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Pudge’s Picks – Week 12

November 24th, 2013 2 comments

I changed the way I picked games against the spread this week, which I think more closely mirrors how I picked games successfully in the past. Why it took me this long to do that, who knows? But if it results in a better week, then that’s how I’ll try to pick down the stretch so that I can try and finish this season above .500 against the spread.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I’m expecting a big day for Alshon Jeffery for the Bears and my fantasy team this week

Chicago Bears (6-4) at St. Louis Rams (4-6)
Sunday, November 24 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Rams (-1.5)

It’s rather simple, I have more confidence in Josh McCown than Kellen Clemens. Plus an injury to Cortland Finnegan (who is doubtful) makes me believe that Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are in for big days as they face Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. The only thing that gives me some pause is the Rams edge pass rush, as I have little confidence that Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills will handle themselves well against Robert Quinn and Chris Long, respectively. But I think McCown finds a way in the end.

Spread Pick: Bears
Straight Pick: Bears

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-6)
Sunday, November 24 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Browns (-2.5)

The “real” Jason Campbell showed up last week, with his penchant for checkdowns and not throwing deep. If Campbell continues to play that well, and I expect he will, then I just don’t see how the Browns can be expected to beat a decent Steeler team at home.

Spread Pick: Steelers
Straight Pick: Steelers

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 12: Falcons vs. Saints

November 21st, 2013 1 comment

Last week, once again I hovered around .500 with my picks. But just slightly below as I went 7-8 against the spread. Thanks once again to the Lions not being a very good road team, the surprisingly competent performance of Matt McGloin, Seattle looking like Seattle again, and Jason Campbell being Jason Campbell.

Straight up, my picks were slightly better at 10-5. Carolina beating New England was a mild surprise, although a controversial call at the end sealed the win. Looked to me like a missed call, but it was compounded by the referees cowardly fleeing the stadium. I hate when that happens, and there’s a call at the end of the game, and the refs appear afraid to go against the home crowd. It’s always evidenced by their desire to get out of the stadium as quickly as possible, which they proceeded to do in Charlotte.

New Orleans Saints (8-2) at Atlanta Falcons (2-8)
Thursday, November 21 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Falcons (+8.5)

Based off how the Falcons have played in recent weeks, this line should be a lot higher. My expectation is that the Falcons get beat by at least three scores in this game, so there’s really no reason to even think about picking the Falcons.

My only hope as a fan of the Falcons is that this is the week they are energized by the rivalry aspect, with the Saints somewhat beat up, they are able to keep it close. But if the Falcons were poised to be that team tonight, I think we would’ve seen some flashes of that in the past few games. The main hope for the Falcons is that Mike Nolan has some schemes up his sleeve that can confuse Drew Brees like he did a year ago, and Roddy White is for the first time this season, the Roddy of old and ready to abuse Corey White and Keenan Lewis.

Stranger things have happened in the NFL, and who knows the Falcons could pull the upset and win. If they do, it will go up on the pantheon of greatest wins ever by this team.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 48 “Soft Spot for the Jaguars”

November 20th, 2013 1 comment

On this week’s episode, Allen and I are joined by Matt Chambers, a writer for the Falcoholic. We express our condolences over the death of Thomas Howard before getting into the discussion about our favorite team: the Atlanta Falcons. We discuss whether defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is to blame for the defensive troubles seen stemming from Bobby Rainey’s breakout performance in Week 11. We break new ground by mentioning the name Jadeveon Clowney for the first time on the podcast, and begin to look ahead to next spring’s draft, as well as discuss many of the misses from past years’ drafts. We discuss whether Steven Jackson is expendable, and just how much Antone Smith’s performance against the Buccaneers means to his future role with the team. That brings us to a discussion of what the Falcons future plans should be at the running back position. We discuss the “mass benching” that occurred vs. Tampa Bay, and how it could affect things particularly on the offensive line. We close with Matt by discussing the upcoming matchup against the New Orleans Saints in Week 12, and whether or not a blowout is inevitable. Allen and I then have a long discussion about other teams around the league because it’s more interesting than anything going on with the Falcons.

Episode 48: Soft Spot for the Jaguars [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 19 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 – Week 11

November 16th, 2013 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Sean Weatherspoon returns in Week 11

I’m starting to do a bit better on my picks as of late. I hope that continues this week, shooting to get to 8 or 9 wins against the spread.

Atlanta Falcons (2-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8)
Sunday, November 17 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Bucs (+1.5)

I’m hopeful that Sean Weatherspoon’s return to the lineup this week will give the Falcons the defensive boost they will need to get stops and turnovers since I have little confidence that the offense will be able to move the ball, given the injury to Tony Gonzalez limiting him. I suspect Revis will be able to put the clamps on Roddy White, and we’ll see another week of bad Falcons offense.

Spread Pick: Bucs
Straight Pick: Bucs

New York Jets (5-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-7)
Sunday, November 17 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bills (-1.5)

Santonio Holmes will be back for the first time since Week 4, and had a big game against hte Bills in Week 3. But that was a game where the Bills were without Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd. I suspect teh Bills defense will be ready to step up and slow down the Jets offense. The question is whether E.J. Manuel will play well enough to put up enough points make the Bills successful at home.

Spread Pick: Bills
Straight Pick: Bills

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 11

November 14th, 2013 Comments off

I did better last week with my picks than I have done throughout the year, particularly when it came to picking against the spread. I finished 8-6 last week, which I believe is the best week I’ve had since Week 1. I did not fare quite as well straight up, finishing 7-7.

I’m going to blame injuries to quarterbacks as the main reason my straight picks were so bad. Jay Cutler wasn’t 100-percent, Seneca Wallace got injured, and Jake Locker got hurt. Also Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick both laid complete eggs.

My year-to-date totals are: 71-76 (against the spread) and 93-54 (straight up).

Indianapolis Colts (6-3) at Tennessee Titans (4-5)
Thursday, November 14 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Titans (+3.5)

The Colts got crushed by the Rams last week, a team the Titans beat the preceding week. But Ryan Fitzpatrick did not play in that game, and that’s the big factor in the favor of the Colts.

I do think similarly to the Rams, the Titans defense will give the Colts offense a lot of trouble. I think Indy’s offense will be better than they were last week, but not by a huge degree. The big concern however is whether the Colts defense, which has been good for the most part this year, is going to be able to keep a lid on Chris Johnson and the Titans offense. I think they will, and when you get crushed by 30 points like they did against the Rams, you should be playing a lot harder this week.

I think I’m going to regret picking the Titans to cover because of the Fitzpatrick factor, but I think the Colts will win a close game.

Spread Pick: Titans
Straight Pick: Colts

Categories: Features Tags: ,

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 47 “I Hate Brian Robiskie”

November 14th, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I are more depressed than ever with the Atlanta Falcons. In this week’s episode, we briefly discuss the few positives we saw in the Falcons Week 10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, but focus mainly on the negative, as we conclude that the Falcons are practically unwatchable. We go into detail about the offensive line and some of the potential roster changes that could be upcoming there. We discuss Sam Baker’s horrible contract, whether Peter Konz should be benched, and the status of Thomas DeCoud and Steven Jackson in 2014. We also talk up Paul Worrilow and how he should be the new starting middle linebacker. Aaron rants about the conservative nature of the offense, coaches on the hot seat, and whether the rumor surrounding Jon Gruden is something to get excited about. Then we go into our thoughts on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and what things you can expect to see in the Falcons Week 11 matchup. Then we look ahead briefly to the New Orleans Saints in Week 12, gripe about our fantasy football teams, and talk playoffs in our weekly “Around the League” segment.

Ep. 47: I Hate Brian Robiskie [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 23 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 – Week 10

November 9th, 2013 Comments off
ICON SMI

Not sure Roddy White will make a difference this week for Falcons

I’m picking a number of under dogs this week to cover. Seven in total. Part of it is due to the fact that I like the match ups. The other part is that I have been so bad at picking games this year, what do I really have to lose?

Seattle Seahawks (8-1) at Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
Sunday, November 10 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Falcons (+6.5)

This is going to be an interesting game as the Falcons will be getting Roddy White back and thus we should see a shot in the arm for the passing attack. But the problem for the Falcons is that White will be facing his old nemesis in Richard Sherman for a majority of the game. And while White did score a touchdown against Sherman in last year’s playoffs, it really was thanks to a bad play by the safety, not Sherman. And that was when White was closer to 100-percent, which won’t be the case this weekend. So while White should provide a boost, I don’t think it’s going to be enough to get the Falcons to win this game, not unless their defensive line can step up and take advantage of all the injuries the Seahawks have on their offensive line. And considering the Falcons didn’t do much against Arizona and their terrible offensive line, I don’t have a lot of hope.

Spread Pick: Seahawks
Straight Pick: Seahawks

Buffalo Bills (3-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
Sunday, November 10 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Steelers (-3.5)

E.J. Manuel is returning to the lineup this week, but I’m not sure the Steelers defense is who you want to face in a game where you’re trying to shake off some rust after missing a month. The key for Buffalo, like it was last week, is establishing the run and letting C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson carry the offense. They will have that chance going up against the one of the league’s worst run defenses. And with both Steelers starting tackles being fairly beat up, I don’t like what Mario Williams and that Bills defensive line could do to Roethlisberger.

Spread Pick: Bills
Straight Pick: Steelers

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 10

November 7th, 2013 Comments off
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I expect a couple of big plays from RG3

Last week I went 6-7 against the spread on my picks and 9-4 straight up. That brings the season totals up 63-70 against the spread and 86-47 straight up.

The performances of the Falcons, Seahawks, and Raiders were the most disappointing aspects. My backdoor cover action in the Falcons-Panthers was obliterated when Matt Ryan threw that pick six. Had that wound up being a touchdown drive for the Falcons, I would have won that game. The Seahawks were very lackluster at home no less and had to come back from a 17-point deficit midway through the third quarter to win in overtime. And a week after jumping off their bandwagon, the Eagles dismantled the Raiders by 29 points on the road. Apparently, I should know better than to bet against the Eagles on the road.

Washington Redskins (3-5) at Minnesota Vikings (1-7)
Thursday, November 7 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Vikings (+2.5)

This matchup will feature two of the more porous defenses in the league, particularly when it comes to defending the pass. With Christian Ponder starting for the Vikings, and their offense at its best when Adrian Peterson is getting a lot of carries, that appears the advantage is in the favor of the Redskins.

But the problem is that the Redskins offense hasn’t been able to generate a ton of big passing plays like they were able to do last year when all their run-action opened up downfield plays for RG3. But they have started to get more big plays in recent weeks vs. Chicago and San Diego.

The other issue for hte Vikings is the injuries. Kyle Rudolph, who is in fact Minnesota’s most reliable receiving option, along with Phil Loadholt and Charlie Johnson are out. That means starts for J’Marcus Webb at right tackle, and backup center Joe Berger will man the left guard spot. I’m not sure that that is going to help the Vikings create more holes for Peterson.

The key for Minnesota is that they need to get off to a fast start. That way Peterson gets more carries. On the short week, you would think the home team would then have the advantage. But what is interesting is that in many of the Thursday night games thus far this year, the road team has been able to get out to the quickest lead.

If Washington is going to try and make this NFC East title run, they need to start rattling off some wins. They have four very winnable games in their next six, including one against the second place Eagles, before they face the Cowboys in Week 16. How well they play tonight could go a long way to determine if they’re ready to repeat last year’s second-half success.

Spread Pick: Redskins
Straight Pick: Redskins

Categories: Features Tags: ,

Pudge’s Picks – Week 9

November 2nd, 2013 Comments off

I thoroughly enjoyed Thursday’s contest, even though my pick of the Bengals was off. Andy Dalton had the egg-laying performance I suspected he was poised to have. And the Dolphins defense was the only reason why they won the game as they scored 9 points. Their offense only scored 3 points off the other 3 Bengals turnovers. And they also needed a late-game game-tying drive from Ryan Tannehill, when they got a bit of a gift call on a Brian Hartline catch on the sideline. The point I’m trying to make is that it really was Cincinnati losing the game than Miami winning the game. But the fact that it resulted in a “walk-off” safety in overtime completely whitewashes the previous 68 minutes. What was even more amazing is that is the third time that’s happened in NFL history, and all were in my lifetime. That’s the sort of crazy ending that you’d think you could go 40 years between seeing. But it happened in the past decade.

Here are my picks for Sunday and Monday’s games:

Atlanta Falcons (2-5) at Carolina Panthers (4-3)
Sunday, November 3 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Panthers (-7.5)

Coming off a very poor performance against Arizona, I expect the Falcons to bounce back…some. But they are playing a better team in Carolina, and I suspect the Falcons flaws: their offensive line and defense will continue to plague them. But I expect that the Falcons might get a backdoor cover.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Panthers

Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) at Buffalo Bills (3-5)
Sunday, November 3 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bills (+3.5)

Because Kansas City is not an explosive offense, I think Buffalo could find a way to make this interesting even without Thad Lewis starting. If the Chiefs don’t come out scoring, then Buffalo can continue to play to their strength and run the ball with both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller at their healthiest since September. And I like the matchup of the Bills defensive line against an unspectacular Chiefs offensive line that features liabilities in Jeff Allen and Eric Fisher. The key for the Bills is keeping Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs offense in check, because offensively they are not going to be score any points with either Jeff Tuel or Matt Flynn starting.

Spread Pick: Bills
Straight Pick: Chiefs

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All-22 Breakdown: Falcons Offense Needs the Vertical Strike

November 1st, 2013 Comments off

One of the main topics I hit in this past week’s game review and podcast (roughly around the 40-minute mark) was the Falcons inability to stretch the Arizona Cardinal’s defense, and how that must change if the Falcons want to beat the Carolina Panthers this weekend. It’s one thing to read or listen to what I’m seeing, but thanks to the power of screenshots and photo-editing software, I can now show you what I’m talking about.

The Falcons have become a one-dimensional offense thanks to their inability to run the ball effectively. But that hasn’t been a new development in Atlanta, as they were one of the league’s weakest rushing teams a year ago. But they were able to compensate with an efficient passing attack, thanks in part due to the big play potential offered by Julio Jones and Roddy White. A year ago, that pair of receivers combined for 35 catches of 20 or more yards, and 9 catches of 40 or more yards.

While the Falcons generated five 20-plus yard plays against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sans Jones and White, that number fell to two against Arizona. One of the reasons why the Falcons were able to beat the Bucs despite the running backs rushing for a combined 30 yards, was because they were able to generate those big plays in the passing game. The rushing attack only got worse against the Cardinals, with backs combining for a pathetic 14 yards. And without the big plays to compensate, it resulted last Sunday in one of the worst offensive performances of the Falcons and Matt Ryan in years.

I want to outline two plays using screenshots from NFL Game Rewind’s All-22 view to illustrate what I mean by the Falcons inability to get big plays. I think these two plays, if the outcomes are different would have a vastly different impact on the outcome of the Falcons-Cardinals game. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Falcons win the game, but they certainly would have made it much closer and more competitive. And more importantly, moving forward they have to do a better job of taking advantage of similar opportunities when they present themselves.

The first play I want to examine is the very first offensive snap the Falcons had in the second half. Had the Falcons executed on this play as I believe it was drawn up, it certainly would have started the second half with a bang and potentially made the game a one-score game rather than the three-score lead Arizona was able to build shortly after.

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