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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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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 56 “I’d Take Eugene Robinson at the Drop of a Hat!”

January 28th, 2014 Comments off

After a one-week hiatus, Allen and I are back to discuss the Atlanta Falcons team needs. We are joined by Matt Chambers, a writer for the Falcoholic, to rank the Top 6 needs the Falcons need to address this offseason. Later, we discuss some of the key matchups between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, as well as other pervasive topics around the league such as Richard Sherman’s rant, the resurgence of the NFC South in 2014, and my thoughts on whether Anthony Barr should be on the Falcons radar at the top of the draft. Warning: This episode contains some explicit NSFW language!

Episode 56: I’d Take Eugene Robinson at the Drop of a Hat! [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 25 minutes

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

Matt Chambers can be found on twitter: @FalconsM5, and also writes for The Falcoholic.

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 – 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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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 55 “2013 Awards Extravaganza!”

January 14th, 2014 1 comment

Allen and I get together once again to discuss our choices for various awards stemming from the Atlanta Falcons 2013 season. Included are our choices for the team’s most valuable player, offensive and defensive players of the year, most improved player, biggest disappointment, and most underrated and overrated players among several other individual honors. During the course of our discussion, I explain my hatred for Harry Douglas for the umpteenth time, and also where I rank Matt Ryan among the league’s top quarterbacks following his play in 2013. After divvying out our awards, we get into a discussion about the winners and losers from the second round of the playoffs, as well as our expectations for the upcoming conference championship games.

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 55 2013 Awards Extravaganza! [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 18 minutes

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

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 – 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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Takeaways from Week 16

December 23rd, 2013 Comments off
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Does Atlanta have enough to slow down Colin Kaepernick?

We’ll get the chance to see the Atlanta Falcons tonight against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night football.

I don’t have particularly high hopes for the Falcons, although the last time I expected them to get blown out was in Week 12 against the New Orleans Saints. During that week, the Falcons had the factors of playing at home and against a familiar opponent in their favor. They will be in a hostile environment tonight against the San Francisco 49ers, particularly since it will be the final home game at Candlestick Park, assuming the 49ers and the other NFC wildcard team don’t make improbably deep playoff runs. And the familiarity of the 49ers just isn’t that strong. It was roughly 11 months ago that the two teams squared off in the NFC Championship game, so the Falcons won’t have to clean too much dust off their game plan to try and get an accurate read on the 49ers.

The 49ers since then haven’t changed that much. They are still an offense that is predicated on the run game and the vertical passing attack. But they aren’t as effective in either area this year as they were a year ago.

They were among the league’s best rushing team a year ago, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. They ran the ball on about 50.8 percent of their offensive plays in 2012. This year, their yards per carry has fallen to a much more mundane 4.2 yards per carry. They are running the ball more however, up to 53.3 percent.

That increase in runs is largely due to their inability to generate as many big plays in the passing game as they did a year ago. Colin Kaepernick led the league with a ridiculous 60.6 percent completion rate on passes of 20 or more yards (per Pro Football Focus). He’s still near the top of the league this year, but it’s down to a much more human 46 percent completion rate on those deep passes. Despite only starting roughly half the season, Kaepernick completed 19 of those 20-plus yard throws last year for a total of 595 yards. This year in nearly twice the playing time, he’s completed 19 for 632 yards. So in one sense, he’s been half as effective throwing deep.

Much of that centers on the lack of reliable weapons that Kaepernick has been asked to throw with Michael Crabtree being injured for most the year. In fact, no 49ers receiver besides Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, and Vance McDonald have caught deep passes from Kaepernick this year. Boldin is certainly not a deep threat by nature, and McDonald is not quite as adept as Delanie Walker was a year ago. Last year, players like Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, and Kyle Williams all contributed there as well as Crabtree.

But will any of this matter against the Falcons? Probably not. The Falcons run defense is among the weakest in the league, and the 49ers absolutely dominated the Falcons in the trenches in last year’s NFC title game. With the Falcons run defense giving up 100 or more yards in 11 straight games, it is doubtful that streak is snapped this week.

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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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