Posts Tagged ‘preview’

Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 7

October 17th, 2013 Comments off

Another bad week against the spread, where I went 5-10 in Week 6 picking against the spread. Ten of the fifteen games last week were decided by two-score margins, and a few of them were complete surprises. Jacksonville covered the huge spread against Denver, and both St. Louis and Carolina obliterated Houston and Minnesota, respectively. And Brandon Weeden ultimately proved the downfall of my picks with his terrible play, allowing the Lions to get a 14-point road win.

I did better straight up, going 9-6, which is the first time I’ve finished above .500 since Week 4. That brings my season total there to 57-35, much better than my spread record, which is 43-49.

Seattle Seahawks (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (3-3)
Thursday, October 17 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Cardinals (+6.5)

This should be a solid defensive matchup between two of the better defenses in the league. That usually means that the game is going to be decided by one score or less. The problem for the Cardinals is that their offense is not very good and thus if they get behind early, they will struggle to make it close. But the positive for them is that they are playing at home on a short-week, and thus with their defense playing up to par, the Seahawks shouldn’t get off to a fast start.

The way the Cardinals can win this game is by controlling the line of scrimmage on defense, because we know their offensive line cannot do so on the opposite side of the ball. I have enough confidence in the Cardinals defense at home to keep this game relatively close and low-scoring.

Spread Pick: Cardinals
Straight Pick: Seahawks

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 43 “More Gangster than Gentleman”

October 17th, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I are joined by friend Rashad James to discuss the Falcons upcoming Week 7 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as discuss the many issues that plague the Falcons in 2013. In our preview of the Bucs game, I give my insights to what I saw from the Bucs in their Week 6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and how things could play out on both sides of the ball. We then discuss: 1) Which young receivers can step up in light of Julio Jones injury. 2) Whether the rest of the 2013 season rests on the shoulders of Matt Ryan 3) Whether Levine Toilolo is going to be a key asset for the Falcons offense moving forward 4) What is the Falcons identity? 5) Do the Falcons need to reshuffle their offensive line? 6) Should fans be throwing in the towel at this point? 7) A referendum on Thomas Dimitroff’s job so far as the team’s GM 8) Whether the Falcons need to make a trade for a wideout. We end things as usual recapping some of their observations from other teams around the league, including our joy over the New Orleans Saints’ devastating loss to the New England Patriots.

Ep. 43: More Gangster than Gentleman [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 14 minutes

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

Rashad can be found on twitter: @SaucedUp_Boss

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:

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:

Pudge’s Picks – Week 6

October 13th, 2013 Comments off
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Steelers get their first win in 2013 this week?

I was not at all surprised that the Giants managed to cover in the Thursday night game. I said as much in my pick, but given that thus far this season I was 0-3 when picking the Giants, I could not pick them a fourth time despite an unwieldy spread in favor of the Bears. So this week I start 0-1 against the spread, but 1-0 straight up.

No Falcons this weekend, and I’m thinking perhaps that maybe that will bring me luck to get this season back on track as far as my picks go. I don’t know if I can say the same for the Falcons season, but I’m optimistic for myself.

I think part of my problem has been that I’ve made too many “unilateral” picks this year. Meaning too often I’ve taken the same team to win the game as to cover. And generally speaking when the spread is under 3 points, it makes sense for that to happen. But when it’s larger than that, I should be much more willing to take the underdog.

Detroit Lions (3-2) at Cleveland Browns (3-2)
Sunday, October 13 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Browns (+2.5)

Brandon Weeden is starting, so how can I pick the Browns? But the concern with the Lions is if Calvin Johnson is once again out, the Lions really have nothing offensively they can throw at that tough Browns defense. But I trust Suh, Fairley, and that Lions front to wreak havoc on a week Browns’ front line, but the Lions looked completely out of sorts without Johnson last week. But even if Johnson does play, I can’t imagine him to be that effective going up against Joe Haden at less than 100-percent.

Spread Pick: Browns
Straight Pick: Browns

Green Bay Packers (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
Sunday, October 13 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Ravens (+3.5)

Baltimore had a dozen listed as questionable or worse on their injury report this week, but I suspect most of them will play. I believe that Torrey Smith should feast against a weak Packers pass defense that is made weaker by the absence of Clay Matthews. But it should be noted that the Packers are 4-2 in games that Matthews has missed over the years, so it’s not as if they haven’t been able to overcome his absence. I simply don’t trust Joe Flacco, and the Packers are looking for their first road win, as they blew fourth quarter leads to the 49ers and Bengals earlier this season.

Spread Pick: Packers
Straight Pick: Packers

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 6

October 10th, 2013 Comments off

I managed to go a quasi-respectable 8-6 last week against the spread. That means that this week I won’t have to flip my picks since I promised that I would if I didn’t finish above .500. My season total against the spread now sits at an adequate 38-39, although that means a coin is better at picking games than me. But like the Falcons, I’m hoping I’m just off to a slow start and right about now I’ll start to hit my stride.

I finished 7-7 on straight picks last week. I don’t think I’ve ever done better vs. the spread than straight up. For the year, I’m 48-29.

New York Giant (0-5) at Chicago Bears (3-2)
Thursday, October 10 at 8:25 on NFL Network

Line: Bears (-7.5)

I’ve picked the Giants three times this year, and they’ve burned me each time. For that reason alone I’m picking the Bears. But I really don’t love the Bears in this one. Charles Tillman is a game-time decision and without him, I have a feeling that Cruz & Co. might go off. But the Giants line isn’t very good, so Eli should be under steady pressure. The Bears defense is good at creating turnovers and few teams in NFL history have been worse than this year’s Giants team at preventing them. David Wilson is also out and thus I have no clue who will be running the ball. But I also have this gnawing feeling that this is the week that JPP resumes being JPP and forces a bunch of Cutler turnovers. I’d feel better about picking the Bears if the line was 6.5 instead of 7.5. It’ll epitomize my entire year of picks if this is the week that the Giants finally look good.

Spread Pick: Bears
Straight Pick: Bears

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Pudge’s Picks – Week 5

October 5th, 2013 Comments off

It all seemed to be spiraling down the drain on Thursday night. After two weeks of picking against the Cleveland Browns, I decided to take them in their NFL Network matchup against the Buffalo Bills. But then Brian Hoyer went down with an injury, and the Bills were off to a quick 10-0 lead. And with Brandon Weeden coming into the game, it seemed doubtful that they would be able to mount the comeback to cover the 4.5-point spread. Well, thank goodness for the Browns special teams and defense. The Bills scored only one offensive touchdown under E.J. Manuel, thanks to a long run by C.J. Spiller. And then Manuel got bounced out of the game in the third quarter, and we discovered at least one quarterback that is worse than Brandon Weeden: Jeff Tuel.

So I’m off to a 1-0 start this week. But in truth picking Thursday games haven’t really been the problem this year, as I’m now 3-2 there. It’s been Sundays that have plagued me as I’ve wound up with losing records on each of the past three weeks thanks to abysmal weekend picks. And I’m not backing off on my promise I made Thursday. If I don’t go at least 7-6 on today’s picks, then next week I’m going to make the opposite picks. I will analyze the games as I normally would, and then pick the opposite of the team that my analysis would indicate.

New York Jets (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
Monday, October 7 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

Line: Falcons (-9.5)

There is no doubt in my mind that the Falcons are far and away the best 1-3 team in the league. It would be a toss-up between the Jets and Arizona Cardinals as to who is the worst 2-2 team. The positive thing for the Jets in this matchup is that they have a very good defense that could give fits for the inconsistent and struggling Falcons offense. But I’m also hopeful that this is the week the Falcons start to put it all together and get out of their rut, by being more balanced, scoring in the red zone, and generally just looking like the playoff team that most people envisioned we’d see in 2013. The Jets have struggled on the road to score points, mainly because they have a young quarterback. But a 10-point win is a fairly big margin which gives me pause considering Atlanta’s offensive inconsistencies. But I’m going to ride or die with my team and pick them to cover. Especially given the injuries the Jets have at wide receiver, which will cause them to struggle to generate offense and score enought points.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

New Orleans Saints (4-0) at Chicago Bears (3-1)
Sunday, October 6 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Bears (-0.5)

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 5

October 3rd, 2013 Comments off

It’s getting to a point that the only reason you should be reading this is to know who not to pick. Last week, I went 6-9 against the spread and 8-7 straight up. That brings my season totals to 30-33 against the spread and 41-22 straight up.

Had you simply looked at my picks the past three weeks and made the opposite picks against the spread, then you would have gone 28-19. If I can’t turn it around this week, then I’m going to just basically flip my picks. Whatever my gut tells me, I’ll choose the opposite. It can’t hurt at this point, right?

Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-2)
Thursday, October 3 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Browns (-4.5)

For a moment consider how long it’s been since either of these two teams could have squared off in a relevant game. Not since 2002, have the Bills and Browns both finished a year .500 or above. And not since 1989, have both these two teams both been playoff teams. The Browns did beat the Bills in the playoffs that year, thanks to a then 26-year old Bernie Kosar.

Now Cleveland is helmed by a 27-year old Brian Hoyer, who alongside wideout Josh Gordon has energized a lackluster Browns offense over the past two weeks. Meanwhile tight end Jordan Cameron continues to kill it and is following in the footsteps of other former basketball players turned successful NFL tight ends.

The Browns defense is playing well and is ascending into a top unit. Arizona should have never gotten rid of Ray Horton! And while it’s surprising to say it, for the third week in a row the Browns have the head-to-head quarterback advantage as Hoyer is outplaying E.J. Manuel. Manuel started the season relatively strong, but has tailed off in recent weeks. Frankly, without getting a combined 203 rushing yards from their ground game and Joe Flacco throwing 5 picks (leading to 13 points), the Bills really had no business winning that game last week. Manuel turned it over three times himself, and if not for Stevie Johnson timely recovery on another fumble it should have been four turnovers. And if they are that sloppy at home, then how are they going to be on the road on a short week?

Especially when they may not be able to counter Manuel’s shoddy play with a ground game since C.J. Spiller will be a game-time decision due to an ankle injury. They are also still beat up in the secondary, as cornerback Stephon Gilmore will miss another week, and now fellow starter Leodis McKelvin may also be out of the lineup. The saving grace for the Bills might be their defensive front, as the Browns have gotten subpar production from their offensive line, particularly on the right side with Oniel Cousins and Mitchell Schwartz. If players like Kyle and Mario Williams can disrupt and prevent Hoyer from connecting with his playmakers in Gordon and Cameron, then the Browns offense really doesn’t have much to go on. Unless you think Willis McGahee has something in the tank. But I’ll still pick the Browns because they are playing at home, and that defense has been rock solid. But if it does become that sort of defensive battle, then that often boils down to a kicking duel between Dan Carpenter (Bills) and Billy Cundiff (Browns). Cundiff missed two kicks last week, so advantage Bills?

Spread Pick: Browns
Straight Pick: Browns

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 41 “Anonymous Osi”

October 3rd, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I are back with guest star Tom Melton to discuss the Falcons Week 4 loss to the New England Patriots. The questions we wish to answer this week are: 1) Are the Falcons approaching must-win territory in the coming weeks? 2) Will the Falcons youth movement in the wake of injuries is going to cost them this year? 3) Do the Falcons have enough balance on offense and can they turn things around in the red zone? 4) Just how awesome is Tony Gonzalez really? 5) How effective is the Falcons pass rush and whether the Osi Umenyiora signing is working out? 6) Was Mike Smith’s gutsy 4th down call the right move? 7) Did Mike Nolan’s scheme cost the Falcons the game? … We give our thoughts on the upcoming matchup against the New York Jets, as well as assess the play of the offensive line, receivers, young tight ends, and also look around the league at Josh Freeman’s situation in Tampa Bay.

Ep. 41: Anonymous Osi [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 6 minutes

Allen writes for as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Tom Melton can be found on twitter: @TMeltonScouting, and also writes for his own draft blog and contributes to Draft Headquarters.

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:

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:

Pudge’s Picks – Week 4

September 28th, 2013 Comments off
Matt Ryan throws a pass against the St. Louis Rams

If you didn’t already know, Matt Ryan is very good at home

After two disappointing weeks of picks, I’m off to a good start this week with the Thursday night game being a win. The 49ers did not disappoint, and the lackluster Rams continue to be slow starters.

I honestly feel much more confident with my picks this weekend, as the matchups and lines seem to be fairly straight-forward. But given how 2013 has played out, I may wind up eating those words next week. If I can’t at least get eight wins this week, it’s not going to be pretty for me the rest of the year. Frankly, I’m expected at least 10 or 11 wins this week. Famous last words…

New England Patriots (3-0) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
Sunday, September 29 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

Line: Falcons (-1.5)

I just haven’t been that impressed with the Patriots, and I think the Falcons match up fairly well with them. Especially at home where the Falcons are nigh-unbeatable and their defense typically plays much tougher. I don’t see the Patriots having enough firepower with their young receivers and a beat up Gronkowski, to match the Falcons offense. And while they do have some things on defense that can give the Falcons a bit of trouble up front, I don’t think it’s going to be as impactful in the Georgia Dome.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Chicago Bears (3-0) at Detroit Lions (2-1)
Sunday, September 29 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Lions (-2.5)

The Lions surprised me last week with their road win over the Redskins considering how bad the Lions have been under Jim Schwartz in road games. The Bears have owned the Lions in the Schwartz Era with a 7-1 record over the past four seasons. A big reason for that has been because the Bears are very effective at containing Megatron, as he’s only went over 100 yards receiving twice in that span. But a big part of that is having Charles Tillman, who is questionable this week with a groin injury. Henry Melton is also out, and I think that might be enough to push the Lions over the top. Reggie Bush will also be back this week, giving something else for the Bears defense to have to deal with. The Lions are the classic team that the minute they look to be building momentum, it quickly evaporates. So even though the matchups do seem to favor them, if the Lions are the Lions, then my pick is going to be wrong.

Spread Pick: Lions
Straight Pick: Lions

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Falcons vs. Patriots: Six Intriguing Matchups

September 27th, 2013 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Jones

The Falcons hope to respond after a disappointing loss last week as they face the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick, who has earned a reputation as the league’s best schemer. With questions surrounding Falcons head coach Mike Smith and whether the Falcons coaching staff is pulling its own weight, they will have to be up to the task of trying to match wits with Belichick.

In looking at the past two Patriots games, here are three favorable matchups to watch out for on Sunday night for each team.

Advantage: Falcons

Julio Jones vs. Aqib Talib

Last week, the Patriots asked Talib to shadow Vincent Jackson and he was very effective doing so. Jackson was limited to just three catches for 34 yards. It is likely that the Patriots will do something similar this week hoping that Talib can have a similar effect against Jones, who is clearly the Falcons No. 1 target. Jones has been targeted on nearly half (43-percent) of Ryan’s 81 attempts this year. It should be noted that even at his peak in 2009, Roddy White never exceeded 36-percent. If Talib is effective in containing Jones, it will make the Falcons offense much less effective. But that will be a tall order for Talib. It has been no secret the first three games of this season that Jones has been best and often sole offensive weapon in the passing game, yet no Falcons opponent has really been effective at slowing him down. Talib and Jones have only faced each other once, back in Week 3 of 2011. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones was able to catch a pair of passes against Talib for 25 yards on three targets in that game. The Falcons coaching staff, knowing that the Patriots No. 1 defensive priority will be limiting Jones’ impact on the game will have to find ways to get him the ball despite the shadow that Talib creates.

Tony Gonzalez vs. Patriots LBs/Safeties

If Talib shadows Jones throughout the game, it should allow Belichick free to mix up his coverages in regards to tight end Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez has yet to really have a breakout game this season and this week he could be poised for such. The Pats have yet to really face a formidable tight end through the first three weeks of the 2013 season. A year ago (per Football Outsiders) the Patriots were weak against the tight end, ranking 29th in DVOA. Note that the Falcons, who also struggled to cover tight ends, ranked 21st last year. The Patriots may not put a single player on Gonzalez, but rotate multiple players. Normally, safety Steve Gregory and linebackers Jerod Mayo and Don’ta Hightower tend to draw most of the assignments against opposing tight ends. But the Patriots may try using athletic rookie linebacker Jamie Collins as well in the hopes he may be better suited against a veteran like Gonzalez.

Read more…

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 40 “A Sense of Urgency”

September 27th, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I are back to discuss the Falcons disappointing loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 3 as well as preview what we hope to be a rebound win against the New England Patriots in primetime in Week 4 … Questions we try to answer in this episode: 1. Are the Falcons playing with a sense of urgency? 2. Will their schedule in the coming weeks help them get out of this rut? 3. Do the Falcons need to add more pass rush help? 4. Is Stephen Nicholas headed to the bench or the unemployment line? 5. How will Steven Jackson’s injury impact the next few weeks? 6. What is wrong with Thomas DeCoud? We also discuss the play of some of the young players in the secondary, whether veteran players on the defensive line are up to snuff, and whether Matt Ryan deserves criticism for the mistakes made against the Dolphins. We also look around the league at the recent Browns trade rumors, Josh Freeman, and I may be abandoning the Eagles bandwagon.

Ep. 40: A Sense of Urgency [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Allen writes for as well as the Bleacher Report. 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:

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: