Saturday, November 18, 2017

2017 NFL Week 11 Picks

Fresh off my best week of the season that won me the top prize in my picks pool, things are off to a good start again after Pittsburgh took care of business on Thursday. Let the good times roll!
Last week: 11-3
Season total: 76-70

Browns +7.5 versus Jaguars

Cleveland continues to give teams some trouble before falling apart late, but they're getting close and closer to that elusive first W. They probably won't get it here with rookie DeShone Kizer having to face this elite defense with the possibility of two backup tackles starting, but I think they can hang around at home, especially with Corey Coleman coming back healthy.

Saints -7.5 versus Redskins

I was tempted to take Washington because this New Orleans run is bound to end at some point, but with this game in the Superdome, the Saints wins will be marching in a bit longer most likely. The New Orleans defense is up to #5 in Football Outsiders DVOA to go along with the #2 offense thanks in part to remarkable balance since the Adrian Peterson trade.

Chiefs -10.5 at Giants

In case you forgot about Andy Reid's record coming off a bye, it's 16-2 straight up and 13-5 against the spread. New York just lost to the previously winless 49ers to fall to 1-8. Let's not overthink this one.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

2017 NFL Week 10 Picks

Just when I thought I was out, Jeremy Lane pulled me back in with that blocked extra point after Arizona's garbage time score on Thursday. I've been thinking about only posting my top picks of the week like last year, but I'm feeling better about this week after my Seahawks -5.5 pick was preserved.

Last week: 7-6
Season total: 65-67 

Saints -2.5 at Bills

This line seems fishy considering how both teams have performed recently, but the thing is that it already takes into account how much better Buffalo plays at home. With E.J. Gaines continuing to miss time, I don't think their defense holds up, though.

Steelers -10.5 at Colts

Speaking of home/road differences, I hate laying this many points with Pittsburgh on the road, but I have a hard time seeing Indy staying with them all the way through. After all, I saw how they almost blew the game against Tom Savage last week.

Lions -11.5 versus Browns

I was tempted to take the points here considering how Cleveland has hung in their games before last week's bye, but I think this is a get right spot for Detroit at home. Matthew Stafford is primed to win someone the Millionaire Maker in DraftKings here.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Phoenix finally ships off Eric Bledsoe

Here it is, the first NBA trade now that the season has started! This is what it looks like based on the report from Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe and's salary numbers:

Phoenix gets:
Greg Monroe$17,884,176
Milwaukee's 1st round pick (protected 1-10, 17-30 in '18; 1-3, 17-30 in '19; 1-7 in '20; then unprotected)
Milwaukee's 2nd round pick (protected 31-47 in '18 and then expires)

Milwaukee gets:
Eric Bledsoe$14,500,000$15,000,000

Those are some unique protections on the picks, but they make sense for a Suns team that doesn't necessarily want too many selections in this draft class alone. In addition to their own, they are likely to have Miami's 1st that's only top-7 protected, so it may be more useful to add the Bucks' 2019 1st when there are lighter protections. This upcoming draft has a lot of star power with DeAndre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Michael Porter Jr., Marvin Bagley III, and Mohamed Bamba likely at the top, but it's not as deep as this past class in the middle where the pick could fall. There's a decent chance that the Bledsoe addition will help Milwaukee finish among the best 13 records in the league to ensure that this year's 2nd will convey, as well, so this should end up being a solid trade package considering their lack of leverage in negotiations. Staying patient after sending the malcontent point guard home two weeks ago allowed them to increase their draft capital and pick up a solid veteran big man on a large, expiring contract. Monroe is still only 27 if things go well enough to keep him around during their continued rebuild, but it is more likely that they try to flip him again for more assets, potentially adding to the overall return for Bledsoe, or buy him out for some cost savings. This also freed up more cap space next year, so they can get to around $27 million in room depending on how they handle their non-guaranteed contracts and where the draft picks land.
Milwaukee now has some interesting back court combination options.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

2017 NFL Week 9 Picks

Last week saw a couple of misses by that darn half point, but that's OK. The process is getting back on track. WE CAN BUILD ON THIS! Or at least, I thought I could until I forgot how different Buffalo plays on the road and started the week off 0-1 yet again. Whoops.

Last week: 6-7
Season total: 58-61

Titans -3.5 versus Ravens

Hopefully the bye week allowed the balky hamstrings of Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray, and Corey Davis to heal up and allow their offense to get back to peak efficiency after some fits and starts this year. The 10 days off also allowed Joe Flacco to get over the concussion after that scary hit on TNF, but you just can't trust their offense, especially on the road.

Jaguars -4.5 versus Bengals

So far, Jacksonville has been an every other game team, but does last week's bye mean they're back on schedule in an odd week? If that's not the hard hitting analysis you're here for, then I'll offer the fact that they lead the league in sacks while Cincinnati's offensive line is their biggest weakness.

Falcons +1.5 at Panthers

I went with Carolina last week on account of their stout defense's matchup with a suspect offense, but this time I don't think their offense can keep up with Atlanta's. Matt Ryan has had turnover issues so far this year, but if they get some positive regression to the mean in that area, they could go on a run.

Eagles -7.5 versus Broncos

It's Brock Osweiler starting on the road against the team with the best record? Yeah? You can't make the spread high enough.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

2017 NFL Week 8 Picks

I didn't tweet out my Thursday pick because I had no confidence in either team, but with optimism about Matt Moore after he led the comeback the previous week, I took the points with Miami. In a 40-0 game, safe to say that they fell just short of covering, so that's not going to help me in the standings after my worst week of the season and possibly ever. I think I might need a bye one of these weeks.

Last week: 5-10
Season total: 52-54

Vikings -9.5 "at" Browns (in London)

Cleveland losing their best player and franchise cornerstone Joe Thomas is a scary thought against Minnesota's fierce defense.

Panthers +2.5 at Buccaneers

Even after these teams had completely different types of games last week, I thought Carolina would be favored. Luke Kuechly clearing the concussion protocol only confirms that for me.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

2017 NFL Week 7 Picks

Well, maybe getting the Thursday night game wrong again will get me back in the pattern of losing it before a winning week overall after a bizarre weekend that featured a record 15 non-offensive touchdowns. I knew Amari Cooper was too good to stay in a funk for much longer, but who could have envisioned 11 catches, 210 yards, and 2 touchdowns after he only had 18, 146, and 1 on the season up until that game!

Last week: 6-8
Season total: 47-44

Bills -3.5 versus Buccaneers

Jameis Winston getting cleared to start makes me less confident in this one, but Buffalo ranks 2nd in Football Outsiders DVOA compared to Tampa Bay at 31st. Jordan Matthews' possible return could aid in Tyrod Taylor's impressive home splits continuing against the struggling Bucs secondary, as well.

Titans -6.5 at Browns

The one pass defense ranked lower than Tampa in DVOA? Cleveland. Marcus Mariota looked good in his return on Monday even without his mobility in play, so I'd expect a big offensive performance from Tennessee here.

Panthers -3.5 at Bears

This low line feels like Luke Keuchly's concussion was already baked into it, and it's reasonable enough to lay the points with the better team. Chicago can't hide Mitchell Trubisky against good defenses forever.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

2017-18 NBA Opening Night Power Rankings Part 2

Well that was some opening night between four of the top five teams in Part 1 of my preseason rankings. From the terrible Gordon Hayward injury to Kyrie Irving trying to hit another impossible 3 in LeBron James' face to try and sent an unlikely comeback to overtime, the first game had it it all, for better or worse. Then the Rockets weathered a Warriors storm to lead for only the opening and last minutes behind an electric James Harden performance and their defensive additions. Injuries to Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, and Omri Casspi before and during the game jumbled Golden State's rotations a bit; Pat McCaw's foot was on the line for a would be 3 in the final two minutes; and a crucial 0.6 seconds came off the clock on the first inbound attempt before Kevin Durant's near buzzer beater. Still, starting out 0-1 last year obviously wasn't a death sentence for them, and you can clearly tell what kind of team they will be. The bottom half of the league, not so much.

16. Charlotte Hornets (7th in the East) 36-46 
Point Differential: +0.2 (15th), Offense: 106.4 (14th), Defense: 106.1 (14th)

I mentioned often last year how they were 33-29 when Cody Zeller played and just 3-17 when he was out, but now that they added Dwight Howard, I'm curious to see how the big man rotation plays out. Nicolas Batum's injury to start the year obviously puts them behind the eight ball, but fill-in starter Jeremy Lamb has been a solid producer in his minutes, as her per 36 averages are 18.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steal, and 0.8 blocks. They also drafted Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon to further solidify the wing depth, so with a balanced offense and defense, they should return to the playoffs.

17. Philadelphia 76ers (8th in the East) 28-54
Point Differential: -5.7 (27th), Offense: 100.7 (30th), Defense: 106.4 (T-17th)

Like the Clippers in the West, putting everyone's favorite sleeper team as the 8th seed is a hedge against injury concerns for Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and now even Markelle Fultz. Embiid may have only played 31 games last year, but his impact was evident as he had a +3.2 net rating when on the floor, the only Sixer in the positive besides Shawn Long, who only played 18 games. They apparently think enough of his health to give him a risky, partially protected max contract rather than maintaining around $39 million in cap room that already accounted for his $18.3 million cap hold next summer, so hopefully that's a good sign. Fultz's shooting struggles as he deals with his own ailments means he'll come off the bench to start, and that's fine considering the potential 3-and-D fit of Jerryd Bayless next to J.J. Redick. It should also help the playmaking development of Simmons and Fultz as they're split up to run the first and second units when they are at full strength. May the basketball gods be ever in their favor.

18. New Orleans Pelicans (10th in the West) 34-48 
Point Differential: -2.1 (22nd), Offense: 103.3 (T-25th), Defense: 104.9 (T-8th)

The grand big man experiment didn't quite go as planned since they went 11-14 after the trade for DeMarcus Cousins, including just 7-10 when Boogie played. The lineups with him and Anthony Davis were generally positive, though, and in the 376 minutes that they shared the floor with Jrue Holiday, the team had a +2.8 net rating. The utter lack of focus on surrounding them with shooters for spacing is confounding, though, and consider me skeptical that Dante Cunningham's 39.2% mark last season is for real since he only hit 31.2% the previous year after only being 2 for 38 in the first six years of his career. Maybe Ian Clark and Darius Miller will prove to be more than nice end of the bench options or Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo, who currently isn't healthy again, will show they have more left in the tank than what the market dictated, but they're on the outside looking in among playoff contenders for me.