Here’s my 2013 NFL Mock Draft. This has a little bit of everything – some support from what I’ve been reading, a little recognition of team needs, some understanding of how teams draft, and a couple shots in the dark based on how I graded out some of these players. This draft could get wild if there are some big trades that stick quarterbacks at different spots in the first round. There are a lot of very good defensive players in this draft which means great value late on that side of the ball. As always, Bart Scott and I “Can’t Wait!!!”
- Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel – If Andy Reid learned anything during his last couple years in Philadelphia it’s that your entire offense can be derailed by poor play from your offensive line. I know that Andy believes in getting the best player, and I’m not sure Luke projects out to the best future, but there’s not more of a sure thing – and a sure thing on the offensive line, a guy that’s going to protect your quarterback for 8 years, that’s worth the #1 pick. A good offensive line can make a very mediocre quarterback look good.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan – Dion has an amaznig skill set and size speed potential that make him special. Jordan has the ability to be an every down player that flies all over the field making plays. The Jaguars have really missed that elite athleticism on the line over the last few years, or forever (doesn’t it seem like they’ve drafted a pass rusher time and time again?). Jordan seems like the right direction for a team in need of a youth movement, and they pick here, it’s hard to argue with upside like Jordan.
- Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith – The ghost of Al Davis strikes! Geno could be a great player. He certainly is accurate, has decent arm strength, and he always know what his receivers are doing – always good to have a student of the game running your offense. But the Raiders need impact players, and while QB is certainly the biggest impact position, I’m not sure Geno is much more than a flier to be a top 20 QB. Dropping Carson Palmer to the Cardinals and picking up Flynn could mean they make the smart move and pick up an offensive line upgrade or it could be a young stop gap player to help prepare Geno. I personally like Flynn, but an investment in Smith might make sense financially as well. Remember, QBs aren’t cheap, but the new draft cap rules make sure that the #3 guy comes at a pretty nice price.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher – Very strong and athletic player on the offensive line. The Eagles will almost certainly move up and down the field fast, even if they don’t run Chip’s Oregon offense to a T. Regardless of what they run and the speed they run it at, it was certainly apparent that Philly needs improvement all over the line of scrimmage. Fisher looks extremely close to a sure thing protector.
- Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner – The Lions keep trying to improve their defense but seemingly always end up giving big plays up to opposing offenses. Milliner is a confident cat out on the edge, using his strength, speed, and athleticism to be the best college corner in 2012. This would be one way to help sure up that leaky secondary. They could use some help on the offensive line, but with Fisher gone, they might see Milliner as the best player.
- Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah – The Browns need a pass rush and they need it bad. I know Jarvis Jones could put some pressure on opposing QBs, but he has health concerns and some wonder if he has the speed to be an effective OLB. I see Ansah as size/speed combination to be worth this pick.
- Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson – The Cardinals’ offensive line was terrible last year. I don’t carecif Beanie Wells was a huge disappointment since getting drafted in the 1st round, the per yard carry average of runners in Arizona was a combined pathetic, and much of that is due to the OL not being able to move defenders. Land can pass block longe enough for Larry Fitz to get downfield. That’s something Arizona desperately needs.
- Buffalo Bills: Jonathan Cooper – The Bills had a solid rushing attack in 2012, as C.J. Spiller really stepped up to become the explosive big play back the Bills drafted a couple seasons ago. But without a sure thing at quarterback and no speed weapons on the outside, they’ll need to get bigger and badder in the middle of that offensive line if they want to keep running the ball. Cooper is one of the most athletic, gifted linemen in the draft and the Bills could use the improvement.
- New York Jets: Sharrif Floyd – Floyd looks like the highest rated impact athlete on the defensive side of the ball. I’m not sure DT is New York’s biggest need, but they need a sure thing difference maker with this pick, and Floyd will immediately become a top player for the Jets inside. Maybe he doesn’t fall this far, and maybe they go need over talent, but for a team that didn’t do a good job of stopping the run, there could be a worse decision than Floyd.
- Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei – This seems like the perfect situation for Tennessee, too good to be true, maybe? They need help inside to free up some of their pass rushers, and Lotulelei might be the best defensive player in the draft. By this point, he grades out as the best available. After getting the okay from doctors, Star could be one in Tennessee.
- San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack – The bottom line is that Warmack could be the best impact lineman in the draft and the Chargers have a sieved for an offensive line. Don’t overthink this, San Diego.
- Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes – Good corner. Physical, fast, athletic – held down the secondary on one of the best defenses in the ACC, Rhodes would be an immediate starter in Miami, and the Dolphins (and just about every team in the AFC) could really use more help in the secondary. The way I see it, good corners are hard to find, and X Rhodes is one.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Barkevious Mingo – Mingo could be an elite pass rusher at the next level, and if the Bucs need an upgrade, the defensive line seems like a good start. As a 4-3 rush defensive end, I’m not sure Mingo will be a stud against the run, but his aggressive nature would help the Bucs improve against the pass and create more turnovers in 2013.
- Carolina Panthers: Tavon Austin – This would be an interesting pick for the Panthers, one that might open the game up a little for Steve Smith. It seems like the Panthers have been drafting players to pair with Steve Smith for years, only to watch those players struggle despite single coverage. Austin has the makings of a huge play guy, especially if surrounded by just single coverage. This may be a shot in the dark, but a big offensive weapon for their franchise quarterback is an option.
- New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones – Jones may not have timed as well as he hoped, but he’s still an explosive difference maker on the football field, which I feel adds up to the better teams in the league. He could help a defense that got a lot older last season, really struggled to make plays, and lost them a lot of high scoring games. He may not be a perfect fit, but they need good football players and Jones is that.
- St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro – Vaccaro is a difference maker at safety, a spot that the Rams don’t get a lot of big plays out of. He fits the draft slot as he is one of the best players available and the best player at his position, a position of need for St. Louis. Making this pick would mean that they didn’t spend too high of a pick on a receiver that is too raw. The Rams love to try and give Bradford something to work with, something they continually fail to do. This pick should be a sure thing, I don’t see a receiver worth taking here that is.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: D.J. Fluker – The Alabama running backs should probably shell out some of their signing bonuses to Mr. Fluker, a young man that has mauled the way for more than a couple NFL running backs. The Steelers are said to have more pressing needs, but I’m not so sure. I watched the Steelers play plenty last season, and Big Ben was either dinged up, running for his life, or handing off to running backs that had no where to go. Fluker would help this team a lot, adding some good youth on an offense that could use it.
- Dallas Cowboys: Bjoern Werner – This kid just seems like a Cowboy selection. He’s a big time talent, can rush the passer well, plays solid football against the run, and comes with some star potential. The Cowboys seem to be moving defensive schemes, and Werner could help them turn that corner.
- New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson – Richardson has the quickness and athleticism New York likes out of their defensive linemen. They find spots for defensive ends inside, even, and while Richardson isn’t an end, he has one of the best burst of any DT in the draft. He has good but not great size, but his ability to make big plays in the backfield at a key position could help the Giants right off the bat. Best player available, something the Giants do well.
- Chicago Bears: Manti Te’o – I hate when these kinds of things work out. The Bears lose Urlacher (well, they don’t resign the aging version of Urlacher) and Te’o is the best middle linebacker in the draft, a tackling machine that will come in with a lot of hype and some scrutiny. Bottom line here, Te’o is a gifted football player – something Urlacher always was, and something the Bears could definitely use in his old spot.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Pugh – The Bengals might lose their former top pick, Andre Smith, but even if he does resign, picking up the only first round rated lineman left on the board would be a nice take for them. Pugh could play tackle or guard, and despite not having a “need” there if Smith comes back, their low rushing touchdown and yard per carry averages means it’s not quite a strength, either.
- St. Louis Rams (from Skins): Cordarrelle Patterson – After doing the right thing and passing on Patterson with their first pick of the first round, the Rams go with the immensely talented project receiver with their second selection. Sure, they could use help at WR, but I still think Patterson is too raw this early.
- Minnesota Vikings: Desmond Trufant – The younger brother of the formerly good Marcus Trufant (long time Seahawk, not good anymore), Desmond threw up some good times at the combine and looks like a great cover corner (even if he’s not the strongest against the run). The Vikings lost Antoine Winfield to the Seahawks, and they weren’t that good against the pass to begin with. This could be a nice fit.
- Indianapolis Colts: Tank Carradine – This kid was a beast for Florida State before getting hurt, he’s a really hard worker with a lot of toughness. He’s coming off an ACL tear, but just ran at his pro day and put up decent numbers. He can really get after the passer and makes effort plays all over the field. If not for the injury he looks like a Top 15 guy. The Colts make some pretty good moves, and taking a chance on Tank could benefit a defense looking for help on the line.
- Minnesota Vikings (from Hawks): Alec Ogletree – If the Vikings can help themselves get younger and more explosive in their front 7 by adding a difference maker inside like Ogletree, they have to take that chance. I know a lot of people expect Percy Harvin’s replacement to go with one of their first two picks, but there will be value in the 2nd round at WR, and I’m not sure Keenan Allen times out well enough to take him, here.
- Green Bay Packers: Manelik Watson – Watson is a zone blocking offensive lineman that isn’t elite as a run or pass blocker but above average to good in both. He moves well and should be able to come in and improve a leaky Packers offensive line right away. Watson grades out around the end of the first round and fits a big need for a team looking to protect one of the league’s best players.
- Houston Texans: Keenan Allen – I believe that Allen is the best receiver in this draft. He may not have the big time speed and he may not have the freakish tools that a guy like Patterson has, he might not even be a speed wide receiver – but he finds ways to get open, he’s strong after the catch, he judges the ball well. He reminds me a little bit of Anquan Boldin in that way. The Texans won’t have to keep looking for that receiver to pair with Andre Johnson anymore, that’s a huge bonus, and they might even find the guy they can replace him with in a couple years.
- Denver Broncos: Tyler Eifert – If he falls this far do the Broncos just pick him up and use one of the best receiver options in the draft to freak defenses out on a weekly basis? It’s a tough call as TE isn’t a “need” for the Broncos, and offense really isn’t something they are searching for heading into the draft. They have three very talented receivers already, but if he falls… The Broncos probably should go with a corner like Jamar Taylor or a safety like John Cyprien, but taking the best talent available has never been the wrong move.
- New England Patriots: Sylvester Morris – The Patriots seem to grab big difference makers early, and Morris could help solidify a defense that could use a little youth up front. Morris plays hard, plays very quick, and has good versatility along the defensive line. For a team that often makes the smart pick, Morris seems like a good one.
- Atlanta Falcons: Jamar Taylor – Taylor was a big part of what Boise State did defensively. His ability to lock down opposing wide receivers allowed Boise to do a lot with their defense, which caused for big plays from an active defense. Taylor is a pretty solid all around corner with a strength as a man cover guy. Atlanta has Asante Samuel but not a lot of starter potential outside of that. There has been talk of Atlanta moving up to get a top guy, but if they can’t, Taylor might be the best option.
- San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Jenkins – Jenkins would be another run stuffing body up front. He’s not a big time pass rusher, not even a strength for him, but with the way he clogs up the middle and plays with a mean streak makes him a key contributor right out of the gates. The 49ers have solid players up front, but they need depth, a guy like Jenkins would give them that. Jenkins would also allow those 49er linebackers more room to run, a huge asset since theirs are the best in the business.
- Baltimore Ravens: Robert Woods – It will be really tough to make up for the loss of Anquan Boldin – not because he takes the tops off of defenses or because they use him exclusively, but because he would go anywhere on the field and make plays. Robert Woods has that kind of confidence. He is comfortable in space, he runs solid routes, and he has the strength to break tackles. Woods would be an immediate contributor on a team that will be missing a huge piece of the Super Bowl puzzle this year.
The NFL Draft isn’t quite what it used to be. It’s not better (unless you’re a lower draft pick), it’s not worse (unless you’re a first or second rounder), but the value of draft picks (especially First Rounders) is different than ever before. Hitting on draft picks isn’t the must that it once was, even if it is a salary cap saver if you do. I’ve read some interesting articles on draft value, this one has some great stuff on the percentages of valuable players from certain rounds but when I’m looking at the draft I’m not looking at the percent chance of getting a good player in some random slot. Good teams draft well, bad teams struggle – if that’s in the 1st 2nd or 7th round, it doesn’t really matter. What I’m talking about when I say the draft just isn’t what it used to be, is the salary impact of a good player, or of a miss (Ryan Leaf, and most recently Jason Smith, here’s looking at you, kids).
I’m arguing that the top draft slots are more valuable now than they’ve ever been, and that the first round is a spot where you can take more chances than you used to be able to before the new CBA. Here’s a breakdown of why rookie salaries under the new CBA are so much smaller. In short, it says that the teams have salary cap rules imposed for rookies and that the lump sum in which the NFL is allowed to spend on rookies now includes signing bonuses (where it didn’t before). This benefits veterans in a way because soon teams will have to spend a certain percentage of the salary cap, meaning vets will pick up the change rookies are loosing. This also protects teams at the top of the draft when they make mistakes (ahem, Jamarcus Russell). Still, the young pups are taking a big hit. How big?
Look at these salary differences from 2009-2012 (the CBA took effect in 2011 for the first time):
1st: Matthew Stafford – 6yrs $72 Million, 42 Million guaranteed
2nd: Jason Smith – 6yrs $61.7 Million, 33 Million guaranteed
3rd: Tyson Jackson – 5yrs $57 Million, 31 Million guaranteed
30th: Kenny Britt – 5yrs $12.25 Million, 6.5 Million guaranteed
62nd: Sean Smith – 4yrs $3.1 Million, 1.36 Million guaranteed
140th: Johnny Knox – 4yrs $1.95 Million
1st: Sam Bradford – 6yrs $86 Million, 50 Million guaranteed
2nd: Ndamakong Suh – 5yrs $68 Million, 40 Million guaranteed
3rd: Gerald McCoy – 5yrs $63 Million, 35 Million guaranteed
30th: Jahvid Best – 5yrs $12.7 Million, 7.1 Million guaranteed
62nd: Brandon Spikes – 4yrs $3.2 Million, 1.4 Million guaranteed
140th: Ed Wong – 4yrs $1.99 Million
1st: Cam Newton – 4yrs $22 Million, all guaranteed
2nd: Von Miller – 4yrs $21 Million
3rd: Marcell Dareus – 4yrs $20.4 Million
30th: Muhammed Wilkerson – 4yrs $7.4 Million
62nd: Daniel Thomas – 4yrs $3.23 Million
141th: D.J. Williams – 3yrs $1.395 Million
1st: Andrew Luck – 4yrs $22.1 Million, all guaranteed
2nd: Robert Griffin III – 4yrs $21.12 Million
3rd: Trent Richardson – 4yrs $20.4 Million
30th: A.J. Jenkins – 4yrs $6.95 Million
62nd: Casey Hayward – 4yrs $3.3 Million
139th: Robert Blanton – 4yrs $2.3 Million
So what do these numbers mean? Aside from the fact that teams pay about a third the total salary for high draft picks than they did a couple years ago, the draft slots at the top of the draft have gone up significantly (in my book). There’s no question that higher draft picks succeed more often – check the first link, I didn’t do the research, but someone did! But that high success rate used to come with a very big cost – now it’s not a big deal. I know that many football fans would rather have Luck, Newton, and RGIII running their teams than Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford, but lets take the success of the players out of the equation.
When 2011 came around and the draft went down everybody was talking about this “huge risk” that the Panthers were taking by selecting Cam Newton. But looking at how the draft works now, there wasn’t much risk at all, not when you’re considering the reward if that pick hit (and it did, even if you note Cam’s struggles last year and his inability to win football games thus far, it’s still a success). If they missed, it’s not like they were bought in for 40 million guaranteed and nearly 80 million bucks.
The most important thing that I’m getting at here is that the draft has completely changed near the top. Those picks are more valuable than ever, and the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons figured that out before anyone else. The Falcons gave up a little more value than the old draft value chart suggested they should, and many said they gave up too much to get Julio Jones. But did they? No. They grabbed a top pick and went for homerun with Jones, but the financial consequences weren’t there if they missed, not at the rate a pick like that used to be, anyway. The Redskins traded “draft value” in terms of picks and future picks to move up to #2 to select Robert Griffin III. Homerun. That being said, they’re only paying him 21 million over 4 years, so that #2 has to be worth a lot more than it was when it was 68 million over 6 years just two drafts ago.
NFL teams should take note when it comes to trading early draft picks – they aren’t the black money hole they once were, and picks later in the draft are about they same as they always were, making their value differential much less than the top of the draft.
Some teams are looking at the new salary cap restrictions and trying to build with multiple picks in the draft, trading earlier picks for later ones as the Patriots have done throughout the years. But the first round is different now, and soon 1st round picks will go from gold to platinum, more pricy than ever before. Some teams have figured that out – soon nobody will check with the old “pick value chart” when making a trade into the Top 10.
Great players, great possibility, much lower risk. What’s not to like? This year I don’t see a quarterback going in the Top 5. That used to be a must as at least it made sense to pay a quarterback those big bucks. Now guys like Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei, and Chance Warmack, top rated guys at positions which teams would never have wanted to pay 60 million bucks, might just see their names picked early, maybe even the Top 5, because their contracts aren’t eyesores for their positions like they used to be (Suh for 68 million, for example, a good player but a defensive tackle for 68 mill? Yikes).
This is the Super Bowl and anything could happen. Let’s clear that up. You know Ray will get his defense playing out of their mind in his last game, as if any guy on either of these teams needs any extra motivation – going to battle with the leader of your team of the last 15 years is probably one heck of a kick in the pants.
But all things being considered, I don’t see how you can’t take the 49ers in this one. I understand the Ravens have the feel good story, and their defense has been playing very well lately, shutting down Tom Brady in the 2nd half of the AFC Championship, and just stopping the run better, not giving up as many big plays, generally good stuff. But if you watch that Patriots game, you’ll see about half a dozen instances where all Tom had to do was be able to run a 5 second 40 and he would have picked up big plays. There was one instance where all he had to do was outrun Mr. Ngata for 5 yards to pick up a huge first down and he just didn’t have it in him. The Ravens will not be able to do what they usually do defensively, otherwise they’ll get gashed by the run.
I don’t expect that to happen. Kap probably won’t run wild because Baltimore will set their defense up to be wary of his legs. But with that comes holes in the secondary and big plays down the field, something that will almost surely happen.
Defensively, I think the 49ers are the better team. They also have a better rushing attack. I think they win this game by double digits.
Well here we are, the conference championships. It’s going to be tough to one-up last weekend’s games. The 49ers took it to the Packers late, while the Falcons and Ravens escaped sure losses in dramatic fashion. Here’s how I see it.
This is one of those rare situations where I’m taking the Ravens to cover and still expect the Patriots to win. That’s a dangerous place to be as the winning team covers the spread a strong majority of the time.
The Ravens haven’t been able to stop the run really well all year, but have been better of late. That will be a big reason they stay in this game as the Patriots will almost surely try to find holes in that Ravens’ front seven.
New England allows big plays, and they take chances when running the clock out – that helps big dogs cover in big games. I see the Patriots doing a good job, like they have all year, of shutting down the run, but Ray Rice should cause plenty of havoc as a receiver from the backfield, and Torrey Smith has been lights out – he’ll need to have a big game to keep this one close.
As a coach, the Patriots are one of my favorite teams to watch – they are precise, disciplined, and everything they do is smart. But there’s a Ray Lewis factor in this game, right? If this is his last game it has to be a close one. Okay, there might not be much validity to that, but you know the Ravens will be playing all out in this one. A couple big plays ends up in a nice road dog cover.
It was hard for me to watch the Falcons throw a couple easy balls down the field and win that game last week over the Hawks, mainly because they did everything they could to lose that game. Up 20-0 and they needed 40 yards on two plays in 16 seconds just to get a deep field goal try to win it. They did, and here they are, but that kind of business doesn’t often work out.
The 49ers were in a pretty tight game with the Packers, and then Colin Kaepernick took the game over – running for big plays and ending the Packers’ run at a Championship. I do think this line is a little whack – as people see the final score, 45-31, and think the 49ers just dominated Green Bay. Hardly the case. Remember, the Packers tied the 49ers at 24 midway through the third quarter on a short field goal.
Even with that in mind, and knowing this line is too heavy on the Niners, I still think they are the better team. With a 4-point spread, and luck running out in Atlanta, it’s hard for me to imagine that the Falcons’ new found confidence will give them the edge, even at home, against a 49er team that is destined for a Super Bowl ticket.
It will be the running game of Frank Gore, more than Kap, in this one. Gore looks on pace to have his way with the Falcons’ front 7, a front that will almost surely be paying too much attention to the young quarterback from Nevada.
Hey 11 wins in Week 17 had me finish the year on a two week run of 21-11. Not too shabby. Now we’re fighting for the playoff big bucks. Some interesting lines out there, here’s how I see Saturday’s action.
This is a tough one because it wasn’t too long ago that the Texans were getting beat up in the secondary. They’ve taken a lot of bumps on that defense, in terms of injuries, and while these are the playoffs and I’m sure guys will be stepping up, you have to wonder if those injuries will be too much for a Texans team that lost three of their last four on way to missing out on that hard earned first round bye. Hard to earn especially when you don’t earn it. The Bengals, on the other hand, won 7 of their last 8 games to get into the playoffs, losing just one game, 19-20, to the Dallas Cowboys. During that time the Bengals beat up on the Giants, upended the Steelers, and took out Baltimore last week in a game that didn’t mean much for either squad.
All that being said, I still think the Texans are the better team. They are playing at home, they have a solid run game, some solid weapons in the passing attack, and a defense that showed a lot of toughness earlier in the year. Everyone’s expecting that late-year dive to continue, but I see the Texas pulling it together in this one. They’ve been in the playoffs for weeks, now that they’re finally here I see them stepping up and winning at home.
The Packers will have all their weapons back in Round 1, and they’ll need them. But the Packers basically never stopped the Vikings last week. I don’t think Randall Cobb’s return is going to mean much in that regard. Adrian Peterson ran right down the middle of the Packers’ defense. Well, he ran right, left, in the middle, big runs, short powerful runs, last minute runs to set up game winning field goals. He was a beast. I don’t know how the Packers plan to stop him, but it better be something they haven’t tried yet. Christian Ponder was also pretty big, and while that might be because the Packers had 9 guys in the box, Ponder was basically flawless last week when a playoff spot was on the line. I know this one is in Green Bay, but dang, can we believe that’s the answer?
It’s tough because Aaron Rodgers is so good, and he showed last week that no lead is safe when it’s him vs. that Viking secondary. Still, he was sacked five times, and that’s something the Packers have struggle with all year long. Without a strong run game to keep that defensive front honest, the Packers will have a tough time keeping Minnesota from pining their ears horns back and getting after Rodgers.
The Colts have plowed through one heck of a magical season, and I’m not sure the Ravens are confident enough to end that. Even if they do, they certainly aren’t a team that consistently beats opponents up. They should run the ball well against Indy, but can they end drives in touchdowns? That will be the difference in this game, and I’m saying no. I see a handful of field goals out of the Ravens, and those three pointers won’t get the job done when it comes to covering the spread.
Baltimore is aging defensively, and the Colts have shown more balance down the stretch. With a run game that could surprise on Sunday, I see the Colts covering a close one.
I know there’s this big thing going around that the Seahawks can’t win on the road. The only think is that it’s not true. Are they better at home? Sure, I mean the crowd is screaming and decibel levels that Lou Holtz can’t even get close to pronouncing, and they get louder when opponents mess up. I’ve been to a game there, Tony Romo’s beginning to his non-clutchness when he dropped the field goal attempt late. It’s louder than anything I can try and relate it to. So yes, they don’t have that on their side in the “other” Washington, but they still have one of the best defenses in football, and the rookie quarterback that played the best football this season. Yes, RG3 is amazing, but when it comes to running a team, I don’t know many vets that have done a better job than young Russ. Both these kids are gamers, and that’s what should make this so much fun.
If I were taking the Redskins it would be because they stop the run well and have done a much better job in the secondary down the stretch, especially late in their big winning streak. And that RG3 guy does it well with the game on the line. But mostly it would be because of their quick hitting rushing attack in the read option. The Hawks have had trouble with quick-hit run calls at times, and Morris runs tough.
But with everything on the line, I have to take the Hawks. They are another level of competitive even in pre-season games. With the season on the line I can only imagine they’ll be running to the ball like banshees. They are the better football team. Offensively they are more consistent, hold onto the ball longer, and are no longer in trouble if everything doesn’t go their way early. But defensively they are awesome. They get Browner back this week, and unless the refs call this one tighter than a duck’s butt, they should be able to shut down that Redskin receiving corps.
And if it comes down to a snap or two, Russell Wilson is the kid I want on my side. Hawks favored in Washington for a reason – I’ll take them.
Had an early Christmas gift to you all last week rocking 10 wins in Week 16, picking Seattle, Minnesota, and Cincinnati correctly in big time games was nice, whilst ending up on the wrong side of the Saints/Cowboys game was more naughty. Week 17 has a couple big ones, with so much on the line that not many teams can afford a star-starter bye week for their big guns. At least that makes it more fun for us.
Despite having possibly the best WR ever and boasting a fairly studly defensive line, the Lions just don’t have enough of what makes you good at football, a powerful offensive line that can get a yard when you need it most, and a defense that can stop good offenses. The Bears have holes, and they could easily be left out of the playoff picture even with a win, but they have one heck of a defense and will be playing for their season this week – gotta take them in Detroit where the Lions aren’t all that good.
I don’t really understand this line, even if the Falcons have expressed that they will be starting their normal starters. The bottom line is that this is a mean game, and dudes that have absolutely nothing to play for and are looking not to get hurt going into the playoffs are rarely up for the game like those guys playing for jobs, like many of the Bucs will be on Sunday. I know Tampa has put together a pretty down finish to what was once a promising season, and are now out of the playoff picture, but they aren’t playing for a rest, and they aren’t getting a one week bye before the playoffs like the Falcons. Atlanta has nothing to play for, in fact playing could result in an injury that could hurt their playoff chances. If starters on the Falcons play past the 2nd quarter I’ll be stunned.
The Jets are not good against the run, and they are in a weird state, and Mark Sanchez has been terrible, been benched, been 3rd string, been talked about in terms of trade rumors and getting flat out cut, and now he’s back at the helm – not because he’s earned it but because the late round pick is out, and the Jets have no interest in Tebow coming out and winning a game with Tebow magic just to prove his point. So here’s Mark. He won’t do enough to beat a Bills ground attack that is almost sure to tear up the Jets defensive front. If CJ Spiller has less than 150 total yards tomorrow I’ll be stunned. Bills should win this one.
With nothing on the line I actually think Cam Newton is at his best. This is the perfect selfish time to show everyone what he can do, how he can play, and prove that his team is indeed good so the Panthers can say “see, we’re better than you think.” The Saints are going to come out and throw the ball around, and they could come out on top, but garbage time is Cam time – I think he wins it for the road underdogs.
I think these two teams are pretty even, so I give 3 points to the home team Bengals. Nothing is on the line in this game – if the Ravens win they still play in Round 1 and are the division champs, if they lose they do the same and are the same. The Bengals will be going on the road to play, so I think this momentum and the fact that this is their last game in front of their home fans will help them outlast Baltimore.
I don’t know what the spread is in this game, but I expect a Steelers win despite Pittsburgh playing in a weird place, something they aren’t used to, playing their last game with NO shot at a playoff situation. The Steelers are out, and they have a lot of questions to answer, and maybe Big Ben doesn’t have much interest playing in this game as dinged up as he has been – but the Browns are down to their 3rd string QB, their 2nd string RB, and a defense that is also banged up. They will almost surely have a new coach next year, and with new ownership there’s not a whole lot going for this team right now. If it’s under 2 touchdowns, I’ll take Pitt.
Houston has a bye to play for while the Colts will be on the road next week no matter what – so the want and the need and the push is all on the side of the road team Texans. That being said, the Colts have surprised me all year, played well when I was almost sure they’d tumble –found ways to win and keep it close. I say they do it again with Chuck back leading the team on the field.
I actually am one of the football guys that think Vick is very good, think he can be a starting QB on a good team, and expect him to be that for another team come next fall – but I feel terrible that he has to play in this game. That’s how bad the Eagles’ offensive line is, and that’s how nasty the New York Giants’ defensive line is. When you add the fact that Andy Reid is almost surely gone, and the Giants are playing for a shot in the dark at the playoffs, well, I see the Giants finding a way… per usual.
This game is disgusting. The Jags looked better for a moment with Chad Henne under center, but things haven’t been very good down the stretch, even though Justin Blackmon finally started running around with a purpose and being the solid #1 option they thought they were drafting. The Titans are still miss and hit with their running game, despite decent overall numbers from Chris Johnson this year. Kenny Britt still doesn’t seem 100% and if he did, Jake Locker continues to have similar accuracy struggles that plagued him in college. All that being said, I guess I’ll take the points. If this ends in a 0-0 tie, I win!
The Vikings play very well at home and need a win to secure a playoff spot while the Packers are still just playing for a bye. They need a win to secure the bye, so it’s a big game for them, but one has to think the rushing attack of Adrian Peterson will be on full display against the Packers. That being said, the Packers are better and that bye is a big deal – can’t get upset in the first round hosting a hotter than Halle Berry in her prime Seattle Seahawk team if you have a bye in the first round. If there’s ever been something to play for, that’s it. The Vikings can’t throw it, the Packers will force them too. That’s the ball game when it comes right down to it.
Okay, work with me on this one. The Hawks find out at half time that the 49ers are up by three scores at home against the Cardinals (a team that can’t conceivably score three times in a half) so they sit some key players that bring helmet on every play. Plus they rest their golden goose, Russ Wilson, despite being one of the more competitive teams out there. Add that to the fact that St. Louis is better than YOU give them credit for, they are 7-7-1 and a winning record is really close. Bradford has been better, and that defense has tightened up when they need to. I think the Hawks find a way late, maybe with their high priced off season pick-up, Matt Flynn, having one of his customary last game impressings, but 11 points are too many for me, even if the Hawks have outscored their opponents 1,350 – 17 over the past month.
The Patriots have not been playing good football down the stretch, something I think their crazy amazingly good coach has been doing on purpose. He wants them to hog it up a little before they come together for a Super Bowl run. This is their come together game, a Miami defense that Tom has devoured in years’ past, last game of the year, a possible bye on the line – all the AFC playoff teams have been chosen, but at the top there’s a lot to play for – I see the Pats winning big at home in the cold weather.
Seventeen is too many. Jamaal Charles knows how to have big games when nobody expects him too, this will be that game. The Broncos will probably end up winning by double digits, but not 17. These guys in KC like their coach, they’ll play for him in his final game.
I can’t believe I’m taking the Chargers at -10, and that will likely come back to haunt me, but with the Raiders taking a bus down the freeway (saving money late… kidding) it’s close to a sure win for the Chargers. As bad as Rivers has been, and as lame as their coaching staff is, the Chargers still have a very solid defense and that should be enough.
The Cards have nothing to play for, as even pride went down the drain a while back. The 49ers are a very tough match-up for them, as they can beat Arizona in a lot of different ways. That being said, San Fran isn’t likely to come out and pull out all the stops late. The Cardinals should be able to keep this one close enough with a play or two late in garbage time.
Robert Griffin strikes me as the kind of guy that wins this kind of game. That’s enough for me – I’ll take Washington at home behind game winning plays from their young star quarterback.
Week 15 really blasted me; not many close games and I lost the ones that were. Hoping to get back after it in Week 16, just a couple more to go. Merry Christmas NFL weekend, folks, stay away from any and every shopping center, watch football, be merry.
The Lions just haven’t been very good, despite Calvin Johnson being a freak of nature, and the defensive link wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. They don’t play sound and disciplined on either side of the ball, and that especially starts with Matthew Stafford. The Falcons, on the other hand, play a fairly error-free game, giving opponents nothing and capitalizing off of dumb mistakes. Seems like a perfect opportunity for a road cover in Detroit.
It looks like RG3 is back, though it could be yet another Splinter Shanahan trickster move, one would never know. Either way, the Eagles are playing as a team with a lame duck coach, an almost certain roster upheaval at season’s end, and a rookie quarterback not named Robert, Russell, or Andrew. The Redskins stop the run well, and that’s what ends up getting them this easy cover against the Eagles.
After slumming on the streets last week against New Orleans, the Buccaneers will almost surely flip a 180 and go to battle with the Rams. St. Louis isn’t much in the business of giving out free wins, but they aren’t a great team by any means. Three points at home is basically a push and I’ll give the buccos the benefit of the doubt.
I don’t know what I’m up to, buying into the Cowboys headed into Week 17 with a chance at the playoffs? Yikes. But it could happen. It’s a secret to nobody (and it was no secret to me when I told anyone that would listen that the Saints would struggle without their head coach and playcaller, not just any playcaller, but one of the very best in the business) that the Saints aren’t the same offensive dynamo without Sean Peyton at the helm. The Cowboys have a lot more than pride to play for, and they’ve shown some toughness lately. I say they sneak by the Saints… Then disappoint the world next week when it really matters…
The crazy thing is I don’t know who’s worse offensively right now, a team led by Phillip Rivers or a team led by Greg McElroy. Seriously. It’s getting gross. Expect another offensive game involving the Jets, and I don’t mean one with a lot of offense going down. I mean downright offensive. I’ll take points, and the Chargers are getting them.
I think Adrian Peterson covers a 9 point spread. A couple defensive plays for the Vikings and it’s a gimmie. I’ll take the road dogs.
It’s an awful lot of points to give a Packers team that hasn’t really clicked offensively like they did last year, a team without a rushing attack, a team without a strong offensive line… But then again, they are playing the Titans, a defensive unit that really struggles to stop even the most mild of offensive attacks. Aaron should be discount double checking the crap out of the Titans.
The Panthers have played better in half of their last 4 games, but that doesn’t sell me on them as two score favorites against any other NFL team. I’ll take the Raiders, even though they are terrible. Carolina just doesn’t capitalize on big opportunities, and a team that wastes those chances shouldn’t be favored by double digits (or 9.5).
My guy C.J. Spiller is going to look like Reggie Bush circa USC Trojan “un-Heisman” Trophy winning days – just you wait and see. I know that Fitzpatrick gives away possessions and doesn’t read a defense nearly as well as one would expect the smartest man in the NFL to read a defense, but the Dolphins don’t run away with games and that should keep the Bills running the football – where they are at their best.
The Chiefs very well could run the ball with success at home against Indy. Everyone knows that the Chiefs play much better football at home than they do on the road, but it’s hard for me to believe that KC will respond well to playing so terribly all year that their head coach and GM have been show walking papers, effective at season’s end. Lame duck as they were already, this is a sure thing, and the Colts are still battling for the playoffs – they’ll be ready to go with Chuckstrong back on the sidelines.
I hate this game. I really want to take the Jags but they’ve been so bad offensively lately and there’s basically no way that this sieved of a defense holds Tom Brady and company under 30 points. But they could hold them to 31 and score a few times late, just to bust up the spread. Dang. Tough call. I’m taking the Pats because they should score 42 or more against this D.
The Steelers have to lose sometime, don’t they? This is looking like the year, no playoffs for the Steelers this time around – but they still have a small, little, tiny, baby chance. At home, taking on a Bengals team they’ve owned (not in the way the crappy Bengals’ owner actually owns the team – that guy is a real pisser) but in the “you might as well be my little brother” kind of way. Nine wins in a row vs. the Bengals… That’s ridiculous. Pittsburgh has covered in 8 of the last 10. It’s terrible. But this is the year – this is the week – road dog again, dang!
Denver can’t really afford a loss here, so they’ll be trying to lay it on the Brownies quick so that they can rest their studs near the end of the game. I see a quick cover and a hold on for the Bronco backers, here. Cleveland might very well be without Trent Richardson and the Broncos are good enough to really get after Brandon Weeden either way. If there’s no rushing attack to keep them honest, watch out.
This game means everything to the Giants and not all that much to the Ravens – plus, I’m just not sure how tough this Ravens team is right now. Offensively they dumped their OC a couple weeks ago, and if it weren’t for some garbage time scores last week, they would have been goose-egg’d. They have no identity right now, and at the very least the Giants have proven that they step up when everything is on the line. That’s their reality right now, being just a loss away from no playoffs.
The Bears have to find a way to upend the Cardinals in Arizona, right? The Cards give up some big plays through the air, and have little reason to play guts out on Sunday, so there will certainly be some big plays to be had. Brandon Marshall will almost surely tear up the Cards secondary if Jay Cutler can get some time to throw. Then again, this is where the Bears famously were who we thought they were, and needed late magic to walk out of Arizona with a win. Hopefully for the case of my cover, they won’t need any magic to pull it out this time around.
Hawks at home as a pick-em, you bet. I’d take that bet against any team in football (and I’m serious, in fact, if I had that bet at all this year I’d be undefeated). There is no team in the NFL playing better than the Hawks right now, not even the super star San Francisco 49ers. Both of these teams are playing great, but the Hawks bring the ruckus at home, and even with one of their starting CBs out. This should be a great game, and in great games anything can happen – but how do you pick against the Hawks at home and say it’s a good bet? I’m here trying to give you good bets, percentage picks – Hawks at home as an even bet, take that all day.
Week 15 is here, and I’m walking away from a flat push last week (an ol’ 8-8 stinker). Not much into tie games, which is part of the reason I can’t stand watching the 49ers and Rams play each other. Luckily, that poison is off the docket for the rest of the season. This is how Week 15 stacks up.
I believe the Broncos are a little overrated. The Ravens might not do so in a beautiful fashion, but they do win football games, and they almost always win them at home. After handing the Redskins a win last weekend, they’ll come back and surprise against the media super-favorites, Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
The Jaguars have been a little better since their biggest handicap went down with injury. Now that Chad Henne is on the saddle, the squad looks a little more formidable. Better than the Dolphins? No, but good enough to stay within a touchdown? I think so. I don’t value receivers a ton when it comes to beating spreads, but the Jags’ Cecil Shorts takes the top off the defense, something that’s happened more than once to Miami this year. I like the Jags chances to stay close.
No RG3 for the Redskins. I know Cousins came in last week and led the Redskins to a game winning drive, but it’s hard for me to believe that he’ll be able to run that Redskins attack with the efficiency of RG3. I think the Browns are an up and coming team late in the season, and they’ll be ready to give the back-up rookie all he can handle. A close game, but the Skins miss Robert too much.
You all know that I haven’t been on the Colts’ bandwagon so far this year, but this spread is a little ridiculous, no? The Colts throw the ball a lot and the Texans have had some real difficulty stopping the pass. I know Andrew Luck isn’t Tom Brady, and the Texans will play better than they did last Monday Night – but Luck is good, and they better play a whole heck of a lot better if they want to cover 10 points. Dream season continues for the Colts?
I’m just under the impression that the Bears aren’t as good as anyone thinks. They are 3 point dogs at home, and only 3 point favorites against the Seahawks. I know the Hawks are more of a match-up nightmare for the Bears’ offense, but Green Bay has been playing better, and I see them outlasting the Bears in Chicago this Sunday.
The Giants have owned the Falcons and the Falcons aren’t playing very well over the last few weeks. That’s a math equation I can handle, and it all equals out to the Giants getting the nod in Week 15.
I know that Adrian Peterson is virtually unstoppable right now, in fact the only guy who can stop AP is his own offensive coordinator, and the guy loves to pull the reigns on AP in the 2nd half. It’s sickening, but not too much because I’m used to it – like the smell of my dog’s farts. Anyway, the Rams aren’t as good, but Bradford is a better quarterback, Ammendola is going to be back, and they are coached better than the Vikes. One plus one plus one is three.
The Saints could easily walk away with a win at home over the Bucs, but the better team is Tampa Bay and the line doesn’t say they are better – so basically I’m pulled to the side of the Buccos. What else, the Saints don’t have much to play for where Tampa Bay is still looking for magic in a football. Tampa’s running game should dominate this game, even if the Bucs have a hard time stopping the Saints’ passing attack.
The Hawks are much better than the Bills, no doubt in my mind, but they rarely take care of opponents in big time fashion. I know, I know, tell that to all 56 points they scored against Arizona last week whilst giving up a fat donut. Well that’s one week and I can’t weight one week over an entire season. The Hawks slow down a little in Week 15 and need a late score to beat the Bills in Toronto.
The Cardinals are back to the lesser of their three evils, and the Lions’ defensive line is going to make that kid hate football by the end of the day if it’s the last thing they do. I full expect this one to be a blowout, if not early, then definitely by the end of the third quarter.
It basically comes down to which team I believe really found their game last week. Or which team absolutely lucked into a win against a better squad? Basically the same question, and believe it or not, I’m going with the Panthers. They just ran the ball more last week, with more efficiency, and I think they continue – even against a pretty strong San Diego front. I’m just hoping that it doesn’t come down to coaching decisions late in the game, because that’s when the Panthers should never be picked.
Yep. I know. Absolutely understand that I just picked the Chiefs as just a three-point dog on the road. But yes, I completely believe that the Raiders are this bad.
I don’t buy the Cowboys as a comeback special. They will tumble and crash sooner or later with a betting man’s wager on sooner. Tony will amaze (in a wow, that’s terrible, even for him, kind of way), the defense will allow a couple stupid touchdowns, and Jason Garrett will show why he shouldn’t be a head coach (yet). Also, why wouldn’t the Steelers step up this week after getting pasted by the San Diego Chargers, of all teams, last week.
The New England Patriots were absolutely fantastic last week on Monday Night Football against the “best team in football” (record-wise, at least). But the 49ers pose a new problem, a problem that will give them plenty of trouble, even in New England. The 49ers can attack in a lot of different ways offensively, and I see CK doing so with some big runs. This one will almost surely see a fair share of scores, but I just have this feeling that the 49ers come in, step up, and chase the Patriots right to the wire.
N.Y. Jets (+2) @ Tennessee Titans
Does anyone else think that Sanchize will have a terrible game against a bad defense, then he’ll get benched, and Tebow will come in and rally the troops to a come back victory that will dominate every headline in sports news? I do. If my prediction comes through I will spend one week ignoring ESPN.com’s home page. I promise. I think the Jets are bad, but I’ve seen the Titans and they are worse. What a Monday Nighter!
Last week was a nice story. The Eagles put it together behind an impressive performance by rookie, Nick Foles, threw a touchdown pass in the final minute and upset the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road. The interesting this is that the defense really stepped up, a unit that has seemed lost all year long. The Bryce Brown led Eagles rushing attack that had been so dominant over the last couple games was absolutely absent, so the Eagles can win without running successfully, right?
Wrong. Not in this one, and in this one I don’t see much running room. The Bengals have been especially stout against the run since the first 4 games of the season, and they aren’t bad in the secondary, either. They certainly aren’t as bad as bottom ranked Tampa Bay was. With more pressure and explosive playmakers in the secondary, I see a couple Foles’ mistakes leading to Bengal points.
As if Philly constantly looking into an uncertain crystal ball isn’t’ enough to bet against them, the fact that Cincinnati is coming off a loss where they should of won is extra added reason to go with the Bengals. If that’s not enough, they’ve outgained opponents on the ground by at least 76 yards in each of their last 4 games. Tough run defense, tough run offense, and an opportunistic secondary – that spells trouble for the Eagles.
Go Bengals, go.
And this would be the week the Cowboys stink it up again. Sure, they may be 6-6 and looking for 5 straight wins (counting last week) to make the playoffs. Please. All they did was beat the Eagles last week and they gave up a gazillion yards doing so. The Eagles have been playing terribly. Cincinnati invites “America’s Team” to town, and it comes at a good time for the Bengals as Cinci has pulled off four straight wins, winning by an average of over two touchdowns during those four games. In other words, they are playing their best football. Cinci by double digits.
I just believe the Rams are a lot better than they’re given credit for and that translates to road wins against teams like Buffalo. St. Louis is decent defensively, and they’ve been running it a lot better lately, something that will play a big role on the road. Sam Bradford needs weapons if this team is going to the compete in the NFC West, but as is they should find a cover in Buffalo.
Everything in me wants to pick the Redskins here, but I just don’t think they’re tough enough to outlast the Ravens. Sure, the Ravens’ offense has been horrendous of late, but they should be able to find some big plays through the air against a Redskins’ team that gives up that big play. Look for Ray Rice to log some usage on Sunday, eventually helping the Ravens outlast the Redskins.
It’s as easy as neither of these teams being 7-point favorites in an NFL game. What I mean by this is neither of them should be touchdown favorites. The Browns, for some reason, are. They should be bet against.