Week 4 NFL Picks

I feel like I need to rationalize my picks for week 3. But there’s really nothing to be said. You can’t explain craziness — that what makes it crazy!! So my 6-10 mark against the spread wasn’t good, but who, seriously, picked the Bills to cover — I know it was 17 points but come on!! The Bills had a player retire at halftime a week ago!! I wasn’t much better straight up, going .500.

For the year, I’m 12-19-1 (ATS) and 16-15-1 straight up. Let’s have a big week 4, huh? Here goes nothin’!

Find a TV and Sit

Minnesota (+6.5) at L.A. Rams

The question to me is can Kirk Cousins have himself a resume’ game? He really doesn’t have one. And for the last two weeks, Minnesota luckily managed to avoid going 0-2 because the QB hasn’t been great. The Rams are dinged up with both Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib set to miss multiple weeks due to injuries. On a short week, I favor the Vikings weapons on offense. But the Rams offense will not be stopped. Rams, 27-24

Cincinnati (+6) at Atlanta

Andy Dalton missed Joe Mixon last week in Carolina. But the quarterback should be able to move the ball all over the place on the banged up Falcons defense. The middle of the field should be wide open. Bengals, 28-27

New Orleans (-3.5) at New York Giants

I think this could be a fun game. The Saints seem to have forgotten how to play defense. This rendition reminds me of the Saints teams of 5 years ago when they were slinging it all over the field and couldn’t play a lick of D. The Giants offense has struggled, but they will do their best to keep up. Saints, 34-24

Tampa Bay at Chicago (-2.5)

Ryan Fitzpatrick and the high-powered Bucs offense will face their first really good defense of the season in Khalil Mack and company. I like the Bears to win that battle; but can Mitchell Trubisky do enough to put points on the board? Tampa’s defense has struggled greatly. Could be a nice opportunity for Matt Nagy to get loose with the playbook. Bears, 23-17

Kansas City at Denver (+4.5)

I don’t think Denver’s defense is good enough to take on Pat Mahomes and this Chiefs offense blow for blow. But I am interested to see how the young gunslinger handles the ferocious pass rush from Von Miller on the edge. If Miller can help force Mahomes into a few mistakes, it will be interesting to see how the Chiefs deal with a little adversity. And playing at Mile High is no joke. Chiefs, 27-23

Laundry Games (You can do laundry or other things around the house with these games on. You’ll pay enough to attention to get what’s going on.)

Philadelphia at Tennessee (+6)

If the Titans can pull off back to back wins over the Jaguars and the Eagles, people will quickly forget about the loss in Miami in week 1. The Philly offense is not healthy and Carson Wentz could be weeks or months from regaining his 2017 form. The key matchup here is how Blaine Gabbert/Marcus Mariota handle the Philadelphia defense. Titans, 20-17

Cleveland at Oakland (-2.5)

Who’d have thought this would be a watchable game? Mostly, I’m only interested in Baker Mayfield. While I certainly don’t think Oakland’s defense is good enough to foil the Todd Haley offense, going on the road is a different animal in the NFL. Will this be the week Jon Gruden’s offense puts together a complete game from start to finish? Raiders, 24-20

Miami at New England (-6.5)

Oh boy. Miami’s got team speed and can stretch the Patriots linebackers across the field. New England needs to hunker down and get back to the basics on defense. Offensively, I’m thinking OC Josh McDaniels throws a little spice into he gameplan this week. It’s been 10 quarters since the Patriots looked like the Patriots. Patriots, 31-24

Baltimore (+3.5) at Pittsburgh

With the new rules changes, you wonder if this battle will resemble past games between these two rivals or if a little luster will be gone. The hard hits might be fewer, but the desperation will be there — Pittsburgh doesn’t want to fall to 1-2-1 and the Ravens could build some separation by moving to 3-1. Ravens, 20-19

Visit the Apple Orchard

San Francisco at L.A. Chargers (-10.5)

Who’s playing QB for the Niners? The Chargers defense shouldn’t have difficulty in disrupting the 49ers offense; and the Phillip Rivers-led offense should be able to score. Chargers, 31-20

Rather Stare Out the Window

Houston (+1.5) at Indianapolis

Andrew Luck is getting better and better, and surprisingly the Colts defense hasn’t looked brutal. Houston is in a must-win situation. Bill O’Brien might be coaching for his job here. The Texans defense came alive last Sunday against a bad Giants o-line. The Colts line isn’t great. This has all the makings of a sloppy, weird road win. Texans, 22-20.

Buffalo (+10) at Green Bay

Don’t look for the perennial MVP candidate, Aaron Rodgers, to make the same mistakes Kirk Cousins did a week ago against this Buffalo defense. And Josh Allen isn’t going to catch the Packers defense off guard. Packers, 30-24

New York Jets at Jacksonville (-7.5)

I don’t like Sam Darnold versus Jacksonville defense in this matchup. The rookie QB will make a few mistakes and I expect some turnovers to result in points for the Jags. Blake Bortles won’t be perfect but it won’t matter. The defense will score all they need. Jaguars, 24-10

Detroit (+3) at Dallas

After their huge win at home in primetime against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, how do the lions respond when they hit the road and head to Jerry’s World? The Lions are the better team, but this game has “trap” written all over it. I don’t like the Cowboys, but they’re at home and there’s no telling what Detroit’s energy level will be for tis one. Cowboys, 23-21

Seattle (-3) at Arizona

Josh Rosen gets is first career start — he can’t be worse than Sam Bradford. He could have a Nathan Peterman-type game and be better than Bradford. Seattle’s offense has been boring, but the balanced run attack was productive against Dallas in week 3. I’d look for Seattle to do the same in the desert. And if Earl Thomas misses a few more practices this week, he’s likely to add to his interception total and maybe add a pick-6 and a sack. Seahawks, 24-17


Thanks for reading. Subscribe to the Sports Talk Center blog and you can receive emails when content is updated. Also, follow me on Twitter @brian22goodwin. You can also subscribe and download the Sports Talk Center Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts from: Apple iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or Spotify. Just subscribe, download, listen, and enjoy.

Listen to episode 76 right here:

 

Listen to episode 77 right here:

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Week 3 Reflections: I Know Nothing About the NFL

Usually, the deeper into September we get, the proverbial glass clears up, the fog dissipates, and we can see NFL teams for who they really are. I said usually. This past weekend proved to frustrate and confound many of us who, stupidly, think we can predict NFL games or, in the very least, point to the things teams do well and not so well and use those as indicators of team success. I come away from week 3 feeling like I know nothing about this season. I need a reboot. That said, it won’t stop me from looking back at week 3 and coming to some (mostly) sensible reactions.

  1. Pat Mahomes is fun to watch. I’m not going to re-hash what I’ve been saying about waiting to see Mahomes and this KC offense in meaningful games when weather is a factor. Forget that for now. At this moment, there’s not a more exciting player in the league.
  2. I guess having a player retire in the middle of halftime can be used as a motivating factor for an NFL team. So, feel free to thank Vontae Davis, Buffalo fans. (Seriously, how’d the Bills beat the Vikings?)
  3. Here’s how. Maybe. What if Kirk Cousins isn’t the answer the Vikings need? He’s fine, but is that change from Case Keenum to Kirk Cousins really going to put Minnesota over the top? I haven’t been sold, I was never sold, and I’m not sold now.
  4. “Paging Julian Edelman!!! Tom Brady and the Patriots offense need you!!!” The Pats looked slow and inept Sunday night against the Lions. Edelman’s week 5 return should help as far as the offense goes. The defense? Well……
  5. New England’s week 4 opponent, the Dolphins are 3-0 after wins over the Titans, the Jets, and the Raiders. Not exactly the toughest 3-game stretch. But the Dolphins have team speed. That offense could have success against a slow Patriots defense.
  6. Former Patriots OC Bill O’Brien entered this season with the Houston Texans with high expectations. But Deshaun Watson still doesn’t look right and patience, you’d imagine, may be wearing thin after this 0-3 start.
  7. Has there ever been a more talented team that just can’t seem to put it all together than the Chargers? Lack of execution at critical moments on top of bizarre coaching decisions give me the impression this team is missing “it”.
  8. It was a throwback weekend — Tiger won a tournament and Eli Manning went 25-29. Eli did. Eli Manning.
  9. Every sack, interception, or tackle for a loss by Khalil Mack gives me great joy, as I wait for John Gruden to somehow explain why Mack didn’t fit in with the Raiders.
  10. The Rams are by far the most complete team in the NFL right now. Injuries to Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters will test this team’s defense, though. And they get Minnesota’s dynamic wide receiving duo on a short week.
  11. The Titans might not be great, but judging that team through 3 weeks is a mistake. The hurricane game in week 1 and then the quarterback issue shouldn’t be dismissed.
  12. The Jaguars had their come-down week after playing in their Super Bowl against the Patriots in week 2. I don’t get a ton of these right so let me just bask in the fact that I called that one.
  13. If everything isn’t perfect for Dak, he’s not very good.
  14. Why did Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks choose the final 5 minutes of the game to bench quarterback Sam Bradford in favor of the rookie Josh Rosen? That’s a page from the Hue Jackson book of bad coaching.
  15. Typical shootout between the Saints and Falcons. Great offensive outputs, but I don’t trust the Falcons coaching staff in close games.
  16. Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey have the potential to be a scary tandem in the Panthers backfield.
  17. Andy Dalton came back down to earth a bit after tossing 4 picks in Carolina. In fairness, Joe Mixon was out. I think Mixon might be the most important piece to their offense.
  18. I’m not the biggest Baker Mayfield guy. But I am excited to see what he does with the Cleveland offense.
  19. The Lions played with heart and passion and excitement on Sunday night against head coach Matt Patricia’s former employer. After their 0-2 start, they needed that one. And you’d have to believe Matty P. put a little more emphasis on this one throughout the week.
  20. After his fast start on MNF, Sam Darnold has lost some of his shine. After a few weeks, will we be saying the same thing about Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen?

Thanks for reading. Subscribe to the Sports Talk Center blog and you can receive emails when content is updated. Also, follow me on Twitter @brian22goodwin. You can also subscribe and download the Sports Talk Center Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts from: Apple iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or Spotify. Just subscribe, download, listen, and enjoy.

Listen to Episode 75 of the Sports Talk Center podcast here:

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NFL Week 3 Picks

Not a great week 2 for my picks (6-9-1 OTS, 8-7-1 straight up). Let’s see if we can right the ship this week. Love the battle of L.A. The Chargers have both the offense and the defense to play with the Rams. But now that the Rams are past the lifeless Raiders and Cardinals, will we see them throw it into another gear against a good Chargers team? Melvin Ingram and Derwin James alone will present more legit threats than the Raiders and Cards defenses did, combined.  And how about the battle of the worst offensive line in football. Is Bill O’Brien coaching for his job? Will Eli Manning leave this game in one piece? I wouldn’t watch this game, but I don’t think I’d be able to look away. It’s going to be a mess.

Let’s check out this week’s slate of games.

Don’t Miss

Chargers (+6.5) at Rams

The Rams will get their first actual test of the year after opening with lopsided wins over the Raiders and Cardinals. Is the Rams defense for real? And how will Jared Goff deal with the pressure he’s bound to feel from Melvin Ingram and Derwin James? As for the Chargers, they have the weapons on offense, but execution is always the biggest issue with this team. Rams, 27-24

New Orleans (+3) at Atlanta

Through two weeks, the Saints either have their offense running well and their defense is terrible or vice versa. If they can put it all together, they’re in great shape. The Falcons miss Deion Jones and Keanu Neal on their defense, which won’t help them defend against Drew Brees. Saints, 30-21

San Francisco (+6.5) at Kansas City

Kansas City’s offense is in some kind of a groove — it’s out of the question to ask the 49ers defense to stop Pat Mahomes. But Kyle Shanahan will scheme something up for Jimmy G as a way to answer the Chiefs crazy, efficient offensive attack. Whether it’s more running the ball or shorter passes, look for the Niners to try and control the clock on offense and limit the amount of time that their defense has to be on the field against Mahomes, Hunt, and Hill. Chiefs, 27-24

Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (+2)

This could be a shootout. Neither team plays a lick of defense so expect the offenses to show off on Monday night. There’s a lot to like about Tampa Bay right now. They’ve got all the right moves while Pittsburgh can’t get out of it’s own way. Have I mentioned how happy this mess in Pittsburgh makes me? Bucs, 34-27

If It’s On, I’ll Watch

New England (-6.5) at Detroit

Where have we seen this before? Patriots lose and take out their anger on their poor next opponent. Bill Belichick out-schemes a former assistant, as the Pats win big. New England heads into a primetime game after a week of experts doubting their greatness and claiming their reign is over. We know how this ends. Patriots, 31-17

It’s On in the Background

Tennessee (+6.5) at Jacksonville

Despite a disappointing and very lackluster 1-1 start, the Titans can prove a ton with a big performance in Jacksonville. Could this be a letdown game for the Jags after the huge, emotional win over New England? Titans, 24-13

Cincinnati (+3) at Carolina

The Panthers are getting the obligatory 3 points as the home team. What Vegas is telling me is that we shouldn’t believe too much in Carolina. I like the Bengals defense up front and in the secondary; but can Andy Dalton do enough without Joe Mixon? Bengals, 20-17

Denver at Baltimore (-5)

We’re going to learn a lot about these two teams in the coming weeks. Right now the Broncos defense is great, led by Von Miller. But their offense really isn’t been worthy of the 2-0 start. Baltimore seems more balanced on both sides of the ball, despite laying an egg last week in Cincy. Ravens, 20-13

Indianapolis (+6) at Philadelphia

Carson Wentz returns against the guy many feel he’s replaced as the  face of the league for the next 10 years, Andrew Luck. The Jim Schwartz defense will dial it up against the Indy QB and keep things moving quickly. Indy doesn’t have the pass protection and Luck doesn’t completely have his sea legs back yet. Eagles, 24-20

I’m Cleaning the Garage…or Eating Glass

Jets at Cleveland (-3)

The only way I consider watching this game is if we were to get Baker v. Darnold. Expect both defenses to play well and both offenses to be sloppy. The Browns have been so so close in both weeks 1 and 2. They should be able to do enough on the short week. Browns, 16-12

Buffalo at Minnesota (-17)

Give me one reason the Bills keep this within 3 touchdowns. And I’m not exaggerating. The bigger question to place a bet on is will the Bills have more players retire at the half than touchdowns they’ll score. Again, not exaggerating. Vikings, 35-10

Green Bay (-3) at Washington

I’m not sure how healthy Aaron Rodgers is, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if reports surface later that he’s dealing with a much more severe injury than we’re being told now. That said, Andrew Luck and the Colts eased past the ‘Skins last week. The Pack will be able to score and the defense is better than anything Alex Smith has seen this season. Packers, 27-17

Giants at Houston (-6)

Neither offensive line can block to save their lives. At least Houston has a mobile quarterback. And as far as defenses go, the Texans are much more capable of getting to Eli Manning. Eli might not make it a full 4 quarters. But should the Texans be giving anyone 6 points? This line smells. Texans 23-19

Oakland (+3) at Miami

Desperation is already seeping into the water in Oakland. Jon Gruden does  not want to start 0-3, even if he thinks his roster stinks. And Miami isn’t really as good as their 2-0 start wants to indicate. Desperate teams are dangerous teams. Raiders, 23-20

Chicago (-4) at Arizona

So let’s not complicate matters. The Cardinals have scored 6 points through 2 games. The Bears have Khalil Mack and a very good defense. The Cardinals will start Sam Bradford. The Bears were up 20-0 on Aaron Rodgers and then smothered Russell Wilson. We can keep going if you like, but is it necessary? Bears, 24-13

Dallas (+3) at Seattle

The only interesting piece to this game will be if Earl Thomas switches jerseys at halftime. Seattle is a train wreck, and their offense might not be salvageable. Dallas has a front seven that can handle that porous Seattle O-line. Cowboys, 20-13


Thanks for reading. Subscribe to the Sports Talk Center blog and you can receive emails when content is updated. Also, follow me on Twitter @brian22goodwin. You can also subscribe and download the Sports Talk Center Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts from: Apple iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or Spotify. Just subscribe, download, listen, and enjoy.

Listen to Episode 74 right here:

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NFL Week 2: Am I Overreacting?

After one week of the NFL season, there aren’t any conclusions that one can draw. But after a whole TWO weeks, we can glean just about everything there is to know about who’s for real and who’s not. Don’t believe me? Watch:

  1. Cut the Kicker position. I’m the commissioner for our fantasy league and I did it this season. The Rams didn’t need a kicker on Sunday. Cleveland’s kicker shanked 4 in total (2 PATs and 2 FGs); Mason Crosby missed a big kick against the Vikings; and the Vikings had woes of their own, as Daniel Carlson missed 2 in overtime. What a joke.
  2. Forget MVP, get the HOF jacket ready for Pat Mahomes. He’s thrown for an NFL record 10 touchdowns over the course of a two game stretch. He’s on pace for 80 touchdowns. Totally doable. Hall of Fame, baby.
  3. Everything is fine in Pittsburgh, right? Completely fine. It’s all under control. The defense? It’s cool. Le’Veon Bell who? Unhappy offensive linemen? Fake news. It’s alllllllll goooooooood.
  4. Vontae Davis retired during halftime of the Bills-Chargers game. Like officially retired. Now that the precedent has been set, maybe Hue Jackson will follow suite in Cleveland.
  5. Hey Giants fans, how you like that Saquon pick at 2 overall? Nice job, guys.
  6. The Giants offensive line is terrible. Eli won’t survive. Is it too soon to say that Ben McAdoo got a raw deal?
  7. Alvin Kamara has regressed and the Saints have no weapons beyond Michael Thomas at WR. Maybe that’s why they’re 1-1 and had to sneak out a 21-18  home win over the Browns.
  8. Remember when we all thought the NFC South was the best division in the league?
  9. So ties are just a thing now, huh? Gimme Giant-Texans for week 3.
  10. Who’s the more surprising 2-0 team: Miami, Tampa Bay, or Cincy?
  11. Where will Jameis Winston be playing at the end of the season?
  12. More than his play on the field, Ryan Fitzpatrick won the longterm starting job at QB with his postgame outfit Sunday.
  13. We looked and looked and looked all summer to find an AFC South team that would be better than the Jaguars. I think it’s time we stop looking.
  14. Coming off an embarrassing 31-20 beatdown in Jacksonville, the Patriots now set their eyes on Belichick’s fall-guy, Matt Patricia, and the Lions Sunday night. New Englanders can calm down.
  15. What’s the point of spending any sort of draft capital or money on a running back? Saquon Barkley hasn’t helped the Giants offense — they looked looked lost week 1 and were worse Sunday night; Leonard Fournette didn’t play and the Jags offense played more efficiently than we’ve ever seen it (I think they’re 4-0 without him); and Lev Bell’s absence doesn’t seem to be playing any factor in Pittsburgh’s offense.
  16. The early edge for the number overall pick clearly sits with Buffalo. But don’t count out Arizona or Oakland.
  17. If Carson Wentz doesn’t return to the field soon, Philly fans might burn the city down.
  18. Chris Thompson’s 19 catches in the first two weeks clearly make him the most valuable offensive piece to the puzzle in Washington. (Cha-ching fantasy owners in PPR leagues.)
  19. Derwin James for early Defensive ROY?
  20. Little risk for what could be a big payoff as the Pats trade for Josh Gordon. Just a reminder that the Patriots have brought in Corey Coleman, Chad Hanson, Bennie Fowler, and now Gordon without touching Dez.

Thanks for reading. Subscribe to the Sports Talk Center blog and you can receive emails when content is updated. Also, follow me on Twitter @brian22goodwin. You can also subscribe and download the Sports Talk Center Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts from: Apple iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or Spotify. Just subscribe, download, listen, and enjoy.

Listen to Episode 73 right here:

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NFL Week 2 Picks

After week 1, we have 15 teams 1-0 and 15 who are 0-1. (And of course, two who are 0-0-1.) All hope is certainly not lost for the 15 who lost their season opener. Equally, the sky is not as blue as it may appear for many who came away with a week 1 win. Week 2 won’t necessarily balance anything out, but it will give us slightly greater insight into who might be trending in a positive (or negative) way in this first month of the season.

Here’s all 16 match-ups, broken up into “watchable” tiers:

Must Watch

New England (-2) at Jacksonville

This rematch of last January’s conference title game should be just as hotly contested. New England’s roster of playmakers has changed quite a bit since their victory that propelled them into the Super Bowl. But Tom Brady still has Rob Gronkowski. Can the Jags vaunted defense shut down Gronk? If so, they’ll make Brady rely on some unproven wide receivers. But in the end, can Blake Bortles make enough plays to win the game with a hampered Leonard Fournette? Patriots, 23 – 20

Minnesota (+1.5) at Green Bay

Aaron Rodgers won’t be at 100%, and that could spell doom with a nasty, fast Vikings defense invading Lambeau on Sunday. The Pack is 9-0 at home in September, dating back to 2013. But this Minnesota team presents some unique challenges. It’s time for the Green Bay wide receivers to take a major leap forward, if they want to have a shot. On the other side of the ball, it’s a big stage for Mike Pettine’s defense to go after a weak Minnesota offensive line. Vikings, 26 – 17

Kansas City (+5) at Pittsburgh

Ok, Kansas City, Pat Mahomes, Tyreek Hill. After a spectacular week 1 performance on offense against the Chargers, let’s see how you do on the road. Don’t look for the Pittsburgh defense to stand in the way of Andy Reid’s offense doing whatever they want. But can Pittsburgh’s offense get on track after a 5 turnover display in Cleveland in week 1? Chiefs, 34 – 31.

Watchable

Carolina (+5) at Atlanta

Atlanta’s offense needs to figure out it’s red zone problems. An 0-2 start is not a hole the Falcons want to dig for themselves in a deep NFC. For Carolina, road wins in-division are not easy to come by. This is one the Panthers might be able to steal, if they can clean up some sloppy execution they had in week 1. Falcons, 20 – 17

Miami at New York Jets (+1.5)

Miami can thank Mother Nature and their 7-hour season opener for their 1-0 start. The Jets, however, looked legit in Detroit, and Sam Darnold has the league fixated on him and the possibility that he is the savior in New York. Jets, 20 – 10.

Baltimore (PK) at Cincinnati

In a weird way, I feel like I know less about these two teams than any other two in the league — mostly because they beat up on bad teams in week 1. Is Baltimore’s offense really that good? Is Cincy’s defense going to keep forcing turnovers? For me, if Vegas doesn’t give the away team points, then they know something. Ravens, 17 – 16

Leave the TV On But Don’t Pay Much Attention

Seattle (+3) at Chicago

Khalil Mack is worth tuning into, but offensively I’m not expecting much output in this one. Matt Nagy better get creative or all those who had the Bears as this season’s sleeper are going to break their ankles jumping off the bandwagon. For Seattle Russell Wilson has the ability to win games like this on his own. Seahawks, 19 – 13

Philadelphia (-3) at Tampa Bay

Philly won ugly last Thursday, and Tampa won in dominating fashion. Can Ryan Fitz”magic” replicate that performance against a defensive front 7 that will come after him? Eagles, 23 – 16

Cleveland (+8) at New Orleans 

The Saints need this game. It’s what I call a “get right” game. The problem is that Cleveland has some playmakers on defense. This could be closer than people expect. Saints, 27 – 24

Houston at Tennessee (No Line)

Deshaun Watson needs to knock off the rust and inject his explosive playmaking ability back into what was a very stagnant offense in week 1. Tennessee’s loss in Miami can be chalked up to Mother Nature. The problem is they encountered some major injuries on offense. Houston, 24 – 20

Indianapolis (+5.5) at Washington 

Andrew Luck’s shoulder certainly seemed healthy in week 1, as he threw it 50-plus times in a game that the Colts easily could have won. A little surprised that Washington is giving 5.5 points. Redskins, 24 – 19

Watch at Your Own Peril

Los Angeles Chargers (-7) at Buffalo

It looks like it’s the Josh Allen Show already in Buffalo. A rookie making his first career start against the Chargers? Hmmmm, ask Nathan Peterman how that worked out for him. Chargers, 34 – 13

Oakland at Denver (-4.5)

Derek Carr looked confused week 1 and things seemed to get worse as the game went along. Von Miller and Company are licking their chops. And Case Keenum has to like this match-up. Don’t look for him to make the same mistakes he made in the opener, but he should rack up a  lot of yards against a bad Raider defense. If only they had a game-changing pass rusher…… Broncos, 31 – 17

New York Giants at Dallas (-3)

One of these two will be 0-2 heading into week 3. By no means is that a death sentence, but the thing is that neither team looks all that good so rebounding from a slow start will be a steep mountain to climb. I’m not a Dak guy, but this is a match-up that I actually favor him in. On a side note to NBC, is it too soon to use the flex schedule? Dallas, 27 – 20

Detroit at San Francisco (-3)

Look for Jimmy G to have a huge game against a Detroit defense that made Sam Darnold look like a HOFer last Monday night. An already tumultuous road will not get any easier for Matt Patricia to hoe, if the Lions start out 0-2. 49ers, 35 – 24

Arizona at Los Angeles Rams (-10)

Nice schedule to start the year for the Rams. Do we really know if they’re any good if they’ve only played the Raiders and the Cardinals? Rams, 41 – 16


Thanks for reading. Subscribe to the Sports Talk Center blog and you can receive emails when content is updated. Also, follow me on Twitter @brian22goodwin. You can also subscribe and download the Sports Talk Center Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts from: Apple iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or Spotify. Just subscribe, download, listen, and enjoy.

Listen to Episode 72, “Pats-Jags Rematch, KC Hits the Road, and Archie’s Week 2 Picks”, right here.

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NFL Week 1: I’m Overreacting…or Am I?

  1. Khalil Mack is going to make John Gruden look like a fool for as long as Gruden is in Oakland — or Vegas. This might not be an overreaction.
  2. Aaron Rodgers is the MVP of the league anytime he’s healthy — and even when’s he’s not. Just ask the Bears.
  3. Pat Mahomes is Brett Favre reincarnated. At least that’s what every single analyst has told me. Every. Single. One.
  4. Someone has placed a curse on the Chargers. They have a head coach who no one would recognize if he bumped into you on the street; they can’t kick a field goal; their WRs are allegedly really good but they can’t catch; the defense gets decimated by injuries regularly.
  5. Pittsburgh sucks. Big Ben is done.
  6. The Patriots defense is much improved and Tom Brady can make any receiver a Pro Bowler.
  7. If you had the Texans and the Saints in the Super Bowl, you should see if your bookie can get you out of that.
  8. The Giants didn’t fix their offensive line.
  9. Without Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars are a 6-win team.
  10. Jimmy G against a really good defense is a different Jimmy G than what we’ve seen against not-so-good defenses. Who are the 49ers playmakers by the way?
  11. Kirk Cousins is a steady presence for the Vikings. They can win the Super Bowl with my dog as their QB.
  12. Tampa Bay heard my disparaging remarks all summer and played with a chip on their shoulder. Thanks for listening to the podcast, guys. Keep tuning in — iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, Tunein. where ever you get your podcasts.
  13. Every Falcons game should end with an offensive series from the opposing team’s goal line.
  14. The Eagles snatch victory from the jaws of defeat over and over again. Are they capable of losing? Ever?
  15. All this talk about Aaron Donald deserving to get top dollar and Khalil Mack needing to be the highest paid defender has clearly grabbed Von Miller’s attention. Dude dominated the season opener with 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.
  16. If you saw the last minute of the fourth quarter of the Browns-Steelers game, I’m sorry. And if you saw the whole game, please find something better to do with your time.
  17. What will happen first: Nathan Peterman is benched, Josh Rosen starts, Le’Veon Bell reports, Saints defense gets a stop, or Joe Flacco is called elite again? I’m serious.
  18. Seattle’s punter has Bill Belichick salivating.
  19. Is it possible the Redskins are the best team in the NFC East?! AP is back baby!!!
  20. Fire Mike Tomlin.

Thanks for reading. Subscribe to the Sports Talk Center blog and you can receive emails when content is updated. Also, follow me on Twitter @brian22goodwin. You can also subscribe and download the Sports Talk Center Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts from: Apple iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or Spotify. Just subscribe, download, listen, and enjoy.

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NFL Predictions for 2018

NFC North

GB            11-5

MIN        10-6

CHI          7-9

DET          7-9

NOTES: Green Bay has it’s guy back and that’s the difference in the division. Davonte Adams will be fantasy’s top WR. The run game is a question mark but it will sort itself out – Rodgers makes everyone
better. The defense will be good with Mike Petine as DC. Can the young CBs make an impact in rookie year? That would put them over the top. PREDICTION: Rodgers  looks as good as we’ve come to expect him to every year, but the defense finishes in the top 10 — and that’s the difference. Mike Petine is a head coaching candidate next offseason.

Minnesota has a lot of pressure. They have a potentially great running game, the WRs are excellent, and the defense is stout. But the new QB has to be the savior and take them to the Super Bowl. PREDICTION: Expectations are too much, coupled with Aaron Rodgers’s return in GB. 

Chicago has all the right pieces around their young QB, including an offensive-minded head coach in Matt Nagy. The Bears have time to get better – it won’t all happen in one year. Next year could be a big season for Chicago. PREDICTION: Mitchel Trubisky makes the leap forward (not quite like Carson Wentz) with one of Wentz’s former weapons, Trey Burton.

If all goes perfectly, the Lions still may only win 9 games. New HC Matt Patricia needs time to build the culture he wants. The defense is still questionable at best and if they cannot be better against the run, there will be lots of player turnover going into 2019. The offense should be fun to watch. PREDICTION: The run game will finally break out with rookie Kerryon Johnson topping the 100-yard mark half a dozen times. 

NFC South

N.O.        12-4

ATL          10-6

CAR         8-8

TB             2-14

NOTES: New Orleans has all the talent and has pushed all their chips into a 2 to 3 year window, centered around Drew Brees’s 2-year contract and the 3 years Sean Payton has left. They were a fluke play away from a trip to Philly for the NFC title game last year. PREDICTION: Alvin Kamara goes for 2,000 yards from scrimmage and is recognized as a stud RB after this season – in real football and in fantasy.

I have a lot of questions about the Falcons coaching staff and the playcalling on the offensive side of the ball. But Matt Ryan should be better in ’18 than he was in ’17, but not as good as he was in ’16. The defense is still fast and athletic. And Julio should be happy. Plus, Atlanta can still run the ball with anyone in the league. PREDICTION: Julio Jones scores 10 touchdowns.

Of the three south teams that made the playoffs last year, the Panthers are the one who won’t in ’18. It should be interesting to see how OC Norv Turner gels with Cam Newton throughout the season. Cam has weapons, but they’re young and unproven. Christian McCaffrey is the wildcard for me. If he’s great, then Carolina could win 10 games. If he’s mediocre, then the team will follow suite. PREDICTION: Cam and Norv have a blow up on the sideline by week 5, and rumors surface the Turner is contemplating retirement before Turkey Day.

Here we go. I can’t find a single nice thing to say about the Bucs so I won’t say anything at all. PREDICTION: They’ll be picking number 1 in next Spring’s NFL Draft and Dirk Koetter will be unemployed before the first snowfall in the Midwest.

NFC East

PHI          9-7

NYG         8-8

WAS        6-10

DAL         5-11

NOTES: Philadelphia won’t sneak up on anyone this year. The roster is deep, again, and they bring back a healthy and potential MVP candidate in Carson Wentz. But playing with a target on your back is a lot different then chasing one. PREDICTION: It will be a dogfight to win the division, and Carson Wentz won’t be in the MVP conversation at any point during the year.

If the Giants don’t turn things around, people will question their passing of a QB at two overall in last year’s draft. I expect the offense to be really good. However, the defense is where this team will earn it’s stripes. Landon Collins shows signs of being the leader of the unit, but they’ll need a consistent pass rush to show up every week. PREDICTION: Saquon Barkley wins Rookie of the Year, the Giants’ offense is explosive, but Eli Manning ‘s play will make fans long for his replacement.

Alex Smith won’t hurt the Redskins at all. The running game lost a big piece when rookie Derrius Guice went down, but if the offensive line can stay healthy, that will make a big difference in 2018. The defense needs to be faster and play more lively than it did last year. PREDICTION: Alex Smith outperforms Kirk Cousins.

Dallas seems fine with having lost Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. I’m not arguing they needed to keep them, but no WRs stand out to me that will get Dak Prescott back to the way his played in his rookie season in 2016. Ezekiel Elliott is an animal, but he can’t do it alone. I think Dallas is trending down. PREDICTION: Jason Garrett is fired, and Dak Prescott gets benched down the stretch.

NFC West

LAR          10-6

SF             8-8

SEA          5-11

ARI           3-13

NOTES: Let’s get the obvious out of the way out West – the Rams made all the offseason moves like a serious contender would. Now all that’s left is to actually go and perform on the field. As I’ve said on podcasts, multiple times, the Rams are in fine shape with all these shorter term contracts even if 2018 isn’t their year. However, let’s not mince words – they’re in it to win it. The biggest question is how this locker room responds to the bumps in the road that it will face. PREDICTION: Jared Goff isn’t as good as his 2017 season showed. His mistakes will be the difference between the Rams being the one seed and them having to play in the Wild Card round.

If the 49ers had given Jimmy G. a few more weapons on offense, I’d be okay with touting the Niners as a playoff team. Instead, they are lacking in too many spots. But Kyle Shanahan knows what he wants and is building this roster his way. Defensively, they have the pieces, but now is the time for high draft picks like DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas to come into their own. They’re a year away. One year. Then watch out. PREDICTION: I love the value of Jerick McKinnon in fantasy, but on the field, Alfred Morris will prove to be the most productive and important offensive piece for SF.

The re-build is on – whether folks in Seattle want to admit it or not. And now their top draft pick is banged up. Before that this offensive line is not good, they lost Jimmy Graham, Doug Baldwin is dealing with an injury, and the Earl Thomas drama is hanging over the team. PREDICTION: Russell Wilson will have to be a one-man wrecking crew if this team is going to be anywhere near 8 wins. Also, Chris Carson is not the answer at running back.

Age and injuries will derail Cardinal fans of a successful season. The good news is Josh Rosen will probably play a lot. PREDICTION: Sam Bradford starts less than 4 games – have you SEEN this o-line??? And DJ falls at least 500 yards shy of his 2,000 yards from scrimmage goal.

AFC North

BAL          9-7

PIT           8-8

CIN          7-9

CLE          4-12

NOTES: The Ravens won 9 games last year and were a week 17 Andy Dalton 48-yard TD pass away from being back in the postseason. The wide receiving weapons aren’t deadly, but Michael Crabtree may be looking to prove he’s got something left and John Brown showed flashes of excellence in his years with Arizona. Willie Snead will also be a nice deep threat for Joe Flacco, who loves to throw the deep ball. Alex Collins at running back is also a solid piece. The question is if Flacco and the offense stalls, will Lamar Jackson get his shot? PREDICTION: Lamar starts more games than Flacco.

When it’s over for Big Ben, it’s going to end quickly. All the off-the-field drama (Le’Veon Bell’s contract issue and his past tweets) plus the things we’ve seen happen on the field and in the locker room (blowout playoff loss at home to the Jaguars, Mike Tomlin’s comments) could be too much. Listen, talent-wise on offense, the Steelers are outstanding – 2-time Super Bowl winning QB and the NFL’s best RB and best WR. But the team has no defense, Tomlin doesn’t have control, and these personalities are starting to fray at the franchise’s culture. PREDICTION: Roethlisberger gets benched, Bell gets run into the ground, and AB misses at least 4 games due to injury.

Cincinnati should be better in ’18 than they were in ’17 – the offensive line is better and Joe Mixon showed he can be a bell cow running back – and this year he’ll get carries right off the bat. It’s hard to get behind Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton, but they’ve proven they are more than capable of winning 7 games in a season. PREDICTION: AJ Green is great but no other WR gets more than 60 catches and 700 yards.

When Cleveland fires Hue Jackson, we can seriously talk about the Browns making a turnaround. The talent seems to be there in spots, as does depth in spots, as well. But Hue will wreck any chance this team has of winning 6 or 7 games. PREDICTION: John Dorsey fires Jackson before Christmas and Todd Haley takes over.

AFC South

TEN          13-3

HOU        10-6

JAC           7-9

IND          6-10

NOTES: Mike Vrabel will make an immediate impact in Tennessee.
This team will play tougher. Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry will be a
fantastic 1-2 punch. This offensive line is outstanding. PREDICTION: Marcus Mariota will have an MVP season and Corey Davis will break out.

The weapons on offense will make Houston one of the most explosive and fun to watch in the league. There are questions defensively – mostly injury-related. Oh, and the offensive line is one of the the worst in the NFL. That said, the differences in Houston and Tennessee should make for an interesting race for the divisional crown. PREDICTION: Jadeveon Clowney, JJ Watt, and Whitney Mercilus will all finish in the top 8 for Defensive Player of the Year – with Clowney winning the award.

Expect a few setbacks for the Jags, who were very fortunate in 2017. Blake Bortles will make some mistakes and the ground game won’t be able to carry the load week in and week out. And the defense will get tested. Jalen Ramsey ran his mouth in the GQ article – those things have a way of coming back to haunt you. The talent is there, but the maturity is not. PREDICTION: No WR reaches 800 yards receiving and the defense finishes out of the top 10.

Andrew Luck’s health is the elephant in the room. But even if he’s healthy, how good can this team be? PREDICTION: Newly acquired Ryan Grant will put up the best numbers of any offensive player on the Colts roster.

AFC East

NE            12-4

NYJ           9-7

BUF         4-12

MIA         4-12

NOTES: The Patriots faced an offseason filled will questions and anxiety. On the field, they will face some issues – the WR battle needs to work itself out, the offensive line is beginning to lack depth, the linebackers still aren’t fast, and they have a 41-year old quarterback. I know, much of that will end up being just fine and wrapping up the division by early December wouldn’t be a surprise at all. But will any of these items hurt them come January? PREDICTION: Chris Hogan will have over 1200 yards receiving and Jeremy Hill will be the Pats best running back.

The J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets have their quarterback!!! But no offensive line will affect Sam Darnold. In the end, his talent will shine through and he’ll do more with less than anyone else in the league. PREDICTION: Darnold throws for 25 touchdowns and 3800 yards.

Buffalo was bad before AJ McCarron broke his collarbone. Pencil in Josh Allen at QB. He’s talented but not ready – especially with no offensive line and unproven wideouts. PREDICTIONS: LeSean McCoy takes a huge step backwards and the Bills end up starting 3 different QBs over the course of the year.

How can a team be worse than Buffalo this year, you ask? Enter the Dolphins. Limited weapons across the board at practically every playmaking position will make it hard for Miami to score points. PREDICTION: Miami scores the fewest points in the conference.

AFC West

LAC          10-6

KC            8-8

OAK        6-10 (9-7 before the Mack trade)

DEN         6-10

NOTES: The Chargers are so snake-bitten. Injuries kill this team year after year. But this defense has the playmakers to keep them in every game and can even win a few alone. PREDICTION: Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will be top 5 Defensive MVP candidates.

The biggest concern was how Khalil Mack’s contract situation would impact the locker room. Now, since the trade, we are starting to see how current Raiders feel about the move — and it’s not positive. I thought John Gruden would be able to get more out of Derek Carr than any other coach has to this point in his young career. And perhaps the offense will still be good, but the defense is atrocious. The thing here is that good teams don’t trade away guys like Khalil Mack. Gruden clearly doesn’t like this roster and is churning it and twisting it to get draft capital so he can build his team how he wants. Might work later, might not. But it definitely won’t pay dividends this year. PREDICTION: Amari Cooper will catch 90 balls for 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns, and the defense will give up 30 points on a routine basis.

Everything in me says Andy Reid’s history of producing very productive QBs will make the Chiefs good in 2018. And maybe Pat Mahomes will indeed put up very good numbers. But they may not lead to wins. More importantly, the defense must be better than it was a year ago – especially the linebackers and the pass rush. PREDICTION: Sammy Watkins will again disappoint.

Denver’s choice of Case Keenum this offseason was not a bad decision. But the offense is getting older, the running game has been questionable at best for years, and now the defense will feel the need to once again carry the team. PREDICTION: Bradley Chubb will be great, but the defense will struggle to dominate as the offense won’t be able to stay on the field.

PLAYOFFS

NFC

  1. New Orleans
  2. Green Bay
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Atlanta
  6. Minnesota

NFC Championship

New Orleans over Green Bay

AFC

  1. Tennessee
  2. New England
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Baltimore
  5. Houston
  6. Jets

AFC Championship

New England over Tennessee

Super Bowl

New England over New Orleans: Pats won’t lose two SBs in a row. This sends the organization into post-Brady era quickly, as the QB retires.


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