Super Bowl LVI Pick

February 13th, 2022 Comments off

LA Rams (-4) vs. Cincinnati
The prevailing mode of thinking about this game is that the Bengals are the sentimental pick, but the Rams are the smart pick. And, sure, OK, there’s more than a little bit of truth to be found there. Certainly, the Bengals have that scrappy underdog quality that everyone likes. (I remember the Rams playing a Super Bowl against team that had that kind of energy some several years back. But I seem to recall that those Rams were much more heavily favored than the current squad.) And the Rams are probably the better team if you step back and compare point by point, matchup by matchup. There’s little question but that while both teams can put up points, the Rams come in with the more complete defense. That should be enough to get the job done. Thing is, though, it’s not that clear cut. Cincinnati actually can win this game. They’re in it for a reason. The Bengals have a tendency to play up to the level of their opponents. More important, they’ve played their best football in the postseason. That still doesn’t make the Bengals the better team here. The Rams still have the edge. But I don’t see this as the “probably close through the first half” affair most seem to be expecting. I mean, it could be a blowout. If the Cincinnati secondary doesn’t play its best football all evening long, things may fall apart for the Bengals well before halftime. But I suspect we’re looking at a competitive game right down to the finish. That would make it either team’s game. And there’s just something about this Cincy squad. So with nothing real at risk, I’ll go out on a limb and pick the Bengals to put up the winning score in the final minute of regulation. Cincinnati by a point.

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NFL 2021 Conference Championship Picks

January 29th, 2022 Comments off

Cincinnati (+7) at Kansas City
I’d love to see the Bengals win this game. And it’s not as if Cincinnati can’t beat Kansas City. But it was all Cincy could do to win at home four weeks ago. Winning a second straight road game in the postseason against a team that’s been playing its best football. It’s just hard to imagine. KC by four.

San Francisco (+3.5) at LA Rams
I don’t know that it’s impossible to beat a division rival three times in a season. But it sure ain’t easy. Rams by three.

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NFL 2021-22 Divisional Round Picks

January 22nd, 2022 Comments off

Cincinnati (+4) at Tennessee
If Derrick Henry is back to anything close to 100 percent, there’s a solid chance the well rested Titans just plain old dismantle the Bengals. And even with less than a completely healthy and ready Henry, I suspect the the home team (which has to be one of the most overlooked and underestimated one seeds ever) is at least a touchdown better than the visitors. So let’s just say that: Tennessee by seven.

San Francisco (+5.5) at Green Bay
The 49ers absolutely can win this game. I think they actually match up pretty well with the Packers. And if they can move the ball effectively on the ground (where the Green Bay defense is questionable), and keep the Packers from establishing the run (also a distinct possibility), San Francisco can make the game about Aaron Rodgers. And Rodgers has a habit of melting down in postseason games when he believes he has to win all by himself. In the end, I suspect injuries, consecutive road games, and traveling on short rest conspire to upend San Fran. But I like them to make it a game through at least three quarters. And I suspect five and a half is excessive. Green Bay by a field goal.

LA Rams (+3) at Tampa Bay
One could spend all day talking about the matchups here. But in the end, you still end up with the question of whether there’s anything to be gained picking against Tom Brady in the postseason. And there really isn’t. Buccaneers win it straight up; it’s a push with the points.

Buffalo (+1.5) at Kansas City
The Bills are the better team here. By enough to overcome home field? Maybe. I think it’s close game. And a close game can always go either way. But I have a hard time picking against a home team coming off a bye. So I guess I’ll look for Kansas City’s elimination from the tournament to wait until next week in Nashville. KC by one.

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NFL 2021 Postseason, Wild Card Round Picks

January 15th, 2022 Comments off

Las Vegas (+6) at Cincinnati
The Raiders can win this game. But they probably won’t. It’s not that the Bengals aren’t beatable. It’s just that in order to win, the Raiders will need to hold onto the ball on offense and stop the run on D. I imagine they can pull off either of those things, but I’m not convinced they can do both. Cincinnati by three.

New England (+5) at Buffalo
The Patriots aren’t going to win this game the way they won the last time they visited the Bills. I suspect they’ll still want to lean on the ground game, but they’re going to have to be able to run a more balanced offensive attack. If they can produce on the ground and through the air, and if the defense can force Josh Allen to make one or two critical mistakes, New England can pull off an upset. It’s a lot to ask, particularly with a rookie quarterback. But upsets happen in the wild card round. And I don’t see many opportunities for them to happen elsewhere. So I’ll look for the Patriots to win it by four.

Philadelphia (+8.5) at Tampa Bay
Sure, the Eagles are the NFC seven seed. And there are reasons they landed there. But Philly also may the NFC team best suited to beat the Buccaneers. If Philly can grind away on the ground, keeping Tom Brady and the Tampa offense off the field, and possibly forcing the Bucs O to be one dimensional when they do have the ball, they can grab a win here (and move on to certain defeat in Green Bay next weekend). But I think Brady’s got something to prove, and I think he’ll get about proving it here. Buccaneers by seven.

San Francisco (+3) at Dallas
Here’s another game in which an upset is an absolute possibility. Thing is, if the Niners are going to make it happen, they’re going to need Jimmy Garoppolo to play like he isn’t injured. And he is injured. Cowboys by a point.

Pittsburgh (+12.5) at Kansas City
The Steelers will probably end up being the only underdog to come out of this weekend with a victory. Because there’s absolutely no possible way Pittsburgh should be able to keep up with Kansas City, let alone win. And that’s how these things always manage to go. Still, Kansas City by 14.

Arizona (+4) at LA Rams
These teams are both weird and hard to get a handle on. I really thing this game is a coin toss. And since I can’t see a lot of upsets in this weekend, I’m just gonna hold my breath and pick one here. Cardinals by three.

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NFL 2021 Week Eighteen Picks

January 8th, 2022 Comments off

Kansas City (-10.5) at Denver
There aren’t many instances in which I feel like it’s wise to give double-digit points in a divisional match in which the favorite is on the road (let alone on the road for a second straight week). But, I mean, Kansas City absolutely hast to win this game, not just to hold on to the two seed and a shot at regaining the one, but to put last week’s brutal loss in Cincinnati behind them. I think the visitors take this one by a solid two touchdowns.

Dallas (-4) at Philadelphia
I’m not sure either of these teams has anything meaningful to play for here. The outside chance of improving your seeding? Meh. Eagles by a field goal. Or something.

Cincinnati (+6) at Cleveland
The Bengals have signaled that they’re ready to lose this game. It would be hard to pick a team even to cover under those circumstances. So Browns by nine.

Green Bay (-3) at Detroit
Imagine hosting a divisional opponent that has nothing to play for and every reason to limit or rest starters and still getting three points. This is what it means to be the Detroit Lions. But I suspect the Lions will come to play a full came while the Packers come to play only until halftime. Lions by a field goal.

Chicago (+5.5) at Minnesota
I wonder if anyone cares. Vikings by three.

Washington (-7) at NY Giants
I don’t know. One of these teams is probably going to win. Let’s say Brand X by four.

Indianapolis (-15) at Jacksonville
The reward for beating the stuffing out of the Jaguars (as opposed to just beating them, which is all the Colts technically need to do to qualify for the postseason) would be that you avoid having to go to Kansas City or Nashville for the wild card round. And also, you get to end your season by beating the stuffing out of the Jaguars. Which is nice. Colts by 17.

Pittsburgh (+3.5) at Baltimore
The Steelers wrapped up their season with a win on Monday night. For them, this is just the last stop on the way to a new era. (I mean, sure, technically, the Steelers remain in contention for a wild card spot, but it’s not real.) Baltimore doesn’t have much of a chance at the postseason. But even the ghost of a chance should be enough to keep the Ravens focused. Baltimore by seven.

Tennessee (-10.5) at Houston
The one seed is a big deal. Tennessee by 14.

New Orleans (-3.5) at Atlanta
A win would actually give the Saints a solid chance to make the playoffs. That’s something to play for. Saints by seven.

NY Jets (+16) at Buffalo
If you’re keeping an eye on this game from New England, you’re hoping the Bills take their eyes off the ball. But that’s just not gonna happen. Buffalo by 21.

San Francisco (+4.5) at LA Rams
In which the last tiny bit of hope for a successful 2021 campaign is drained from the 49ers. Rams by six.

New England (-6.5) at Miami
Things pretty much never go smoothly for the Patriots in Miami. But New England does manage a win against their division rivals here and there. Patriots by a field goal.

Seattle (+5.5) at Arizona
A fitting end to an awful season for the Seahawks. Cardinals by seven.

Carolina (+8) at Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers don’t have much to play for. But not much is way more than absolutely nothing. Tampa by 10.

LA Chargers (-3) at Las Vegas
The winner gets to lose in Kansas City next weekend. The loser goes home. Or stays home as the case may be. Chargers by a point.

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NFL 2021 Week Seventeen Picks

January 2nd, 2022 Comments off

Atlanta (+14.5) at Buffalo
The Bills are two easy home wins away from a second straight AFC East title. They’ll put this one away early. Buffalo by 20.

NY Giants (+6) at Chicago
Oh, fun! A late season game between eliminated teams in which not even draft order has any meaning (since the Giants own the Bears’ first-round pick). This should be a real humdinger. Bears by three.

Kansas City (-5) at Cincinnati
If the Bengals can’t find ways to win games like this, their postseason run is going to be a very short one. Kansas City by a field goal.

Miami (+3.5) at Tennessee
The Dolphins may get a chance to play spoilers when they host the Patriots next weekend. (Though probably only around seeding since the possibility of New England losing at home to Jacksonville this weekend is fairly remote.) But that’s about the only role they’re likely to play in relation to the 2022 postseason. Titans by six.

Las Vegas (+6.5) at Indianapolis
The Raiders are hanging on by a thread. The Colts have a real shot at making a championship run. Indy by nine.

Jacksonville (+15.5) at New England
A win over the bad and depleted Jaguars probably puts the Patriots in the postseason. New England by 17.

Tampa Bay (-13) at NY Jets
The Buccaneers are playing for seeding. The Jets aren’t really playing at all. Tampa by 14.

Philadelphia (-3) at Washington
I don’t think Brand X is likely to give up the ghost readily. Eagles by a point.

LA Rams (-3.5) at Baltimore
The Ravens continue their extended slide into the offseason. Rams by four.

Denver (+6.5) at LA Chargers
If the Chargers win out and get a bit of help they can still qualify for the tournament. I think they’ll do their part this week. Los Angeles by three.

Houston (+12.5) at San Francisco
Things aren’t looking so great for the Niners. But they shouldn’t need much by way of quarterback play to win this game. San Francisco by seven.

Arizona (+5.5) at Dallas
If this game were being played in Glendale, I’d probably be looking for the Cardinals to stop their slide and reassert their position as a dangerous team. In Dallas I’m just not sure. Cowboys by four.

Carolina (+6.5) at New Orleans
Neither of these teams is going anywhere, mostly because neither of these teams has a quarterback. But the Panthers extra don’t have a QB this week. Saints by seven.

Detroit (+7) at Seattle
It’s been a rough season for the Seahawks. But it hasn’t been that rough. Seattle by nine.

Minnesota (+6.5) at Green Bay
With wins over weak divisional opponents this week and next, the Packers can earn the right to be eliminated from the postseason in front of their own fans. Again. That’s pretty exciting. Right? Green Bay by seven.

Cleveland (-3) at Pittsburgh
There’s an era ending in Pittsburgh. But I don’t see it ending with a home loss to the Browns. Steelers by three.

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NFL 2021 Week Sixteen Picks, Post Thursday Night

December 25th, 2021 Comments off

Cleveland (+7.5) at Green Bay
Sooner or later, something was bound to disrupt the weekly alternating win-loss pattern the Browns have been in since week seven. A Christmas trip to Wisconsin ought to do the trick. Packers by 10.

Indianapolis (+2.5) at Arizona
The Colts have the look of one of those teams that comes on at just the right time. And the Cardinals have the look of one of those teams that fades at just the wrong time. Indy by three.

Detroit (-6.5) at Atlanta
The Lions already have two more wins this season (and three fewer losses) than anyone had any right to expect. The Falcons stink, but they’ll take this one by a field goal.

Baltimore (+4.5) at Cincinnati
The only reason I can come up with for predicting a Ravens win here is that the other result would give the Bengals the inside track in the race for the AFC North title. Thing is, that feels like enough. Baltimore by a point.

LA Chargers (-10.5) at Houston
The Chargers probably need to win out to stay in the postseason picture. The Texans certainly need to just get through their last three games and start figuring out what comes next. Los Angeles by 10.

LA Rams (-3.5) at Minnesota
I think the Vikings are gonna have a hard time establishing the run against the Rams. That’s not good news for Minnesota. Los Angeles by three.

Buffalo (+2) at New England
If the Patriots can actually field an offense, and their defense shows up for the full game, they should be able to beat the Bills again and all but sew up the AFC East title in the process. I’m gonna guess it breaks that way. New England by four.

Jacksonville (+1.5) at NY Jets
Neither of these teams has an offense. And neither of these teams has a defense. I’m really not sure either of these teams actually exists. In theory, though, let’s figure New Jersey beats Jacksonville by three.

NY Giants (+10) at Philadelphia
It really isn’t a very good time to be a football fan in northern New Jersey, is it? Eagles by nine.

Tampa Bay (-10) at Carolina
The Buccaneers can win the NFC South with a victory. But they’re winning the division one way or another. It’s really all about postseason seeding at this point. That’s important. And the Bucs will demonstrate that they know it with a decisive win. Tampa by 14 (or more).

Chicago (+6.5) at Seattle
Say what you want about the 2021 Seahawks, but they sure do know how to beat the stuffing out of weak opponents. Seattle by 17.

Pittsburgh (+8.5) at Kansas City
This should just about do it for the Steelers. Kansas City by 13.

Denver (pick ’em) at Las Vegas
The prize is the right to pretend you have a shot of making the playoffs for one more week. Vegas by a point.

Washington (+10) at Dallas
Brand X is done. But they’ll keep this one to within a single score purely out of spite. Dallas by seven.

Miami (-2.5) at New Orleans
I’d pick the home team in either stadium. Saints by three.

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NFL 2021 Week Sixteen, Thursday Night Pick

December 23rd, 2021 Comments off

San Francisco (-3) at Tennessee
The only thing making this game tough to pick is the fact that the Niners had to travel across the country on short rest to play it. Otherwise, it’s simple. San Francisco’s playing better football lately than the banged-up Titans. I still like the Niners to win, but I’ll take the Titans with the points. San Fran by one.

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NFL 2021 Week Fifteen, Thursday Night

December 16th, 2021 Comments off

Kansas City (-3) at LA Chargers
This game goes to the team that’s most effective moving the ball on the ground. But I don’t know which team that will be. So that’s helpful, right? I’m just gonna go with the home team to win it by three and expect to be proven wrong.

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NFL 2021 Week Fourteen Picks, Post Thursday Night

December 12th, 2021 Comments off

Baltimore (+2.5) at Cleveland
The Ravens are beaten up, coming off a tough loss to the Steelers, and playing on the road for a second straight week. And all that bad news is good news for Cleveland. So, you know, as long as the Browns used their bye week to overhaul their run D, they should be fine. Ravens by a field goal.

Jacksonville (+8.5) at Tennessee
Eight and a half? Like, for real? Titans by 17.

Las Vegas (+9.5) at Kansas City
This should be the end of the road for the Raiders in the AFC West race, and effectively in the wild card chase as well. Kansas City by 13.

New Orleans (-5.5) at NY Jets
The Saints’ losing streak (currently at five games) has to end sometime, right? And against the Jets is usually a pretty good guess of when. But, uh, I think maybe not. New Jersey by a point.

Dallas (-4.5) at Washington
I keep thinking Brand X can’t win. And then they do. So, you know, Washington by a field goal. I guess.

Atlanta (+2.5) at Carolina
The possibly mediocre Falcons couldn’t beat the probably mediocre Panthers in Atlanta. I’m not sure why anyone would think they can do better in Charlotte. Panthers by six.

Seattle (-9) at Houston
At first glance, I thought maybe nine was the over/under. And I wouldn’t have been confident picking against that. Seahawks by four.

Detroit (+11.5) at Denver
One suspects the Lions have achieved their goal for the season. Broncos by a touchdown.

NY Giants (+9.5) at LA Chargers
Do the Giants even have a team left? Chargers by 13.

San Francisco (-2) at Cincinnati
The Niners are on the road for a second straight week and playing a team that’s going to make it difficult for them to move the ball on the ground. That’s not a good situation for them. Bengals by three.

Buffalo (-3.5) at Tampa Bay
Tom Brady leaving the Patriots for the Buccaneers was supposed to be a good thing for the Bills. It definitely wasn’t supposed to point to Buffalo losing consecutive games to New England and Tampa. Be careful what you wish for, right? Tampa by a touchdown.

Chicago (+11.5) at Green Bay
The Bears have nothing left to play for. And they couldn’t keep it closer than 10 in Chicago when they were still in the mix. Packers by 14.

LA Rams (+2.5) at Arizona
The Rams are playing to stay in the NFC West race. The Cardinals are playing for the one seed. There’s a reason for this. Arizona by a point.

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