NFL Week 11 Predictions: “Tire Me” Edition

This easily could be an epic rant about the MVP race, or the Patriots/Eagles in general, because I like to do that from time to time on here. 140 280 characters on Twitter just doesn’t do it sometimes, especially when people take one part out of context and jump into something they don’t understand.

However, you can even try to have a conversation about these things and still get stuck in the mud. Yes, I went on WEEI in Boston on Thursday, and instead of getting a debate about where things stand in 2017, I felt like I never left 2003 when Patriots fans started using W-L record to justify Tom Brady’s greatness. It’s been 14 years of lousy “count the rings/wins, ignore the individual performance” arguments ever since, and it does get tiring at times to keep reading them. I also had a busy week with an ALEX update and another FiveThirtyEight article.

Just like how I don’t really read my articles after I write them, I don’t listen to my radio appearances. All I know is after it was over, I didn’t understand why I was accused of jumping all over the place when my point was the same beginning to end. Brady has not given the Patriots an edge at quarterback since 2001 that would be any greater than if a handful of his peers were in his position and provided the same advantages and breaks he’s had. The key to NE’s success is that the gap between Bill Belichick and the other coaches remains the largest in the NFL, and it only seems to have increased in recent years. It’s a plug-and-play system in NE. You provide a Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees with the best coaching, the best clutch kicking, the hardest team to score 30 points on, the hardest defense to crack in the fourth quarter, a sad division that can’t find a worthy rival at QB/HC, and you damn well should expect similar, if not greater success.

But I’m going to stop right there, because it’s not like these stories are going away any time soon this season. This could be 2004 all over again with the Patriots, Eagles, and Steelers as the top three teams.

To be continued.

There are actually a few games I’m interested in looking at this week.

Jaguars at Browns

Really, this one? I’ve designed a career (recap close games, preview big games) where I can avoid covering games like this one that are crap on paper, but I can’t help but smell an upset here. While I gave the Browns this win before Week 1 when I picked the whole schedule, it is clear that Cleveland has been worse than imaginable and the Jaguars are better.

However, I like the matchup. Cleveland’s offense doesn’t really match up with any defense in the league, let alone one we’ve been calling the best in the NFL this year. But look at the contrast of styles here. The Jaguars shut down the pass, prefer not to pass with Blake Bortles, and are 30th in DVOA against the run. The Browns’ best trait is stopping the run, would like to run the ball on offense, and you can always get some takeaway opportunities from Bortles, who really cheated the football gods last week when he threw two picks after the two-minute warning and still got the win in overtime. Sure, the Jaguars have kicked some ass at times this year, but they’ve had their asses kicked too. Hell, Jacksonville already lost on the road to the Jets this year, albeit an overtime game. Cleveland lost by just 3 to the Steelers in Week 1 and played better than the final score suggests in Detroit last week.

The Browns are at home, and do you really want to pick an 0-16 season when there’s only been one in NFL history? A shaky, turnover-prone QB on the road with an injured crew of weapons sounds tempting to me. The fact that Jaguars are saying they’ll win in a shutout can’t sit well with the Browns. Hue Jackson needs a win in the worst way to save face.

Sure, the Jags may win 30-6 when it’s all said and done, but I like my gut enough on this one to go with Cleveland.

Rams at Vikings

This is the “Jeff Fisher Can’t Coach Bowl.” Case Keenum and Jared Goff had a terrible time in the Los Angeles offense a season ago, but give them real coaching and teams that understand how to use their talent, and both are in the top 5 in DVOA right now. This is a cool battle of 7-2 teams that probably no one expected to be 7-2 at this point.

I wrestled a lot with a winner in this game. In the end, I’m going with the Rams for arguably their most impressive win yet this season. I think Keenum is heavily dependent on Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, while the Rams can use a larger variety of weapons. Both defenses are really good, and haven’t been playing the best of offenses, so it’s a step up in competition for both. Admittedly, the two games I focused most on with Keenum this year the two losses (Steelers and Lions), so I’m probably looking at him in more of a negative light than someone who would have focused more on his two huge games against the Bucs and Redskins. But even last week he had a couple of picks in the second half, and I guess I’m rooting for some chaos where putting Teddy Bridgewater back at QB1 is a reality.

I will say that this is a game where Goff needs to show us something good. He’s getting MVP consideration after shredding the Giants and Texans the last two weeks, but he’s really been given an “EASY” button this year. He has the best starting field position, the highest play-action rate, doesn’t have to throw into tight windows, and gets the most YAC of any QB. If he can play some great games down the stretch I’ll change my mind, but he has probably the most misleading stats of any QB this season. I’m just glad he’s shown he can play competent football after last year, but I wouldn’t go all in on him being MVP caliber right now. He struggled with Seattle and special teams did much of the damage in Jacksonville. Let’s see how Goff does with this good road test this weekend.

Patriots vs. Raiders

I guess for six months I assumed this was a Monday night game, because that’s when Oakland played Houston in Mexico City last year. But it’s a 4:25 start, and it’s not nearly as interesting as we thought it would be for Oakland. Sure, the Raiders can prove something with a win, but I give the No. 32 pass defense that still doesn’t have an interception little chance here. The Patriots are starting to roll again offensively, and the defense hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in any of the last five games. You’d like to think Derek Carr can move the ball in this one to keep it close and exciting, but his red-zone performance has been brutal this season. You can’t win by settling for field goals against the Patriots. Brady tears up Jack Del Rio defenses regularly, but this is one of the weaker units yet that he’ll see. With losses already to Buffalo and Baltimore, Oakland slipping to 4-6 is just another step closer to an irrelevant rest of season.

Eagles at Cowboys

This should be a much bigger game, but things have gone really sour recently for Dallas. Never mind the Jerry Jones saga that is amping up. Actually, that could be uncomfortable this week with Dallas in high-profile games (SNF and Thanksgiving). But let’s not worry about that. On the field, Dallas could be without three of its very best players in Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, and Sean Lee. Hell, kicker Dan Bailey being out is a problem too.

This is why it’s annoying to hear the “Dak can’t score without Zeke” narrative when clearly there is far more missing than Elliott. Last week, Adrian Clayborn had six sacks with Smith out. He even admitted to having “one move” after the game, and Dallas failed to adjust for that. Regardless of who is on the field, a quarterback needs better protection than that, and the Dallas defense really struggled with Atlanta. It was a 10-7 game at halftime, but while Dallas missed a field goal in the third quarter, the Falcons added two long touchdown drives to take a 24-7 lead and blow that one open.

Philadelphia comes inĀ  hot, fresh off a bye, and with one of the better defenses in the league at getting to quarterbacks. It’s a really tough matchup for Dallas, and I don’t expect the Cowboys to win this one. It would have been tough even with those players available.

2017 Week 11 Predictions

So I started picking against the spread last week. I went 6-8 compared to 12-2 straight up. This is a weekly thing now from me, and hopefully better weeks to come. Off to a good start with the Steelers impressing on Thursday night.

2017Wk11

  • Week 1: 8-7
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 9-7
  • Week 4: 8-8
  • Week 5: 6-8
  • Week 6: 6-8
  • Week 7: 11-4
  • Week 8: 12-1
  • Week 9: 6-7
  • Week 10: 12-2 (Spread: 6-8)
  • Season: 89-57 (Spread: 6-8)

NFL Week 2 Predictions: The Toilet Bowl and the Manning Bowl

Another NFL week, another high-profile game with the Denver Broncos as they take on the Giants in what should be the final Manning Bowl. Now I like statistical analysis as much as the next guy, but sometimes you have to also factor in more human elements to the game.

Is Eli Manning really going to go 0-3 against Peyton in the NFL? He should get the one win, and the last one for that matter. After a horrible game with two fumbles, David Wilson is all but playing for his career in New York. He should play better because he flat out has to. Denver had 7 TD passes last week while the Giants had 6 turnovers. Those numbers will both come down, favoring the Giants, who at 0-1, cannot really afford another loss to start the season.

There are plenty of real football reasons to like New York in this one. The Giants are at home. They just had three receivers go over 100 yards and Denver’s defense is still missing it’s two best players. Remember when the Broncos couldn’t rush Joe Flacco early? Well now they’ll play an offense with the weapons to take advantage the way Baltimore couldn’t. Jack Del Rio is the master of the “no rush, no coverage” defense. Expect to see a huge day from Eli, who threw for over 500 yards in a similar spot in Week 2 last year against Tampa Bay.

Denver’s offense is still going to be tough to stop, but the running game is not there and this team does get off to slow starts, which is when the Giants need to build a lead. I expect a lot of points in the end, but I also think Eli will be in a similar situation to Sunday: having the ball late with a chance to win, and this time he’ll get it done. Giants win 34-31.

Of course this is self-serving as I picked the Giants to win the NFC East and had Denver starting 1-1, so this probably means the Broncos by 14 points, but we’ll see. I just think this is the game where not having those players on defense will hurt Denver the most.

First Quarter Knockout

Here’s something to watch for on Sunday afternoon. The San Diego Chargers, a Pacific time zone team who just lost a heart-breaker on late Monday night, have to play across the country at Philadelphia in a game that starts at 10:00 A.M. PST. With Chip Kelly’s high-tempo offense, can you see another first quarter knockout in the works? The Chargers may get so far behind that Philip Rivers will have no chance to blow it in the fourth quarter this week.

Toilet Bowl

Based on last year, Chiefs at Jaguars and Jaguars at Raiders sounds like the worst possible start to a season for a NFL fan to suffer through. This Week 2 game looked like a good one for the fast track to the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, but now it looks like it’d be an upset if the Raiders lost this one at home. Terrelle Pryor did a lot of exciting things in Indianapolis while the Jaguars were downright embarrassing against the Chiefs. Out with Blaine Gabbert and in with Chad Henne, but here’s a stat from Week 1 I never would have expected in a billion simulations:

The Raiders lead the NFL in offensive yards per drive (44.62) while the Jaguars are dead last (9.87).

I still don’t plan on saying this that often this season, but give me the Raiders on Sunday.

2013 NFL Week 2 Predictions

I’ll always take a 11-5 record in Week 1, which is usually one of the toughest to predict. Week 2 can be even harder if you pay too much attention to what happened last week, or too little and not recognize it’s a new year and some teams just aren’t as good (or bad) as you expected. I had the Patriots winning 20-10 on Thursday night, but they somehow got it done by going scoreless in the second half.

  • Browns at Ravens
  • Vikings at Bears
  • Rams at Falcons
  • Dolphins at Colts
  • Cowboys at Chiefs
  • Titans at Texans
  • Panthers at Bills
  • Chargers at Eagles
  • Redskins at Packers
  • Lions at Cardinals
  • Saints at Buccaneers
  • Broncos at Giants
  • Jaguars at Raiders
  • 49ers at Seahawks
  • Steelers at Bengals

No matter how much I try to tell myself to “trust my gut” I end up picking 14 home teams (counting NE) and practically all the favorites. No chance in hell of that happening, which tells me I should probably pick the Steelers, the Broncos, the Panthers and maybe the Vikings. But I won’t do it. Why? I must just be a *****.