2020 Sports: Which changes from this year should stick around?

2020 was not an easy year for the sports world.  From March to July, there were no sports.  Sports looked very different in the second half of the year.  Some of these differences should stick, while others will not.  Below is a change I liked and a change that I didn’t like so much for each of the four major US sports. 


What Should Stick Around: Universal DH

The concept of universal DH has been in talks for years.  2020’s modified schedule involving more inter-league play was just the final factor that convinced the MLB to implement it.  Before universal DH, it was almost like Major League Baseball was two separate leagues.  The World Series was a matchup of an AL champion and NL champion who got there playing slightly different versions of the game.  The NL champions tended to have more pitching because they didn’t need as good of a lineup, while the AL champions usually had to have strong lineups.  The NL is still more pitcher-heavy than the AL, but at least this unites the MLB under one rulebook.  It was long overdue, and it needs to stay this way.  

What Should be Left Behind: The Endless Negotiating

The MLB could have started the season safely as early as the end of June and they would have the whole sports market to themselves for about a month.  Instead, they delayed the start of the season even more because of what was essentially a lockout.  Rob Manfred did not handle the preseason negotiations well, and in the process he probably lost some MLB fans.  If the MLB and MLBPA don’t get their act together and come to faster agreements, it could jeopardize the long term success of professional baseball.  The financial toll on the league is already having an impact, as this off-season seems to be even slower than previous baseball off-seasons.  Most of the top free agents are still available (I’ll have an article about that out soon).


What Should Stick Around: Expanded Playoffs

The 14-team playoff bracket causes more exciting late-season action and allows more teams to stay competitive throughout the year.  Only the worst of the worst have really given up on this season, and even they might still be trying if it weren’t for Trevor Lawrence.  The expanded playoffs also make the #1 seed more valuable, as only the #1 seed gets a first round bye.  The only bad idea surrounding these expanded playoffs?  That would be putting one of the extra wild card games on Nickelodeon to try to get more kids interested.  Plenty of kids watch football without Nick having to get involved.

What Should be Left Behind: The Lack of a Preseason

While the season generally went well without a preseason, there were definitely more injuries than usual.  Teams with lackluster offensive lines were especially vulnerable, like the Giants (who lost RB Saquon Barkley to an ACL tear) and Bengals (who lost rookie QB Joe Burrow to an ACL tear and RB Joe Mixon to a foot iniury).  In addition, many talented rookies, such as Vikings WR Justin Jefferson, got off to extremely slow starts.  Jefferson posted an 1000 yard season and even broke some of Randy Moss’ Vikings WR rookie records, but he barely participated at all in the first two games of the year.  Yes, the preseason should be cut down a bit, but I think you need to have at least a couple preseason games to get the players ready to go.  I’d propose a two game preseason, one preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the season, and one preseason game prior to roster cut down day.  


What Should Stick Around: The 2020-2021 Schedule

I’ve got to be honest with you all, I like this year’s NBA schedule more than the normal NBA schedule.  Shifting the start of the season to Christmas is smart, as the NBA playoffs can cut into sports viewership ratings during the dog days of summer when baseball is the only other sport on TV.  Having a different season timeline than the NHL and stretching across winter, spring, and summer makes the NBA a little more unique than other leagues.  Who knows, maybe outdoor summer playoff games are in the NBA’s future.  In addition, I like the simple breakdown of the schedule: 2 games against every team in the other conference and 3 games against every team in your own conference.  Divisions in the NBA are barely utilized to begin with, and shifting to a more balanced conference schedule without extra division play is a smart idea.  

What Should be Left Behind: Universal Location Playoffs

The NBA bubble worked extremely well during the pandemic.  It’s not going to work in the future.  The lack of home-field advantage was probably a factor in the insane amount of upsets in the NBA bubble.  Yes, a universal location playoffs might be a good way to check the power of super teams, but taking away home field advantage entirely is not the answer.  I think the NBA bubble may have given an unfair advantage to certain teams.  Lowering the salary cap might be a better idea.


What Should Stick Around: The Realigned Divisions

I actually really like the idea of an all-Canadian division.  It was utilized this year to minimize border crossing, but it’s also going to revive classic Canadian hockey rivalries.  It’s not going to work when the Seattle Kraken join the league, but the Arizona Coyotes were already going to have to change divisions.  Why not stick with this realignment, put Seattle in the Western Division, and have the Coyotes pack their bags and relocate to Quebec City?  The Coyotes don’t have a very good hockey market in Phoenix.  In Quebec City, there are more hockey fans, and the Videotron Centre would easily be able to host an NHL team.  I could see the North Division sticking around if the Coyotes move to Quebec. It may take a couple years, but I think the all-Canadian division should return in future seasons.

What Goes: The 24 Team Playoffs

Some of the teams in the NHL’s bubble did not deserve to be there.  I don’t think there’s any reason to expand the NHL playoffs.  16 teams is plenty in what’s soon to be a 32 team league.  If anything it’s too easy to make the NHL playoffs, but the 16 team bracket works.  If they realign the league like I was talking about, they could even make the playoff bracket a four quadrant bracket by division (like they did in the NHL bubble) and make a big event out of the “Final Four” with the four divisional round winners.  

To Conclude…

2020 has forced and inspired a lot of change in the sports world.  Along the same lines, this website is about to undergo some change.  At certain points during the year, I didn’t have much to post about, and I think the entire sports world is ready to move on from this crazy year.  To begin 2021, I will be upgrading to WordPress Premium and changing my URL from andrewr1008.wordpress.com to simply be bostonsportsmania.com.  This is to make my website more accessible by making the URL easier to remember.  I may make some other changes to the site and start with some new kinds of posts as well, so be on the lookout as 2021 begins.  In the meantime, I hope you all have an enjoyable and safe New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s March Madness Bracketology: How the league stacks up as Conference Play Begins

March Madness will be far from typical this year. All 67 games will take place in Indianapolis, and bracket “regions” won’t be based on location. However, it’s still happening, and I’ve had the chance to watch more college hoops than ever this year. I normally don’t get into the bracketology game until February, but some conference play has already started and I think we have a good sample size to start to talk about the bracket with a little less than half of the season complete. Keep reading to see my bracket with analysis, and as always feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Gonzaga looks like the best team in the nation. Led by Cole Kispert and Drew Timme, they have multiple big wins including ones over Iowa and Kansas. I have Texas and Missouri securing high seeds in their first bid since 2018; Texas is keeping up with the top teams in a stacked Big 12 and the Tigers have upset Oregon and Illinois to give themselves a significant resume. Illinois may have the loss to Missouri and a loss to Rutgers, but the duo of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn have led the Fighting Illini to victories over Duke, Minnesota, Indiana, and others.

Duke should drop to a 5 seed (or possibly lower) after losing their three best players to the NBA draft and struggling without much of an upperclassman presence. Meanwhile, Northwestern is posting their best season since 2017 when they made their first ever NCAA Tournament, possibly better than that even. They have crucial B1G wins over Michigan State, Indiana, and Ohio State and have a top 25 resume at the moment. UConn’s move to the Big East has gone well so far, as James Bouknight nearly led them to upset Creighton. They should be able to get back to the tournament this year. Maryland should also be in line to make the tournament after their win over a top 10 Wisconsin squad. Xavier only has one loss, and that came in a close game with Creighton. They are yet another team that has outperformed expectations and should make it.

San Diego State may not have Malachi Flynn, but they still have a strong squad that has taken down teams like UCLA and makes a good case for the top 25. UCLA is one of the better teams in a weak Pac-12, they don’t have many big wins but they have a better resume than most of the conference. I have SMU and Alabama just barely making it as well.

Right now, I’m judging conferences based on which team I think would win the conference tourney. Mercer and South Dakota State both have impressive wins that makes me think they can win their mid-major conferences. Grand Canyon, Texas Southern, and Navy are far from tourney locks but the first two look like the best in their conference thus far and Army and Navy are the only Patriot League teams who have started their season at all.

Villanova may have lost to Virginia Tech but they have been spotless otherwise with some impressive wins, so I’m expecting a 1 seed for them. Iowa has had some rough losses, but Luka Garza has looked really good and they can compete with the best teams in the nation as well. Texas Tech hasn’t really had a big win yet, but they’ve come very close against top teams like Kansas and Houston so I think they’re legit with Georgetown transfer Mac McClung leading the way. Florida State has looked very good as well, led by the duo of freshman Scottie Barnes and returnee M.J. Walker. Michigan is undefeated, so they should have a pretty high seed until they lose. They haven’t played any fellow top 25 teams yet though; the first big test for them will come on Sunday when they host Northwestern.

The only Saint Louis loss this year came against the Minnesota Gophers, who have upset Iowa. I have them beating out Richmond (who lost to Hofstra) in the Atlantic 10 and securing a top half seed. UCF has played with grit in every game this year; their biggest win came against Florida State but they came close against Houston too. I see them as a legit AAC contender alongside Houston. Oregon looks like the best team in this year’s Pac-12, but they haven’t really stood out without Payton Pritchard. I have them facing Florida in an 8-9 game, who should stay competitive even with Keyontae Johnson recovering from a scary in-game collapse.

Syracuse doesn’t have any big wins yet but they look better than last year and were missing coach Jim Boeheim’s son Buddy for several of their early games. BYU has been inconsistent but they did knock off San Diego State. I have a conference winner, Liberty, in the 12 slot here, as they were very competitive with Power Six teams at the Space Coast Challenge to open the season. Bryant, Georgia State, Iona, and Eastern Washington should also make it after their own conference wins.

Baylor doesn’t have as many big wins as Gonzaga, but they look like a title contender and likely 1 seed this year. Houston is currently undefeated, and with a relatively easy schedule there’s a chance they keep it up. If they do I’d probably call them a 1 seed but for now they slot in as a 2 seed as their only big tests came against Texas Tech and UCF. Wisconsin has some bad losses, falling to Marquette and Maryland, but they’ve also taken down Michigan State and annihilated Louisville. If the inconsistency continues they could fall a bit but for now they look like a top 10 team. Creighton has competed with the best of the best too, but they also lost to Marquette and nearly lost to UConn. Their success is dependent on Marcus Zegarowski’s ability to take the leap we were expecting, and he has been inconsistent thus far. Virginia also has a big loss to San Francisco but they’ve looked like a typical Tony Bennett team otherwise.

NC State made a name for themselves by knocking off UNC this past week, and they are a top 25 team for now. Rutgers is playing in a very competitive B1G but their win over Illinois and the success of Ron Harper Jr. help them stand out. I have them facing off with Virginia Tech, who knocked off Villanova, in the Round of 64. I don’t see Virginia Tech getting that high a seed unless they pick up some more big wins; they did also lose to Penn State so I don’t see them as a top 25 team right now. I have another B1G team, Indiana, and LSU in the 8-9 game. Both have been competitive despite a lack of big wins.

Western Kentucky has looked better than most mid-major teams and competed with Power Six teams so I have them as an 11 seed ahead of all of the Last Four In. Southern Illinois looks like the best team right now in a strong MVC, so I have them as a 12 seed (though that conference is very close so several teams could win it and easily secure a 12 or 13 seed). I also have Winthrop, Stephen F. Austin, and Belmont making it on auto-bids with Norfolk State and CSU Fullerton edging out their weaker conferences to make it as well.

Kansas looks good with several freshmen standing out alongside returnees Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett; they have several big wins already. Tennessee got their season off to a late start but looks dominant so far, possibly better then they were when Grant Williams was on the team. West Virginia has also competed with the best of the Big 12, coming close against Kansas, so they should secure a high seed. The UNC Tar Heels have had a tough schedule thus far, but look much, much better than last year with Caleb Love and other freshmen supporting returnees like Garrison Brooks. Michigan State has had some bad losses too but the B1G is not an easy conference to play in this year and I see them picking up some big conference wins and bouncing back. Minnesota and Ohio State are also borderline top 25 teams from the B1G after impressive in-conference wins.

In the 8-9 game, I have Louisville, who looks to be a mid-tier ACC team this year, and Stanford, one of the better teams in a weak Pac-12. Marquette and Clemson should also secure at-large bids after some big victories to start the season. San Francisco and Richmond also have some impressive wins and should edge out tourney bids. I have Akron, Hofstra, UMBC, and Cleveland State securing auto-bids in this region. If Cleveland State can hold on to win the Horizon League, they’d make their first NCAA tournament since 2009 and their third ever.

Bubble Watch

These teams could all easily make the tournament; they could all also easily miss. Their fate will come down to how they do in conference play. Dayton, USC, Providence, Arizona State, Miami, and Oklahoma State are pretty much regulars here, while normally dominant teams like Kentucky are also here after rough starts. If Kentucky does well in conference play, they could still make the tourney. Teams like South Florida could make it as well, the Bulls are better than usual with David Collins getting better and just need some big wins on their resume.

That’s all for today’s bracketology. You may notice that I included a lot of B1G teams. The B1G is a very strong conference this year; I had them securing 11 (yes, 11) tournament bids here and teams like Purdue and Penn State could make a case for the tourney as well. So far, Nebraska seems to be the odd team out in this conference; everyone else has a chance at the tourney. Yes, that’s how good this conference is. Some B1G in-conference games will be national TV events throughout the start of 2021, and I’ll be watching as it looks to be one of the best college hoops conferences in history.

NFL Week 16 Picks: Plenty on the Line over this Holiday Weekend

Merry Christmas everyone! Week 16 is here, starting with today’s Christmas matchup between the Saints and Vikings. Today I’ll be writing about all 16 of my weekly picks as usual. Last week I went 11-5, bringing my overall record to 138-85-1. Keep reading to see how I have each game ending and what the implications of it are.

Lock of the Week

The Jets picked up their first win against the Rams, a playoff contender. I don’t see them winning a second game in a row, especially against a Browns squad that has beaten up on bad teams all year. RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt should dominate against this Jets defense. Meanwhile, I think QB Sam Darnold will be able to rely on WR Jamison Crowder but struggle without other weapons stepping up for him.

Upset of the Week

The Vikings have had success against this Saints team in the past. They pulled off the Minneapolis Miracle against the Saints, and they beat the Saints in another wild card game during the 2019 season. WR Michael Thomas is out, so I don’t think QB Drew Brees and his receivers will do as well as some teams have against this Vikings secondary. Meanwhile, the Vikings offense will score just enough points to take down the Saints, relying on RB Dalvin Cook and slot WR Justin Jefferson.

The Other Games

Look for QB Tom Brady and his strong group of WRs to post a strong showing against a struggling Detroit secondary. Meanwhile, a Buccaneers front seven that has stopped top RBs all year should be able to slow down Lions RB D’Andre Swift. I think QB Matthew Stafford will connect well with WR Marvin Jones and TE T.J. Hockenson, but that won’t be enough to outplay TB12 with a Bucs playoff berth on the line.
I originally thought the 49ers would heal up for this one and even the series with Arizona after a loss in Week 1. The 49ers still have injury issues, and they have regressed significantly from last season. TE George Kittle will be a big help for San Francisco in his return, but that won’t be enough against QB Kyler Murray and an explosive Cardinals offense. This win should put Arizona in a good position to grab a wild card spot.
The Dolphins are off to a 9-5 start and currently hold a wild card. In the last two weeks, they face two tough matchups, traveling to Vegas and facing Buffalo. The Raiders have beat playoff contenders many times this season, and whether it’s Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota starting, I think the Vegas offense will post a strong showing and win this won. QB Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins should make this very close though, especially with RB Myles Gaskin among others back in the lineup.
The Steelers offense hasn’t been the same the last couple weeks, and I’m not expecting a huge game here either. However, I think Pittsburgh’s D will make things difficult for QB Philip Rivers, RB Jonathan Taylor and the Colts. This front seven is amazing at stopping the run and OLB T.J. Watt has led a strong pass rush. That will be the key in the Pittsburgh victory.
The Giants D has been pretty good so far this year, but the secondary is mediocre aside from CB James Bradberry, and I don’t think the front seven is any match for QB Lamar Jackson and RB J.K. Dobbins. Meanwhile, the Baltimore defense should be able to slow down QB Daniel Jones and secure the Ravens victory and put them in a good position to make the playoffs.
The Bengals offense has struggled mightily without rookie QB Joe Burrow. I think QB Deshaun Watson and the Texans should win here, but it won’t be a blowout. Watson lacks the surroundings for an offensive domination in this one. This Bengals defense isn’t anything special, but it isn’t terrible either.
The Bears won’t dominate this one like the Ravens did against Jacksonville last week. QB Mitch Trubisky should be able to rely on RB David Montgomery and WR Allen Robinson to put up enough points for the victory. If the Jaguars weren’t tanking though, they’d probably have a chance. Jacksonville has enough talent that they should be set up for success once they draft QB Trevor Lawrence.
If the Falcons were fully healthy, this would be a shootout. With RB Todd Gurley and WR Julio Jones banged up, I can’t even see Atlanta coming close. Even without RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, it should be business as usual for the Chiefs against the Atlanta D.
I don’t see the Broncos winning much more this season with Drew Lock at QB, and they’d probably rather have a higher draft slot at this point in order to find Lock’s replacement. Meanwhile, QB Justin Herbert and the Chargers will be playing for pride, as they are in good position to improve next year with some better luck and some small changes. This will be close with the Chargers a bit banged up, but Herbert will rely on RB Austin Ekeler here and ultimately lead LA to victory.
Even without WR Terry McLaurin, I think the Washington offense will find success here against a flawed Carolina D. They’ll have to rely on the RB duo of Antonio Gibson (who’s trending in the right direction to play) and J.D. McKissic, as well as TE Logan Thomas. The Panthers would probably have a better chance if it weren’t for the injury to RB Christian McCaffrey, but it seems like McCaffrey is gearing up for a 2021 return with the Panthers out of contention.
As crazy as it sounds, both of these teams still have a chance at the NFC East. The Cowboys won last week as they hosted San Francisco, and Philly has looked better with Jalen Hurts under center. I think Hurts will post an impressive game against the Cowboys D. However, this will be a classic Cowboys shootout. QB Andy Dalton and his strong group of WRs will make this close and I think Greg Zuerlein will make a last minute game winning field goal for Dallas here to allow for a Cowboys upset.
I think CB Jalen Ramsey will do a good job slowing down WR D.K. Metcalf, but QB Russell Wilson will rely on WR Tyler Lockett and his backfield to lead the Seahawks to split the season series with the Rams. Sean McVay seems to have Seattle’s number, but the Rams lack momentum after the Jets loss and it’s hard to beat the same team twice in a year. QB Jared Goff and his receivers should make this close, but in Seattle I don’t see the upset happening as the Seahawks stay in first place.
This will be a shootout as both RB Derrick Henry and RB Aaron Jones dominate. I think the difference here will be CB Jaire Alexander shutting down Titans WR A.J. Brown while Packers WR Davante Adams posts a strong showing against the Titans D. The Packers should come up clutch despite a big game from Henry.
The Patriots will be playing for pride here, as Bill Belichick historically does not tank. I still think they’ll come up short against a strong Bills squad. QB Josh Allen won’t be quite as good as usual against the New England D, but CB Stephon Gilmore would have covered WR Stefon Diggs and he is done for the year. Allen should be able to rely on his star WR and lead the Bills to victory in a close one.

That would be all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more posts this coming week as I have a break from school, and be sure to check out the 2020-21 NBA Predictions I posted yesterday.

NBA 2020-2021 Predictions: Can anyone stop LeBron, AD, and the Lakers?

The NBA has come back with a bang this week. There could be complications down the road with COVID, but it looks like we still have a very exciting season ahead of us. It’s only just getting started, and today I’ll be giving you my predictions for the rest of the year, playoffs included. Remember, this year the 7-10 seeds will take part in a play-in tourney to claim the final two playoff seeds, so 20 teams will finish the 72 game regular season with at least a chance at a playoff spot. Keep reading to find out where I have the Celtics or whoever your favorite team is, and feel free to comment with your thoughts.

I had originally thought the Bucks, Heat, and Celtics would all be neck and neck for the #1 seed. With PG Kemba Walker missing time, I can’t see Boston getting the 1 seed, and I have them as a 3 seed. All three of these teams are very deep, but built around a superstar: Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Bucks, Jimmy Butler for the Heat, and the young stud Jayson Tatum for the Celtics. Yes, Tatum has reached superstar level, and he’ll prove it this year.

The Nets come into this year with a healthy duo of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, but there are many questions. Will they stay healthy? Will the chemistry work? I think it will to an extent, but they won’t be the dominant force that was expected when the Nets went out to sign them. Close behind Brooklyn should be the 76ers, who will likely improve under coach Doc Rivers.

I see the Raptors regressing after losing a strong veteran duo at center and replacing them with Norman Powell. They’ll just barely avoid the play-in by securing the 6 seed. The Wizards and Hawks both have star power, but lack depth. They’ll be flashy at times and could upset some top teams but they’ll be inconsistent. I have them in the play-in alongside Indiana and Orlando, two deeper teams that lack star power. All these teams have intriguing pieces, but haven’t quite put together the puzzle for title contention. The Bulls or Hornets could also make a run at the play in, as the Bulls brought in coach Billy Donovan and the Hornets brought in LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward. Even the Knicks, who drafted Dayton’s Obi Toppin, have the tools to make a run.

It’ll be the Pistons and Cavaliers in a familiar spot: the Eastern Conference basement. I think Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Kevin Love could all find a new home by mid-season as they lack the surroundings to even contend for the playoffs and they aren’t at a level where they can carry a team.

Can anyone stop the Lakers? They just won a championship and they’ve upgraded this offseason, adding Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol, and Montrezl Harrell around the superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They’ll be the clear #1 seed at the very least.

The Nuggets and Clippers should hold their ground as top 3 teams in the West, but don’t sleep on the teams behind them. As Luka Doncic improves, so will the Mavericks. The Suns added Chris Paul to join Devin Booker in the backcourt. The Warriors will get Steph Curry back from injury and also drafted a good center, James Wiseman. I see the Blazers improving after adding Derrick Jones Jr. to the front court to join a now healthy Jusuf Nurkic.

There’s a bit of a drop off after that, but still several more teams that could be competitive. The Jazz have to rely on the health of Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley, and the chemistry between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell could be off after Gobert caused Mitchell to catch COVID back in March. The Rockets will be a playoff team if James Harden stays, but I doubt he’s here after the trade deadline, and this team will probably struggle without him. The Pelicans and Timberwolves have some good young talent; it remains to be seen if they take the next step and lead a playoff run. All of those teams have a chance thanks to the play-in.

Even the Spurs, Kings, and Grizzlies could have a chance. All three made the bubble last year and none of them have lost much since then. The Thunder were also in the bubble, but they lost coach Billy Donovan and entered full rebuild mode. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that they’re Western Conference basement dwellers.


In the East, I have the Celtics making a playoff run with Kemba Walker back. A trio of Tatum, Kemba, and Jaylen Brown can compete with any team in the conference, and possibly even lead Boston to an 18th banner. They’ll easily take down Toronto and outplay the Heat and Bucks in order to make the NBA Finals. I think the Pacers will end up with the 7 seed after beating Washington in the play-in, but it doesn’t matter as they should most likely fall short to the Heat and Bucks. The only first round series in the East that I think will be competitive is the 4-5 series between Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

In the West, the 2 through 7 seeds could end up in any order. I think some upsets will happen here, and teams like Golden State or Portland could make a run even with a low seed. However, I think the Lakers are the clear front runner in the Western Conference. Even the Clippers duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George won’t stack up with LeBron and AD in a playoff matchup.

This will lead to a classic NBA Finals matchup: Celtics vs. Lakers. The Lakers just tied the Celtics last year when they won their 17th banner. The winner of this series will be the first to 18 titles. I think the Celtics have the star power to at least make this series competitive. I have the Lakers winning in the series, but it truly could go either way, and I think the LeBron-AD Lakers and Jayson Tatum’s Celtics will be title contenders for years to come. Tatum is only getting better, and I think this year he will lead the Celtics to cement themselves alongside the Lakers and other teams in the league’s top tier of contenders.

NFL Week 15 Picks: Many Close Games Ahead with Divisions on the Line

The college football regular season is over, and that means NFL football will dominate the TV networks this weekend. After a game on Thursday night, there will be two Saturday games, the regular large Sunday slate, and the typical Monday night game. There should be many close matchups throughout the weekend, including some crucial divisional rivalry games. Last week, I went 8-8 in picks to bring my overall record to 127-80-1 (128-80-1 including TNF). I’m hoping to beat that this week. Keep reading to find out who I think will win all the big games this weekend, and comment with your thoughts.

Lock of the Week

QB Josh Allen has taken the next step this year, and QB Drew Lock hasn’t. It’s as simple as that. Allen should easily outperform Lock in this game, leading the Bills to a blowout victory. Denver has a good run defense that can stop Buffalo’s duo of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. I think Allen will use his arm to defeat the Broncos, relying on trustworthy WRs Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. Lock will struggle under pressure from a strong Bills D and he’ll be unable to even make this close.

Upset of the Week

Head coach Brian Flores has had a lot of success transforming Miami’s defense. However, Flores worked for many years under Bill Belichick. Belichick knows every trick Flores has up his sleeve and can coach his offense to work around it. I expect QB Cam Newton and the Pats offense to win this game through a successful run game. QB Tua Tagovailoa has looked good, but he’ll be unable to put up many points against Belichick’s defense considering his banged up surroundings. RB Myles Gaskin, WR DeVante Parker, and TE Mike Gesicki could all miss the game. That’s bad news for Tua against a defense that normally dominates young QBs and did so against Justin Herbert just two weeks ago. The Pats should win this in a defense heavy game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a pick six in this one.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted on Instagram Thursday)
Vegas has struggled of late due to lackluster defense. I expect the same against an underrated Chargers offense. They may be eliminated from the playoffs, but QB Justin Herbert and his offense have played well all year long. LA’s flaws come in the form of a banged up defense and a struggling special teams unit. I’m expecting a high scoring game here and have the Chargers winning in the end as Herbert performs slightly better than Raiders QB Derek Carr.
After a Bills blowout in the early window on Saturday, I’m expecting an exciting evening game between these two teams. The Packers have the far better record, but this Carolina offense has looked flashy all year and could give the Packers D a headache. The Packers may have star CB Jaire Alexander, but he can only cover one guy and the Panthers have three capable receivers. I do think Green Bay wins in the end. The Panthers will be unable to keep up with the combo of star QB Aaron Rodgers and a strong Packers run game led by Aaron Jones.
The Ravens are missing several of their receivers due to COVID. This Jaguars offense could put up a fight against a banged up Ravens squad, but I think Baltimore wins in the end. They will dominate Jacksonville’s defense on two fronts: by running the ball well and by relying on standout TE Mark Andrews. I think Andrews will catch multiple TDs. Meanwhile, the combo of mobile QB Lamar Jackson and RBs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards will be too much for the Jaguars D to handle.
RB Derrick Henry just dominated the Jaguars and I’m expecting an encore against a struggling Lions run defense. The Lions offense should put up some points with QB Matthew Stafford and RB D’Andre Swift healthy, but it won’t be that close. Swift is good, but he’s no Derrick Henry.
There was a point when I thought this Colts team was overrated. Over the last few weeks they have proved me wrong. QB Deshaun Watson is better than Philip Rivers, but the Colts beat the Texans when they were much healthier two weeks ago. Now, this banged up Texans offense will be no match for the Indy D and that will allow for a Colts victory.
Unless TE George Kittle returns, this will be a historic day for the Cowboys: their first win with less than 30 points in almost 2 years. Most receivers dominate this Cowboys secondary, and WR Brandon Aiyuk will still have a big game I think. However, the 49ers have one of the weakest receiving corps in the NFL. That will allow the Cowboys D to focus in on San Fran’s run game and impress. Meanwhile, the Cowboys offense will put up enough points for a victory, and for once, a non-shootout victory.
Sure, the Seahawks may have played the Jets last week, but their dominant win should give them momentum headed into this game. Despite facing a strong Washington secondary, I think QB Russell Wilson will connect well with WRs D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett here. The Washington offense will be unable to keep up, especially considering the fact that QB Alex Smith and RB Antonio Gibson will have to miss the game.
Even though the Bears D should limit them, I think the Vikings offense will still post a strong game. I do expect WR Allen Robinson to dominate and allow the Bears to get in this game. However, I think the Vikings will complete the season sweep with a close victory.
This Falcons offense has done fairly well. They are still no match for the Tampa Bay D, especially without WR Julio Jones. I’m also expecting a big game from QB Tom Brady and his strong offense against a flawed Atlanta D. Without Julio playing, this won’t even be close.
Annihilating the Jets has almost become a confirmation of whether a team is good. Teams like the Raiders who have let the Jets come close have been exposed as flawed teams. Teams like the Rams should win comfortably here. I think QB Jared Goff and his receivers will perform better than usual here, and I also expect RB Cam Akers to build on his success against the Patriots. QB Sam Darnold might lead a couple scoring drives against this Rams D, but he still won’t make this very close.
I’m impressed by QB Jalen Hurts after he led Philly to upset the Saints last week, and I think the Cardinals win this one but Hurts could give them a good challenge in Arizona. Hurts has been relying on RB Miles Sanders and the TE duo of Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz, which has worked. QB Kyler Murray doesn’t have good TEs, but he does have a strong run game around him as well as star WR DeAndre Hopkins. He’ll rely on those things to edge out the victory here.
The Saints have already looked pretty good without QB Drew Brees. Now, Brees is cleared to play, and we could have one of the most exciting matchups of the year on our hands. QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have seemed unstoppable this year, but I think the Saints D will be able to slow down the Kansas City run game and limit Mahomes. Meanwhile, Brees and the Saints offense will post a strong enough game to pull off the upset and hand Kansas City their second loss of the year.
I was thinking the Giants might have a chance here considering their improved defense. However, star CB James Bradberry is out, so I’m expecting another big game from this Browns offense. I think QB Baker Mayfield throws multiple TDs while also relying on his RB duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Freddie Kitchens, the Browns former head coach, will be calling offensive plays for the Giants, so I think New York will impress against the Browns D. It still won’t be enough to keep up with Mayfield’s stacked offense in prime time.
This was probably put on Monday night because of the impression that it would be QB Joe Burrow taking on Pittsburgh. Instead, Burrow’s season is over, and it’ll be Brandon Allen under center for Cincy. QB Ben Roethlisberger is far better, and this won’t be a competitive game.

That’s all for my picks this week. The playoffs are getting closer, and after this week multiple teams will either clinch or be eliminated. It only gets crazier next week.

NFL Week 14 Picks: Which Teams will Stay Alive, Fall Short in the Playoff Race?

There’s only 4 weeks left in the NFL season. Bye weeks are over. The Chiefs and Saints have already clinched a playoff berth and three more teams can lock one up this week. Several teams could be on the brink of elimination with 4 already out of it. The NFC East remains a close division that has allowed several struggling teams to keep their playoff hopes alive. My NFL Week 14 picks are here, and I’ll be discussing each game and the impact of it. Last week I went 9-6, bringing my overall record to 119-72-1 (119-73-1 including TNF). I hope to improve on that with this week’s 16 game slate.

Lock of the Week

I can’t see the tanking New York Jets beating a playoff contender after all this. The Seahawks were just embarrassed by the Giants at home. They don’t really have to try to win this one, but this is QB Russell Wilson’s opportunity to gather momentum and bounce back from his recent struggles. I think he’ll show off his skills with a strong offensive game. QB Sam Darnold and the Jets will not be competitive, especially with multiple receivers sitting out.

Upset of the Week

I’m taking Vegas in the upset here. Expect another strong game out of TE Darren Waller, who is coming off a dominant performance at MetLife Stadium. The Colts are in for a close one. I think QB Philip Rivers will have some good moments, but struggle with turnover issues that prevent him from leading the Colts to victory. Even though they almost lost to the Jets, the Raiders will remain in the playoff race after this win.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Social Media Thursday)
After annihilating the Chargers, the Pats will have the tougher of their two LA matchups. This one should come down to the wire. Rams DT Aaron Donald could make it hard for the Pats to run it up the middle, but they’ve gotten innovative with the run game in the past and can do it again. I do think QB Cam Newton will need to pass a bit more in this one though. The Rams should make it close, but CB Stephon Gilmore and the Pats secondary will limit QB Jared Goff’s receivers and allow for the Pats to edge out a victory.
Especially now that RB Myles Gaskin is out, I can’t see a Dolphins upset happening. The Chiefs offense should be able to perform at its usual level, even against Brian Flores’ defense. I’m expecting a decent game out of QB Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins, but it won’t be enough to keep up with Kansas City.
This is a battle of two backup QBs, so one would expect a low scoring game. I don’t think so. Both these defenses have struggled this year. I think this will be a typical Cowboys shootout. The Cowboys will post a strong offensive performance, only to be defeated because of their lackluster secondary.
RB Derrick Henry typically dominates against Jacksonville, and I’m expecting the same in this one. QB Ryan Tannehill is throwing the ball a bit more and will contribute a couple pass TDs as well. I think RB James Robinson will try to keep up with Henry, but the Jaguars will not be competitive here as QB Mike Glennon struggles.
The Texans offense is in shambles, so if they have a standing chance at a victory, they need to step up on defense. That shouldn’t be that hard against QB Mitch Trubisky. I still think the Bears will win in the end as Watson struggles without WR Will Fuller and with WR Brandin Cooks shadowed by CB Kyle Fuller. The Bears should remain in the playoff race after this one.
QB Teddy Bridgewater is lacking weapons here, as WR D.J. Moore is out. WR Curtis Samuel will play but missed several practices this week and we don’t know how prepared he’ll be for this matchup. Even so, I think Bridgewater will be able to outperform struggling Broncos QB Drew Lock and lead Carolina to victory in a close game. He’ll rely on WR Robby Anderson in the victory.
The Cardinals have struggled a bit lately, while the Giants have taken the edge in the NFC East. The Giants just beat the Seahawks in Seattle with backup QB Colt McCoy. I think they can handle the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium with QB Daniel Jones back. QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins will lead the Cardinals to keep this one close, but it won’t be enough.
The Vikings secondary has had problems all year, so I don’t expect them to be able to stop what might be the best WR trio in the league. Minnesota’s offense has had some insane success of late too, and while I expect to see some of that against Tampa, it won’t be enough to take down QB Tom Brady and his offense.
The Falcons should be able to put up some points against a struggling Chargers D. However, QB Justin Herbert will be motivated to bounce back after getting shutout by New England. Look for the Chargers offense to succeed at this against a flawed Falcons D.
This is a battle of two of the league’s newest mobile QBs, Taysom Hill and Jalen Hurts. Hill has been getting into a groove with the Saints which isn’t surprising if you consider his excellent surroundings. I think Hurts will make this close as he relies on checkdowns to RB Miles Sanders and his tight ends, but he’s no match for this Saints offense.
With CBs Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant both injured, I’m expecting a monster game out of QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams. The Lions will be more competitive in this one with RB D’Andre Swift back in the lineup. However, Swift is no Dalvin Cook. He won’t be enough for the Lions to keep up with a thriving Rodgers-Adams duo. I have the Packers winning this and clinching a playoff berth.
I think Washington will struggle against this San Francisco D. WR Terry McLaurin will meet his match in CB Richard Sherman. The rest of the offense will struggle under pressure from a strong front seven. The Niners won’t score that much either, but I could see a strong game out of TE Jordan Reed and some big plays by the RBs to allow for the 49ers to get out to a lead and keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Steelers started this year 11-0. Then they lost to the Washington Football Team. Even if they hadn’t lost to Washington I would have predicted the Steelers to fall short in this one. The Bills run game will most likely struggle here, but QB Josh Allen has a cannon for an arm and can beat the Steelers by relying on WRs Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. Pittsburgh will struggle against the Bills secondary as Allen is able to outplay QB Ben Roethlisberger and lead the Bills to victory. However, it’ll be the Steelers who clinch a playoff berth, as the Bills would need a Raiders loss to clinch, and the Steelers just need a loss from one of Miami, Vegas, or Tennessee.
In the first game between these two teams, QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens dominated. A lot has changed since that game. The Ravens have lost 4 of 6 after a 5-1 start. I’m expecting them to get into a groove here despite the tough matchup. QB Lamar Jackson will put up a decent game but be unable to dominate like he did in Week 1 as defenses have begun to figure him out. I have the Browns pulling off the upset in a close one as Baltimore’s path to the playoffs narrows.

That’s all for my picks for this week. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage and posts about other sports soon.

NFL Week 13 Picks: Who will take the edge in NFC East, other Competitive Races?

As bad as the NFC East is right now, it’s still a very competitive playoff race. That’s not the only playoff race on the line this week either. My NFL picks are here, and I’ll be discussing each game and any playoff implications it might have. Last week I went 11-5, bringing my overall record to 110-66-1. Keep reading for my predictions for this week.

Lock of the Week

For my lock this week, I’m taking the undefeated Steelers over another NFC East squad in Washington. Sure, Washington has looked impressive the last few weeks as RB Antonio Gibson and WR Terry McLaurin improve with Alex Smith under center. However, Pittsburgh took down all three of the division’s other teams and I cannot see Washington doing any better and ending Pittsburgh’s undefeated run. The win here will keep Pittsburgh in line for the #1 seed, and prevent Washington from pulling ahead in their division.

Upset of the Week

The Cardinals offense has impressed all year, and I’m expecting that to continue here. The Rams strong defensive performance has allowed them to overperform in the NFC West. I still don’t see them slowing down Arizona too much. Even if they put star CB Jalen Ramsey on WR DeAndre Hopkins, QB Kyler Murray still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. This will be close though as QB Jared Goff and his receivers post a respectable performance in Arizona.

The Other Games

Without QB Joe Burrow, it’s hard to see Cincinnati winning this. The Bengals offense will be at a significant disadvantage without Burrow. Meanwhile, Miami will get QB Tua Tagovailoa and RB Myles Gaskin back from injury. I have Miami winning, guaranteeing them a winning percentage of .500 or better.
Heading into the season I was a non-believer in Vegas. Originally, I had the Jets winning this one as I was under an impression that these would be the league’s worst teams. The Raiders haven’t been amazing, but I think they’re capable of taking down the Jets here. RB Josh Jacobs may be out, but RB Devontae Booker is a reliable replacement. I think the entire Raiders offense will thrive here and the anemic Jets offense will struggle to keep up.
The Browns may be 8-3, but they haven’t been able to take down elite teams. I think they will make it close against Tennessee, but once again fall short when it matters. Without WR Odell Beckham Jr. in the picture, QB Baker Mayfield lacks the weapons to keep up with a strong Titans offense. The Titans will solidify themselves as a legitimate contender while the Browns hold out hopes for a wild card considering the fact that they will be 3-4 games behind Pittsburgh.
I think Houston would win this if their WR corps wasn’t missing Will Fuller and Randall Cobb. Without those two, the Colts secondary can focus in on WR Brandin Cooks and make it difficult for this Texans offense to succeed. Even with QB Philip Rivers banged up, I think the Colts will win this one with Houston’s offense decimated by injuries as well as Fuller’s suspension.
Considering how much this Vikings secondary has struggled, I think QB Mike Glennon and his receivers will be able to keep this close. Minnesota should be able to win in the end though. The Vikings entire offense should thrive against Jacksonville’s D. I expect RB Dalvin Cook as well as WRs Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson to dominate once again.
Though I have the Bears blowing out Detroit, I could see a wide range of outcomes occurring here. The Bears can pull off a blowout if QB Mitch Trubisky connects well with WR Allen Robinson and stop WR Marvin Jones and TE T.J. Hockenson. I think they’re capable of doing all those things. The Bears D has thrived in favorable matchups like this one, and I see them preventing the Lions from keeping up with Chicago here.
The Falcons run D has been surprisingly impressive. I don’t think they’ll be able to handle the trio of mobile QB Taysom Hill and RBs Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. In addition, WR Michael Thomas should have a big day against a struggling Atlanta secondary. Even with WR Julio Jones back, I can’t see the Falcons offense keeping up with that. The Saints D has been one of the NFL’s best this year. I think the Saints hold on to the top seed in the NFC despite Drew Brees’ absence.
With a win here, the Seahawks can truly pull ahead in the competitive NFC West. I think the Giants offense will post a respectable performance here despite the absence of QB Daniel Jones. Seattle’s struggling secondary has made for some nail biters and I expect the same here. However, I think QB Russell Wilson and his receivers will step up to lead Seattle to victory. Even in a matchup with CB James Bradberry, I think D.K. Metcalf will post a strong game. I think the Giants will stay on top of the NFC East after this week, but they won’t pull ahead by any means.
Originally I thought QB Justin Herbert and the Chargers could win this one. The Pats are coming off a win against Arizona though, so I think they can handle a 3-8 Chargers squad. Don’t get me wrong, the Chargers are no joke. With a stacked offense that includes RB Austin Ekeler, WR Keenan Allen, and TE Hunter Henry, they will stay competitive here. However, I think QB Cam Newton will come up clutch against an inconsistent Chargers D and lead New England to victory, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
QB Carson Wentz owned up to his struggles this week, and I think he’ll be motivated to bounce back in an important game against Green Bay. I think Wentz will throw for 300+ yards and several TDs here, looking a little bit more like a 2nd overall pick and giving Green Bay a difficult matchup. I think QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will take this one in the end though, as he comes up clutch in the offensive shootout.
If the Chiefs want a chance to take the 1 seed away from Pittsburgh, they need to win this primetime game. Even with QB Drew Lock back, I don’t see the Broncos making this a competitive game. QB Patrick Mahomes should dominate as usual, even against an above average Denver defense, allowing the Chiefs to win with ease and remain 1 game behind Pittsburgh.
The 49ers can stay competitive this season after taking down the Rams last week. They’d need to win this game though. TE George Kittle is still out, but QB Nick Mullens can rely on WR Deebo Samuel, who posted a dominant game last week. Neither of these defenses are the powerhouses they were last year. I still expect a close, low scoring affair here, and I have the 49ers coming out on top to keep their season alive.
Even against the Ravens D, I think the Cowboys will post a strong offensive performance as usual. However, the Ravens should be getting plenty of players back from COVID, including rookie RB J.K. Dobbins, who had a strong game and led the backfield the last time he played. That will allow them to come out on top against a flawed Dallas defense and stay in the playoff race as the Cowboys and all three of their division rivals take another loss.

That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more next week when the playoff race intensifies.