2019 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…Week 4

It’s been unseasonably warm & sunny here in northcentral West Virginia, to the point that football is really the only tangible representation of the season. I’m not complaining though…I love 80 degrees & sunshine, and wouldn’t mind those conditions sticking around (wishful thinking on my part). Having said that, I am thankful for weekends full of gridiron action, even if my job now prevents me from enjoying all of it to the fullest extent. Not only was last weekend hellish at work (that whole Friday the 13th/full moon craziness went on for a couple of extra days), but again we didn’t do so good with our picks. Zach was 1-4, while I was 2-3. We’ll try to improve, but I am definitely glad we don’t gamble with actual money…he & I would both be destitute.

My Season:        9-9

Zach’s Season:  7-11

 

 

 

Michigan           at                Wisconsin (-3)

Both teams are 2-0 and hovering close to the Top 10, and each has a different advantage this week. The Wolverines are coming off of a bye week after a double OT tussle against Army, while the Badgers have the home field. This feels like one of those games Jim Harbaugh has to win to keep the folks in Ann Arbor from whining & complaining, but it’s not going to be easy. Wisconsin has scored 110 points in its first two games and allowed opponents zero. Yes, that’s right…they’ve had two shutouts, and I don’t care if the level of competition is subpar, that is impressive defense. I think Michigan will score, but I like Wisconsin to get a late touchdown to win & cover. To his credit Zach is usually fair-minded & logical when assessing his Wolverines. He knows they’re overrated right now and have work to do on both sides of the ball. Wisconsin RB & Heisman contender Jonathan Taylor is a beast at RB for the Badgers, and Zach thinks a big game for him spells doom for Michigan.

My Pick:     Wisconsin

Z’s Pick:     Wisconsin

 

 

 

Auburn               at                Texas A&M (-4)

I have to give both teams credit…they have not started the season just playing lower level cupcakes like so many other teams. The Tigers are 3-0, including a season opening victory over Oregon. The Aggies are 2-1, but that loss came at the hands of #1 Clemson in Death Valley, and there’s no shame there. This feels like a must win for A&M. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier and this is a home game. Auburn might be looking at a 9 or 10 win season, but I don’t think this will be one of those victories. Auburn QB Bo Nix reminds Zach of former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, which is high praise indeed. Zach is predicting a close game…possibly even overtime…but likes Auburn to come away with a tough road win.

My Pick:     Texas A&M

Z’s Pick:     Auburn

 

 

 

Notre Dame                 at                Georgia (-13)

Both teams are undefeated, but neither has been tested at all thus far. The winner here will cement their status as a playoff contender, while the loser is probably out of that conversation. Georgia has multiple hurdles to clear, while Notre Dame would have a real opportunity to run the table if they climb this mountain and walk out of The Big House in Ann Arbor with a win in late October. In these situations I often refer back to my pre-season poll, and this year I ranked Notre Dame 7th and had Georgia #2. I opined that “one slip will knock them out of contention”, and I think that loss comes in Athens, GA. Zach thinks Notre Dame is overrated as usual and Georgia is the real deal. He is predicting an easy victory for the home team.

My Pick:     Georgia

Z’s Pick:     Georgia

 

 

 

Denver                at                Green Bay (-7.5)

I suspected that the Broncos would be terrible this year, and so far that’s held true. They’ve been competitive, but new head coach Vic Fangio has yet to work the magic that got him noticed when he was the Bears’ defensive coordinator, and the offense just isn’t clicking with Joe Flacco under center. Conversely, the Packers are 2-0 and faring much better than I anticipated. Lambeau Field won’t be a frozen tundra this weekend, but I believe it’ll be hostile enough for Denver and that Green Bay will win by more than a touchdown. Zach likes what he’s seen from the Packers. He thinks the Broncos have potential down the line but doesn’t think they’ll pose a problem in this game.

My Pick:     Green Bay

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

 

 

 

Baltimore           at                Kansas City (-5)

I told y’all not to sleep on the Ravens. I couldn’t have anticipated how poorly my Steelers would be out of the gate and certainly didn’t know Ben Roethlisberger’s season would end so prematurely, but I knew they’d face a battle in the AFC Central. QB Lamar Jackson…despite winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016…was projected by many to be a wide receiver in the NFL, but lo & behold he seems to be evolving into a pretty good pro quarterback. Having said that, his level of competition increases exponentially this week. The Chiefs aren’t a surprise to anyone, and against all odds reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes looks like an even better quarterback now than he was a season ago. Arrowhead Stadium has long been lauded as one of the loudest in the league, and I expect the crowd to be full throttle on Sunday. That should be enough to rattle the visitors and allow the home team to get a comfortable win. Zach foresees a shootout and likes Baltimore’s defense to make one big stand to possibly win or atleast cover.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Baltimore

2019 NFL Preview & Prognostications

I was at an outdoor concert a couple of weeks ago, and as darkness fell around 9pm I felt a slight chill in the air. Autumn was in the breeze. That’s a feeling I usually don’t experience until Labor Day Weekend while attending our local Italian Heritage Festival. In the moment I was not pleased because I tend to prefer the warmth & sunshine of summer. I have nothing particular against fall except for the fact that it ushers in winter, which I despise. At any rate, in an effort to find a silver lining and think positive I must say that there are a few good things about autumn…my birthday, Halloween, & football. Glorious football is back!! It’s time once again to look into the pigskin crystal ball and make some predictions about how this season might play out. I don’t put a whole lot of stock in pre-season, but there are injuries, holdouts, & emergent rookies we can’t ignore. As always the team’s record from the previous year is in parentheses, with the predicted record for this season following it. And remember…no wagering. I am not a professional and most of the time I’m not very good at this. Let’s just relax & have some fun.

 

  

 

 

North

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1) 10-6

Baltimore Ravens (10-6) 9-7

Cleveland Browns (7-8-1) 8-8

Cincinnati Bengals (6-10) 3-13

Despite an eventful off-season that saw talented but troubled WR Antonio Brown shipped to The Left Coast I don’t think my Steelers will implode. However, I do expect divisional games to be even more competitive than usual. Don’t sleep on the Ravens…they’ll battle for every yard on both sides of the ball, and new QB Lamar Jackson is feast or famine: he’ll have moments of pure brilliance, but he needs to become a better passer and has to stay healthy. Everyone needs to slow their roll on the “new & improved” Browns. Going back to his college days I’ve always opined that QB Baker Mayfield gave me a Bret Favre-ish vibe, and I see it now more than ever. Adding receivers Odell Beckham Jr. & Jarvis Landry into the mix along with a backfield of Nick Chubb & Kareem Hunt bodes well for the offense. I like their defense too…DEs Myles Garrett & Olivier Vernon and tackle Sheldon Richardson should be stout against the run as well as put some pressure on opposing QBs, and the secondary might be sneaky good. Having said that, I’m not buying Cleveland as a playoff team just yet. The Bengals finally pushed longtime head coach Marvin Lewis out the door, but I’m not sure 35 year old Zac Taylor is the answer. He’s never been a head coach at any level and the learning curve will be quite foreboding. Regardless of whether or not Taylor lasts more than a season or two Cincy probably needs to blow things up and construct a whole new roster from the ground up.

 

 

South

Indianapolis Colts (10-6) 10-6

Houston Texans (11-5) 9-7

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) 9-7

Tennessee Titans (9-7) 5-11

There are just so many questions…this might be the most difficult division in the league to calculate. Can Colts’ QB Andrew Luck stay healthy?? Will QB Nick Foles be the answer Jacksonville has been seeking?? Marlon Mack, Derrick Henry, Lamar Miller, or Leonard Fournette…which running back will lead the pack?? Will any of these four defenses emerge as elite (the Jags were #5 a year ago, the Titans #8, Indy & Houston were #11 & #12)?? I’m downgrading Indianapolis a bit due to concerns about Luck’s ankle, but still think they will win the division if he doesn’t miss more than a couple of games. I like Foles and the Jags’ defense is stout, but have serious doubts about the durability of Fournette and the rest of their skill players inspire little confidence. I love Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson, but somebody other than WR DeAndre Hopkins has to step up and be reliably productive. Houston has the same issue on the defense…JJ Watt is fantastic, but others have to contribute. My vibe is that they take a step back this season, make some adjustments, and become serious contenders in 2020. This feels like a make or break year for Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota. When he came out of Oregon in 2015 the big debate about who would go #1 overall in the draft was between him and Florida St.’s Jameis Winston. Winston went to Tampa while Mariota was chosen next, but neither quarterback has set the world on fire. There just seems to be something amiss in Tennessee. I think they decline slightly and head coach Mike Vrabel finds himself on the hot seat.

 

 

East

New England Patriots (11-5) 10-6

New York Jets (4-12) 8-8

Miami Dolphins (7-9) 8-8

Buffalo Bills (6-10) 3-13

Here we go again. Tom Brady appears to be ageless and Bill Belichick’s stature as a head coach grows with each passing year, despite his shady tactics. The Patriots have become Tiger Woods from two decades ago when he was winning a lot but we all knew he really only cared about the majors. In much the same way it seems like everyone understands that New England will win a rather weak division, and their only true goal is another Super Bowl. With that in mind I think they’ll win the division but not run away with it. Jets’ QB Sam Darnold continues his maturation process, and now he has RB Le’Veon Bell as a safety net. I like what the Jets are doing and believe they’ll noticeably improve. I feel bad for Dolphins & Bills fans. They’ve known for a decade & a half that their teams aren’t winning the division, but they don’t even get to enjoy watching obvious progress. Both squads just seem to be treading water and perpetuating their mediocrity with poor coaching hires, bad free agent moves, and subpar drafts.

 

 

West

Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) 11-5

Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) 10-6

Oakland Raiders (4-12) 6-10

Denver Broncos (6-10) 3-13

At the time of publication Chargers’ RB Melvin Gordon is threatening to continue his holdout into the start of the season, which could certainly have a negative impact. Even if he’s back in uniform Week 1 there have to be questions about fitness & durability after sitting out the entire pre-season. It’s a messy situation that opens the door just enough for the Chiefs to slip by & take the division. There’s a lot to like about KC, led by NFL MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Speaking of messy situations, the Antonio Brown Circus has moved from Pittsburgh to Oakland, which theoretically should make the Raiders better on the field…but I’m not convinced. I’ve lost track of whether this is the team’s final season in Oakland or if they’ll have to wait until 2021 to relocate to Las Vegas, but until that move occurs I think the Raiders are stuck in neutral. The Broncos have ostensibly improved their quarterback quandary with the addition of Joe Flacco & by drafting Drew Lock out of Missouri in the second round of the draft. They also have new head coach Vic Fangio, which should help the defense. Give this group time to gel & they have potential, but I have low expectations for the current season.

 

Playoff Teams:   Chiefs, Steelers, Patriots, Colts, Chargers, Texans

AFC Championship:    New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Chargers

 

 

 

 

North

Chicago Bears (12-4) 11-5

Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1) 8-8

Green Bay Packers (6-9-1) 8-8

Detroit Lions (6-10) 5-12

The more things change the more they stay the same, and I don’t expect much difference in what ESPN’s Chris Berman used to call the Norris Division. The Packers have a new head coach and QB Aaron Rodgers has become increasingly enigmatic. The Vikings have some talent but not enough to move the needle. The Lions are…well, they’re the Lions. That leaves the Bears to claim another division crown and vie for home field thru the playoffs. QB Mitch Trubisky should take another step in his development and I have high expectations. Combined with a tough defense that makes for a potentially elite team. Anything short of an appearance in the conference title game will be a disappointment for Chicago.

 

 

South

New Orleans Saints (13-3) 14-2

Atlanta Falcons (7-9) 9-7

Carolina Panthers (7-9) 9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) 2-14

My heart still hurts for the Saints and their fans. They absolutely should have been in the Super Bowl last season but got royally screwed by an inept officiating crew. My vibe is that situation will provide motivation to an already very solid team. QB Drew Brees is almost as nature-defying as Brady, but I suspect this may be his last great opportunity to get another Lombardi Trophy. The Falcons & Panthers will both be good but not great, and I have serious concerns about the health & durability of Carolina QB Cam Newton. Tampa is just a warmer version of Buffalo with a more heralded QB. They can change coaches and do all the tinkering they want, but none of their decisions seem to work out the way they hope. Jameis Winston is undeniably talented, but I just don’t think he is a top shelf NFL quarterback.

 

 

East

Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) 10-6

Dallas Cowboys (10-6) 9-7

Washington Redskins (7-9) 7-9

New York Giants (5-11) 6-10

The Eagles’ safety blanket is gone, so QB Carson Wentz better stay healthy. Not only that, but he needs to live up to the hype. The division will be a dog fight, and Wentz needs to fulfill his potential for Philly to come out on top. I’m not buying the Cowboys’ hype. I don’t think they’ll be horrible, but the holdout of RB Zeke Elliott could have a negative impact. Media types will yap endlessly about a “quarterback controversy” in New York, but does it really matter?? I’ve never thought Eli Manning was that good, and if he loses the starting gig to rookie Daniel Jones it says a lot more about Manning than it does Jones. Either way the Giants’ QB…whomever it may be…won’t have Odell Becham Jr. to throw to, and that’s a problem. RB Saquon Barkley can only do so much, right?? The Redskins will have some solid games and at times look like a potential playoff team, but at the end of the day their fans will be disappointed and be left to wonder what happened. Head coach Jay Gruden is an offensive coordinator masquerading as a head coach, successfully trading on his more famous brother’s name, and he’s not going to achieve much success with Case Keenum as his starting quarterback. Rookie signal caller Dwayne Haskins will likely snag the job by mid-season, so there is some hope for the future.

 

 

West

Los Angeles Rams (13-3) 10-6

San Francisco 49ers (4-12) 9-7

Seattle Seahawks (10-6) 8-8

Arizona Cardinals (3-13) 4-12

I hated what happened in the NFC Championship game last season not only because of how the Saints got shafted, but also because I knew the Rams were sitting ducks in the Super Bowl. As talented as they are I just knew that the Patriots were foaming at the mouth to take on a young & inexperienced coach/QB combo, and it turned out exactly as I knew it would. And now the Rams aren’t a secret to the rest of the league so their opponents will be more prepared than a year ago. I still think they’ll win the division, but it won’t be quite as effortless. Jimmy G. is back under center for the Niners, and that means a huge turnaround. They’ll be in a battle with several other teams for a wildcard berth, but that’s a nice change from last season. Seattle still has Russell Wilson and they made some solid draft picks, but I believe they’ll take a step back this year. The Cards are trying to copy the Rams’ formula, but I’m not convinced it’ll work. Kliff Kingsbury probably needed a few more years as a college coach before taking the helm of an NFL team, and Kyler Murray is a perfect example of a great college quarterback whose skills just don’t translate to the NFL. Kudos to the powers-that-be in Arizona for rolling the dice and trying something new, but two years from now Kingsbury will probably be coaching on Saturdays and Murray will be playing baseball…if NFL defenses don’t maim the little guy.

 

Playoff Teams:   Saints, Bears, Rams, Eagles, Falcons, 49ers

NFC Championship:   New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears

 

 

 

             35

 

 

 

 

           34

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Picks in 2020 NFL Draft

1       Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2       Denver Broncos

3       Cincinnati Bengals

4       Buffalo Bills

5       Arizona Cardinals

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 9

Better late than never, right?? Well okay…technically I’m not late, but I am cutting things a little too close for comfort. I’ve been a strange mix of busy & lazy this week, and just haven’t had the inclination to write. However, there’s nothing like a deadline to get the juices flowing. Last week was another weak effort, with both Zach(1-4) and myself (2-3) failing to meet our high standards. Sincerest wishes for a happy & safe Halloween. Your Humble Potentate of Profundity is way too old to trick or treat, I have no children, and no kids come begging for candy in my apartment building. Since I’m not a costume party kind of guy I’ll probably spend the evening watching old monster movies…and then I’ll go out the next day and buy a bunch of discounted candy.

My Season:     21-25

Z’s Season:     18-28

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purdue                at                Michigan State (-2.5)

There is no denying that the Boilermakers pulled off possibly the biggest upset of the season last week when they beat Ohio St….but are they the real deal?? After starting the season 0-3b (including a loss to Eastern Michigan) Purdue has reeled off four straight victories. I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this turn of fortune, but quite honestly I just don’t feel motivated to do the required research. The Spartans are coming off a tough loss to in-state rival Michigan, and at 4-3 their season has been more of a roller coaster than the bipolar campaign of their opponents. I am inclined to believe that Purdue simply played out of their freakin’ minds against the Buckeyes and aren’t truly that good, and I also can’t ignore the home field advantage. Conversely, Zach is all in on Purdue and believes they’ll find a way to score a close win.

My Pick:     Michigan St.

Z’s Pick:     Purdue

 

 

 

Iowa                              at                Penn State (-6.5)

The Hawkeyes are sneaky good. At 6-1 they have only a loss to Wisconsin as a blemish and have snuck into the Top 20. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions have dropped two out of their last three games. In my pre-season poll I opined that “Happy Valley might be somewhat less happy in 2018 since Saquon Barkley is now toting the rock for the NY Giants. That doesn’t mean that the Nittany Lions will fall completely off the map, but for me it does take them out of the conference title discussion.”. I ranked them #21, and they currently sit at #17 with Wisconsin & Michigan on the horizon, which means that this is a must-win game for them. I might give Iowa a puncher’s chance if they had the home field, but I just don’t foresee an upset in this scenario. Zach again is going against the grain. He believes that Iowa is better than people realize and Penn St. isn’t as good as everyone thinks. He’s not completely ruling out a Nittany Lions victory, but doesn’t think they’ll cover if they do win.

My Pick:     Penn St.

Z’s Pick:     Iowa

 

 

Texas (-3)           at                Oklahoma State

It’s finally happening. The Longhorns are 6-1, ranked 6th in the country, beat archrival Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout, & sit atop the Big 12. They’re back. Maybe. Conversely, the Cowboys are 4-3 and haven’t looked particularly good the past couple of weeks. They aren’t even favored on their home field. I suppose some may think this is a trap game for Texas, and that may be true…but I don’t think so. My vibe is that this won’t be much of a game at all, with the visitors winning by double digits. Zach isn’t quite ready to buy into the Texas hype, but he thinks they’ll win this game easily.

My Pick:     Texas

Z’s Pick:     Texas

 

 

 

Green Bay                   at                LA Rams (-9)

The Rams have been a machine thus far, cruising to an undefeated record and scoring 30+ pointy/game. They don’t appear to have any glaring weaknesses. The Packers are 3-2-1 and certainly not used to being nine point underdogs. For Los Angeles this could be a statement game…an opportunity to put to rest any doubts that some may still have about the team’s validity. For Green Bay the game is a chance to get back on track and soothe the misgivings of the faithful. The points make me nervous, but my vibe is that the Rams will treat this like a playoff game and seize their opportunity to really grab everyone’s attention. Zach likes the Rams as a legit Super Bowl contender, but can’t overlook the fact that they are facing Aaron Rodgers. He likes LA to win…but doesn’t think they’ll cover the points.

My Pick:     LA Rams

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

 

 

 

New Orleans               at                Minnesota (-1)

The last time these two teams met was in last season’s playoffs, and the Vikings pulled off a miracle to send the Saints packing. It has been a different story thus far in 2018, as New Orleans is 5-1 & leads the NFC South, while Minnesota is a disappointing 4-2-1, although they still sit atop the NFC North for now. This feels like a crossroads game for both teams. Neither can rest on their laurels and cruise to a division title or the playoffs. So who will take control of their destiny?? I think the Saints will be seeking revenge for that playoff loss, so look for  to have a huge game and lead his team to a comfortable victory. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 3

Thus far I haven’t heard of any NFL games being affected by Hurricane Florence, but there were a few college games postponed or cancelled, including my alma mater Marshall Thundering Herd at South Carolina and my West Virginia Mountaineers at NC State. Fortunately none of the games that have been shut down because of the storm were ones that we were going to pick, so that’s good. Godspeed to all those in The Carolinas battling the hurricane. We don’t really have to deal with that sort of thing here in Appalachia, but I can’t imagine that it’s an easy thing to go through. At any rate, Zach rebounded nicely last week (4-1) with the addition of NFL games, while I didn’t do so well (2-3). I’m still happy that football is back though, so in that spirit we’re doing some bonus picks this week. Enjoy.

 

My Season:        6-4

Z’s Season:        5-5

 

 

 

 

 

BYU                     at                Wisconsin (-21.5)

The Badgers were #1 in my pre-season poll and are off to a 2-0 start, though they haven’t played anyone…notable…as of yet. I don’t foresee the 1-1 Cougars being all that much better as far as competition, although they did beat Arizona and only lost by three points to California. I don’t doubt that Wisconsin will win, but the points are a bit much. Y’all know my philosophy though…go big or go home. Zach isn’t comfortable with the points either, especially since Wisconsin’s offense is typically a grinding, smash mouth kind of deal…but the kid is a riverboat gambler just like his uncle, so he’s taking a chance.

My Pick:     Wisconsin

Z’s Pick:     Wisconsin

 

 

 

Boise St.            at                Oklahoma St. (-3)

When doing the pre-season poll I anticipated that the Broncos could possibly go into Stillwater and beat the Cowboys. Boise St. has done nothing to discourage my high opinion of them, getting off to a 2-0 start and averaging 59 points/game and barely breaking a sweat. Oklahoma St. is also 2-0, has scored a lot of points, and has easily beaten inferior opponents. They get the nominal home field bump, but Boise has to be more than aware that this is their opportunity to really earn some respect amongst the college football glitterati. They’ve done it before in high profile bowl games, and I think they can do it again. Zach really likes Cowboys’ head coach Mike Gundy and thinks they’ll take care of business at home.

My Pick:     Boise St.

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma St.

 

 

Alabama (-21)              at                Ole Miss

The Tide is rolling with two effortless wins and scoring over 50 points/game. The Rebels are 2-0 as well and dropped 76 points on Southern Illinois last week. This game is being played in Oxford, MS and is the ESPN prime time feature presentation on Saturday night, so the crowd should be fired up. I don’t think ‘Bama will lose, but I think it is possible that Ole Miss keeps it respectable in front of their home fans, losing by only 15-20 points. Zach points out that Ole Miss is ineligible for the post-season due to NCAA sanctions, so this is their bowl game. He doesn’t think they’ll win, but agrees that they will cover the points.

My Pick:     Ole Miss

Z’s Pick:     Ole Miss

 

 

 

Arizona St. (-4.5)                  at      San Diego St.

I kind of miss Herm Edwards on my ESPN chat shows, but it’s great that he got an opportunity to coach again after nearly a decade away from the sidelines. He has the Sun Devils off to a 2-0 start, and I don’t anticipate that changing this week against the 1-1 Aztecs, even playing in hostile territory. It’s too bad I don’t have access to the CBS Sports Network at my job and won’t be able to follow this game late Saturday night. Zach shares my affection for Coach Edwards, who he thinks is a genius. He is a bit concerned that this could be a trap game, but is rolling with the Sun Devils anyway.

My Pick:     Arizona St.

Z’s Pick:     Arizona St.

 

 

 

Ohio St. (-12.5)            at                TCU

When I did the pre-season poll I ranked the Buckeyes 15th and the Horned Frogs 3rd. Furthermore, I said that “I think they’ll upset Ohio St. in an early season non-conference “neutral site” game at The Palace in Dallas…the Buckeyes have had too many distractions this summer and are ripe for the picking”. Now, I grant you that Ohio St. has looked damn good under interim head coach Ryan Day so far. They completely dismantled Oregon St. & Rutgers, and sophomore QB Dwayne Haskins has been impressive. Meanwhile, TCU has easily gotten to 2-0 by beating up mediocre (at best) competition. I’m pretty stubborn, so I’m going to ride or die with my summertime prophecy, although admittedly I’m not at all confident in it. Zach is a major Buckeye hater, so if I go down he’s going down with me.

My Pick:     TCU

Z’s Pick:     TCU

 

 

Cleveland                    at      New Orleans (-9)

Ugh…the Browns. I’m not really familiar with the ins & outs of sports psychology, but I have to imagine that Cleveland is feeling pretty good about that tie they got against my Steelers last weekend. Will that…momentum…carry over into a battle against the Saints?? New Orleans fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what was easily one of the biggest surprises in the first week of NFL action. It seems like there may be some issues with the New Orleans defense. I try not to overreact to unexpected results until a trend develops, and even though I went against the majority of those assuming New Orleans will be a playoff team again this season by predicting a 6-10 record for them, I still believe they are better than Cleveland. Zach shares my trepidation about the Saints’ defense but agrees that their offense should be good enough to outscore the Browns.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

 

 

 

Minnesota          (-1.5)           at      Green Bay

Aaron Rodgers had his big moment las week, returning from some kind of leg injury to lead a comeback victory for the Packers on Sunday night. He has been diagnosed with a knee sprain and may or may not play against the Vikings. If he plays perhaps the game will be competitive. If he doesn’t play Green Bay is toast. Minnesota beat the 49ers last week, and whether Rodgers plays or not I think the better defense will win this game. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

 

 

Oakland             at      Denver (-4.5)

Coming into the season I thought the Raiders would be mediocre and the Broncos outright terrible, but perhaps I had that reversed…we’re about to find out. Oakland just couldn’t get their offense in gear on Monday night against the Rams, while Denver and starting QB Case Keenum didn’t look half bad in defeating Seattle. I’m not really sure what to expect out of this game. One team needs to turn things around, while the other just wants to keep the positive energy percolating. I suppose I’ll stay consistent and go with the Raiders, but I could be wrong. Zach thinks the Broncos will win easily.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Denver

2018 NFL Preview & Prognostications

The old saying is that “hindsight is 20/20”, and sometimes hindsight can also be absolutely hilarious. There is a Facebook page called Freezing Cold Takes which posts old tweets & comments from talking heads about players, teams, games, & draft picks that turned out to be way wrong, which is great because I’ve always thought it terrible that no one holds those people accountable for some of the outrageous opinions that they spew in an effort to get attention and stir the pot. Here at The Manofesto I do reflect on stuff I’ve written in the past and often call myself out on things about which I’ve been off base, and in looking back at last year’s preview I just have to roll my eyes that I said “football is a uniter, not a divider”, since the NFL proceeded to spend the next few months dividing the nation with their idiotic anthem protests. I’d like to think that this season will be different, but between renewed debate about those protests in addition to new rules that turn what used to commonly be referred to as a tackle into a penalty, I’m not sure football fans will be any happier with the NFL in 2018. Atleast they loosened up and clarified exactly what a catch is, so I suppose that’s progress. And as far as hindsight goes, a year ago I did throw out a plea for someone to “give Jon Gruden a coaching job and get him off our TVs”, so a shout out to the Raiders for answering that prayer.  As always the team’s record from the previous year is in parentheses, with the predicted record for this season following it. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

North

Minnesota Vikings       (13-3)         11-5

Chicago Bears             (5-11)        8-8

Green Bay Packers     (7-9)           8-8

Detroit Lions                 (9-7)           6-10

 

The Vikings swapped out Case Keenum for Kirk Cousins at QB, which theoretically should be an upgrade. The defense was already stellar, and they’ve now added defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and drafted cornerback Mike Hughes in the first round, so I see no reason to expect a dropoff. Minnesota won’t take anyone by surprise this year, but I still think they’ll win the division easily. The biggest surprise might be the Bears. I really like quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Jordan Howard & Tarik Cohen make for a great running back tandem, & I think wide receiver Kevin White (formerly of my WVU Mountaineers) will finally stay healthy and prove why he was a first round pick in 2015. My concern is with Chicago’s defense, and with this being new head coach Matt Nagy’s first season I think the playoffs are a bit much to expect. I feel like the Packers are leaning on their reputation but in reality aren’t that good. QB Aaron Rodgers has spent most of the offseason gallivanting around with new girlfriend Danica Patrick, and it wouldn’t be the first time that an athlete’s personal life has distracted them from their job. The Lions have a new coach too…former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who was indicted for sexual assault back in his college days but not convicted, something he didn’t feel was important to mention to the powers-that-be in Detroit during the hiring process. I think Patricia will get the Lions over the hump someday…but not this year. The roster simply isn’t good enough and the division is too tough.

 

 

 

South

Carolina Panthers                 (11-5)         12-4

Atlanta Falcons                     (10-6)         7-9

New Orleans Saints              (11-5)         6-10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers      (5-11)         2-14

 

The NFC South has been one of the most compelling & competitive divisions in the league the past few years, but I don’t believe that’ll be the case in 2018. Cam Newton is in his eighth season under center for the Panthers, and it feels like the time for hype is over and he actually needs to lead his team back to the Super Bowl, a height they reached in 2015 before getting throttled by the Denver Broncos. I’m just not feeling good vibes about the Falcons or Saints, although I’d love to see 39 year old Drew Brees end his career on a high note in the next couple of seasons. I foresee sharp declines for Atlanta and New Orleans this year. I’ve never been a huge fan of Bucs QB Jameis Winston…not because he lacks talent since he is actually quite capable, but because he seems like kind of a jackass. Once again he is being accused of improper conduct, this time for allegedly groping an Uber driver a couple of years ago. The NFL found enough merit in the charge that they suspended Winston for the first few games of the season, and I don’t think things will get much better for the team once he returns.

 

 

 

East

Philadelphia Eagles              (13-3)         12-4

Washington Redskins                    (7-9)           9-7

Dallas Cowboys                              (9-7)           7-9

New York Giants                   (3-13)         6-10

 

A year ago I predicted that the Eagles would finish 5-11 and have the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. Instead they won 13 games & the division and went on to upset the Pats in the Super Bowl. Now starting QB Carson Wentz is returning from a torn ACL suffered late last season, and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is the backup, which seems unfair to the rest of the league. The Redskins lost Kirk Cousins but replaced him under center with Alex Smith, which feels like a lateral move. The Cowboys have Dak Prescott back as their quarterback, but I’m not sure he has anyone to thrown the ball to after the departure of Dez Bryant and the retirement of tight end Jason Witten. Sure they have RB Zeke Elliot, but what if defenses stack eight in the box and dare Prescott to beat them?? That won’t end well for Dallas. As much as some may disagree, I don’t believe the Giants are going to get back into the playoff hunt as long as Eli Manning is their quarterback. Eli has benefited from his family ties and a couple of really lucky Super Bowl wins, but in general I’ve always felt that he is overrated and now he is on the downside of his career. The Giants drafted running back Saquon Barkley second overall, and he will undoubtedly open up the offense allowing receiver Odell Beckham to catch his fair share of touchdowns, but I just don’t think it’ll be enough, especially if the defense doesn’t gel.

 

 

 

West

Los Angeles Rams               (11-5)         10-6

San Francisco 49ers            (6-10)         10-6

Seattle Seahawks                 (9-7)           5-11

Arizona Cardinals                  (8-8)           3-13

 

Seattle’s Legion of Boom has been relegated to the dust bin of history and their once imposing defense looks totally decimated. But hey, atleast they still have Russell Wilson at quarterback, right?? That’s the only reason I’m picking the Seahawks to win more games than the Cardinals, because Arizona is going into the season with fragile Sam Bradford as their signal caller…unless first rounder Josh Rosen steals the job in the pre-season. The 49ers seemed like a completely different team after they traded for QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the latter stages of last season, and I think he’s the real deal. I’m not all that confident in the weapons Jimmy G. has surrounding him, but if the defense is as good as it looks to be on paper then ‘Frisco could pull out their fair share of tight, low scoring games. Conversely, the Rams should put plenty of points on the board as young QB Jared Goff gets in sync with receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Pharoah Cooper, & Brandin Cooks. Oh, and they have top flight running back Todd Gurley toting the rock. So if the defense is even slightly above average I think the Rams have to be the favorites by a nose over San Francisco.

 

 

Playoff Teams:   Minnesota, Carolina, Philadelphia, L.A. Rams, Washington, San Francisco

NFC Championship:   Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North

Pittsburgh Steelers               (13-3)         11-5

Baltimore Ravens                 (9-7)           8-8

Cleveland Browns                 (0-16)         6-10

Cincinnati Bengals                (7-9)           5-11

 

It is a testament to how little regard I (and most of the football viewing public) give the Browns that I didn’t even realize that they went 0-16 last season. I thought they’d won atleast one game, but that was in 2016. I’m not all that enamored with #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield not because he doesn’t have potential but because I think Cleveland could’ve made some deals, improved their team, and still snagged Mayfield later in the first round. Actually he kind of gives me a Brett Favre vibe, and if that’s true then he could turn out to be the answer they’ve been searching for in The Factory of Sadness for many years. But for now winning more games than they’ve won in total over the past couple of seasons would be cause for optimism. If that actually happens then it could mean a last place finish for the Bengals, which I’d have to assume would bring an end to Marvin Lewis’ decade & a half long reign as Cincy’s head coach. I’m not at all impressed with quarterback Andy Dalton or any of his weapons, with the exception of receiver AJ Green, who has to be pondering an escape to a contender after eight seasons with a team going nowhere. Their defense might keep Cincinnati competitive in quite a few games, but I think they’ll fall short more often than not. There is a quarterback controversy brewing in Baltimore, with fans & sports media desperately wanting rookie Lamar Jackson (a former Heisman Trophy winner) to prove himself good enough to supplant veteran Joe Flacco. The problem is that neither quarterback has anyone noteworthy to throw to, and the running game is a triple threat of mediocrity. The defense is always stout in Baltimore though, which might be good enough to snag a wild card. The division is my Steelers’ to lose. A year ago I pointed out that “the AFC North isn’t their true competition” and that “the only thing on anyone’s mind is overcoming the Patriots and getting to the Super Bowl”. That is truer than ever after losing home field advantage to the Patriots on one of those stupid “was it a catch or wasn’t it” decisions and then not really showing up against the Jags in the playoffs. Much of the offseason in Pittsburgh has been spent dealing with RB Le’veon Bell’s contract demands, and it’s all but a foregone conclusion that this will be his final season wearing Black & Gold. That combined with Ben Roethlisberger’s advanced age makes 2018 feel like a make or break, all or nothing, all chips in the center of the table season for the Steelers.

 

 

 

South

Houston Texans                  (4-12)         10-6

Jacksonville Jaguars           (10-6)         9-7

Tennessee Titans                 (9-7)           8-8

Indianapolis Colts                 (4-12)         7-9

 

I really like QB Deshaun Watson. He may have been on his way to being named NFL Rookie of the Year until a knee injury took him out midway thru the season. Assuming that he is healthy & ready to go I have to believe that the Texans are the team to beat in the South. Philanthropic defensive tackle JJ Watt also had his 2017 season torpedoed by injury, but he’ll be back on the field as well leading a stout defense. There is a lot to like about Houston. I suppose most “experts” will be picking Jacksonville to win the division again and maybe even make it to the Super Bowl…but I’m not convinced. Obviously their defense is quite impressive, but I am stunned that they stuck with Blake Bortles under center, and the rest of the offense is just as prosaic with the exception of RB Leonard Fournette, who is an injury waiting to happen. The Colts’ entire season rests on the health of QB Andrew Luck, and judging by the past two years that’s not at all comforting. If Luck is back then the question is can he live up to the Peyton Manning comparisons that were prevalent when he first entered the league, and I just don’t see that happening this season. I’ve got to see more from receiver TY Hilton, tight end Jack Doyle, & running back Marlon Mack…not to mention the offensive line, and I’m really not sure what to expect from the defense. First year head coach Frank Reich really has his work cut out for him in Indy. I feel like the Titans will be about the same as last year, perhaps a bit improved defensively. I like QB Marcus Mariota, and Corey Davis should emerge as a legit top flight receiver, but with Houston rebounding from a season that I believe was an anomaly it feels like Tennessee will be on the outside looking in.

 

 

 

East

New England Patriots           (13-3)         11-5

New York Jets                       (5-11)         7-9

Buffalo Bills                            (9-7)           6-10

Miami Dolphins                      (6-10)         5-11

 

Ugh. I hate this part. The Patriots are like a damn cockroach that no one can seem to destroy. Credit where credit is due though…they have been resilient in fending off the competition for over a decade. Whether you attribute that to skill, luck, cheating, or something else is a matter of opinion. At any rate, I won’t predict their demise until I actually see proof of impending doom, and though I’ve been looking & hoping for that for a few years now it hasn’t happened yet. Everybody else in the division is just there to provide the façade of competition. The Jets have yet another new quarterback, although it is possible that veteran journeyman Josh McCown will start ahead of rookie Sam Darnold for a few weeks. Buffalo had a decent season a year ago, but I think they’ll fall back a bit in 2018. AJ McCarron is penciled in to start ahead of first round draft pick Josh Allen under center, and I suppose it is possible that either could emerge as a pleasant surprise. On paper the Bills defense seems like it should be good, so we’ll see. Ryan Tannehill returns from injury to quarterback the Dolphins, while Jay Cutler has re-retired and is doing reality TV. God help us all. There are some decent weapons available to Tannehill, but the fact that Cutler only got Miami six wins a year ago and Tannehill isn’t as good as Cutler doesn’t bode well. The defense has potential, but I don’t think that’ll be enough to win very many games.

 

 

 

West

Los Angeles Chargers            (9-7)           9-7

Oakland Raiders                    (6-10)         8-8

Kansas City Chiefs               (10-6)         7-9

Denver Broncos                     (5-11)         2-14

 

Thanks again to the Raiders for bringing Gruden back to coach, which means that ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew will consist of Joe Tessitore, retired players Booger McFarland & Jason Witten, and Lisa Salters reporting from the field. Sounds good to me. I don’t believe that the Raiders will be back in the playoffs just yet, but they’ll improve slightly and Derek Carr might get back to being the talented quarterback he was a couple of years ago. Amari Cooper and Packers’ refugee Jordy Nelson make for an impressive receiving tandem, and Marshawn Lynch & former Buccaneer Doug Martin should solidify the ground game. The defense seems like it has some questions, which is why I’m hesitant to make Oakland more than a .500 team. I really sense a decline coming from Kansas City. Second year quarterback Patrick Mahomes takes over for the departed Alex Smith, and it might take some time for the young man to figure things out. He’s got some fantastic weapons at his disposal, so perhaps the learning curve won’t be as steep as I’m predicting. The Broncos feel like they’re on the edge of the cliff. Case Keenum is the new quarterback, and we’ll find out fairly fast if he’s the talented guy that won 11 out of 14 games with the Vikings last season or the pedestrian backup everyone always believed him to be. If Denver’s defense gets back to being as great as they were when winning the Super Bowl a few years ago that’ll help a lot, but I feel like they were pretty good last season and the team only won five games. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something is amiss in the Mile High City, and it might get worse before it gets better.

 

 

Playoff Teams:   Pittsburgh, Houston, New England, L.A. Chargers, Jacksonville, Baltimore

AFC Championship:    Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Houston Texans

 

 

 

 

 

 

17

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Picks in 2019 Draft:

1       Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2       Denver Broncos

3       Arizona Cardinals

4       Seattle Seahawks

5       Cincinnati Bengals

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 16

Better late than never, right?? We weren’t going to pick the Thursday night game anyway, so it’s all good. This is a pretty neat weekend for football fans. Not only are there NFL games on both Saturday and Sunday, but the college bowl season gets underway as well. I hope y’all have your Christmas shopping finished and can stay home vegging out & watching football. Last week was pretty rough for yours truly, as I went 0-5. The blow was softened just a bit when I won an exciting game in my dynasty league and made the playoff, so I’m excited about that. Zach fared a little better at 2-3, which means that he’s taken back the season lead. We’ll see what happens after this weekend.

My Season:        46-45

Z’s Season:        47-44

 

 

 

 

Philadelphia (-7.5)      at      NY Giants

Holy quarterback condundrums Batman!! The Eagles have lost QB Carson Wentz for the remainder of the season to a torn ACL. The good news is that they’ve already clinched the NFC East, and as far as backups go there are worse options than Nick Foles. The Giants have Eli Manning back under center after firing their coach a couple of weeks ago, but other than that I’m not sure there is any good news for them. The Giants are actually worse than the Jets right now. Who would’ve predicted that a few months ago?? Having said that, The Vibes are whispering to me. While I think Foles is a decent quarterback and Philly is obviously a talented team, any thoughts of them being a legit Super Bowl contender have gone away, and I think The G-Men might actually steal this game. Zach disagrees and is making the more logical choice.

My Pick:     NY Giants

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

 

Green Bay          at      Carolina (-3)

As opposed to the folks in Philadelphia the Cheeseheads have good quarterback news. Aaron Rodgers returns from injury this week, and the sports media has been slobbering all over themselves. It’s going to be an uphill climb for Green Bay to sneak into the playoffs, but it is still mathematically possible. The Panthers are in a dogfight for a playoff spot as well. They’ve won 5 out of their last 6 games after a rough first half of the season, and feel like they could become a formidable post-season threat. I’m all for heartwarming fairy tales, but I think Rodgers’ comeback might not go as well as many hope it will. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Carolina

Z’s Pick:     Carolina

 

 

 

Tennessee                  at      San Francisco (-2)

I really thought that the Titans were solid favorites to win the AFC South this season, but I don’t believe anybody saw the success of the Jacksonville Jaguars on the horizon. That being said, Tennessee is only one game out of first place and are in good wildcard position. Conversely, the 49ers are dwelling at the bottom of their division as has been the norm the past few years. I understand that it’s commonplace for the home team to be favored by about three points in NFL games, but I’m not sure why that would hold true in a game like this where the visiting team is clearly superior. Zach feels like Tennessee is too inconsistent and ‘Frisco is much better with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     San Francisco

 

 

 

LA Rams            at                Seattle (-2.5)

The Rams hold a one game lead in the NFC West, but Seattle’s home field advantage is one of the most daunting in the NFL. The Seahawks have been more…erratic…this season than we’re used to seeing, but when the chips are down in big games it’s hard to bet against QB Russell Wilson, meaning that if they can get into the playoffs all the questions & inconsistency will quickly be set aside. Meanwhile, the Rams, with all of their young talent, have really put things together this year, though they’ve also been a little up & down. If this game were being played in Los Angeles I might be inclined to take the underdogs because that’s just how I roll. However, the home field is just too much to overlook in this case. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Seattle

Z’s Pick:     Seattle

 

 

 

Atlanta (-6.5)               at      Tampa Bay

The NFC South is really interesting, with three teams being possible playoff contenders. One of those three, however, is not the Buccaneers. They’re currently on a three game losing streak, and that’s not even their worst skid of the season. I haven’t been paying enough attention to know exactly what has gone wrong, but I don’t foresee things suddenly turning around this weekend. The Falcons haven’t had smooth sailing this year after being in the Super Bowl last season, but they’ve done enough to still be in the playoff hunt and feel like they might be peaking at the right time. Zach likes Atlanta to win big.

My Pick:     Atlanta

Z’s Pick:     Atlanta

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 2

I’m going to do something that, to my recollection, I’ve never done since beginning these picks six years ago. Last week both Zach & I picked UCLA to beat Texas A&M, which they did. However, the point spread was 3 and the Bruins won by only one point on a last second touchdown after completing a four TD 4th quarter comeback. It was such an epic, thrilling victory that I’m going to give both of us the win as well. Hey…my game, my rules. So what that means is that in the opening week of the season I was 4-1, while Zach was 3-2. Florida St. let me down, as they were manhandled by Alabama, while Zach should’ve had more faith in his Michigan Wolverines. This week the NFL adds a layer of intrigue to our little contest, and y’all know what that means…bonus picks!! Enjoy the games, and a special shout out to my Texas peeps recovering from Hurricane Harvey & Florida friends preparing for Hurricane Irma. We’re praying for you and know that you’ll be okay in the long run.

 

 

 

 

Pitt                       at                Penn State (-21.5)

The Nittany Lions were #2 in my pre-season rankings, and did nothing to dissuade me from that assessment in their season opening beatdown of Akron. Conversely, the Panthers had a rough second half and had to go to overtime to beat Youngstown St. Despite it being an in-state rivalry I don’t think this will be much of a game. Penn St. RB Saquon Barkley might run for 200 yards & 4 TDs unless they sit him the entire second half. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Penn St.

Z’s Pick:     Penn St.

 

 

Nebraska           at      Oregon (-13.5)
The Cornhuskers only beat Arkansas St. by 7 points last week, which isn’t a good sign. Meanwhile, the Ducks kicked the snot out of Southern Utah, just as they should have. Was last season’s 4-8 atrocity just an anomaly for what has been a successful Oregon program in the past decade?? It’s too early to say for sure, but there is that distinct possibility. I tend to believe that Oregon is better than they showed in 2016, but won’t rely on last week’s victory as any kind of accurate barometer. I also think last week may have served as a wakeup call for Nebraska. This feels like it will be a competitive & entertaining game. I’m not sure who will win, but whoever comes out on top will likely do so by less than double digits. Zach is a little nervous about the spread but likes Oregon’s high powered offense.

My Pick:     Nebraska

Z’s Pick:     Oregon

 

 

 

Auburn               at      Clemson (-5.5)

Oooohhhh this is a good one, and it’s probably flying a little under the radar. Auburn easily defeated Georgia Southern last week, which tells us nothing. Defending national champions Clemson beat up on Kent St., and that doesn’t mean anything either. So now that both teams have the kinks worked out it’s time to play a real game. In my pre-season rankings I predicted that Clemson would “taste bitter defeat at the hands of archrival Florida St., and will probably be upset in atleast one other game.” That Florida St. thing is looking a lot more doubtful now, but I think Auburn could very well be the “one other game”. Conversely, Zach doesn’t believe Clemson will have any problems and thinks they’ll win by two TDs.

My Pick:     Auburn

Z’s Pick:     Clemson

 

 

Oklahoma                    at      Ohio State (-7.5)

This is being advertised as the centerpiece game of the schedule for Week 2, but I’m not so sure. The Buckeyes got off to a slow start before defeating Indiana a week ago, while Oklahoma easily beat UTEP. I sincerely believe Ohio St. is the superior team, and despite having Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield at quarterback I can’t get past the idea that Sooners’ head coach Lincoln Riley is new to all of this. Especially since the game is being played at The Horseshoe in Columbus I don’t think it’ll even be all that close. Zach has an irrational hatred for Ohio St. and thinks they are overrated.

My Pick:     Ohio St.

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma

 

 

Kansas City       at      New England (-9)

The NFL is back and this is the big Thursday night opener. Everyone is so in love with the Patriots that it’d be hilarious if they screwed the pooch right out of the gate. The Chiefs are coming off of a successful 12-4 season, but I think they’ll fall back just a bit this year and be in a dog fight for a playoff spot. New England, in contrast to the sickening adulation heaped on them by the talking heads, won’t go undefeated, but they’ll probably win this game. However, can they cover the spread?? I think it is quite possible that the game is a little closer than nine points. Zach is sticking with the party line and predicting a 10 point Pats victory.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     New England

 

 

Oakland             at      Tennessee (-2.5)

Both of these teams are early favorites to win their respective divisions, with good reason…they are clubs on the rise behind the leadership of young & talented quarterbacks. I like Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr, though Carr is probably further ahead in his development. Both running games should be solid, and there are ample weapons for each signal caller to throw the ball to, with Tennessee’s offensive line being just a little more talented. The difference in this game will likely be defense, with Oakland’s pass rushing tandem of Khalil Mack & Bruce Irvin being a real headache for opposing offenses, while Tennessee linebacker Brian Orakpo leads the charge surrounded by a lot of unproven talent. The Titans get the slight home field bump here, but, while I think they’ll be a playoff team, I’m not buying that they’ll win this game. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Oakland

 

 

Seattle                at                Green Bay (-3.5)

This is an NFC title caliber matchup in Week 1. It’s going to be odd seeing RB Eddie Lacy in a Seahawks’ uniform and lining up against his former team, but I think he’ll do well. As a matter of fact, I have no doubt that both offenses will put on a show, so defense will be the deciding factor. On paper that advantage goes to Seattle. Zach thinks that the home field is a huge advantage for Green Bay and is looking for QB Aaron Rodgers to have a big day.

My Pick:     Seattle

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

Save

2017 NFL Preview & Prognostications

In light of all the absurdity happening in the world these days it’s good to know that it won’t be long until we can spend hours upon hours every weekend curled up on the couch watching football and forgetting about life for awhile. Football is a uniter, not a divider. Oh sure everyone has their favorite teams & players and fans will good-naturedly debate each other over such issues, but at the end of the day football fans on opposite ends of even the most longstanding rivalries usually have no problem sitting down with a cold beverage and some tasty snacks to watch the game together. There is so much common ground. Raider Nation, Cheeseheads, & Philly Boo Birds can all agree on certain things…the Browns suck, Tom Brady is a douche canoe, RedZone rocks, and for the love of God & all that’s holy will some lowly team PLEASE give Jon Gruden a coaching job and get him off our TVs. So in preparation for that upcoming glorious day please sit back, relax, & look into the gridiron crystal ball to see what might be in store for the NFL over the next few months. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

AFC

 

East

New England Patriots

(14-2) 13-3

Miami Dolphins

(10-6) 8-8

Buffalo Bills

(7-9) 5-11

New York Jets

(5-11) 3-13

Sports media has spent the offseason fellatiating the Patriots even more than usual, including shoving Tom Brady’s 40th birthday down our throats like it was some sort of religious holiday. Look, I’m not an unreasonable man. Despite repeated instances of cheating their way to success I will begrudgingly concede that any team that wins five Super Bowls in 15 years deserves kudos, but numerous outlets predicting an undefeated season is just silly. This is a weak division that New England will win easily, but I think they’ll stumble a few times along the way. The loss of QB Ryan Tannehill to injury and the subsequent signing of the suddenly unretired Jay Cutler doesn’t move the meter either way for the Dolphins in my opinion. They might be in the wildcard conversation early on but aren’t a threat to be taken seriously. The Jets are going to get worse before they get better, and the Bills are just treading water, with new head coach Sean McDermott being the latest guy that’ll lead the team nowhere before getting canned in a couple of years.

 

 

West

Oakland Raiders

(12-4) 13-3

Kansas City Chiefs

(12-4) 9-7

Denver Broncos

(9-7) 8-8

Los Angeles Chargers

(5-11) 7-9

The Raiders and Chiefs were neck & neck last season, but I think this is a year in which the future Vegas franchise establishes dominance while Kansas City takes a step backward. I really like Oakland QB Derek Carr, and with RB Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement, WR Cordarrelle Patterson coming over from Minnesota looking for a fresh start, & Amari Cooper ready to emerge as one of the league’s premier receivers the offense will be difficult to stop. Khalil Mack & Bruce Irvin are a formidable pass rushing duo. The Chiefs feel like they’re in a transitional phase, with first round pick Patrick Mahomes biding his time until QB Alex Smith goes away, career backup Spencer Ware & third round pick Kareem Hunt vying to replace departed RB Jamaal Charles, and talented receivers Tyreek Hill & Chris Conley stepping up in the absence of the departed Jeremy Maclin. The defense will have to be the foundation for KC. Whether Trevor Semien or Paxton Lynch wins the quarterback battle in Denver their defense will also be the key to success. The Chargers have moved from San Diego to Los Angeles and will play in a stadium about the size of my apartment. I feel bad for QB Philip Rivers because I’m sure this isn’t how he’d prefer to see his career wind down. Anthony Lynn is an unproven head coach, although offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt & defensive coordinator Gus Bradley are former head coaches themselves. First round pick Mike Williams, a receiver out of Clemson, and second rounder Forrest Lamp, an offensive lineman from Western Kentucky, have already suffered injuries in training camp (Lamp is out for the season, Williams should return at some point), which isn’t a good omen.

 

 

North

Pittsburgh Steelers

(11-5) 10-6

Cincinnati Bengals

(6-9-1) 9-7

Baltimore Ravens

(8-8) 8-8

Cleveland Browns

(1-15) 3-13

I am normally very cautious when it comes to having high expectations for my Steelers, but I can’t deny the fact that they should clearly be the best team in the division. I’m sure everyone in Pittsburgh would deny it, but the truth is that the AFC North isn’t their true competition. The fact is that the only thing on anyone’s mind is overcoming the Patriots and getting to the Super Bowl. Having said that, this division is always a grind so I don’t expect the Steelers to run away with the crown. It’ll be a season long slog. I think the Bengals will be better than most expect, with AJ Green & first round pick John Ross forming an intimidating receiving duo and the much maligned Joe Mixon adding a dimension to the running game. Baltimore feels like they’re spinning their wheels. Perhaps they should crowd source their fans for solutions. The Browns are the Browns…a perpetual Factory of Sadness where talented players waste away valuable years of their career. They may show a small improvement this year, but really…who cares??

 

 

South

Tennessee Titans

(9-7) 11-5

Houston Texans

(9-7) 8-8

Indianapolis Colts

(8-8) 7-9

Jacksonville Jaguars

(3-13) 6-10

Much like the West, in which two teams that were even as they crossed the finish line last season seem to be headed on divergent paths, so it goes in the South, with Tennessee taking a leap forward and the Texans seeing their momentum stopped for now. I really like Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota, and he’s got some weapons…RBs DeMarco Murray & Derrick Henry, TE Jace Amaro, and WRs Eric Decker & first round pick Corey Davis. The offensive line looks good too. I’m not quite sure about their defense though. Houston will once again rely heavily on their stout defense while they sort out the quarterback situation. Tom Savage will probably begin the season as the starter, but I really like Deshaun Watson and think he’ll be one of the league’s best QBs in a couple of years. Colts’ signal caller Andrew Luck was supposed to be the next Peyton Manning, but things don’t seem to be working out that way, and I don’t expect Indy to improve. I had been under the impression in recent years that the Jags were up n’ comers, but they’ve gone backward. Unlike most people I’m not that psyched about first round pick Leonard Fournette, and QB Blake Bortles inspires zero confidence.

 

 

 

Playoff Teams:   New England, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Kansas City, Cincinnati

AFC Championship:    New England vs. Pittsburgh

 

  

 

NFC

 

East

New York Giants

(11-5) 11-5

Dallas Cowboys

(13-3) 10-6

Washington Redskins

(8-7-1) 8-8

Philadelphia Eagles

(7-9) 5-11

The suspension of RB Zeke Elliott isn’t a good beginning for the Cowboys. Whether he’s out six games or has the punishment reduced a bit I think Dallas loses atleast a couple contests that they otherwise may have won. That opens the door for the Giants, who enter season two of the Ben McAdoo era having done rather well last year and now switch out receiver Victor Cruz (now with the Bears) for Brandon Marshall (formerly of the Jets) & add first round pick Evan Engram at tight end. This is a tough division, but New York has to be the heavy favorite. The Redskins have spent the offseason in a pissing contest with quarterback Kirk Cousins, but also added free agent receiver Terrelle Pryor, defensive end & first round draft pick Jonathan Allen, and fourth round RB Samaje Perine. Still though, they feel like a team on the negative side of transformation until the likely departure of Cousins and the drafting of a new quarterback next year. I love Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz, but Philly is a team with too many moving parts & youngsters to really gel into anything good at this point. Maybe next year.

 

 

West

Seattle Seahawks

(10-5-1) 12-4

Arizona Cardinals

(7-8-1) 8-8

Los Angeles Rams

(4-12) 6-10

San Francisco 49ers

(2-14) 5-11

Seattle had, by their standards, a pretty mediocre season in 2016, lowlighted by a surprising loss to the lowly Rams in week two. However, they did make the playoffs before being beaten by the Atlanta Falcons. RB Eddie Lacy has moved to the northwest from Green Bay, and I expect him to be in shape & a significant contributor. The Cardinals are looking to rebound from a tough year and get back to the team they were in 2015 when they played in the NFC title game. It’s all about QB Carson Palmer. At 37 years old can he summon up one last great season, or will the oft injured signal caller just kind of fade away?? The Niners & Rams keep adding pieces in free agency & thru the draft, but it doesn’t seem like either team is closer to turning things around. This is the Seahawks’ division to lose, and I don’t think it’ll even be competitive.

 

 

North

Green Bay Packers

(10-6) 12-4

Minnesota Vikings

(8-8) 9-7

Chicago Bears

(3-13) 6-10

Detroit Lions

(9-7) 5-11

Much like Seattle the Packers just felt a bit off last season, even though they made it to the NFC title game. I think there was a lot of drama in the personal life of QB Aaron Rodgers that affected him negatively, though we’ll never really know for sure. At any rate, keep an eye on the backfield, where converted receiver Ty Montgomery will get some stiff competition from hardnosed runner Jamaal Williams, a 4th round draft choice from BYU. Otherwise I assume Rodgers will pass the ball a lot to an array of talented receivers and the defense will be overlooked & underrated. In Minnesota Adrian Peterson has taken his child beating ways down south to The Big Easy and it’ll be up to former Raider Latavius Murray and/or rookie RB Dalvin Cook to replace him. The receiving corps is…okay…but I expect QB Sam Bradford to be handing the ball off much of the time. Good ol’ smashmouth football for the Vikings. The defense will be alright, but might have to be better than that in some low scoring slugfests. The Bears will allegedly try to get thru the season with QBs Mike Glennon & Mark Sanchez, with first round pick Mitch Trubisky essentially redshirting his rookie season to learn the ropes. It’s a bold strategy…let’s see if it pays off for them (or even if they stick to that plan). There are some talented offensive weapons in Chicago…receivers Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Victor Cruz, Kendall Wright, & Reuben Randle, RB Jordan Howard, rookie tight end & 2nd round draft pick Adam Shaheen…but none of that matters if the quarterback is subpar. The defense in the Windy City has potential but is, on paper, underwhelming. I am predicting that the Lions take a big step backward after a career year from QB Matthew Stafford in 2016. Their defense has been upgraded, but I don’t think Stafford can repeat last season’s success, and I’m not all that enamored with the weapons he has to work with. The Packers will win the North, and it won’t be close.

 

 

South

Atlanta Falcons

(11-5) 10-6

Carolina Panthers

(6-10) 10-6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(9-7) 10-6

New Orleans Saints

(7-9) 9-7

All anyone will remember about the Falcons’ 2016 season is their epic collapse in the Super Bowl, which is a shame, but also can be used as motivation. They’ll be almost as good this year, but other teams will step up to compete. The Panthers’ putrid season was probably an anomaly, and I expect them to flip the script this year behind new offensive weapon Christian McCaffrey, who’ll line up in the backfield but can be a receiver as well. I like Tampa and believe we’ll see the continued maturation of QB Jameis Winston, especially since he now has a really good tight end in first round pick OJ Howard and a talented group of receivers, including free agent signee DeSean Jackson. The Bucs will be in the playoff hunt. I am rather sentimental, so I’d like to see QB Drew Brees lead the Saints back to the playoffs as he winds down his brilliant career, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Signing free agent RB Adrian Peterson won’t be a difference maker since he’s way past his prime. Actually it’ll probably be Mark Ingram & third round choice Alvin Kamara getting most of the work in the backfield by the mid-point of the season.

 

 

 

Playoff Teams:   NY Giants, Green Bay, Seattle, Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay

NFC Championship:   NY Giants vs. Green Bay

 

 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers      41  

Green Bay Packers 38

 

 

Top 5 Picks in 2018 Draft:

1       New York Jets

2       Cleveland Browns

3       Philadelphia Eagles

4       San Francisco 49ers

5       Detroit Lions

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 17

football-introducing-the-science_1Before we move forward with this week’s picks I must correct an oversight on my part. The past couple of weeks we’ve been dealing strictly with NFL games because I indicated the college football season was over except for the bowl games. The problem is that isn’t exactly true. There are playoff games going on at the FCS, Division II, & other “lower” levels of NCAA football. We wouldn’t pick those games because neither Zach nor myself are knowledgeable at all about any of the teams involved, but I feel like it is important to recognize that those games exist. As a student at Marshall University in the early 90’s I witnessed multiple 1-AA playoff games and was privileged to be in the stadium when my Thundering Herd won the national title in 1992. There are a lot of football snobs out there that only acknowledge “big boy football” as played by the SEC, Big Ten, Notre Dame, Florida State, etc., but the football played in other divisions can be just as exciting & fun to watch, and there have been no shortage of players from lesser known smaller schools that have made an impact in the NFL. Their putrid 2016 season notwithstanding, part of me has often wished Marshall would have stayed in 1-AA/FCS. Since moving up the best they have been able to do is battle for a MAC or C-USA conference title and then play in some prosaic December bowl game that no one cares about or remembers. As a fan it was much more interesting to see my team move thru a 16 team playoff and have an opportunity to play for a championship. At any rate, I felt it important to recognize those other, often overlooked & marginalized, levels of college football. Last week both Zach & I were at our mediocre best, he at 2-3 and I at 3-2. Average seems to be our thing this season. A few NFL teams have already clinched playoff berths, but these last few weeks will see a lot of jockeying for position. Since Sunday is Christmas Day much of the action will take place the day before, which is fine with me. Merry Christmas fellow football fans. I sincerely wish all of you a most delightful holiday.

My Season:        47-46

Z’s Season:        33-60

 

 

 

 

 

Indianapolis      at      Oakland (-4)

raidersThe Raiders are already in the playoff field, while the Colts really need to win their final two games and even then face an uphill battle. I’d really Indianapolis_Colts_Helmetlove to pick Indy since I predicted that they’d win the division, but it just doesn’t feel like the chips are falling in their favor. I think Oakland is just too good. Zach has apparently been infected with my Vibes. He’s picking the upset though he doesn’t really know why. Good luck with that dude…it rarely works out well for me.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Indianapolis

 

 

Tampa Bay        at      New Orleans (-3)

tampa-bay-buccaneersThe Bucs still have an opportunity to win their division, but winning their last two games is probably necessary. Even a wildcard spot is going to be tough. Conversely, the Saints can only play spoiler and have to win out just to finish at .500. I don’t expect any surprises and neither does Zach.

My Pick:     Tampa Bay

Z’s Pick:     Tampa Bay

 

 

Minnesota                    at      Green Bay (-6.5)

After beginning the season 5-0 the Vikings have lost 7 of the last 9 games. Their defense is still formidable, but they’ve sputtered offensively and QB Sam Bradford no Green_Bay_Packers_Helmetlonger looks like a long term answer in case Teddy Bridgewater is unable to make a successful comeback. The Packers have had a roller coaster season but are riding a four game winning streak and have an outside shot at the playoffs…maybe even a division title. These are simply two teams going in opposite directions and I see no evidence the tide will turn this week. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Green Bay

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

 

 

Denver                at      Kansas City (-4)

kc-chiefs-logoI told y’all the Chiefs were going to the playoffs, and a win here would probably secure a spot. Denver’s quarterback situation has torpedoed anybroncos-4759 chance they had of achieving the success they had last year. Peyton Manning retiring has that effect. Although it does look like they made the right choice to let Brock Osweiler walk in free agency. There will be no upset here, atleast in my opinion. Conversely, Zach thinks Denver, with their back against the wall and in a dogfight for a playoff spot, will get the job done.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Denver

 

 

Detroit                 at      Dallas (-7)

Detroit_Lions_HelmetThe Cowboys are going to win their division before the inevitable postseason crash & burn. The Lions have snuck up on everybody, but they dallas-cowboys-logo2have Green Bay hot on their trail and need to win out to secure a division title. This is your Monday night game and I am predicting an early start to Dallas’ certain demise. Zach disagrees. He predicts it’ll be a blowout for the favorites.

My Pick:     Detroit

Z’s Pick:     Dallas

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 15

football-introducing-the-science_1The only college games remaining are this weekend’s Army-Navy contest and all of the bowl games. We’ll be doing our bowl picks soon, but as far as this weekly deal goes it’s all NFL all the time from now on. Last week’s NCAA conference title games worked out a little better for me than Zach, as I was 4-1 while he was 0-5. I have a lot of thoughts about the college playoff and related matters, but this isn’t the time. Stay tuned. For now the NFL has its own playoff race heating up, so let’s focus on that.

My Season:        44-39

Z’s Season:        30-53

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oakland              at      Kansas City (-3.5)

I pretty much nailed the AFC West in my season preview, and as predicted these are the two teams battling it out for the division lead. The Raiders are riding a 6 game raiderswinning streak and I look like a genius in my dynasty fantasy league for snagging QB Derek Carr. The Chiefs get the home field bump, but a close examination of their schedule reflects the fact that six of their nine victories have been by less than a touchdown. I’m not sure that’s meaningful since a win is a win and they’d only need to win this game by four points, but if Oakland’s offense is firing on all cylinders it’ll be a tough trick for KC to pull off. Zach has concerns about the Raider defense but agrees that their offense will be the deciding factor in pulling out a close game.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Oakland

 

 

Houston             at      Indianapolis (-6.5)

The AFC South is even more mediocre than most expected. 8-8 might win the division. Indy has the advantage as long as QB Andrew Luck stays healthy. Conversely, Indianapolis_Colts_HelmetBrock Osweiler has been a $72 million disappointment for the Texans, although I think he’ll be alright in the long run. At this point I think the Colts have the better team and certainly the better signal caller, which should be enough to get them into the postseason. Zach believes Luck is good enough to lead his team to a two touchdown victory.

My Pick:     Indianapolis

Z’s Pick:     Indianapolis

 

 

Seattle (-2.5)      at      Green Bay

A few months ago this would have looked like a great matchup on paper, but with the Packers losing 5 out of the last 8 games and after Seattle’s decimation of the seattle-seahawks1Carolina Panthers last weekend it is difficult to get too excited about it now. I am far too lethargic to do any research, but I have to believe it is rare for Green Bay to be underdogs at home on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, especially in December. I’d love to pick the upset, but I just can’t pull the trigger. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Seattle

Z’s Pick:     Seattle

 

 

Dallas (-3)           at      NY Giants

dallas-cowboys-logo2The Cowboys are running away with the NFC East, but the Giants are in excellent position to grab a wildcard spot. This is the Sunday night Giants Logogame on NBC, and as such fans would obviously love to see a great battle. Personally I’ve never been all that impressed by QB Eli Manning…I think he’s more lucky than good. With defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul out with a groin injury it’ll be that much tougher for the G-Men to slow down Dallas’ dynamic rookie duo of Zeke Elliott & Dak Prescott. Zach has nothing to lose and thinks this could be a trap game for the Cowboys.

My Pick:     Dallas

Z’s Pick:     NY Giants

 

 

Baltimore           at      New England (-7.5)

I’d love to see both of these teams lose. It’d certainly help my Steelers if the hated Ravens were to go down. The Patriots’ offense will be hindered a bit for the remainder New_England_Patriots_Helmetof the season with tight end Rob Gronkowski on IR, but how much?? This is the Monday night game, so I’ll be watching pro wrestling. I suppose I’ll go the smart route and pick New England. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     New England

Z’s Pick:     New England