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.

Listen to EPISODE 111 (“The Mess in Minnesota”) 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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Week 8 NFL Picks

This is the time in the NFL season where you really start to have a good feel for who teams actually are. Perhaps, teams haven’t reached their potential per se, but we can see what they want to be and what they are trying be. This is also the time of the season when we tend to forget about a team or two, who’s under the radar, not really grabbing anyone’s attention; but the potential is there for them to all of a sudden be right in the mix in a few weeks. Maybe it’s the Chargers or Titans or Packers or Bengals or Ravens. I’m not sure, but you know that there will be a couple “surprise” teams that come Thanksgiving are just sitting in the middle of the playoff race and we can’t remember how they got there. Week 8 has some games that could impact the teams that might be in that boat.

Last week, your boy won you some money!! Against the spread, I was 8-5-1 (44-42-5 for the year) and straight up I was 11-3 (60-30 for the year). You’re welcome. Let’s see what we got this week:

Big Time Games

New Orleans (+1) at Minnesota

If this is a shootout — and nothing tells me it won’t be, give me the Saints. I trust Drew Brees in a game like this over Kirk Cousins. Saints, 30-27

Green Bay (+9) at Rams

The Rams will get anything they want against this Packers defense. But don’t dismiss Aaron Rodges against the Rams D. That secondary isn’t completely healthy and hasn’t been uber impressive this year. Brace for a shootout and take the over. Rams, 41-34

Philadelphia (-3.5) v. Jacksonville

Philly was a measly fourth quarter away from beating the Panthers and being 4-3. As it is, though, they blew the lead and can’t shake this stigma of not being able to put together a complete game on a consistent basis this year. But the Jags are in some turmoil and could be on the brink of something worse. Eagles, 24-20

Baltimore (-2.5) at Carolina

Put me on the side of thinking neither of these two teams is a very good. Yes, the Ravens hung with the Saints, and Panthers are 4-2 and just had an epic fourth quarter comeback in Philadelphia. I’m just not a believer in either one. This should be a low scoring game with a premium placed on running the ball, controlling the clock, and not turning the ball over. Baltimore has athletes to contain Cam, and they’re 5th in the NFL in time of possession. Ravens, 24-21

There’s a Reason to Tune In

Jets (+7) at Chicago

The Jets have a good defense that can give problems to Mitchell Trubisky. There’s a lot of potential for this one to be very tight. I expect a defensive struggle — something we don’t see much of anymore. Bears, 20-17

Denver at Kansas City (-10)

Let me get this straight: the Broncos get ramrodded by the Rams and Jets running games for two straight weeks, but then get right and beat the God-awful Cardinals so they feel good and decide to throw some big “cocaine-filled” party? Oh, also they seem to be wiling to trade team captain Demaryius Thomas. That’s great. Forget that you still have no quarterback or head coach. This thing in Denver is on the verge of complete collapse. Chiefs, 42-13

Cleveland (+8) at Pittsburgh

Cleveland is in every game. They might not be be all that good, but no one blows them out — they could realistically have four ties on the year!! I don’t think either team is good enough to back an 8-point spread. Steelers, 30-27

Seattle at Detroit (-3)

The Lions seem to have found their running back, finally, in Kerryon Johnson. I don’t have a lot of faith in Seattle going on the road. Detroit has more weapons and I don’t see the Seahawks keeping up. Lions, 27-20

Tampa Bay at Cincinnati (-4.5)

Expect a bounce-back for the Bengals, coming off back-to-back losses. Tampa’s defense struggles and going on the road won’t help matters. Bengals, 30-21

Washington (-1) at Giants

Usually these divisional games are tight and nasty and you just hope to come away with the win no matter how you get it. But the Giants are atrocious, and if Washington wants to be the class of the NFC East, they win this game and make a statement. The Redskins defense should be able to get after Eli. Redskins, 24-17

There’s No Reason to Tune In

San Francisco at Arizona (-1)

I can’t believe I have to pick this game. I’ll keep it brief. The Cards might be the absolute worst team in the league. It’s hard to find something they do well. At least the Niners can run the ball, and against the Arizona defense, they should be able to move up and down the field and control the clock. Plus, I give Kyle Shanahan the advantage over Steve Wilks. 49ers, 23-20

Miami (+7.5) at Houston

I don’t know what it is, but Vegas loves Houston. For the second straight week, the Texans are giving an inordinate amount of points. DeShaun Watson’s lung is busted and the o-line stinks. Too many issues for me to take Houston to cover. Texans, 23-17

Indianapolis (-3) at Oakland

I’m convinced Jon Gruden does not want to win this year. He denies it and that’s fine. But this team is more interested in getting the top pick in the draft. Gruden’s already on to 2019. Colts, 34-24

New England (-13.5) at Buffalo

Whoever plays QB for the Bills is going to have a tall order because Bill Belichick isn’t going to make life easy for them. On the offensive side for the Patriots, Tom Brady should be able to get anything he wants at any time in this one. Patriots, 31-13


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 Ep. 90, “Week 8 Preview” right here:

Listen to Episode 89, “The Amari Cooper Trade & My CFB Rankings” right here:

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Week 7 NFL Picks

Usually, I try to avoid making sweeping generalizations or issuing hot takes that only serve to stir the pot of people’s emotions. I think it’s silly — and I know the hot take artists out there get all traction on social media because of what they say. In short, I don’t care. I’d rather be known as a rational thinker who errs on the side of waiting and seeing than jumping to conclusions. In 2018, no one has the patience to wait. So, I guess, place me in the minority. So be it.

All that said, here’s something I’ve gathered six weeks into this NFL season. Defense doesn’t win championships. Rather, defense only has to do “just enough.” Make a big third down stop in the fourth quarter or get a sack that forces a fumble when the opposing team is driving in waning minutes of the game or create an interception on a potential game-winning drive. Just make the play when you need it, in crunch time. That’s what defense has come to be in the NFL today. Offenses are the engines that run this machine. The Chiefs, Patriots, Rams, Saints have played very questionable defense this season (to be kind) — and yet no one thinks that will be the downfall of any of them when it comes to winning a championship. And the reason is simple: those offenses can get points whenever they need to.

Alright, let’s pick some games. Last week, I went 10-5 straight up (49-27 for the year) and 9-5-1 against the spread (36-37-4). Here’s to keeping the mojo in my favor!

Games of the Week

New England (-2.5) at Chicago

I’d imagine Bill Belichick will scheme up something on defense to mess with Mitchell Trubisky. On offense, is it dumb that I trust Tom Brady and company to handle this vaunted Beards D? The fact I’m not worried worries me. Patriots, 27-20

New Orleans (+2.5) at Baltimore

This is what happens after bye weeks — we forget how good a team is and we think the team we most recently saw is better than they really are. The Ravens defense might be good, but their offense isn’t and I’m not convinced the D is good enough to make up the offense’s shortcomings. You need offense against the Saints. Saints, 24-20

Cincinnati (+6) at Kansas City

Pat Mahomes in primetime, again. Get used to that. I think Cincy can score, but they can’t score like the Chiefs can. If we’re going to bed Sunday night having the Bengals dropped their last two to the Steelers and then on the big SNF stage, we’re going to be saying, “Same old Bengals.” Chiefs, 34-30

Watchable

Cleveland (+3) at Tampa Bay

Baker Mayfield gets to have a little fun against a defense that’s, well, been suspect this year. Actually, let’s not mince words: they can’t stop a nosebleed and this Sunday won’t be any different, I don’t care who’s out there calling the plays. Baker shines. Fantasy Advice: Pick up Baker. Browns, 40-35

Minnesota (-3) at Jets

The Vikings offense is on fire. Adam Thielen is the first WR in NFL history to open the year with 6 straight 100 yard games. He’s on a tear, and the Jets defense will have their hands full. That said, the Minnesota defense hasn’t really impressed so far this season. I’m doubtful either defense can stop the opposing offense. Vikings, 31-27

Carolina (+4.5) at Philadelphia

This has the feel (on paper at least) of a playoff game. But on the field so far, Carolina is up and down and Philly hasn’t hit their stride. But I don’t think Carolina has enough weapons to beat the Eagles. Plain and simple. Eagles, 23-20

Giants at Atlanta (-6)

Let’s make this quick and simple: Atlanta’s defense can’t stop anyone and the Giants won’t stop the Falcons offense. I don’t anticipate much defense in this game. Falcons, 38-30

Barely Watchable

Tennessee (+6.5) at Chargers

Another London game. Just when you think the Chargers are dealing and the Titans are reeling (you like that?), we are reminded how the NFL works from week to week. This is one of those games that keeps me away. Titans, 24-21

Dallas at Washington (-1.5)

If Dallas parlays last week’s win with a win on the road in the division, I might have to consider taking all those mean things I’ve said about them back. Redskins, 24-20

Rams at San Francisco (+10)

It’s at the point in the season where these big spreads give me major pause. San Fran is not tanking — yet. And the Rams realize they don’t need to score 40 every week just for giggles. A win is a win. Rams, 31-23

Is Anyone Watching?

Houston (+5) at Jacksonville

This is just the game that tells us nothing about either of these two teams. We won’t learn anything new no matter how it goes. Both will play hard and the commentators will say it’s a scrappy game. And close. Texans, 23-17

Buffalo (+6.5) at Indianapolis

Indy is so banged up that they really can’t afford to give anyone any points — but we are talking about the Derek Anderson-led Bills here. The Colts are, dare I say, feisty. But it concerns me that with all the weapons Houston had last week, they managed to squeak out the win thanks only to their defense against the Bills. Buffalo plays hard and the Colts don’t play defense. Colts, 26-23

Detroit at Miami (+3)

This game was off the board for a while with all the uncertainty surrounding Miami’s QB situation. The last time an NFC North team came into Miami off a win and bye week, they lost. If the NFL has taught me anything, it’s that don’t draw too many conclusions from week to week. Plus, common sense tells me the Fins can’t possibly be 5-2 and the BrockStar won’t win two straight. Lions, 27-26

Denver at Arizona (+2.5)

Denver can’t stop the run and Arizona doesn’t run! Case Keenum should be the better QB in this one, but he might not be. Von Miller should be able to be Vonn Miller against this Cardinals o-line. The problem is both these teams are pretty bad — so who knows what will end up happening on the short week. Gimme the home dog to cover! Broncos, 19-17


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 87 right here:

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Week 6 NFL Picks

One minute you’re up, flying high, loving life. The next, you can’t pick a football game to save my life– I mean, YOUR life. This is all hypothetical, of course.

Alright, let’s face it, week 5 was a tough pill to swallow, especially coming off of the great week 4 I had. But, hey, I’m not a sharp. I’m no wiseguy. What do I know about picking NFL games? Was I really supposed to take the Giants and the points on the road  against a good defense ? How did Denver give up 219 rushing yards to Isaiah Crowell? I was supposed to see that coming? Philly at home is supposed to be a gimme; Mason Crosby isn’t supposed to miss 5 freaking kicks (!!!!!); and the Rams should bury the Seahawks. Ugh. Just another week in the NFL.

Before we move to week 6, here’s where we stand, folks: 39-22 straight up and 27-32-3 against the spread. Let’s get a nice little bounce back this week. I’ve got mouths to feed.

Must See Games of the Week

Kansas City (+3) at New England

Speed kills. That’s how the Chiefs win this game. If the Patriots can’t get off the field on third downs and can’t keep up with the weapons that the Chiefs will deploy on offense, this could be ugly. But I have to believe Bill Belichick will have a plan. If they can limit the big plays from Pat Mahomes, Tom Brady and the Pats offense should be able to do their own share of scoring. Patriots, 33-31

Pittsburgh (+2.5) at Cincinnati

Both offenses can light up the scoreboard. I’d favor Cincy’s defense even though Pittsburgh flashed some explosiveness in getting after Matt Ryan a week ago. If that continues, the Steelers could turn things around. But at the moment, the Bengals have the more balanced attack on offense and have played defense at a more consistent level this season. Bengals 28-27

Tune In

Tampa Bay (+3.5) at Atlanta

Will any defender even bother to show up for this one? The over/under is 57.5. Take it!!! Atlanta might be feeling sorry for themselves. We’ll find out. Bucs, 34-31

Chargers at Cleveland (+1)

The battle of 2 inept coaching staffs. I like Baker Mayfield, but playing against this Chargers defense will be a little different than what he’s faced so far. On the other side of the ball, if the Chargers don’t kill themselves with drops and turnovers, Phillip Rivers and company should have enough weapons to give this improved Browns defense trouble. Chargers, 24-20

Philadelphia at Giants (+3)

We know the Giants aren’t good and won’t be. The thing is that the Eagles aren’t either — and it’s not totally clear if they’ll fix their issues. Their defense had to play 35 minutes against the Vikings last Sunday and that’s not a winning script for Philly. Converting third downs and long has been the area the Eagles offense has dropped off the most in comparison to last year. In 2017, they converted at a 30% clip; so far this season, they’re at 15%. Short week, on the road, divisional rival — not a great equation for the defending champs. Giants, 23-21

There’s Potential

Indianapolis at Jets (-2.5)

Somehow, some way the Jets put up over 300 yards of rushing and 500 total yards against the Denver defense last week. That’s a winning formula with a rookie QB. Indy is decimated with injuries across the board — on both sides of the ball. Andrew Luck looks healthy, but he doesn’t have a ton to work with. And if he has to keep throwing 60 times a game, we’ll really find out how that arm is doing. Jets, 24-20

San Francisco (+9.5) at Green Bay

I’d hate to have shared a locker room with Aaron Rodgers this week. The thing is the offense wasn’t bad at all in the second half in Detroit and the defense only looked bad because they were put in tough spots thanks to turnovers on offense. Call me crazy, but I don’t things are nearly as bad as some want to us to think in Green Bay. Pack get right in primetime against a not-very-good 49ers team. Packers, 31-23

Chicago at Miami (+3)

The Fins have come back down to Earth after their 3-0 start. Meanwhile, the Bears have had 2 weeks to hear and read all the praise after they smashed the Bucs and Michell Trubisky tossed a career-best 6 TDs. To me, this is a dangerous spot for the Bears — they’re feeling really good and the Dolphins are wounded, desperate animal. Gimme the animal at home. Dolphins, 20-17

Rams at Denver (+7)

I want to like this game. But the Broncos performance in New York last week was pathetic. Vance Joseph must have been getting jealous with all the talk over Jason Garrett and Bill O’Brien competing to see which coach would get fired first. Bottom line here is the Denver defense has not been good lately and Vonn Miller seems to have sputtered out after a very nice start to the year. But sometimes weird things happen in the NFL. Denver keeps it close. Rams, 27-21

Tune Out

Baltimore at Tennessee (+3)

These two teams mirror each other quite a bit. They both play solid defense and on offense, they want to run the ball, but find themselves passing more than they’d like. Defensively, both rank in the top 7 in yards per game, first downs per game, and third down conversion percentage. So the question becomes, “Who’s offense plays better on Sunday?” I like Baltimore’s supporting cast better, but the Tennessee o-line should be able to protect Marcus Mariota, giving him the edge over Flacco. Titans, 17-16

Carolina (+1) at Washington

Washington’s embarrassing effort on MNF is stuck in my head. And the NFC East looks like a clown show. But let’s keep in mind the Redskins defense is top 5 in yards given up per game, and Cam Newton probably won’t be carving up that predictable zone coverage like Drew Brees did. Carolina is banged up and don’t forget — they were the first to give up 30 points last week to the Giants since the 2015 season. Redskins, 24-21

Arizona (+10.5) at Minnesota

There’s not a single scenario I can invent that has Arizona doing enough in this game, especially after Buffalo went into Minneapolis and popped that Vikings defense for 27 points. But Minnesota’s defense isn’t right — even in the win in Philly, they let the Eagles stay in it until the very end. The offense will play well, but the defense won’t let them pull away. Vikings, 30-20

Gauge Out My Eyeballs

Buffalo (+8.5) at Houston

How does Houston give anyone 8.5 points??!! I thought this was a mistake. I running my betting slip in for this one. Don’t give me “it’s a rookie QB on the road against a good defense.” No chance Houston wins by more than a touch. No freaking way. Texans, 23-20

Seattle v. Oakland (+3)

Ahh, the London Game. I don’t expect either defense to play well. The problem is both offenses have been sloppy this year. Seattle has found a run game, though. That’s the edge. Seahawks, 20-19

Jacksonville (-3) at Dallas

I can’t imagine this Dallas offense getting on track against this Jacksonville defense. There’s just no way. I’m not falling for it. Jaguars, 26-13


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.

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