Last week I was 11-5 on predictions. A few misses of mine were the Patriots losing at home to the Chiefs, the Saints losing at home to the 49ers, and Denver? Winning?? (What a time to be alive) I WAS right about the Falcons beating the Panthers. Dan Quinn may save his job if the Falcons win enough games this final stretch.

THURSDAY GAME:

NY Jets at Baltimore. Baltimore. This is a matchup of the number one rushing attack (Baltimore) against the number one rushing defense (Jets). I expect this to be a low scoring game, Gregg Williams is a respectable defensive coordinator and should force Lamar to throw more than he is used to. The Jets bottled up Josh Allen and Daniel Jones fairly well this year (the only dual threat QBs they faced this season). Not that they have the offensive firepower or ground game to make it matter. Ravens win.

SUNDAY GAMES:

New England at Cincinnati. New England. The Patriots offense is dysfunctional enough this might be a one score game. Hopefully they got enough gametape of the Bengals sideline to figure it out.

Tampa Bay at Detroit. Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay is 4-1 in their last five games. Lions 3rd string QB David Blough has been up and down in his time with Detroit, looking impressive against Dallas and really not impressive against Minnesota. Jameis won’t have to really deal with the cold Michigan weather as Detroit has a dome stadium.

Houston at Tennessee. Tennessee. I spent a lot of time on this one. It’s tough to ignore the Texans win over New England. Tennessee is playing better defense, and Ryan Tannehill has performed like an elite QB since taking over in Nashville. The Titans own the turnover ratio (+5 Titans vs -1 Texans) and have home field advantage. If the Texans win I believe it will be because Vrabel can’t defend against Watson as a dual threat. FUN FACT: Both these teams beat the 9-4 Chiefs and lost to the 5-8 Broncos.

Denver at Kansas City Kansas City. I’m excited for this game, I believe Denver has a real chance to win with Drew Lock coming off a strong performance against Houston. Kansas City owns the turnover differential, has homefield advantage, and dropped 30 points on Denver’s defense last time they played, and that was with 19 passes thrown by backup Matt Moore at QB. Watch for Drew Lock to post another strong performance as his on field chemistry with Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and the rest of the offense develops. We haven’t seen enough of Drew Lock and Rich Schangarello to definitively say what the offense will look like week in and week out.

Miami at New York Giants Giants. I’m going with Eli and the Giants kind of good receiving corps can be more productive than Fitzpatrick and Parker, Gesicki, etc.

Philadelphia at Washington Eagles. What a trainwreck. I guess pick the Eagles. Derrius Guice just got hurt.

Seattle at Carolina Seattle. Carolina couldn’t beat a drum right now.

Chicago at Green Bay Green Bay. The first game between Packers/Bears was actually close. Trubisky’s been too inconsistent to rely on. The Packers are the more balanced team and have home field advantage.

Minnesota at LA Chargers Minnesota. The Chargers had a feel good win against the apparently hapless Jaguars. This may be Doug Marrone’s last season in Jacksonville after failing to capitalize on a pretty open AFC south. Kirk Cousins is getting Adam Thielen back. The Vikings have a pretty easy win here.

Jacksonville at Oakland Oakland The Jags will use these remaining games to really see what they have in Minshew. Jacksonville’s defense really hasn’t performed up to the usual standard. The Jaguars 2nd to last run defense should be easy pickin’s for a strong Oakland run blocking group even if they don’t have Josh Jacobs in the lineup.

Cleveland at Arizona Cleveland This should be a close game. Baker gets a confidence booster against the last ranked Cardinals passing defense. The Browns defense is actually respectable and will keep Murray on his toes this game.

LA Rams at Dallas Dallas I see the Cowboys early and often challenging Wade Phillips defense. Cooper, Gallup, and Cobb should challenge the Rams deep secondary. The Rams have struggled most with very capable offenses. Dallas is admittedly unstable but can score against middle of the pack defenses. I think the Rams will struggle to contain Lawrence and the Cowboys finally win a game.

Atlanta at San Francisco San Francisco I’m not entirely convinced the Falcons WANT to win this game. Potential trap game for San Francisco if they don’t take Atlanta seriously. Falcons beat the Panthers twice and the Saints in New Orleans. The more talented team should safely win here.

Buffalo at Pittsburgh Buffalo This might be my game of the week. The Steelers are surprisingly competitive winning games on defense and a dominant turnover ratio (+12). They will have to defend a dual threat QB in Allen and play an equally tough defense with the Bills still healthy. I see the main difference in this contest the Steelers inability to consistently run the ball or even pass at a high level. The Bills can run and Allen is respectable at finding the open man. The Bills by one possession.

MONDAY NIGHT:

Indianapolis at New Orleans New Orleans The Saints boast an impressive +11 turnover ratio, a top five run defense, and homefield advantage. The Colts have become a running team. Sean Payton doesn’t lose too many of these.

 

THE LOVE TRAIN HAS ARRIVED

Utah State Aggie Jordan Love had a terrific 2018 season and returned to school with a pretty NOT GREAT year in ’19. While it’s not too late to change his mind, Love has declared he will enter the NFL draft. I’m not convinced he is ready to step in and change a franchise in the next 12 months. All of this being considered, NFL teams tend to buy on a prospects highs and ignore their lows. Former Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg was a second round pick for the Jets. Hackenberg famously never became anything in the NFL after having a strong sophomore year before two bad college seasons. The QB class after Tua gets murky, and that is exactly where Love stands to gain the most. NFL voices have mixed feelings on potential draftees like Jake Fromm, Justin Herbert, and K.J. Costello. A team in need of finding an heir apparent at QB bit missing a first round pick, like, Chicago, could talk themselves into drafting Love in the second round if they get a bad case of FOMO. Love’s been described as a raw prospect with high upside but needing some fine tuning. Generally QB prospects described as raw can’t transition to the next level. Mahomes was one of the ‘raw’ prospects who was able to put it all together. I expect Love will end up in a situation similar to Rosen’s, passers not taken in the first round rarely get a fair shot at proving their worth in the NFL.

Song of the blog is Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken (Acoustic) played to clips of Todd Phillips Joker. It’s the best thing I’ve seen for a long time. Joker, while an uncomfortable watch, was the best film of 2019.

 

Week 14 predictions: Big OOF

Posted: December 5, 2019 in Football, New entries, NFL

I went 8-8 with my predictions last week. Big whiffs for me on the Patriots/Texans, Falcons/Saints and others.

Cowboys at Bears. Bears. Chicago has a plus four turnover differential, Dallas is minus three in that category. The Bears are an ugly team, but they have a top defense which Dallas has struggled with. Dallas SHOULD (on paper) win this game, like so many other games they have lost. I’m going with Chicago’s defense being too much for Moore and Prescott.

Indy at Tampa. Tampa Bay. The Bucs have shut down the run game on defense well. In a shootout between Jameis with Godwin and Evans and Brissett with the Colts receivers, I’ll trust Winston, even with his interceptions.

Miami at NY Jets Miami. It seems the Dolphins coaches and players don’t actually WANT to lose games. Losing to the Bengals reveals a substantial level of disorganization within the Jets.

San Francisco at New Orleans. New Orleans. The Saints rock a +11 turnover ratio and homefield advantage. I hate picking against the 49ers in back to back weeks. Sean Payton is a “been there, done that” head coach. Saints win at home.

Detroit at Minnesota. Minnesota. The Vikings tend to win games they SHOULD win. Detroit’s David Blough surprised me with his deep ball willingness with an early toss to Kenny Golladay. Minnesota should be able to control the game with Cook and Mattison, and Cousins is throwing well since the end of Q1 2019.

Denver at Houston Houston. Houston won in an impressive way against New England. Handling rookie QB Drew Lock should be enough for DC Romeo Crennel to handle.

Washington at Green Bay Green Bay. I’m 60% confident of this outcome after watching the Panthers lose to Washington last week.

Cincinnati at Cleveland Cleveland. The Browns front four should be able to handle Cincy’s ground game and offensive line play. With Chubb, Hunt, and David Njoku now coming back, the Browns should be able to muster enough of an offense to beat the Bengals at home.

Baltimore at Buffalo  Baltimore. Both of these teams lost to Cleveland (seriously). Buffalo has a lot of wins against teams drafting in the top ten. Baltimore has big boy wins against New England and San Francisco. Buffalo’s defense should keep this close, but Harbaugh should close this one out.

Carolina at Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers defense hasn’t been able to hold up as of late, allowing 30 points in the last 3 games. The Falcons are also apparently the league’s best team at onside kicks? TE Jaeden Graham stepped up in a big way in Austin Hooper’s absence. The Panthers just fired a damn good coach. And they lost at home to Atlanta.

LA Chargers at Jacksonville Chargers. I’m seeing the Chargers deep secondary outplaying Gardner Minshew. Minshew has talent, but the Chargers can play strong enough defense here.

Tennessee at Oakland Tennessee. The Titans are a different team with Tannehill quarterbacking that offense. It’s the time of year Derrick Henry turns green and runs for 80 yards in one play every week.

Kansas City at New England. New England. The Patriots defensive backs should be able to hold up against Hill and whoever else is catching passes from Mahomes. They just need to get a kicker for this game.

Pittsburgh at Arizona. Steelers. Kyler Murray is looking really strong so far this year, zero lost fumbles and only six interceptions. Unfortunately the Cardinals defense is AWFUL. Pittsburgh’s defense has been creating turnovers this season, Murray is talented but still a rookie with a bad offensive line. He’ll get sacked a lot this game.

Seattle at LA Rams. Seattle. The Seahawks play just good enough defense to keep them in games time and time again. Russell Wilson is having his best year and the Rams don’t have the defensive talent to contain him and cover his receivers.

NY Giants at Philadelphia. Eagles. The Eagles have the stronger front seven, and Saquon Barkley for one reason or another hasn’t been the same force this season as he was in 2018. Eli Manning will be playing quarterback for the Giants.

I’m going to be wrong on a ton of these. I don’t know how to reliably predict Tampa vs. Indy or Tennessee vs. Oakland.

Song of the Post is After Dark by Mr. Kitty

Be Safe

Week 13 predictions

Posted: November 27, 2019 in Football, New entries, NFL

Thursday:

Bears at Lions. Bears. David Blough, 3rd string QB will be starting at QB for the Lions.

Bills at Cowboys Bills. The Cowboys can’t beat a good defense. Even at home. Their wins have come only against teams that have bad defenses (Dolphins, Giants, Eagles, Redskins).

Saints at Falcons Falcons. Everyone else on planet earth is picking the Saints. The Saints are an overall better team, with a great coach. I don’t see how they fixed whatever happened from last game when they lost to Atlanta. Additionally, this game will be in Atlanta. Saints left tackle Terron Armstead will be out for this game.

Sunday:

Browns at Steelers Browns. The Browns have turned a corner, they are playing better football than they were. Devlin Hodges will be more competitive than Rudolph, it should be a close game.

Packers at Giants Packers

Eagles at Dolphins Eagles

Buccaneers at Jaguars Jaguars. Nick Foles should have no trouble trading scores with Winston against the Bucs very generous defense. Jacksonville can still capably run the ball against elite run defenses as we saw in their win against the Jets. The Jacksonville defense will be eager to create some turnovers against an interception friendly Winston. Jacksonville wins a close one at home. Tampa Bay puts up a lot of points but they turn the all over so much and can’t play any defense. Jags HC Doug Marrone’s going to really have to mess it up to lose here.

Titans at Colts Titans. I really like Frank Reich and want to pick the Colts here. I like Reich better than Vrabel as a playcaller. Their last game in Tennessee Indy won by two points. Since that time, the Titans got Ryan Tannehill at quarterback who is performing at a surprisingly efficient level (much more so than Mariota). The Titans also got Jeffrey Simmons at defensive tackle who was on injured/reserve for that game who is playing at a high level since coming into the NFL.

Jets at Bengals Jets. Andy Dalton is back in at QB to try and get a win for Cincinnati. The Jets are on a three game win streak and have to beat the worst team in football.

Redskins at Panthers Panthers.

49ers at Ravens Ravens. I am a 49ers fan and want the 9ers to win. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh seems to struggle most against dual threat QBs (loss to Russell Wilson and close wins to Kyler Murray). The path to victory for San Francisco is grinding out the run (Kansas City and Cleveland both dominated Baltimore in the ground game in the Ravens two losses). San Francisco still has a competitive front four even with Dee Ford out, so they CAN win this game, Baltimore is playing prettier football right now.

Rams at Cardinals Rams

Chargers at Broncos Chargers. Derwin James is back. Rivers is still a top shelf passer, Brandon Allen has a limited toolkit to compete with defensive talent like Joey Bosa and the Chargers secondary.

Raiders at Chiefs Chiefs. Pat Mahomes can still dice up the Raiders defense.

Patriots at Texans Patriots. Belichick has never lost to Bill O’Brien. The Texans don’t have a secondary and still have an underperforming offensive line.

Monday:

Vikings at Seahawks Seahawks. Russell Wilson is having the best season of his career.

 

  • I was already wrong about one of my week 12 predictions. Houston did a great job defending T.Y. Hilton and the Frank Reich passing game in general. I thought the Texans secondary wouldn’t be able to hold up against Indy, but it was Indy’s secondary that got repeatedly burned by DeAndre Hopkins and Houston Football Magician DeShaun Watson. I criticize O’Brien a lot but he’s been a consistent football coach.
  • It’s tough to see a player win SIX rookie of the week awards and then still get benched when his replacement starter comes back healthy. I like Foles as a QB just fine. And yes, Minshew turned the ball over four times against an important division rival in Houston, which I can appreciate matters a lot to both fans and the Jaguars coaching staff. If Jacksonville sticks with Foles beyond 2019, his QB contract will continue to look like more and more of a bargain so retaining him is a defensible move as Foles will still be seen as the ‘safer’ move as he’s won a superbowl with Philly. Whichever Quarterback Jacksonville chooses to start in 2020, the other Quarterback will likely want out, and Jags GM Dave Caldwell can likely flip that other QB to an NFC team for at LEAST a second round pick, which would invariably provide Jacksonville with more value than a really good backup QB. Conventional football wisdom says to go with the less expensive QB (assuming talent is about equal) so I would expect Jacksonville to move on from Foles if they can get the compensation they are looking for in the offseason.
  • Wide receiver Brandin Cooks is, when healthy, one of the NFL’s most dangerous deep threats. They could try and pay everyone and keep him on staff. The Rams abundant need at offensive line and their use of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp mean Cooks becomes a tradeable asset, especially when factoring in his $16 million a year contract. Cooks may come back healthy in 2020, and have another phenomenal season. The Rams lack of draft picks and need to pay newcomer Jalen Ramsey, AND find new offensive linemen may push general manager Les Snead to find a trade partner to send Cooks somewhere for draft picks.
  • There are more teams that need starting quarterbacks than there are high caliber starting quarterback prospects in this class. Which means either Case Keenum is going to start somewhere or some poor GM who feels backed into a corner is going to draft Justin Herbert in the top ten.
  • Tampa Bay OC Byron Leftwich will be interviewing for head coaching jobs in the offseason. Tampa Bay has a top ten offense even they they have very few pieces operating in their favor (unstable QB, inconsistent offensive line, ineffective ground game). Leftwich may want to stay in Tampa with Bruce Arians who has been faithful to him from their time in Arizona, but Leftwich will have opportunities for Washington, maybe Cleveland or the New York teams.

 

Week 12 predictions

Posted: November 19, 2019 in Football, New entries, NFL

Colts at Texans – Colts. Indianapolis lost to Miami, but that was with Brian Hoyer throwing three interceptions (Brissett should be back for week 12). The Colts have one of the best offensive minds in Frank Reich, a top running attack with that offensive line, and one of the league’s better run defenses. Houston’s Deshaun Watson is a better QB than Brissett, but he will be held back by the Texans middling offensive line and Bill O’Brien’s stuck-in-the-past play-calling.  The presence of Watson, Hopkins, and Stills means the Texans should never really be “out” of this game, but I buy on the strength of the Colts defense and the discipline of the offense to beat Houston in Houston.

Broncos at Bills – Bills. These are two very good defenses. Josh Allen is more reliable than Denver’s Brandon Allen, and Buffalo is running the ball better than Denver. The 7-3 Bills are one of the AFC’s biggest surprises, their strong defense and grinding running style have been successful for them this season.

Giants at Bears – Bears. I want to believe in Barkley and that young receiving corps. Darius Slayton and Golden Tate looked terrific in week 10. Chicago’s defense is still executing at a high level despite their offense not doing them much favors. Chase Daniels will give the offense as much chance to win as Trubisky, if not more. The path to victory for the Giants would be Daniel Jones repeatedly gashing Chicago running with the ball in his hands and Eddy Pineiro missing on three key field goals resulting in a New York win. I don’t believe Jones will be able to pass against Chicago’s secondary, and Jones is turnover prone which this defense thrives on.

Steelers at Bengals – Steelers. Pittsburgh’s defense has seen T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick really steal the show this season. I think the only game Cincinnati has a realistic chance of being favored to win this season is week 17 if Cleveland has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and chooses to rest their starters. Ryan Finley will be quarterbacking for the foreseeable future.

Dolphins at Browns – Browns. Miami has shown competitive spirit winning two of their last three games (Jets, Colts). Cleveland needs only to run the ball against the league’s second worst run defense and they should command the outcome of the game. Kitchens and Baker will be able to call the plays they want as Miami has limited offensive capability. Should be a confidence booster for Cleveland and Baker.

Buccaneers at Falcons – Falcons. Atlanta seems to be a new team under Jeff Ulbrich’s (and Raheem Morrsis’s) defensive play-calling. Recent wins over New Orleans and Carolina speak to the success of their defensive changes. I will continue to pick Atlanta until I am proven wrong (Atlanta has allowed 12 points TOTAL in the last 2 games). Jameis is guaranteed to throw a couple interceptions in this game. Matt Ryan is still a great quarterback and still has Jones, Ridley and Hooper to throw to against an AWFUL defense in Tampa.

Panthers at Saints – Saints. Kyle Allen will struggle against a surprisingly talented Saints defense. The Panthers have their own group of talent on defense (Mario Addison, Luke Kuechly, Gerald McCoy), but Sean Payton and Drew Brees have an elite quick pass game to play against that group well.

Seahawks at Eagles – Seahawks. This should be a good game. Both these head coaches have been there, done that. Both QBs are elite QBs. The Eagles have been really banged up. The Seahawks have a slight edge with Chris Carson very quietly dominating, Russell having the best season of any QB, Jadeveon Clowney coming on as of late.

Lions at Redskins – Lions. Detroit’s been a nice surprise with Jeff Driskel accounting for three touchdowns against Dallas (2 air, 1 ground). Haskins showed signs of life against the Jets but will have a tough time against Patricia leading that defense.

Raiders at Jets – Raiders. The Jets are actually quite sturdy against the run (#1 run defense in the league), making this a winnable game for New York. While the Raiders like to run with Josh Jacobs, though Derek Carr is having one of his best years in recent memory throwing to Darren Waller, Tyrell Williams, and now Hunter Renfrow. The strength of the Raiders offensive line and the Raiders success on the quick passing game should give Oakland another ugly win.

Jaguars at Titans – Titans. I like Nick Foles better than Ryan Tannehill as a quarterback. The Titans defense is outperforming the Jaguars defense this season. Tennessee is using Tannehill well, the offense hasn’t turned the ball over or been any worse than when Mariota was starting.

Cowboys at Patriots – Patriots. The Cowboys could actually win this game. They are not a consistent team. But when they go off they are tough to defend. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are a top five wide receiver duo and Elliot is still a top running back. The Patriots still have the league’s best scoring defense, even after being thrashed by Baltimore. They dominate the turnover battle. This should be a fun game to watch.

Packers at 49ers – 49ers. I don’t want to pick this game. Green Bay’s performed well against a tougher schedule than San Francisco’s faced. I am buying Rodgers holding on to the ball long enough for San Francisco’s front four to repeatedly force bad throws or sack the veteran QB. The 49ers secondary should more than be able to handle Green Bay’s receiving corps.

Ravens at Rams – Ravens. The highest scoring offense in the league gave up a mid round pick for the best version of Marcus Peters. Baltimore’s average time of possession is 34:35 per game. GEEZ. The Rams offensive line and defensive core are not what they were in 2018. The Ravens just dismantled a respectable Texans team and beat up on the SuperBowl winning Patriots the week before.

Week 11 predictions

Posted: November 17, 2019 in Football, New entries, NFL

Jets at Redskins – Jets. The Redskins could win this game with Case Keenum. Haskins is being asked to learn the pro game when he should be on the bench. The Jets have a surprisingly sturdy run defense so Callahan’s run first strategy will have a rough time against Quinnen Williams, Steve McLendon and the rest of the Jets front seven. The Redskins have a path to victory maybe, if their defense really stands up and they just kick a ton of field goals. The Jets win this matchup seven out of ten times. The Jets aren’t a stellar team, but Sam is on average throwing better than Haskins, and the Jets secondary is more reliable than the Redskins.

Saints at Buccaneers  – Saints. I can see a path to victory for Tampa, they’re on average scoring more points than New Orleans and the Saints recently tripped over themselves in a shocking loss to a bottom ten Atlanta team. One thing Atlanta did well in that game is consistently pressure Brees. While Shaq Barrett is having a breakout season, he nor any of the other Buccaneers sacked Teddy Bridgewater in the earlier tilt the Saints/Bucs played in New Orleans. New Orleans has strong contributors on defense, former first round pick Marcus Davenport has started to contribute in a meaningful way and former Jets/Browns linebacker Demario Davis who’s never been a blue chip player is having a stellar year in New Orleans. The Bucs allow the most points per game, and I expect Brees, Thomas, Kamara, and Jared Cook to be able to move the ball against Tampa Bay’s defense. If Todd Bowles can find a way to pressure Brees, the Buccaneers can maybe win this game.

Broncos at Vikings – Vikings. Denver QB Brandon Allen threw two touchdowns in win over Cleveland. Denver actually has a really good defense. All of this being considered, their offensive line and QB play will keep them from competing against Minnesota. The Vikings offensive line, long recognized as one of the league’s worst, has actually performed sort of well this year. Kirk Cousins has been productive in the last five weeks, and Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison have both had plenty of room to run behind that offensive line. Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen is out, but Laquon Treadwell has been competitive with the opportunities he’s had this year. This Denver team would be really exciting with a competitive quarterback and better overall offensive line play. Watching Courtland Sutton catch his three beautiful passes per game stuck in a desert wasteland of an offense makes me sad.

Bills at Dolphins – Bills. Miami has back to back wins all of a sudden. Buffalo is unstable enough that they could realistically lose this game, after seeing their loss to Cleveland. Miami will not have one of the worst QB performances like 3 INT Brian Hoyer or highly inconsistent Sam Darnold to capitalize on. Buffalo should be able to command the pace of the game with the run, Buffalo’s secondary will keep Fitzpatrick from moving the ball downfield on a regular basis. Miami’s starting to find standout performers who can contribute meaningfully in 2020 (Nik Needham, Devante Parker, John Jenkins) but aren’t competitive every game in ’19. Buffalo would have to commit a TON of turnovers to lose this game.

Jaguars at Colts – Jaguars. Indianapolis has been very competitive with Jacoby Brissett at the helm. I’m gambling that the return of Nick Foles will be more than the Colts will be able to handle on defense. Gardner performed very well for a late round pick and had his worst game right before Nick Foles returned from injury, but Foles has an emerged D.J. Chark and the best(?) version of Leonard Fournette to rely on. Plus, I see this game coming down to an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Vinatieri is in the Joe Montana/Chiefs stage in his career. He’s a H.O.F. kicker but he’s not consistent in 2019.

Cowboys at Lions – Cowboys. With Matthew Stafford, this would be a game. Jeff Driskel doesn’t commit a ton of turnovers, the Lions won’t be able to reliably score against Dallas with Driskel at QB.

Falcons at Panthers – Falcons. The Panthers have a lot of talent on defense. There are reasons to believe in this roster. The Falcons front seven terrorized Drew Brees and one of the best offensive lines IN NEW ORLEANS. Kyle Allen is a beatable Quarterback. The Panthers path to victory goes through Christian McCaffrey. If Matt Ryan can develop a rhythm with Jones and Ridley the Falcons should outduel Carolina. McCaffrey’s an elite performer, but he can only play running back. Jeff Ulbrich, (former 49ers linebacker) has taken over play-calling responsibilities for Atlanta’s defense, this happened before the Falcons/Saints game.

Texans at Ravens – Ravens. This is a tough call. I really like Watson. I ultimately trust Harbaugh as a play caller more and Tucker for those late game field goals. Both of these teams are functioning in a very similar way. Bill O’Brien is a questionable play caller late in the game. I actually think Deshaun watson is a better QB than Lamar, but Baltimore is using Lamar in a very tough way to defend, and Marcus Peters has been playing like a man possessed since coming to Baltimore.

Cardinals at 49ers – 49ers. This could be a trap game for Shanahan and Saleh. The 49ers barely scraped by against Arizona a few weeks ago. At home, they should be able to keep Kyler Murray in check and Chase McLaughlin performed well under pressure against Seattle. I would expect this to be another close game.

Patriots at Eagles – Patriots. Philadelphia is too unreliable to safely pick them at home. They can perform like the best of the best week to week. The Patriots defense should be able to keep Carson Wentz largely in check. The Eagles offensive line is not as dominant as its been, and the secondary has been repeatedly exposed. This should be a close game.

Bengals at Raiders – Raiders. The Raiders have been competitive this year. They will face Ryan Finley in this game.

Bears at Rams – Rams. The Bears have a great defense. They have no reliable offense whatsoever. Sean McVay doesn’t lose to Mitchell Trubisky two years in a row. Trubisky is not performing at the same level this year as he was in 18.

Chiefs at Chargers – Chiefs. The Chiefs defense has problems. Mahomes isn’t playing at the same level as in 2018. The Chiefs are more stable than the Chargers.

WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT. UTAH HAS A DRAFTABLE QUARTERBACK FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE SHREK 2 CAME OUT.

Utah doesn’t run a pro style offense, so their QBs typically aren’t set up for success in the NFL. On top of that, Utah’s nightlife is lacking, so top QB talent will be more attracted to D1 blueblood programs like Ohio State and Alabama. Utes QB Tyler Huntley hasn’t been passing the ball a ton (this is by design)this year. But when he has, he’s been EXCEPTIONALLY efficient. The 6’1″ Huntley is 5th in the country in QBR (89.5), completing 73.8% of his passes and a gaudy 10.8 yards per attempt. Utah’s run heavy offense has Huntley with 11 passing TDs and 1 INT. Huntley is not a first or second round selection. As a late round prospect, Huntley would be best suited to an organization like LA Chargers or Green Bay where he can learn in an established system behind an NFL QB.

With the success of Gardner Minshew II, Washington State’s senior QB Anthony Gordon has thrived under Leach’s offense. Gordon, like Minshew and Rudolph (both WSU alumni) hasn’t demonstrated a great deep ball but has played to his ceiling of potential in Washington State’s quick pass offense. Gordon, like Huntley, has late round appeal because of what he’s doing well in the College ranks and could go to a roster that doesn’t NEED him to start immediately.

Thursday night prediction

Cleveland vs Pittsburgh

This is coming out at the start of the game (procrastination). I am picking Cleveland to win at home. The Browns can run the ball efficiently and Baker can’t play poorly forever. Pittsburgh can win if their defense keeps them in it, but Baker is play-for-play a better Quarterback than Rudolph, even if the stats this season tell a different story. The Browns defense has a core of strong talent in the front seven and should be able to limit Rudolph and the run game of Pitt. These are the types of games Cleveland wins, scrappy, physical AFC North division games. Put your money on Pittsburgh, because I’m betting Cleveland wins tonight.