Bowl Picks

Picks for all 41 games!

It’s that time of year! The bowls get started this weekend and everybody and their mom is filling out a bowl pick’em sheet. Ryan Dulany and I dive into all 41 games and give our thoughts on who we like, the spread and much more. December 16-26 (before the 38 minute mark. We get into the NY6 at at the 1:01 mark and talk Playoff at 1:21. Get through this one!

Sports Week in 30 minutes

Quick takes on a little bit of everything sports

I give my thoughts on MLB playoffs, NBA preview and the weekend’s football picks. Short and sweet, but a lot of ground covered. Would love to here what you think or debate with y’all. Enjoy the weekend and best of luck!

Picks:

NCAA:

Wazzu -15.5

GaTech +6.5

SDSU -7

A&M +3

Minnesota +4.5

 

NFL:

Falcons -13

Packers -3

Rams +2.5

Ravens -6.5

Broncos -12

This weekend’s football picks

Looking to bounce back after last weekend

The first step is acceptance. Last week was bad. 1-4 in NCAA games, with 3 blowout losses. 2-3 in the NFL and lucky to get the Atlanta victory. It’s going to happen early in the season, but would like to limit the damage. So, this week trying to get back on track. Consulted with more people on these, dug a little deeper on research and re-examined some of my gut feelings on teams. I’m excited for the slate of games this week and think the picks will get better results. Follow or fade, but enjoy the weekend. Best of luck!

 

NCAA:
Minnesota -13 v. Maryland
Third string quarterback on the road against a team I like. Row the boat.

Washington -27 @ Oregon St.
I was down on Washington, but clearly put too much stock in their first half of the year against an improved Rutgers team. Jake Browning and co. have looked strong since then and were effective against a pretty good Colorado defense. Add that to the fact Oregon State is awful and I’m okay laying all the points.

Alabama -27.5 v. Ole Miss
Ole Miss is a program in a deep mess and they have some key injuries to their offensive weapons. They already lost to Cal by double digits and Bama is better than Cal (hot take). Alabama looked as good as ever last week and I think the Tide keep the dominance rolling. It’s a big spread, but Alabama covers another one.

Clemson -7.5 @ Virginia Tech
If anything, I would stay away from this game, because I can’t take the Hokies. Not only because of the Louisville pick a couple of weeks ago, but because the Tigers have looked to good to feel good going against. Tech’s defense is better than Louisville and they can move the ball, but I think Clemson rises to the challenge in Lane Stadium and pulls away.

Cal +14 @ Oregon
I think this is a shootout and Cal will at least get the cover. The Golden Bears hung tough against USC and the Ducks fell to Arizona State, so I struggle to see Oregon blow this one open even in Eugene.

Last Week: 1-4
Season: 8-7-1

NFL:
Ravens+3 v. Steelers
The Ravens are a much better team at home and I think their debacle in London was an anomaly. The Steelers struggle on the road and have looked sluggish in general. These games are always close and I lean Ravens outright so I’ll take the points.

Texans+2 v. Titans
Texans offense looked much better in New England and I think Tennessee benefited from a Seahawks defense worn down by off the field distractions, as they just faded in the second half. The Titans were locked in a close one with Jacksonville until turnovers helped them pull away. If the Texans can hold on to the ball, I like Houston at home

Patriots -9 v. Panthers
This a clash of strength on strength and weakness on weakness. The Pats’ offense and the Panthers defense should be fun to watch, but the other side will be two struggling units. I have faith in Brady to win his match up and I think Belichick figures out how to do enough on the defensive side of the ball. When picks are struggling, seems smart to lean on Brady and Belichick.

Buccaneers -3 vs. Giants
I’m scared of a desperate Giants team that seemed to put together something of an offense late against the Eagles. I’m not scared that Tampa Bay is as bad as they looked last week. The Vikings are a good team and the Bucs were dealing with the travel and emotional roller coaster that has been associated with Irma. The defense is still banged up, but another week should help the staff figure out better fixes. I think the line should be higher so like getting it at -3 and I think the Giants fall to 0-4.

49ers +7 @ Arizona
The 49ers look ready to get in the win column and Arizona has looked lost. The Cardinals looked a little better against Dallas, but I don’t think Palmer is as big advantage over Hoyer as the names make it sound. Shanahan should have San Francisco moving the ball and even if Arians’ squad claws out a win, I like the Niners to cover.

Last Week: 2-3
Season: 4-5-1

College Football Picks

Best bets and other thoughts

I broke down the big games of the week on the pod, but wanted to post my best bets after combing through those games and many more. As for the big games I’m not picking, here are my final quick takes:

Alabama -19 @ Vandy
I like the Commodores this season, but think Alabama shows its head and shoulders above the rest of the conference. Vandy will rally in the next few weeks, but ‘Bama covers here.

TCU @ Oklahoma State -14
I think the Cowboys are top-5 caliber, but 14 is a lot of points against an offense like the Horned Frogs’. I think the Cowboys cover, but garbage time scares me.

Penn State -13 @ Iowa
Penn State’s offense is a lot better than anything the Hawkeyes can offer in all 3 phases. I’m staying away because weird things happen in Iowa City, but the Nittany Lions should cover.

Best Bets:

NC State +13
Tough spot for Florida State breaking in a new QB after three weeks off. They may win, but it will be close

Maryland -4
Maryland’s offense has looked potent through three weeks and UCF is another team that could struggle after an Irma-forced layoff. This should be a shootout, but the Terps pull away at home.

Wake Forest -5.5
Wake Forest has been as explosive as any team in the nation (against less than formidable foes, but still). Appalachian State is a name that scares bettors, but this team won’t hang with a Demon Deacons squad that may be a player in the ACC title race.

Mississippi St +4.5
I have not seen enough from Georgia to think they can move the ball if Mississippi State shuts down the run. I like Nick Fitzgerald much more than Jake Fromm and think Mississippi State wins this battle of the bulldogs

Colorado +11.5
I can’t shake how rough the Huskies looked against Rutgers and Colorado has looked formidable in their first 3 games. In Boulder, I think the Buffaloes push the Huskies and even if they lose it will be a one-possession game

Last Week: 3-2
Season: 7-2-1

 

 

NFL Sentencing

Quick takes on every NFL game

The football went up a notch this week. The Falcons looked dominant, the AFC West is loaded, the Pats are definitely better than the Saints and the Seahawks offense is brutal. It’s too early to draw large conclusions, but each game gave us something to take away. The early season is a learning process–for the teams and making picks. Here’s what we learned this week…

Texans 13, Bengals 9
Texans > Bengals > Thursday Night Football (yuck)

Panthers 9, Bills 3
Carolina’s defense can be great if it stays healthy, the offense is already banged up and may not be that great healthy.

Buccaneers 29, Bears 7
The Winston-Evans combo and an electric defense makes Tampa Bay very dangerous, while Mike Glennon makes the Bears very worthless.

Steelers 26, Vikings 9
Case Keenum is bad at football.

Cardinals 16, Colts 13
Both these teams are in trouble, but the Colts really found a way to lose this one.

Patriots 36, Saints 20
These teams are going opposite directions with aging quarterbacks, reminding us how the franchise as an organization makes such a huge difference (uh…Tom Brady helps too).

Ravens 24, Browns 10
These teams seem pretty set in their identity–the Ravens as a dominant defense and just enough offense and the Browns as improving, but not quite ready.

Chiefs 27, Eagles 20
Kansas City is overwhelmingly balanced and just good.

Titans 37, Jaguars 16
The Jaguars have to get a lead early and hang on and Tennessee needs to find ways to get their weapons going earlier.

Raiders 45, Jets 20
They Jets were more feisty than expected, but the Raiders offense is going to be hard to stop for anybody.

Dolphins 19, Chargers 17
The Chargers are so snake bit that even Jay Cutler is coming back against them.

Broncos 42, Cowboys 17
Trevor Siemian has been the biggest surprise in the NFL, but Denvers defense hasn’t slipped much at all without Wade Philips.

Seahawks 12, 49ers 9
The 49ers are terrible (except Carlos Hyde), which should terrify Seahawks fans.

Redskins 27, Rams 20
Neither of these teams wanted this game, but Washington may have found a better formula in leaning less on Cousins and more on the ground game.

Falcons 34, Packers 23
Green Bay was very banged up, but the Falcons continue to prove the doubters (me included) wrong.

Lions 24, Giants 10
We’ll learn more about the Lions next week against Atlanta, but we know the Giants offense is a mess.

College Football Surprises

The good and the bad I didn’t see coming

USC 27-24 in double overtime. It was an ugly game for about 55 minutes. There was a wild end to the first half with a pick-six and a check-down turned Hail Mary and a crazy end to regulation with Texas going ahead only for Darnold to easily drive the Trojans down the field for the tying field goal. USC survived after stripping Texas at the goal line and it was just a magical game. Nostalgia, tradition, rough edges, dramatic moments–this game was everything we love good and bad about college football. And very few saw it coming.

Not many thought the 2006 Rose Bowl rematch would be close and surprises are what make the sport great. There are several this season. Not every surprise is a positive one, but they are what keep us tuning in on Saturdays.

Good Surprises:
Clemson
We knew they would be good, but I don’t think we expected to see a team so close to–if not exceeding–the level of last year’s championship squad. The defense is dominant and if Kelly Bryant is as good as he looks it could be trouble for everyone else.

Vanderbilt
You could see the Kansas State win coming, but the Commodores look like a threat in the SEC East, Continue reading “College Football Surprises”

NFL Week 2 Picks

Quick pitches for my best bets

If you’re not convinced quickly, it might not be right for you. That’s the approach I’m taking with the picks this week. The NFL is off to a bit of a sluggish start in general so its hard to feel great about a lot of these teams, especially with some of the lines this week. I found five I like and I think I can pitch them all pretty simply. If you want a longer explanation, check out the podcast. If it doesn’t feel right, be careful.

Packers +3 @ Falcons
Revenge. Rodgers is better than Ryan, Packers defense is improved. Falcons looked rough against the Bears. I think the Packers can win so I’ll take the points.

Seahawks -14 v. 49ers
Go with what you know. The 49ers are awful. Seahawks have question marks, but they should not be exposed here.

Raiders-14 v. Jets
Same approach. The Jets are unquestionably bad. More than two touchdowns worse than the Raiders.

Rams -3 v. Redskins
Washington is not good either. I am betting against the teams I really think are terrible. The Rams aren’t as good as they looked last week, but they can handle Washington at home.

Buccs -7 v. Bears
Emotional setting. Buccaneers ready to launch a playoff run and the Bears won’t look as sharp as the did against the Falcons.

Last Week: 2-2-1

Power 5 Sleepers

Week 3 Picks included

Earlier this week, I noted the strength of each conference at the top. Each one has a team well set up for the playoff race and most have more than one. Looking at each conference, you can identify the 2 or 3 favorites:

SEC: Alabama, LSU, Georgia
ACC: Clemson, Louisville, Virginia Tech
Pac-12: USC, Washington, UCLA
Big 12: Oklahoma, Oklahoma St.
Big Ten: Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio St.

Thats not an exhaustive list of favorites, but its a pretty good idea of which teams we expect to hear from at the end of the season. Yet, each conference has a team that, through two weeks, looks like it might be able to unexpectedly get into that conversation. These sleeper teams are ones I see with shots to get to their conference championship games, which will have them in the New Year’s six discussion–if not more.

SEC: Vanderbilt
Derek Mason has improved the Commodores record every year since he took the helm in 2014, getting Vandy to a bowl last season. This year, led by a stout defense and QB Kyle Shurmur (the Vikings’ offensive coordinator’s son), they look ready to make some noise. They already put the clamps on a good Middle Tennessee State team and crushed an FCS foe like they should. It’s tough sledding to have Alabama, @Florida and Georgia in consecutive weeks, but the SEC slate is always difficult. The SEC East is wide open and if they can pull an upset and get to 9-3 they have a shot to get to Atlanta.

This week: I love Vanderbilt +4 against Kansas State. K-State is a tough matchup for anybody, but the game is in Nashville and Vanderbilt is ready to get a big win heading into their Bama game next week. Continue reading “Power 5 Sleepers”

NFL Week 1: Good, Bad and Ugly

Examining a rough first week of pro football

The story of NFL week 1 was about rust. Teams looked sluggish, fantasy scores were low and several teams were left looking for answers. I was struck by the fact that nearly every game probably had more bad than good. There were bright spots, but there were a lot of nasty moments. In looking at the good, bad and ugly of each game, I hope to highlight the highs and lows for different teams. Here’s hoping it gets prettier from here.

Chiefs @ Patriots
Good: Kareem Hunt. 148 yards on the ground, 98 receiving and 3 total touchdowns. All that and a win over the reigning champions. Hard to beat that debut.

Bad: Tom Brady. 16-36 with no touchdowns. It was a rough night for the GOAT. IF he doesn’t turn it around the murmurs about his age will pick up steam. But, betting against Brady is not usually the way to go.

Ugly: Patriots Defense. Outscored 21-0  in the 4th quarter, they were blown away by the Chiefs speed. They gave up over 500 yards of offense, 42 points and looked overmatched, particularly at the linebacker position. If Dont’a Hightower’s injury lingers, there might not be a quick fix.

Steelers @ Browns
Good: Antonio Brown. The best receiver over the last three seasons kept it rolling. He didn’t get in the end zone, but caught 11 balls for nearly 200 yards and repeatedly bailed out Roethlisberger with his ability to scramble open and create yards after the catch.

Bad: DeShone Kizer. This ‘bad’ is actually a positive for the Browns. Yes, Kizer was raw–going 20/30 with a TD and an interception–but even his rookie play was a step forward for the Browns. If his development continues he will be an unquestioned ‘good’ very soon.

Ugly: The Browns opening series. Run for 1 yard, run for -9 yards, false start, run for 4 yards. Blocked punt. Steelers recover for touchdown. Not great.

Jets @ Bills
Good: Bills’ offense. Tyrod Taylor was fine, throwing for 2 touchdowns, but the ground game was the real plus. LeSean Mccoy ran for over 100 yards and Mike Tolbert got in the end zone. We’ll learn more against a better opponent, but for week 1, the offense was a bright spot.

Bad: Josh McCown. To roughly zero people’s surprise, Josh McCown struggled to do anything positive for the Jets offense. 187 yards and 2 picks, while leading the offense to just 10 first downs.

Ugly: Jets rushing. Unlike quarterback, the backfield was supposed to be a minor strength for the Jets. 38 rushing yards was nothing near a strength. This offense may be unable to generate anything positive all season, but any hope starts with the running game.

Falcons @ Bears
Good: Tyrik Cohen. The ‘human joystick’ was a breath of fresh air for the Chicago offense. Supplementing Jordan Howard in the backfield, he ran for 66 yards on 5 carries– including an exhilarating 46 yard run down the RIGHT sideline on a toss play to the LEFT. Eight catches for 47 yards and a score was icing on the cake.

Bad: Kevin White’s injury. The fractured scalpula is the latest injury for the talented wideout and is another blow to an already depleted receiving corps.

Ugly: Austin Hooper’s stiff arm.  Hooper made the Bears defensive back (name redacted) look like a bug on his windshield on the way to the game’s biggest play.

Ravens @ Bengals
Good: Ravens defense. 4 interceptions and a fumble recovery, while holding Cincinnati to 221 total yards. The defense overwhelmed the Bengals and is set up for a dominant season.

Bad: Joe Flacco. Good thing the defense looked strong because Flacco was 9 for 17, mustering just 121 yards with one touchdown and an interception. The running game was excellent, but Flacco will have to step it up to make this team a contender.

Ugly: Andy Dalton. 4 picks and a fumble. You don’t need to see his 0.7 QBR to know it was an all-time brutal game.

Cardinals @ Lions
Good: Matthew Stafford. It started ugly, as the first pass under his new mega-contract was a pick-six. He turned it around though and finished with 285 yards and 4 touchdowns, while not throwing another interception. He spread the ball around and had the Lions looking good in week 1.

Bad: Carson Palmer. The opposite is true for Palmer. He also spread the ball around, but failed to limit his turnovers and finished with three interceptions and just one score. Palmer will have to turn it around for the Cardinals to capitalize on their team’s talent.

Ugly: David Johnson’s injury. From bad to worse for the Cardinals. Johnson’s dislocated wrist will keep him out for 2-3 months and that will ruin fantasy seasons everywhere. More importantly, it’s a tough blow for a great young player and a promising team.

Jaguars @ Texans
Good: Leonard Fournette. 26 carries for 100 yards and 1 touchdown against a tough defense. It’s clear the Jaguars plan to build their offense around him and he seemed up to the task for the first week.

Bad: Blake Bortles. The reason the offense runs through Fournette is Bortles inability to move the offense. The one positive is that he avoided turnovers. If he can continue to do that, the Jags may have a chance.

Ugly: Tom Savage. The upside of his lousy performance is that the DeShaun Watson era should be underway. His first start is Thursday in Cincy.

Raiders @ Titans
Good: The Carr-Lynch relationship. Both players played well for Oakland and the post-game pressers made it clear this team has a good thing going

Bad: Marcus Mariota. He didn’t do anything terribly, but he also didn’t do anything great. For this team to live up to the hype, he’ll need to show his star potential going forward.

Ugly: Titans’ rushing game. If this team can’t get more than 95 yards on the ground, it will be a rough season. Murray looked a step slow for them, but the whole ground game was controlled to an alarming degree.

Eagles @ Redskins
Good: Carson Wentz. 26 for 39 for 307 yards and 2 scores was what the Eagles needed from their young signal-caller. Next week’s test for the Chiefs will be an important one for him and the team.

Bad: The second half. No offensive touchdowns made the latter 30 minutes a bit of a slog. The only touchdown was an Eagles scoop and score.

Ugly: Redskins rushing game. Washington is built around their passing game, but if Kirk Cousins is their leading rusher in more games, they will struggle to put points on the board.

Colts @ Rams
Good: Jared Goff. An efficient 300 yards with no turnovers and a score gave the Rams some hope for last year’s first overall pick. Some of that may be how putrid the Colts are, but you can only beat who you play.

Bad: Chuck Pagano. He rushed a play that cost the Colts a chance to review a play and get a touchdown. He apparently was preparing for the 49ers. His team seems headed for a dismal year. Not a good time to be Chuck Pagano.

Ugly: Scott Tolzien. He is winless in all his career starts and threw two pick-sixes on Sunday. Jacoby Brissett may get the start this week and honestly, it couldn’t get worse.

Panthers @ 49ers
Good: Panthers defense. It was great to see Luke Keuchly back on the field and he led his unit to four sacks and one interception while stifling Kyle Shanahan’s team in his debut.

Bad: Cam Newton. HE did throw two touchdown passes, but he stills struggled to move the ball and the competition will get tougher. He must progress to get he and his team anywhere near their 2015 heights.

Ugly: 49ers offense. Kyle Shanahan likely hoped for a more sparkling debut than 217 total yards, three points and two turnovers. This team is extremely short on weapons, but 49ers fans will want to see some better signs as the season wears on.

Seahawks @ Packers
Good: Packers defense. They stymied Russell Wislon and the Seahawks, keeping them out of the end zone and under 100 yards rushing, while limiting them to 11 first downs. If this unit is legitimately improved, Green Bay will be set up well to make their Super Bowl run.

Bad: The officiating. The Seahawks got a pick-six called back, which was a legitimate clipping call. Yet, on the same play Seattle defensive back was ejected for a non-existent punch during a skirmish initiated by a Packers wideout. Seahawks fans will also feel like there should have been pass interference called for the Packers mauling Jimmy Graham in the end zone. The referees played a bit too much of a role in this one.

Ugly: Seahawks offense. All credit to the Packers defense, but this was a rough outing for Russell Wilson and co. The offensive line will need to play a lot better to give this team a chance to be a Super Bowl threat.

Giants @ Cowboys
Good: Cowboys defense. Yet another defense that jumped off the page in week 1. If they remain strong against the run and keep teams out of the end zone it will be a good year in Dallas

Bad: Ezekiel Elliott. The second year back had a good game, rushing for 104 yards. Still, his off-the-field issues will be a shadow on the season for the Cowboys. For one week, it was fine, but now we know he will be on the field all season and it will be interesting to see the impact his distractions will have–both on and off the field.

Ugly: Giants without OBJ. 3 points is really the only number you need to know here. The Giants were supposed to be better equipped to deal with Beckham Jr.’s absence, but through one game they look like they need the star wide receiver on the field.

Saints @ Vikings
Good: Dalvin Cook. Another stud rookie running back with a tremendous performance. 22 carries for 127 yards, while looking very explosive will have Vikings fans dreaming big.

Bad: Sam Bradford. Hard to play any better. 27 for 32 with most of those incompletions being drops, while throwing for three touchdowns was one of the best performances of the week. The ‘bad’ here is that Bradford has been an eternal tease for his entire career. He’s always accurate and he always seems like performances like this can be the norm, but that Bradford has never consistently showed up. Perhaps he can run this offense with a coordinator (Pat Shurmur) that he is very comfortable with and take the Vikings on a playoff run. BUT, I worry he is setting up fans for disappointment.

Ugly: Saints offense, especially Adrian Peterson. The Vikings stymied the Saints as a whole, but especially their old running back. He only got the ball six times for 18 yards and the post-game story was all about him yelling at his new coach. That coach–Sean Payton–will need to figure out the right formula for his offense and running back as the season goes along, but it doesn’t seem like there’s an easy solution.

Chargers @ Broncos
Good: Trevor Siemian. I know I expected him to struggle and it seemed like many people did. He spent three quarters shutting up the critics. He was responsible for 3 touchdowns, including one on the ground where he made Joey Bosa look silly. His only interception was a fluke deflection and he gave Broncos fans reason to believe in him.

Bad: Broncos collapse. Despite Siemian’s good showing, the Broncos did all they could to let the Chargers back in the game. A fluke interception, a Jamaal Charles fumble and a poor final possession gave the Chargers a chance to win. Vance Joseph failed to call a timeout to allow time for the booth to review a Chargers fumble, but he salvaged the game with his timeout to ice the kicker.

Ugly: Chargers in close games. This.