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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuesday’s Gone: Week 14 #NFL Game Reviews


Tuesday’s Gone: Week 14 #NFL Game Reviews

2017 NFL SEASON

Week 14: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)
Week 14 results: 8-8 wins (season*: 114-67; .630); 5-11 v. spread (season*: 85-94-2; .470)


New Orleans Saints 9-3 (-1.5) @ Atlanta Falcons 7-5 (53.5): Saints 27-24 Falcons 20-17
Thursday, 8:25 PM, Mercedes-Benz Dome, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The Saints survived a divisional showdown with the Carolina Panthers last week to claim sole possession of the NFC South, and despite the Falcons hot hand (Atlanta had won three straight before a Week 13 lose 10-2 Minnesota), I don’t see Drew Brees relinquishing that lead considering how tight the NFC South is and how tight the NFC playoff race is in general. The Falcons have won and lost in chunks this season, and have played eight games decided by six or fewer points (4-4), which basically means the only thing Atlanta is good at is keeping us guessing. The Falcons don’t give up many yards (8th yards allowed), but their defense stays on the field a long time, which plays right into the hands of the Saints (6th in time of possession), which also just happens to be one of the three best offenses in the NFL (2nd yards gained; 3rd points scored), not to mention the most dynamic (Alvin Kamara) and most explosive (1st yards per play).

The Saints held a 17-10 lead until nearly halfway through the 4th quarter before the Falcons scored 10 unanswered points between the 10- and 4-minute marks of the 4th quarter to make it a 20-17 game for a Drew Brees (26-35 passing for 271 yards; 2 TDs; 1 INT) special 2-minute drill for the win. Such did not happen as Brees was intercepted by Deion Jones, and despite Matt Ryan’s (15-27 passing for 221 yards; 1 TD) three interceptions, the Falcons squeaked out a win and stayed with the Saints and Panthers in the NFC South.

Indianapolis Colts 3-9 (+3) @ Buffalo Bills 6-6 (39.5): Bills 21-17 Bills 13-7
Sunday, 1:00 PM, New Era Stadium, Buffalo, NY (Weather: Snow; low 30s)

Reasons: Both teams come into Sunday 1-4 in their last five games, but at least the Bills have the excuse of having played the Saints, Chargers and Patriots. The Bills used to have one the top defenses in the league, but the Colts were good once, so the past means nothing. Regardless, the Bills are still alive and the Colts are aiming for a top draft pick. The Bills playoff hopes are riding on Nate Peterman., though, so...

This was one of the coolest games I’ve ever seen. The snow fell at rates of a few inches per hour, and at one point there was over 6” of snow on the field. Nate Peterman threw a touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin in a game with no offense as the first half expired to go up 7-0 (Peterman was injured in the game, which whites out any hopes of the Bills making noise in the playoffs if they end up making it), but the game was decided in the final 1:33 and overtime. The Colts scored on a 3-yard Jacoby Brissett toss to tight end Jack Doyle, with 1:33 remaining, only to have the two-point conversion called back on a penalty. The Colts had no choice other than to kick the extra point, so Snow God Adam Vinatieri punched in the nearly 30-yard kick to tie the game 7-7. The Bills were subsequently intercepted, giving Vinatieri the chance to be the hero again; it didn’t happen and the game went to overtime. That’s when the other Snow God LeSean McCoy (156 rushing yards on 32 carries), the king of blizzard conditions, scampered 21 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

Chicago Bears 3-9 (+6.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals 5-7 (38.5): Bengals 21-20 Bears 33-7
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: Sunny; mid-30s)

Reasons: It’s funny that in a week when nearly every game has playoff implications we get this stinker. The Bears and Bengals are almost identically terrible at possessing the ball, 3rd-down efficiency, and gaining yards or stopping their opponents from gaining yards. The Bengals are coming off a short week after a brutal battle with the Steelers, so I wouldn’t expect much out of them, even against the hapless Bears.

The Bengals clearly hadn’t recovered mentally from that Monday Night game against the Steelers, because the Bears came in and whooped the Bengals, as the Chicago offense and rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky (25-32 passing for 271 yards; 1 TD) had their best games of the season. That doesn’t bode well for a Cincinnati team that was barely hanging on to the string wound by their defense. The Bears possessed the ball for nearly 39 minutes and the defense forced two Bengals turnovers, as the Bengals kissed another season goodbye. Don’t worry, Marvin Lewis will be back. He’ll always be back.

Oakland Raiders 6-6 (+4) @ Kansas City Chiefs 6-6 (48.5): Chiefs 24-21 Chiefs 26-15
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, KS (Weather: Sunny; mid-50s)

Reasons: The last time these two teams played they were miles apart in the standings; then the Chiefs gifted the game to the Raiders after committing several penalties in the Red Zone and end zone to give Oakland myriad undeserved chances to win, which they eventually did 31-30, and Kansas City began their pre-humous tribute to Tom Petty (Free Fallin' for all you slower folks). Fast-forward seven weeks and everyone is locked up at 6-6, the Raiders are treading water and the Chiefs are falling apart. This should be interesting. 
The Chiefs held the ball for nearly 37 minutes, outgained the Raiders by 140 yards, forced three Oakland turnovers and shut them out 26-0 until Marshawn Lynch scored on a 22-yard run with just under nine minutes remaining and began the Raiders late campaign to make a blowout not look like one.

Dallas Cowboys 6-6 (-3.5) @ New York Giants 2-10 (41.5): Cowboys 24-17 Cowboys 30-10
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Sunny; high 30s)

Reasons: I think Eli Manning is starting this game. How big of a shit show have the New York Giants become? In other news, did you hear about Derek Jeter pulling the biggest heist in Major League Baseball history? Fear not New York, you’re relevant once again.

Eli Manning was starting again; the Giants wore their old school uniforms and the home crowd roared on their champion quarterback. Then the fans, and Eli alike, returned to Earth and Manning (2 INTs) returned to his mediocre self as the Cowboys went to MetLife Stadium and secured an important, although relatively easy, divisional road win. Dak Prescott (20-30 passing for 332 yards; 3 TDs) returned to form, Sean Lee didn’t leave the game hurt, and despite the quality backup play, Ezekiel Elliot’s return is on the horizon. The Cowboys are fast becoming a team the NFC doesn’t want to face.

Detroit Lions 6-6 (-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-8 (43.5): Lions 24-23 Lions 24-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL (Weather: Sunny; high 50s)

Reasons: Matthew Stafford is questionable, which means if he doesn’t play, the Lions can basically kiss this game goodbye. Not because the Buccaneers are any good, but because the Lions without Stafford are like the Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers.

Well, Matt Stafford played, but he threw two interceptions; he also set up the game-winning field goal to keep the Lions alive in the NFC. This was a pretty ugly game, which despite featuring 834 combined yards and 49 combined first downs, also featured eight combined turnovers (DET: 3; TB: 5).

Minnesota Vikings 10-2 (-2.5) @ Carolina Panthers 8-4 (40): Vikings 23-20 Panthers 31-24
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC (Weather: Sunny; low 40s)

Reasons: The Vikings getting the three points the Panthers should be getting at home tells you everything you need to know about people’s confidence in Minnesota relative to Carolina. Both teams come into Sunday with top-ten defenses, the Vikings ranking 2nd in points and yards allowed, and each team chews up the clock, which means the game could come down to a few throws, and believe it or not, the smart money says you’d probably rather have Case Keenum make those throws, at least this season.

The Panthers have to be the most interesting teams in the NFL. Only Carolina would lean on their defense most of the season, but give up 24 points, just to have Jonathan Stewart (3 TDs) run all over one of the best run defenses in the NFL to help secure the late season win over arguably the best team in the NFC at home, where they’d only been 3-2 up to that point.

Green Bay Packers 6-6 (-3) @ Cleveland Browns 0-12 (39.5): Packers 23-21 Packers 27-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, OH (Weather: Snow; low 30s)

Reasons: The Packers will be right at home in the snow, and despite their Aaron Rodgers-less woes, Green Bay has developed quite a nice little running game, which will also play well in the weather. Imagine a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers being favored on the road by three points? That’s how bad the Browns are. Word on the street is they’re looking for a quarterback in this year's draft. “The wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round…”

This one really has to hurt. The Browns were home, rookie DeShone Kizer (20-28 passing for 214 yards; 3 TDs; 1 INT) had played perhaps his best game of the season, Josh Gordon looked great and the defense had held the packers to seven points through three quarters. Then it was as if the ghost of Aaron Rodgers impending return arose and performed an early holiday miracle, as Green Bay scored 20 unanswered points in the 4th quarter and overtime, including two Brett Hundley to Davante Adams connections, to steal the win from the still winless Browns.

San Francisco 49ers 2-10 (+2.5) @ Houston Texans 4-8 (45): Texans 24-21 49ers 26-16
Sunday, 1:00 PM, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The 49ers come into the game with their shiny new toy, but unfortunately for the Texans their own new toy is on the shelf for the rest of the season and beyond. Such has made for rather boring and sad seasons, respectively. Perhaps the Texans are still alive mathematically, but both of these teams are looking towards the draft at this point.

DeAndre Hopkins is so nice he stole the show in a loss. Hopkins gained 146 yards and scored the Texans only two TDs on 11 catches, but it wasn’t enough to beat Jimmy Garoppolo (20-33 passing for 334 yards; 1 TD; 1 INT), who threw for a career high as he led the 49ers to their second straight win.  

New York Jets 5-7 (-1) @ Denver Broncos 3-9 (41.5): Jets 20-17 Broncos 23-0
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO (Weather: Clear; low 50s)

Reasons: The Jets are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive when they face the Broncos on the road Sunday. You have to read that a few times and then Google it so see if it’s even true, then scratch your head at the reality.

Just when you start having faith in the New York Jets, or none in the Denver Broncos, the betting gods laugh and give you something like we saw in Denver Sunday. Truth be told, I was hesitant to pick the Jets on the road, and considering I can’t pick a score that reflects the spread, I decided three points was nice and pretty; however, I almost picked the Broncos several times before posting the article. What I didn’t expect at all was the Jets offense to collapse, which wasn’t just shut out, but only gained 100 total yards and six first downs. Jeez, this wasn’t even the snow game.

Tennessee Titans 8-4 (-3) @ Arizona Cardinals 5-7 (46.5): Titans 24-20 Cardinals 12-7
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, AZ (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: It’s hard to believe that during the Titans 4-1 stretch following their bye week that Marcus Mariota (10 TDs; 12 INTs) would be the worst part of it. Luckily for Tennessee they have two of the best running backs in the league in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The Cardinals aren’t so lucky, and haven’t been all season, as Arizona will now be without Adrian Peterson for the game. I’m not buying Mariota throwing the ball on this Cardinals secondary, so I suppose it comes down to that Titans one-two punch.

The Titans offense was so bad Sunday that four second half Phil Dawson field goals was enough for the Cardinals to beat them. Both teams were terrible, gaining a combined 465 total yards, but Marcus Mariota (16-31 passing for 159 yards; 2 INTs) was atrocious. It has become clear the Titans don’t possess consistency or the quarterback play to challenge other playoff teams from the AFC, so Tennessee needs to do something other than remain in the AFC South, because power running backs don’t stay fresh for years.

Washington Football Team 5-7 (+6) @ Los Angeles Chargers 6-6 (46.5): Chargers 27-23 Chargers 30-13
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Stub Hub Center, Carson, CA (Weather: Sunny; low 80s)

Reasons: The Chargers are 6-2 in their last eight games, after starting the season 0-4, and those two losses came to the 10-2 Patriots and the 8-4 Jaguars, two of the top teams in the NFL. The Chargers are firing on all cylinders, finally, with an offense to match their top-ten defense. Washington is an interesting team; they scored 3o and 31 points against two of the best defenses in the NFL (MIN; NO), respectively, yet only managed to score half of that total against two of the worst defenses in the NFL (NYG;DAL). Washington is capable of beating anyone on any given day, but that won’t be the Chargers Sunday. 

The Chargers remained hot Sunday scoring 30 points, largely on the arm of Phillip Rivers (18-31 passing for 319 yards; 2 TDs), while holding Washington to 201 total yards while forcing a Kirk Cousins interception.

Philadelphia Eagles 10-2 (+1) @ Los Angeles Rams 9-3 (48): Rams 27-24 Eagles 43-35
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA (Weather: Sunny; high 80s)

Reasons: You can’t script this stuff. The two top picks in the 2016 draft are leading the two best teams in the NFC in a battle that might decide the conference’s top seed. Philadelphia and Los Angeles are so evenly matched that they’re tied as the league's top scoring offense (30.1 ppg) and have the 6th and 7th-ranked scoring defenses, respectively. The Eagles also have the largest point differential in the league; guess who’s second? Buckle up.

Take the Brandon Graham fumble return from the desperation lateral chaos away and what we have here is a situation in which the Eagles won the battle 37-35, but may have lost the war considering they lost their MVP-candidate quarterback in Carson Wentz (23-41 passing for 291 yards; 4 TDs; 1 TD) for the season to a knee injury. Philadelphia possessed the ball nearly twice as long (39+ minutes) and the Rams turned the ball over twice, yet the Eagles essentially won by kicking two unanswered field goals to go up 37-35 after the Rams took the lead on a Todd Gurley (13 carries for 96 yards; 2 TDs) touchdown run early in the 4th quarter. This game didn’t disappoint, and it’s likely we could have a rematch in the playoffs, although, unfortunately, that game won’t feature Wentz

Seattle Seahawks 8-4 (+2.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 8-4 (40): Jaguars 21-20 Jaguars 30-24
Sunday, 4:25 PM, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL (Weather: Sunny; low 50s)

Reasons: Russell Wilson has single-handedly kept the Seahawks offense from being a laughingstock, and he’s done it largely running for his life. It’s about to get a whole lot worse Sunday, as the Jaguars come into the game with the league’s top defense and their specialty is getting after the quarterback. The problem is the Seahawks are no slouches on defense themselves, and the Jaguars are led by Blake Bortles, literally the opposite of Russell Wilson. It’s time for the Jaguars to show us they’re for real.

The Jaguars led 27-10 deep into the 4th quarter, but then MVP Flavor of the Week Russell Wilson turned a nightmare game (3 INT) into what was almost a game by throwing two of his three touchdown passes in the 4th quarter to make it a 30-24 headline barnburner, which in reality was a domination by the new kid on the block. The Jaguars crowd proved they weren’t ready for the new role, however, as Jacksonville fans threw drinks at Quinton Jefferson as he was escorted off of the field, ejected for an on-field fight that led to no suspensions, and sparked the player-fan interaction debate once again. Here’s what I know: You’re not throwing those drinks at Jefferson in a face-to-face situation.

Baltimore Ravens 7-5 (+4.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers 10-2 (43.5): Steelers 23-20 Steelers 39-38
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA (Weather: Cloudy; mid-20s)

Reasons: I’m not sure I can handle another AFC North game right now after what we witnessed Monday night.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards, the third time Roethlisberger has thrown for 500+ yards in his career (no other NFL quarterback has more than one), on his way to setting up 10 unanswered 4th quarter points, leading the Steelers to a comeback win over the rival Ravens. A divisional game usually known for big hits and little offense, and for a game that just happened to feature two of the top defenses in the NFL, you’d never know it; the two teams combined, relatively evenly, for 77 points, 958 total yards and 57 first downs. Baltimore led by as much as 38-29 with less than seven minutes remaining in the game before Roethlisberger and the Steelers willed the spirit of Ryan Shazier and snatched the victory from the Ravens at home.

New England Patriots 10-2 (-11) @ Miami Dolphins 5-7 (47.5): Patriots 27-17 Dolphins 27-20
Monday, 8:30 PM, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL (Weather: Clear; mid-50s)

Reasons: There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the Patriots this week, which means Belichick circled the wagons and got to business during the workweek, especially with planning to play without Rob Gronkowski, suspended for his dirty hit on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White. We’re all well aware of the Patriots abilities (3rd points scored; 8th points allowed), but you might not know the Dolphins are statistically one of the worst teams in the league, despite their 5-7 record. These late season AFC East road games have been tough for the Patriots, historically, but I don’t see any issues here. Tom Brady takes his media frustration out on the Dolphins, so long as they keep Cameron Wake away from him.

Two parts of those last two sentences were true, but unfortunately for Tom Brady and the Patriots, it was the “late AFC East road games have been tough” and the “So long as they keep Cameron Wake away from him” part. New England led at one point, but it was early, and it was only 7-6. Besides that the Dolphins dominated, save for a 4th quarter desperation 10-point outburst by the Patriots to make the score look respectable. Brady threw two interceptions and was sacked twice and hit six times as he was under pressure most of the night.

Stay tuned for Week 15 #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) coming Thursday and Sunday mornings.

*minus two weeks due to technical difficulties

 


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Week 14: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)


2017 NFL SEASON

Week 14: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)
Week 13 results: 12-4 wins (season: 106-59; .642); 9-7 v. spread (season: 80-83-2; .485)


  

Julio Jones is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, but his inconsistent play has been a microcosm of the Atlanta Falcons season.



New Orleans Saints 9-3 (-1.5) @ Atlanta Falcons 7-5 (53.5): Saints 27-24
Thursday, 8:25 PM, Mercedes-Benz Dome, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The Saints survived a divisional showdown with the Carolina Panthers last week to claim sole possession of the NFC South, and despite the Falcons hot hand (Atlanta had won three straight before a Week 13 lose 10-2 Minnesota), I don’t see Drew Brees relinquishing that lead considering how tight the NFC South is and how tight the NFC playoff race is in general. The Falcons have won and lost in chunks this season, and have played eight games decided by six or fewer points (4-4), which basically means the only thing Atlanta is good at is keeping us guessing. The Falcons don’t give up many yards (8th yards allowed), but their defense stays on the field a long time, which plays right into the hands of the Saints (6th in time of possession), which also just happens to be one of the three best offenses in the NFL (2nd yards gained; 3rd points scored), not to mention the most dynamic (Alvin Kamara) and most explosive (1st yards per play).


Indianapolis Colts 3-9 (+3) @ Buffalo Bills 6-6 (39.5): Bills 21-17
Sunday, 1:00 PM, New Era Stadium, Buffalo, NY (Weather: Snow; low 30s)

Reasons: Both teams come into Sunday 1-4 in their last five games, but at least the Bills have the excuse of having played the Saints, Chargers and Patriots. The Bills used to have one the top defenses in the league, but the Colts were good once, so the past means nothing. Regardless, the Bills are still alive and the Colts are aiming for a top draft pick. The Bills playoff hopes are riding on Nate Peterman., though, so...

Chicago Bears 3-9 (+6.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals 5-7 (38.5): Bengals 21-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: Sunny; mid-30s)

Reasons: It’s funny that in a week when nearly every game has playoff implications we get this stinker. The Bears and Bengals are almost identically terrible at possessing the ball, 3rd-down efficiency, and gaining yards or stopping their opponents from gaining yards. The Bengals are coming off a short week after a brutal battle with the Steelers, so I wouldn’t expect much out of them, even against the hapless Bears.

Oakland Raiders 6-6 (+4) @ Kansas City Chiefs 6-6 (48.5): Chiefs 24-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, KS (Weather: Sunny; mid-50s)

Reasons: The last time these two teams played they were miles apart in the standings; then the Chiefs gifted the game to the Raiders after committing several penalties in the Red Zone and end zone to give Oakland myriad undeserved chances to win, which they eventually did 31-30, and Kansas City began their pre-humous tribute to Tom Petty (Free Fallin' for all you slower folks) . Fast-forward seven weeks and everyone is locked up at 6-6, the Raiders are treading water and the Chiefs are falling apart. This should be interesting. 


 Things are getting ugly in Kansas City, and it doesn't get any prettier versus the Raiders Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. 


Dallas Cowboys 6-6 (-3.5) @ New York Giants 2-10 (41.5): Cowboys 24-17
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Sunny; high 30s)

Reasons: I think Eli Manning is starting this game. How big of a shit show have the New York Giants become? In other news, did you hear about Derek Jeter pulling the biggest heist in Major League Baseball history? Fear not New York, you’re relevant once again.

Detroit Lions 6-6 (-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-8 (43.5): Lions 24-23
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL (Weather: Sunny; high 50s)

Reasons: Matthew Stafford is questionable, which means if he doesn’t play, the Lions can basically kiss this game goodbye. Not because the Buccaneers are any good, but because the Lions without Stafford are like the Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers.

Minnesota Vikings 10-2 (-2.5) @ Carolina Panthers 8-4 (40): Vikings 23-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC (Weather: Sunny; low 40s)

Reasons: The Vikings getting the three points the Panthers should be getting at home tells you everything you need to know about people’s confidence in Minnesota relative to Carolina. Both teams come into Sunday with top-ten defenses, the Vikings ranking 2nd in points and yards allowed, and each team chews up the clock, which means the game could come down to a few throws, and believe it or not, the smart money says you’d probably rather have Case Keenum make those throws, at least this season.

Green Bay Packers 6-6 (-3) @ Cleveland Browns 0-12 (39.5): Packers 23-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, OH (Weather: Snow; low 30s)

Reasons: The Packers will be right at home in the snow, and despite their Aaron Rodgers-less woes, Green Bay has developed quite a nice little running game, which will also play well in the weather. Imagine a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers being favored on the road by three points? That’s how bad the Browns are. Word on the street is they’re looking for a quarterback in this year's draft. “The wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round…”


 Patience, Packers fans, patience.

San Francisco 49ers 2-10 (+2.5) @ Houston Texans 4-8 (45): Texans 24-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The 49ers come into the game with their shiny new toy, but unfortunately for the Texans their own new toy is on the shelf for the rest of the season and beyond. Such has made for rather boring and sad seasons, respectively. Perhaps the Texans are still alive mathematically, but both of these teams are looking towards the draft at this point.

New York Jets 5-7 (-1) @ Denver Broncos 3-9 (41.5): Jets 20-17
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO (Weather: Clear; low 50s)

Reasons: The Jets are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive when they face the Broncos on the road Sunday. You have to read that a few times and then Google it so see if it’s even true, then scratch your head at the reality.

Tennessee Titans 8-4 (-3) @ Arizona Cardinals 5-7 (46.5): Titans 24-20
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, AZ (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: It’s hard to believe that during the Titans 4-1 stretch following their bye week that Marcus Mariota (10 TDs; 12 INTs) would be the worst part of it. Luckily for Tennessee they have two of the best running backs in the league in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The Cardinals aren’t so lucky, and haven’t been all season, as Arizona will now be without Adrian Peterson for the game. I’m not buying Mariota throwing the ball on this Cardinals secondary, so I suppose it comes down to that Titans one-two punch.

Washington Football Team 5-7 (+6) @ Los Angeles Chargers 6-6 (46.5): Chargers 27-23
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Stub Hub Center, Carson, CA (Weather: Sunny; low 80s)

Reasons: The Chargers are 6-2 in their last eight games, after starting the season 0-4, and those two losses came to the 10-2 Patriots and the 8-4 Jaguars, two of the top teams in the NFL. The Chargers are firing on all cylinders, finally, with an offense to match their top-ten defense. Washington is an interesting team; they scored 3o and 31 points against two of the best defenses in the NFL (MIN; NO), respectively, yet only managed to score half of that total against two of the worst defenses in the NFL (NYG;DAL). Washington is capable of beating anyone on any given day, but that won’t be the Chargers Sunday. 


 It's number one versus number two, and that has meaning on many levels, as the Philadelphia Eagles fly to Los Angeles to face the Rams.


Philadelphia Eagles 10-2 (+1) @ Los Angeles Rams 9-3 (48): Rams 27-24
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA (Weather: Sunny; high 80s)

Reasons: You can’t script this stuff. The two top picks in the 2016 draft are leading the two best teams in the NFC in a battle that might decide the conference’s top seed. Philadelphia and Los Angeles are so evenly matched that they’re tied as the league's top scoring offense (30.1 ppg) and have the 6th and 7th-ranked scoring defenses, respectively. The Eagles also have the largest point differential in the league; guess who’s second? Buckle up.

Seattle Seahawks 8-4 (+2.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 8-4 (40): Jaguars 21-20
Sunday, 4:25 PM, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL (Weather: Sunny; low 50s)

Reasons: Russell Wilson has single-handedly kept the Seahawks offense from being a laughingstock, and he’s done it largely running for his life. It’s about to get a whole lot worse Sunday, as the Jaguars come into the game with the league’s top defense and their specialty is getting after the quarterback. The problem is the Seahawks are no slouches on defense themselves, and the Jaguars are led by Blake Bortles, literally the opposite of Russell Wilson. It’s time for the Jaguars to show us they’re for real.

Baltimore Ravens 7-5 (+4.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers 10-2 (43.5): Steelers 23-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA (Weather: Cloudy; mid-20s)

Reasons: I’m not sure I can handle another AFC North game right now after what we witnessed Monday night.

New England Patriots 10-2 (-11) @ Miami Dolphins 5-7 (47.5): Patriots 27-17
Monday, 8:30 PM, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL (Weather: Clear; mid-50s)

Reasons: There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the Patriots this week, which means Belichick circled the wagons and got to business during the workweek, especially with planning to play without Rob Gronkowski, suspended for his dirty hit on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White. We’re all well aware of the Patriots abilities (3rd points scored; 8th points allowed), but you might not know the Dolphins are statistically one of the worst teams in the league, despite their 5-7 record. These late season AFC East road games have been tough for the Patriots, historically, but I don’t see any issues here. Tom Brady takes his media frustration out on the Dolphins, so long as they keep Cameron Wake away from him.



Stay tuned for Tuesday’s Gone: Week 14 #NFL Game Reviews coming Wednesday.



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tuesday's Gone: Week 13 #NFL Game Reviews


2017 NFL SEASON

Week 13: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)
Week 13 results: 12-4 wins (season*: 106-59; .642); 9-7 v. spread (season*: 80-83-2; .485)


Washington Football Team 5-6 (-1.5) @ Dallas Cowboys 5-6 (45.5): Washington 24-21 Cowboys 38-14
Thursday, 8:25 PM, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The game started as a pick and slowly morphed into the Washington Football Team being by 1.5 points, which on the road means they’re really favored by almost five points. The pick probably made more sense because these teams could not be more evenly matched, at least statistically. Not only do these teams share the same losing record, both teams are ranked within five teams of each other in points, points against, yards gained, yards allowed and yards per play and are even close to each other in turnover ratio. In fact, statistically Washington “loses” games by an average score of 23.5-25.1; Dallas “loses” games by an average score of 22.5-24.5. As you can see, both teams have similar point differentials, too. The teams are also dealing with similar attrition issues, which is the main reason both teams have played so inconsistently. That doesn’t change tonight as Dallas could be without three starting offensive linemen to accompany two missing linebackers, including their best defender in Sean Lee. Washington is dealing with issues on defense, but will that even matter against this shambled Dallas offense?

The answer to that last question was apparently ‘yes’, because the supposedly stagnant Cowboys offense dropped 38 points – with a little help from their special teams - on Washington. Dak Prescott (11-22 passing for 102 yards; 2 TDs) didn’t impress, but Alfred Morris (27 carries for 127 rushing yards; 1 TD) did in place of the legally troubled Ezekiel Elliot. The Cowboys defense impressed, too, forcing four turnovers, three by Kirk Cousins (2 INTs; 1 FUM), who the Cowboys sacked four times. Washington actually gained five more yards than Dallas did in five fewer minutes of possession, but it clearly didn’t work.


Minnesota Vikings 9-2 (+3) @ Atlanta Falcons 7-4 (47): Falcons 23-21 Vikings 14-9
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Mercedes-Benz Dome, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The last time the Vikings lost, Week 4 to the Detroit Lions 14-7, and since then Minnesota has won seven straight by an average score of 27-17, which would put them near or at the top in point differential over those seven weeks (Minnesota currently ranks 6th at 6.9 ppg for the season). The Falcons are on their own little three-game winning streak, including wins vs. Dallas and at Seattle. The Falcons, normally safe at home, are only 3-2 on the year so far this season, however, and only four of their wins came against teams with a shot at the playoffs, and those teams include Green bay and Detroit. To boot, only two of Atlanta’s four losses have come against quality teams (NE; CAR). Regardless, the Falcons feel due, for whatever that’s worth. Julio Jones is coming off his best game of the season and the Vikings trying to make a quarterback controversy out of nothing when the team has been playing great is concerning.

All hail Xavier Rhodes. The Vikings defense shut down Julio Jones the Falcons, and Minnesota outgained Atlanta in yards and first downs, yet those Falcons held a 9-7 lead early in the 4th quarter. I wish I could go all in on the Vikings, but you can see why that’s not easy, despite their record; even Coach Zimmer doesn’t totally buy into his own quarterback.

New England Patriots 9-2 (-9) @ Buffalo Bills 6-5 (48.5): Patriots 27-21 Patriots 23-3
Sunday, 1:00 PM, New Era Stadium, Buffalo, NY (Weather: Sunny; high 40s)

Reasons: The Bills are still alive in the AFC and the Patriots have had issues traveling to Buffalo late in the season in the past, but all that really tells me is the Patriots won’t cover, but I’ve said that most of the season and I’ve been wrong. Buffalo’s offense is a disaster in November, but the Patriots have serious attrition issues on defense, so maybe the Bills score more than the 17.75 ppg they averaged in November.

The only things worth noting in this game were Rob Gronkowski’s dirty hit on Tre’Davious White, the sadness of Tyrod Taylor playing through an injury to avoid the bench, just to be injured far worse, and that Rex Burkhead (2 TDs) was the difference in what was shaping up to be a close game - one of Tom Brady’s worst of the season.

San Francisco 49ers 1-10 (+3) @ Chicago Bears 3-8 (41): 49ers 21-20 49ers 15-14
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Soldiers Field, Chicago, IL (Weather: Sunny; high 50s)

Reasons: I’m such a homer I’m taking Jimmy G on the road vs. Chicago in an early afternoon game over a hapless Bears team led by rookie Mitch Trubisky, who I wouldn’t taker over Jimmy G if my life depended on it.

The Jimmy G era has officially begun. I might have said that last week, but Garoppolo won his first start for the 49ers, and the former Patriots backup and gift to Kyle Shanahan for throwing the Super Bowl, threw for 293 yards on 70% passing, although he did throw an interception. The 49ers have found some hope, although it came at the expense of the Bears, so…


Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-7 (+2.5) @ Green Bay Packers 5-6 (45): Packers 24-20 Packers 26-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Weather: Sunny; high 40s)

Reasons: Aaron Rodgers was seen flinging the football all over the place this week and the one consensus coming out of practice in Green Bay was, “We wish we hadn’t put Rodgers on IR…” Ohh, shucks. The Packers won’t get Rodgers back until at least Week 15, but they could be out of the playoffs by then considering the woeful Buccaneers have nearly the same chance of making the playoffs.

I don’t know whether to be more proud of the Packers or disappointed in the Buccaneers. On one hand the Bucs came back from a ten-point deficit to force overtime, but on the other hand that was against an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team to begin with. Brent Hundley (13-22 for 84 passing yards; 1 INT) was atrocious once again, but Jamal Williams (21 carries for 113 rushing yards; 1 TD) and the Packers running game picked up the slack for an offense that was outgained and held the ball for almost ten fewer minutes.

Houston Texans 4-7 (+7) @ Tennessee Titans 7-4 (43): Titans 23-17 Titans 24-13
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN (Weather: Sunny; high 60s)

Reasons: The Texans are 1-3 since they lost Deshaun Watson for the season and have only averaged 17 ppg in that same span. To make matters worse Houston is dealing with a much attrition of any team in the league. The Titans are 5-1 in their last six games, their only loss coming to the Pittsburgh Steelers, perhaps the AFC’s best team. Tennessee is also 4-1 at home (Houston is 1-4 on the road) and don’t have a misinformed Twitter mob led by the insufferable Clay Travis bringing pitchforks and torches to protest outside the game, either, so there’s that.

Tom Savage threw 49 pass attempts in this game, but it only amounted to one touchdown pass and 13 total points, which wasn’t enough to beat a Titans team that has now won six of their past seven games. Marcus Mariota (15-23 for 150 passing yards; 1 TD) was once again pedestrian in the win, and the Titans only led 17-13 before Derrick Henry’s 75-yard touchdown run with 46 seconds remaining in the game, but the win is all that matters until the playoffs when Tennessee will face real competition.

Denver Broncos 3-8 (-1.5) @ Miami Dolphins 4-7 (40): Dolphins 24-23 Dolphins 35-9
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL (Weather: Sunny; high 70s)

Reasons: The Denver Broncos were once the most feared defense in the NFL, so why are the Dolphins favored? Well, technically they’re not, being 1.5-point “favorites” at home, but Denver has become atrocious, and they’ll be missing their best secondary defender in Two Chainz to suspension. The Broncos have lost seven straight games and have only managed 14 ppg in that stretch; the Dolphins have their own five-game losing streak going, and have only managed 16.4 ppg in their own putrid stretch. By my calculations that just over two point per game, and the spread is 1.5 points. Imagine that.

Holy cow the Denver Broncos are awful, and man is Jay Cutler petty. Where the hell has this Jay Cutler been? Maybe this is the Jay we get around the holidays; after all, the guy is from Santa Claus, IN. Just kidding, he was terrible, but he did throw two touchdowns – and two INTs – and lead the Dolphins to their most lopsided win of the season. The game really belonged to running back Kenyan Drake (23 carries for 120 rushing yard; 1 TD), the Dolphins special teams (safety) and the their defense, which not only forced three Trevor Siemian INTs, but also returned one of them for a touchdown.

Kansas City Chiefs 6-5 (-3.5) @ New York Jets 4-7 (43.5): Chiefs 24-21 Jets 38-31
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Overcast; high 40s)

Reasons: Things have become so bad in Kansas City, losers of five of their last six games after starting the season 5-0, that the Chiefs found Darrelle Revis in the junkyard and convinced themselves he was worth it. Revis is no Eric Berry, so Chiefs fans can just put those hopes right back to bed. The funny thing is they signed Revis the week they played the Jets, which is funny enough in itself, but also makes me wonder if the Chiefs were as fooled by the Jets air attack as other teams have been this season (234.5 passing yards per game off the arm of Josh McCown). The Jets have also lost five of their last six games, but no one expected anything from that New York this season. What an awful game this is going to be.

I guess I was wrong, but do you smell that? It’s the AFC West. The shit is so clogged in that division that the Chiefs have managed to drop their sixth game in seven tries and are STILL tied for the division lead.  The Chiefs shot themselves in the foot again Sunday, committing critical errors in the Red Zone to allow their opponent myriad chances to steal the win from them. It happened against division rival Oakland several weeks ago and now it happened again Sunday, this time leading to a miraculous Jets victory. Alex Smith (19-33 passing for 346 yards and 4 TDs; led team with 70 rushing yards) did his best to silence critics, but Kansas City once again couldn’t put together a complete game, which is a polite way of saying their defense melted down both strategically and emotionally in the 4th quarter, leading to 11 unanswered points and another loss.

Indianapolis Colts 3-8 (+9.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 7-4 (40.5): Jaguars 24-17 Jaguars 30-10
Sunday, 1:00 PM, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL (Weather: Sunny; low 70s)

Reasons: The Colts are so bad it’s hard to see how they’ve won three games, but such is the NFL, the sport with the most parody, according to the NFL. That’s probably why the same four teams have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl the past 20 years. I digress. The funny thing is I would actually take the Colts quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, and put him on the Jaguars if such things were up to me, because Blake Bortles could handicap this Jaguars team. I hope Eli Manning gets released by the Giants and is reconnected with Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville so Eli can get another cheap Super Bowl late in his career like his older brother did.

The poor Colts got through a protective fence and were immediately devoured by the Jaguars. The animals’ owner could not be reached for comment, although he was seen slumped over in a reclining chair, drooling, with a $500,000 guitar that he reportedly can’t play draped across his lap, suggesting he was saddened by the incident and undoubtedly recovering in his own way.

Detroit Lions 6-5 (+3) @ Baltimore Ravens 6-5 (43.5): Ravens 21-20 Ravens 44-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD (Weather: Sunny; low 50s)

Reasons: The Lions were a few plays from tying the Vikings on Thanksgiving, but ultimately came up short against one of the league’s best defenses. The Ravens are 3-1 since losing to those same Vikings Week 8 (24-16) and have allowed fewer than 10 ppg in that stretch, technically making them one of the hottest teams in the NFL over the past four games, at least defensively. The Lions have given up nearly 24 ppg over their last four games (3-1), including that exact amount to both the Bears and the Browns over that stretch. The Lions just aren’t very good, so even the 32nd-ranked Joe Flacco, backed by one of the best defenses in the NFL, can beat them.

A lot happened in the 4th quarter of this game. The Ravens turned a close 20-13 game into a blowout, several Detroit turnovers led to that blowout, and Matthew Stafford left with a hand injury.

Cleveland Browns 0-11 (+14) @ Los Angeles Chargers 5-6 (44): Chargers 27-17 Chargers 19-10
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Stub Hub Center, Carson, CA (Weather: Sunny; high 60s)

Reasons: Don’t look now but the Chargers are, well, charging. Los Angeles is 5-2 in their last seven games after starting the season 0-4, and the two losses in those last seven games came against New England (21-13) and Jacksonville in OT (20-17). Phillip Rivers is heating up and the defense has now allowed only 18.4 ppg on the season, let alone those seven aforementioned games (15.6 ppg allowed). The Cleveland Browns are winless and that’s really all you need to know about them.

The Cleveland Browns are nothing to brag on, but the Chargers have to be pleased with themselves getting to .500 (6-6) after starting the season 0-4. What a difference two months makes. At the end of the first month of the season the Chargers were 0-4 and the Kansas City Chiefs were 4-0; now they sit tied for the division lead at 6-6 and the Chargers are clearly the better team. Phillip Rivers (31-43 passing for 344 yards; 1 TD) has been on fire and the defense continued their hot play against the Browns Sunday, allowing only 10 points and 291 total yards, while forcing two turnovers and sacking rookie quarterback Deshone Kizer three times.

New York Giants 2-9 (+8.5) @ Oakland Raiders 5-6 (41.5): Raiders 24-20 Raiders 24-17
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA (Weather: Sunny; low 60s)

Reasons: The Giants were “supposed” to have a top-five defense in 2017, yet the Raiders defense, as bad as anticipated, has allowed 0.6 fewer points per game than the Giants. Let’s not even get into these two offenses, please; they’re offensive. Sorry. But I’m not as sorry as these two teams, easily two of the biggest underachievers in the NFL this season. The Giants doubled down this week by benching quarterback Eli Manning, who was in the midst of a 210-consecutive game playing streak, the longest active streak in the NFL until the Giants rudely placed the 2-9 record blame squarely on his shoulders, despite having a terrible head coach and a defense that imploded, to put it politely.

Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese were fired as I started writing these game reviews, and Eli Manning was named the Week 14 starter by the time I wrote this review of the Giants v. Raiders game. What a mess. The Raiders held the Giants to 265 total yards, sacked Geno Smith three times and forced him to lose two fumbles, a Smith specialty. No wonder the Giants wanted to see what he was capable of, because apparently they didn’t see how much he turned the ball over in the same stadium for the Jets all those years.

Carolina Panthers 8-3 (+5) @ New Orleans Saints 8-3 (48.5): Saints 27-21 Saints 31-21
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Superdome, New Orleans, LA (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: Both teams come into the game tied for the NFC South lead with 8-3 records. The Panthers come into the game allowing only 18.8 ppg, good for a top-ten defense; the Saints come in scoring 29.3 ppg, good for a top-four offense. Something has to give and I’m guessing it’ll be that top-ten defense on the road in New Orleans. Carolina’s inconsistent offense is on the mend again, and Cam Newton will have a lot more trouble moving the ball on this Saints defense (12th points allowed; 15th yards allowed, many coming in garbage time) than in previous years.

As expected Drew Brees (25-34 passing for 265 yards; 1 TD) picked apart this stout Panthers defense at home, but perhaps less expected was the one-two punch of the Saints running game, sparked by the rookie superhuman Alvin Kamara (9 carries for 60 yards; 2 TDs) but anchored by the veteran Mark Ingram (14 carries for 85 yards; 1 TD), although 72 of Ingram’s yards came on one run. The Saints proved they’re the class of the NFC South and will be tough to beat going forward with the defense playing well and the offense as dynamic as it’s ever been.

Los Angeles Rams 8-3 (-7) @ Arizona Cardinals 5-6 (44.5): Rams 28-20 Rams 32-16
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, AZ (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The last time these two teams played (Week 8) the Rams won 33-0. Expect the same result with a slightly less lopsided score.

Suffice it to say I called this perfectly.

Philadelphia Eagles 10-1 (-5) @ Seattle Seahawks 7-4 (47): Eagles 24-21 Seahawks 24-10

Sunday, 8:30 PM, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA (Weather: Cloudy; high 40s)
Reasons: The Eagles come into this game healthy and on fire. Their second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is an MVP front-runner leading the league’s top offense (31.9 ppg) and the Philadelphia defense is one of the best in the league, allowing only 17.4 ppg (3rd points allowed; 6th yards allowed). The Seahawks defense is right up there (8th yards allowed; 9th points allowed), although they’re not nearly as intimidating as in years past, but that’s due to attrition more than anything else. Seattle’s offense, anchored by Russell Wilson’s magical ways, is suddenly a top-ten offense (8th yards allowed; 10th points scored). You read that right; Seattle has nearly identical ranks on both sides of the ball in respective categories, which is not only weird, but indicative of a great team, certainly better than their 7-4 record would indicate. I bet the Seahawks get up for this game and…cover.
Russell Wilson (20-31 passing for 227 yards) threw three touchdown passes and the Seahawks never trailed this matchup of two playoff-bound teams, beating the Eagles soundly at home to improve to 8-4. Carson Wentz (29-45 passing for 348 yards; 1 TD; 1 INT) played well, but Philadelphia’s offense managed only 10 points against Seattle’s stingy defense (3 sacks; 2 take-aways; 3.8 yards per rush), which remains one of the toughest in the league to beat at home, despite multiple injures to key players.

Pittsburgh Steelers 9-2 (-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals 5-6 (43): Steelers 21-17 Steelers 23-20
Monday, 8:30 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: Sunny; high 50s)

Reasons: On paper the Steelers destroy the Bengals, but this game won’t be played on paper, but rather on a bloody field in southern Ohio. These two teams hate each other, which marginalizes statistical analysis to the point where it’s almost point-less. Truth be told the Steelers are a much better football team that really hasn’t even reached their offensive potential, although the one respectable aspect of the Bengals team is their defense (10th points allowed: 19.5 ppg), so there’s a chance it may not be reached in Week 13, either, especially with Antonio Brown questionable. The Steelers should continue their six-game winning streak Monday night, but it may come with a price.

The Bengals completely dominated the first half 17-3, but the play on the field was overshadowed by Ryan Shazier’s condition off of it after the Steelers linebacker was taken to the hospital after a head-on collision that appeared to injure his back early in the 1st quarter, leaving him motionless on the field. It was a tale of two halves as the Steelers, down 17-3 at the half, returned the favor by winning the second half 20-3, highlighted by 13 unanswered points in the 4th quarter, before kicker Chris Boswell’s 38-yard field goal sealed the game. The Battle of Southern Ohio will go down as one of the bloodier games of 2017, and the most penalized in Bengals history. Let’s hope Ryan Shazier isn’t seriously hurt.


Stay tuned for Week 14: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) coming Thursday and Sunday mornings.

*minus two weeks due to technical difficulties