Tag Archives: Chicago Bears

Podcast: Patriots vs. Bears Victory Recap And Bills Preview

Russ Goldman
October 24, 2018 at 10:47 am ET

In this episode, we started the show by looking back at the Patriots victory against the Bears. We ended the show by previewing the upcoming game against the Bills.

Sloppy Patriots Beat Bears 38-31, Observations, Three Up, Three Down

Steve Balestrieri
October 22, 2018 at 7:29 am ET

This win, the Patriots first win on the road this season, wasn’t the way they drew it up on the chalkboard but it is a win. And in what is turning out to be a wacky 2018 NFL season, the team will take it. The Patriots made far too many mistakes but turned things around with some big plays on special teams and left Chicago 5-2 after downing the Bears 38-31 on Sunday afternoon. The craziness extended to the final play of the game where the Bears tried…and converted a Hail Mary on the final play of the game but the play was stopped at the one-yard line. 

But the biggest news was that rookie running back Sony Michel left the game in the first half in what looked like a serious knee injury. Michel was hit and wrapped up at the line and was twisted in the pile. It was one of those plays that just didn’t look good for the rookie as he was being helped off the field. He’s scheduled for an MRI on Monday.

Other observations from the game include:

The Patriots offensive line once again did a tremendous job. The Bears came in with 18 sacks, boasting edge rushers Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, and interior pass rusher Akiem Hicks.  They sacked Tom Brady only once and generally were handled easily. However, the Bears helped the Patriots cause by dropping both edge rushers frequently into coverage. Despite that, the offensive line gave Brady plenty of time to throw.

Despite the sloppy play, which initially caused the team to fall behind 17-7, the Patriots found a way, to persevere and come away with the victory. Granted, there won’t be high marks for style points in this one, but they beat a division leader on the road and they did what they had to do.

Speaking of Mack, while he did miss most of last week’s practice, he played and clearly wasn’t 100 percent. But he didn’t line up against LaAdrian Waddle, but Trent Brown who clearly handled him easily. Mack was pancaked by Dwayne Allen on a running play in the second half. Much like Mexico City a year ago, Mack was a non-factor.

The game started off with one of the Patriots most impressive drives of the year. Taking the kickoff and starting at their 25, Brady and Josh McDaniels had the Bears totally discombobulated on defense marching 75 yards on 9 plays capped off with a Brady 9-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman. It also featured a lot of Sony Michel.

Taking advantage of the aggressive Bears defense, they ran a run delay play to Michel for 18 yards and then utilized the screen game to perfection. James White had a 14-yard screen, Michel had another for 13 more. It was a great start that soon went awry.

The three turnovers will have the coaching staff seeing red. The one fumble by Michel is a free pass. He was injured, apparently severely and him dropping the ball there isn’t something we or anyone else should point the finger at. But the fumble by Cordarrelle Patterson was a play where he has to take better care of the ball in that situation. And once again a Brady pass into the hands of a receiver is bobbled and deflected right into the hands of a defender. Unbelievable.

Patterson did redeem himself, showing why he is the best kick returner in the NFL returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, narrowing the gap to 17-14. He later nearly broke another, returning a kick for 38 more.

An area that the team continues to struggle (badly) in is containing mobile quarterbacks. Mitch Trubisky looked like Bobby Douglass out there on Sunday. He rushed six times for 81 and his running kept the Bears in the game when they couldn’t do anything offensively in the first half. Trubisky had an 8-yard touchdown run where he ran around the field for about 65 before getting in untouched.

His 39-yard scramble in the second half was an ugly sequence for the defense where he kept making defenders miss. The defense keeps losing containment and once these mobile QBs get free, the lack of speed at linebacker is concerning. Two words…. Deone Bucannon. Anyone? Bueller?

Besides the fumble by Patterson, the Patriots special teams continued to make several gaffes that cost the team, a pair of 15-yard penalties, unsportsmanlike conduct for the gunner going out of bounds and a facemask really hurt. Ryan Allen’s punt at the end of the game was far from one of his good ones. Julian Edelman muffed a punt inside the 10 but was able to avert disaster by falling on it. 

Bill Belichick played the odds at the end of the game and with 29 seconds left and facing a 4th and 6 at the Bears 33. Rather than try a long field goal, he decided to punt and pin them deep. Allen who normally is excellent at putting punts inside the 10, boomed this one nine yards into the end zone.

The sloppy play hit the coaches too. The Pats were flagged for a delay of game on a kickoff of all things and then only had 10 men on the field while the Bears were attempting a 4th down and 2. This cost them a timeout. Could they have used it at the end of the half? Possibly. But the field position may have played much into it.

Rookies J.C. Jackson and Keion Crossen were victimized by several penalties but Jackson was redeemed by an interception, one of two the defense had. The other was a terrific play by Jonathan Jones who high pointed the ball perfectly. In reality, the defense should have had two more interceptions. Trubiski forced a pass into the end zone where he threw it right to Elandon Roberts for what should have been a gift pick. But he couldn’t hold on.

Later Stephon Gilmore jumped a route and was in great position to make another pick, but he too dropped it. On both sequences, one play after Roberts’ drop and two after Gilmore’s the Bears scored touchdowns. That was a huge swing. The Pats make those two plays and this is a blowout win.

The special teams did redeem itself with the Patterson return, later they saw something on film and inserted Dont’a Hightower into the punt team. Hightower burst thru the protection and smothered a punt for a block that Kyle Van Noy scooped up and returned for a touchdown. That 29-yard score put the Pats up for good.

Patriots Three Up, Three Down:

Trending Up:

Josh Gordon – This was Gordon’s first game with 100 yards receiving, catching 5 passes for 100 yards including a 55-yarder where he ran out of gas and was tackled at the one. Gordon, who’s been limited with a hamstring admitted that the 96-yard drive had him gassed there.

But the conversion he made where he went up, fought for the ball and came down on his head causing his helmet to fly off but still holding on to the ball was a fantastic play. He’s just scratching the surface of his potential. I would expect to see his role increase as he gets more in tune with the offense.

James White – Already missing Rob Gronkowski on the offense this week, out with a back and ankle injury, the team lost Michel on the first play of the second quarter. White picked up the slack and was his normal productive self in the passing game, 8 catches 57 yards, two touchdowns. He also carried 11 times for 40 yards and helped the Patriots kill nearly all of the clock at the end.

While the Patriots offense goes thru Tom Brady and will until he ultimately hangs it up, White has become the second most important piece of the puzzle. With the injury epidemic at running back, White is now even more important to both the running and passing games.

Tom Brady– Facing a Bears defense that has gotten a lot of props as one of the best in the league, Brady completed 25 of 36 passes for 277 yards with three touchdowns and the one interception, that we mentioned above.

Brady was in control all day despite missing two of his biggest offensive weapons in Gronkowski and Michel. He spread the ball around and had the Patriots in position, twice…to put the game away late.

Honorable Mention: Patterson, Offensive Line, Chris Hogan

Trending Down:

Sony Michel – The Patriots rookie running back appeared to suffer a serious leg injury and was in excruciating pain as he was twisted to the turf. We won’t know until Monday how serious it is, but his injury was a huge blow to the Patriots offense as he’s been the featured back in the running game.

Michel was off to another dynamic start in the game and was featured on the Patriots opening touchdown drive. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that he dodged a bullet on that one.  

DL “Containment”– Yes, this one could easily have been labeled, “non-containment”.  Time and again, Trubiski hurt the Patriots with his running and the team looked, at times, powerless to stop it. He ran both outside and inside up the middle and the Patriots didn’t seem to have an answer.

One would have thought that the Patriots would have (at least by the 2nd quarter), assigned a linebacker to spy on Trubiski in case he decided to…you know scramble all over the field.

Sloppy Patriots STs Play – Granted they balanced the ledger with two huge scoring plays on Patterson’s TD return and the blocked punt TD return. And yes they nearly had a third, but the uncharacteristic mistakes this unit is making is beginning to be a concern. Could the loss of Bolden and Richards off the STs units mean more than we ever believed possible?

A fumble by Patterson, two costly penalties and another near turnover where Julian Edelman muffed a punt inside the Patriots 10-yard line, (Edelman alertly scooped it up), are the types of plays this unit isn’t known for. The coverage units were only okay on Sunday and allowed a 17-yard punt return to the speedy Tarik Cohen.  

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

Who Are the Key Players To Watch Patriots-Bears Week 7?

Steve Balestrieri
October 19, 2018 at 7:30 am ET

Another Big Game, Another Explosive Offense  

The New England Patriots are off to the Windy City this week as they take on the Chicago Bears for what is a rare 1:00 p.m. start for the visiting team. The last two games have been prime time affairs and next week, it is back to another late game as the Pats will be on Monday Night Football against the Bills.

This week, the Bears return home disappointed after they let the chance to return 4-1 and atop the division with some breathing room slip away. They melted late in the game in the South Florida heat, something the Patriots are well familiar with dropped the game in overtime. At 3-2, they have a half-game lead on the Vikings and Packers.

The Patriots at 4-2, have won three in a row and are tied with Miami for the top spot in the AFC East. They’re entering a tough stretch with KC, Chicago, the MNF on the road and the Packers, before taking on Tennessee before their bye.

The Bears offensively run a similar offense to what the Chiefs do and have some explosive offensive players in Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel, and Allen Robinson to go along with the mobile quarterback Mitch Trubiski. The Bears and Trubiski exploded a few weeks for six touchdown passes in the blowout win over Tampa Bay.

So, from a Patriots perspective, here are our Players to Watch on Sunday:

LaAdrian Waddle:

The Patriots swing tackle will no doubt get the start this week at right tackle as Marcus Cannon hasn’t practiced this week after leaving the KC game with a concussion. This is the reason the Patriots resigned Waddle this spring when he was a free agent. They knew that at some point they’d need him.

He may or may not be facing the Bears’ Khalil Mack, who also hasn’t practiced this week with an ankle injury and is considered day-to-day. Waddle faced Mack a year ago when Mack was a member of the Raiders defense. The Patriots beat Oakland in Mexico City 33-8 and Waddle was in for Cannon that day. Mack against Waddle that day had a sack, a tackle for a loss and three QB hits.

But regardless of whether Mack plays or not, Waddle will have a very important role in the Patriots game plan this week. Not only will he be responsible with protecting Brady’s right side from whoever rushes off the edge (Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks), but he’ll have to be solid in the running game as well.    

Josh Gordon

The Patriots wide receiver is still working on his chemistry with Tom Brady. The deep out routes, the comebacks, and the back shoulder throws are all things that they’ve not worked the kinks out of yet. Those things will come in time, but this week, Gordon could see his role expanded a bit more.

The Bears have a pretty stout front seven and the running game may need the passing game to get it going instead of the opposite. Gordon has the size and athleticism to stretch the field vertically a bit more this week. They tried it a few times against KC. On one play, Gordon was open and ready to catch a deep ball before being interfered with, drawing a 37-yard penalty.

We’d look for the offense to begin expanding Gordon’s range more and more as he gets a bigger comfort level in the offense. Gordon will probably draw Prince Amukamara on the outside, the big, veteran corner should be an intriguing matchup to watch this week.

Dont’a Hightower:

The Patriots big linebacker had a pretty productive game against the Chiefs despite the team allowing 31 second-half points. Hightower had an interception, a tipped pass and had quarterback pressure on Patrick Mahomes which forced him to throw an interception in the end zone, wiping out a Chiefs scoring threat.

This week the Patriots will have to contend with the diminutive but lightning-fast Tarik Cohen out of the Bears backfield. He’s a threat to run the ball or catch it out of the backfield and can be the Bears “X-Factor” in their offense this week.

How well (or badly) the Patriots defense does this week, will have a lot to do with how well they defend Cohen. While a bit different, the Bears offense does run a similar look to the Chiefs and they utilize the RPO (run/pass option) concepts which try to freeze and take advantage of the opposing linebackers. And for New England, that begins with the big man in the middle.

Julian Edelman:

With a Bears defense that gets a lot of sacks (18) and is much better at stopping the run that the past few opponents that the Patriots have faced, they’ll look to what has always worked for them. The short passing game with Julian Edelman will be key this week, helping Tom Brady get the ball out fast and keeping the chains moving.

Edelman’s short area quickness and ability to find the open seams of the defense are a hallmark at the chemistry that he’s enjoyed with Tom Brady for many years.

The Bears defense will have their hands full with trying to jam, throw off the timing and re-route Edelman off the line. That will no doubt fall to the veteran corner Bryce Callahan. The Bears are really happy with the play of  Callahan and resigned the smaller (5’9, 188), but very feisty cornerback this spring.

With the Patriots looking to use the middle of the field, players like Callahan and Danny Trevathan will be tasked with taking that away. The matchup between Edelman and Callahan will be an intriguing one to watch this week.

Trey Flowers:

The Patriots defense has not been good at getting home against opposing quarterbacks and creating consistent pressure this year. Now they’re facing another mobile quarterback that can move and more importantly, throw on the move in Trubiski. That means the defense will have to set the edge and keep him in the pocket.

Flowers has been the best Patriots defensive lineman and although he has only two sacks on the season, he’s played very well. He got a lot of praise from the Bears’ coach Matt Nagy this week, “He’s not the ‘big-name guy,’ but he’s the big-name guy among the coaching world,” Nagy said. “He can hold the point. He’s strong, he’s quick, he’s fast, he plays in front of the quarterback. So, we know that he’s a good football player. … We have a lot of respect for his game.”

The Patriots are going to need a big game out of Flowers this week, setting the edge, and getting after Trubiski if they want their defense to have a better showing than they had with Kansas City. And they’ll need their best defensive player to lead the way.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

Patriots-Bears Week 7, Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
October 18, 2018 at 7:29 am ET

The New England Patriots head back out on the road for the next two weeks. They face the Chicago Bears on Sunday at 1 p.m. before heading off to Buffalo and facing the Bills in a prime-time Monday Night Football matchup.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (4-2) defeated the Chiefs on a last-second field goal 43-40.  Tom Brady threw for 340 yards and Sony Michel ran for 106 as the Patriots rolled up 500 yards of offense. But the defense, which had a 24-9 first-half lead, allowed 31 points after intermission.

The Bears (3-2)  lost to the Miami Dolphins 31-28 in overtime. Cody Parkey had a chance to win in it OT but his kick was wide right. The Bears defense allowed Brock Osweiler to pass for 380 yards and three TDs. Mitch Tribuski threw for 316 yards and three TDs in the loss.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2018 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game.

Series History:

The Patriots and the Bears will meet for just the 14th time in their history with the Pats holding a 9-4 advantage in those contests. The only meeting in the postseason, however, was a crushing 46-10 blowout in Super Bowl XX. The Pats are 5-3 vs the Bears on the road. The last time the team’s faced in Chicago was back in 2010 in a snowstorm. The Patriots rolled 36-7. The Patriots have won the last four meetings including the last meeting between the two teams 51-23 at Foxboro back in 2014.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge. First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Bears Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game has really found its rhythm the past three weeks. They’ve rushed for an average of 148.3 yards in the games against the Dolphins, Colts and the Chiefs. The offensive line is doing a tremendous job of opening holes for Sony Michel and James White. In this three-game streak, Michel has gained 315 yards in those wins and seems to be getting better every week. James Develin has been outstanding as a lead blocker.

The Bears have been good against the run allowing an average of just 84.3 yards per game. It starts up front with a very good front seven. Former Patriot Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman anchor the front three in the Bears 3-4 scheme. They boast very good linebackers in Danny Trevathan, rookie Roquan Smith, Leonard Floyd and of course, Khalil Mack.

Look for the Patriots to attack the Bears front by running right at it between the tackles and guards with Michel and White. Miami did this last week and was very successful running the ball gaining 161 yards on the ground with 101 of them going to Frank Gore. The NFL is a copycat league and after watching the Dolphins carve them up a bit in the heat, look for the Patriots to attempt the same.  

Patriots WRs vs Bears Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game has really taken off with the return of Julian Edelman and with Josh Gordon just now beginning to assimilate into the Patriots offense. Tom Brady started slowly this year, with all of the injuries at WR, but is getting better every week. Against Kansas City, he completed 24-35 for 340 yards with a TD. He, Edelman and Rob Gronkowski have a built-in chemistry thru years of playing together and they’re beginning to ramp up the production.

The Bears have a ball-hawking defense and have 10 interceptions in just five games. They also have 18 sacks led by Mack with five. He’s banged up right now and may not be 100 percent on Sunday. But in reality, most of the big edge rushers don’t have big games against Brady and the Patriots. It is the interior guys like Hicks that disrupt things. He’s the one to watch. If Brady can’t step up or slide in the pocket, then edge guys like Mack can be productive.

Look for Brady to attack the middle of the field with Edelman and Gronkowski this week. With Gordon and Hogan outside the numbers, they’ll take a fair share of deep shots and when they do that, they’ll try to use James White underneath in the open spaces underneath. I look for Brady to continue his hot streak in the Windy City this weekend

Next up the Chicago offense:

Bears RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Chicago

The Bears have their own two-pronged rushing attack with big back Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen as their speedier back out of the backfield and can inject some quickness off the line. Howard is averaging just 3.5 yards a carry this season as the Bears offensive line has been inconsistent at opening up holes for him. Cohen, however at just 5’6, 181 has been electric both in the running game and catching the ball out of the backfield.

The Patriots were getting gashed early in the season in the running game, but then back-to-back games, albeit against weak running teams in Miami and the Colts had the needle pointing up. Last week, the Chiefs Kareem Hunt had 80 yards in just 10 carries so they are back to square one.

I would expect the Bears to use Cohen a lot in this one. He’s the kind of player with the speed that gives them a lot of headaches. Look for coach Matt Nagy to look for creative ways to get him the ball a lot in this one.

Bears WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge Chicago

The Bears for the first time in a while have a large assortment of weapons and thus far, QB Mitch Trubiski has been having a very good season at getting them all the ball. The second-year QB is coming into his own and spreads the ball around nicely. Newcomer  Taylor Gabriel is the player to watch, he has the speed to be a game breaker. Allen Robinson looks healthy after tearing an ACL last year and tight end Trey Burton leads the team with 3 TD receptions and a 13.3 yard per catch average. Cohen is a big (if diminutive) factor out of the backfield.

The Patriots corners have played very well this year, it is the play of the safeties that have been up and down. But the real issue is the lack of consistent pressure on the QB. The Patriots have just seven sacks, that isn’t going to get it done, they have to start creating ways to get more pressure on the QB.

I’m looking for Trubiski to get Burton and Cohen involved in this one early. Running the RPO (run/pass option) similar but not exactly the same as KC, they’ll try to freeze up the Patriots linebackers, get Trubiski outside the pocket and hit his WRs downfield.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots have a slight advantage here in the kicking game with Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen over Cody Parkey and Pat O’Donnell. Parkey had a chance to win the game in Miami in overtime and sailed it wide right. Gostkowski has been very solid for over a decade. The Bears have the fast Cohen in the return game but the Patriots counter with Cordarrelle Patterson and Julian Edelman on their own. Look for the Patriots to tighten up their coverage units this week. They’ve been uncharacteristically leaky.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This is a big game for both teams. Both are sitting atop of their respective divisions but have other teams tied with them and must keep pace. The Bears have a dynamic offense for a change and things are definitely trending in the right direction for them. The Patriots are turning it on as well after a slow start. They’ve won three in a row and are averaging nearly 40 points a game in those.

Look for Tom Brady to throw first and then run against the Bears defense this week. Breaking what they have been doing in establishing the running game first. I’m looking for him to try to get Edelman and Gronkowski involved early. With all of the focus on Mack and his health, Hicks and Trevathan are the X-Factors for the Bears defense this week. The Bears watched the tape of the KC game and running a similar offense, they’ll try to do much of the same things utilizing their team speed.

The key from a New England perspective is to start fast and get the Bears in a catch-up/keep up mode. The turnover battle will be huge here. This one will be close for three quarters but a late Brady TD pass puts NE over the top. Patriots 34-21

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Podcast: Chiefs vs. Patriots Victory Recap And Bears Preview

Russ Goldman
October 17, 2018 at 11:54 am ET

In this episode, we started the show by looking back at the Patriots victory against the Chiefs. We ended the show by previewing the upcoming game against the Bears.

NFL Week 16 Odds, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

John Morgan
December 22, 2017 at 8:01 pm ET

NFL Week 16 Odds, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

Week 16 is unique, with neither Thursday nor Sunday night football – but with two games on Monday. Five teams have clinched a playoff spot and 14 others are still in contention for the post-season. There are plenty of intriguing games worth watching this weekend and next before the playoffs commence. The theory of home field advantage will be put to a test during these three days. Road teams are favored in ten of the sixteen games this week.

There is another oddity about this week’s schedule. Of the four games between teams with winning records, none are on in primetime – and three are broadcast in the early time slot. Fox has always had an affinity for NFC East teams due to their large market sizes. But if the network is not going to make the best game of the week (Falcons at Saints) their showcase game, then give it up to be flexed to Saturday night. Net result is that the two best games (NO-Atl and Patriots-Bills) are on at the same time. Those two back-to-back would have made for superior programming.

To see what games are being broadcast in your area, please check JP Kirby’s 506 Sports.

 

National Broadcasts

3-11 Indianapolis Colts at 8-6 Baltimore Ravens
4:30 pm ET Saturday 12/23 on NFLN; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Ravens favored by 13½; over/under 41 points; money line -1000, +675

Baltimore has averaged 31 points over their last five games, in large part to an NFL-best plus-17 turnover differential. The Raven defense ranks 4th with 18.3 points per game and has a league best 33 takeaways. I don’t see how the Indy offense (16.1 ppg, 31st) can keep this game close.

Pick: Ravens 31, Colts 13
Ravens -13½, over 41

 

11-3 Minnesota Vikings at 7-7 Green Bay Packers
8:30 pm ET Saturday 12/23 on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
Vikings favored by 9; over/under 41 points; money line -430, +340

The Vikings are playing for at minimum a first round bye, while Green Bay is eliminated. Minnesota’s defense will dominate a team that may be giving second stringers playing time with an eye on 2018.

Pick: Vikings 27, Packers 13
Vikings -9, under 41

 

11-3 Pittsburgh Steelers at 4-10 Houston Texans
4:30 pm ET, Monday 12/25 on NBC/NFLN; Mike Tirico, Kurt Warner
Steelers favored by 9½; over/under 45 points; money line -450, +350

I’m interested to see if Pittsburgh comes out with their hair on fire after last week’s last second loss. Or will the Steelers play down to their opponent’s level, as they often do. Pittsburgh is notorious for not playing well on the road either, and no Antonio Brown does not help matters. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Pittsburgh comes out flat, but Houston has lost too many key players over the course of their season.

Pick: Steelers 24, Texans 20
Texans +9½, under 45

 

6-8 Oakland Raiders at 12-2 Philadelphia Eagles
8:30 pm ET Monday 12/25 on ESPN; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden
Eagles favored by 9; over/under 47½ points; money line -400, +330

Oakland is all but mathematically eliminated, and traveling cross country for a meaningless game. Philly wants to clinch the number one seed in the NFC and Nick Foles (4 TDs last week) showed the 31.3 ppg offense is still in capable hands. The Eagle defense should be able to handle Oakland and control this game.

Pick: Eagles 34, Raiders 17
Eagles -9, over 47½

 

Early CBS Games

8-6 Buffalo Bills at 11-3 New England Patriots
Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
Patriots favored by 12; over/under 47½ points; money line -750, +525

This should be a great game, as both teams have plenty to play for. The Patriots need two wins to insure home field throughout the playoffs. Buffalo needs a victory (and help) to make the playoffs. To add to the drama this is a revenge game for the Bills after the hit three weeks ago that resulted in Rob Gronkowski’s suspension. Sean McDermott came up with a great defensive game plan for Buffalo in the last meeting; it will be interesting to see what he has in store Sunday.

Pick: Patriots 27, Bills 20
Bills +12, under 47½

 

7-7 Los Angeles Chargers at 5-9 New York Jets
Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Chargers favored by 7; over/under 42½ points; money line -300, +250

After a surprisingly good start, the Jets are 2-7 in their last nine games. As the season has progressed their lack of quality depth has become apparent. The Chargers are in a must-win spot here; the Jets can go back to their original plan of tanking the 2017 season.

Pick: Chargers 27, Jets 17
Chargers -7, over 42½

 

6-8 Miami Dolphins at 8-6 Kansas City Chiefs
Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Chiefs favored by 10½; over/under 43½ points; money line -550, +425

Dolphins on the road outdoors in cold weather equals a Miami loss. Kansas City has finally righted their mid-season swoon with home victories over the Raiders and Chargers. Make it three in a row for the Chiefs.

Pick: Chiefs 27, Dolphins 14
Chiefs -10½, under 43½

 

5-9 Denver Broncos at 6-8 Washington Redskins
Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Redskins favored by 3½; over/under 40½ points; money line -180, +160

Washington is again in a difficult position due to injuries on their offensive line. Denver has finally got it together the last couple of weeks, just in time to win enough games to miss out on a top-5 draft pick.

Pick: Broncos 20, Redskins 17
Broncos +3½, under 40½

 

0-14 Cleveland Browns at 4-10 Chicago Bears
Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein
Bears favored by 6½; over/under 38 points; money line -280, +240

Chicago has played well at home this year, beating the Steelers and Panthers. Their home losses have all been close (an average of 5 points), and mostly to good teams (Falcons, Vikings, Packers). Cleveland’s 0-16 parade plans remain intact.

Pick: Bears 24, Browns 13
Bears -6½, under 38

 

Early Games on Fox

9-5 Atlanta Falcons at 10-4 New Orleans Saints
Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis
Saints favored by 5½; over/under 52½ points; money line -240, +200

Set your DVR so you can record and watch this game after the Patriots-Bills ends. Two weeks ago the Falcons beat the Saints 20-17 in Atlanta. It is really difficult to sweep a good division rival. The Falcons should be able to keep it close, especially now that RB Tevin Coleman (concussion) has been cleared to play.

Pick: Saints 27, Falcons 24
Falcons +5½, under 51½

 

10-4 Los Angeles Rams at 8-6 Tennessee Titans
Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston
Rams favored by 6½; over/under 47½ points; money line -290, +240

On one hand you have a west coast team having to travel 2000 miles and play a game three hours earlier than usual. On the other hand the Rams are a far superior team than the Titans. LA is back in sync now that Robert Woods is back on the playing field.

Pick: Rams 24, Titans 20
Titans +6½, under 47½

 

8-6 Detroit Lions at 5-9 Cincinnati Bengals
Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
Lions favored by 4; over/under 44 points; money line -210, +180

This will be the final home game for Cincy head coach Marvin Lewis. Maybe he and Jeff Fisher can form a speaking tour and teach people how to retain a job much longer than they deserve.

Pick: Lions 24, Bengals 17
Lions -4, under 44

 

4-10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 10-4 Carolina Panthers
Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber
Panthers favored by 10; over/under 46½ points; money line -475, +375

Can somebody please explain to me why Carolina LB Thomas Davis was originally suspended for two games, rather than one? I think Roger Goodell uses one of those magic eight-balls from the sixties when deciding his punishments.

Pick: Panthers 34, Bucs 17
Panthers -10, over 46½

 

Late Games

10-4 Jacksonville Jaguars at 4-10 San Francisco 49ers
Andrew Catalon, James Lofton (CBS)
Jaguars favored by 4; over/under 42 points; money line -210, +175

When Jimmy Garoppolo was traded, Pats fans wished him well. Now Patriot Nation is full of hand wringing seller’s remorse. The Niners have won three in a row since inserting Jimmy G as their starting quarterback, after a 1-10 start. Jacksonville could be in for a battle on the road here, especially if the Jags have to count on Blake Bortles at critical junctures.

Jaguars 23, Forty Niners 20
Niners +4, over 42

 

8-6 Seattle Seahawks at 8-6 Dallas Cowboys
Joe Buck, Troy Aikman (Fox)
Cowboys favored by 5; over/under 47½ points; money line -240, +200

Dallas has won three straight and have RB Ezekiel Elliott for this game. His presence completely changes the Cowboy offense. Seattle’s defense is just a shell of its former self to injuries. Is it time to replace Pete Carroll?

Pick: Cowboys 27, Seahawks 17
Cowboys +5, under 47½

 

2-12 New York Giants at 6-8 Arizona Cardinals
Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth (Fox)
Cardinals favored by 3½; over/under 40 points; money line -185, +165

Ho hum, a battle of two under achieving teams. Giants are the bigger mess right now and on the road.

Pick: Cardinals 24, Giants 13
Cardinals +3½, under 40

 

 

NFL Week 12 Odds, Predictions and Picks against the spread

John Morgan
November 26, 2017 at 6:00 am ET

More than half of the remaining NFL Week 12 games have odds of seven or more points. On paper there are few competitive games, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Last week the Chiefs were double-digit favorites but lost to a one-win Giants club in disarray. Washington was an injury riddled 7½ point road dog up against a hot team on a seven game winning streak. The 4-5 Skins were up by 15 with less than two minutes to play and nearly upset the Saints before losing in overtime in one of the season’s most exciting games. On the other hand there are the Patriots, who have not lost since October 1st – and have covered the spread four weeks in a row.

Should the Patriots-Dolphins game turn into a blowout, there may be some competitive games in the early time slot. Buffalo is at KC in a battle between two fading teams. Tampa Bay at Atlanta could be interesting should the Falcons have a letdown after winning at Seattle. In the late time slot the Saints at Rams should be a great game. The night games are nothing special. Green Bay at Pittsburgh would have been a good game if Aaron Rodgers was the QB rather than Brett Hundley. Monday night it is Houston at Baltimore. The only reason to watch that is to witness a potential John Harbaugh meltdown and another Baltimore loss.

Unfortunately New England fans are once again saddled with Ian Eagle and the incompetent Dan Fouts as the broadcast crew for Sunday’s game. It boggles my mind that somebody at CBS considers this pair to be their second best set of announcers. How can anyone possibly consider those two to be better than Greg Gumbel and Trent Green, or Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon?

For a full list of announcers and to see what games are being broadcast in your are, please check JP Kirby’s 506 Sports.

Early Games on CBS

4-6 Miami Dolphins at 8-2 New England Patriots
Patriots favored by 16½; over/under 47½ points; money line -1900, +1000

The Patriots have often struggled against quarterbacks that they have little film to review for tendencies and weaknesses. Does that mean that Matt Moore will lead the Dolphins to an upset? Of course not. The offense is clicking despite several injuries, and the defense has made a 180 turn from the first month of the season.

Pick: Patriots 38, Dolphins 17
New England +16½, over 47½

 

0-10 Cleveland Browns at 4-6 Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals favored by 8; over/under 38 points; money line -410, +340

DeShone Kizer has thrown 14 interceptions, most in the NFL. Cleveland’s defense has been decent, but having to overcome all those turnovers is too much to ask for.

Pick: Bengals 24, Browns 13
Cincinnati -8, under 38

 

5-5 Buffalo Bills at 6-4 Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs favored by 10; over/under 46½ points; money line -500, +400

Buffalo HC Sean McDermott may be in over his head. With a 5-4 record and the Bills holding onto a wild card spot, he inexplicably benched QB Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is not an elite quarterback by any means, but the replacement was a 5th round rookie going on the road to make his first NFL start. Nathan Peterman proceeded to throw an interception on four of the first five drives, and was mercifully yanked after his fifth pick. McDermott’s reasoning was that he wanted to see what Peterman had and how he could do. Isn’t that what a blowout game in the fourth quarter is for? Or preseason? Or games in December after you have been eliminated from the playoffs, as opposed to a midseason game when you have a winning record?

Pick: Chiefs 31, Bills 20
Kansas City -10, over 46½

 

Early Games on Fox

3-7 Chicago Bears at 9-1 Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles favored by 14; over/under 44½ points; money line -1100, +700

Philly has won eight in a row and is coming off a huge win over division rival Dallas. The Eagles will be on the road for the next three games, playing the Rams, Seahawks and Giants. The Bears have already taken advantage of superior opponents in trap games twice, defeating the Steelers and Panthers. While an upset would be shocking, A close game would not be a surprise.

Pick: Eagles 24, Bears 20
Chicago +14, under 44½

 

4-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 6-4 Atlanta Falcons
Falcons favored by 9½; over/under 48½ points; money line -475, +375

In their victory last week at Miami the Bucs allowed three pass plays of over 40 yards. That kind of pass defense is going to be in a world of hurt against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the Atlanta offense.

Pick: Falcons 30, Bucs 21
Tampa Bay +9½, over 48½

 

7-3 Carolina Panthers at 4-6 New York Jets
Panthers favored by 5½; over/under 40 points; money line -250, +210

Will Carolina be well rested or rusty coming off the bye? If the Panthers are looking ahead to next week’s game at New Orleans, the fundamentally sound Jet defense could cause enough problems to pull off an upset.

Pick: Panthers 20, Jets 17
New York Jets +5½, under 40

 

6-4 Tennessee Titans at 3-7 Indianapolis Colts
Titans favored by 3; over/under 45½ points; money line -165, +145

The Titans bounce back from last Thursday’s loss to Pittsburgh by feasting on an inferior opponent.

Pick: Titans 24, Colts 17
Tennessee -3, under 45½

 

Late Afternoon Games

6-4 Seattle Seahawks at 1-9 San Francisco 49ers
4:05 ET on Fox
Seahawks favored by 6½; over/under 45½ points; money line -300, +250

The 49ers may be able to keep it close thanks to all the injuries on Seattle’s defense. The Niners just don’t have enough talent to beat the Seahawks though.

Pick: Seahawks 27, Niners 20
Seattle -6½, over 45½

 

8-2 New Orleans Saints at 7-3 Los Angeles Rams
4:25 ET on CBS
Rams favored by 2½; over/under 53½ points; money line -145, +125

By far the best game of the week. The Rams have beaten only one good team all season (Jacksonville), and were a bit disappointing in last week’s loss at Minnesota. I’m expecting them to bounce back at home against New Orleans. The Saints defense has been opportunistic (ten interceptions, 13 takeaways) but could be overpowered here. New Orleans gave up 31 points at home to the injury riddled Redskins last week, and haven’t faced an offense this good since their week two loss to the Patriots.

Pick: Rams 31, Saints 27
LA Rams -2½, over 53½

 

7-3 Jacksonville Jaguars at 4-6 Arizona Cardinals
4:25 ET on CBS
Jaguars favored by 5½; over/under 38 points; money line -240, +200

The Jaguar defense is allowing just 14.1 points per game, by far the lowest in the NFL. Jacksonville should be able to feast on Blaine Gabbert and an anemic Arizona offense that has scored more than 21 points just twice all year.

Pick: Jaguars 20, Cardinals 13
Jacksonville -5½, under 38

 

3-7 Denver Broncos at 4-6 Oakland Raiders
4:25 ET on CBS
Raiders favored by 5; over/under 43 points; money line -240, +200

Remember when the experts declared the AFC West to be the best division in the NFL before the 2017 season began? Not much of that talk now, thanks to these two disappointing teams that failed to live up to the hype. Denver has lost six in a row, their worst losing streak since 1990. They could actually benefit from Tim Tebow at this point.

Pick: Raiders 24, Broncos 21
Denver +5, over 43

 

Prime Time Games

5-5 Green Bay Packers at 8-2 Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday night at 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Steelers favored by 14; over/under 43½ points; money line -1000, +600

Last week Pittsburgh was able to stop Tennessee’s running game, force the Titans into predictable pass plays, and take advantage of poor down-and distance situations. That resulted in four Marcus Mariotta interceptions and a 40-17 victory. The same formula worked for Baltimore last week in their 23-0 rout over the Packers as Green Bay turned the ball over five times. No reason to believe this game won’t be more of the same.

Pick: Steelers 31, Packers 10
Pittsburgh -14, under 43½

 

4-6 Houston Texans at 5-5 Baltimore Ravens
Monday night at 8:30 pm ET on espn
Ravens favored by 7; over/under 38 points; money line -320, +260

Tom Savage has ten turnovers (3 picks, 7 fumbles) in just 125 pass attempts. He has been sacked 13 times and is averaging a league-worst 4.54 yards per dropback. This all plays right into the strength of Baltimore’s defense, to force turnovers (an NFL-best 23).

Pick: Ravens 24, Texans 13
Ravens -7, under 37

 

NFL Week 11 Odds, Predictions and Picks against the spread

John Morgan
November 19, 2017 at 11:00 am ET

The Patriots versus Raiders in Mexico City highlights a decent slate of pro football games in Week 11. Four games in particular stand out, conveniently with one in each time slot.

The day kicks off with a matchup of division leaders, a rarity in the early time slot. The 7-2 Rams have won four straight and bring their top ranked offense (32.9 ppg) to Minnesota. The 7-2 Vikings have won five in a row and are allowing just 18.3 points per game. Minnesota is listed as a 2½ point favorite.

The Patriots and Raiders renew their decades long rivalry in the late afternoon time slot. New England puts a five game winning streak on the line in their second consecutive game on the road at high altitude. The Patriots need a win to keep pace with Pittsburgh for the best record in the AFC, and to maintain their two game lead in the AFC East. 4-5 Oakland has been inconsistent this year but still possess plenty of talent on offense. The Raiders need a victory to keep hopes of winning the AFC West alive.

Sunday night has a good game with Philadelphia at Dallas. The Eagles own the NFL’s best record at 8-1, and have a league-high seven game winning streak. The 5-4 Cowboys need a win to stay in contention for a wild card spot, as nine other NFC teams have at least five wins. With all that has been happening off the field for Jerry Jones, a victory would be sweet. The Jerrah now knows first hand with what it is like to be on the wrong side of Roger Goodell’s erratic system of lies punishment.

Week 11 wraps up with a good game on Monday Night. 5-4 Atlanta travels to Seattle to play the 6-3 Seahawks. The defending NFC champs are in third place, two games behind New Orleans. The Falcons need a win here to not only stay close in the NFC South, but to just keep up as a wild card contender. Seattle is only one game behind the Rams in the NFC West but they have bigger issues. The Seahawks will be without Pro Bowl CB Richard Sherman (ruptured Achilles’ tendon) and Pro Bowl SS Kam Chancellor (neck stinger).

For a full list of announcers and to see what games are being broadcast in your are, please check JP Kirby’s 506 Sports.

Early Games on Fox

5-4 Detroit Lions at 3-6 Chicago Bears
Lions favored by 3; over/under 41 points; money line -150, +130

The Bears continue to find a way to lose close games. Mitch Trubisky has a bright future but right now he’s going through the growing pains of being a rookie quarterback on a bad football team.

Pick: Lions 21, Bears 17
Detroit -3, under 41

 

3-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 4-5 Miami Dolphins
Pick’em; over/under 41½ points; money line -110, -110

How much of a distraction will the Uber allegations against Jameis Winston be for the Bucs? This game comes down to which CB gets burnt more badly, Miami’s Xavien Howard or Tampa’s nickel duo of Javien Elliott and Robert McClain.

Pick: Buccaneers 20, Dolphins 17
Tampa Bay -0, under 41½

 

7-2 Los Angeles Rams at 7-2 Minnesota Vikings
Vikings favored by 2½; over/under 45½ points; money line -135, +115

Most of the talk has been about Jared Goff and the #1 LA offense against a tough Viking defense. The Rams are well balanced, with Aaron Donald leading the way in Wade Phillips’ defense. LA is allowing just 18.0 points per game and has forced 19 turnovers. Keep an eye on Viking WR Adam Thielen. The D-2 receiver has five games with at least 90 yards receiving, and at least five receptions in all nine games.

Pick: Rams 24, Vikings 20
Los Angeles +2½, under 45½

 

4-5 Washington Redskins at 7-2 New Orleans Saints
Saints favored by 7½; over/under 51½ points; money line -380, +310

The Saints are playing well in all three phases of the game. The offense is far more productive with more emphasis on the running game, keeping opposing defenses off balance. Net result is a 7-game winning streak, tied with Philadelphia for the longest in the NFL this season. Make that eight straight over the injury depleted Skins.

Pick: Saints 31, Redskins 21
New Orleans -7½, over 51½

 

4-5 Arizona Cardinals at 3-6 Houston Texans
Texans favored by 1½; over/under 37½ points; money line -125, +105

You want to know why ratings are down? Games where the starting quarterbacks are Tom Savage and Drew Stanton may have something to do with that.

Pick: Cardinals 19, Texans 16
Arizona +1½, under 37½

 

Early Games on CBS

6-3 Kansas City Chiefs at 1-8 New York Giants
Chiefs favored by 10; over/under 46 points; money line -500, +400

Remember when preseason prognosticators were predicting that the Giants would win the division and contend for the Super Bowl? Now Big Blue is a double-digit underdog at home and instead in contention for the number one pick in the 2018 draft.

Pick: Chiefs 34, Giants 10
Kansas City -10, under 46

 

4-5 Baltimore Ravens at 5-4 Green Bay Packers
Ravens favored by 2; over/under 38 points; money line -130, +110

Brett Hundley looked awful in his first two games, but was improved last week. Packer RB Jamaal will need a productive day to counter Baltimore’s blitz-heavy defense on a cold (33) and windy (12-25) day.

Pick: Packers 20, Ravens 17
Green Bay +2, under 38

 

6-3 Jacksonville Jaguars at 0-9 Cleveland Browns
Jaguars favored by 7½; over/under 37 points; money line -380, +310

Jacksonville may be without their top four receivers, so it will be imperative that the Jags get their running game in gear. Jacksonville’s offensive line has performed well this year, with the Jaguars averaging an NFL best 163 yards rushing per game. Cleveland’s run defense has been their lone bright spot. The Browns are allowing an NFL-low 3.1 yards per carry and just 86 yards rushing per game.

Pick: Browns 20, Jaguars 16
Cleveland +7½, under 37

 

Late Afternoon Games

5-4 Buffalo Bills at 3-6 Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 ET on Fox
Chargers favored by 5½; over/under 41½ points; money line -250, +210

Nathan Peterman gets the start at quarterback over benched Tyrod Taylor. Expecting a rookie QB to win on the road in his first NFL start is a tall order, even though the Chargers have virtually no home field advantage.

Pick: Chargers 27, Bills 16
Los Angeles -5½, over 41½

 

3-6 Cincinnati Bengals at 3-6 Denver Broncos, 4:25 ET on CBS
Broncos favored by 2½; over/under 38½ points; money line -145, +125

Denver has lost five straight and Bronco fans are pointing their fingers at everybody, including John Elway. If the Bengal secondary could not cover Tennessee receivers last week, what will they do at Mile High against Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders?

Pick: Broncos 23, Bengals 20
Denver -2½, over 38½

 

7-2 New England Patriots vs 4-5 Oakland Raiders
4:25 pm ET on CBS, at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City
Patriots favored by 7; over/under 54½ points; money line -320, +270

Jack Tatum. Daryl Stingley. Russ Francis. George Atkinson. Phil Villapiano. Ray Hamilton. Ben Dreith. Stop whining about the Tuck Rule, Raider fans. You scored six points on your final ten possessions of that game, and failed to stop the Patriots on three of their last four possessions.Pats improve to 19-15-1 all time in this series.

Pick: Patriots 31, Raiders 17
New England -7, under 54½

 

Prime Time Games

8-1 Philadelphia Eagles at 5-4 Dallas Cowboys
Sunday night at 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Eagles favored by 5½; over/under 48 points; money line -240, +200

Carson Wentz has thrown 17 touchdown passes against three interceptions in the last five games. Dallas has not been able to contain good quarterbacks and high scoring offenses this year. The Cowboys gave up 35 points in home losses to the Packers and Rams, and 27 points at Atlanta last week.

Pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 20
Philadelphia -5½, over 48

 

5-4 Atlanta Falcons at 6-3 Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks favored by 3; over/under 45 points; money line -150, +130
Monday night at 8:30 pm ET on espn

The Seahawks are in a difficult situation, playing without CB Richard Sherman and SS Kam Chancellor. Seattle does benefit with the return of FS Earl Thomas, and Atlanta RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) is out. This could easily go either way; it’s tough to pick against Seattle at home. Former Patriot Justin Coleman gets the start at corner in place of Sherman.

Pick: Seahawks 24, Falcons 20
Seattle -3, under 45

 

Bye Week:
7-3 Carolina Panthers
3-7 Indianapolis Colts
4-6 New York Jets
1-9 San Francisco 49ers

 

For a sneak peak at next week’s games, check out NFL Week 12 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead Lines: Pats favored by 14.5 vs Miami.

 

NFL Week 10 Odds, Predictions and Picks against the spread

John Morgan
November 12, 2017 at 7:00 am ET

NFL Week 10 has plenty of interesting story lines. On Sunday night the Patriots travel to their house of horrors, Denver’s Mile High Stadium. The Pats are 2-6 since 2005 in Colorado, and 4-18 in the Rockies since 1969. Despite that alarming trend the Patriots are 7½ point favorites as of Saturday night.

Since their week five bye the Broncos have been in a free fall with no end in sight. First there was a 13-point loss to the Giants, giving Big Blue their only win of 2017. That was followed by a shutout loss to the Chargers, then a five-turnover debacle against KC. Last week the one strong point for Denver, their defense, allowed 51 points. It was the most points allowed by the Broncos since 2010. On top of that the 28 point differential was the worst for Denver since the 2011 season of Tim Tebow.

There are plenty of other games worth watching as well. In the early time slot Minnesota is at Washington, and the Saints travel to Buffalo on a six-game winning streak. Then in the late afternoon time slot Dallas travels to Atlanta without Ezekiel Elliott. Roger Goodell wanted the NFL to have 12-month headlines, but these questionable suspensions and subsequent court cases are crushing the popularity of the sport. The week wraps up with Miami at Carolina on Monday night.

Most of the country will get Pittsburgh at Indy early on CBS. Fox has the early time slot split between the Saints-Bills in the east, and Minnesota-Washington in the west. The Pats-Broncos game is available most everywhere, though Hartford is stubbornly (and stupidly) opting to air the Giants game instead. smh…. For a full list of announcers and to see what games are being broadcast in your are, please check JP Kirby’s 506 Sports.

 

Early Games on Fox

6-2 Minnesota Vikings at 4-4 Washington Redskins
Vikings favored by 1½; over/under 41 points; money line -125, +105

Washington has had injuries throughout their entire offensive line this season. They get three starters (LG Shawn Lauvo, C Spencer Long, RG Brandon Scherff) back this week. That should significantly help matters, but LT is still a sore spot. Minnesota Pro Bowl DE Everson Griffen already has ten sacks, and will make LT TJ Clemmings look incompetent.

Pick: Vikings 23, Redskins 17
Minnesota -1½, under 41

 

4-4 Green Bay Packers at 3-5 Chicago Bears
Bears favored by 5½; over/under 37½ points; money line -250, +210

It would be no surprise whatsoever if the Pack finishes the season in last place in the NFC North. Perhaps then they can use their early draft picks to shore up that Swiss cheese offensive line. Here’s a question: will Brett Hundley be able to make the roster on a CFL or Arena league team in 2018?

Pick: Bears 20, Packers 17
Packers +5½, under 37½

 

3-5 Cincinnati Bengals at 5-3 Tennessee Titans
Titans favored by 4½; over/under 40½ points; money line -220, +180

Cincinnati has given up 25 ppg over the last three weeks, losing two of three since their bye. Two of those games were against Jacksonville and Indianapolis, neither of which are offensive juggernauts. More alarming was the Bengals regression on offense last week, with a mere eight first downs and seven points scored.

Pick: Titans 20, Bengals 17
Cincinnati +4½, under 40½

 

6-2 New Orleans Saints at 5-3 Buffalo Bills
Saints favored by 3; over/under 47½ points; money line -145, +125

The Saints are overdue for a letdown loss, but will it come now? Here is dome team playing outside up north in the last half of the season against a team coming off an embarrassing loss. I just don’t think that the Bills can keep up with the New Orleans offense though. The Saints have a balanced attack and are playing complimentary football. That is something they have lacked since winning the Super Bowl eight years ago. Logically the Saints win, but I’m taking the Bills to bounce back in a slight upset. Buffalo wins their fifth straight home game.

Pick: Bills 24, Saints 20
Buffalo +3, under 47½

 

Early Games on CBS

6-2 Pittsburgh Steelers at 3-6 Indianapolis Colts
Steelers favored by 10; over/under 45 points; money line -500, +400

Pittsburgh has a tendency to play down to the level of their opponents on the road. That doesn’t mean the Colts will pull off the upset though; they are still awful. Indy has an atrocious minus-98 point differential already. To place that in perspective that is worse than even the one-win Giants, or the winless Browns and Niners.

Pick: Steelers 27, Colts 20
Indianapolis +10, over 45

 

3-5 Los Angeles Chargers at 5-3 Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaguars favored by 4½; over/under 41 points; money line -210, +180

RB Leonard Fournette will have fresh legs after three weeks off. He faces a Charger run defense that is allowing 4.6 yards per carry (28th) and 135 yards per game (31st). The Jacksonville defense is for real, allowing an NFL-best 14.6 points per game.

Pick: Jaguars 24, Chargers 13
Jacksonville -4½, under 41

 

4-5 New York Jets at 2-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jets favored by 2½; over/under 43½ points; money line -140, +120

Tampa Bay’s defense has been a sore spot all season. The Buccaneer defense generates no pass rush, with a league-worst eight sacks on the season. That has resulted in 7.9 yards per pass attempt (28th) and 24.8 points per game (26th). Give journeyman QB Josh McCown enough time and he will avoid critical mistakes and do just enough to win.

Pick: Jets 24, Bucs 20
Gang Green -2½, over 43½

 

0-8 Cleveland Browns at 4-4 Detroit Lions
Lions favored by 11; over/under 43½ points; money line -625, +450

The Cleveland defense has actually played well this year. The Browns are allowing only 2.9 yards per rush (1st) and 4.9 yards per play (8th). The offense though ranks at or near the bottom in nearly every statistical category. Detroit may be inconsistent, but they have far more talent and should win easily.

Pick: Lions 31, Browns 13
Detroit -11, over 43½

 

Late Afternoon Games

3-5 Houston Texans at 6-2 Los Angeles Rams
Rams favored by 11½; over/under 45½ points; money line -675, +475

This would have been a really great game to watch. Unfortunately it’s Tom Savage at QB rather than DeShaun Watson, and JJ Watt and Whitney Houston are sidelined as well. The Rams put up 51 points last week and now have to be considered a genuine contender to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. QB Jared Goff’s numbers through eight games: 2,030 yards passing with 13 TD against only 4 INT. Goff also leads the NFL with 8.3 yards per pass attempt and 13.8 yards per completion.

Pick: Rams 27, Texans 13
Los Angeles -11½, under 45½

 

5-3 Dallas Cowboys at 4-4 Atlanta Falcons
Falcons favored by 3; over/under 48½ points; money line -150, +130

The Dallas offense has been clicking, and the Atlanta defense has been missing. The Cowboys will be without RB Ezekiel Elliott however. Perhaps more importantly all-pro LT Tyron Smith will also be inactive due to a groin injury. Atlanta needs to get their offense back in gear to keep their playoff hopes reasonably alive.

Pick: Falcons 28, Cowboys 27
Dallas +3, over 48½

 

1-7 New York Giants at 0-9 San Francisco 49ers
Giants favored by 2½; over/under 42 points; money line -145, +125

Week after week I keep picking Santa Clara to win a game. Week after week the Miners find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Now they host Team Turmoil, traveling three time zones. The G-men have given up on their season and their coach is Dead Man Walking. The legend of Jimmy Garoppolo in the City by the Bay commences. Only masochists would tune in to watch a game between two teams with a combined 1-16 record.

Pick: Niners 3, Giants 2
Niners +2½, under 42

 

Prime Time Games

6-2 New England Patriots at 3-5 Denver Broncos
Patriot favored by 7½; over/under 44½ points; money line -320, +260

New England fans are rightfully going to temper their expectations based on the Patriots history in Denver. The Broncos have not looked good since their week five bye. Denver has lost four straight, turning the ball over 13 times in that span. To win they will need their defense to come through against a Patriot offense that is without WR Chris Hogan (shoulder). Danny Amendola has been playing through a knee injury, so the Pats could rely more on James White in the passing game. The Broncos can’t focus on stopping both Rob Gronkowski and the Patriot running backs at the same time. Brock Osweiler and the Denver offense will make a critical gaffe or two against Matt Patricia’s defense.

Pick: Patriots 31, Broncos 17
New England -7½, over 44½

 

4-4 Miami Dolphins at 6-3 Carolina Panthers
Panthers favored by 9; over/under 38½ points; money line -450, +350

Continuity on offensive lines is a key to productivity. Miami will make two changes to their OL this week, adding LG Ted Larsen but losing RT Ja’Wuan James. That could be problematic against a Carolina defense that is allowing only 17.7 ppg.

Pick: Panthers 24, Dolphins 17
Miami +9, over 38½

 

Bye Week:
4-5 Baltimore Ravens
6-3 Kansas City Chiefs
4-5 Oakland Raiders
8-1 Philadelphia Eagles

 

For a sneak peak at next week’s games, check out NFL Week 11 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead Lines: Patriots favored by 6 vs Raiders in Mexico City.

 

NFL Week 7 Odds, Predictions and Picks against the spread

John Morgan
October 22, 2017 at 6:00 am ET

NFL Week 7 is highlighted by the most hyped and anticipated game of the 2017 season. The Atlanta Falcons travel to Foxborough for only the second time this millennium, in a rematch of the greatest Super Bowl in NFL history. The Patriots lead the all-time series 8-6 and are 5-0 in the Belichick-Brady era. New England was listed as a 3½ point favorite for most of the week, with that number dropping to three late Friday. As of Saturday night 63% of the money bet on the spread is taking the Falcons to cover, 74% of the money line is on Atlanta, and 77% is on the point total going over 56½ points.

Ironically the Pats-Falcons game will end up being no more than the second most exciting game of the week. In a departure from the usual Thursday night fare, NFL fans were treated to a wild and stunning ending to the week’s first game. If seven lead changes weren’t enough, consider the final half minute of the Raiders closing drive to beat Kansas City.

  • Completion on 4th and 11 for a first down.
  • Two incomplete passes.
  • Touchdown pass to tie the game.
  • Scoring play reviewed; call reversed, out of bounds inside the one yard line.
  • Ten second runoff; game clock down to 0:03 seconds.
  • Pass completed for touchdown.
  • Penalty, offensive pass interference; TD nullified, ten yard penalty.
  • Pass incomplete, clock at 0:00.
  • Penalty on defense; Raiders get an untimed down.
  • Pass again incomplete.
  • Another penalty on KC, another untimed play for Oakland.
  • Pass complete for touchdown to tie the game.
  • Extra point good to win the game.

As a whole the public tends to place more money on the favorite than on the underdog. Those that bet the chalk in week six lost their shirt. Favorites covered the spread in a mere three games last week, and underdogs won nine of those 14 games straight up. Both home teams favored by 13½ lost (Atlanta to Miami and Denver to the Giants). In addition Minnesota knocked out Green Bay, Pittsburgh handed Kansas City their first loss, and the Chargers (at Oakland) and Bears (at Baltimore) pulled off road upsets. The 2017 has provided plenty of inconsistency, with teams looking strong one week and bad the next.

Week 7 is full of games that are close matchups, at least on paper. While week six had what appeared to be plenty of blowouts (and we saw how that turned out), there are zero games with a spread of more than six points this week. Road teams are favored nearly as often as home team, accounting for many of those low odds. New Orleans at Green Bay and Tampa Bay at Buffalo appear to be the most watchable of the eight games in the early time slot. Cincinnati at Pittsburgh was flexed to a later kickoff to help improve the quality of the late afternoon games. Another good option as a prelude to the Pats-Falcons game is Denver at the Chargers. Atlanta at New England is of course the must-watch game on Sunday night. Monday night features Carson Wentz and Philadelphia hosting Washington. The Eagles went on the road to defeat Carolina last week, and now own the NFL’s best record at 5-1.

 

Early Games on CBS

3-3 Tennessee Titans at 0-6 Cleveland Browns
Titans favored by 6; over/under 45½; money line -250, +210

The Titans have displayed an annoying penchant for playing down to the level of their opponents. However, this is the Browns we are talking about. Even if Tennessee starts slow – as they often do – the Titans should still be able to win this game with less than 100% productivity.

Pick: Titans 24, Browns 20; Cleveland +6

 

3-3 Jacksonville Jaguars at 2-4 Indianapolis Colts
Jaguars favored by 3; over/under 43½; money line -165, +145

The Colts are unable to finish games, a sign of substandard coaching. Jacksonville failed to live up to lofty expectations in 2016, but this season their defense (18.3 ppg, 312 ypg) is carrying the Jags to playoff contention.

Pick: Jaguars 27, Colts 17; Jacksonville -3.

 

3-3 Baltimore Ravens at 4-2 Minnesota Vikings
Vikings favored by 5½; over/under 38½; money line -250, +210

Don’t be fooled by Baltimore’s record. Their wins were against the Raiders without Derek Carr, the Browns, and a Bengal team still in preseason form in week one. The Ravens home loss last week to the lowly Bears was not an anomaly.

Pick: Vikings 24, Ravens 13; Minnesota -5½

 

4-2 Carolina Panthers at 2-4 Chicago Bears
Panthers favored by 3; over/under 41; money line -170, +150

So when the dust all settled this game was cross flexed from Fox to CBS and the Miami-Jets game went from CBS to Fox. Why bother? Is anybody outside of those four fan bases going to watch either game? Mitch Trubisky looks like he will become a good NFL quarterback. But for this game the Bears are facing a well rested Panther team wanting to rid themselves of the taste of last week’s defeat. Beating the Ravens doesn’t really count for much; the Bears still have a long ways to go before becoming a contender.

Pick: Panthers 24, Bears 17; Panthers -3

 

Early Games on Fox

3-3 New York Jets at 3-2 Miami Dolphins
Dolphins favored by 3; over/under 38; money line -175, +155

Adam Gase finally figured out that Jay Cutler (an NFL-worst 5.2 yards per pass attempt) was not going to lead the Dolphins to many victories. Miami made no pretense what their plan was, lining up in two or three tight end formations, and was able run the ball effectively in last week’s win at Atlanta. Expect more of the same in this game. Woody Hayes would love this game.

Pick: Dolphins 17, Jets 16; Jets +3, under 38

 

2-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 3-2 Buffalo Bills
Bills favored by 3; over/under 45; money line -150, +130

Jameis Winston will get the start for the Bucs, despite his bum shoulder. Tampa Bay’s defense has underachieved this season, but they finally get the heart of their D – linebackers LaVonte David and Kwon Alexander – healthy and on the field together. Their productivity is key, as Buffalo RB LeSean McCoy has bounced back from a couple of sub-par games with 98 yards from scrimmage in the win at Atlanta, and 99 yards at Cincinnati.

Pick: Bucs 20, Bills 16; Tampa Bay +3; under 45

 

3-2 New Orleans Saints at 4-2 Green Bay Packers
Saints favored by 4; over/under 47½; money line -210 +180

The Saints look for their fourth straight win while Green Bay QB Brent Hundley gets his first NFL start. Unfortunately for him the New Orleans defense has risen from the dead, forcing nine takeaways this season. On the other side of the ball the Saints have discovered a running game – ironically, with incumbent Mark Ingram rather than Adrian Peterson.

Pick: Saints 31-17; New Orleans -4

 

3-3 Arizona Cardinals ‘at’ 4-2 Los Angeles Rams, in London
Rams favored by 3; over/under 45½; money line -160, +140

Adrian Peterson had a big game in his debut last week, but don’t expect a repeat performance. The Arizona offensive line is still awful, and the Ram defense is much better than Tampa Bay’s injury riddled D. Jared Goff and the LA offense (a league-best 29.8 points per game) should give European NFL fans plenty of scoring to cheer for. Arizona’s defense (26.3 ppg) is nowhere near as formidable as they had been the previous four years.

Pick: Rams 31, Cardinals 24; Los Angeles -3

 

Late Afternoon Games

2-3 Dallas at 0-6 San Francisco 49ers, 4:00 ET on Fox
Cowboys favored by 6; over/under 48½; money line -265, +225

The Cowboys have not lived up to pre-season expectations, despite being able to play Ezekiel Elliott. After losing five straight games by a field goal or less, the Niners finally get their first W.

Pick: 49ers 24-21; San Fran +6

 

4-2 Pittsburgh Steelers at 2-3 Cincinnati Bengals, 4:30 ET on CBS
Steelers favored by 5½; over/under 40½; money line -250, +210

It is amazing to consider the possibility that Cincinnati, who looked awful in their first two games, could be in first place in the AFC North with a victory. Steeler WR Martavis Bryant, who asked to be traded due to his role in the offense, could have a big game here. In five games against the Bengals Bryant has three touchdowns, catching 21 out of 32 passes thrown his way for 257 yards.

Pick: Steelers 24-20; Cincinnati +5½

 

3-2 Seattle Seahawks at 1-5 New York Giants, 4:30 ET on CBS
Seahawks favored by 4; over/under 39½; money line -210, +180

Seattle’s offensive line has caused problems for their offense. Their defense is still a force, which is bad news for an injury ravaged Giants squad.

Pick: Seahawks 24-13; Seattle -4

 

3-2 Denver Broncos at 2-4 Los Angeles Chargers, 4:30 ET on CBS
Even odds (pick’em); over/under 40½; money line -110, -110

The threat of Demaryius Thomas (10 catches, 133 yards last week) will enable CJ Anderson to run the ball. The Chargers will do what they do best: lose a close game.

Pick: Broncos 24-20; Denver (pk)

 

Prime Time Games

3-2 Atlanta Falcons at 4-2 New England Patriots, Sunday 8:30 ET on NBC
Patriots favored by 3; over/under 56½; money line -160, +140

Atlanta’s offense presents difficult matchups for the Patriot defense. The Falcons get a very tiny bit of revenge, but the Super Bowl LI legacy will live long after this game is forgotten.

Pick: Falcons 31, Patriots 27; Atlanta +3

 

3-2 Washington Redskins at 5-1 Philadelphia Eagles, Monday 8:30 pm ET on espn
Eagles favored by 4½; over/under 49; money line -225, +185

Philly is clicking on all cylinders right now. Washington on the other hand is banged up, with injuries to both corners.

Pick: Eagles 30-20; Philadelphia -4½

 

Best Bets:
Jaguars -3
Saints -4
49ers +6
Seahawks -4
Bucs-Bills under 45
Eagles -4½
Jets-Dolphins under 38