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:

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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:

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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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Week 5 NFL Picks

Admittedly, I was struggling to pick games through the first three weeks of the season. But then week 4 happened. It was like a flash down from the heavens. It was a tidal wave of joy and excitement. It was, yours truly, absolutely making it look easy!!!! How does a perfect 15-0 sound? To quote my boy, Kirk Cousins, “You like that?!”

I spot on nailed the Chiefs-Broncos score, 27-23, and called Dallas by 2 and Tennessee by a field goal. Against the spread, I wasn’t too shabby either, if you don’t mind me saying, going 11-3-1.

Some weeks you got it — and in week 4, I HAD it!!! Through the opening four weeks, I’m 23-22-2 ATS and 31-15 straight up. Let’s hope we can replicate last week’s performance in week 5.

Get to a TV Now

Jacksonville (+3.5) at Kansas City

What a classic matchup of a sensational offense against a fast, physical defense. So many questions arise when digging deeply into this game. Can the KC receivers get separation? Will Blake Bortles be allowed to throw the ball on first down? Will Pat Mahomes make his first big NFL mistake? This matchup has it all. This Jags defense will be unlike anything Mahomes and the Chiefs offense have faced this season. How will they adjust if the throws aren’t there? I expect Jacksonville OC Nathaniel Hackett to open the playbook for Bortles, like he did in week 2 against the Patriots. One or two turnovers by Mahomes in his own territory might be enough to give the Jaguars the edge. Jaguars, 27-20

Atlanta (+3) at Pittsburgh

Neither team plays defense and both offenses have the firepower to break the scoreboard. Whoever wins will need every ounce of explosiveness in order to outscore the other. Both teams desperately need this one. I typically avoid Matt Ryan on the road and outdoors. But I’m certain he can torch this Steelers D. Falcons, 38-34

Minnesota at Philadelphia (-3)

I’d say this is a bigger game for Minnesota — in particular their defense. But the Eagles haven’t exactly been very impressive on either side of the ball, themselves. Last year, the offense was a league-best 33% at converting 3rd down and 8 or more yards. Through 4 games in 2018, the Eagles are at 15%. That’s a major drop off and helps explain why that offense doesn’t look as efficient as it did a year ago. On defense, the Philly secondary is weakened without safety Rodney McLeod, and relying on rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox has not yielded great results. The Vikings come to the Linc with stud wideouts, who are coming off a spectacular offensive showing in week 4 against the Rams. If the Eagles are going to slow Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, it will start with them putting pressure on the QB. It’s also worth noting how different this Eagles team is at home than on the road. Eagles, 31-24

I’ll Watch

Indianapolis at New England (-10)

The TNF game should be unwatchable, and, as a Pats fan, I’m hoping it is. Julian Edelman’s return should have positive effects on all aspects of the offense. Patriots, 31-13

Denver (+2) at Jets

This game feels like a “WWE Loser Goes Home” Match. The winner can right the ship for a week or so, but the loser will have finally met their fate after having intermittent moments of hope in the first 4 weeks of the season. Broncos, 23-17

Baltimore at Cleveland (+3)

In a road loss at Oakland in his first career start, Baker Mayfield still put up the numbers and, more importantly, still gave Cleveland the energy they needed to nearly pull off the victory in overtime. This Baltimore defense is a different animal, yes. But Baker may just have enough creativity to give the defense fits. Browns, 24-20

Washington (+6.5) at New Orleans

Washington is sneaky, frisky, under-the radar, kinda/sorta decently good-ish. Their defense is game and Alex Smith limits his mistakes. They just seem like the type of team that won’t ever get blown out, and at the same time can embarrass an opponent if they don’t take the Redskins seriously. Also, Washington has had 2-plus weeks to prep for this game. Redskins, 31-27

Thank you, But I’ll Pass

Miami at Cincinnati (-6)

I think Miami showed their true colors in week 4 against New England. Their 3-0 start was perfect example of a team that didn’t lose those games, but really didn’t win them either. Bengals, 27-17

Giants at Carolina (-7)

Bad offensive lines don’t travel well in the NFL. And, boy oh boy do the Giants have a bad line. Carolina’s defense should be up to the task of limiting the Giants running game and OBJ. Panthers, 24-13

Rams (-7) at Seattle

Put me down as someone who is utterly confused by this line. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go to double digits by the time Sunday rolls around. Rams are cruising on the offensive side of the ball while the Seahawks struggle to put points on the board. No way Seattle can keep pace. Rams, 38-17

Green Bay (-1.5) at Detroit

Has a team ever had such an unimpressive 3 touchdown, shutout win than what the Packers had last weekend over Buffalo? And I’m not talking about our interpretations of the game — I’m talking about how the QB felt afterwards. Aaron Rodgers is masterful at manipulating and poking at his teammates (and coaches) in a way that leads to production and improvement. I’d expect a version of the Green Bay offense this weekend in Detroit that A-Rod is quite pleased with. Packers, 24-20

Cancel My NFL Ticket Package Please

Tennessee at Buffalo (+3.5)

I hate this game. After wins over the Jags and Eagles in back to back weeks, it would be reasonable to think this could be a major “let-down” game for the Titans. It all adds up — the Bills can play defense, they’re at home, and Marcus Mariota can’t possible play as well as he played against Philly. Tennessee wins ugly and I don’t imagine they’ll beat any opponent by more than 10 points all year. Geez, did I say I hate this game? Titans, 23-20

Arizona at San Francisco (-4.5)

Josh Rosen has gotten his feet wet the last couple weeks against the Bears and the Chargers. This 49ers defense should feel more like a JV high school team after having faced those two defenses. The Niners were game last weekend, but that’s typical after switching QBs. I would expect quite a fall off from here on out this season for Kyle Shanahan’s bunch. Cardinals, 20-17

Oakland (+5.5) at Chargers

Oakland has been in every game except the opener against the Rams. Derek Carr and the offense might have found something last week — it’s called getting Amari Cooper the ball. Crazy, I know. The Chargers love to shoot themselves in the foot so this one could be closer than it should be. Chargers, 30-27

Dallas at Houston (-3.5)

The Cowboys are probably good enough to beat bad teams this season. Houston’s 1-3 record might make them appear to be a candidate for a Cowboys’ win, but think again. Deshaun Watson is starting to move around with more confidence on that knee and the defense can get after the quarterback. Dak will be running for his life. Texans, 24-17


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

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Week 4 NFL Picks

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

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

Find a TV and Sit

Minnesota (+6.5) at L.A. Rams

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

Cincinnati (+6) at Atlanta

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

New Orleans (-3.5) at New York Giants

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

Tampa Bay at Chicago (-2.5)

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

Kansas City at Denver (+4.5)

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

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

Philadelphia at Tennessee (+6)

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

Cleveland at Oakland (-2.5)

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

Miami at New England (-6.5)

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

Baltimore (+3.5) at Pittsburgh

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

Visit the Apple Orchard

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

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

Rather Stare Out the Window

Houston (+1.5) at Indianapolis

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

Buffalo (+10) at Green Bay

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

New York Jets at Jacksonville (-7.5)

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

Detroit (+3) at Dallas

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

Seattle (-3) at Arizona

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


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

Listen to episode 76 right here:

 

Listen to episode 77 right here:

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Week 3 Reflections: I Know Nothing About the NFL

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

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

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

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

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NFL Week 3 Picks

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

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

Don’t Miss

Chargers (+6.5) at Rams

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

New Orleans (+3) at Atlanta

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

San Francisco (+6.5) at Kansas City

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

Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (+2)

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

If It’s On, I’ll Watch

New England (-6.5) at Detroit

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

It’s On in the Background

Tennessee (+6.5) at Jacksonville

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

Cincinnati (+3) at Carolina

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

Denver at Baltimore (-5)

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

Indianapolis (+6) at Philadelphia

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

I’m Cleaning the Garage…or Eating Glass

Jets at Cleveland (-3)

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

Buffalo at Minnesota (-17)

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

Green Bay (-3) at Washington

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

Giants at Houston (-6)

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

Oakland (+3) at Miami

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

Chicago (-4) at Arizona

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

Dallas (+3) at Seattle

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


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

Listen to Episode 74 right here:

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NFL Predictions for 2018

NFC North

GB            11-5

MIN        10-6

CHI          7-9

DET          7-9

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

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

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

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

NFC South

N.O.        12-4

ATL          10-6

CAR         8-8

TB             2-14

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

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

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

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

NFC East

PHI          9-7

NYG         8-8

WAS        6-10

DAL         5-11

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

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

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

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

NFC West

LAR          10-6

SF             8-8

SEA          5-11

ARI           3-13

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

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

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

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

AFC North

BAL          9-7

PIT           8-8

CIN          7-9

CLE          4-12

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

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

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

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

AFC South

TEN          13-3

HOU        10-6

JAC           7-9

IND          6-10

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

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

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

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

AFC East

NE            12-4

NYJ           9-7

BUF         4-12

MIA         4-12

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

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

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

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

AFC West

LAC          10-6

KC            8-8

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

DEN         6-10

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

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

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

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

PLAYOFFS

NFC

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

NFC Championship

New Orleans over Green Bay

AFC

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

AFC Championship

New England over Tennessee

Super Bowl

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


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.

Check out episode 68 right here!!!

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