Saturday, December 3, 2016

2016 NFL Week 13 Picks

We're hitting the home stretch with this being the last week containing any byes. There were some tough picks to choose from, but these lines stood out.

Packers -6.5 versus Texans

The Green Bay offense has gotten their groove back behind Aaron Rodgers, and I think their banged up defense can do enough at home against Brock Osweiler and this inconsistent Houston offense.
After last year's injury plagued campaign, Davante Adams has really found his stride with Rodgers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

2016 NFL Week 12 Picks

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm getting this one out quickly because of the three Thursday games.

Cowboys -6.5 versus Redskins

This line seems too high against a decent Washington team until you consider that they have to travel on a short week after a night game on Sunday and that Ezekiel Elliott can put a game away late behind this incredible offensive line. Kirk Cousins has been on fire and now has R.Kelley as an effective new workhorse to keep a balanced attack, but I just don't believe in their defense, especially against an efficient offense on the road.
Dak Prescott's been great and put Zeke in a position to succeed.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

2016 NFL Week 11 Picks

Keeping this one extra short due to family commitments and might have to do the same next week since it's starting to become that time of year. Who knows, maybe that'll break my streak of mediocre picks!

Colts -2.5 versus Titans

Tennessee is playing really well right now, but Indy just beat them in their house four weeks ago. I don't feel great about it, but I like the home team coming off the bye here with a reasonable spread.
Having Donte Moncrief back healthy should help make the Colts offense more consistent.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

2016 NFL Week 10 Picks

We're getting into the dog days of the season, and I need a good week after my worst picks in a while. Lots of injuries are harder to keep track of this time of year, but at least we have a better feel for who teams are by this point.

Chiefs +3 at Panthers

Kansas City did what they needed to last week at home against an inferior opponent, and now they get their most important players on offense back as quarterback Alex Smith and running back Spencer Ware have both cleared the concussion protocol. Jeremy Maclin aggravating his groin injury in the first quarter last week is a blow, but they haven't been on reliant on him as much this year thanks to Chris Conley, Albert Wilson, and speedster rookie Tyreek Hill stepping up on the outside. Meanwhile, Carolina let L.A. hang around last week and eventually gave up a late touchdown to only win by 3 and push. Their secondary is still a problem, and I can already see a big day for tight end Travis Kelce against them. Panthers tight end Greg Olsen will likely be covered by star safety Eric Berry, and I think the Chiefs can match up well on defense overall. Give me the points and better team, even on the road.
Dontari Poe and this defense will need to win the battle inside to get the road W.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

2016 NFL Week 9 Picks

Another week with six teams on bye leaves limited options for picks, but at least the TV schedule is a bit more balanced than usual with only six 10:00 AM PST games and four late afternoon contests. Also like last week, none of the spreads are too egregious, with all the lines currently at a touchdown or less, making for some interesting teaser opportunities if you so choose.

Vikings -6 versus Lions

This admittedly feels a tough too high considering how badly Minnesota has played since their bye week with their injuries along the offensive front taking a toll and offensive coordinator Norv Turner's startling resignation. However, they are finally back at home for the first time since Week 5, and they have been a dominant 3-0 in their new stadium, outscoring opponents 72-37. A bad offensive line doesn't travel well, so they should do a better job at home against a Detroit defense that ranks last in Football Outsiders DVOA. The Lions have lost their last three on the road after their last second comeback at Indy to start the season, and I think their aerial attack will have a hard time against 4th best pass defense in DVOA.
Sam Bradford will look to get this offense back on track at home under his former OC Pat Shurmur

Saturday, October 29, 2016

2016 NFL Week 8 Picks

Last week was a much needed winner to get back on track, and I'm going to keep this short again to avoid overthinking things.

Bengals -3 versus Redskins (in London)

Let's start across the pond again, even if that ugly display last week might have scared away the English from our brand of football forever. With the disclaimer that it was against Cleveland, the running game display from Cincinnati last week was encouraging as Jeremy Hill was effective as a hammering change of pace behind recent starter Gio Bernard, who also has been playing well. Now they get a soft Washington defense that ranks 31st against the run according to Football Outsiders. The Bengals haven't been nearly as good as usual on defense this season after losing some players to free agency, but they catch somewhat of a break with running back Matt Jones out this week. If they can get some pressure on Kirk Cousins, I think they can force some erratic throws and get the win.
A.J. Green's juggling history came in handy during this Hail Mary to end the half.

Monday, October 24, 2016

2016-17 NBA Preseason Power Rankings

I can't believe basketball season is already here since that instant classic of a Game 7 in the Finals felt like yesterday, yet here we are. Today was the cut down date for rosters to get to 15 players, meaning things are still a bit in flux, so here are just my brief thoughts on how each team that I plan on expanding on once things begin to settle down. As usual, I'm listing teams' raw point differential as the best way to evaluate how they truly performed along with their offensive and defensive efficiency listed on NBA.com.

1. Golden State Warriors (1st in the West)
2016: 73-9, Point Differential: +10.8 (1st), Offense: 112.5 (1st), Defense: 100.9 (T-4th)

I knew there was a chance, but it's still hard to wrap my ahead around the fact that Kevin Durant is a part of this team. They are the prohibitive favorites to win it all and have a Vegas over/under of 66.5 wins that sounds silly at first until you consider that they won 67 in Steve Kerr's first year as coach before last year's NBA record of 73 wins. I'd still caution against betting that at all considering that they won't be pushing for the record again, but with their talent, it's hard not to see them around the 70 win mark. Unlike the 2010-11 Miami Heat, this team should mesh immediately with their shooting and lack of ball dominating skill sets, and their All-NBA stars are all in the peak of their primes, giving them more staying power than the 2007-08 Boston Celtics. There are also some exciting young prospects like the past two big men selected with the 30th pick, Kevon Looney and Damian Jones, and the Summer League sensation I was excited about and suggested they try to lock up to a longer deal, Patrick McCaw. It would've been nice if Elliot Williams would've worked out as one of the D-League lottery tickets I hoped for or an international free agent could've provided a cheap rotation piece, but that would just be icing on the cake given their free agency coup. Durant fits in seamlessly with his shooting, passing, positional versatility, and overall unselfishness while also adding more shot blocking with more length than Harrison Barnes provided in their smaller lineups and provides the one thing they were missing in their league-best offense: the ability to get to the free throw line.
I used this slide for school in a hypothetical free agency pitch, but it's relevant here to show KD's fit.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (1st in the East)
2016: 57-25, Point Differential: +6.0 (4th), Offense: 108.1 (4th), Defense: 102.3 (10th)

It will be interesting to see how much LeBron James and the defending champs coast now that they finally delivered a trophy for Cleveland. With the Matthew Dellavedova sign and trade and Mo Williams late retirement, they are mostly relying on rookie second rounder Kay Felder as backup point guard, and although he is a potential dynamo, they might have to tax James with the strain of leading the second unit in his age-32 season. They remain mostly unchallenged atop the East and still have the best player of his generation and MVP favorite to lead the way to 55-60 win campaign, but Zach Lowe made a great point in his recent tiers rankings: there's never been a Finals trilogy. Even the famed 1980's Celtics and Lakers would stumble upon the Sixers and Rockets in the middle of their historic meetings, so you never know what can happen.