NFL Mock Draft 3.0

We’re closing in on the NFL Draft and it’s officially misinformation season. Though, it’s funny — the lead-up to the draft is cyclical. It starts with the initial “this guy’s a can’t miss top 5 pick” and over the course of the combine and player pro days, it turns sour and that top-5 kid becomes a “mid- to lower first rounder.” Then a week or two out from actual draft night, we return to “this kid’s climbing the board” and he ends up right back where he started. (This year’s example — Ed Oliver.) So with that said, let’s have a look at the third installment of my mock draft.

1.  Cardinals

If you’ve read my previous mocks, you know I’ve been adamant that I feel like the Cardinals are putting on a show with this Kyler Murray stuff. However, it appears all signs point to Arizona taking Murray at 1. So I guess I’m on-board. Kind of.

The PICK: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma, QB


2. 49ers

I like Josh Allen more here, but what I like makes no difference to John Lynch. I’d be completely stunned if the pick isn’t Nick Bosa.

The PICK: nick bosa, ohio st., edge


3. Jets

Everyone will be expecting the Jets to trade out here or take the beast in the middle of Alabama’s defensive line, Quinnen Williams, in this spot. Do they have the guts (or the smarts) to take the best player in the draft in my opinion? That’s not a simple question to answer, but reports (believe them or not) are that maybe Williams is slipping a bit.

The PICK: Josh Allen, kentucky, edge/OLB


4. Raiders

I don’t think Mike Mayock wants a quarterback here, and I don’t think Jon Gruden, necessarily, wants to work with a rookie signal caller from this class. The best player on their board should be the pick, and based on other mocks, that guy is Quinnen Williams.

The PICK: Quinnen Williams, Alabama, DT


5. Buccanneers

Tampa Bay needs a lot of help of the defensive side. Todd Bowles’s system calls for a strong presence up the middle at linebacker and safety. Five is too high for safety, but it’s not too high for the draft’s best and rangiest inside linebacker.

The PICK: Devin White, LSU, ILB


6. Giants

“I’m convinced this won’t be a quarterback.” That was my quote a couple weeks ago. I think I still mostly believe that, but I’m not betting my house on it. My next question is about Montez Sweat’s heart. If a team’s medical staff is good with him, he’s definitely a top 10 pick without question. But if there’s concern, he could fall.

The PICK: Montez Sweat, Miss. St., EDGE


7. Jaguars

Nick Foles needs help — from the offensive line to the pass catchers. The Jags can’t go wrong adding to the line here with one of those top offensive linemen. But a big, athletic tight end, who can serve as a blocker on the line as well as a reliable pass catcher for Foles, might be too enticing to pass up.

The PICK: T.J. Hockenson, Iowa, TE


8. Lions

I mocked Devin Bush to the Lions at 8 on a podcast kind of on a whim. But the more I think about it and the more I read, it makes pretty good sense. I think Matt Patricia would prefer a middle linebacker or a cornerback over an edge rusher, if he follows the Belichick model. Trading down is a possibility if Bob Quinn can find any takers. In the event they can’t, I like a University of Michigan guy here.

The PICK: Devin Bush, Michigan, ILB


9. Bills

Buffalo needs offensive line help in a bad way. The question comes down to how much do they like Ed Oliver (if he falls here), and then do they believe they can find solid offensive line help in the later rounds. I get it — Oliver is a luxury pick here for the Bills. But he might be too good to pass up.

The PICK: Ed Oliver, Houston, DT


10. Broncos

I’m fully buying into the speculation that John Elway likes Drew Lock a whole lot. If it’s true, expect Elway to take another stab at finally fixing the quarterback conundrum he’s created in Denver.

The PICK: drew Lock, QB, Missouri


11. Bengals

Two theories of thought here: (1) new head coach usually means let him have the QB he wants; (2) the Bengals have holes all across that defense. So what do you commit to here? Does Zac Taylor fancy Dwayne Haskins in his system or will Andy Dalton suffice for one more season while the team builds up it’s many weakened spots on the other side of the ball? What the Bengals really need to do is dangle this pick out there in hopes that a QB-hungry team like Washington or New York trades up with them.

The PICK: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida


12. Packers

After free agency, this Packers team looks pretty solid. I’m not sure any team in the league did more with free agency than what Green Bay did. They now have afforded themselves the luxury of taking the best player available and adding depth, perhaps, at some already strong positions.

The PICK: Jonah Williams, Alabama, T/G


13. Dolphins

New head coach Brians Flores can begin putting his imprints on this roster right away. There are many holes here. If Flores follows the model he was a part of in New England, look for him to target either offensive of defensive line. Personally, I think Flores wants a leader, much like him, on the field.

The PICK: Christian Wilkins, Clemson, DT


14. Falcons

I’m very confident this pick is CB or defensive line. An athletic playmaker at either position would be welcomed by this team.

The PICK: Brian Burns, Florida St., Edge


15. Redskins

The quarterback position is obviously a mess in D.C. If Josh Rosen gets traded, this would be one spot that makes sense. If that happens, the Redskins would not be in the market for a QB here. But I’ll proceed like it hasn’t happened by draft day.

The PICK: dwayne haskins, ohio st., QB


16. Panthers

Carolina needs help on the offensive line. Despite re-signing tackle Daryl Williams, the team released left tackle Matt Kalil. It also makes sense for the Panthers to go and get a stud pass rusher. Both are areas of need.

The PICK: Andre Dillard, Wash. St., OT


17. Giants

I expect the Giants will indeed select Eli Manning’s replacement in this draft — and this seems like the logical spot. Dave Gettleman has referenced using the “Kansas City” model for getting a QB so it’ll be interesting what exactly that meant. Does he plan on moving up on draft night to ensure he gets his guy? Or does it just mean he’ll draft one and let him learn behind Eli for a year? We’ll find out soon enough. For the sake of this mock, I’ve got them staying put at 17 and still getting the QB I think they like.

The PICK: daniel jones, duke, QB


18. Vikings

Yes, the Vikings could use major upgrades at guard and tackle. And they very well may like the options that are available to them at 18. But Mike Zimmer also loves players in the secondary. The team seemed to be shopping Xavier Rhodes not too long ago, and after him, they aren’t all that deep at CB.

The PICK: Byron Murphy, Washington, CB


19. Titans

The draft hosts this year went defense with their top two picks a year ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see another defender come off the board here. Maybe wide receiver, or even tight end, could be in play too. But Mike Vrabel likes guys that he can see himself in. Tough, versatile, sound defenders. If this comes down to Rashan Gary or Clelin Ferrell, the choice is obvious.

The PICK: Clelin Ferrell, Clemson, EDGE


20. Steelers

Pittsburgh has the cache to pick whomever is at the top of their draft board. But it’s got to be defense here, right? This is not your father’s Steel Curtain D. Linebacker would be beautiful, but cornerback might be best available. And this kid from Temple seems to be universally loved in NFL scouting circles. He can hit, he’s aggressive, he’s a ball hawk. A little raw, but the Steelers won’t mind that.

The PICK: Rock Ya-Sin , Temple, CB


21. Seahawks

Seattle absolutely needs to trade out here. They currently hold only four selections in this year’s draft. I’m sure a team like New England wouldn’t mind coming up if they have a player in mind — plus the Pats have 12 picks. Twelve!! If Seattle stays, they oughta add to the offensive line that needs a little replenishing.

The PICK: chris Lindstrom, Boston Coll., G


22. Ravens

I’m very torn here. You listen to one group of NFL people and they say with confidence that Baltimore will fill in the holes left on their defense by the departures of Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, and C.J. Mosely. Then you listen to another group and they are certain the Ravens will give Lamar Jackson every weapon they can find to help his growth. Ugh. Can I agree with both sides?

The PICK: M. Brown, Oklahoma, WR


23. Texans

The easiest pick in this round may very well be Houston’s selection. They need a left tackle in the worst way possible. The problem may be that a real good one isn’t available at 23 and the value of taking another position is too great. So don’t be surprised if the Texans are in the market to trade up. But I’m not going to over-think this right now.

The PICK: Cody Ford, Oklahoma, t/G


24. Raiders

Oakland can come away from this first round having filled some key areas of need with really good football players. Someone to replace Khalil Mack would be a much-needed addition in the first round.

The PICK: Rashan Gary, Michigan, Edge


25. Eagles

Philly will make a smart pick — that much I can tell you. WR and RB are needs, but the value isn’t here — those positions can be very easily filled starting in the second round. Injuries riddled this secondary last season so go get the most NFL-ready cornerback in the draft in my opinion.

The PICK: Deandre Baker, Georgia, cB


26. Colts

Indy could go WR here. But Chris Ballard seems to understand the idea of roster-building. Like the Eagles, this will be a smart pick.

The PICK: Dexter Lawrence, Clemson, DT


27. Raiders

If the Raiders are able to add to their defense with their two earlier first round selections, I could see Jon Gruden getting a fun toy at pick 27. They don’t need WR so maybe they are the first team to grab a running back.

.The PICK: Josh Jacobs, Alabama, RB


28. Chargers

The Chargers could use some depth in the secondary, but the o-line fell apart at the end of last season. Getting a nasty, versatile interior lineman would be a boring, but tremendously necessary pick

The PICK: erik mccoy, Texas A&M, G/C


29. Chiefs

If you’ve listened to my podcast, you already know how I feel about the Chiefs gutting their pass rush this offseason. Fine. Here’s a chance to replace what they got rid of. I’ve read reports that the Chiefs love Jaylon Ferguson.

The PICK: Jaylon Ferguson, LA Tech, Edge


30. Packers

Green Bay did themselves a lot of favors by adding so much on defense in free agency. That decision should please Aaron Rodgers during the draft. If the front office can get Rodgers a weapon who can get down the middle of the field, that’d be a nice addition

The PICK: Noah Fant, Notre Dame, DT


31. Rams

Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters were not without their missteps in 2018 so adding to the secondary is in play here. We also heard all season about the need for edge rush out of this Rams defense. I could see them going in either direction here.

The PICK: Greedy WIlliams, LSU, CB


32. Patriots

I have no idea what Bill Belichick will do here. Does he package a couple of his 6 picks from the top 100 here and go up to get someone — a tight end, a wide receiver, a pass rusher? If he stays put, I think WR is not happening and no edge rusher stands out here. The offensive line could use some depth, but having Dante Scarnecchia as your position coach there gives you some freedom to find those players later. So that leaves interior defensive line — which Belichick covets — and the tight end spot.

The PICK: Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame, DT


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 165 (“Let’s Play GM: What NFL Teams Should Do in the Draft”) right here:

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10 Biggest Questions Surrounding Wildcard Weekend in the NFL

  1. Can the Chargers fix the problems their defense encountered against the Ravens rushing attack when the two played three weeks ago? The stars are there in L.A. That’s not the question. Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Derwin James (and that secondary) are designed to disrupt the quarterback and make plays on the ball — they are not built to clog lanes and stop the run. Even if the Chargers know what they need to do to stop Lamar and the run game, the question becomes “do they have the personnel to actually do it?”.
  2. Is Phillip Rivers going to look more like the MVP candidate we all talked about for the first 15 weeks of the season or the guy we saw against the Ravens and Broncos the last two weeks? Melvin Gordon’s return should be helpful, and Rivers has played enough football over the course of his career to be able to make adjustments to a defense he saw just three weeks ago. But Baltimore’s defensive front embarrassed those pass blockers in Week 16.
  3. Who out-“ballsys” the other, Matt Nagy or Doug Pederson? Of course, we all watched in awe as Pederson went against the traditional grain in last year’s Super Bowl against the Patriots with his playcalling. Matt Nagy comes from the same Andy Reid tree and understands the importance of making bold decisions in this era of football. In a close game, I’d expect one (or maybe more one) decision to swing the outcome.
  4. Will Mitchell Trubisky be given the time he needs to pick apart the Eagles’ secondary? Philadelphia’s defense is predicated on its pass rush — and it has to be because that secondary has been through the ringer this season. Fletcher Cox, Tim Jurnigan, Derek Bennett, and Michael Bennett will have to make Mitchell Trubisky feel pressured and rushed. The Bears coaching staff has to understand if Trubisky isn’t given enough time to get the ball out, he can easily be forced into some big mistakes. However, if given time, the second-year QB should be able to move the ball down field.
  5. How big of an impact will Khalil Mack have going up against Lane Johnson and/Jason Peters? The versatile edge rusher is better than either of Philly’s two tackles, but Johnson and Peters only need to combine to outplay Mack on Sunday night. Bears’ DC Vic Fangio has moved Mack to the right, to the left, dropped him into coverage, and pretty much played him all over the field, and this has freed up other Bears’ defenders to make plays all year long. Mack doesn’t need a handful of sacks to have a meaningful impact on this game.
  6. Who do you trust more: Jason Garrett and Dad Prescott or Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson? Silly question, I know, but I had to ask it. This game might just be that simple.
  7. Can Seattle’s defense get off the field and limit Dallas’ T.O.P.? Seattle has a top-5 defense on stopping third-down conversions while the Dallas offense converted in those situations at over a 45% rate — top 10 in the NFL. Strength on strength. If Jason Garrett could have it his way, Dallas would grind this win out on the back of Ezekiel Elliott — and that’d be the smart way to go. But Seattle’s defense, you better believe, is going to ask Dak Prescott to make some big plays in the passing game or with his legs. Third down success rate will be a telling stat in the game.
  8. Is the Dallas defense good enough to stop the explosive plays from the Seahawks passing game? We talk about how the Seahawks have transformed their offense into a ground-and-pound attack on the ground, but yards on the ground do not necessarily translate into wins — red zone efficiency and chunks plays are two more predictive indicators of wins and losses. And it just so happens the Seahawks have a Super Bowl-winning QB, who can throw a magnificent deep ball, and has two exceptional weapons on the outside who can get open deep down the field.
  9. If not DeAndre Hopkins, then who? Ummm. I wish I had an answer here, but Houston doesn’t have much in the way of offensive weapons. You’d have to imagine Houston would like to establish the run game with Lamar Miller.
  10. Can the Texans generate an effective pass rush with just JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney? Disrupting Andrew Luck will be a key to Houston’s gameplan. And the Texans have the pass rushers, however of their 43 sacks only 18 have come from players not named Watt or Clowney. That’s about a sack a game. If Indy’s very much improved offensive line can limit Watt and Clowney, Houston might have a tough time getting to the QB.

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 123 (“The Keys to the Wild Card Games “) right here:

Listen to EPISODE 124 (“Ranking the NFL Playoff Teams, Picking Wild Card Weekend Winners, and Predicting the Eight Head Coaches to Get Hired”) right here:

 

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NFL Playoff Predictions

In the spirit of the holidays, I want to open up by saying thank you to everyone who’s been keeping up and reading with these weekly picks — you’ve been witness to three of the finest weeks I’ve ever had in picking games over the last 12 years. Twice I went undefeated and last week I was 14-2 straight up. For the season, I went 148-75 straight up picking winners and losers; and against the spread, I won us money — 110-104-10.

Why am I talking in the past tense, like it’s all over? Well, let’s face it, it is. Unless you’re a complete degenerate, you’re not risky your well-earned money on Week 17 games that will likely feature myriad back-ups and coaches changing their gameplans on the fly as other scores and results become clearer. For instance, the Bears will likely bench players mid-game and turn their focus to keeping guys healthy for Wildcard Weekend, if they look up at the scoreboard and see that the Rams are burying the 49ers. Same with the Chargers, if the Chiefs appear to have wrapped up their game against the Raiders.

So why would I try and pick these games? It’s plenty hard enough when normal factors are at play, let alone all these wild implications from games that are happening in real time and at the same time. What I’d rather spend a few minutes doing would be predicting who’s in and who’s out of the playoffs in each conference.

AFC

  1. Kansas City (12-4) — A win at home over the Raiders is all that stands in between Chiefs and home filed throughout the playoffs. Not leaving Arrowhead gives the Chiefs as good a shot at making to the Super Bowl with Andy Reid as they’ll ever have. This one’s easy.
  2. New England (11-5) — A win at Foxboro over the Jets would clinch a much needed bye for the Pats, who’ve looked older and more “un-Patriot” like than in over a decade. The players know how important that bye is.
  3. Houston (11-5) — Yes, the Texans have definitely come back down to earth after reeling off 9 straight wins after an 0-3 start. But a loss in Week 17 to the Jaguars means Houston will wind up the 6th seed and having to go on the road in order to reach the Super Bowl. Talk about limping into the postseason.
  4. Pittsburgh (9-6-1) — If you listen to my podcast, you know how much this kills me. But listen, this is typical 2018 Steelers: inconsistent, unpredictable, and in the end, still pretty good. Honestly, this has more to do with the Ravens and their Week 17 opponent — the Steelers just happen to be the beneficiaries, assuming they roll the Bengals like they should.
  5. Los Angeles (11-5) — The Chargers have nothing to play for as long as the Chiefs beat the Raiders. I imagine head coach Anthony Lynn has a quick hook for his starters once he’s told the score at Arrowhead.
  6. Indianapolis (10-6) — This is the underrated story of the year. Andrew Luck has returned to the form we grew accustomed to seeing when he was healthy, and the Colts have a really good offensive line and defense to match. They’ll dispatch Blaine Gabbert (or Marcus Mariota) to get in. And once they’re in, they’re dangerous.
  7. Baltimore (9-7) — Last year’s Week 17 ending was a nightmare for John Harbaugh’s team, as they gave up a final minute touchdown bomb from Andy Dalton, as the Bengals — with nothing to play for themselves — enabled the Buffalo Bills to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 1999. The scenario this year is quite similar: a “win-and-you’re-in” game against the Browns, who’ve been eliminated from playoff contention. Each year a team in a situation like this inexplicably lays an egg. You can be sure Baker Mayfield will not be giving this game up easily — the Browns have a chance to finish with a winning record a year after going 0-16. Don’t tell this team this game is meaningless for them.

NFC

  1. New Orleans (14-2) — The road the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through the Superdome. That’s already been determined.
  2. Los Angeles (12-4) — The 2-seed is their’s with a win over the 49ers. Sean McVay has a bit of a history of preferring to rest his players than play for playoff positioning — he rested Todd Gurley last week and rested everyone in Week 17 last season, which led to the Rams getting the 4-seed and not the 3. I think he knows the importance of earning the bye, though.
  3. Chicago (11-5) — Once the Rams have demonstrated that they want the 2-seed, it’d be logical to see Matt Nagy sit some starters, which would in turn give the Vikings the advantage and a great shot at securing the 6th seed — and a return trip to Soldier Field next weekend.
  4. Dallas (9-7) — The division has been locked up and Dallas is firmly entrenched in that 4-seed, no matter the result against the Giants.
  5. Seattle (10-6) — A loss could theoretically push Seattle down to the 6th seed. Fortunately for the Seahawks, they play the Cardinals, who you’d have to figure are in a rush for this season to come to an end.
  6. Minnesota (9-6-1) — I’m not picking Kirk Cousins to win a must-win game against the Bears. But considering the circumstances and what I mentioned above with the Rams, the bears probably let Cousins off the hook. If he can’t win then, we’ve got some major problems brewing in Minnesota.
  7. Philadelphia (9-7) — All the defending champs can do at this point is go out and try to win a game against the Redskins. Take care of their business and let the chips fall where they may. If the Bears decide they want to play all-out for a full 60 minutes, the Eagles will get in.

Thanks again to everyone for sticking around this year and humoring me by reading all my picks and predictions. It’s fun and I hope you found some levity in reading it. We’ll be back next week with predictions for Wildcard Weekend.


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 119 (“The Running Back Question, Wild Playoff Scenarios, and Top MVP Candidates “) right here:

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NFL Week 16 Picks

I’m going to keep my little intro brief this week. I have some advice here in Week 16. NFL games are hard enough to handicap in the middle of the season when you think you understand what every team is and all their strengths and weaknesses. Betting the last couple weeks, though — it’s almost impossible. There are a number of games this week where it comes down to which team is going to play hard — and that’s an extremely difficult thing to try and predict. For instance, Denver-Oakland will not be the matchup that we may have thought it would be if we looked ahead a few weeks ago. The Raiders have a roster full of veterans, who may not want to get hurt or have packed it in for the year, yet they have won two straight and will be home on Christmas Eve while the Broncos have just been eliminated from the playoff race, have to travel on the holiday, but are playing a bunch of young guys who may have something to prove to their coaches heading into the offseason. So who the heck do you pick??!!

Try and stay away from games like that — and there’s a bunch this week.

Last week, I went 9-7 straight up and 7-8-1 against the spread (ATS). For season, we’re looking at 134-73 straight up and 102-97-9 ATS. Let’s see what happens this week. Merry Christmas!

Santa Came!

Baltimore at Chargers (-4.5)

Baltimore runs the balls at 43. yards per attempt — and they run it more than any other team in the NFL. Conversely, the Chargers give up 4.3 yards per attempts to opponents on the ground. The Ravens will want to run all day long. The problem might be that the Chargers will play that “bend but don’t break” defense and give up yards to Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson; but at some point, they’re going to make Lamar throw it. And when he does, Joey Boss and Melvin Ingram and Derwin James will be coming for him. That too is too good to be beaten by this rookie, who hasn’t shown any remarkable ability to throw the ball. Chargers, 27-20

Kansas City at Seattle (+2.5)

Seattle’s going to run the ball and KC is going to get gashed. It’s almost best for Kansas City to just concede all those rushing yards and tighten up in the red zone and against any passing attack Russell Wilson comes at them with. Chunk plays will be the key in this one. The Chiefs and Pat Mahomes have mastered those, but don’t sleep on Seattle’s ability to make big plays happen out of the passing game. Seattle, 26-24

Cool Gifts. Thanks.

Houston at Philadelphia (-1)

Let me ask you something: Are you willing to bet against Nick Foles in a “do or die” December game in Doug Pederson’s offense? Philly’s pass rush will give Houston’s offensive line fits. Eagles, 24-20

Pittsburgh at New Orleans (-6)

So the Saints offense hasn’t looked right in a few weeks. If Drew Brees & Co. struggle against Pittsburgh’s defense, then maybe I’ll start to wonder if things are okay in the bayou. I don’t expect the Steelers to keep this close. And the Saints — at home — will not shoot themselves in the foot like New England did the previous week against Pittsburgh. Saints, 34-24

Socks and Underwear

Washington at Tennessee (-10)

It’s fitting this game is being played at 4:30 on Saturday — if either team makes the playoffs that early Saturday time slot is the perfect home for them on Wildcard Weekend. The Titans defense should get after Josh Johnson and it won’t likely take much more than 17 points to win this game. Titans, 24-10

Tampa Bay at Dallas (-7)

Dallas’s offense should get back to moving the ball effectively after a disastrous game in Indy a week ago. Meanwhile, the Bucs offense can certainly be explosive but you worry about the turnovers. Jameis Winston has appeared to have fixed that problem — throwing only 3 interceptions in the last 5 games after tossing 10 in the 4 games prior. The Cowboys defense might goad him into reverting back to bad, reckless Jameis. Cowboys, 27-16

Minnesota at Detroit (+5.5)

This is a tough game to handicap because we still are trying to decipher if what we saw last week from the Vikings offense is going to be trend moving forward or if it was simply a one game blip due to the change at OC. The Lions run defense has been greatly improved since the addition of Snacks Harrison; and this is a in-division road game, where the Vikings don’t always dominate. Vikings, 24-20

Giants (+9.5) at Indianapolis

I get it — Indy is playing well on all sides of the ball. Andrew is a borderline MVP candidate, Marlon Mack has shown promising flashes as a runner, Eric Ebron is a Pro Bowler, the offensive line looks completely fixed, and the defense is coming a shutout of Dallas. But the Giants can score and in the dome, I think Eli and Saquon will be able to generate some points to keep it a game. Colts, 31-24

Cincinnati at Cleveland (-7)

Baker v. Hue, Part Two!! Cincy’s defense is not good and the young Browns know that all they can do is keep winning if they want to have any shot at the postseason. Browns, 27-17

Buffalo (+13.5) at New England

Without Josh Gordon, one wonders how this Patriots offense will look. More 2-back sets; more Chris Hogan-Philip Dorsett-Cordarrelle Patterson; more 2-TE sets? Hey, Tom Brady’s still there and he has weapons. Also, should be fun to see the very mobile Josh Allen in his debut at Foxboro against a suspect Pats’ rush defense. Patriots, 30-20

Chicago at San Francisco (+4)

Yes, on paper the Bears are much better than the 49ers. But three things make me nervous: (1) Bears just won the division by beating longtime nemesis Aaron Rodgers (and they celebrated like they won the Super Bowl); (2) long travel week with a road game on the West Coast; and (3) under Kyle Shanahan, the Niners are 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread in December games. Oh, and the Bears haven’t been all that impressive in road games this year — lost in Miami, blew one week 1 in Green Bay, lost at the Giants, and escaped Arizona and Detroit by the skin of their teeth. Bears, 23-20

Rams (-14) at Arizona

Yep, tell me all about the Rams’ struggles on offense and defense lately. Tell me Jared Goff is the second-to-last QB in efficiency rating over the last 3 weeks. Yes, Todd Gurley may not be right. I understand that Cooper Kupp is, has been, and will be out. Yep, yes, I know. I also know that the Cardinals have an abysmal offense and Josh Rosen lives to throw pick-6s. This is the ultimate “get right” game for the Rams on both sides of the ball. Rams, 31-10

Coal in the Stocking

Denver at Oakland (+2.5)

The Raiders’, presumably, final game in Oakland and it could be interesting — not the game so much, but rather the Raider fans in the Black Hole. Neither team wants to play this game on Christmas Eve so give me the team that doesn’t have to travel. Raiders, 23-20

Green Bay at Jets (+3)

Sounds like Aaron Rodgers will play and that pretty much all I need to hear. The Jets are feisty, but in a game with nothing riding on it, give me the better quarterback with the better weapons. Packers, 24-23

Jacksonville at Miami (-4.5)

You can’t convince me that the Jaguars are interested in playing hard in weeks 16 and 17. On the other hand, Miami is not mathematically out of the playoffs yet, plus they are a different team when playing at home. Dolphins, 24-13

Atlanta (-3.5) at Carolina

No Cam Newton. No real motivation for the Panthers to be competitive. Falcons, 24-12


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 116 (“Week 16 Preview & QBs as Christmas Movies”) right here:

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NFL Week 15 Picks

We should know who every team is at this point in the NFL season. However, the NFL is the NFL for a reason. It keeps us guessing from week to week, and anyone who runs the ol’ “Strength of Schedule Predictor Machine” is bound to look foolish because in the NFL it’s “any given Sunday” or “that’s why they play the games”. Pick whichever cliche you want.

Last week was a perfect example. The Steelers in the middle of the playoff race with everything to play for head to Oakland and look clumsy in game that their opponent didn’t even really want to win. The Broncos, hearing everyone prognosticate that they could run the table and end the year 10-6 and grab the 6th seed in the AFC, get beaten by the 49ers, who’d much prefer to improve on their draft slot than win a meaningless game against Denver. Then there’s the Saints, who only defeated the Bucs after they came out of their first half coma at halftime; the Rams couldn’t muster more than 6 points against the Bears; and the Cowboys outplay and out-gain the Eagles in regulation, yet it takes OT for Dallas to get the 6 point win.

If you think you know anything about the NFL, that’s fine — you probably do. But just because you know things, doesn’t mean you can tell me who’s going to win every Sunday.

After a couple of weeks middling at or below .500, I found my groove last week — 11-5 against the spread (ATS) and 10-6 straight up. For the season (minus week 1), I’m winning money: 95-89-8 ATS and 125-66 just picking winners. Here we come week 15.

Don’t Miss

Chargers (+3.5) at Kansas City

Call me crazy, but I don’t think the Chargers need Melvin Gordon to win this game. The Chiefs have an abhorrent run defense to the point where if I padded up, I could gash them for 80 yards. The Ravens had them dead to rights last week — and if Lamar Jackson was a little more experienced and a better thrower of the football, that game might not have been all that close in the end. Phillip Rivers is more than capable of winning a football game like this — especially when his run game should be fine and his defense can be disruptive to Pat Mahomes. Chargers, 34-24

Dallas (+3) at Indianapolis

Can Indy’s defense hold Dallas to field goals? The Cowboys offense should be able to move the ball and Zeke Elliott should get his fair share of touches — but if the Colts can force Dallas into settling for 3s instead of 6s, Andrew Luck should be able to generate enough of his own offense with Eric Ebron to outscore the ‘Boys. Colts, 24-23

New England (-1.5) at Pittsburgh 

The Patriots have too many weapons on offense. Which Steeler defender takes James White when he and Gronk are lined up on the same side? Who can handle Julian Edelman in the slot? And then there’s issue of Sony Michel coming out of the backfield. On the other side of the ball, I think Bill Belichick and Brian Flores scheme a way to limit Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster with some combination of Stephon Gilmore, the McCourty twins, and undrafted rookie JC Jackson. Patriots, 34-27

No Harm in Watching

Miami at Minnesota (-7)

With all the ups and downs in Minnesota, no team is wackier than Miami as far as how they look at home as opposed to on the road. The Fins are 6-1 in South Beach, yet when they travel, they’re 1-5, scoring only 17 points a game, and surrendering 29.5 to opponents. I like the Vikings to play with some excitement on offense with new OC Kevin Stefanski calling plays now. If the Vikings hit their stride here, there’s a chance this could be the moment we look back on in January and say, “Minnesota saved their season with that move”. Vikings, 27-17

Cleveland (+3) at Denver

Denver’s secondary is beat up and their offense is completely dependent on rookies Phillip Lindsey and Courtland Sutton. Baker Mayfield should be able to push the ball downfield on this Denver defense. Browns, 27-20

Tampa Bay (+8) at Baltimore

After the emotional loss at Arrowhead a week ago, the Ravens might need a couple quarters to get going. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Bucs get out fast to a lead. Let the Ravens settle in, and that defense should be able to force Jameis Winston into a few of his patented turnovers, and the ravens offense really shouldn’t be met with much resistance by the Tampa Bay defense. Ravens, 20-17

Green Bay (+5.5) at Chicago

Bears fans are so scared of this game. Can they step on Aaron Rodgers’s throat and end the Packers season? Maybe this is a new Bears team and they’ll answer the call. But I need to see it first. Packers, 27-24

Philadelphia at Rams (-9)

It doesn’t seem like Carson Wentz will play Sunday — and nor should he with a broken back and Philly’s season all but done. The Rams need a “get right” game after not looking like themselves for the past couple weeks. Rams, 38-17

New Orleans (-6.5) at Carolina

I don’t care why the Panthers  all of a sudden stink. Is Cam hurt? Don’t care. Does the defense stink? Yes. Bottom line — you went from 6-2 and being a fringe-Super Bowl contender to a team that won’t be in the playoffs, might get your coach fired, and will certainly waster Christian McCaffrey’s outstanding offensive season. Save the excuses, Carolina. I don’t care. Saints, 41-24

Tennessee (+2.5) at Giants

Giants hung 40 on the Redskins last Sunday. Let me remind you that was a Washington team decimated by injuries and who was playing Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson at quarterback. Tennessee might not be great, but they’ve got to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Mike Vrabel’s defense won’t let the Giants offense run hog wild. Titans, 23-20

What’s This on For?

Houston (-6) at Jets

Houston has given up the second most sacks in the league, and if the Jets were serious about playing, I’d use that as evidence to support a Houston loss here. Can’t do it, though. A little fantasy advice: play Houston’s defense. Texans, 26-13

Seattle (-5) at San Francisco

Short week might be cause for concern for Pete Carroll’s team, but the Niners aren’t equipped to stop what Seattle’s offense wants to do: run the ball. Seattle doesn’t need a perfect performance to win in San Fran. Seahawks, 24-10

“Bleep” Show Games of the Week

Detroit (+2.5) at Buffalo

Buffalo’s offense is predicated on Josh Allen’s ability to move the ball down field — mostly with his legs. But guess what? The Lions are the best team in the NFL against rushing QBs — giving up an average of 4.0 yards per game. Since acquiring Snacks Harrison seven weeks ago, Detroit’s overall rush defense has improved to 18th from 30th. Truth be told, I hate the Lions on the road, especially coming off a dominating performance a week ago in Arizona. And I hate their offense. But it’s not like Buffalo is scoring 30 a game. Defense, defense, defense in this one. Lions, 20-17

Arizona at Atlanta (-8.5)

“The Battle of Two Teams Who Just Don’t Give a Damn”. I guess Atlanta wins — they have the talent and Arizona can’t do anything offensively. It’s just a matter of the final score. Falcons, 27-17

Oakland (+3) at Cincinnati

Oakland was “gamey” last weekend. But how can you get excited to travel across the country to play in Cincinnati in December? I’ll tell you — you know Hue Jackson is waiting on the opposing sideline. No chance I pick Hue. Seriously though, Derek Carr’s been playing much better and Doug Martin — yes, that Doug Martin) can gobble up yards on this Bengals shoddy defense. Raiders, 24-20

Washington at Jacksonville (-7)

Who’s tuning in for this game? You really need to re-evaluate your decisions in life, if you willing choose to spend 3 hours in front of a TV with this game on. Jaguars, 15-5


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 Week 14 Picks

As soon as the cold weather rolls in, it’s like clockwork — games become so much more meaningful. And wins are more difficult to come by, as we witnessed last weekend. This is a tricky time of of the season because we’ve grown into our opinions about teams and we believe certain things because we’ve watched, well, a lot of football. But if you’ve really watched a lot of football, you’ll know that now is when we learn the most about teams. For example, we want to trust the Bears because they were 8-3 going into Met Life Stadium last weekend. But a back-up QB, a feisty opponent, and few untimely mistakes are a recipe for disaster. You could same similar things about the Colts who got shut down and shutout by Jacksonville, the Panthers who lost in Tampa Bay, and the Browns who probably missed out on any slim hopes of making the playoffs by losing to Houston.

My point is many teams we are tricked into believing in during the early months of the season, turn out to deceive us in December. Teams have to learn how to win, they need to endure a full season before they’re ready to really take the next steps. Yes, the Bears are not bad — heck. they’ll probably with the division and be a 3 seed. But don’t be surprised if they encounter bumps along the way. Look at the Rams from last year. They dominated until December, slowed down a bit, dropped a couple games, and then exited the playoffs at home to underachieving Falcons team. There’s a process to getting good — and some of these teams are in the middle of experiencing it.

All that to say — IT’S HARD TO PICK GAMES IN THE NFL!!! But let’s give it another shot after a so-so Week 13. I was 9-7 both straight up and against the spread. For the year, I’m 84-84-8 ATS and 115-60 straight up. Let’s get to Week 14.

Plop Down and Get Comfy

Baltimore (+7) at Kansas City

The Ravens are rolling with Lamar Jackson. In his three starts, Baltimore is 3-0, has rushed for over 700 yards, and controlled the clock in dominating fashion — holding the ball for nearly 40 minutes last Sunday in Atlanta. That stat is interesting because the Chiefs don’t typically care if they have long, drawn out possessions — they’re very happy with quick-hit strikes, chunk plays, and efficient scoring drives. The Ravens might be successful in doing what they want offensively against the Chiefs, but it might not matter if the defense gives up points. Kansas City has faced the second-fewest third downs this year. Baltimore’s defense must force Pat Mahomes into as many third downs as possible, limit his yardage on first and second downs, and make him turn the ball over. If that happens, the Ravens should be able to gobble up yards on a weak KC defense. Ravens, 24-20

Philadelphia at Dallas (-4)

The Philadelphia offense should have trouble moving the ball against a stout Cowboys defense. Look for Amari Cooper and Cole Beasely to exploit the depleted Eagles secondary — and then use Zeke to pound through the holes that will create. I can see the Eagles throwing the whole playbook at Dallas, as they try and make one last push for the division. But it’s going to be tough, and I’m sick of waiting for the Eagles of last year to emerge. Cowboys, 24-17

Rams (-3) at Chicago

The Rams have shown that they can get “gotten” on the road — and yes, I know they’ve only lost one game all season, but they were slow to get up on the Lions last weekend, the Seahawks have battled them to within one score in both games, and they beat the Broncos in Denver by a field goal. The Bears defense will try their best to disrupt Sean McVay’s offensive plans — and they probably will find some level of success in doing so. But can Chicago’s offense hang around long enough? Something tells me Mitchell Trubisky is going to get to know Aaron Donald real well Sunday night. Rams, 24-17

Minnesota at Seattle (-3.5)

One of these teams has heart. The other does not. It’s that simple. Seahawks, 24-20

Keep the TV On

Indianapolis (+5) at Houston

This 9-game winning streak the Texans have been on all started in Indy when Frank Reich opted to go for it on fourth down from near midfield in overtime. Now, the Colts come in wishing that had ended in a tie, as they now face what amounts to a must-win game in Houston, against a team with a hot QB and a running game that has been on-point. That said, the Colts are second in the league converting third downs (48.2%) while the Texans are 15th at less than 40%. That’s a stat that could factor in to what should be a close division grinder. Colts, 31-24

New Orleans (-8) at Tampa Bay

The Saints finally defeated a divisional opponent by double digits when they got all over the Falcons on Thanksgiving night. The Bucs can score and Jameis Winston has been more careful not turning the ball over the past couple weeks. Will that trend continue in a shootout when his team gets behind? Hmmm. Saints, 38-27

Atlanta (+6) at Green Bay

The Packers and Aaron Rodgers are going to play their best game of the year. After the game, reporters will ask if it had anything to do with Mike McCarthy not being there, and of course, they’ll say it didn’t. Liars. Packers, 31-27

Flip Around

Carolina at Cleveland (+1.5)

This season got sideways in a hurry for Ron Rivera and the Panthers. It’s never a good omen when the HC has to fire a bunch of assistants mid-season and take over playcalling. Who would have thought 6 weeks ago that it’d be the Browns that look like the less dysfunctional team of the two? Browns, 29-24

New England (-7.5) at Miami

Miami is not good, and the Patriots’ run game should make hay. Also, the Patriots are looking to avenge last season’s MNF loss in South Beach, and the defense looks like it is rounding into typical December form. Patriots, 27-17

Occasionally Check the Game

Pittsburgh at Oakland (+11)

The Steelers have not traveled well over the past few years — and by that I mean that the offense has a propensity for sputtering and Big Ben turns the ball over. Also, James Connor is out with an ankle sprain so that’ll be worth monitoring over the final month of the regular season. Pittsburgh can’t afford any slip-ups — Lamar and the Ravens are closing in. Steelers, 31-24

Giants at Washington (+3.5)

The Giants are playing themselves right out of a top 5 pick with all this winning they’ve been doing lately. And this weekend presents a juicy matchup for Eli and the boys as they head into a game against a beat up Redskins team, who is watching the playoffs slip from their hands. Giants, 23-20

Turn the Channel and Don’t Bother

Jacksonville at Tennessee (-4)

No way the Jags show up in back-to-back weeks, right? And let’s be honest, it’s not like their offense did a single thing last Sunday against the Colts. The Titans are fighting for their playoff lives — they can’t slip here. Titans, 20-10

Jets at Buffalo (-3.5)

Josh Allen is garnering more love in the media thanks to his legs more than his arm. Expect more of the same this week with a Jets team that can start looking to 2019. Say what you will, Buffalo plays hard every week and shows signs of life with their rookie QB. Bills, 20-12

Cincinnati (+14) at Chargers 

This has all the makings of a trap game — Chargers riding high after a huge win in Pittsburgh on national television, taking on a no-name quarterback who’s missing his number one wideout. I’d take the Bengals, confidently, to cover except for one thing: The Curse of Hue. But all the ingredients are there!!! I’m probably going to regret this one. Chargers, 27-16

Denver at San Francisco (+5.5)

Don’t put me in the “I-believe-in-Denver” boat. Denver’s defense has been fine but not great, and their offense hinges upon an undrafted rookie running back. The 49ers might not be the team to get them, but someone will. People are acting like the Broncos are the favorites to make the playoffs in the AFC. Broncos, 23-20

Detroit (-2.5) at Arizona

We’ve been treated to some awful games over the last few weeks —
Giants-Niners, Niners-Bucs, Cards-Niners. But this one might be the worst of the bunch. Both defenses are capable of playing a decent enough game — the Cardinals just held the Packers to 17 points in Lambeau and the Rams were stuck in the teens for most of the game last Sunday at Detroit. Arizona ranks dead last in yards per play at 4.4 and in passing yards. With David Johnson in their backfield, they’re 31st in rushing yards. The Lions aren’t a ton better — 24th and 25th, respectively, in yards per play and rushing yards. First downs should be at a premium. Lions, 19-16


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 108 (“Dead or Alive: NFL Playoff Contenders”) right here:

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NFL Week 13 Picks

Let’s not waste any time looking backwards on last week (or the last few weeks for that matter). We’ve got a whole host of interesting lines this week. Four games currently on the slate feature a double-digit favorite — one of them being the Rams who are on the road in Detroit. A fifth game is at more than a touchdown — the Saints giving the Cowboys 7.5 in Dallas. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a mere one game where the teams separated in Vegas by less than a field goal — Baltimore giving 1.5 to the home team, Atlanta.

From the look of things, it doesn’t appear to be some greatly competitive week as far as the match-ups go. So maybe I’ll have an easier time picking games this week after the mess I made all over myself a week ago: 9-6 straight up and 5-10 against the spread. For the year, we’re a healthy 106-53 straight up, but have now fallen into the red with a nasty record of 75-77-8 ATS. Let’s see if we can get some much needed help this week.

Super Watchable

Minnesota (+6) at New England

The Vikings have all the pieces in place to beat the Pats — speed on offense and a defense that can get to the passer. But don’t forget who their quarterback is. Also, the Patriots are 29-3 at home in their last 32 December games. Plus, they will have Gronk, Sony Michel, and Julian Edelman out there. This isn’t a “let-down” game for New England. They’ll be fired up. Patriots, 27-24

Chargers (+3.5) at Pittsburgh

I think I’d be all-in on the Chargers if Melvin Gordon was playing. I read this week that the Steelers haven’t lost consecutive games since 2016 — but I just don’t think they’re as good as L.A. But geez, it scares me when Anthony Lynn is roaming the sidelines. Speaking of the HC, what in the world was Melvin Gordon doing playing against the Cardinals, up 28-10 in the 3rd quarter? Screw it, the Chargers defense and pass rush is plenty reason alone to take them here — despite Lynn. Chargers, 31-27

New Orleans at Dallas (+7.5)

It’s impossible to not love the Saints and their offense. They’ve got one of the most accurate passers of all time, a dynamic running back duo that also may be the greatest ever, and a WR in Michael Thomas, who’s quickly becoming top 5 at his position. Hard to imagine any defense slowing this machine up. Enter the Cowboys. They play the perfect style to combat the New Orleans offensive attack: run the ball, limit the Saints time of possession, and rush the passer. They’re capable of all three of those things. The question is can they execute. Saints, 27-20

Cleveland (+5.5) at Houston

Who would have guessed this would be a headline match-up? But the Browns are exciting and have playmakers on both sides of the ball; while the Texans have only gone ahead and won 8 straight after an 0-3 start. Can the Browns win another road game? My gut says no, but this seems like a nice spot for them to steal one against the Texans, who got off to a shaky start on Monday night against the Titans. Browns, 34-31

Throw on the Game

Baltimore (+1.5) at Atlanta

The Falcons defense has been a stepping stone for offensives all season. Lamar Jackson comes in with a chance to put up some nice numbers against a pass defense that is ranked in the bottom quarter in the league. In addition, the Ravens have run the ball for over 250 yards in Jackson’s two starts — not a good sign for Atlanta, as their run D is tied for 3rd worst in yards per rush. Ravens, 23-20

Carolina (-3.5) at Tampa Bay

Carolina needs to fix their pass defense. They’ve been getting torched and the Bucs are more than capable of moving the ball through the air. If Carolina is going to make a push for the postseason, they’ve got to turn things around now. Panthers, 31-27

What Else is On?

Chicago (-4) at Giants

The Giants offensive line is, well, offensive (that’s too easy). And the Bears have a guy named Khalil Mack. He should feast on Sunday. Bears, 24-16

Denver at Cincinnati (+5)

Two words: Jeff. Driskell. Road games are tough and Denver enters this one with some expectations for the first time all season. If they want to be a playoff team, they show it in here. Broncos, 24-20

Washington at Philadelphia (-6)

Philly’s pass rush should get after Colt McCoy with the dinged up offensive line he has in front of him. Eagles, 23-16

Rams (-10) at Detroit

Two simple questions: how do the Lions score and how do the Lions stop the Rams from scoring? The Rams can score at will and that won’t change at Ford Field. Rams, 38-13

Kansas City at Oakland (+15)

Will the Raiders be able to keep it “close-ish”? I’m probably going to feel like an idiot when the Chiefs are up 35-10 halfway through the 3rd quarter. Chiefs, 31-17

Throw the TV Out the Window

Arizona (+14) at Green Bay

The Packers aren’t ever completely dead as long as Aaron Rodgers is their quarterback. By no means are they in the driver’s seat, but if they can win out (and the schedule isn’t difficult), they’ll at least give themselves a shot at the playoffs. Are they motivated to put a whoopin’ on the Cardinals? Packers 34-19

Indianapolis (-4) at Jacksonville

My one worry is how the Colts play in a game on the road that they should dominate. It’s clear as day that the Jags are done this season, and I don’t expect the players to show any ounce of fight over the final 5 weeks, except for Cody Kessler and whoever else ends up playing QB for them. But that’s why this is tricky — the Colts are not an established team yet and I’m not sure they are ready to cut a team’s throat. Colts, 24-17

Buffalo (+5) at Miami

Do I seriously need to break this game down? Buffalo always plays tough. I don’t know if the Dolphins care or not. Bills, 20-12

San Francisco at Seattle (-10)

These NFC West divisional games always seem to be closer than they should be. That being said, I don’t think the 49ers have the personnel up front to stop what Seattle wants to do and what they do best, which is run, run, run. And then, oh yeah, there’s Russell Wilson who should be able to take advantage of the Niners pass defense. Seahawks, 27-10

Jets (+10.5) at Tennessee

Geez, Vegas hates the Jets. How can the Titans give anyone 10.5 points? I don’t know who’s showing up for Tennessee. As for the Jets, I don’t hate them — they’re not great, but they don’t embarrass themselves usually. Titans, 24-20


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 105 (“NFL MVP Outsiders”) right here:

Listen to Episode 106 (“Statement Weekend in the NFL & College Football Championship Saturday”) right here:

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NFL Week 12 Picks

It’s Thanksgiving week and I dare you to tell me a more fun week of regular season football. The whole week is fun — work isn’t really work on a three-day week, you’ve got the biggest drinking night of the year on Wednesday, we get to gorge ourselves on food all day on Thursday, and we get football from noon until bedtime. How can you beat that? (That’s not even taking into account Saturday’s big rivalry games in the college ranks or the full slate of Sunday NFL games that we still get.)

Unfortunately, it’s not all pretty, though. I was unable to shake my bad streak in week 11, going 6-5-2 against the spread and only managing 6-7 straight up. For the season, I’m 70-67-8 ATS and 97-47 straight up. Let’s do week 12. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving Day Slate

Chicago at Detroit (+4)

Expect wackiness in this rivalry game. It’s early on a Thursday, it’s a holiday, the two just met 11 days ago — it’s got all the makings of a weird one. On paper, though, Chicago has all the advantages plus the Lions look to be without Kerryon Johnson and Marvin Jones. Bears, 22-20

Washington (+7.5) at Dallas

Neither of these teams blow anyone out so 7.5 points either way is a ton of points. I might be in the minority, but I’m not ruling out the Redskins to win this division despite the gruesome injury to Alex Smith. In fact, I think this might be a perfect spot for whoever Jay Gruden puts under center — short week, simplified gameplan, take few risks, run the ball, play defense against a Dallas offense that isn’t very dynamic. Plus it’s Thanksgiving — anything can happen. Redskins, 20-17

Atlanta (+13) at New Orleans

The Saints look primed for a Super Bowl run and the Falcons look dead. However, the Saints have failed to beat a divisional opponent by more than 10 points in their last 14 meetings. I’m assuming the Falcons offense scores some points and keeps it within 2 touchdowns. My expectations are not very high for the dirty birds. Saints, 34-24

Should Watch

Seattle at Carolina (-3.5)

This is a battle between two potential playoff teams. And it should be strength against strength — Seattle’s number rushing attack versus Carolina’s 9th ranked rush defense. Seattle is plenty to good enough to hold their own in this one, but Carolina is a different team at home — 5-0. In fact, the Panthers haven’t scored fewer than 31 points in any home game since their opening against Dallas. Panthers, 23-20

Cleveland (+3) at Cincinnati

Hue’s Revenge Game Part 1. Or is it the Browns Revenge Game? Cincinnati’s defense is playing so badly; they finally allowed fewer than 500 yards last weekend for the first time in a month. Baltimore collected 250 yards rushing against the Bengals in week 11 and Cleveland has shown a propensity for running the ball. Nick Chubb could be in store for a productive afternoon. Browns, 28-24

Pittsburgh (-3) at Denver

Could the Steelers slip up here? It feels like that kind of a game — in Mile High, coming off an ugly win against the lowly Jags, and Denver comes in off a win over the Chargers. The problems twofold: (1) the Steelers have a really good offensive line to combat Vonn Miller and the Denver pass rush and (2) Pittsburgh’s playmakers on offense will make life difficult for the Denver secondary. Steelers, 31-24

Green Bay (+3.5) at Minnesota

If ever Green Bay was going to put up a fight, it’s now. Both teams are in a kinda-sorta “must win” position coming off a couple tough road losses. A loss here doesn’t end either teams’ season, but it sure won’t help as both push for the playoffs. If the Aarons (Rodgers and Jones) have big games, the onus will be on Kirk Cousins to answer. Honestly, I’m not sure he can. Packers, 24-23

Corner TV at the Bar Status

Oakland (+11) at Baltimore

I don’t know if this is unprecedented or not — but I’m going to say it is — a rookie QB giving 11 points in his second career start after a game in which he threw for 150 yards and zero touchdowns and one interception is unprecedented. It will be interesting to see if Baltimore adjusts their offensive plan, knowing that Lamar Jackson rushing 27 times is not sustainable nor is it beneficial for his well-being. Gus Edwards ran for 115 yards last week so maybe that will give Marty Morningweg confidence to let Jackson use more of his arm and less of his legs. Ravens, 24-20

New England at Jets (+9.5)

History would have us assume that the Patriots don’t lose after a bye week and cover the spread. But look more closely and you’ll find that Bill Belichick and crew are only 3-5-1 since 2009 coming off the bye against the spread. Plus, the Jets always play hard at home against New England. Patriots, 27-19

Miami at Indianapolis (-9.5)

The Dolphins are a train-wreck — and yet they’re 5-5 and right in the thick of the wildcard race in the AFC. But the Colts are rolling on offense and defensively they should handle whatever kind of offense Miami throws out there. Colts, 31-17

Giants (+6) at Philadelphia

The Giants have won two straight, but their opponents were the 49ers and the Bucs. Conversely, the Eagles have lost back-to-back games to the Cowboys and the Saints. All this adds up to a game that I won’t watch and can’t see more than a few points separating them. In the end, the Eagles still have a pass rush and can make Eli uncomfortable with his flimsy offensive line. Eagles, 24-20

Tennessee (+6) at Houston

The Texans were lucky to escape D.C. with the win last Sunday. These two teams matchup nicely — good defenses, not consistent enough on offense. Divisional games in the AFC South usually end up being pretty tightly contested. Titans, 23-17

Can’t Do It

San Francisco at Tampa Bay (-3.5)

We talk about how good certain teams are coming off the bye week. The Niners are not one of them. San Fran is winless since 2012 off a bye and also has failed to cover the spread in each of those games. Even more telling, they’ve lost by double digits in each of those weeks going back 2014. Moreover, the 49ers don’t have a pass rush and their secondary shouldn’t give the Tampa Bay’s air attack any problems. Bucs, 30-24

Arizona (+12) at Chargers 

A little of the shine has come off of the Chargers after a couple of disappointing weeks. Yes, they beat the Raiders two weeks ago but it wasn’t dominant; and then last week, we were treated to an “Anthony Lynn-Phillip Rivers Special” when they blew the 4th quarter lead in Denver. This weekend is in Los Angeles, where the Chargers don’t really enjoy much of a home field advantage — 3-1 with a margin of victory of only +9.  Chargers, 27-19

Jacksonville at Buffalo (+3)

Remember when these two played in the playoffs last year? (You didn’t dream it — it really happened.) I could see a weird 15-9 final score with defensive touchdowns and field goals. This is the way the football gods keep things balanced after we watched the Rams and Chiefs put up 105 last Monday night. Jaguars, 17-16


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 Ep. 102 (“Thanksgiving Edition Plus Don’t Count the Redskins Out Just Yet”) right here:

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NFL Week 11 Picks

So I followed up my great week 9 with a clunker in week 10. I went from 10-3 against the spread to 4-9-1 in a matter of a week. But that shouldn’t be any surprise — the NFL prides itself on parity and that carries over in Vegas.

And as the season goes on, expect the playing field to level out more and more (and that’s not a shot at Mexico City). The Action Network put out a really well done article and I won’t try to re-hash it, but basically teams all  meet in the middle for the most part. The teams doing well ATS regress to the median and, conversely, those struggling end up finding their way closer to .500. One example would be the Cardinals against the Raiders this weekend — who would have thought we’d be talking about this match-up. Arizona is 5-3-1 ATS while Gruden’s bunch is 2-7 — neither team is very good so I wouldn’t expect the Cardinals to keep up that pace. I feel sick even thinking about taking the Raiders this weekend, but the trends are trends for a reason.

That said, I wouldn’t expect the dominant teams to completely fall off a cliff — like  the Chiefs, for example. They’re a league-best 8-1 against the spread. Don’t look for them to go 0-7 the rest of the way so they wind up 8-8 for the year. That’s extreme. But don’t be shocked if the Chiefs were to go 4-3 over their final 7 games — according to The Action Network, teams that win 6 or more games in the first half of the year win only at a  50.7% clip in the second half.

Let’s get to this week’s picks. My struggles last week brought my overall ATS record to 64-62-6. Picking games straight up, I’m at 91-40.

Can’t Miss

Kansas City at Rams (-3.5)

Call me crazy, but I’m not completely in love with the Rams. Listen, I think the world of Sean McVay. But defensively, this team has issues in the secondary and in run defense. Will these deficiencies stop them from winning the division? No. What about he NFC and the Super Bowl? Depends on the opponents. In most games, the Rams can get away with having sub-par defensive performances — I’ve said it all year: defenses simply need to make the right play at the right time. Defenses do not have to take over games like the Ravens in the 2000s or the ’85 Bears. This particular match-up against the Chiefs will require something out of Wade Phillips’s crew. Pat Mahomes will likely collect yards and touchdowns — and the Rams can live with that. But they must be able to stop Kareem Hunt. After allowing 273 yards of rushing against the Seahawks last week, I have my doubts. Chiefs, 38-35

Philadelphia (+9) at New Orleans

Maybe I’m wrong on this one, but it’s still the defending champs against the team who most looks the part this season. The Eagles offensive line has been inconsistent and their secondary has been terrible, thanks to multiple injuries. The Saints have the defensive front to get after Carson Wentz and Drew Brees knows how to attack secondaries. This is exactly the worst match-up for Philly — but nine is still a lot of points. Saints, 31-24

Very Worth Match-ups

Minnesota (+3) at Chicago

So Mitchell Trubisky has had a few games where he’s gone off this year, but if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find that most of these games come when the team gets off to a great start — see the Tampa Bay and Detroit games. The question is can he do it against the Vikings defense? Which leads to the bigger question, is this Vikings defense as good as we all seem to think? The Bears offense is 12th in explosive passing plays (again, which tends to happen when the team gets up by multiple scores) and they’ll be facing a Minnesota defense that ranks 28th in that category — the linebackers have struggled immensely overall, Xavier Rhodes has been hurt, and Trae Waynes is giving up 9 yards per catch. Still, are the Bears able to take advantage? Minnesota makes up for the defensive woes by generating an effective pass rush — they lead the NFL in sacks. And if they can make Trubisky uncomfortable and mess with his timing, we won’t see many explosive plays. Vikings, 24-17

Dallas at Atlanta (-3)

This is an underrated game. Dallas isn’t super fun to watch, but the offense will have chances against the Falcons defense. This is simple, though: can Dallas win two straight on the road in tough environments? A little home cookin’ for the Falcons won’t hurt here. Falcons, 24-20

Green Bay (+3) at Seattle

Another Thursday night affair that isn’t awful. Green Bay’s newfound running attack with rookie Aaron Jones has the potential of changing the Packers season. Can they be successful though in Seattle? And can the Packers defense stop the the ground game that the Seahawks have been so good at this season? Is a match-up between Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson really going to be decided by Aaron Jones and Rashad Penny? Seahawks, 23-21

Pittsburgh at Jacksonville (+6)

The Steelers are rolling and the Jags are a mess. But this game has a lot of exciting elements to it. Can Pittsburgh re-pay Jacksonville for last January’s divisional round game? Will Jacksonville play inspired because of the opponent? One thing about the Jaguars is that they often play to the level of the team they’re playing against. I’m not taking them to win, but it’ll be a good game. Steelers, 34-30

Tennessee at Indianapolis (-1.5)

Both these teams are, amazingly, in the hunt for the sixth seed in the AFC. The winner here will have a leg up and a realistic shot at snagging that final playoff spot. Is this the dreaded “let-down” game for Tennessee after they smacked the Patriots a week ago? Colts, 24-20

Don’t Be Fooled

Houston (-3) at Washington

The craziest stat through ten weeks of football might be that the Redskins have not been involved in any sort of lead change in any game. They get the lead and keep it or fall behind and never climb back — that’s their M.O. So, let’s ask one question: who scores first? It might take a minute for us to find out — both these defenses can get after it and it’s not like either offense it lighting the world on fire. I see a low scoring game, but the injuries on the Washington offensive line could be critical against a Texans front seven that’s athletic and fast. Texans, 20-16

Cincinnati (+3.5) at Baltimore

Not sure what’s going on at QB for Baltimore right now. Once it becomes clear who’s starting, I’ll make the pick. What I can say is that Cincy’s defense is about as bad as it gets — three straight games giving up 500 yards. Might be the perfect game to get Lamar Jackson’s feet wet at quarterback. Definitely leaning Ravens. Probably taking them no matter what the spread is. UPDATE: The line is Cincy getting 3.5 points. Not loving that. Neither team is far and away better than the other. Ravens, 24-21

Carolina (-4) at Detroit

Carolina’s offense will give Detroit’s defense all it can handle. The Lions let the Bears throw all over them a week ago — and the Panthers have more playmakers. Lions are a different team at home, but they will need their ‘A’ game to pull this one out. Panthers, 30-17

Denver (+7) at Chargers

The Chargers weren’t great in their week 10 over Oakland. In this one, they likely won’t need to be perfect either. Will the Broncos play inspired after their bye? Or will Vance Joseph’s seat grow hotter? Chargers, 27-21

Toilet Bowl Games

Tampa Bay at Giants (-2)

Good Fitzpatrick is due, right? Plus the Giants aren’t the type of team that strings together back-to-back wins. Bucs, 24-20

Oakland (+5.5) at Arizona

I like Josh Rosen better than any of the other rookie signal callers. I also like Arizona’s defensive pass rush against a Raider O-line that has been severely underperforming. My head says this one’s close. My gut says don’t pick the Raiders. Cardinals, 26-23


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 Ep. 99, right here:

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NFL Week 10 Picks

First things first — I can’t believe it’s week 10 already. It’s a little sad. And exciting. Last week’s games reminded us just what playoff football feels like: Saints-Rams, Patriots-Packers, and to an extent Ravens-Steelers and Seahawks-Chargers.

We’re inching closer to cold, see-your-breath, winter football.  And with that comes tighter match-ups and games that carry a lot of meaning come January.

Secondly, how’d I do with my picks last week you ask? Oh, let me tell you. How about 13-0 straight up and 10-3 against the spread!!! Your boy was on fire!!! For the season, I’m 81-33 straight up and 60-53-5 ATS. Let’s carry that good mojo over to this week!!!

Must See

Carolina (+4) at Pittsburgh

What a treat on Thursday night. Cam Newton is playing at an MVP-caliber and Norv Turner is calling games like he’s Sean McVay. I like the Panthers offense to find ways to get in the end zone a lot in this one.  Panthers, 24-20

Watchable

Seattle (+10) at Rams

Despite the loss at home to the Chargers last week, we need to seriously recognize that Seattle is a running team. Thirty-four carries for over 150 yards is evidence of a team that is committed to running the rock. In their last six games, Seattle has rushed for over 950 yards on 216  carries. Gone are the days of Russell Wilson slinging it 40 times. Seattle might not win this game, but if they can run, they’ll control the clock and limit the Rams’ offensive possessions — and that’s a huge key to beating L.A. Rams, 27-24

New Orleans (-4.5) at Cincinnati

Everyone wants to talk about Dez Bryant and his impact on this offense. Listen, if any coach can scheme him into the game plan, it’s Sean Payton; and if any QB can get him involved, it’s Drew Brees. I have major doubts that Dez can physically perform, though. But the good news for the Saints is that they don’t need him. Great teams have the luxury of taking flyers like this. Saints come in riding high after taking down the previously undefeated Rams, but the Bengals rush the passer and have the capability of getting to Brees. But no A.J. Green and that hurts. Plus, New Orleans has been getting great play out of their offensive line. Saints, 27-20

Detroit (+6.5) at Chicago

The Lions offense has looked anemic after their bye week — 14 points at home against Seattle and then 9 points in Minnesota. Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter might start wanting to collect his personal items from his office if this trend continues for another week. And it won’t be easy to turn things around at Chicago. Bears, 20-16

New England (-7) at Tennessee

Yes, Tennessee won on Monday night in Dallas, but they don’t look great. Offensive inconsistencies and awful play in the secondary by Malcolm Butler are two reasons this team is a game and a half back of the Texans in the division. The Patriots offense won’t hold back either. Patriots, 28-17

Worth a Look From Time to Time

Chargers  (-10) at Oakland

The Chargers are a statistical enigma. They have faced the fewest 3rd downs in the league yet they are in the bottom third of total first downs per game. They also have two of the top-8 players in the league for MVP in Phil Rivers and Melvin Gordon, however they rank in the bottom third in time of possession. On the other hand, the Raiders are a mess — statistically, stylistically, and however else you want to look at them. Chargers, 31-16

Dallas at Philadelphia (-6.5)

Philly might be hitting their stride — a bye week, a win in London, and  trading for Golden Tate might all help turn the Eagles’ season around. Doug Peterson and Carson Wentz should be able to pick apart this Cowboy defense — heck, Marcus Mariota hung 28 on them on MNF. Not to mention, Dallas never seems ultra-prepared and a short week won’t help. Eagles, 24-10

Washington at Tampa Bay (-3)

This match-up reminds me a lot of last week’s Redskins-Falcons game. Tampa Bay will air it out and Washington’s secondary isn’t equipped to stop them. And if they get behind, the Redskins offense isn’t built to win a shootout. Bucs, 30-24

Watch Reruns of Seinfeld

Giants at San Francisco (-3)

Two of the four worst teams in the NFL. That said, I like the Niners and their scrappiness. Keep it going, Nick Mullens!! 49ers, 27-23

Buffalo (+7.5) at Jets

Question: more offensive touchdowns or defensive touchdowns in this game? Sam Darnold, once touted the savior of the Jets franchise, now looks like a rookie who had ball control issues coming out of college. And Buffalo is, once again, rolling out Nathan Peterman in what has become the worst joke of all-time. Just stop!!! I don’t know how the Jets are giving 7 to anyone, including the hapless Bills. Jets, 19-13

Miami (+10) at Green Bay

Is this 10-point because the Packers almost beat the Rams? I’m not seeing a very good Green Bay team right now. I know Miami is the worst 5-4 team in NFL history (prove me wrong — I dare you), but the Packers are riddled with injuries and they look like an offense that has to work so hard just to gain positive yardage. Packers, 24-20.

Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-3)

I know the Giants go to SF this week, but this game might be even less watchable to me. Andrew Luck is going to get MVP consideration, especially if the Colts get to 7 or 8 wins. Marlon Mack has been a pleasant surprise the last few games, rushing for more than 100 yards in all three. Then there’s the Jaguars who are inconsistent on defense, terrible on offense, and vastly underachieving across the board. These games are usually dogfights — but maybe the Jags punt on the season if this one starts to get away. Colts, 26-20

Atlanta (-4) at Cleveland

Yes, Cleveland’s defense is one of the best in the league by simple stats. But Matt Ryan is back playing at an MVP level and he’s got the Falcons right back in the thick of the playoff race in the NFC. Plus, Cleveland’s offense has sputtered, Baker Mayfield is statistically one of the worst QBs through 9 weeks, and Denzel Ward is banged up. side the Atlanta offense in this one. Falcons, 31-23

Arizona at Kansas City (-16.5)

Josh Rosen is gutsy, he’s got a good arm, he’s smart, and he’s the reason I think the Cardinals will fall into a few wins along the way. This game isn’t one of them, though. Chiefs, 38- 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 96 (“NFL’s Legit Contenders Plus Lev Bell Saga & the Detroit Lions Making Moves”):

 

Listen to Episode 97 (“NFC East Getting Clearer, Packers Need to Get Right, Falcons Surging, and Seattle’s Plan in L.A.”):

 

 

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