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Pudge’s Picks – Super Bowl

February 1st, 2014 Comments off
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning cements his legacy on Sunday

Thus far in this playoffs, I’ve done a lot better picking games than I did in the regular season. I have correctly picked the winners in nine out of the 10 playoff games (curse those Eagles!), and are 7-2-1 when picking against the spread.

Here’s my pick for the final game of the 2014 season: Super Bowl XLVIII.

Seattle Seahawks (15-3) vs. Denver Broncos (15-3)
Sunday, February 2 at 6:25 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Broncos (-2.0)

I have been waffling back and forth for the past two weeks about who to take in this game. In the latest podcast, I picked the Seahawks but now I’m going away from that pick.

Initially, I felt that the Broncos were in for a rude awakening facing the Seahawks defense. Denver hasn’t really faced a defense like Seattle’s, and the last time they played a team with a similar scheme (Jacksonville), their offense was contained very effectively. But with more thought, the more I began to feel that Denver was the more complete team.

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Pudge’s Picks – Conference Championship Weekend

January 18th, 2014 Comments off
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Tight end Julius Thomas could be a major difference maker for the Broncos

Picking winners in the playoffs is easier when compared to the regular season. Thanks to having teams that are bit more consistent at the things they do well, it’s easier to evaluate the matchups. It’s also easier since you have a much larger sample size of previous games to evaluate.

Due to that lessened hardship, I had a clean sweep last week with picking all the winners correctly, going 4-0. Did not however get all the spreads right as I went 3-0-1 due to the Seattle Seahawks winning by eight points and pushing. That brings my playoff total to 7-1 picking games straight up and 6-1-1 when picking against the spread.

Before the season in my predictions post, I tabbed the Seahawks to square off against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. I initially picked the Broncos to win that game, although if that matchup does ultimately come to fruition, I’d probably switch allegiances at this point. For these picks because I had initially expected it, I’m going to pick that Bronco-Seahawk matchup to come true.

I’m personally excited by the potential that I nailed both Super Bowl teams, although I don’t think that particular matchup was that difficult to see coming. The Broncos were far and away the best team in the AFC going into the season. And I suspect most people that didn’t have loyalty to a particular NFC team (like my fellow Falcon fans) picked the team they figured would win the NFC West: Seattle or San Francisco.

But overall, I like the fact that this could make two years in a row in which I got at least one of the Super Bowl teams right. Last year, I correctly predicted the Baltimore Ravens to wind up in the Super Bowl before the season started.

But enough patting myself on the back, here are this weekend’s picks:

New England Patriots (13-4) at Denver Broncos (14-3)
Sunday, January 19 at 3 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Broncos (-5.5)

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Pudge’s Picks – Divisional Playoffs 2013

January 10th, 2014 Comments off
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning

With last week’s slate of playoff games, I went 3-1 both against the spread and straight up. It is so much easier picking playoff games, which probably jinxes me to go 1-3 this week.

This week’s games feature several heavy home favorites, although home-field advantage is relatively minor when two playoff teams square off. Since 2005, home teams are 48-36 in the playoffs, for a winning percentage that is about the same as when two eventual playing teams face off in the regular season, about one game above .500.

As usual, this week’s lines are taken from ESPN.com.

New Orleans Saints (11-5) at Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
Saturday, January 11 at 4:35 pm ET on FOX

Line: Seahawks (-8.0)

When the Saints travelled to Seattle in Week 13, they got ran off the field by the Seahawks by a score of 34-7. It was both their worst offensive and defensive performance of the year. A team that averaged over 400 yards of total offense in every other game in 2013, the Saints were limited by the Seahawks defense to just 188 total net yards that week. The Seahawks scored points on each of their first four drives in the first half, opening up a 27-7 lead at halftime and coasting for the remainder of the game.

I don’t expect a repeat of that performance, but I think the Seahawks defense matches up too well with the Saints offense. And while the Saints pass rush is solid, it’s not that fearsome group that has been known to give Russell Wilson problems. Also if the Saints can’t score early, the Seahawks will be able to lean on their rushing attack. In order for the Saints to win this one, Drew Brees and Sean Payton need to respectively play and coach the games of their lives. I don’t think they will, but I don’t think the Seahawks are going to blow out the Saints either.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Seahawks

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Pudge’s Picks – Wildcard Playoffs 2013

January 4th, 2014 Comments off
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

I won’t know what to do with myself if Andy Dalton actually plays well Sunday

Well, my late-season surge to get to .500 did not end as well as I had hoped. In Week 17, I went 5-11 against the spread which is a pretty pathetic way to end the year. My final record picking spread games this year was 123-133. Five games below .500, after a previous year where I was like 146-110. I sported a 161-95 record picking winners straight up after finishing 11-5 in Week 17.

If you listened to this week’s podcast, I already gave some picks for this weekend’s playoff games. But I’m going to have to switch one of them after thinking on it for a few more days.

* All lines are taken from ESPN.com.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
Saturday, January 4 at 4:35 pm ET on NBC

*Line: Colts (0.0)

The formula for beating the Chiefs isn’t that complicated. Get an early lead, and force them to marginalize their best weapon: Jamaal Charles, in favor of making them throw with Alex Smith. That’s exactly what the Colts did in their Week 16 win over the Chiefs in Kansas City. The Chiefs couldn’t convert third downs and turned the ball over a bunch also in that game. The Colts benefited from offensive tackle Branden Albert being out that game, but he’s expected to be back this week. So will outside linebacker Justin Houston, who’s absence has coincided with the lack of pressure from the formerly excellent Chiefs defense. But fellow pass rusher Tamba Hali might also be out, so Houston’s return may not be the huge boost the Chiefs need.

I want to believe in Andrew Luck and that the Colts have figured out their identity in the post-Reggie Wayne world. Griff Whalen and Da’Rick Rodgers have stepped up somewhat and they will need to play at high levels, along with Donald Brown and the Colts defense to get this first playoff win for Luck and Chuck Pagano. Tje Colts have consistently raised their game against tough opponents, while the Chiefs have not. The Colts are 4-2 against playoff teams this year, while the Chiefs are 1-5. That says it all.

Spread Pick: Colts
Straight Pick: Colts

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 53 “Harry Douglas Ruins Dreams”

December 31st, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I are joined by another Falcoholic contributor, the ever-optimistic Jeanna Thomas, to discuss the Atlanta Falcons last two games of the year against the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers in Weeks 16 and 17. Topics we hit include the battle between Steven Jackson and Donte Whitner, the problems that plague the offensive line, the refusal to play Antone Smith, and the outlook of some young players: Peter Konz, Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford. We also discuss how injury will affect the future of Corey Peters, as well as the possibility that the team’s good intentions sabotaged Tony Gonzalez’s final game. We end the show discussing some of the things we saw around the league in Week 17, as I gloat over Allen about the Eagles win over the Cowboys. We each give our predictions about which teams could emerge in the first round of the playoffs to make a legit run at the Super Bowl in February.

Episode53-Harry Douglas Ruins Dreams [Download]
Duration: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Jeanna writes for The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @jeannathomas.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Pudge’s Picks – Week 17

December 28th, 2013 Comments off
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Gonzalez’s final game

As I predicted last week, I had a disappointing week. I finished 7-9 picking against the spread, indicating that I need to get to 10-6 this week if I want to end the year at .500. A tall proposition given that I haven’t hit that benchmark very often this year.

I was 8-8 picking games straight up, making my season total at 150-90.

This week, I noticed I’m predominantly picking the home teams to win straight up, with home teams projected to go 13-3. I hope I’m right.

Carolina Panthers (11-4) at Atlanta Falcons (4-11)
Sunday, December 29 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Falcons (+7.5)

This will be a farewell game for Tony Gonzalez, and I have the feeling that the Falcons will be competitive. They were against the Panthers for the most part in their last matchup on the road, and they will benefit from not having a healthy Steve Smith to go against. So the real question is will this offensive line do as good a job as they did last time to hold off the Panthers front.

I like their chances to pull the upset, especially now that Roddy White is healthy and making impact players. Finally, the Falcons have the weapons to take advantage of the lone Panthers defensive weakness: their secondary. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick the Falcons to win.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5)
Sunday, December 29 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bengals (-5.5)

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Pudge’s Picks – Week 16

December 22nd, 2013 1 comment

Another good week to finish the season, where I went 10-6 against the spread last week. That brings my season total to 111-113, just two games below .500. Now of course what will happen is now that I’ve gotten so close, I’ll probably go 6-10 this week and kill any chance I have of reaching .500.

I also went 10-6 with my straight up picks, bringing my season total to 142-82.

Atlanta Falcons (4-10) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4)
Monday, December 23 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

Line: 49ers (-11.5)

I think the 49ers are going to dominate the Falcons in this game, although they may only manage to win by 10 points instead of the 12 necessary to cover. But I’m not picking the Falcons regardless. The 49ers rushing attack should just roll through the Falcons defense, as they did in the NFC Championship game. With no pass rush, Colin Kaepernick should have all day to pick apart the Falcons defense when they pass.

The 49ers defense will likely shut down a Falcons offense that has struggled to score points and move the ball against the Redskins terrible defense.

Spread Pick: 49ers
Straight Pick: 49ers

Miami Dolphins (8-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-9)
Sunday, December 22 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bills (+2.5)

I’m not sure the loss of E.J. Manuel is going to be felt by the Bills offense with Thad Lewis getting the start. But the loss of Stevie Johnson will be felt.

Spread Pick: Dolphins
Straight Pick: Dolphins

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Pudge’s Picks – Week 15

December 15th, 2013 Comments off

Thursday Night Football hasn’t been that kind to me over the past six weeks, where I’ve compiled a 1-5 record when picking against the spread. Here’s hoping that I pick Sunday’s slate of games as well as I did a week ago where I went 9-6 against the spread.

Washington Redskins (3-10) at Atlanta Falcons (3-10)
Sunday, December 15 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Falcons (-6.5)

Sure, the Redskins are in disarray, but this isn’t a good matchup for the Falcons. They don’t have a pass rush, so regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Redskins (it’ll be Kirk Cousins), he’ll have plenty of time to locate his receivers. And the strength of the Redskins offense still remains Alfred Morris, and the fact that the Falcons run defense has been porous throughout this season doesn’t bode well for them. It’s a boost for the Falcons that Redskins tight end Jordan Reed looks out for this game, otherwise he was likely to have a field day against Zeke Motta, who will draw his first start of the season.

The major positive for Atlanta is that Washington might have one of the few defenses that is worse than their own. And given the more comfortable confines of the Georgia Dome, the Falcons offense should look competent if not good this week.

Spread Pick: Redskins
Straight Pick: Falcons

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 15

December 12th, 2013 Comments off

Things are off to a good start as I indicated last week I’d need to pick at least 9 games correctly against the spread in the last four weeks to get my season record to .500.

Well I went 9-7 last week against the spread, bringing my season total to 101-107.

Straight up, my picks were 11-5 last week, bringing my season total to 132-76. There’s really no benchmark I’m trying to hit there at this point, although I’d like to hit double-digit wins every week for the remainder of the season.

San Diego Chargers (6-7) at Denver Broncos (11-2)
Thursday, December 12 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Broncos (-10.5)

The question really isn’t whether San Diego can beat Denver. Not unless something catastrophic happens, is that really fathomable. The real question is whether San Diego covers the spread.

They can but only if they can score in the red zone, something they struggled to do last time when they lost to the Broncos by 8 points at home. I suspect history will repeat itself and I expect this week’s Broncos team to score a lot more than 28 points. The main fear is the backdoor cover by the Chargers, which is always possible against a weak Broncos defense. Especially if Keenan Allen has a big night, which he did not have last time. I’d like San Diego’s chances better if they were at home.

Spread Pick: Broncos
Straight Pick: Broncos

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Pudge’s Picks – Week 14

December 7th, 2013 Comments off
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Gonzalez should be a difference-maker vs. Packers

Hopefully, Sunday’s picks fare better than Thursday’s.

Atlanta Falcons (3-9) at Green Bay Packers (5-6-1)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Packers (-4.5)

The Falcons have the ability to beat a Matt Flynn-led Packers team. The problem for Atlanta is going to be pressure. Flynn is not a good quarterback in the face of pressure, but the Falcons have been able to provide next to no heat on opposing quarterbacks throughout the 2013 season. Thus, there is a reasonable expectation that with ample time in the pocket to find receivers like Jordy Nelson and James Jones, Flynn can be competent. But the key for the Falcons success will be stopping the running of Eddie Lacy. And while the Falcons had only a few lapses against the Bills last week in terms of their run defense, those sorts of lapses have been commonplace over the past two months. So if this game comes down to the Falcons needing to slow Lacy and pressure Flynn, to win, the Falcons defense is a bad bet.

On the opposite side of the ball, the key for Atlanta is getting a repeat performance from Roddy White and also getting an increased effort from Tony Gonzalez, who has been relatively quiet for the past month of the season due to the bracketed coverage and double teams he receives. The Packers secondary is suspect and has been gashed by tight ends throughout this season. This opens up the possibility for a balanced attack for the Falcons offense, and in the event of that happening, I’ll put more faith in Matt Ryan on the road than I would Matt Flynn at home.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Buffalo Bills (4-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bucs (-2.5)

The Bills are coming off a tough loss to the Falcons, and going on the road against a resurging Bucs team is not a great recipe for success. The key in this game will be turnovers. Which rookie quarterback will do a better job protecting the football, thus allowing his running game to carry the day. If this week is anything like the past few weeks, the safer bet is Mike Glennon. But the degree of difficulty for Glennon should be much higher given that he’ll be facing a very formidable Bills pass rush.

Spread Pick: Bucs
Straight Pick: Bucs

Indianapolis Colts (8-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bengals (-5.5)

This game will decide the front-runner for the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff race, with the Bengals holding the advantage. The Colts just haven’t looked very consistent without Reggie Wayne in the lineup, and while the Bengals took a huge hit with the injury to Geno Atkins, they still have a formidable defense that should be able to continue to keep the clamps on Andrew Luck.

Spread Pick: Bengals
Straight Pick: Bengals

Cleveland Browns (4-8) at New England Patriots (9-3)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Patriots (-12.5)

I don’t like big spreads like this, and the Browns have been a fairly resilient team this year. And they should get the boost from Brandon Weeden not being in the lineup. But Jason Campbell just hasn’t been a very good quarterback on the road against good teams throughout his career. While Josh Gordon might have another big game against Aqib Talib (who has been nursing an injury the past month), it probably won’t be enough.

Spread Pick: Patriots
Straight Pick: Patriots

Detroit Lions (7-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-5)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Eagles (-2.5)

Another game that could have serious playoff implications as both the Lions and Eagles are in battles for their respective division crowns and unlikely to win the wildcard at this point. It’s a fairly simple question for the Eagles, in do they have what it takes to slow down Megatron and Reggie Bush? But Detroit simply isn’t a very good road team, and Philly seems to have figured out how to win at home in recent weeks.

Spread Pick: Eagles
Straight Pick: Eagles

Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) at Washington Redskins (3-9)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Redskins (+3.5)

This is the game the Chiefs need to get some pep back in their step. But the Chiefs pass rush has fallen off. But against a Redskins defense that gives up yards like there’s no tomorrow, there’s no way this game shouldn’t be decided by a touchdown or more.

Spread Pick: Chiefs
Straight Pick: Chiefs

Oakland Raiders (4-8) at New York Jets (5-7)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Jets (-2.5)

Last week’s benching of Geno Smith certainly will have some impact on this week’s game. Either Smith will find a way to protect the football, and give a superior Jets team the victory at home, or his confidence will be shot and a middling Raiders team will find a way to win. But it’s hard to like the Raiders, who haven’t won a game in the Eastern time zone in almost exactly four years. I guess at some point that streak has to end. They’re not going to get a better opportunity than a struggling Jets team.

Spread Pick: Raiders
Straight Pick: Raiders

Miami Dolphins (6-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Steelers (-3.5)

Miami’s problems stem from their lack of firepower. And if the Steelers were a weaker defense and offense, I think they would have a better shot. This one should be a defensive struggle, but at least have Antonio Brown.

Spread Pick: Steelers
Straight Pick: Steelers

Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) at Baltimore Ravens (6-6)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Ravens (-7.5)

The question is whether or not Adrian Peterson’s recent success (357 rushing yards the past two weeks) is due to him getting back to old form, or just playing two of the league’s weakest run defenses in Chicago and Green Bay. My guess is the former, and thus I’ll take the Ravens defense to slow him down and basically get another home win.

Spread Pick: Vikings
Straight Pick: Ravens

Tennessee Titans (5-7) at Denver Broncos (10-2)
Sunday, December 8 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS

Line: Broncos (-12.5)

The Broncos haven’t blown anybody out, meaning they haven’t won by more than two touchdowns since Week 8. And really, their last two blowouts (vs. Washington and Jacksonville) were competitive games up until the start of the second half. So really, we’re going back to Week 4 since the Broncos have laid the smackdown on anyone. The Titans defense is underrated, but I’m not sure they are good enough to keep this one from getting away from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Spread Pick: Broncos
Straight Pick: Broncos

St. Louis Rams (5-7) at Arizona Cardinals (7-5)
Sunday, December 8 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Cardinals (-6.5)

This should be a good defensive contest. The key for St. Louis is pressuring Carson Palmer, and forcing some turnovers. Because frankly, they can’t move the ball with Kellen Clemens at quarterback. They need to rely on their running game to stay in this game, which means not allowing Arizona to get out to an early lead. But if Robert Quinn can destroy Levi Brown for 3 sacks, what is he going to do against Bradley Sowell?

Spread Pick: Rams
Straight Pick: Cardinals

New York Giants (5-7) at San Diego Chargers (5-7)
Sunday, December 8 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Chargers (-3.5)

It seems like the Chargers have morphed into the Jets as a team that is good every other week. But if that’s the case, then this should be an “on” week for them against an overrated Giants team. With Jason Pierre-Paul injured, I just don’t see much to like about the Giants ability to stop Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense. The real question is going to be whether or not the Chargers secondary can contain the Giants receivers. This has the makings of a shootout, and I’ll take the home team.

Spread Pick: Chargers
Straight Pick: Chargers

Seattle Seahawks (11-1) at San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
Sunday, December 8 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: 49ers (-2.5)

Fresh off their drubbing of the Saints, I think people are probably going to overrate the Seahawks a bit. Apparently Vegas isn’t, with the 49ers being favored. Throughout most of this year, the Seahawks just haven’t been a dominant road team. The 49ers haven’t been a great home team either, but I think Colin Kaepernick will pick up his first win against Seattle this week.

Spread Pick: 49ers
Straight Pick: 49ers

Carolina Panthers (9-3) at New Orleans Saints (9-3)
Sunday, December 8 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

Line: Saints (-3.5)

I don’t think having the short week against a tough Panthers defense will help the Saints offense much this week. But Carolina has yet to really slow down the Saints at all in the dome under Ron Rivera, and even with his rock-solid defense this year, I think that Saints offense will be too much as they have been for every opponent they’ve faced at home. I’m just betting on Sean Payton over Rivera.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

Dallas Cowboys (7-5) at Chicago Bears (6-6)
Monday, December 9 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

Line: Bears (+1.5)

This game has the makings of another shootout. The Bears have hit the wall, as their defense has fallen off hard. But the Cowboys defense is terrible as well. And I think this game could see Josh McCown and Tony Romo each hitting 350 yards passing.  I’ll put more faith in DeMarco Murray and Sean Lee than the Bears right now.

Spread Pick: Cowboys
Straight Pick: Cowboys

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