Four Games to Watch In Week 14

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers – 12 CT

The Vikings are one win away from sweeping the NFC South, the best division in football. Getting the victory won’t be easy, but based on previous matchups, the Vikings should have the upper hand. The Vikings and Panthers have faced off twice in the past three seasons, and the Vikings won fairly easily both times. Last season, the Vikings sacked Cam Newton eight times and came away with three interceptions. Getting pressure on Newton will be the key to a Vikings victory. The Panthers have a record of 8-4 and still have a shot at the NFC South division crown. The Panthers could be a division winner, or fail to make the playoffs due to how competitive the NFC is this season. This is an important game for both teams. Vegas has the Vikings as 2.5 point favorites, and while I think that’s a lot on the road against a good team, I’ll still take them to cover.

Seattle Seahawks @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 3:25 CT

Lets take a moment to give the Jaguars some props. No one believed in them heading into the season, yet here they are at 8-4, just a half a game back from leading the AFC South. The Jaguars might have the best defense in the entire NFL, and that defense should give trouble to every single team. The question is if they can get enough offense being lead by Blake Bortles. On the other sideline, the Seahawks are coming off of a huge win against the Eagles. The Seahawks still have a shot at the NFC West, and last week they played their best game of the year. Russell Wilson is a legitimate MVP candidate, and looking like one of the five best QBs in the league. The Jaguars are favored by 2.5, and I really think this game is a toss up. Just because I don’t think either team deserves to be favored in this one, I’ll take the Seahawks.

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Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams – 3:25 CT

After suffering their first loss since week 2, the Eagles are facing another test this week as they square off against the Rams. In an unusual move, the Eagles stayed on the West Coast for the week and practiced in Anaheim. Meanwhile, the Rams are preparing for this game like it is an away game. Coach Sean McVay said that the Rams are working on the silent count because they anticipate that the Eagles fans will outnumber Rams fans. This is the most exciting game of the week, but one I’m very unsure about. How will the Eagles respond after their loss to the Seahawks? Will Jared Goff make the necessary plays to beat a good Eagles defense? Will the Rams feel like their playing a road game while at home? The Rams are favored by 2, but my gut tells me the Eagles win this one.

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 7:30 CT

One of the best rivalries in the NFL on Sunday night? Between two potential playoff teams? Sign me up. The Ravens have won three straight and are in position to get a wildcard spot in the playoffs. They just dismantled a solid Lions team 44-20, and the team as a whole seems to be trending in the right direction. For the Steelers, first thing that needs to be mentioned is Ryan Shazier, who suffered a spinal injury on Monday Night Football. There hasn’t been much in the way of updates on Shazier’s condition, but hopefully the injury he suffered is not too devastating. Back to the game, The Steelers are one of the best teams in the league, and they have won seven straight. Those wins haven’t always been pretty (they beat each of the Colts, Packers, and Bengals by just three points), but the Steelers are tied for best record in the league. The Steelers are 4.5 point favorites in Vegas, and I’ll take them to cover.

Four Games to Watch In Week 11

A little bit of a format shift this week. I’m really excited about the Rams-Vikings game so I wrote a lot about that one, while the discussion for the other games are pretty short.

Los Angeles Rams @ Minnesota Vikings – 12 CT

Two 7-2 teams going at it, this should be a good one. The Vikings are once again rolling with Case Keenum at QB, and who can blame them? Keenum is coming off of a game where he threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. Even the most loyal Teddy Bridgewater fans have to admit that switching from Keenum to Bridgewater would be a huge risk at this point in the season. Keenum’s success is owed in large part to receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen who have been great. The chemistry Keenum has with those guys, particularly Thielen, is surprisingly great.

Keenum

Making a switch at QB could really tank the playoff chances for the Vikings. Bridgewater has not played in a meaningful football game since January 10, 2016. Do we expect him to not be rusty coming back off of that horrific injury? Would he have the same connection with the receivers that Keenum has? And I hate to say it, but are we absolutely sure that Bridgewater is better than Keenum? Because I’m not. Bridgewater was fine when he played, and he did have moments where he looked really good, but overall I did not find him overly impressive during his first two years in the league. With Keenum playing well, there is no reason to make the switch. Stick with Keenum and keep this thing rolling.

Meanwhile, the Rams continue to put up a lot of points, crushing the Texans 33-7 last week. The Rams have the most points scored in NFL through the first 10 weeks, they are both running and passing at an elite level. Todd Gurley is one of the best running backs in the league, getting him going early could be huge for the Rams. The Vikings got burned by the Redskins last week on a few plays, making it appear like the Rams have a good chance to put up some points. However, Everson Griffen is going to play in this one, and if he can get pressure on Goff, the Rams offense will be hard pressed to put up a lot of points. The Vikings are favored by 2.5, and I’ll take them in a close one.

Washington Redskins @ New Orleans Saints – 12 CT

The Saints might be the best team in the NFL. Seven straight victories is nothing to sneeze at. The Redskins have had a brutal schedule so far, and it doesn’t get any easier this week. I believe the 4-5 Redskins are a good team, but in a really good NFC they are going to need to start winning games soon. The Saints are favored by 7.5. I think the Saints win, but fail to cover.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys – 7:30 CT (Sunday Night Football)

The Cowboys struggled with Ezekiel Elliott out last week, and Dak Prescott got sacked eight times! The Cowboys are shuffling around their offensive line, but even if Prescott can stay upright, I don’t believe they can put up the points necessary to beat the Eagles. The Eagles are favored by 4.5, and I think they easily cover.

Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks – 7:30 CT (Monday Night Football)

Losing Richard Sherman for the year is a big blow to the Seahawks, and rumor has it that hard hitting safety Kam Chancellor might miss the regular season. The Falcons easily handled the Cowboys last week, and another win this week would be huge for their playoff hopes. The Seahawks are favored by 3, but with the injuries they have, I’ll take the Falcons.

Four Games to Watch In Week 7

New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers – 12 CT

The Aaron Rodgers injury looks like it will change the course of the NFC North, but I’m giving Brett Hundley one chance to surprise me. When Hundley filled in for Rodgers after he got hurt in the first quarter against the Vikings, his performance left a lot to be desired. That said, he was facing one of the best defenses in the league, and he did not have snaps with the first team. This week, Hundley should be prepared to play, and it helps he’s facing a less impressive defense (though the Saints defense scored three times last Sunday). For the Saints, they’ve won three straight in impressive fashion. Drew Brees and the rest of the offense have all the tools necessary to destroy the Packers depleted secondary. The Saints are favored in this one by 4.5. Green Bay is a tough place to play, and the last QB named Brett that the Packers started was a Hall of Famer, but I’ll take the Saints.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams – 12 CT

This is a London game, so not quite the typical home field advantage for the Rams. The Rams are perhaps the most surprising team in the league through six weeks with a 4-2 record. I keep waiting for the Rams to implode and go back to the bad team I was expecting them to be, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. Rookie Head Coach Sean McVay should be an early front runner for Coach of the Year. On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals were bolstered by the addition of Adrian Peterson, who ran for 134 yards and 2 TDs in his debut. Maybe the addition of Peterson will be the thing that turns the Cardinals offense around. The Rams are favored in this one by 3.5, but I’ll take the Cardinals and the points because the game is in London and weird things happen in London games.

Atlanta Falcons @ New England Patriots – 7:30 CT

A rematch of last year’s Super Bowl brings a lot of intrigue, but maybe not quite as much as when the schedule was first released. The Falcons have dropped two straight (both to AFC East teams). Can the Patriots make it three straight? The Patriots are amazingly 4-2 despite some absolutely horrendous defense. The Patriots certainly don’t look like a very good team right now, but they’ve been finding a way to win games. Vegas has the Patriots favored by 3.5. This should be a shootout, and I’ll take the Falcons because the Patriots defense looks so weak.

Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles – Monday, 7:30 CT

The Eagles have the best record in the league at the moment, and Carson Wentz is ascending to impressive heights. If the season ended today, Wentz might be the MVP. Not only are Wentz and the offense clicking, the Eagles defense looks really strong, particularly their front seven. Fletcher Cox is a force to reckoned with in the middle, and a handful for even the best offensive linemen in the league. The Eagles won the matchup with the Redskins in Washington the first week of the season, and at home they are 6 point favorites. Not so fast. Since that week one game, the Redskins have only lost the the Chiefs (my current pick for Super Bowl favorites), and even that game was competitive. In a wacky NFL season, I am fully expecting the Redskins to go into Philly and somehow pull off a victory. It’s only fitting with this bizarre NFL season.

Four Games to Watch In Week 6

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings – 12 CT

Aaron Rodgers lead the Packers on another game winning drive last week, beating the Cowboys in spectacular fashion. The Packers have been banged up to start the year, but they look as good as any team not named the Chiefs. Speaking of banged up, the Vikings have had to deal with injuries to Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook. Cook is out for the year, and Bradford is listed as questionable but it appears unlikely he will play in this game. On top of that, breakout WR Stefon Diggs may also be out with a groin injury, though he says he thinks he will play. The Packers are favored by 3 points in Minnesota, and I’m a little surprised they aren’t heavier favorites than that. That said, the Packers have allowed the second most sacks thus far, and Vikings DE Everson Griffin has six sacks already. If the Vikings can get to Rodgers, this will be a close game. I’ll take the Packers by 3, but expect a close game.

Packers-Vikings

Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints – 12 CT

The Lions came up short last week against the Panthers, and now they are one game back in the NFC North. The Lions are a good team, but their offense has left something to be desired early this season, which isn’t what you would expect. Surprisingly, Detroit’s defense has been the thing carrying them so far. The Saints are coming off of two straight wins after opening the season with two losses. After trading Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara should get more touches and their running plays won’t be as telegraphed. The Saints are favored by 4.5, which is surprising to me. Maybe Vegas expects the bye week to help the Saints, but I’m taking the Lions to win this game outright.

Los Angeles Rams @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 3:05 CT

Who would have thought that a game between the Rams and Jaguars would be one of the most interesting games to watch in week 6? But here we are, with both franchises at 3-2. The Jaguars pulled off a pretty shocking defeat of the Steelers last week in a game where Blake Bortles only threw one pass in the second half. Let me say that again, the Jaguars won a game where their QB threw one pass in the second half! That’s crazy. The Jaguars defense is elite, and second year cornerback Jalen Ramsey is a force to be reckoned with. Not to mention rookie RB Leonard Fournette who is second in rushing so far this year. This matchup features another great RB: Todd Gurley. Gurley has been great in both running the ball and in the passing game. For the Rams, they’re coming off of a loss to the Seahawks where Cooper Kupp dropped the game winning touchdown pass in the final seconds. Which of these surprising teams will improve to 4-2 on the season? Vegas favors the Jaguars by 2.5, and I’m picking them simply because they are playing at home. Who knows though, if the Rams can score on the Jaguars, Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense is going to have a difficult time keeping up.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs – 3:25 CT

The Chiefs are the NFL’s last undefeated team, and they look to stay undefeated Sunday against Pittsburgh. The Chiefs have been consistent: good defense, solid play from Alex Smith, explosive plays from Tyreek Hill, and running the ball with league leading rusher Kareem Hunt. Things got dicey in the 4th quarter last week against Houston, but the Chiefs toughed out the win. While the Chiefs are the most consistent team in football right now, the Steelers might be one of the most inconsistent. The Steelers have beaten the Browns, Vikings, and Ravens, but have fallen to the Bears and Jaguars. The loss to the Jaguars came last week at home, which is pretty shocking as the Steelers are notorious for playing very well at home. Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions last week, and it’ll be on him to get the struggling offense turned around. The Chiefs are favored by 4.5, which seems low. I’ll take the Chiefs to cover.

Four Games to Watch In Week 5

Carolina Panthers @ Detroit Lions – 12 CT

Despite the big win over New England last week, the story surrounding the Panthers right now is focused on Cam Newton’s comments toward a female reporter. Last week’s victory was impressive, but I’m still having a hard time believing in this Panthers team. Newton had a rough start to the season, but maybe the Patriots game will be a turning point for him. For the Lions, they traveled to Minnesota and squeaked by with a mostly unimpressive victory. The Lions defense looked good, but Stafford and the offense looked out of sorts. The Lions are favored to win by 2.5. Expect the Lions offense to get back on track and beat the Panthers by 3+ points.

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Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles – 12 CT

The Eagles enter the week with a 3-1 record, and a lot of NFL analysts are loving the. I’m a Carson Wentz fan, but are we sure the Eagles are actually good? The Eagles win over the Redskins in week 1 was impressive, but since then they’ve lost to the Chiefs (excusable), and then beat both the 0-4 Giants and Chargers by a combined 5 points. That doesn’t impress me much. Hopefully the Eagles prove me wrong, I want to see Wentz make the playoffs in his sophomore season. The visiting Cardinals are a very strange team. Sometimes Carson Palmer looks like he isn’t capable of throwing a football more than five yards, and other times he slings it like Brett Favre. The Eagles are favored by 6.5. While I think the Eagles could and should win this game, I think they will play down to the Cardinals level and narrowly get the victory by less than 6.5.

Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams – 3:05 CT

Two of the most mysterious teams in the league, hopefully we will be able to learn something from this game. The Rams shockingly have one of the best offenses in the league after four weeks, can they keep it up against a good Seahawks defense? Can the Seahawks offensive line give Russell Wilson time to get the ball downfield? These two teams are battling to win the NFC West, so this is a big game. In Vegas, the game is a pick ’em, which seems about right. I really don’t have a good feel on how this game is going to go, but I’ll say the Seahawks win in a very close game.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans – 7:30 CT

The Chiefs are the NFL’s last undefeated team, but they certainly didn’t look unbeatable last week on Monday Night Football. I think this speaks to the fact that parity in the NFL might be at an all time high this year, it seems like almost any team can win any given week. That said, the Chiefs are definitely a good football team, Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt are carrying the offense, and the defense is good as well. On the other hand, the Texans seemed to have figured it out. After a close loss to New England in week 3, the Texans destroyed the Titans 57-14. The Houston defense looks back, and on offense, DeShaun Watson looks like a franchise QB. The Chiefs are favored by just 1 point in this one. Expect a close game, but expect the Chief to cover.

The Sammy Watkins Trade: A Tale of Two Teams

Sammy Watkins is headed to Hollywood. The super talented but oft-injured wide reciever was traded from the Buffalo Bills to the Los Angeles Rams in a shocking transaction on Friday. The Bills traded Watkins and a 2018 sixth round pick to the Rams for cornerback EJ Gaines and a 2018 second round pick.

The Bills traded their first round pick in 2014 and first and fourth round picks in 2015 to move up five spots for Watkins in 2014. Watkins proved to be a very talented receiver, but Watkins has missed 11 games in his three year career.

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To replace Watkins, the Bills made a trade with the Eagles to acquire receiver Jordan Matthews. Going into the 2018 draft, the Bills will have two first round picks, two second round picks, and two third round picks. It seems like the two trades the Bills made are setting them up for the future, and the team will take a step back this season.

From the Rams’ perspective, Watkins is a number one receiver and an excellent weapon for last year’s one overall pick Jared Goff. The Rams ranked dead last in offensive yards last season, a miserable 700 yards behind the next lowest team, and 2,613 yards behind the Saints who lead the NFL. In other words, the Rams offense was atrocious last year. More offensive firepower was absolutely needed, especially in LA where football isn’t the end all be all. The Rams are trying to establish a solid fan base after leaving St. Louis, and now that the Chargers are joining them in Los Angeles, there is even more of a reason to try to put together a fun football team.

The Rams now have a former number one overall pick starting at quarterback, an elite running back in Todd Gurley, and the talented Watkins at receiver. That’s a pretty solid offensive core, and then consider their youth. Watkins is the oldest of that group at 24, Gurley is 23, and Goff is 22. If Watkins and Gurley continue to improve, and Goff becomes a good QB, the Rams offense has a chance to be lethal in a couple of seasons.

While the Bills seem set on building their roster through the draft, the Rams are taking the opposite approach by trading a pick for a proven young talent. Neither of the Rams nor Bills figure to be a factor in the playoff race this season, but their two different approaches to team building will be interesting to watch going forward.