NFL Week 6 Picks Against the Spread

By Will Stevenson

Last Week was a rough one against the spread and straight up. How was I supposed to know the Giants receiving core would end up on the IR during the game? This week, I am back for more pain and let’s just hope it turns into pleasure. Derek Carr and Mariotta are back for their respective teams, and there are 5 games that have a spread of 9 points and higher. It sounds like some sucker bets, and usually they are, but we will not be contained.

Prediction Matchup (TV) Odds Total
Sunday, Oct. 15
Texans 27
Browns 10
Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans (CBS) HOU -9.5 46.5
Patriots 23
Jets 20
New England Patriots at New York Jets (CBS) NE -9 47.5
Falcons 33
Dolphins 13
Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons (CBS) ATL -13 46.5
Lions 35
Saints 31
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (FOX) NO -4 49.5
Packers 20
Vikings 13
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (FOX) GB -3 45.5
Bears 17
Ravens 16
Chicago Bears at Baltimore Ravens (FOX) BAL -6.5 39
Washington 24
49ers 13
San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins (FOX) WAS -11 46.5
Jaguars 13
Rams 10
Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars (FOX) JAX -2.5 42
Buccaneers 17
Cardinals 16
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals (FOX) TB -1.5 45.5
Chiefs 34
Steelers 30
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (CBS) KC -4 47
Chargers 23
Raiders 17
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders (CBS) OFF OFF
Broncos 20
Giants 16
New York Giants at Denver Broncos (NBC) DEN -11.5 39.5
Monday, Oct. 16
Titans 20
Colts 19
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (ESPN) OFF
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Matchup Spread O/U Prediction
Washington at Baltimore BAL -4 46 BAL 20-17
Tennessee at Miami MIA -3.5 43.5 TEN 21-17
Houston at Minnesota MIN -6 39.5 MIN 26-14
Chicago at Indianapolis IND -4.5 47.5 CHI 27-20
N.Y. Jets at Pittsburgh PIT -7 48.5 PIT 33-24
Philadelphia at Detroit PHI -1 46 PHI 28-14
New England at Cleveland NE -10 46.5 NE 40-17
Atlanta at Denver DEN -6.5 47.5 DEN 36-30
San Diego at Oakland OAK -3.5 50 OAK 28-27
Buffalo at L.A. Rams LA -3 40 LA 21-20
Cincinnati at Dallas DAL -1.5 45.5 CIN 24-20
N.Y. Giants at Green Bay GB -7 49 GB 32-24
Tampa Bay at Carolina (MNF) N/A N/A CAR 27-20

NFL Week 5 Predictions: Maybe we’ll get lucky. Probably not.

By: Will Stevenson

The NFL season has been a tumultuous one for those picking games based on the spread. Personally, I have won a total of 5 games against the spread this year. 5! The NFL is unpredictable, and with players falling to injuries left and right, one can never truly bet on their gut, because their gut is filled with Doritos, salsa and beef. So this week, we are armed with information (which hasn’t translated into me making better bets… yet) and we will once again go through every game on this week’s schedule.

Key Games:

Giants (0-4) vs Chargers (0-4)
Honestly, the Giants and Chargers are two teams who have lived up to their records. Losing close games, constipated offenses at times, despite having the talent to succeed, and defenses that haven’t been able to stop teams in the 4th quarter. Why are we surprised? The Chargers have been doing the same Regular Season ebb and flow since the early 2000s, and the Giants are a team that has struggled in the running game for years. Maybe Rivers and the crew can put points on the board, but in the end, I’m really just hoping for a tie.

Rams (3-1) vs Seahawks (2-2)
The time is now for the Rams. We love to hype up newcomers, and the Rams have been waiting for this moment to overtake the Seahawks with a message. The Rams have won 3 of the last 4 meetings, but a win a Sunday could usher in a new contender for the Division crown. The Seahawks have a good defense as usual, and their offense is hit or miss as well. Whether it’s a shootout, or a field gold-fest like last year’s game, the Rams offense looks to match it’s defense with on the field production.

Packers (3-1) vs Cowboys (2-2)
The Cowboys offensive line isn’t mauling like they were last season. This week, against the Packers, they look to return to form. One problem: Aaron Rodgers. Again.

Panthers (3-1) vs Lions (3-1)
The Panthers are 3-1, their leading receiver is a rookie running back, and they are -5 in the Turnover margin. How are they 3-1 again? Who knows, but the same could be said for the Lions who are one knee away from a perfect record.

 

My Prediction Matchup (TV) Odds Total
Sunday, Oct. 8
Giants 27
Chargers 23
Chargers (0-4) at Giants (0-4) NYG -3 44.5
Bills 20
Bengals 10
Bills (3-1) at Bengals (1-3) CIN -3 39.5
Jets 16
Browns 13
Jets (2-2) at Browns (0-4) PK 40
Jaguars 23
Steelers 16
Jaguars (2-2) at Steelers (3-1) PIT -7 42
Titans 16
Dolphins 6
Titans (2-2) at Dolphins (1-2) TEN -3 43
Colts 23
49ers 10
49ers (0-4) at Colts (1-3) IND -1 44.5
Eagles 33
Cardinals 20
Cardinals (2-2) at Eagles (3-1) PHI -6.5 45
Lions 23
Panthers 20
Panthers (3-1) at Lions (3-1) DET -2 42.5
Rams 37
Seahawks 27
Seahawks (2-2) at Rams (3-1) LAR -2 46.5
Raiders 9
Ravens 6
Ravens (2-2) at Raiders (2-2) OAK -3 39
Packers 27
Cowboys 23
Packers (3-1) at Cowboys (2-2) DAL -2.5 52.5
Chiefs 33
Texans 16
Chiefs (4-0) at Texans (2-2) KC -1 45.5
Monday, Oct. 9
Vikings 16
Bears 9
Vikings (2-2) at Bears (1-3) MIN -2.5 40

A New York Knicks Movie: Straight to VHS

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By Will Stevenson

As the sports world reunites for the fall schedule, the College Football scene and the lacklusterness of NFL Quarterbacking has dominated the conversation. So here we are, on September 21st, and Carmelo Anthony has yet to be traded. The entire NBA 2017 offseason has been fueled by changes to NBA Front Offices that are inspiring to eventually take down the Golden State Warriors. In the case of the New York Knicks, that would not be the case.

What had started as a smear campaign led by former Knicks President and insurgent Phil Jackson, has now dwindled down to this: Will Carmelo Anthony walk into training camp as a Knick? A Rocket? Or maybe even a Trailblazer? With the Knicks bringing in former Orlando Magic and Sacramento King’s Front Office personnel into their front office, they seem to want to continue future ‘Knick-dom’ in spite of the previous shortcomings. The decision on whether or not to trade Anthony doesn’t seem like a real question of why — It has now begun to focus on when.

The Knicks, like many teams in the NBA, have constructed poor rosters filled with average players and below average contracts. Of course, having Kristaps and Willy Hernangomez on rookie contracts is nothing average, but will the sins of Phil Jackson continue to hurt the Knicks going forward? They allowed Jackson to run two of their only “stars” into the public mud throughout the season and into the offseason. They allowed Jackson to sign Noah to a max deal, and continue to hamstring Jeff Hornacek with the triangle. Could this be the year the Knicks crawl out of the lottery and into the playoffs this season? Probably not. But I will say they have a better opportunity to make a run with Carmelo Anthony, rather than without him.

So where does Carmelo end up: Rockets? Trailblazers? A mystery team? Carmelo was given his No-Trade Clause by Jackson, and he has used it in every possible way. How freeing is it to watch a 33-year-old scorer scoff at the idea of a company attempting to get rid of him? I know many people view Anthony as a ball-hog, ball-dominant selfish player, but I would remind you to look at who he plays for. Anthony plays for an organization that has not lived up to any expectations as a basketball franchise. From free agent signings, coaching changes, firings, drafting and front office moves, Anthony has been the one constant fans could count on.

The Rockets have been adamant about not adjusting their trade offer that will only include Ryan Anderson, a sharpshooting big man with no defense and would quickly be pushed to the bench in small-ball lineups. The Blazers seem to be the best fit as far as trade pieces, but if the Blazers haven’t learned from last season with their acquisition of a ball-dominant forward, then they will never learn. They acquired Evan Turner last offseason and his mix with Lillard and McCollum was nothing to love. The Rockets, who have ensured their bench with 3 and D veteran wings have the opportunity to bring in Anthony for a one-year rental, along with Chris Paul whom they acquired this offseason via trade.

The way the trade market has been saturated with leaks and inside information has almost lowered the leverage any of these teams had at one point in time. The Kings, Pacers, Celtics, and Bulls have given opposing teams hope that they too can trade crumbled chips for a star on the way out. Anthony isn’t causing issues on the court, nor in the locker room. He isn’t being investigated, arrested, or being accused of being a cancer to the younger players on the team. So what is the problem? Most are just angry that Anthony hasn’t led them to a title, or even the Conference Finals, even though Anthony has been the same player throughout his career.

Once Anthony is traded, finally, Knicks fans will move over to the next victim: Kristaps Porzingis. Because once Anthony cannot be blamed, you will realize it wasn’t his fault, to begin with.

NFL Week 3 Predictions: Attention All Offensive Coordinators, Please Make It Interesting.

By: Will Stevenson

Oh the NFL season is a few weeks old, and I have yet to venture into the full fanatic mode. I thought Colin Kaepernick news would keep me from watching, but it didn’t. I still wanted to watch a game I have loved since I can remember. I thought the domestic violence cases would steer me away, yet again, here I am. Those things haven’t deterred me, but the play of the quarterbacks have. We all remember the Trent Dilfers, Rich Gannons, and Brad Johnsons of the world and how we viewed them as “game managers”. I even remember how we never wanted such a quarterback, because eventually, they would face an opposing quarterback that could and would get the ball down the field in a hurry. Of course, those game managers were needed because they have defenses that would subdue any offensive system into a 13-10 game: You know, classic football. These days, for every Derek Carr and Carson Wentz are three Brad Johnsons, without the dominating defense to match. 22 of 30, 223 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int. 13 for 19, 156 yards, 2 TD, 0 Int. Is this what we really wanted? The rules are in favor of the offense, and these offenses are still suffering at an alarming rate when it comes to big plays attempted. Now, it is early in the season, so there is an adjustment period, but it looks more and more like offenses are depending on matchups, rather than athleticism and it stinks right now to watch. Nevertheless, Week 3 is coming, and I will be here for all the predictions against the spread.

Thanks to the Redzone and not participation in Fantasy Sports, there will be a few games I won’t have to sit around and stomach, but there are still a few games that can bring our football spirits back to life.

Eagles vs Giants: Although I have the Eagles trouncing the Giants on Sunday, I have a false faith in the Giants returning to a playoff form. Carson Wentz is pushing the ball downfield, which I like, and the Eagles D-Line looks to feast on a Giants O-Line that is reeling.

Falcons vs Lions: Two offenses, Two down the field quarterbacks (even though Stafford Lion’d it up last week) and two teams that are looking to go 3-0.

Chiefs vs Chargers: Will Phillip Rivers lose another close game? Will Alex Smith keep defying the odds and throw the ball downfield? Stay tuned.

Seahawks vs Titans: An east coast game for the Seahawks, but it is at 4:05, so hopefully the Seattle offense will come to play. We know the O-Line of the Seahawks ahs be dreadful the past couple of years, but will they get it into gear? Will the Titans take hold of the AFC as a future contender?

Cowboys vs Cardinals: I have the Cardinals winning, but that’s just wishful thinking. A stinker from a stand-alone game for Carson Palmer could signal the end of his run. Although, a loss for the Cowboys would send the world into hiding. I like the latter.

 

Los Angeles Rams  -2.5  13 (W) Cover
San Francisco 49ers  9 8:25pm
Sunday
Baltimore Ravens -3.5  17 (W) Cover
Jacksonville Jaguars  13 9:30am
Sunday
New Orleans Saints  20
Carolina Panthers -6  24 (W) No cover 1:00pm
Sunday
New York Giants  13
Philadelphia Eagles -6  27 (W) Cover 1:00pm
Sunday
Denver Broncos -3  23 (W) Cover
Buffalo Bills  9 1:00pm
Sunday
Miami Dolphins -6  24 (W) Cover
New York Jets  13 1:00pm
Sunday
Houston Texans  20
New England Patriots -13.5  24 (W) No Cover 1:00pm
Sunday
Tampa Bay Buccaneers NL  13 (W)
Minnesota Vikings NL  10 1:00pm
Sunday
Atlanta Falcons -3  34 (Win) Cover
Detroit Lions  30 1:00pm
Sunday
Cleveland Browns Even  6
Indianapolis Colts Even  10 (W) 1:00pm
Sunday
Pittsburgh Steelers -7  23 (W)
Chicago Bears  6 1:00pm
Sunday
Seattle Seahawks  17 (Win)
Tennessee Titans -3  16 4:05pm
Sunday
Kansas City Chiefs -3  27 (W) No Cover
Los Angeles Chargers  25 4:25pm
Sunday
Cincinnati Bengals  24
Green Bay Packers -8.5  34 (W) Cover 4:25pm
Sunday
Oakland Raiders -3  24 (W) Cover
Washington Redskins  20 8:30pm
Monday
Dallas Cowboys -3  13
Arizona Cardinals  17 (W) 8:30pm

Quarterback Club 2017: I hope your QB is good, if not, oh well.

qbrank2By Will Stevenson

The quarterback position is just as important as an Ace in baseball. The stark difference is the quarterback generally plays the entire game, every game. There is no substitute, no taking a few series off, nor bringing in the starter for the 3rd and 4th quarters. Why? It’s pretty simple: Money, Reps, and Ego.

“Hi, my name is John Elway, and I just saved 99% on a former quarterback by not resigning him to a 72 million dollar deal.”

 

This NFL offseason has been one for the ages, on the field, as well as off the field. As NFL seasons come and go, the hype of the “Next Star Quarterback” seems to fade more and more. As the Brady’s, Rodgers, and Roethlisberger’s enter the end of their careers, the quarterback position seems to have lost the fervor it once had. Instead of searching for the next Drew Brees, teams seem more focused on their offensive and defensive lines, while keep a “manager” at quarterback for a fixed cost. As more and more college quarterbacks fall by the wayside on the NFL stage, guys like Brian Hoyer, Sam Bradford, and even Josh McCown are still giving teams, “the best chance to win” according to their respective head coaches.

 

As we witnessed in last year’s playoffs, teams like the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and even the Houston Texans (previous playoffs) seems virtually incapable of moving the offense without their quarterback at the helm due to injury. We watched the Raiders become darlings before our eyes, only to want scales over them after watching Matt McGloin lead the offense to nothingness. The Dolphins lost Ryan Tannehill to a knee injury early in training camp. Instead of getting Colin Kaepernick or entrusting Matt Moore with the offensive responsibilities, they went out and grabbed newly retired Jay Cutler, another “He has all the tools” guy. With the recent news of Tony Romo being interested in the New York Jets this offseason, I can only wonder — Is the quarterback position dying off?

I know, those who know me probably thought this would be another Kaepernick post, but not today. With Brock Osweiler returning to the Broncos just a week before the season starts, the quarterback position seems to be falling in actual production as opposed to its potential. The Kansas City Chiefs have been riding the Alex Smith train for years now, and even though it has resulted in Playoff appearances, they have yet to reach that elusive Super Bowl appearance or impose any fear into playoff defenses. Who is the backup in Kansas City? A rookie who is years away from being years away. In Denver, Trevor Siemian is the starter, but that’s only because he is efficient, mostly mistake free, and doesn’t cost much against the cap. Paxton Lynch is injured and still inexperienced, so now the Broncos are relying on a backup quarterback who used to be their backup, became the starter, and then became upset because he got benched and stayed their backup.

The Colts traded for Jacoby Brissett, former 3rd stringer for the Patriots as insurance for Andrew Luck, coming off offseason surgery. We all know what the Colts look like without Luck, and even former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. So is it that bad? We all know Scott Tolzien isn’t the answer for anything, so why have him on the roster if he cannot win you games or even stay afloat?

The quarterback position is just as important as an Ace in baseball. The stark difference is the quarterback generally plays the entire game, every game. There is no substitute, no taking a few series off, nor bringing in the starter for the 3rd and 4th quarters. Why? It’s pretty simple: Money, Reps, and Ego.

Teams are looking for that one quarterback to change their franchise, but they also know they can get close enough with an average or almost average one. Andy Dalton has been with the Bengals for years now, but nobody expects him to put fear into the defense alone. Tyrod Taylor has watching his offensive skill position be dwindled down to himself and LeSean McCoy, which happen to be two players who are often injured. Kirk Cousins has managed to be Franchised by Washington, only to see his top receivers go to other teams in the offseason, as well as his offensive coordinator. On the contrary, Kirk Cousins is what teams believe can get them to the playoffs. They want a quarterback who can complete 65% and up, throw minimal interceptions, have a high 3rd down conversion rate, and only take chances whenever the coach says so. A 25 for 37, 258 yards, 1 TD and 0 Int is a perfect quarterback day for most NFL Coaches. Bubble screens, rub-routes, pick plays and slants are now the trend in the NFL. The main problem is most quarterbacks can’t even do that efficiently, and backups DO NOT get the practice reps needed to be competent, confident and efficient.

So what are teams to do? Washington isn’t bad enough to land a number one quarterback in the draft. They definitely are not tanking with a franchised quarterback. The quarterback trade market is very steep when it comes to draft compensation, and if they are on the free agent market, there is a reason they are there (cough, cough). Tampa Bay is hoping Jameis Wintson turns out to be prolific, because if he isn’t, they will have wasted a number of coaches, and offensive skilled talent. It doesn’t seem fair though. We know not every quarterback can be Aaron Rodgers, but most franchises and fan bases just want an Eli Manning, or they’ll even settle for a Kirk Cousins and a good defense. I am sure many fans would love to take Jimmy Garoppollo as their starter, but think of the King’s Ransom they would have to give up to get him. The Detroit Lions have had Matthew Stafford for almost a decade, but who else would they get? This isn’t the NBA in which you can pinpoint a star or All-Pro in this instance and trade for him, because teams don’t have a quality backup, nor do they believe they can just plug in another quarterback to do the same thing to lead the offense. So of course the Lions gave him a huge contract — the 6-10 or 9-7 Stafford Lions are better than the “hope we get a good quarterback in the draft” Lions.

It is rough to pinpoint why teams like the Broncos forgo Brock Osweiler to only resign him at the veteran minimum a year later, or why a team would sign a McCown when they have draft prospects on the roster already. Are the quarterbacks this bad, or are the coaches in charge of developing them and an offense not talented? I assume it is a mixture of both, but we know the names of the good ones, and we definitely know the names of the bad ones.

And there is no place for the bad quarterback to hide. We see through those 5.8 yards per completion and those bubble screens. Isn’t Alex Smith on TV Thursday Night? I digress.

 

Blazing Saddles: Zeke got suspended, and Cowboys fans go Crazy

usa_today_10247382.0Will Stevenson

I told you “Stick To Sports” would not work during the summer months. Here we are, Friday August 11th, fueled by another story that isn’t deeply rooted with on the field action. Ezekiel Elliot was suspended by the NFL for six games to start this season. Most around the league are saying the NFL “got it right”. We will see. Can the NFL actually get it right if they have always gotten it wrong? When it comes to suspending players for off the field issues, (DV, Drugs, and conduct detrimental to the league) the NFL seems to be reactionary: They either suspend to early, or wait too late. Either way it went, the narrative around suspending players for domestic violence was borderline generic. It was as if the NFL tried to show a heavier hand than the judicial system by not letting players such as Adam Jones, Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress slide for their off-the-field offenses, but Ben Roethlisberger, Ray Rice (first suspension was not as lengthy), Josh Brown, and Greg Hardy were able to avoid the heavy suspensions as those that preceded them. The NFL was caught between proof, and proof. A woman can say an NFLer grabbed them, pushed them or even hit them. There can even be documented photos and medical reports that back up what she is saying. One problem: If there aren’t witnesses, or if the victim isn’t willing to cooperate with the police or the NFL, then what can you do exactly?

What do we want as fans? What do we want from our players? What do we expect from the League? We all have mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, nieces, and other women in our life that we care for dearly. On the flip side, we also know of women that have exaggerated details out of spite. So where do you stand? Where should the league stand on what to do when nobody comes forward, or the details wash out in the court of law? Do we want the players to be condemned by the NFL, but not by the judicial system? We have seen the NFL punish its players without thorough investigations backfire on them and it’s perception of power. We have watched as the allegations present themselves daily by the victims and the accused, only to see the suspension be descended to one or two games.

“She was a victim, and a survivor”. These are strong words from an NFL that likes to stay in the grey, or the black and white area when it comes to giving an actual opinion on an issue. This is more than the, “We’ve gathered our facts, and from our investigation we cannot conclude any wrongdoing.” It seems as if the NFL is getting out of the bland language and resorting to something more personable. Three different allegations in a span of four days were something that could not be ignored, nor the actions of removing a top of a woman during a St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“You used physical force that caused injuries to Ms. Thompson’s face, neck, arms knee and hips,” (Tom Jones – special counsel for conduct).

“inappropriate and disturbing” and said it “reflected a lack of respect for women.” (Todd Jones – special counsel for conduct)

The reactions are all over the place today. Cowboys Nation has falling on their backs, kicking and screaming to the heavens, while Cowboys-Bandwagon Haters have ponied up to bask in the glory of another Dallas summer blunder. Some believe 6 games is too much, others believe it is not enough. In comparison, I don’t believe a player should be suspended longer for weed than domestic violence, but then again if the domestic violence isn’t proven in the court of law, then what? We are literally looking at OJ Simpson’s second case. There is evidence, the court didn’t convict, but there is enough smoke to say there is a fire. The NFL could not allow another player with these types of accusations slip through the cracks again. That would be four straight off-seasons in which an alleged player was able to “skate” the system.

Will the perception of the NFL be any different after the ruling of the appeal? If the suspension goes from 6 games to 3, will we look at the NFL any differently? Will the NFL get it right f the suspension is lowered? I don’t know, some will cry while others will agree. All we really know is the NFL has outsourced it’s think-tank for domestic violence punishments, and aren’t leaning on their old ways to get things done. We ought to be proud of that, but we are fans, and this is what we do.