U-G-A! U-G-A! U-G-A!
How ’bout those dawgs?! Sorry, we know this isn’t a college football site, but come on you have to forgive us for being a bit distracted and excited! Alum and lifelong dawgs here are barking out of their seats. So, for old times sake, gooooooooooooooooooooo DAWGS! Sic’ ’em! Woof woof woof!!!
Yes our dawgs are in the College Football Playoff and as we turn the calendar to December we find numerous teams making late season playoff pushes. This is the time to heat up and go on a run if you want a chance at getting in the dance. Philip Rivers and co. as well as their stadium mates in LA are both making pushes to secure playoff bids. Many others find themselves on the cusp and how they play in December will determine who gets in and who is on the couch come January.
With the lateness of this post and time crunch we ask that you bear with us on the brevity of our previews this week. We do have a treat though as we’ve prepared a graph to help track with our picks again this season. We’ll work to have this out accompanying our preview every week moving forward. Last week we were 10 for 16, and damn proud all things considered. This week shapes up for some nice picks as well so here’s hoping we can make a run at 15 for 15 the rest of the way for this week’s matchups.
Sunday, December 3rd, 2017
Minnesota Vikings @ Atlanta Falcons
Why not kick off our previews with our Dirty Birds defending the new Mercedes Benz Dome? The same dome that hosted its first SEC Championship game that saw our Georgia Bulldawgs topple the Auburn War Cat Birds! (War Eagle and Tigers we know, we know. But seriously, two mascots?! Come on. Pick one and stick with it.) Yes, now our Falcons will host one of the hottest teams in football in the Minnesota Vikings.
Stop. Re-read that last sentence from the first paragraph. The Minnesota Vikings are one of the hottest teams in football. What?! What if I told you they traded their best player and one of the best running backs of all time in the offseason? What if I told you they lost their starting quarterback by week three, and their other starter finally recovered but hasn’t played in over 1,000 days? What if I told you their breakout star rookie running back Dalvin Cook went down before mid-season with an ACL tear? What if I said their star receiver has missed nearly half the games and/or been at 50% health? What if I told you they did all this with guys named Keenum, Thielen, McKinnon and Murray on offense? Yes to all.
What Minnesota is doing this season is unbelievable. Kudos to Mike Zimmer and that staff for not losing heart or faith after last season and the losses to start the season this year. The biggest reason for Minnesota’s dominance though is their elite defense. The matchup we’re most interested in? Xavier “Rhodes” closed covering Julio “Jet” Jones. The “Jet” took off last week to the tune of 250 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In the past three seasons no other wide receiver has more than one game of 200 plus receiving yards. Julio? He has three. As Tevin Coleman put it last year, “He’s an alien!”
Fun Fact: Through his first 90 games, Julio Jones has more catches, 563, and receiving yards, 8,649, than any other receiver in NFL history. Yeah. He’s THAT GOOD.
So what will happen when the league’s best cornerback faces off against the league’s best wide receiver? We can’t wait to find out, but we think the Dirty Birds defend the dome. Matty Ice is heating up and Atlanta gets DeVonta Freeman back this week. Too many weapons for Atlanta with defense that will give Case Keenum fits. Falcons win and cover (-3).
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans
AFC South rivals, the Houston Texans head to Nashville to take on the division leading Tennessee Titans. That’s right, division leading Tennessee Titans. By hook or by crook the Titans seem to find a way to win football games. As we reminded everyone last week, “You are what your record says you are.” Analysts and skeptics have been critical of the Titans, but we see reason for optimism. It may not always be pretty, but Tennessee consistently hangs tough in ball games and goes toe to toe with the best of ’em.
Consider that Marcus Mariota and Tennessee’s two headed monster of a backfield with Murray and Henry defeated the Seahawks and Jaguars in back to back weeks. That was when both defenses were fully healthy too. Facing a beaten and beleaguered Texans D that has to be on the verge of losing hope for the season we expect the Titans to get up and ground and pound the Texans into submission. (Tennessee covers -6.5)
Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets
Oh boy. *Slaps forhead. Kansas City. What is happening out there fellas? From top scoring offense in football with two potential MVP candidates to falling completely flat. We have good news for you! You get to play the Jets!
New York. We know it was a good run early in the season, and you almost took Carolina down, but keeping with your old ball coach’s theme about records, you only have four wins. Robby Anderson has reprised his role as the big play guy on offense, but outside of that most others are non factors. Kansas City has been brutal, so there is some reason for optimism Jets fans, but realistically the Chiefs outmatch the Jets across the board.
New York. We heard you brought back Darrell Revis. That’s nice. Enjoy watching him get burned by Tyreek Hill this week. Chiefs D is due for a good outing and we think they step up in a big way here. Kansas City wins a “get right” game and revitalizes hope for a division championship and playoff bid. (Chiefs cover -3.5).
Denver Broncos @ Miami Dolphins
Denver starts Paxton Lynch. Lynch looks terrible and pulls something, injuring his leg. Trevor Siemian returns as starter and leads two touchdown scoring drives to nearly pull off a comeback. Something is wrong in Denver, but good news Broncos fans, something is even more wrong in Miami.
The Dolphins best chance to win is back on the bench as Jay Cutler returns from concussion protocol. Miami did suffer another loss with Damien Williams injuring his arm last week. That may be a blessing in disguise for the Fins as Kenyan Drake is an incredible athlete and worthy of a full allotment of starter level touches at running back. The biggest issue for the Dolphins isn’t their defense, it’s whether they will be able to get anything going offensively. Cutler is such a hit or miss QB. He could show up and light it up, or he could come out and look completely inept. You never know.
We also don’t know which Trevor Siemian we will get, but against a weak Dolphins secondary we expect the better version. With a solid ground game in Denver and an elite defense, the Broncos find a win in Miami and cover. (-1.5)
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars
We’ll keep this one very short. The Colts haven’t hat Andrew Luck all season, and for all of the talk about how much Jacoby Brissett has “grown”, he has lost more games than he’s won. An iffy Brissett against the Jaguars defense? Good luck.
Blake Bortles continued his “Bortling” ways in Arizona, but they may not need that this week. Look for heavy doses of Fournette and Yeldon this week. We love the rookie Dede Westbrook and his upside, but for now the Jags will control the lines of scrimmage and dominate their AFC South rivals. (Jags cover -9.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers
Jameis Winston is expected to start, making his return to the playing field after an extended layoff to allow his shoulder to heal. Usually that wouldn’t affect our pick, but in this case it very well may. The Bucs with Fitzpatrick were difficult to watch. With Winston they at least have some big play ability that gives them a fighter’s chance. Tampa will be without Doug Martin, but they’ll roll out Jacquizz Rodgers who frankly has performed as well this season.
Green Bay lost a heartbreaker in Pittsburgh on Sunday night. 53 yard field goal that had never been made?! Tough pill to swallow for Packers fans who are holding out hope for a wild card spot. *Difficult for my fantasy team too!
Brett Hundley! Hello good sir. Show us something kid. The third year man out of UCLA showed some real improvement last week and for the first time this season had glimpses of looking like a competent QB. Against a Bucs D that ranks near the bottom, we expect more of the same from Hundley sprinkled with heavy doses of Jamaal Williams. Packers win and keep their playoff hopes alive with a Rodgers potential return nearing. (Pack covers -2)
Detroit Lions @ Baltimore Ravens
Now this is tough. Arguably the most difficult call of the week. Playoff aspirations will be high on both sidelines in this one and only one team will come away hopeful about their chances. The Lions were dealt a tough loss on Thanksgiving to a good Vikings team, but have the talent and fortitude to turn the ship around. Jim Caldwell has the coaching chops from his days in Indy and Stafford certainly has the pedigree and paycheck!
Detroit’s biggest obstacle will be the defense of their opponents. Baltimore has one of the best front sevens in the game. For the Lions to steal one on the road they’ll need their D to show up in force against a struggling Joe Flacco. Outside of Danny, perennially underrated Woodhead, and Alex Collins, the Ravens have little to no offensive playmakers. If Detroit can string together a few good series they can easily get ahead in this contest and dictate pace of play, which fundamentally alters the outcome and their chances of keeping playoff hopes alive. The Lions have the talent and the balance to hold steady and pull ahead in the end. Detroit covers. (-3)
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
Division rivals New England Patriots take on the Buffalo Bills. No love lost between these two. The Bills host the defending AFC East and Super Bowl champs. Buffalo returns to Tyrod T-Mobile Taylor at QB against the incomparable Tom Brady. New England has so many weapons. From Gronkowski to Cooks to Burkhead to Lewis. It’s difficult to see anything other than a Pats win.
Buffalo on the other hand is embroiled in turmoil. Is McDermott the man for the job? Does Taylor have what it takes?? The Bills will be without top wideout Kelvin Benjamin. Outside of Shady McCoy it’s difficult to see them generating much offense. As much as we want to pick the Bills in the upset, they don’t have the weapons to counteract the talent on the Pats side. Patriots. (-8.5)
San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears
The one win Niner squad heads to the friendly confines of Soldier field. Neither team is playoff bound, but both are building for an optimistic future. The Bears are continuing to develop Trubisky, whereas the Niners are waiting to see what Garoppolo can do.
The Niners are building but the Bears are a year ahead and already close. Chicago beat the Steelers and should have no difficulty controlling time of possession. Look for Trubisky to have his biggest game yet while the championship becomes mute. Bears win and the Niners are left to re-evaluate at the drawing board. (-3)
Cleveland Browns @ Los Angeles Chargers
Yes! Not exactly the best matchup on paper but so much goodness here! The red-hot Los Angeles Chargers host the revamped Cleveland Browns. Corey Coleman returned and this week the Browns get Josh “Flash” Gordon. That’s right. The man who “never played a game sober” will take the field for the first time since 2014. Reminder, he’s still only 26 years old. Reminder #2, Joshua Caleb Gordon had back to back 200 yard receiving games from the likes of Brian Hoyer. Dude’s got game and we’re excited to see him back on the field.
Other fun stuff to look for will be can Rivers remain red hot and firing on all cylinders with his electric wideout, Keenan Allen? Against the Browns? We’ll go with all signs pointing to yes! The Chargers should be able to win this game, but with Coleman and Gordon on the field don’t be surprised if Kizer and co. strike back with a little firepower of their own. With a revamped offense and better than appreciated defense, the Browns will keep it close, but the Chargers get the W (Browns with points +14 -way too many points for the Chargers here).
New York Giants @ Oakland Raiders
Ugh. Another one of these games. Unless you’re a Giants fan does this game really matter? Okay, it matters, but not for the game, rather for who isn’t playing. Ben soon to be fired MacAdoo decided he should bench Eli started 210 consecutive games Manning in favor of Geno Smith to quote, “See what we have”. Are you fing serious?! Manning has played through leg, rib, head and hand injuries for years. Arguably one of the toughest guys in the NFL and oh he did QB two Super Bowl champion teams. He’s the only QB to beat Tom Brady in the big dance. But yeah, the prudent move is to bench THAT GUY.
So long MacAdoo. Don’t let the door hit ya’ on your way out there bud.
The Raiders are a mess too, but they can barely hang on to hope of a late season push with a win this week. After this week the Raiders have one of the toughest remaining schedules though so it is crucial they win at home Sunday. Expect Marshawn Lynch to continue in Beast mode, especially with Cooper out and Crabtree sidelined for being an idiot last week against Denver. Lynch will dominate the touches and opponent in a depleted Giants D. Raiders roll covering easily (-8.5).
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
The game of the week takes place down in the Big Easy! Who Dat nation is going to amp’d up to create some separation in this NFC South rivalry and bounce back from a tough loss in LA last week. Cam is back, but so are the Saints and that explosive offense. This has the makings of a shootout. Especially with rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore out another week. The Saints will have their hands full covering Funchess, McCafferey and co.
Another group that will have their hands full is the Panthers top ranked D attempting to slow down the Brees express. With Ingram and Kamara gashing defenses Brees is getting man coverage on the outside as teams account for the rushing attack. There’s no way to stop New Orleans, you merely have to contain as much as possible, hope they slip up once or twice and do your best to keep pace. If the Panthers can hang in there until the fourth quarter they have a shot, especially with Newton’s big play ability with his arm and leg. On the road, in the Superdome we give the slight edge to the Saints, but NOLA doesn’t cover as this comes down to the wire decided by a field goal or less. (Panthers with points +4.5)
Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
Just when you think you know a guy. We all but wrote the Cards off for dead. Enter Gabbert, Blaine and Seals-Jones, Ricky. A journeyman QB and a star rookie tight end have jolted the Cardinals back to relevance. If the Cardinals can pull off the upset they immediately re-enter the playoff picture, as shocking as that sounds.
More shocking than that would be this Cardinals team beating the NFC West division leading Rams. Arizona’s D will give Goff problems, but with Gurley in the backfield the Rams have such a balanced attack that slowing them down will be difficult. Patrick Peterson takes away your #1 receiver so look for Cooper Kupp to have a big game here, and Gurley will be vital to a win for LA. In the end, not enough firepower for Arizona here. Rams win and take a commanding lead in the West (LA covers -7).
Sunday Night Football
Philadelphia Eagles @ Seattle Seahawks
Oh yeah! Battle of the Birds in Seattle! The incomparable Russell Wilson will be asked to pull yet another Houdini act and will the Seahawks to a win on Sunday night. For as talented and special as this season is for Wilson, he’ll face his toughest test yet against the NFL record best Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz and co. roll into town with an electric offense and a defense that is playing better than just complimentary. The Eagles will most assuredly light up the scoreboard, meaning the Hawks will have to keep pace.
Philly just signed Alshon Jeffrey to a four year deal worth $52 million, and they’ll look to get him the ball against the Hawks beaten up secondary. Once ahead the Eagles have the backs to ground and pound between the tackles as well as the speed to get to the edges. The Hawks don’t have much in the way of running backs since Chris Carson’s early season exit, but they’ll utilize J.D. McKissic as H-back type that will split out wide as much as run from the backfield. The linebackers, Jalen Mills for the Eagles and Bobby Wagner for the Hawks will be key to any strong defensive efforts. Mills will be tasked with chasing Wilson around, but may not keep up. Look for this to turn into a shootout with the Eagles on top. Fly Eagles Fly as they win and cover (-5.5).
Monday, December 4th, 2017
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
AFC North division rivals in one of the most violent matchups of the past few years headlines our Monday night game in week 13. From Vontaze Burfict late hits on Antonio Brown to former player coaches like Joey Porter getting into scuffles with players, there is no love lost between these two teams. Records don’t seem to matter when these squads get together on the gridiron.
The Bengals have shown signs of life of late with Dalton looking sharp and Joe Mixon finally getting his NFL pro legs under him in his rookie season. Cincy can make a run down the stretch and find themselves in the thick of what is shaping up to be a group of crowded Wild Card hopefuls. Pittsburgh has other plans, and that involves continue their stretch run of dominance. Big Ben is not the old Ben Roethlisberger, but he still has some juice left in his arm and the wit to diagnose a defense on the fly. With Martavis Bryant stepping up in the absence of rookie sensation JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers have yet another weapon on the outside. From the Killer B’s: Ben, Bell, and Brown, to JuJu and Martavis, slowing this offense down is going to be difficult.
Cincy has a formidable D, but they don’t have the talent to contain those freakish athletes on the Steelers. A.J. Green and Dalton will keep this closer than people think, especially if Joe Haden is still out, but it won’t be enough. Steelers win and cover because we think the line should be bigger as Pitt will easily win by a touchdown (-5.5).
What a week! Now’s when it counts and starts to get exciting! Thank you as always for liking, loving, reading and sharing the love. Another week down and we’re gonna keep plugging away with our improvements to the site, picks, and overall content. Thanks again and until next week, happy watching!