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.
SNF
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.
MNF
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.

Playoffs

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.
Saturday
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.
SNF
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.
MNF
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.
SNF
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.
MNF
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.
Tuesday
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.

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.
SNF
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.
MNF

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.
Tuesday
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.
SNF
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.
MNF

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

1.
Anthony Edwards
SG,
Georgia
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.
2.
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.
3.
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.
4.

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.
5.

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.
6.

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.
7.

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.
8.

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.
9.

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.
10.

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.
11.

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.
12.

Onyeka Okongwu
C, USC
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.
13.

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.
14.

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.