NFL Week 12 Picks: Plenty of Close Games to Start the Holiday Season

After two surprising outcomes on Thanksgiving Day, there are a lot of exciting games remaining that could truly go either way. My hometown Patriots host QB Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. The Titans have a rematch with the Colts. The Vikings take on a strong Carolina offense. The Niners and Rams have an important NFC West rematch. The Ravens and Steelers (barring any more COVID cases) will have a rematch to top off the week on Tuesday. The week is highlighted by a potential Super Bowl preview, Buccaneers vs. Chiefs. Last week I went 10-4 in pick’em, bringing my overall record to 99-61-1 (99-63-1 including the Thanksgiving games). Keep reading for my picks for this week.

Lock of the Week

Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt might very well be the best RB duo in the league. I think they’ll both dominate here in an easy Browns victory over Jacksonville. Jaguars RB James Robinson has been successful despite the Jags playing from behind most of the season. It won’t be enough to allow for a Jaguars comeback or even make it close.

Upset of the Week

This will be a very exciting game. The G.O.A.T. takes on the best young QB in this league. It could even be a Super Bowl preview. Right now, Patrick Mahomes is the better QB of the two. However, Tom Brady has the best surroundings he’s had in a long time. These surroundings are even better than what Mahomes has in WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce. This hasn’t won him every game. I think it’ll make a difference here with Brady motivated to show that he’s still a good QB in this league and defend his G.O.A.T. status.

The Other Games

Posted to Twitter Thursday
Both offenses are missing pieces here, so this will probably be an ugly game. I think Detroit will win in their traditional Turkey Day matchup, but that win will not come easy. The Lions will probably struggle to limit QB Deshaun Watson and his receivers. I think QB Matthew Stafford will lead this Lions offense to keep up though.
Posted to Twitter Thursday
With QB Andy Dalton back, I have the Cowboys turning things around after losing in Washington. Dalton is surrounded by a strong offense. He got concussed by an illegal hit to the head in the last game against this squad, so he’ll be hungry for revenge. QB Alex Smith has had success under center for Washington and this will be close, but Dalton will be motivated to finish this one off strong and avoid the season sweep.
The Chargers will be without top corner Casey Hayward, which should be the recipe for a big day out of QB Josh Allen and star WR Stefon Diggs. Expect this duo to lead the Bills to victory. RB Austin Ekeler is back though, so the Chargers should be able to keep up with Buffalo for a good portion of the game.
I think this will be a run heavy game in a battle of two mobile QBs and two talented backfields. The Cardinals should see good production out of Kyler Murray and his RB duo of Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds. I think Cam Newton and the Pats will slightly outperform by relying on their own RB duo of Damien Harris and James White.
Even with Tua Tagovailoa doubtful, the Dolphins should win this with ease since Ryan Fitzpatrick is also a solid starting QB. With QB Sam Darnold back, I’m expecting a slight improvement from the Jets offense. It still probably won’t be enough to make this competitive as New York’s chances at Trevor Lawrence increase.
With QB Joe Burrow done for the year, it’s a whole new story in Cincinnati. This offense will be without its newfound firepower. This will allow for a Giants victory that believe it or not, will make them tied with Washington for the NFC East lead. The Giants don’t have an amazing offense either, but QB Daniel Jones should be able to outperform Brandon Allen, who will be under center for Cincy.
The Titans suffered an embarrassing loss to Indy a couple weeks back. They will be hungry for revenge. I think the Colts will double team WR A.J. Brown, but that will take attention away from WR Corey Davis and TE Jonnu Smith. I’m also expecting a respectable game out of RB Derrick Henry despite the difficult matchup. Without RB Jonathan Taylor, the Colts will be forced to rely on QB Philip Rivers’ arm, and his accuracy has been a serious concern over the last two seasons.
RB Josh Jacobs and WR Calvin Ridley have both stood out within their offenses so far this year. I’m expecting the same in this game. Jacobs will be too much for the Falcons run defense to handle. Even with WR Julio Jones out, the Raiders don’t have enough good DBs to keep Ridley in check. This will be a close offensive shootout, but the Falcons are not finishers, and without Jones I don’t like their chances here.
If you think you’ve seen RB Dalvin Cook dominate, just wait until you watch this game. I’m expecting one of his best performances to date in this one, as he’ll need to step it up with WR Adam Thielen out. I also expect WR Justin Jefferson to step up in Thielen’s absence. Carolina has had offensive success all year and has the firepower to keep up with a shorthanded Minnesota offense. However, I think Cook leads the way to a Vikings win here.
The Broncos will have to start former Wake Forest QB and current WR Kendall Hinton under center. It’s not like the Saints have an orthodox QB either; they’ll be starting Taysom Hill. Both these QBs lack experience as passers but know how to succeed outside the pocket. I’m expecting creative offensive schemes by both sides and I think this will be closer than most people expect. However, the Saints should still win in the end with RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas making it easier for Hill to succeed.
This will be an important game in a close NFC West. The Niners are in need of a division victory, but I don’t see it happening here. The offense will look better with RB Raheem Mostert and WR Deebo Samuel back in the mix. It still won’t be enough to keep up with QB Jared Goff and his WR duo of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. I have the Rams taking this in a close one.
I think this will be a close one in which QB Mitch Trubisky will prove he is better than Nick Foles. Nick Foles has proven that he is a system QB. Trubisky isn’t great, but he’s the better option of the two. The Bears D should limit QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers more than usual. It still won’t be enough for a Bears upset.

The Seahawks have not blown out an opponent yet this year. You might think they’d pull it off against a struggling NFC East opponent, but I don’t see it being so easy. Philly’s receivers and TE Dallas Goedert should have some success against an ailing Seahawks secondary. QB Russell Wilson should lead Seattle to victory in the end though, relying on a balance of returning RB Chris Carson and his receivers.
Baltimore is without QB Lamar Jackson, their top two RBs and TE Mark Andrews due to COVID. I think the Steelers win in the end, but this won’t be a cake walk. The Ravens secondary should still be able to limit QB Ben Roethlisberger’s receivers and make this close. A strong defensive performance by Pittsburgh will make for one of the lowest scoring NFL games this season.

That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage soon.

NFL Week 11 Picks: The Playoff Push is Beginning

Most teams have already had their bye if they don’t have it this week, and at this point, we know which teams can contend and which teams will sit in the league’s basement. There are probably about 20 teams capable of making the NFL playoffs, but there are only 14 spots available. Teams will need to gain momentum in this last handful of weeks in order to make the playoffs. Which teams will pick up crucial wins this week, and which teams will suffer tough losses? Keep reading to find out what I think. Last week I went 7-7 in my picks, bringing my overall record to 89-57-1 (90-57-1 including TNF). I’m hoping to beat that this week and be above .500.

Lock of the Week

This won’t even be close. Sure, James Robinson has kept Jacksonville’s offense alive thus far. He still hasn’t had to face Pittsburgh’s dominant front seven. This defensive front will also be too much for young QB Jake Luton. Meanwhile, QB Ben Roethlisberger should perform at an elite level against a flawed Jacksonville defense.

Upset of the Week

So far, QB Drew Lock has been a major disappointment, while QB Tua Tagovailoa is off to a 3-0 start. That won’t matter this week. I think the Broncos RB duo of Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay will be too much for the banged up Miami front seven to handle. Meanwhile, Miami’s depleted backfield will struggle. Though Tua will outplay Lock, the Broncos will pull off the upset due to a much more effective run game.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Social Media Thursday)
After a couple of rough games, QB Russell Wilson will be motivated for a bounce back. I expect Wilson and his receivers to overcome a pesky Arizona secondary. QB Kyler Murray will stay right on Wilson’s tail throughout the game, connecting well with WR DeAndre Hopkins. However, it’s hard to beat the same team twice in a season, and the Cardinals will fail to do so here.
The Pats are coming off a big win against Baltimore. With momentum in their favor, I think they’ll take down the Texans this week. QB Cam Newton will continue to rely on second year RB Damien Harris and WR Jakobi Meyers. QB Deshaun Watson should be able to keep it competitive with help from WRs Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller V. I think Bill Belichick’s defense will shut down Houston’s run game though. That will make the difference in a Pats victory.
This will be a close one, especially considering what RB Derrick Henry did to this Ravens defense a year ago. Henry could have another dominant game, but I think Baltimore’s front seven has improved and should be able to prevent Henry from a complete encore. I think QB Lamar Jackson will be supported by WR Marquise Brown and a big day from K Justin Tucker in a crucial Ravens victory.
The Browns RB duo is hard for any defense to stop, and Philly is no different. QB Carson Wentz’s offense is definitely in better shape than it has been, but Cleveland has capitalized on favorable matchups and I expect that to continue here.
Washington’s offense has improved with Alex Smith back under center. I expect the success to continue as they host the Bengals. QB Joe Burrow and the Bengals will make it close, but the underrated Washington defense will come up clutch, limiting Burrow enough to defeat Cincinnati.
The Lions will be missing RB D’Andre Swift and WRs Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. It was one thing when Golladay sat, but half of QB Matthew Stafford’s weapons are now hurt, and even Stafford is a little banged up. This will allow Carolina’s offense to outperform Detroit, even with P.J. Walker under center.
It’s Taysom Hill season in New Orleans. Expect Hill to rely on RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas in addition to his own legs in his debut under center for the Saints. I think QB Matt Ryan and his receivers will make this close, but Hill has the tools in this offense to lead New Orleans to victory.
I’m expecting a big game from RB Kalen Ballage against one of his former teams. He’s now the lead back for the Chargers and has had more success in LA than he’s had anywhere else. QB Justin Herbert will also rely on WR Keenan Allen (as always) to give the Chargers a substantial lead. The Jets offense will struggle to keep up, and Herbert should finally win his second game.
I’ve been skeptical about this Colts team all season, but after the win in Tennessee, they’ve proven themselves as a legitimate contender. I think their RB committee will thrive against a flawed Packers front seven. QB Aaron Rodgers will struggle to keep up due to the lack of weapons aside from RB Aaron Jones and WR Davante Adams. Philip Rivers is by far the lesser QB in this one, but that won’t stop the Colts from a victory. A victory here in addition to a Titans loss could give the Colts a firm hold of the AFC South lead.
With QB Andy Dalton back and the Cowboys facing one of the NFL’s worst secondaries, I’m expecting a classic Cowboys pass heavy shootout. Dalton and his receivers will dominate, making for one of Dallas’ best offensive games this year. I still the Vikings will keep up through it all and snag the victory. Expect RB Dalvin Cook and WRs Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson all to post strong showings for the Minnesota offense.
This Raiders defense wasn’t anything special at full health. Now, a large amount of the Raiders D has COVID-19 after a failure to follow protocol. Vegas may have won the first round of this match-up, but a banged up Raiders D is the recipe for a dominant game from QB Patrick Mahomes. QB Derek Carr will impress once again and make this close, but it won’t be enough for victory this time around.

This will absolutely be an exciting Monday Night game. I think QB Jared Goff and his receivers will impress against an inexperienced Bucs secondary, but QB Tom Brady will post a big game of his own. The Rams can put CB Jalen Ramsey on WR Mike Evans and they’ll have DT Aaron Donald applying pressure at the line of scrimmage. However, Brady has a plethora of weapons in this offense and the Rams will fail to stop them all. That should be enough for a Bucs victory in an important game.

That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage, including coverage of the Thanksgiving Day NFL slate. In addition, I may have some college basketball content out in the coming weeks.

2020 NBA Mock Draft: Breaking down Lottery Picks and Celtics Picks

The NBA off-season started off this week, and it’s already been full of news. In addition to a handful of trade rumors and requests, there have been some real trades already. Chris Paul was dealt to the Suns for a large player and draft pick package. The Bucks bulked up by trading for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Jrue Holiday. Now, the draft is tomorrow and teams are preparing. I’ve put together a quick mock draft for it, though I won’t be predicting trades. I will be analyzing the 14 lottery picks as well as later Celtics picks (I will include a list of the other first round picks at the end of the article). This mock is a mix of what I think should happen and what I think will happen. I think there are four players in this draft that are far better than the rest: Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball, and Obi Toppin. Which of those four goes first and who will go right behind? Keep reading to find out what I think.

The Lottery Picks

Anthony Edwards
With the #1 pick, the Timberwolves are looking for a third option to join PG D’Angelo Russell and big man Karl-Anthony Towns. It looks like it’s going to come down to Ball and Edwards. If they took Ball, it would force Russell to SG, so I see Edwards as the more likely pick here.
James Wiseman
C, Memphis
Wiseman, a top 2019 college recruit, played for Memphis for a few games and dominated with 17 points per game. After that he left the school to prepare for the draft. It would work out for him if he ended up in Golden State, which I see as a perfect fit. The Warriors have lacked a good center for years, and Wiseman could help them contend now that the backcourt is healthy.
Obi Toppin
PF, Dayton
Toppin was a dominant force in the Atlantic 10 and if there was an NCAA Tournament he could have potentially led Dayton to a title. The Hornets could take Ball here, but they already have De’Vonte Graham at point guard, and you can argue for Toppin, a better fit in Charlotte, over Ball considering his brother Lonzo was also a top prospect and has failed to meet expectations. Toppin should have an immediate impact on Charlotte’s offense.

LaMelo Ball
PG, Australia
Unlike his brother, Ball did not go to UCLA and instead played professionally overseas. I think Chicago is a strong fit for Ball. Billy Donovan is the perfect coach to groom Ball into a successful player in this NBA. In addition, Chicago is a big sports market which Ball and his dad LaVar will both take advantage of. With Ball joining SG Zach LaVine and forward Lauri Markkanen, I think the Bulls could fight for a playoff spot.

Killian Hayes
PG, France
Hayes is one of the better international athletes in this draft class. He’s a very talented player who can join Darius Garland and Collin Sexton in a young backcourt. I could see Deni Avdija, another international athlete, going here as well, but Hayes has high potential as well.

Deni Avdija, SF, Israel
Avdija has been compared to Kristaps Porzingis, who went to the Knicks in the early 1st round back in 2015. I don’t see him going top five like many people do, but the Hawks missed out on Luka Doncic in 2018 and I don’t think they will pass on Avdija if he falls here. This would make Avdija one of the earliest draft picks in history out of Israel.

Devin Vassell
SG, Florida St.
Vassell and Patrick Williams led Florida State to be neck and neck with Duke in the ACC and both are expected to be top draft picks. He can add depth to a rebuilding Pistons team, and maybe eventually he’ll be behind a Pistons playoff run. It could be a while though since the trade for Blake Griffin is hurting the Pistons in the long term.

Tyrese Haliburton
PG, Iowa St.
Iowa State struggled this past season, but it doesn’t have an impact on Haliburton, who consistently contributed at a high level throughout the season. After some iffy early round draft picks in the past, the Knicks got their hands on R.J. Barrett in 2019. Hopefully this pick pays off as well.

Isaac Okoro
SF, Auburn
Okoro has not been considered much in the top tier of prospects. However, I think he has one of the highest floors in this draft class. Davis Bertans appears to be on the outs, so Okoro can help fill the gap up front for Washington. It’s possible he expands his role in years to come.

Patrick Williams
SF/PF, Florida St.
The Suns could be in line to contend with CP3 here. They are set in the backcourt and at center between CP3, Devin Booker, and DeAndre Ayton. They could use some depth at small forward and power forward, and Williams can play both.

Tyrese Maxey
PG/SG, Kentucky
Maxey was one of Kentucky’s top players with Tyler Herro gone. In fact, he essentially played the Herro role there. Whether Gregg Popovich wants to rebuild or contend, another Herro-like player could be a big help.

Onyeka Okongwu
As much as I would want Ogonkwu to fall into Boston’s laps, I can’t see it happening with the Kings in front. The Celtics very well could try to move up over the Kings for Okongwu, but otherwise I think Sacramento will take him. Their backcourt is set with De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield. Add some size to that and the Kings could be in a better spot to make the playoffs.

Aaron Nesmith, SG/SF, Vanderbilt
Like Haliburton, Nesmith impressed in college despite lackluster surroundings. It should pay off on draft night as the Pelicans add depth to a young squad that already has Zion Williamson and can bring back Brandon Ingram if they’re willing to pay.

Saddiq Bey
SF, Villanova
Villanova was stacked last year, and Bey was on the forefront of that squad. The Celtics do need a big man, but with Okongwu gone that will have to wait. Bey adds bench depth and could have an opportunity for more minutes if Gordon Hayward is dealt.

The Other Celtics Picks:

1.26: Josh Green, SG, Arizona: Green was one third of a big three that made the Wildcats a Pac-12 contender last year, and all three should go in Round 1 of this draft. This is a depth addition and long term investment for the Celtics, who have often taken a chance on backcourt talent from big name schools.

1.30: Xavier Tillman, C, Michigan State: The Celtics have reportedly had their eyes on Tillman. If they do not move up for Toppin or Okongwu, I see them waiting till the late first round for a big man and taking Tillman. I think the Celtics could add a veteran big man as well with this route, and give both the veteran and Tillman adequate minutes. As opposed to Green, Tillman is an older prospect who I could see having an immediate impact.

2.17: Myles Powell, PG, Seton Hall: Powell was one of the top players in college hoops last year, and one of a few seniors who I think will be drafted. Powell adds more backcourt depth and could help fill minutes if PG Kemba Walker is injured or traded. He does not have the high floor of some of these other prospect but could be a valuable bench asset.

The Other First Round Picks

  • 15. Magic: SF Jaden McDaniels (Washington)
  • 16. Trail Blazers: C Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke)
  • 17. Timberwolves: SG/SF Elijah Hughes (Syracuse)
  • 18. Mavericks: PG Cole Anthony (UNC)
  • 19. Nets: PF Jalen Smith (Maryland)
  • 20. Heat: PG Nico Mannion (Arizona)
  • 21. 76ers: PG Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama)
  • 22. Nuggets: PG Devon Dotson (Kansas)
  • 23. Jazz: SF/PF Jordan Nwora (Louisville)
  • 24. Bucks: PF Prechious Achiuwa (Memphis)
  • 25. Thunder: PF/C Zeke Nnaji (Arizona)
  • 26. Celtics (see above)
  • 27. Knicks: PG R.J. Hampton (New Zealand)
  • 28. Lakers: SG Jahmi’us Ramsey (Texas Tech)
  • 29. Raptors: C Filip Petrusev (Gonzaga)
  • 30. Celtics (see above)

I can’t wait for tomorrow night. Once the draft is done the NBA off-season will really get crazy.

NFL Week 10 Picks: Basement Dwellers Running Out of Time

Welcome to my Week 10 NFL picks. Last week I went 7-6, bringing my overall record to 81-50-1 (81-51-1 including TNF). We are now more than halfway through the season. Most teams have already had their bye week, and teams are beginning to settle into playoff contention, into the hunt, or into the basement of their division. There are a handful of teams that have yet to win more than 2 games, and these teams are running out of time to turn it around. If these teams cannot win here in Week 10, they will face a choice of continuing to try or entering the sweepstakes for Clemson’s star QB, Trevor Lawrence. The Jets and Jaguars currently lead this sweepstakes as the only two NFL teams with less than 2 victories. Will any of these basement dwellers win today, and what will they do from here? Keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

The Saints just got WR Michael Thomas back, so their offense is pretty much back to full health. Meanwhile, the 49ers are still missing TE George Kittle, RB Raheem Mostert, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, and WR Deebo Samuel. I don’t think these banged up 49ers will be able to put up many points against a Saints team that is nearing full health. A year ago, this would have been a very competitive game, but things have changed.

Upset of the Week

The Lions are missing WR Kenny Golladay, and when Golladay sits they do not have a very good track record. The Lions are 3-1 when Golladay is fully healthy, and 0-4 when he has missed at least part of the game. I don’t see that changing, even against Washington. This Washington defense is underrated and should be able to contain the Lions without Golladay. Meanwhile, QB Alex Smith will look like his old self against a rather inconsistent Lions D, relying on RBs Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic as well as star WR Terry McLaurin. A Washington upset would not surprise me, as their season could be on the line here.

The Other Games

Posted to Social Media Thursday
With both WR T.Y. Hilton and WR Michael Pittman Jr. healthy, the Colts should make this competitive. However, I think the Titans will prove that they are the clear cut AFC South frontrunners. I’m expecting a strong game from RB Derrick Henry and I’m expecting the TE duo of Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser to impress here too.
This game will not be a fun one. I’m expecting both teams to struggle with turnovers and frustrate their fans in extremely windy conditions. With RB Nick Chubb back to join Kareem Hunt in the Browns backfield, I think they can edge out the victory at home and put the Texans further out of playoff contention. It still won’t be QB Baker Mayfield’s best work.
I think QB Jake Luton and the Jaguars will keep this competitive with a solid offensive performance. They still won’t be able to match the performance of QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. I think RB Aaron Jones will run for 2 TDs to add to 4 pass TDs by Rodgers in the shootout victory.
The Eagles are slowly inching their way back to full health. This week, RB Miles Sanders and WR Alshon Jeffery will join WR Jalen Reagor and TE Dallas Goedert back in the lineup. I think QB Carson Wentz will utilize all four in a high scoring Philly victory. QB Daniel Jones will look better than usual against a flawed Eagles defense but struggle to outperform the healed Eagles squad.
The Buccaneers started the season with a loss to the Saints and followed it up with a dominant performance in Carolina. I’m expecting the same thing here, as QB Tom Brady utilizes his stacked arsenal of weapons. Carolina’s offense should not be slept on, but I can’t see QB Teddy Bridgewater outplaying TB12 here.
Two of the leagues best mobile QBs, Josh Allen and Kyler Murray, face off here. I think the Bills will rely on their run game to stay competitive, as CB Patrick Peterson will shadow star WR Stefon Diggs. The Cardinals, on the other hand, will air it out, as WR DeAndre Hopkins outplays Diggs and wins out in a match-up with CB Tre’Davious White. That will be the difference maker as Arizona wins this at home.
I think the Chargers offense will have to rely on their RBs here as they play a strong Dolphins secondary. This will be a close, game, but I think the Chargers D will step it up to make the difference. QB Tua Tagovailoa will connect well with TE Mike Gesicki, but RB Myles Gaskin is hurt and WR DeVante Parker will be facing CB Chris Harris Jr., so the rest of Miami’s offense will struggle.
The Bengals are another team whose season could be on the line this week. They will be motivated, but this Pittsburgh defense should give them a rude awakening. If they annihilated the Browns (who beat the Bengals twice), it is not a good sign for a Cincy squad that will be without RB Joe Mixon. I’m also expecting a solid game out of QB Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers as they continue to exceed expectations.
The Chargers, Broncos, and Raiders are all in the wild card sweepstakes. This will definitely be a close one, and it has significant playoff implications. I think QB Drew Lock will rely on WR Jerry Jeudy here. Meanwhile, QB Derek Carr will spread the ball out in order to outplay a tough Denver D. I have the Raiders edging out a victory, putting themselves in a good position to make the playoffs in this tough division.
As with most Seahawks games, I’m expecting a pass heavy shootout here. Both these teams are already very pass heavy, and in a close game that Seahawks RB Chris Carson is missing, it will be on another level. I think the Rams can make this close, but QB Russell Wilson has come up clutch frequently so far this year and I think it will happen again here.
Don’t get me wrong, I could see the Patriots pulling off the upset here. The Ravens offense has not been as good as expected and the Pats offense has posted some surprising performances. I think the Pats will struggle to slow down Baltimore’s run game, so I’m picking Baltimore, but this will be closer than some expect.
The Bears started this season off surprisingly well, and many have been quick to call it a fluke. I’m expecting a solid performance from the Bears D here and a surprisingly strong game from QB Nick Foles. Foles and his receivers (especially Allen Robinson) will thrive against a struggling Minnesota secondary. Foles dominated against this team in the 2018 NFC Championship. I don’t quite see this game as an encore for him, but he will post an impressive game and lead the Bears to victory at home. Foles should at least outperform QB Kirk Cousins, who has a very iffy history in primetime games.

That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage soon, as well as some basketball coverage as the NBA off-season kicks off this week.

NFL Week 9 Picks: Which Teams can have a Second Half Turnaround?

We’re about halfway through the season, and most teams are aware of whether they’ll be able to contend for the playoffs. However, with an expanded postseason, there are some lower end playoff spots that could be up for anyone’s taking. With a strong second half, any team could take them. Check out my picks this week to find out which teams I think that could be. Last week I went 7-7, bringing my overall record to 74-44-1 (75-44-1 including TNF). Can I beat that record this time around?

Lock of the Week

The Patriots had a disappointing month. Now, they take on the AFC East basement dwellers, and I’m expecting a big victory despite the absence of WRs Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry. QB Cam Newton and RBs Damien Harris and James White will make things difficult for the Jets D. Meanwhile, I’m expecting the Jets offense to appear anemic as usual.

Upset of the Week

Both of these teams overperformed a bit early in the season. I still have faith in the Bears D to slow down QB Ryan Tannehill and his receivers, even if they cannot stop RB Derrick Henry. Chicago’s offense won’t be great either, as they have QB concerns, but they can pull off the upset here by limiting a Titans offense that has posted a strong season thus far.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Social Media Thursday)
The 49ers are extremely depleted right now. They’ve been missing two of their best defensive players. Now they’ll also be without majority of their best skill players and QB Jimmy Garoppolo for a significant period of time. Look for RB Aaron Jones to post a strong game in his return and for QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams to connect well in a Packers victory.
I think the Bills are one of a few teams that may be able to figure out how to defeat the Seahawks. They can put CB Tre’Davious White on WR D.K. Metcalf and the Seahawks run game is missing key pieces right now. Meanwhile, QB Josh Allen has connected well with his receivers all year, and could be in for a field day against a weak Seattle secondary. QB Russell Wilson can rely on WR Tyler Lockett, but the Wilson-Lockett connection might not be enough here.
People are framing this as a close game, but I don’t think so. The Colts are on the verge of taking over the AFC South, but I think they have overperformed thus far. With WR T.Y. Hilton ailing, QB Philip Rivers will struggle to connect with his receivers as the Ravens D puts him under pressure.
This one should be close. Neither of these teams have looked good so far. I think QB Deshaun Watson is far better than this week’s Jaguars starter, Jake Luton, so that should make the difference even though Luton has similar surroundings.
Carolina’s offense has impressed all year and I expect that to continue with RB Christian McCaffrey back in the lineup. However the Panthers are still no match for QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
I could see another Falcons choke happening here. The Broncos offense is the closest it’s been to full health since the season started. I think this young offense will post an impressive game against a severely flawed Falcons D. Atlanta will struggle to keep up with WR Calvin Ridley banged up.
QB Daniel Jones is 3-0 against Washington in his career. I think that streak comes to an end today as RB Antonio Gibson and WR Terry McLaurin post impressive games. It’ll be a strong Washington defense that makes the biggest difference here though.
When WR Kenny Golladay sits, the Lions offense has struggled. I don’t expect that to change here. The Vikings offense is gaining momentum after a strong game from RB Dalvin Cook last week. I think he goes for an encore this week as the Vikings win again.
QB Justin Herbert fell short again last week despite a strong game. I think they’ll have an easier time holding on for victory against an inconsistent Raiders D. This will be close though, as the Vegas offense has been impressive too.
RB Chase Edmonds comes into this game with the chance to prove whether he deserves the starting job. I think he’ll take full advantage of that opportunity. He’ll supplement a Cardinals offense that has already looked good thanks to the duo of QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins.
I think Garrett Gilbert will look better than Ben DiNucci did under center in the Cowboys offense. They are still no match for the undefeated Steelers, at least as long as QB Dak Prescott is out. Pittsburgh should dominate against a Cowboys secondary that has struggled all year.
QB Tom Brady’s tenure in Tampa began with a loss in New Orleans. I think Brady has gotten used to his new offense and should get revenge here in a shootout victory. Brady will rely on former Pats teammates in WR Antonio Brown and TE Rob Gronkowski as well as long time Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

That’s all for this week’s picks. After a long week, it will be nice to sit back, relax, and watch some football.

NFL Week 8 Picks: Top Contenders Establish Themselves

This week, two dominant AFC North squads, the Ravens and Steelers, face off. The Bills have a chance to prove themselves as they host the Patriots. The Browns have an important game against the Raiders. In the NFC, the Saints and Bears face off. The Seahawks face their division rival, the defending NFC champion 49ers. This could be the week when many of these top contenders prove that their strong starts are going to lead to strong finishes. We’re about halfway through the season. Which strong starts are sustainable? Which ones are a fluke? Check out my Week 8 picks below to find out what I think. Last week, I went 9-5, bringing my overall record to 67-37-1 (68-37-1 including TNF). We’ll see if I can beat that this week after two straight 9-5 weeks.

Lock of the Week

Lock of the week is an understatement, this might be my lock of the season. I think QB Sam Darnold tosses his sole touchdown to WR Denzel Mims, but struggles due to his lack of other healthy weapons. The Jets got rid of their two best players from last season, RB Le’Veon Bell and S Jamal Adams after frustration in Adam Gase’s system. Bell will be hungry for revenge against his former team, and Gase will not be any better off without those two. I expect the Chiefs to start the game off with some big passing plays and finish it off with the RB duo of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Bell for a blowout victory.

Upset of the Week

The Eagles are getting a couple key offensive pieces back against a weak Dallas D: WR Jalen Reagor and TE Dallas Goedert. I think that will allow the Eagles to make this a very close game. However, even with QB Ben DiNucci forced to start, I think the Cowboys have the NFC East’s best offense and can edge out an upset victory here.

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I expect Carolina’s offense to continue to thrive against a disappointing Falcons D. However, the Falcons receiving corps are fully stocked and ready for a big game of their own. I have Atlanta pulling the upset in a pass-heavy shootout.
As much as I believe in the Patriots, I can’t see them winning in Buffalo against a Bills team that has looked like a legit Super Bowl contender. The Pats would make it closer if they had WRs Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry and CB Stephon Gilmore healthy. Without those guys, it will be a comfortable victory for Buffalo as New England’s playoff hopes start to fade.
This one will be close. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick looked good in this offense, and I’m expecting rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa to look even better. He will lean on RB Myles Gaskin and the TE corps in his debut. This is because WR DeVante Parker is preparing to be shadowed by CB Jalen Ramsey. The Rams offense should look similar to how it has all year: impressive, but not amazing. That won’t be enough to take down Tua.
This is a very important game for both squads. The 6-0 Steelers and 5-1 Ravens are battling for the AFC North lead. Both squads comfortably took down an otherwise strong Browns team, so both these teams appear to be legit. I’m expecting a defense heavy game here, as Baltimore’s secondary shuts down QB Ben Roethlisberger’s receivers and Pittsburgh shuts down the Baltimore run game. This will be close, but I expect QB Lamar Jackson to bail out the Ravens in OT.
Speaking of the Browns, they have a test of their own against the Raiders, another potential wild card team. I think Vegas will look strong on offense as they have all year. However, I’m expecting a big game out of RB Kareem Hunt against an inconsistent Raiders D. He’ll be the X-factor as the Browns pull off a victory without RB Nick Chubb or WR Odell Beckham Jr.
I think the Titans will pick up the victory in the end, but that won’t prevent the Bengals from keeping this close and competing. I think QB Joe Burrow and his impressive trio of WRs will post a strong game, but fall short against a Titans offense that has dominated since QB Ryan Tannehill took over last year.
This Lions offense has been on fire the last couple of weeks. Indy’s defense has been strong as well, but I don’t see them slowing Detroit’s momentum. RB D’Andre Swift will continue to thrive and QB Matthew Stafford will connect well with star WR Kenny Golladay alongside his other receivers. I do think Indy’s RB duo posts a strong game, but QB Philip Rivers will not be able to keep up with the Lions here.
RB Dalvin Cook is back and RB Aaron Jones is still missing, so this will be very close. I think the difference for Green Bay comes in the form of two players: WR Davante Adams and CB Jaire Alexander. QB Aaron Rodgers will rely on a big game from Adams to succeed. Alexander will lead the Green Bay secondary to prevent Minnesota from keeping up with Rodgers and Adams.
QB Justin Herbert has been on a roll, but doesn’t have the winning record to show for it. After a 1-4 start, I’m expecting the turnaround to continue for this Chargers squad as Herbert and the offense push to get into the playoff race. The Broncos can rely on their young TE duo to keep up here, but it won’t be enough for a win. I think the Chargers D outperforms Denver’s D and Herbert outperforms QB Drew Lock to allow LA to win on the road.
The Saints are missing half their receivers, so if they want a win it will have to come through good defense. I think WR Allen Robinson will struggle in his return as he faces CB Marshon Lattimore. Meanwhile, the Saints front seven will succeed in slowing down RB David Montgomery. I have them edging out a victory here mostly due to the defense but also partially due to success from star RB Alvin Kamara.
I think this will be lower scoring than other Seahawks games have been. In addition, the 49ers will keep it close in a battle of two squads in an extremely competitive NFC West. I think QB Russell Wilson will keep cooking, tossing 3 TDs. The 49ers will make it close as QB Jimmy Garoppolo relies on TE George Kittle and rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk.
Without WR Chris Godwin, this game won’t be as easy of a victory for Tampa as one might think. This Giants defense has been flying under the radar. I still think the Bucs edge out a victory here in their last game before WR Antonio Brown is activated.

That’s all for this week’s picks. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage coming up as the midway point of the season approaches.