NFL Picks: Week 14

Last Week: 12-4                 Season Record: 103-58

Last week my misses were Giants-Redskins, Lions-Ravens, Buccaneers-Packers, and Eagles-Seahawks. For the Thursday night game, I picked the Saints, who of course lost to the Falcons. So my shot at a perfect week in the NFL still eludes me regardless of how this week goes. Let’s get picking.

Indianapolis Colts (3-9) vs Buffalo Bills (6-6)

With a Bills loss, the Patriots will clinch the AFC East for the ninth consecutive season. They face a Colts team that has been pretty disastrous this season so I don’t think it will be likely, the Patriots will have to earn that division crown with a win on Monday Night against the Dolphins. The Colts have the worst offensive line in football and this potent defense will be living in the backfield.

Projected Score: Bills 27 Colts 10

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) vs Carolina Panthers (8-4)

The Panthers are in a fight for a wild card spot right now, as the Falcons and Seahawks are in a slugfest with them for the final two spots with the Packers potentially lurking with a potential Aaron Rodgers return. The Vikings are about as difficult a team in football to beat, which hasn’t been done since Week 4, so they’ve got their work cut out for them. Both teams pride themselves on tough, physical defenses but I’m going to give the edge to the Vikings. They’ve been much more consistent offensively than the Panthers and I trust them a little bit more to move the ball against a good defense.

Projected Score: Vikings 23 Panthers 20

Chicago Bears (3-9) vs Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)

That was quite an embarrassing loss for the Bears last week. Not only did they lose to the 10-loss 49ers, but all of the 49ers points were scored via field goals kicked by a longtime kicker they had cut in Robbie Gould. Not a good look. The Bengals are also coming off a tough loss against the Steelers that is better remembered for how brutal it was, prayers go out to Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier and his family. The Bengals blew a 17-0 lead and lost 23-20 on a last-second field goal. They nearly lost safety George Iloka to a suspension for this game but he was able to get it reduced to a fine upon appeal. However they will be losing Adam “Pacman” Jones for the rest of the season due to injury. Vontaze Burfict and Joe Mixon will also miss this game due to injury. So a lot to deal with for the Bengals at the moment and for that reason I’m actually going to pick the Bears to get the win.

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Projected Score: Bears 17 Bengals 13

Green Bay Packers (6-6) vs Cleveland Browns (0-12)

This game is interesting mainly because of the shit people in the Browns organization are talking. New GM John Dorsey has gone as far as to guarantee a victory this week! Pretty bold claim coming from a team that’s 0-12. They wouldn’t dare make this claim if Aaron Rodgers were healthy, but Brett Hundley has had a couple nice games during his stint in the starting role. We also saw the Browns compete against a hot Chargers team last week and Josh Gordon looked pretty good in his return from suspension. But I’m still going with the Packers to win.  They’re just all-around better than the Browns. Yes I know, any given Sunday, but come on now. Of course, any time I make a comment like that, it bites me in the ass. Sooooooooo…

Projected Score: Packers 35 Browns 17

San Francisco 49ers (2-10) vs Houston Texans (4-8)

Jimmy Garoppolo won his first start as the 49ers quarterback over the Bears but it came without San Francisco reaching the end zone. That’s going to be an issue because even though the Texans are without many of their stars on defense, they still hold their own very well. I think this is going to be a low-scoring game, both teams have had their struggles on offense and I can’t imagine either team really exploding on the scoreboard. I’m going to give the advantage to the Texans in this one, I trust their defense to make more plays, plus they have more weapons on offense to go to, namely DeAndre Hopkins.

Projected Score: Texans 20 49ers 13

Oakland Raiders (6-6) vs Kansas City Chiefs (6-6)

The last time these two teams met, Derek Carr found Michael Crabtree by the pylon for the win in their fifth attempt at a victory to end that game. Since then, the Chiefs have been in an absolute tailspin, as overall they’ve lost 6 of their last 7 after having started the year 5-0. They haven’t been able to make the needed adjustments and it’s really hurting them. Marcus Peters was suspended by the team for this game after throwing the official’s flag into the stands and that’s going to hurt because they struggled to cover Robby Anderson last week, now you’re asking them to cover Amari Cooper and Crabtree without their best corner. I’ve got the Raiders taking the division lead.

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Projected Score: Raiders 30 Chiefs 20

Detroit Lions (6-6) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8)

The Lions come off a bad loss to the Ravens and will look to get back on track against the Buccaneers. They’re on the outside looking in on the playoffs as they’ve lost 6 of their last 9 after a promising start to the season. Tampa Bay has Jameis Winston back but it didn’t matter as they still lost to the Brett Hundley-led Packers. This season hasn’t gone the way either team would’ve liked and they’re both looking for some sort of redemption. I’m going with the Lions this week, Jameis Winston hasn’t been taking good care of the football this season and I think this Lions defense will have ample opportunity to take advantage.

Projected Score: Lions 24 Buccaneers 17

Dallas Cowboys (6-6) vs New York Giants (2-10)

The Giants fired Ben McAdoo shortly after the Giants loss to the Raiders last week and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo’s first move at the helm was reinserting Eli Manning into the starting role. So basically benching him for Geno Smith was pointless. It’s just a disastrous situation in East Rutherford. The Cowboys are coming off a thrashing of the Redskins but that was more the Redskins playing like shit than the Cowboys being particularly good. I am going to take them this week, though. Say what you will about this season for them, at least there’s some functionality in Big D.

Projected Score: Cowboys 35 Giants 14

Tennessee Titans (8-4) vs Arizona Cardinals (5-7)

Like I said last week, the Titans are probably the weakest team with this good a record I’ve seen in a long time. There’s just no way they should be the 3-seed right now. And now they get a Cardinals team that just got their asses curb stomped by the Rams. But I actually think Arizona is going to win this game. They’re a feisty group that is capable of beating up on the likes of Tennessee, which they did against Jacksonville a couple weeks ago.

Projected Score: Cardinals 27 Titans 24

New York Jets (5-7) vs Denver Broncos (3-9)

The Jets have to be the worst tankers ever. They continue to win their way out of a high draft pick. A lot of credit has to go to Todd Bowles for this season because even though they have a losing record, they’ve far exceeded all expectations. Hell, people were predicting them to go 0-16 for crying out loud. Now they take on the Broncos, who offensively have been an utter trainwreck this year and at this point are playing to try and land either Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold. I’m taking the Jets to come out of Mile High with this one.

Projected Score: Jets 21 Broncos 14

Washington Redskins (5-7) vs Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)

The Redskins were absolutely god-awful on Thursday Night Football last week and they promptly got their asses whipped by the Cowboys. It gets a lot tougher this week when they face the Chargers, who are suddenly one of the hottest teams in football. After starting the year 0-4, they’ve won 6 of their last 8 and are suddenly in a 3-way tie for first place in the division. In fact, the Chargers’ 2 losses during their stretch run were the Patriots and the Jaguars, two teams that will be playing in January. The defense has quietly been one of the best in football, which is a big reason for this in-season turnaround. I’ve got the Chargers winning this one.

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Projected Score: Chargers 28 Redskins 24

Seattle Seahawks (8-4) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)

This is going to be a really fun game. Both teams have physical and opportunistic defenses that create a lot of turnovers and can deliver some brutal shots. The Seahawks got a big win over the Eagles last week, as Russell Wilson officially entered his name into the MVP discussion. He played out of his mind in that game. The Jaguars have been a ground and pound team all season with Leonard Fournette and have been winning these games despite Blake Bortles not having a particularly strong season. I am going to give the edge to the Seahawks in this game, quarterback play being the deciding factor.

Projected Score: Seahawks 27 Jaguars 21

Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) vs Los Angeles Rams (9-3)

Brace yourselves, commentators comparing Carson Wentz and Jared Goff is coming. But that’s only natural, as Goff and Wentz went 1 and 2, respectively in the 2016 NFL Draft. Their careers will forever be linked, just as Winston and Mariota’s are, or Manning and Leaf’s. Both guys have taken huge leaps forward this season as Carson Wentz is a leading candidate for MVP while Sean McVay has saved Jared Goff’s career after a really poor rookie season. Both teams also have really good defenses so I expect this thing to come down to the wire. But I’m going with the Eagles this week, bouncing back from a loss. This is a gut feeling, as I can really see this thing going either way. Plus, a win here wins the division for the birds.

Projected Score: Eagles 31 Rams 28

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2)

The Ravens are coming off a beatdown of the Lions while the Steelers are coming off a Monday Night brawl with the Bengals. Both teams seem to be at their best when they play each other so I’m expecting another good, hard-fought contest between them. The Ravens defense is back to their usual tricks, beating up on the rest of the league as Terrell Suggs continues to defy father time, as he’s over 10 sacks again in his age-35 season. But it’s their offense that worries me. I just don’t think they have the consistency or the weapons to keep up with this explosive Steelers offense, even without the aid of Juju Smith-Schuster, who is suspended for a hit on Vontaze Burfict. I’m going with the Steelers.

Projected Score: Steelers 24 Ravens 13

New England Patriots (10-2) vs Miami Dolphins (5-7)

The Patriots will be without Rob Gronkowski this week, who is serving a 1-game suspension for his cheap shot on Bills corner Tre’Davious White. A lot of people are calling bullshit on that decision and are saying he should’ve gotten more games because his late and clearly intentional hit gave the Bills rookie a concussion, but I’m going to say simmer down to those people. While yes, the hit by Gronk was totally uncalled for and has no place in the game, I think 1 game was the right call. It’s to make up for the fact that the officials didn’t eject him (which they should have). Besides, where were all these calls for heads when AJ Green choke slammed Jalen Ramsey? It’s because Green was ejected in that game (also because Gronk is a member of the Patriots, people will feel that the punishment handed down is never enough). I’m still going to go with the Pats in this one. They’re just the Dolphins’ daddy. If my predictions come true, then the Patriots and Steelers will clash next week with both teams at 11-2. Too hyped.

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Projected Score: Patriots 38 Dolphins 17

That’s it for my picks segment this week. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

NFL Picks: Week 13

Last Week: 12-4                 Season Record: 91-54

So this is going to be a bit different than my usual NFL picks blogs. I’m going to try and keep it a little shorter because I’m writing this at 2 in the morning coming back from the Big Ten Championship Game, won by the Ohio State Buckeyes 27-21. I couldn’t write it earlier in the day because I also cover the Indiana Wrestling team for a school TV station (IUSTV Sports) and Indiana had 3 consecutive duals that I had to be in attendance for and by the time I got out, it was time for me to get to a shuttle. What I’m trying to say is I’m running on fumes right now. And I’m a little pouty because I just had to drop over $200 for an Uber from Indianapolis to Bloomington because they jack up the rates when there’s a big event happening, which I guess is understandable. The driver was pleasant enough. I’m also going to kind of combine my Playoff picks in this because those are being released on Sunday Night rather than the usual Tuesday Night, them being the final ones of the year. I also wanted to mention, I freaking NAILED my conference championship picks. I went 8-0. I kind of feel dirty saying I finally got a perfect week since I did 4 fewer games than usual, so I’m just going to put an asterisk next to that. Sound good? Well, I don’t care, it’s my blog. Also, I picked the Redskins to beat the Cowboys on Thursday. That went VERY poorly, though not as bad as that time I picked the Dolphins to beat the Ravens on a Thursday Nighter and the Ravens ended up winning 40-0. That was fun. So with that, let’s get into the blog.

College Playoff Rankings:

1.Oklahoma Sooners

2.Clemson Tigers

3.Georgia Bulldogs

4.Alabama Crimson Tide

Just Missed:

Ohio State Buckeyes

Wisconsin Badgers

It hurt not including a Big Ten team in this but you just can’t at this point. Had Wisconsin won the Big Ten Title they would absolutely be in, but alas, that schedule. I’m predicting the committee swaps Clemson and Oklahoma on me and we may get a third straight year of Clemson-Alabama in the Playoff, though it could happen a week sooner than usual. And yes, I have Alabama getting in even though they didn’t win their conference. Let’s face it, I would take a 1-loss Alabama (that one loss being a Top-10 Auburn team) over Big Ten champ and 2-loss (including one by 31 points) Ohio State every time. It’s just the way things are. On to the NFL picks.

Minnesota Vikings (9-2) vs Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

Like I mentioned in the intro, I’m not going to go that long on these just simply because of the hour I’m writing them, my brain just isn’t functioning the way it needs to. But if you read my picks blogs enough I’m sure you can get a sense of how I feel about each team considering I feel like I can get a bit repetitive at times. I’m taking the Vikings in this one. I know Julio Jones is coming off that monster 250-yard game against the Buccaneers, but that’s the Buccaneers. Xavier Rhodes is far better than anyone the Bucs have to offer to cover Julio. Rhodes won’t shut him down, but he definitely won’t let up 250 yards. I expect that to be enough for an efficient Vikings team to get the job done.

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Projected Score: Vikings 28 Falcons 20

Detroit Lions (6-5) vs Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

I’m going to pick the Lions here. Joe Flacco is just too inconsistent for me to trust and this Lions defense can be pretty potent at times. I do think it will be a low-scoring game because Baltimore’s defense is firing on all cylinders right now, but I trust Stafford more than I do Flacco.

Projected Score: Lions 21 Ravens 13

New England Patriots (9-2) vs Buffalo Bills (6-5)

It’s 2 am. I’m not going into any depth on what’s essentially been a lock every year since Brady took over for Bledsoe.

Projected Score: Patriots 35 Bills 14

San Francisco 49ers (1-10) vs Chicago Bears (3-8)

This is just a cavalcade of shit right here. Though it will be interesting for the sheer fact it’s two young and inexperienced quarterbacks with bright futures going head-to-head. Jimmy Garoppolo is making his starting debut for the 49ers against Mitchell Trubisky, who appears to be the future of the Chicago Bears. Having seen what Jimmy G can do, I’m going to go with the 49ers in this one.

Projected Score: 49ers 27 Bears 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) vs Green Bay Packers (5-6)

I really don’t know what to expect with either team, they’ve just been so maddeningly inconsistent. Jameis is back, though I don’t know if that can save this season. Plus he’s in some pretty hot water for allegedly groping a female Uber driver. We’ll have to wait and see what comes of that. For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers is practicing again just 5 weeks after breaking his collarbone. It’s still going to be Brett Hundley in this game, who admittedly played pretty well on Sunday night against the Steelers. This is a tough game to call so I think I’m going to give the edge to the Buccaneers just simply because they’re getting their starting quarterback back.

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Projected Score: Buccaneers 24 Packers 21

Indianapolis Colts (3-8) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4)

I just don’t get it with the Jaguars sometimes. One minute they look like world eaters and the next they lose to the Cardinals. I don’t know, man. I just don’t. But if you lose to the Colts, you have some serious effing problems. The only teams the Colts have beaten are the winless Browns, the 1-10 49ers, and Tom Savage’s first start back with the Texans. Jags fans, you’re going to be fine.

Projected Score: Jaguars 38 Colts 13

Denver Broncos (3-8) vs Miami Dolphins (4-7)

Welp, Paxton Lynch is out with a bum ankle. Back to Trevor Siemian! My God this Broncos quarterback situation is a train wreck. They just can’t seem to catch a break. The rest of this roster is far more talented than 3-8 so if I’m the Broncos, I play for next year and try and tank to land either Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen. Those dudes are the real deal. The Dolphins do just enough to prove to people they still have a pulse. Cutler is back this week and I think he’ll lead the Dolphins to an underwhelming victory.

Projected Score: Dolphins 21 Broncos 17

Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) vs New York Jets (4-7)

Remember when the Chiefs were cream of the crop in the NFL? Pepperidge Farms remembers (wait…I think…yep, we did it, folks, that’s the billionth time somebody referenced that Family Guy meme! Congratulations!). But in all serious, here’s a pretty interesting video that showcases some of the flaws the Chiefs have that were exposed by the Dallas Cowboys. It basically gameplans what the Jets are going to do to win this game.

Projected Score: Jets 28 Chiefs 20

Houston Texans (4-7) vs Tennessee Titans (7-4)

Is there a less impressive 7-4 team than the Titans right now? I don’t mean just this season, I mean ever. I really don’t know how they’ve gotten this far. And they’re probably going to make it to 8 wins because they’re facing perhaps the most injury-riddled team in the NFL in the Houston Texans. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Projected Score: Titans 19 Texans 10

Cleveland Browns (0-11) vs Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)

This was the one game the Browns won last season but I don’t see history repeating itself here. The Chargers, despite their record, are one of the hottest teams in football right now. Last year when these two squared off, the Chargers were basically in “meh” mode. Right now they have a legitimate shot at the playoffs the way the Chiefs are spiraling out of control right now. Imagine a home playoff game in that empty soccer stadium. It’s so awful it just has to happen.

Projected Score: Chargers 27 Browns 14

Carolina Panthers (8-3) vs New Orleans Saints (8-3)

The winner of this game is in the drivers’ seat in the NFC South. It’s easily the most important game going on this week. The Saints smacked the Panthers around the last time these two teams met but a Carolina win here would put them at an advantage in case of tie breakers. But I think the Saints will win this. Yeah, they lost last week to a good Rams team, but the Saints are still one of the hottest teams in football and I think they bounce back here.

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Projected Score: Saints 35 Panthers 31

Los Angeles Rams (8-3) vs Arizona Cardinals (5-6)

Sean McVay proved he belonged last week after beating Sean Payton’s Saints. It was their first win over a really legitimate team and it was done so in impressive fashion. As for the Cardinals, I really have no idea what to make of this team but they feel a lot worse than 5-6. Which is a shame, too, because there is still a lot of talent on this roster even with the injuries to David Johnson and Carson Palmer. They beat the Jaguars last week, but the Rams are far more consistent than the Jags and I expect them to be fine here.

Projected Score: Rams 34 Cardinals 17

New York Giants (2-9) vs Oakland Raiders (5-6)

The Giants are awful and they’re benching Eli Manning for Geno Smith in this game. I don’t need to explain myself further, do I? The Raiders have new motivation now that the Chiefs suddenly suck and they have a legitimate shot at the division again. Motivation is a pretty big factor in winning football games.

Projected Score: Raiders 31 Giants 14

Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) vs Seattle Seahawks (7-4)

This game’s going to be awesome, I just know it. Seattle always seems to put on a show one way or another in prime time, no matter the injury situation (and it is steep). For the Eagles, Alshon Jeffery just got a $52M contract extension, so I’m expecting an extra spring in his step. I’m going to give the edge to the Eagles to run their winning streak up to 10 games. While Seattle has proven they are capable of overcoming injuries to Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, I just think Philly is a different beast this year.

Projected Score: Eagles 28 Seahawks 24

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) vs Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

The Steelers are starting to run away with this division. Hell it’s feasible they could be 11-0 right now. Their first loss was a fluke against the Bears and their other was an anomaly where Big Ben threw 5 picks against the Jaguars. Antonio Brown has been unbelievable and Le’Veon Bell has been a workhorse while the defense has quietly been one of the better units in the NFL. Cincinnati just isn’t consistent enough to where that’s going to make a difference.

Projected Score: Steelers 35 Bengals 20

So those are my picks for this week. Sorry they aren’t as in depth as usual, but hey, maybe you guys like this more. Let me know what you think in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

NFL Picks: Week 12

Last Week: 10-4                  Season Record: 79-50

For my Thanksgiving picks, which you can read here, I went 2-1, hitting on Vikings over Lions and Chargers over Cowboys, and missing on Redskins over Giants (those goddamn G-Men). The bye weeks are over so you can expect these picks segments to be a little longer again. So with that bit of housekeeping, let’s get to the picks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) vs Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

I really have no idea what to make of the Buccaneers. They somehow seem to be playing a little better without Jameis Winston, though the margin of difference is pretty small. Their victories over the Jets and Dolphins were pretty unimpressive, but I doubt they’re complaining. But defensively they’ve stepped up the last couple weeks and that’s thanks in large part to the improved health of linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David. They also luck into a Falcons team that will be without star runningback Devonta Freeman, however Atlanta has a pretty damn good secondary option in Tevin Coleman. This will be Coleman’s chance to showcase what he can do in a lead role, essentially an audition to become the main man when his contract expires after next season, or to become trade bait this offseason. I think he has a solid game and I’ve got the Falcons taking this one at home.

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Tevin Coleman can turn this new opportunity with the Falcons into an opportunity to become “the guy” (photo credit: Heavy.com)

Projected Score: Falcons 27 Buccaneers 20

Cleveland Browns (0-10) vs Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)

Josh Gordon is practicing again for the Browns but he won’t be eligible to return until next week against the Chargers, so if I’m a Browns fan, I’m keeping an eye on practice reports and how he’s looking. He could be a huge boost for this Browns offense that has absolutely nothing going for them. The defense isn’t terrible, which is why I think they will compete with the Bengals a little better than they did earlier in the season when Cincinnati won 31-7, but I don’t expect them to be much better. The Bengals have been a frustrating team offensively this season but one constant is that the defense has been playing well. I’ve got the Bengals dropping the Browns to 0-11.

Projected Score: Bengals 34 Browns 14

Tennessee Titans (6-4) vs Indianapolis Colts (3-7)

The Titans are coming off a Thursday Night drubbing at the hands of the Steelers. Marcus Mariota had one of his worst games as a pro, throwing four interceptions in the defeat. It gets easier this time around and he’s going to have significantly more time to prepare for the Colts than he did in the short week leading up to the Steelers. The Colts defense is very unimpressive but they played well against the Tom Savage-led Texans. That’s like saying I beat a folding chair in a game of basketball, but still, anytime you can hold an NFL offense to 14 points, you’ve done your job. Neither defense is particularly impressive overall, but I trust Mariota to bounce back this week and I think the Titans come away with the W.

Projected Score: Titans 28 Colts 21

Buffalo Bills (5-5) vs Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

This is a battle of two teams that are as ice cold as they come. Buffalo has lost three in a row, each by double digits, and the Chiefs have lost 4 of their last 5, including losing to the lowly Giants in OT last week and making me look like a moron. So one of these teams will likely be ending their streak of suckitude, unless of course this game ends in the dreaded tie. God I hate ties. For Buffalo, the Nathan Peterman experiment could not have been more of a disaster. The rookie out of Pittsburgh threw 5 first half interceptions and got benched for the incumbent Tyrod Taylor in the second half. Why Taylor was benched in the first place is beyond me, it’s not like he was the reason the Bills were trending the wrong way, he’s been having a solid season. For that reason, I’m going with the Chiefs. There’s too much discord in Buffalo right now.

Projected Score: Chiefs 24 Bills 17

Miami Dolphins (4-6) vs New England Patriots (8-2)

Jay Cutler is out with a concussion for the Dolphins so Matt Moore will take his place, which has been pretty hit-or-miss in the past. Yes Moore has more familiarity with the Dolphins system, but he still lacks the talent that Cutler has (I see you sniggering over there. Stop it, I said Cutler is talented, not good, there’s a difference). But they won’t stand a chance against the Patriots regardless of who is at quarterback (unless they managed to make a Tom Brady clone). No matter how many injuries New England may have at any given time, and they have a bunch right now, they aways seem to find the guys to make it work. Lately it’s been guys like Rex Burkhead that have been Bill Belichick’s mismatch of the week. The Raiders didn’t have an answer for either Burkhead or Brandin Cooks or any other Patriots skill players. I’ve got New England.

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Rex Burkhead is the latest role player to explode onto the scene with the Patriots (photo credit: Boston Herald)

Projected Score: Patriots 38 Dolphins 21

Carolina Panthers (7-3) vs New York Jets (4-6)

Is it me, or does Carolina not “feel” as good as their record might indicate? The Titans fall into the same category as teams that don’t seem very impressive, yet are still in a good position in the standings. Carolina only trails superpower New Orleans by a game for the division lead, but that’s mainly due to their defense, which has been about as spectacular as it was when they made their run to an NFC championship in 2015. Carolina’s defense has held their opponents without an offensive touchdown in 4 of their 10 games this season, which is amazing if you think about it. They face a Jets team that is quite frankly a lot better than they should be. I would argue that this is the least talented roster in football yet they still find themselves hovering around .500. You have to respect the job head coach Todd Bowles has done this season given their lack of impact players, but I don’t think he’ll be enough to get the Jets past the Panthers this week.

Projected Score: Panthers 31 Jets 17

Chicago Bears (3-7) vs Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)

The Bears finally let Mitchell Trubisky loose in their last couple games, actually allowing him to throw the football. He’s been solid in his opportunity, definitely showing signs of promise. The Bears didn’t need to rely on him too heavily last week as Jordan Howard was having a monster game with 125 rushing yards on only 15 carries. Trubisky himself had a solid day running the football as well, as he ran for 53 on 6 carries. They’re going to struggle to find those same lanes against the Eagles, however. Jim Schwartz’s defense manhandled the Cowboys offense last week and if anything, it’ll be an easier time this week against the Bears. Carson Wentz has kept up his torrid pace and I don’t see this Bears defense slowing him down. I’ve got the Eagles.

Projected Score: Eagles 30 Bears 20

Seattle Seahawks (6-4) vs San Francisco 49ers (1-9)

The Seahawks made a good comeback attempt against the Falcons on Monday Night Football but came up just short (literally, Blair Walsh’s potential game-tying field goal didn’t quite reach the crossbar). It’s impressive they were able to keep it close without Kam Chancellor or Richard Sherman in the secondary, just goes to show how deep Seattle’s back four are. They were also able to hold Matt Ryan under 200 yards, which is something that can’t be taken lightly. CJ Beathard has been announced as the starting quarterback after the bye week following San Francisco’s first win of the season over the Giants, one that was much earned. I’ve said many times during this picks segment, the 49ers really aren’t that bad. Are they good? No, but they’re not 1-9 bad. Maybe 3-7. They had that stretch earlier in the season where they lost 5 straight games by 4 or fewer points, so I felt really good for them when they finally got on the board (which I predicted, thank you very much). But I don’t think they’ll be able to beat the Seahawks. Seattle showed last week that they can still compete defensively without two of their best guys and the 49ers don’t have the weapons on offense to prove otherwise.

Projected Score: Seahawks 27 49ers 7

New Orleans Saints (8-2) vs Los Angeles Rams (7-3)

Oh shit, Rams have back-to-back games against the elites of the NFC. This is where Sean McVay has to show he’s for real as a head coach. The Rams have been slaughtering some pretty bad teams this season and their best win of the year is over the Jaguars. Yes they are good, but they still are an inconsistent team. The Saints have been as good as any team in football, but defensively they may be vulnerable this week. Star rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore and his battery mate Ken Crawley are both out this week so I expect the Rams to try and target Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods a little more frequently (bet Buffalo is really steaming watching these guys have success in LA). I’m still going to give the edge to the Saints, though I think this will be a lower scoring game. The backfield duo of Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara have been dynamite this season and despite how good the Rams have been on defense, I’m not so sure they can stop these guys.

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Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are arguably the best 1-2 punch at runningback in football (photo credit: Fan Rag Sports)

Projected Score: Saints 20 Rams 16

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) vs Arizona Cardinals (4-6)

As I mentioned above, the Jaguars have been inconsistent this season, though I think they may have broken their string of good-bad-good-bad, as they’ve won 4 games in a row, mostly on the strength of their defense. They’ve allowed a grand total of 31 points in those 4 games, including a shutout of the Colts. The Cardinals are going to struggle mightily offensively, though I wouldn’t say they were abysmal last time out against the Texans. Sure they lost, but Blaine Gabbert seemed competent enough as the Cardinals quarterback. I think he’s going to struggle against his old team, though, and I have the Jaguars winning their fifth in a row and getting to win number 8 for the first time since 2010.

Projected Score: Jaguars 33 Cardinals 14

Denver Broncos (3-7) vs Oakland Raiders (4-6)

The Broncos are going to roll with Paxton Lynch from here on out, it seems. That’s a smart move, in my humblest of opinions. Your season is pretty much lost and you spent a first rounder on this kid, what have you got to lose? If he performs well, great. If he doesn’t, there’s a talented crop of quarterbacks entering the NFL in 2018. Like a few other teams I’ve talked about today, the Broncos really aren’t as bad as their record might indicate, but they’ve had so many problems at quarterback that it has held this team down and crippled them to the point of near disaster. They’re going to have problems with the Raiders, though. Yes, Oakland lost to New England 33-8, but Marshawn Lynch was getting a good push all game and Derek Carr wasn’t getting a ton of help from his receivers. Plus Belichick just straight up out-coached Jack Del Rio. I don’t think Vance Joseph can out-coach Del Rio the way the Hoodie did and I’m taking the Raiders.

Projected Score: Raiders 21 Broncos 10

Green Bay Packers (5-5) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)

Just when I start to have a little bit of confidence in Brett Hundley, he goes and does that. The Packers were shut out by the Baltimore Ravens in Lambeau last week and Hundley was terrible. 21-36 for 239 yards (not that bad) with no touchdowns and 3 interceptions (very bad). Now yes, I understand the Ravens have a good defense and can fluster any good quarterback. But when you have guys on offense like Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb at your disposal, you should at least be able to score SOMETHING! That’s why I anticipate this game being a blowout. Unlike the Ravens, the Steelers have a ton of weapons on offense in Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and the emerging Juju Smith-Schuster. Hundley just can’t keep up with that.

Projected Score: Steelers 41 Packers 17

Houston Texans (4-6) vs Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

The Texans are coming off a victory over the Arizona Cardinals, the first this season for Tom Savage. Savage was actually pretty good in that game, too. 22-32 for 230 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 pick. The Ravens are a bit tougher defensively, as evidenced by their shutout of the Packers at Lambeau. Defensive coordinator Dean Peas’ group have allowed the third fewest points and the sixth fewest yards this season so I don’t anticipate a lot of offensive success for the Texans. Offensively, Danny Woodhead is making his way back and could create some mismatches for Joe Flacco to exploit. Houston is pretty depleted on defense but can still hold their own. Despite that, I’m taking the Ravens this week. They’re more of a safe bet.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

CJ Mosley and the Ravens defense have been very impressive this season (photo credit: USA Today)

Projected Score: Ravens 23 Texans 13

Those are my picks for this week. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

NFL Picks: Week 11

Last Week: 11-3                  Season Record: 69-46

Damn, 69 wins again. Just like with college football last week, I may try and sabotage my picks segment for the NFL just so I can stay at 69 wins. However that won’t end up happening because I won the Thursday night bout between the Steelers and Titans in NBC’s experiment with sky cam cameras for most of the game. I thought it was okay, I prefer the traditional camera view mainly because I can see everything, sky cam cuts off my view of the receivers. However I did appreciate sky cam on running plays more. But with that, let’s get to the picks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) vs Miami Dolphins (4-5)

So this was the game that was supposed to happen in Week 1 but Hurricane Irma had other ideas. Personally, I liked Chris Long’s idea to move this game to a neutral site and donate the proceeds to relief efforts, but the NFL decided moving this game to the week where both teams have a bye would be a better idea, leaving these teams with having to play 16 straight weeks with no bye. Seems smart. The Buccaneers are coming off an odd week for them, beating the Jets on field goals, something that was a MAJOR issue for this team over the last couple years. Patrick Murray hit 5 through the uprights and it was enough to give the Bucs their first win since Week 4. The Dolphins’ spectacular defensive performance this season finally ran out of steam on Monday night against the Panthers. I think this will be a more defensive game, both teams’ normal starting quarterbacks are out and they’re pretty limited offensively as is. I’m going to give the edge to the Dolphins, I think they’re better suited to win a defensive game.

Projected Score: Dolphins 20 Buccaneers 13

Detroit Lions (5-4) vs Chicago Bears (3-6)

The Bears finally let Mitchell Trubisky loose last week against Green Bay and he looked solid. 21-35 with 297 yards and a touchdown. The problem was the Packers stacked the box to stop Jordan Howard and it worked, as Howard was limited to just 54 yards on 15 carries and Brett Hundley was able to have his best game as a pro, leading the Packers to victory. The Lions seem to be back on track, winning back-to-back games since falling below .500 a couple weeks ago. Matthew Stafford has been leading this team through thick and thin but this team goes where the defense is willing to take them. I think Detroit’s defense steps up and gets the job done.

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Matthew Stafford has been up to his usual tricks this season (photo credit: Fan Rag Sports)

Projected Score: Lions 24 Bears 14

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) vs Cleveland Browns (0-9)

I want to say the Jaguars broke their streak of good-bad-good-bad but they didn’t play too well in their victory against the Chargers. It just seemed like the Chargers wanted to win a little less, especially in that wildly unimpressive overtime period. By that logic, the Jaguars are slated to have a good performance and they face the perfect team to do so in the Cleveland Browns. Ahead of the game, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles gave some sound advice to Browns quarterback Deshone Kizer: “Try to throw it to your team as much as possible.” That’s good advice, Blake. The Browns offense has been abysmal this season and it’s going to be a looooooooooooooooong day against this explosive Jaguars defense.

Projected Score: Jaguars 35 Browns 10

Baltimore Ravens (4-5) vs Green Bay Packers (5-4)

This is a tough game to project because both teams have stout defenses but have had their struggles offensively. The Ravens are coming off their bye week following a narrow 23-20 defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Titans while the Packers won their first game under Brett Hundley on the strength of their defense. It’s going to come down to which offense can make a play because you can bet both teams’ defenses will be bringing a little something extra as they try and keep their playoff hopes alive. I’m going to pick the Packers this week. I think they’re riding a little more momentum right now and that can come in handy.

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Brett Hundley has the unenviable task of trying to to match Aaron Rodgers’ production (photo credit: 247 Sports)

Projected Score: Packers 24 Ravens 20

Arizona Cardinals (4-5) vs Houston Texans (3-6)

Blaine Gabbert vs Tom Savage. A match made in heaven. The Cardinals are hovering around mediocrity and things don’t appear to be getting any better, however the Texans are in full tank mode with all the injuries to critical players they’ve had this season. If I’m Houston, I prepare for next year by having everyone get healthy while also testing out some young guys to see what they can do. They traded their first round draft pick in 2018 to the Cleveland Browns for the right to draft Deshaun Watson so playing for the high pick isn’t really an option. I think Arizona is going to win this game, however it wouldn’t shock me to see Houston compete simply because of how inconsistent the Cardinals have been.

Projected Score: Cardinals 20 Texans 17

Los Angeles Rams (7-2) vs Minnesota Vikings (7-2)

If I were to tell you at the beginning of the year that the best matchup in Week 11 would be Jared Goff vs Case Keenum, you’d laugh in my face and revoke my rights to talk football, and rightfully so. But that just goes to show the job that head coaches Sean McVay and Mike Zimmer have done this season. Goff has taken a HUGE leap in year 2 of his NFL career and the Vikings have been overcoming some injuries to key players. This is going to be a really good game. I think I’m going to give the edge to the Vikings. This is more a gut feeling than anything because these two teams do match up really well with one another and there isn’t a big enough edge for either team where I’d feel totally confident in a decision based on numbers or the eye test.

Projected Score: Vikings 28 Rams 27

Washington Redskins (4-5) vs New Orleans Saints (7-2)

The Saints continue to be the hottest team in football, having won 7 in a row and last week may have been their most impressive performance of the season as they dropped 47 points on the Buffalo Bills through almost exclusively running the football. The Bills are no slouches defensively so it came as a shock to me to see the Saints score that many points on them, though if I had to pick one team that would do that, it would probably be New Orleans. I just would’ve guessed they’d be throwing the football some more, but six rushing touchdowns will get the job done every time. The defense has also been terrific and I think the Redskins will struggle to score points against them. I think the Saints win again and increase their win streak to 8.

Projected Score: Saints 35 Redskins 17

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) vs New York Giants (1-8)

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Ben McAdoo may get fired after this game.

Projected Score: Chiefs 42 Giants 0

Buffalo Bills (5-4) vs Los Angeles Chargers (3-6)

The Bills benched Tyrod Taylor after a lackluster performance against the Saints in favor of rookie fifth rounder Nathan Peterman. Peterman played okay in relief of Taylor late in the game, throwing the team’s only touchdown on the day for the first of his NFL career. The Chargers are a tough team to make your starting debut against, however. Defensively they’re quietly one of the top units in the NFL thanks in large part to the pass rush duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. I think the Chargers defense is going to frustrate this Bills offense and the Bolts will get the win.

Projected Score: Chargers 23 Bills 14

Cincinnati Bengals (3-6) vs Denver Broncos (3-6)

This is a game between two struggling offenses and some stellar defenses that are probably feeling pretty frustrated considering how much they have to do to accommodate their offenses. Andy Dalton and the duo of Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler have struggled this season and I wouldn’t be surprised if either coach goes to backup quarterbacks AJ McCarron or Paxton Lynch to try and get a spark. These are two teams with plenty of weapons on offense but the quarterback play has held them back. I’m going to go with the Bengals. I think they’ve shown me a little more this season than the Broncos have.

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Geno Atkins has continued to dominate on the interior of the line (photo credit: Sports Illustrated)

Projected Score: Bengals 17 Broncos 10

New England Patriots (7-2) vs Oakland Raiders (4-5)

This game will be played in Mexico. It’s the Raiders’ second straight year playing with our neighbors to the south, where they beat the Houston Texans last season. The Patriots are on fire right now, winning five in a row, including a beatdown of the Broncos on Sunday night where special teams were the main deciding factor, as the Broncos muffed a punt, let up a kick return touchdown, and had a punt get blocked all in a matter of 20 minutes of game time. The Patriots likely won’t get that kind of help against this scrappy Raiders team but I still think they will prevail, I just think Oakland is too unbalanced an offense to pose too much of a threat.

Projected Score: Patriots 27 Raiders 17

Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) vs Dallas Cowboys (5-4)

This is a fun game on paper, however the Cowboys are missing some key members of their squad. Sure, Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension hurt, but my god, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team miss an offensive lineman as much as the Cowboys missed Tyron Smith last week against the Falcons. Chaz Green was absolutely manhandled by Adrian Clayborn so bad that Clayborn nearly set an NFL record for sacks in a game with 6 (the record is 7 by Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas). Clayborn isn’t exactly the late-great Derrick Thomas, he had 2 sacks going into that game and came out of it has one of the league’s leaders. Smith is expected to miss this game as well so the Cowboys are going to have to find some way to give Green help on the left side because you can bet Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is going to be bringing the house against him. I have the Eagles in this one.

Projected Score: Eagles 24 Cowboys 7

Atlanta Falcons (5-4) vs Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

The Falcons, as mentioned in the previous game, absolutely ransacked the Cowboys offense in their victory last week, spearheaded by Adrian Clayborn’s 6 sacks. They face an even weaker offensive line in Seattle, though it has admittedly played a lot better since acquiring Duane Brown from the Texans. However the Seahawks lost both star defensive backs Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor for the season and that’s going to hurt badly. Those are two of the biggest leaders of this defense and their presence will be sorely missed against a Falcons team that appears to be regaining its confidence. I have Atlanta in this one.

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The Cowboys couldn’t stop Adrian Clayborn all afternoon last week. (photo credit: MyAJC.com)

Projected Score: Falcons 30 Seahawks 20

Teams on Bye: New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers

Those are my picks for this week. About five or six shots left at a perfect week, so fingers crossed I can nab one before the season gets out. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

NFL Picks: Week 10

Last Week: 8-5                  Season Record: 58-43

I was killing it last week up until the 4:00 games, where I missed every single one, but my performance before that was good enough where it didn’t hurt me overall. 8-5 is roughly where I expected to be when I started doing this and after a few really strong weeks, I finally have a good record. However those good weeks came after losing the Thursday night game, and I finally broke my 3-week Thursday Night losing streak when the Seahawks beat the Cardinals. So let’s see if Thursday Nighters really do correlate with my performance, or if I’m just getting better at picking.

New Orleans Saints (6-2) vs Buffalo Bills (5-3)

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Drew Brees is quietly defying father time this season (photo credit: WWL)

Believe it or not, this is the only matchup this week between two teams with winning records, which comes as a surprise to me based on the perception of these teams at the beginning of the year. But the Saints have been one of the most well-rounded teams in football, as defensively they’re 10th best in points per game allowed and 15th in total yards allowed in addition to their typical offensive prowess. Buffalo has also been impressive defensively, as they rank 6th best in points and 23rd in yards. The reason for Buffalo’s high ranking in points but low ranking in yards is because the Bills have been a turnover machine defensively, as they’re second in the NFL in interceptions and first in forced fumbles. This could potentially be a low-scoring game but I think the Saints will prevail, as I trust in Drew Brees’ ability to put up points on a tough defense more than I do Tyrod Taylor’s.

Projected Score: Saints 27 Bills 17

Green Bay Packers (4-4) vs Chicago Bears (3-5)

The Packers have struggled mightily with Brett Hundley under center, as they’ve lost 3 in a row since losing Aaron Rodgers (I’m counting the Vikings game that Rodgers went down in because he was injured pretty early in that game). In that stretch they’ve only been decent defensively so despite the fact that they’re going up against a very one dimensional offense in Chicago, I’m not so sure they’ll be able to leave Soldier Field with a W. The Bears have won two in a row with Mitchell Trubisky under center despite the fact that he’s hardly thrown any passes. Defensively during this stretch the Bears defense has been sensational and I think they will fluster Hundley to no end and allow the Bears to win, even if Trubisky hardly throws.

Projected Score: Bears 17 Packers 10

Cleveland Browns (0-8) vs Detroit Lions (4-4)

I’ve got a strange feeling about this one. The Browns are coming off a much-needed bye week and they face a Lions team that has been pretty inconsistent overall. The Browns are likely going with Deshone Kizer at quarterback and they’ve been terrible offensively and the Lions defense has been pretty good. But the Browns looked pretty solid for three quarters against the Vikings in London so maybe the bye will have them on the right track. I’m going to go with the Lions because I think Matthew Stafford will be too difficult for Cleveland to stop, but I do have a funny feeling that this may be the week for the Browns.

Projected Score: Lions 27 Browns 20

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) vs Indianapolis Colts (3-6)

The Steelers, like the Browns, are also coming off a bye and had been trending in the right direction leading up to it, winning three in a row. In fact, those three consecutive wins have come following Ben Roethlisberger’s 5 interception game against the Jaguars. They face a Colts defense that struggles to get takeaways and after cutting Vontae Davis, the Colts have nobody they can trust to cover Antonio Brown. I think Brown has a field day in this game and the Steelers win easily.

Projected Score: Steelers 42 Colts 14

Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)

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Joey Bosa has shown that his 2016 Rookie of the Year campaign was no fluke (photo credit: Sports Illustrated)

The Chargers are also coming off their bye week after being competitive with the Patriots for four quarters. The defense has been really good this season, as they haven’t allowed more than 26 points in any game this season, which includes a shutout of Denver. The Jaguars were able to beat the Bengals despite suspending Leonard Fournette for the game for violating team rules (allegedly, he missed a team photo, which seems like a silly reason to suspend someone an entire game for. A fine probably would’ve gotten the point across) and will likely have him back this week. I feel like on paper the Jaguars should win this game, but based on the good-bad-good-bad performances they’ve given, this is scheduled to be a bad week, so I’m going to go with LAC.

Projected Score: Chargers 20 Jaguars 14

New York Jets (4-5) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)

The Jets are coming off an impressive Thursday Night victory over the Bills and Josh McCown has quietly been really good this season, especially considering his best receivers are Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson. The defense has also been pretty good and they face a Buccaneers team that will be without Jameis Winston and possibly Mike Evans. Winston injured his shoulder in Tampa’s blowout loss to the Saints last week and Evans is appealing a one-game suspension for a cheap shot on Marshon Lattimore (probably will play this week due to appeal rules). Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start for the Bucs but I don’t think he’ll make much of a difference. I have the Jets.

Projected Score: Jets 27 Buccaneers 14

Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) vs Tennessee Titans (5-3)

The Bengals offense got shut down by Jacksonville last week and couldn’t beat the Jaguars despite not having to face Leonard Fournette. It also didn’t help that they lost AJ Green in the second quarter for putting Jalen Ramsey in a chokehold. Neither player got suspended for the exchange, which surprises me given Mike Evans did get suspended for his shot on Lattimore. Hell, Green threw punches! But regardless, they face a Titans team that has been really inconsistent this season yet still somehow find themselves on pace for a 10-win season. This is a tough game to project because I just have no idea what to expect out of either team. I’m going to give the edge to Tennessee because I don’t trust Cincinnati’s ability to score points.

Projected Score: Titans 28 Bengals 17

Minnesota Vikings (6-2) vs Washington Redskins (4-4)

The Vikings defense has carried this team this season but don’t discredit the play of Case Keenum. He’s been pretty effective as Sam Bradford deals with an injury. Mike Zimmer will have an interesting decision on whether to bring in Teddy Bridgewater when he’s fully healthy, but thanks to Keenum’s play, he’s able to wait until the former first rounder is 100%. They face a Redskins team coming off an exciting victory in Seattle. The defense looked really good and I think this has the potential to be another low-scoring game. I’m going to give the edge to the Vikings, as they’ve been more efficient this season.

Projected Score: Vikings 23 Redskins 16

Houston Texans (3-5) vs Los Angeles Rams (6-2)

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Todd Gurley has been a major factor in the Rams offensive rebirth (photo credit: The Ringer)

Losing Deshaun Watson for the season has very visibly hurt this Texans team, as they were only able to muster 14 points against a poor Colts defense under Tom Savage. They go back to Savage again against a really tough Rams defense. It won’t be a fun day for Savage. The Rams are coming off an absolutely DOMINANT performance against the Giants, where they went into East Rutherford and won 51-17. They face another team that appears to be playing for next year and I think they get another win. Don’t look now, but the Rams may be 7-2 after this weekend.

Projected Score: Rams 34 Texans 10

Dallas Cowboys (5-3) vs Atlanta Falcons (4-4)

So it looks like Ezekiel Elliott is finally going to serve that suspension after being denied an injunction (or an appeal, or objection, I don’t know legal talk. You’d think I would’ve learned after following Tom Brady’s case so closely). I do anticipate a drop off in the team’s rushing performance, as Elliott is a hard guy to replace, but I also think they will be okay. Alfred Morris is a capable back and he’ll be running behind the best offensive line in football. Where Dallas will be hurt is in big play ability because Morris lacks Zeke’s explosiveness. The Falcons have been a disappointment at this stage in the season but if they were to pull off a big win, I think this would be where they’d have to do it. The Cowboys will be without Zeke and Dez Bryant isn’t totally healthy. I think the Cowboys offense will struggle some and I think Atlanta takes it at home.

Projected Score: Falcons 31 Cowboys 24

New York Giants (1-7) vs San Francisco 49ers (0-9)

It’s hard to get embarrassed on your home field as badly as the Giants were embarrassed by the Rams last week. This team appears to have quit on head coach Ben McAdoo and I don’t anticipate things going any better as they face the winless 49ers. The 49ers have played hard all year and haven’t had things go their way and I think this is the week they are finally rewarded for their efforts. The Giants seem like they’re phoning it in and I think Kyle Shanahan will have his guys ready to pounce. But this will also be my third time picking the 49ers this season and they’ve let me down each time. Third time’s the charge I guess?

Projected Score: 49ers 27 Giants 10

New England Patriots (6-2) vs Denver Broncos (3-5)

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The Patriots defense has improved significantly throughout the season and a lot of it is thanks to the improvement of Kyle Van Noy (photo credit: Pats Pulpit)

The last team you want to face coming off a bye is the New England Patriots and the Broncos themselves are coming off a blowout loss to the Eagles. Bill Belichick and his guys have had two weeks to prepare for this Broncos team and while they do have a good defense (ignoring the fact they let up 51 points to the Eagles), they have a ton of issues on the offensive side of the ball. I think Brock Osweiler will struggle to move the ball against the Patriots. I don’t anticipate this being a close game.

Projected Score: Patriots 35 Broncos 10

Miami Dolphins (4-4) vs Carolina Panthers (6-3)

This has the potential to be a good game. The Dolphins defense has been impressive this season and Jay Cutler is coming off his best performance as a Dolphin in the loss to the Raiders last week. Carolina has been inconsistent offensively but dominant on defense, so I think this could be a tightly-contested ball game. Despite not having Kelvin Benjamin after shipping him off to Buffalo, they were still able to put up enough points to beat the Falcons (though some self-inflicted wounds by Atlanta certainly contributed). I do think Carolina comes out and wins though, I don’t think Miami is good enough offensively to overcome Carolina’s defense.

Projected Score: Panthers 21 Dolphins 17

Teams on Bye: Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders

Those are my picks for this week. Hopefully I don’t make a damn fool of myself. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

What Can We Expect from Josh Gordon?

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was reinstated by the NFL a few days ago and it amazes me that the Browns still kept him on the roster all this time. But will it be worth their while? Gordon was a second round pick in the 2012 Supplemental Draft out of Baylor by the Browns and despite all the talent he had, he was still a big time risk. He started recreationally using marijuana and xanax when he was in middle school and those troubles carried into college. He was suspended by coach Art Briles for falling asleep in the drive thru at a Taco Bell with marijuana in the car in 2010, yet he still managed to have plenty of success that season, catching 42 passes for 714 yards and 7 TDs in his shortened season. However, he was suspended again following a failed drug test in 2011, resulting in him transferring to Utah, where he had to sit out an entire year due to NCAA rules. He never played a snap for the Utes and ended up qualifying for the 2012 Supplemental Draft, where the Browns took him in the second round.

Gordon shot out of the gates fast in his rookie season of 2012, playing all 16 games, starting 13, and catching 50 passes for 805 yards and 5 TDs. He was among the top rookie wide receivers despite not being eligible for the traditional NFL draft, a group where really only Alshon Jeffery and TY Hilton have become established stars, and neither were first round picks. The first rounders in that class? Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Gordon’s Baylor teammate Kendall Wright, Jonathan Baldwin, and AJ Jenkins. Blackmon flashed amazing potential, but he kept getting in trouble for substance abuse, similarly to Gordon. Floyd and Wright each had a 1000 yard season, but neither really took the next step. Baldwin showed flashes as a rookie but never put it all together and Jenkins was a COLOSSAL whiff by the 49ers. Josh Gordon was easily as talented as any of these guys and in 2013, he showed that he may even be the best of the bunch. Gordon was suspended for the first two games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, then went on an absolute tear upon his return. He led the NFL in receiving yards with 1646 on 87 catches with 9 TD’s and became the first receiver ever to have back-to-back 200 yard games with 237 yards against the Steelers and 261 against the Jaguars. He followed that up with a 151 yard game against the Patriots. He accomplished all this despite playing 2 fewer games than everyone else. In 2014, however, it was announced that he would miss the entire NFL season due to another violation of the substance abuse policy, but was able to get it reduced to 10 games upon appeal. He ended up playing in 5 games before getting suspended for the season finale for violating team rules. In his 5 games, he caught 24 passes for 303 yards and no touchdowns. He hasn’t played a snap in a regular season game ever since. In 2015, he was suspended indefinitely for violating the policy AGAIN, this time for drinking while under probation for a DUI. He’s applied numerous times for reinstatement, however earlier this week, he was finally reinstated and will be eligible to return in Week 13 against the Chargers.

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When he’s on the field, Josh Gordon is one of the most electrifying receivers in football (photo credit: Waiting for Next Year)

 

The Browns stuck by him through all this, even after people were repeatedly calling for them to cut the troubled receiver. He is still employed by the team despite not having played a down of regular season football in 3 years (he did, however, play in the final 2 preseason games of 2016). He is a supremely talented receiver, as evidenced by his 2013 performance, but he also comes with about as much baggage as anybody in the history of the league. He recently stated that he used to get either drunk or high before every game he played in. He says he is sober now, though so it will be interesting to see how he performs once he returns. If I’m a Browns fan, I’d set my expectations low. He’s been out of the league for basically three years and naturally there is going to be some rust once he does return. But given the fact that he is such a talented player, it also wouldn’t surprise me if he has some success. And who knows? Maybe he is the spark this dormant Browns offense needs. He’s had success with subpar quarterbacks beofore, his 2013 season was quarterbacked by Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell, and Brandon Weeden, so catching balls from Deshone Kizer, Kevin Hogan, and Cody Kessler won’t be too much of a change of pace for him. He’s only 26 years old so he’s well into the prime of his athletic years. Let’s just hope for his sake that this whole ordeal has put his head on straight so he doesn’t waste all that talent he has.

NFL Trade Deadline Recap

Holy shit, trades actually happened at the NFL Trade Deadline. Midseason trades typically don’t happen in the NFL because of the learning curve to switching systems midseason that is usually required. But this year some teams have chosen to be active this past week or so in the attempt to bolster their roster. A look at the major trades that took place:

Buffalo Bills trade DT Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 2018 6th Round Pick

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

That’s it? That’s all the Jaguars had to give up to acquire a stud defensive tackle? Sure Dareus may come with some baggage, but he’s one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL. He seems to be worth much more than a 6th rounder. For Jacksonville, they acquire an excellent run stuffer that will help a unit that ranks 31st against the run. And yes I am aware this trade took place days ago and not during today’s Trade Deadline. But Dareus is a good enough player and the timing is close enough that I’m including it.

Houston Texans trade OT Duane Brown to the Seattle Seahawks for CB Jeremy Lane, a 2018 5th Round Pick, and a 2019 2nd Round Pick

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

I thought the Seahawks gave up a little much for Brown here (I thought the trade would’ve been fair without the 2nd rounder), but the need was so great that I don’t fault them for it. In fact, there were reports saying that the Seahawks were so desperate for a left tackle, they were willing to trade superstar TE Jimmy Graham for one. They receive stud Texans tackle Duane Brown, who has had his issues with the Houston organization this season. Brown had been holding out for most of the season before playing his first game this past Sunday (against the Seahawks, no less). Brown is a former All Pro and immediately becomes the best lineman on this Seahawks roster, even if he’s only half the player he was a few years ago. Jeremy Lane is by no means a star corner, but he can impact the game and I think the Texans will be happy to have him.

New England Patriots trade QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 2nd Round Pick

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

This was the most shocking trade to me. I figured that the reason the Patriots acquired so much ammunition in the offseason was because they felt that Tom Brady’s career was on its last legs and they wanted to set him up for one final run. This trade of Garoppolo tells me that they are confident that he has a few more great years left in him (he has given them no reason to believe otherwise, as he leads the NFL in passing by almost 400 yards). I have no issue with the compensation, as a lot of other Pats fans do. The 49ers are currently 0-8 and Garoppolo isn’t going to magically turn them around, so this second round pick will likely come at around pick #33 or #34, which is basically a first round pick. There were reports that the Browns offered the Patriots the 12th overall pick in last year’s draft for Jimmy G, which they traded to the Texans to draft Deshaun Watson when New England turned them down, so one must wonder if the Patriots got all they could for the fourth year pro. The Patriots now only have Tom Brady on the roster at quarterback and will likely sign the newly-released Brian Hoyer, who had backed up Brady for the first three years of his career. Or maybe even another former 49ers signal caller…

Miami Dolphins trade RB Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2018 4th Round Pick

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photo credit: CBS Sports

This came as a shock to me because at no point were there any whispers that Ajayi was on the block or that the Eagles were searching for a runningback. Ajayi is having a down year from his breakout 2016 season, but that could be due in large part to the bad quarterback situation in Miami allowing defenses to stack the box against the run, much like what happened with Todd Gurley last season. The Eagles already have options at runningback, as LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, and Wendell Smallwood have been a part of a rotation that is 4th in the NFL in rushing. Also, really? Just a 4th round pick? Ajayi ran for 200 yards on 3 separate occasions last season and finished with over 1200 yards. I read somewhere (I think it was reported by Jeff Darlington) that the Dolphins were concerned about Ajayi’s long-term knee health stemming from an injury he suffered in college and that was why they sent him to Philly. That might also explain the lower draft pick because Philly may also have had that concern. We may learn more in the coming days.

Carolina Panthers trade WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills for a 2018 3rd Round Pick and a 2018 7th Round Pick

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photo credit: Bleacher Report

Like Ajayi, this trade also came as a surprise to me, as I didn’t think Benjamin was on the market, though it didn’t surprise me that the Bills were searching for a receiver. Buffalo receivers are dead last in the NFL in yards and catches this season and Benjamin is a big-bodied receiver with loads of potential. This move surprises me from Carolina’s standpoint because not only do they now have limited options at receiver, but the compensation I felt was subpar for the former first rounder. Benjamin has been solid (albeit inconsistent) since entering the league in the star-studded 2014 receiver class. I think the Panthers could’ve gotten more for him, maybe even the extra first rounder the Bills acquired from the Chiefs in the 2017 NFL Draft. But nonetheless, Benjamin adds a whole other dimension to this Bills offense that has been lacking, yet finds themselves in the thick of a playoff hunt.

Cincinnati Bengals don’t trade QB AJ McCarron to the Cleveland Browns

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photo credit: UPI.com

The Bengals and Browns agreed on a trade for QB AJ McCarron at 3:55 pm (deadline is at 4) but the Browns did not relay their half of the agreement until after the deadline, so McCarron is staying in Cincinnati. Classic Browns. Who knows what they would have given the Bengals for the former Alabama signal caller, but in the past the Bengals had reported that they were looking for as high as a first round pick for him. The Browns have 2 first rounders and 3 second rounders in the 2018 draft. We may never know what the compensation would have been. Also, curious that these two arch rivals would be doing business together over a quarterback.

Those are my thoughts on the trades that took place today. Did any of these moves surprise you? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.