an extremely bright future. Look for the Broncos offense to rely on this duo against a flawed Chargers run defense. It will be difficult for the Chargers to keep up, even though their own RB, Austin Ekeler, has been dominant of late.

Upset of the Week

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is out of the picture and the Giants receiving corps are close to full health. I see this as the final chance for Daniel Jones to prove himself as the Giants long term QB in what could be a close matchup. While I do have the Giants edging out a victory here, I think it will have more to do with RB Saquon Barkley being fully healthy than Jones playing well.

Lions Thanksgiving Game (Actual Score: 16-14 Bears)

This may be head coach Matt Nagy’s last chance to save his job. Look for the Bears to rely on their run game to keep this close. In the end though, I have Detroit coming out on top as Lions QB Jared Goff outperforms Bears QB Andy Dalton with the help of his own RBs.

Cowboys Thanksgiving Game (Actual Score: 36-33 Raiders)

Without WRs Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, it’s going to be difficult for this Cowboys offense to keep up with QB Derek Carr and the Raiders. Look for a big game out of TE Darren Waller as the Raiders win big on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Primetime Game (Actual Score: 31-6 Bills)

After a rough week last week, I’m expecting QB Josh Allen to rebound in a prime time battle with the Saints. With QB Trevor Siemian’s top targets, RB Alvin Kamara and TE Adam Trautman out, he will have to rely on other options to fill the void. With more talent and better surroundings, Allen should outplay Siemian by a significant amount for the Bills victory.

The Other Games

Half of Tennessee’s core is on injured reserve right now. While their defense has stepped up this season, the Patriots defense has performed even better. The Pats should be all over a Titans team that’s missing three of its best skill players: RB Derrick Henry, WR A.J. Brown, and WR Julio Jones. Meanwhile, I’m expecting a respectable game out of QB Mac Jones as he keeps the hot streak going and leads the Pats to an important victory.
I think this game will come down to who can run the ball better. While I expect some success from RB Myles Gaskin and the Dolphins, he is no match for the legs of QB Cam Newton and RB Christian McCaffrey. Look for Carolina to come out on top in the end here despite a close game.
I think we’re going to see a different Zach Wilson in his first game back from injury. I’m expecting WR Elijah Moore to keep up his success with Wilson under center as the duo lead the Jets to a road victory in Houston. Will Wilson carry the momentum into the rest of the Jets schedule? That could prove to be much more difficult.
Cincinnati embarrassed the Steelers in Pittsburgh earlier this season. However, it seems the Steelers have gotten their act together to an extent in the weeks since. Look for a big game from RB Najee Harris, who has posted a rather dominant rookie year, as the Steelers split the season series.
This one could be difficult for Tampa as WR Antonio Brown remains out. The Colts defense should have the ability to shut down the Bucs run game and limit QB Tom Brady’s other receivers. Meanwhile, QB Carson Wentz could benefit from the banged up nature of the Buccaneers secondary. I have the Colts edging out a victory at home.
This Jaguars offense has the raw talent to improve on its recent performance. However, I can’t really say the same about Jacksonville’s D. QB Matt Ryan tends to eat up bad defenses. Look for him to rely on TE Kyle Pitts in an extremely favorable matchup as the Falcons hand the Jaguars yet another loss.
Without RB Aaron Jones, this Packers offense will not be difficult to shut down. Look for CB Jalen Ramsey to shadow WR Davante Adams, leaving QB Aaron Rodgers with minimal other options. Meanwhile, QB Matthew Stafford should have no problem connecting with his receivers as CB Jaire Alexander remains injured. I’d like to believe that LA’s first game with WR Odell Beckham Jr. was a fluke. If so, the Rams will show off their full potential in this one.
Both of these teams find themselves in the race for a wild card spot due to the large drop off after the NFC’s top 5 seeds. I think Minnesota is going to begin to pull ahead in this race as QB Kirk Cousins posts another big game against an inexperienced 49ers secondary. I don’t think QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be able to keep up with Cousins, and it’s not like QB Trey Lance would be much better (at least in his rookie year).
The Ravens may have lost several RBs to injury, but this run game has continued to impress nonetheless. Look for QB Lamar Jackson to rely on his legs and his running backs to take down the Browns in prime time. The return of RB Kareem Hunt should give the Browns a boost, but it will not be enough in Baltimore.
While I do see WR Terry McLaurin posting a big game against this Seattle secondary, I have QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks winning this one in the end. Look for QB Taylor Heinicke to put up some flashy drives and score some points, but Wilson just posts successful drives on a more consistent basis.

In the coming weeks, check out my Twitter to keep up with my NFL picks.

2021 NFL Week 9 Picks: A week of Super Bowl rematches and revenge games

Did you know that 5 of this week’s 14 games are rematches of previous Super Bowls? In addition, we’ll have some revenge games (like Stephon Gilmore facing off against the Patriots) and crucial divisional matchups (such as a cross-state battle between Cincinnati and Cleveland). This week’s games are going to draw from many old rivalries, and it should make for some loud crowds and a lot of close matchups. Who will benefit from all this? I have broken down each matchup below. Last week was a rough one for me, as I only picked 7 games correctly, but my overall record stands at 77-46.

Lock of the Week

In recent history, matchups between these two teams have been close. While the Bills might not play at their best in the warm Jacksonville weather, they should still win this game comfortably. I don’t see this Jaguars defense making it very difficult for QB Josh Allen to post another multi-TD game. Expect Allen to thrive both as a runner and a passer.

Upset of the Week

It remains unclear whether Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is truly 100%. I expect his offense to be less explosive than usual against a Denver defense that still has plenty of talent despite trading star edge rusher Von Miller. Meanwhile, look for QB Teddy Bridgewater to lead the Broncos to victory by relying on the run game as well as revitalizing his chemistry with WR Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy is in his second game back from an extended IR stint.

TNF (Actual Score: 45-30 Colts)

While QB Mike White posted a rather impressive game against the Bengals, this Indy defense is a big upgrade compared to Cincinnati’s, and it’s been on a good stretch lately. Look for the Colts to come out on top in a low scoring affair under the lights.

The Other Games

After a couple of higher scoring games by the Patriots, I’m expecting a more defense-heavy battle in this one. This Carolina defense has been sneaky good all year, and the trade for ex-Patriot CB Stephon Gilmore has only helped matters. The return of RB Christian McCaffrey should also give the Panthers offense a boost. However, I have QB Mac Jones and the Pats edging out a victory as they maintain some of the offensive momentum they’ve gathered over the last two weeks.
I’m surprised sidelined Texans QB Deshaun Watson was interested in heading to Miami, because I don’t feel the Dolphins are miles ahead of Houston this year. However, I don’t see QB Tyrod Taylor and the Texans offense putting up many points in this one. The offense was already struggling before RB Mark Ingram was traded to New Orleans. Without Ingram, Houston’s offense will likely be borderline anemic for the remainder of the season.
I think the Browns are ready to move forward after a drama-filled week headlined by the release of WR Odell Beckham Jr. Quite honestly, the Browns have performed better without OBJ as the offense just meshes better. QB Baker Mayfield is continuing to play through numerous injuries, but I think he’ll rely on RB Nick Chubb against an inexperienced Bengals front seven to get out to a lead in this one. QB Joe Burrow should make this one close, as he’s been able to compete in just about every game this year. However, I think this week will be remembered as a turning point for Cleveland’s season.
I’m expecting a close, run heavy game here. While the Ravens have one of the most effective overall backfields in football, they lack a star running back to compete with Vikings RB Dalvin Cook. I have this Ravens team holding onto the AFC North lead with a victory, but Minnesota should provide them more of a challenge than one would expect out of a .500 team.
Until this New York offense is closer to 100%, it’s going to be difficult for the Giants to win games. I do expect RB Devontae Booker to impress against his former team though, and I could see his strong performance making this close. In the end, I do have the Raiders winning as QB Derek Carr relies on slot WR Hunter Renfrow and his star TE Darren Waller. This trio will maintain a high level of production for the offense in the wake of WR Henry Ruggs III’s arrest and release from the team.
This game will come down to which offense can get into a better rhythm despite key players missing. With both QB Jameis Winston and WR Michael Thomas done for the year, the Saints are going to have to make the most of what they have. Against a struggling Falcons defense, I think their current offensive corps will impress. Atlanta’s offense has some of their own challenges as WR Calvin Ridley takes some time away to focus on mental health. As a result, QB Matt Ryan will have to develop chemistry with some unfamiliar faces in his effort to keep up with the Saints.
I have the Chargers coming out on top here as QB Justin Herbert leans on his three main targets: RB Austin Ekeler, WR Keenan Allen, and WR Mike Williams. If I’ve learned anything this season though, it’s that you can never count out QB Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense from a game. Hurts has been unstoppable late in games. I expect the Eagles to have a late charge against Los Angeles, but it won’t be enough.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is out this week with COVID, so it will be up to backup QB Jordan Love to outperform a flawed Chiefs defense. Love has a talented supporting cast to rely on including RB Aaron Jones and WR Davante Adams. Despite another poor showing by the Chiefs D, I believe QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will come out on top in the end, winning by a field goal.
If QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins both end up having to sit this one out due to injuries, the Cardinals could be in trouble. However, with or without them, in contrast to the low scoring win against San Francisco earlier this season, the Cardinals should win in a shootout. The Cardinals still have several reliable weapons including WR Christian Kirk, WR Rondale Moore, and TE Zach Ertz. The 49ers should see the return of TE George Kittle, but I think it’s the run game that will stand out for the Niners offense as they make this close.
Without RB Derrick Henry, this Titans offense could take a major step back. Tennessee will have to rely on the WR duo of A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, who will face an elite duo of corners, Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams. Considering this, I expect a smooth sailing victory for QB Matthew Stafford and the Rams against a much weaker Titans defense.
This Bears offense has underperformed for just about the entire season, regardless of match-ups. Facing a highly experienced Steelers defense is likely to be too much for them to handle. QB Ben Roethlisberger won’t need to have a field day to win this one on Monday night.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts on these picks, and stay tuned for more content in coming weeks.

Featured in best of SNO: Xu runs Boston Marathon to support autism community

Enchee Xu, a member of my graduating class at Algonquin Regional High School, recently ran the Boston Marathon with his mom, Connie Cao to raise money for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.

I wrote about them for my school newspaper, the Algonquin Harbinger, and it was featured in Best of School Newspapers Online (SNO)!

I would like to thank the Harbinger staff for asking me to do this story, thank the Harbinger adviser, Lindsay Coppens, for forwarding this article along to Best of SNO, and thank Best of SNO for choosing this article. I’d also like to thank Connie Cao, Enchee Xu, and Mike Palmer for allowing me to interview them. Last but not least, I’d like to thank the Flutie Foundation for their continued support of me and the rest of the autism community.

2021 NFL Week 8 Picks: Who will emerge as contenders with deadline nearing?

The trade deadline is almost here, and this week could be a big indicator for what moves are going to happen, including the destination of QB Deshaun Watson. My picks for the week are below. Last week I went 10-3, bringing my overall record to 69-38. After two straight weeks with 3 or less incorrect picks, I hope to keep it up.

Lock of the Week

I doubt this Texans offense will be able to get much done with DT Aaron Donald in QB Davis Mills’ face and CB Jalen Ramsey locking down WR Brandin Cooks. Meanwhile, I’m expecting QB Matthew Stafford to toss multiple TDs, continuing along on his MVP trajectory in this blowout victory.

Upset of the Week

Even without WR Corey Davis, I have the Jets pulling off an upset here. The Jets run defense has been awful thus far, but I could see improvement in this one against a lackluster Bengals o-line. Look for a big game out of RB Michael Carter to make a difference as well. QB Joe Burrow will put up a fight as usual, but fall short as the Bengals begin to fall back to Earth.

TNF (Posted to Social Media Thursday night)

The Other Games

The Bills took down the Dolphins with ease in Miami. While I think the Dolphins will be able to make some adjustments the second time around, I still have the Bills coming out on top. QB Josh Allen and his receivers will be able to significantly outplay QB Tua Tagovailoa.
This one could be closer than most people expect as the Browns continue to fend off the injury bug. I’m expecting a big game out of RB Najee Harris. However, I still have Cleveland winning a close one in the end as QB Ben Roethlisberger’s struggles continue.
Without WR Julio Jones in the game, this Titans offense is much easier to shut down. Look for the Colts defense to come up big again as Indy continues to trend in the right direction and fight for a playoff spot.
Look for the Lions to come close yet again, but I’m beginning to have doubts that the Lions have the talent to finish the job. Against an inexperienced Lions defense, look for QB Jalen Hurts and his offense to have a field day and outpace QB Jared Goff.
Honestly, I feel that head coach Matt Nagy is holding this Bears team back. With Nagy dealing with COVID while the Bears face a young Niners secondary, I could see QB Justin Fields putting up a surprisingly strong game. I don’t think QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be able to keep up without his star TE George Kittle.
Even without WR Calvin Ridley, I have the Falcons coming out on top here. QB Sam Darnold is really struggling without his star RB Christian McCaffrey, and the only thing that I could see saving him is McCaffrey’s return. QB Matt Ryan will have to rely on RB Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Russell Gage, and TE Kyle Pitts in Ridley’s absence, but it will be enough to outperform Darnold.
Bill Belichick is always able to make it a close game. However, QB Mac Jones is not Tom Brady. I expect the Patriots to fall just short in LA. They were able to shut down QB Justin Herbert as a rookie, but this is an even stronger Chargers team than the Pats faced a year ago.
I do not have much faith in these Seahawks without QB Russell Wilson. Under head coach Urban Meyer though, Jacksonville has not been much better. Look for QB Geno Smith to lead the Seahawks in a close one on their home turf.
I don’t expect much of an improvement out of QB Teddy Bridgewater with WR Jerry Jeudy back. However, I do see Denver’s defense comfortably shutting down an ailing Washington squad. This will allow the Broncos to snap their skid at Mile High and jump back into the playoff race.
The Saints defense should be able to keep this close against a Tampa Bay offense that’s missing WR Antonio Brown. However, I don’t think the Saints will be able to defeat Tampa until they get their own star WR in Michael Thomas back. Even then, a victory would be a tall task.
I think the Vikings will come out on top here whether QB Dak Prescott plays or not. Look for RB Dalvin Cook to dominate against the Dallas defense, and I’m expecting a strong game out of QB Kirk Cousins to add to it. If Prescott does play, the Cowboys offense should put up a significant amount of points as usual, but I don’t see it being enough to win in Minnesota.
The Chiefs defense has not lived up to expectations this year, but I don’t think that will be much of a problem against an ailing Giants team. Meanwhile, I expect QB Patrick Mahomes to return to form after suffering a mid-game injury last week.

That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more Boston and national sports content in the coming weeks.

2021 NFL Week 7 Picks: Which teams keep their momentum with bye weeks widespread?

After a brief hiatus, my NFL picks are back for this week. My record is now 60-35 after going 11-3 in Week 6. I had 10 correct picks in a row before the later games broke that streak. Maybe a new streak will begin with this week’s games. There’s also been a lot of streaky NFL teams, but with lots of bye weeks occurring, it could impact the momentum of certain teams. Which teams will stay hot? Keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

This Cardinals offense continues to improve. After losing TE Maxx Williams for the season, they went out to acquire an even better TE in Zach Ertz. Look for QB Kyler Murray to have a field day against a rebuilding Texans defense. The Texans won’t even be able to come close despite putting up some points.

Upset of the Week

The 49ers are still figuring out their QB situation, and I’m expecting even less from this offense without TE George Kittle and against a strong Colts run defense. QB Carson Wentz won’t have to do anything special to pull off the upset here.

TNF (Actual Result: 17-14 Browns)

With a good portion of the Browns offense including QB Baker Mayfield out, this could be close. The Broncos have yet to prove themselves capable of taking down contenders though. While I expect their run game to thrive, they will fall just short against a well-rounded Browns squad.

The Other Games

Look for QB Mac Jones and his receivers to put up an impressive game against a young Jets secondary. Meanwhile, Bill Belichick will be able to outsmart another rookie QB, making it 3 wins over rookies despite none over veteran QBs.
With several receivers missing, I think QB Tua Tagovailoa is going to have a hard time putting up enough points here. He’ll be no match for a well rested QB Matt Ryan and a fully loaded Falcons offense that already looked sharp headed into their bye.
The Bengals have exceeded expectations thus far this season. While I expect the Ravens to win this game after establishing the run, Cincinnati will make this closer than usual. QB Joe Burrow and his reliable trio of receivers are fueling their explosive offense.
Look for this Chiefs defense to rebound against QB Ryan Tannehill and a banged up Titans receiving corps. Meanwhile, I’m expecting both QB Patrick Mahomes and his speedy, reliable WR Tyreek Hill to meet their typical high standards.
This Giants offense is really lacking the personnel to put up many points, regardless of opponent. I do not think we’ll see a full bounce back from QB Sam Darnold as RB Christian McCaffrey remains on IR. However, Darnold will put up enough points to outperform QB Daniel Jones with depleted surroundings.
I don’t expect this to be an amazing game by Aaron Rodgers standards, but he’ll still put up a respectable amount of points as he relies on RB Aaron Jones and WR Davante Adams. It’ll be hard for Washington to compete with that trio as RB Antonio Gibson continues to deal with a shin injury and WR Curtis Samuel remains out.
QB Jalen Hurts is likely going to help the Eagles establish the run. That will be enough to make it close in Las Vegas, especially if TE Darren Waller sits. However, I expect QB Derek Carr to come up clutch and hold on for another victory, keeping the Raiders in the race for this competitive AFC West.
Look for QB Jared Goff to rely on TE T.J. Hockenson to stay in this game. Goff is still no match for his former team, now led by QB Matthew Stafford and his former head coach in Sean McVay. I’m expecting an explosive game out of Stafford as he turns to WRs Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods in a high scoring victory.
QB Tom Brady will be missing some familiar faces in WR Antonio Brown and TE Rob Gronkowski. Look for WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to step up and allow the Buccaneers to remain comfortable favorites over the Bears. The Bucs secondary may have trouble against Bears WRs Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney, but there is still little chance QB Justin Fields can keep up with the G.O.A.T.
WR Marquez Callaway was a preseason standout, likely due to light competition. Most of this year, he’s had to fend off star cornerbacks. However, this matchup against an inexperienced Seahawks secondary could allow him to finally blow up for a big game. Look for QB Jameis Winston and Callaway to connect for several big plays. The Seahawks offense will struggle to match that performance with QB Russell Wilson sidelined. Wilson is a big part of what makes these Seahawks special, so it could be difficult to win without him.

That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more content to come, both about the NFL and other sports.

2021 NFL Week 5 Picks: Which teams will stay on top at quarter mark of season?

There’s been a lot of teams that have been pleasant surprises this year. It’s not the Chiefs, but the Raiders and Broncos who started 3-0 to lead the AFC West. The last remaining undefeated team is not the Rams or Buccaneers, but the Arizona Cardinals. Things like this have made the season difficult to predict, but I might as well continue to try. Last week, I went 11-5, bringing my overall record to 38-26 (39-27 including TNF and the London game). This week, I’ll be predicting each game, as well as which of these strong starters will keep it up.

Lock of the Week

Despite Minnesota’s record, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has consistently performed at an elite level this year. Against a struggling Lions defense, look for Cousins to blow up for over 300 yards and 4 pass TDs. Checkdowns to RBs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams won’t be enough for Detroit to even come close.

Upset of the Week

This Colts defense came up big last week and I expect the momentum to carry into this week against Baltimore. The Ravens aging RB committee will be no match for DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard and the Colts front seven. I don’t see QB Carson Wentz putting up a huge game, but it’ll be enough for an upset as the Indy defense performs at an elite level.

The Other Games

The Patriots may be missing some offensive line personnel, but either way, I expect a pretty strong performance out of QB Mac Jones in this favorable matchup. Meanwhile, Bill Belichick should be ready to stop Houston’s rookie QB, Davis Mills. It’s been a rough start for the Patriots but this game could help them get back on track.
With QB Tua Tagovailoa, WR Will Fuller, and others missing from this Miami offense, the Dolphins are no match for the defending Super Bowl champions. QB Tom Brady may be missing his trusted TE Rob Gronkowski, but he’ll have two other tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate to rely on.
Expect QB Aaron Rodgers to rely on RB Aaron Jones and WR Davante Adams and win this game in the end. However, with CB Jaire Alexander out, I expect the Bengals trio of WRs to put up big games and allow QB Joe Burrow to make this close.
This is a battle of two fairly strong defenses, and also simultaneously a battle of two banged up QBs. I don’t expect much out of either offense, but look for QB Ben Roethlisberger to lean on checkdowns to RB Najee Harris and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to win this.
QB Trevor Lawrence and the Jags should show some promise against a lackluster Titans defense. It still won’t be enough to outpace RB Derrick Henry, who always tends to put up a big performance in Jacksonville.
The Washington defense has disappointed most of the year, but I expect that to shift against an inconsistent Saints squad. Look for them to rely on this defensive performance as well as the run game in a home victory.
The Panthers offense has quietly become one of the most dominant forces in football, and I expect them to put up another strong performance this week against Philly. Expect QB Jalen Hurts to rely on his legs and make this close, but I doubt he’ll be able to outplay a revitalized Sam Darnold.
LA has been off to a strong start this year, but this Chargers defense is no match for Cleveland’s RB duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. I also expect QB Justin Herbert to face a lot of pressure in this one. Look for the Browns to succeed on both sides of the ball against SoFi Stadium.
Despite last week’s loss, I don’t think the Raiders are an early season fluke. Look for QB Derek Carr and his receivers to bounce back against a Bears secondary that has lost a step over the last couple years. It’ll be hard for QB Justin Fields and the Bears to keep up with RB David Montgomery on IR.
It’ll be hard for Dallas to stop a nearly healthy Saquon Barkley. However, I don’t see QB Daniel Jones doing much in the passing game here. He’ll be significantly outperformed by QB Dak Prescott and his receivers as the Cowboys hold on to the NFC East.
I think there’s going to be some growing pains for QB Trey Lance, especially against a Cardinals squad that has dominated every opponent this season. Look for QB Kyler Murray to remain on an MVP pace against a struggling Niners secondary as he leads Arizona to a comfortable victory.
This one is going to be a wake up call for the Chiefs: their defense needs help, and fast. I just don’t see this inexperienced Kansas City secondary stopping QB Josh Allen and his plethora of receivers. I expect an especially big game out of WR Stefon Diggs. QB Patrick Mahomes will toss the usual 3 TDs and make it close, but the Chiefs will fall just short once again.
TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night)
These offenses are pretty much on par with each other, but QB Russell Wilson has to face an elite Rams D, while QB Matthew Stafford gets a favorable matchup against an underperforming Seahawks secondary. This will allow Stafford to put up better numbers than Wilson and lead the Rams to victory.
London Game (Posted to Twitter this morning)
The Falcons offense was already disappointing this year. As they travel to London without WRs Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, their chances at outperforming the Jets are even slimmer. QB Zach Wilson has made a lot of mistakes this year, but should be more consistent in this one.

That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more NFL and Patriots content in the coming weeks.

NFL Week 3 Picks: Expect the close games, shocking upsets to continue

It’s been a crazy season of NFL football so far. Who would have thought that the Broncos and Raiders would not only be tied for the AFC West lead, but also the AFC lead? While some of the trends we have seen thus far are bound to be broken this week, there should still be plenty of surprises. I’ll take a shot at predicting what those surprises will be as I present you with my Week 3 NFL picks. Last week, I went 10-6 as I failed to predict a handful of the upsets that occurred. My overall record is 16-16 (17-16 including this week’s Thursday night game), and I hope to improve on that today as we all relax and watch some football after a long week.

Lock of the Week

Don’t get me wrong, the Bengals should put up some very impressive games. This game is not one of them. I do not expect much at all out of QB Joe Burrow against this relentless Pittsburgh defense, especially as he’s missing one of his favorite targets in WR Tee Higgins. Meanwhile, I expect RB Najee Harris to put up his biggest performance yet against a rebuilding Bengals front seven in a comfortable win for the Steelers.

Upset of the Week

QBs Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert have both started their careers on a very strong note. As they face off frequently for years to come, it could make for some very exciting football. Mahomes and the Chiefs are always at least competitive, but I think they’ll just barely fall short in this one despite a strong performance from RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Last week showed us that the Chiefs secondary could be a cause for concern. I expect that pattern to continue this week as Herbert relies on WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams to put up points in a favorable matchup.

The Other Games

I think both these teams will have to rely on their defense in this one. Washington should be effective at shutting down Buffalo’s run game and apply pressure on QB Josh Allen. However, I think this Bills WR corps will be able to slightly outmatch a strong Washington secondary. Washington will keep it close, but fall just short against this well-balanced Bills defense in an OT thriller.
This one will also be a defensive battle. While the Patriots may struggle to shut down RB Alvin Kamara, I don’t think they’ll allow QB Jameis Winston to put up many points. Even with some of his top options limited by a strong Saints defense, look for QB Mac Jones to edge out a victory for the Pats here.
We still haven’t seen the full capability of this Browns offense, and I don’t think we’ll see it this week either. WR Odell Beckham Jr. has returned, but now WR Jarvis Landry is out. Nonetheless, QB Baker Mayfield should be able to put up enough points for a win here. The Bears should be able to compete, but the Browns D will apply plenty of pressure on rookie QB Justin Fields and CB Denzel Ward will be shadowing Chicago’s top option in WR Allen Robinson.
The Lions offense has showed some signs of life throughout the season. I expect that pattern to continue this week. They’ll end up falling to 0-3 though, as QB Lamar Jackson should be able to dominate this Lions defense on the ground and under center.
This should be a close game no matter who wins. However, I think it’s become clear that it is not impossible to shut down this star-studded Titans offense. I think this Colts defense will be up for the challenge, and that will allow QB Carson Wentz to lead the Colts to an overtime victory. He should most likely put up respectable numbers against this struggling Titans D.
QB Trevor Lawrence has showed signs of upside, but overall he has been inaccurate and inconsistent thus far. I expect him to rely more on his running backs this week and that will make way for the Jags to put up a decent amount of points. This offense is still no match for Arizona’s though. Look for QB Kyler Murray and his strong supporting cast to dominate against a Jaguars defense that has struggled mightily.
The Giants defense has failed to live up to expectations, but the Falcons D is on another level. As RB Saquon Barkley and WR Kenny Golladay continue to heal up, the Giants should be able to show off their true capabilities in a favorable matchup. Look for a breakout game by QB Daniel Jones as the Giants win this fairly easily.
Between injured receivers and bad decisions, QB Zach Wilson has not looked good up to this point. Against a tough Broncos defense, these struggles are likely to persist. Meanwhile, QB Teddy Bridgewater and his receivers should continue to succeed as they outmatch the Jets secondary with ease.
Even without QB Tua Tagovailoa, I do think the Dolphins make this a competitive game. CBs Xavien Howard and Byron Jones should effectively shut down Vegas’s top recievers, and this Miami offense will still show signs of life with QB Jacoby Brissett under center. QB Derek Carr should still be able to edge out the victory as he relies on star TE Darren Waller.
This Vikings offense should put up a decent performance regardless of whether RB Dalvin Cook is active. It’s still no match for QB Russell Wilson and his receivers, who have thrived under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.
If there’s any defense that can stop QB Tom Brady and his star-studded supporting cast, it’s this Rams D. The Rams arguably have as much star power between DT Aaron Donald and CB Jalen Ramsey. The absence of WR Antonio Brown will make things even easier for LA. However, it’ll be a strong game out of QB Matthew Stafford that allows the Rams to hold on for victory.
I think it’s fair to say Week 1 was a fluke for QB Aaron Rodgers. I’m expecting business as usual out of Rodgers and WR Davante Adams against a flawed Niners defense. The 49ers may be 2-0, but Green Bay is by far the toughest opponent they’ve faced. I don’t think QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be able to keep up with Rodgers here.
The Cowboys did something last week that hasn’t happened in a long time: they won a game without scoring 30+ points. I think this one will pan out more like a traditional Cowboys victory as they get caught in a shootout with the Eagles. QB Jalen Hurts should continue to succeed against a Cowboys defense that is missing star edge rusher Demarcus Lawrence. Hurts is still no match for QB Dak Prescott’s high powered offense.

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night)

This Texans offense looked surprisingly strong under QB Tyrod Taylor. I do not expect the same with rookie Davis Mills under center. Look for QB Sam Darnold to rely on his strong trio of receivers as he leads Carolina to a comfortable victory, continuing to prove that the Jets were the problem as opposed to Darnold himself.

That’s all for this week’s picks. Feel free to comment with your thoughts before you enjoy another week of jam-packed NFL action. You can also look forward to more NFL content on this site, including coverage of QB Tom Brady’s return to Gillette Stadium.

2021 NFL Week 2 Picks: Which Week 1 reactions were warranted?

Week 1 was a wild one, jam packed with lots of upsets and even more reactions. A good number of these reactions are likely overreactions. This week, we may begin to see some players and teams consistently trending in either the right or wrong direction. My NFL Week 2 Picks are here, and throughout this article I’ll not only be predicting games but also outlining overreactions across the league. I started off 6-10 (7-10 including Week 2 TNF), so my track record is not off to a good start. However, I hope to improve after seeing last week’s action.

Lock of the Week

The Texans had an impressive victory over Jacksonville in Week 1, but they’ll receive a rude awakening in Cleveland Week 2. The Browns nearly took down QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Kansas City last week. Expect this well-balanced team to thrive in a much easier matchup as they outmatch the Texans on both offense and defense.

Upset of the Week

The Panthers offense looked very impressive last week. Was it against a weak Jets defense? Yes, but I still expect Carolina to continue to put up points on a consistent basis. QB Sam Darnold was able to utilize RB Christian McCaffrey to the best of his abilities and had a good rapport with all three starting WRs. With CB Marshon Lattimore out for New Orleans, this Panthers receiving corps could be in for a big day. QB Jameis Winston was even more impressive last week, tossing 5 TDs. I think he has a lot of potential, but there’s only so much he can do with this few reliable weapons. Give me the Panthers for a competitive, but comfortable victory.

The Other Games

Miami had an impressive victory in a back and forth game with the Patriots last week. I think this defense has the ability to come up clutch and it’ll shine through again this week against Buffalo. This Bills offense is not going to be as unstoppable as it was last year. While QB Josh Allen should put up a strong game, it’s going to take time for him to return to late 2020 form and get past defenses like Miami’s.
The Jets are already battling injuries at WR like they did last year. That could make it difficult for QB Zach Wilson to put up too many points against a defense that normally feasts on young QBs. Meanwhile, look for the Patriots WRs to perform well against an inexperienced group of Jets corners. It’s these wide receiver-defensive back matchups that will make the biggest difference as Pats QB Mac Jones outperforms Wilson in a New England road victory.
Pittsburgh is missing a couple key defensive pieces in CB Joe Haden and LB Devin Bush. Nonetheless, I’m expecting a fairly comfortable win for them over Las Vegas, as RB Najee Harris runs all over the Raiders front seven. Harris may lack a strong o-line, but that won’t matter in favorable matchups, as he’s a very talented running back.
Last week, it was Sam Darnold’s revenge game against the Jets. This week, QB Andy Dalton gets a chance to compete against his longtime team, the Cincinnati Bengals. I expect QB Joe Burrow to outperform Dalton with ease. However, the big difference here will come down to the defense. While the Bears defensive front should be able to contain RB Joe Mixon, the Bengals front seven is no match for Bears RB David Montgomery. Expect Montgomery to come up clutch in a Bears OT thriller.
It was a rough week for this Colts D in Week 1 as they hosted Seattle. Look for them to redeem themselves against a Rams offense that should be slightly easier to contain. It’ll be tough for the Colts to run away with much of a lead as they face DT Aaron Donald and CB Jalen Ramsey. However, I’m expecting Rodrigo Blankenship to kick a game winner in this close, defensive battle.
The Jaguars fell short last week against a flawed Texans team. I’m not expecting much at all out of Jacksonville against this Denver defense. Meanwhile, look for RBs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams to run all over this inexperienced Jaguars D. It’ll be closer than some expect as QB Teddy Bridgewater struggles without his favorite target in Jerry Jeudy. The Broncos should come out on top nonetheless.
While the Eagles aren’t going to be this dominant every week, it’s hard to believe that QB Jalen Hurts’ performance against the Falcons was entirely a fluke. This 49ers secondary is not what it used to be, and hasn’t really been much better than Atlanta’s. Hurts will be able to capitalize on that as he takes down San Francisco in a shootout.
I think this could finally be the year that this Arizona offense is able to click. They put up an impressive performance against the Titans, and I’m expecting more of the same as they host Minnesota. QB Kirk Cousins and the Vikings should be able to put up a fight per usual, but I’m expecting Cardinals QB Kyler Murray to put up a monster game both on the ground and with his arm.
This Falcons offense is eventually going to return to form. It’s built fairly similarly to how it was in 2020, just with RB Mike Davis and TE Kyle Pitts replacing RB Todd Gurley and WR Julio Jones. While I expect improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, Atlanta is no match for QB Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
After their win over Washington last week, I could see the Chargers completing a sweep of this NFC East. Look for QB Justin Herbert to target RB Austin Ekeler more than last week, while also relying on his WR duo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. The Cowboys are always able to put up some points on offense, but I don’t expect them to be nearly as explosive as usual with WR Michael Gallup and star OL Zack Martin missing among others.
Both of these teams are centered around their offenses, and no matter who wins, this should be an offensive shooutout. I think RB Derrick Henry should be able to bounce back from a rough Week 1 performance. However, you can’t discount the fact that Seattle will have a packed crowd on their side for the first time since the pandemic began. I’m expecting QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to outplay the Titans in a close one.
Baltimore fell short in overtime last week, but I’m expecting a different outcome this time around as the Ravens win an OT thriller against Kansas City. Look for strong games out of both QB Patrick Mahomes and QB Lamar Jackson. It’ll be a Justin Tucker game winner that makes the difference for Baltimore.
It’s hard to believe that QB Aaron Rodgers is giving his all right now. I’m expecting him to rely on the run game as he edges out an MNF victory over Detroit. Another strong performance from Lions RBs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams (against his former team) could give the Packers a scare. It’s hard to believe Detroit will be able to upset Green Bay at Lambeau Field though.

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday night)

That’s all for my Week 2 picks. Feel free to comment with your thoughts before you kick back, relax, and enjoy the games. Today, we will all be able to see which of our Week 1 reactions were warranted.

2021 NFL Week 1 Picks: Which teams will make a statement to begin historic season?

Football season has finally arrived. I’m sure many of you have spent the start of this weekend watching high school and college games; I witnessed my high school’s team come back for a 23-14 victory on Friday night. That was all after Tampa Bay took down Dallas in a close season opener. Now, Sunday is here, and that means NFL action. In this article, I’ll be making my picks and score predictions for each game. I did this all through last season, when I finished with a 162-93-1 record. This year, there will be 272 games as opposed to 256, but I hope to still remain under 100 losses. Now let’s dive into this week’s games.

Lock of the Week

I’m a believer that Saints QB Jameis Winston can fix his interception issues after getting Lasik eye surgery. It could be a rough start for him without star WR Michael Thomas though. Winston could find himself short on receiving options these first few weeks, especially since training camp standout WR Marquez Callaway will have to face #1 corners. This week, I expect Packers CB Jaire Alexander to keep him locked down. RB Alvin Kamara should put up decent numbers, but that won’t be nearly enough to outperform QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Davante Adams, and the Packers offense in the first week of their ‘Last Dance’.

Upset of the Week

Generally, I think the 49ers have been overhyped this offseason. QB Jimmy Garoppolo has been mediocre at best when he’s even able to stay on the field. Even with a decent supporting cast, this offense will not thrive until they see reliable QB play, which I doubt will come in 2021 with young QB Trey Lance still developing. The Lions don’t exactly have an elite QB either, but I expect them to rely on check-downs and the run game. They should have a good level of success with this as the RB duo of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams thrive behind this line and TE T.J. Hockenson contributes as both a receiver and blocker. This won’t exactly be a cake walk for Detroit, as their defense still needs a lot of work and could have trouble containing an elite TE like George Kittle. However, I think the Lions will pull off a last minute upset as their uniquely designed offense keeps up with San Francisco.

The Other Games

The Steelers should be rather successful in stopping a below average Buffalo run game. On the other hand, it’ll be hard for any secondary, including Pittsburgh’s to keep up with QB Josh Allen and a deep group of WRs, including 2020 standout Stefon Diggs. Pittsburgh still has one of the league’s better WR trios plus an exciting rookie RB in Najee Harris, so they should be able to put up a fight. However, I expect Allen to outplay Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and win it for the Bills.
It’s the Sam Darnold revenge game for Carolina: expect a big game from Darnold as he transitions from Adam Gase’s system to Joe Brady’s. I’m also looking for Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey to bounce back strong as ever against this Jets defense. QB Zach Wilson should put up some impressive numbers in his debut, but this Panthers offense will really show what they’re capable of in a high scoring win.
The Bengals may have upgraded their offense this offseason around a healthy Joe Burrow, but this defense could have a hard time containing RB Dalvin Cook and Minnesota’s strong duo of receivers (Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen). Expect a close high scoring game, as Cousins is able to just barely outplay Burrow in his first game back from his knee injury.
Don’t sleep on this Cardinals defense. Look for the pass rushing duo of Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt to keep Titans QB Ryan Tannehill under pressure. It’ll be this Cardinals defense that opens the door for QB Kyler Murray, WR DeAndre Hopkins, and the Cardinals to pull off an upset victory.
A new offensive coordinator and a banged up Colts secondary will be the perfect recipe for a big game out of Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. While QB Carson Wentz and his receivers should put up a respectable performance against a lackluster Seattle D, it won’t be enough to keep up with a cooking Russell Wilson.
It’s not like QB Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars are going to be elite from day one, but that doesn’t matter. Without QB Deshaun Watson, you can’t expect much at all from the Texans. They should put up a decent amount of points against this developing Jaguars D, but even an unpolished Lawrence should be able to outperform them with good skill players around him.
It’ll be exciting to see what QB Justin Herbert can do with this offense in year two. This won’t be a very good window into the season though, as Herbert opens the season against a relentless Washington defense. Meanwhile, I’m expecting RB Antonio Gibson to put up a huge game against a Chargers front seven that has lost some personnel in free agency.
Even without WR Julio Jones, this Falcons offense is going to have some big weeks, starting here in Week 1. I’m expecting TE Kyle Pitts to dazzle in his debut against an Eagles team that tends to struggle in covering tight ends. QB Jalen Hurts and the Eagles could make it close and make Falcons fans nervous about another choke. However, he doesn’t have nearly the kind of supporting cast that QB Matt Ryan has.
In a battle of two former Alabama QBs, I expect a lot of short passes. QB Mac Jones will utilize the tight end duo the Patriots built for him in free agency (Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith). Without WR Will Fuller, QB Tua Tagovailoa will have to rely more on throwing to his RB, Myles Gaskin and should give his tight ends, including Mike Gesicki, plenty of looks. I’m expecting a close game, but even former Alabama WR Devonta Smith feels that Mac is better than Tua. Look for Jones and the Patriots to edge out a victory at Gillette.
This one could be an AFC championship preview as two of league’s most star studded offenses face off. Look for WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to put up strong performances against the young Chiefs corners. This won’t be enough to overcome the typical 300 yard, multi-TD performance by QB Patrick Mahomes. Things could turn out differently come January.
In the post-Manning era, both of these teams are led by their defenses. Look for Von Miller and the Broncos defense to put pressure on Giants QB Daniel Jones. Meanwhile, CB James Bradberry should be able to lockdown Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target in Jerry Jeudy. I’m expecting it to come down to a Graham Gano game winner in a low scoring game.
The Rams and Bears still have two of the NFL’s best defenses. LA also upgraded their offense, bringing in longtime Lions QB Matthew Stafford. The Bears should be able to make this close, but look for Stafford to rely on his WR duo of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to lead the Rams to a prime time victory.
Baltimore has been hammered with injuries this preseason. Nonetheless, I see them running all over this Raiders defense. While QB Lamar Jackson will be lacking reliable weapons, he should be able to break off for big runs and dump it off frequently to his trusted TE Mark Andrews. This won’t be a blowout after all the key players Baltimore has lost, but it’s hard to see QB Derek Carr keeping up with Jackson. It may be a different story if Carr had better surroundings.

Opening Night (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night)

That’s all for my picks this week. There’s lots of exciting action ahead today, and you’re not going to want to miss it. So feel free to comment with your thoughts, and then I hope you enjoy the first Football Sunday of 2021.