Archive for September, 2013

Week Four NFL Predictions

Posted: 09/29/2013 by levcohen in Football

Coming off of yet another ugly Thursday Night Football game (at least I picked the outcome correctly this time), it is time to make my week four picks. This is probably the last week where preseason projections and expectations should be considered at all in making picks, as four weeks is a good sample size.

You might notice that there are a huge number of road favorites this week. Including Thursday, seven of the fourteen true home games (excluding the London game) feature road favorites. That will definitely make this week interesting.

*= upset pick

Bye Teams: Green Bay, Carolina

Note: From now on my LOTW pick can NOT be the team playing the Jaguars. Otherwise it would be, every single week. I’m not even joking.

Baltimore Ravens (2-1, 2-1 against the spread) at Buffalo Bills (1-2, 2-1):
Line: Ravens favored by 3
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Ravens- 26, Bills- 21.. I honestly have no idea where to go with this game. The Ravens have been very inconsistent, losing by 22 to Denver, barely beating the Browns, and then annihilating the Texans by a score of 30-9. The Bills have had their three games decided by a total of 10 points. The Ravens are 0-1 on the road, while Buffalo is 1-1 at home. I just trust the Ravens more.
Ravens cover
Over

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1, 2-0-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-2, 1-2):
Line: Bengals favored by 3.5
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: Bengals- 27, Browns- 13.. A lot of people are predicting a Browns upset here, but I think their win over the Vikings was more an indictment of Minnesota than a sign that Cleveland is a good football team. I will continue to back the Bengals until they get a little bit more support, because it seems like their lines have been off for each game this season.
Bengals cover
Under

Chicago Bears (3-0, 1-1-1) at Detroit Lions (2-1, 2-1):
Line: Lions favored by 3
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: Lions- 28, Bears- 24.. The Bears are 3-0, but in the last two weeks they’ve given up a combined 53 points to Minnesota and Pittsburgh. Detroit is a much more prolific offense than either of those teams, so expect this to be high scoring.
Lions cover
Over

New York Giants (0-3, 0-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-0, 2-1):
Line: Chiefs favored by 4
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Chiefs- 16, Giants- 13.. This has the makings of a terrible game. On the one hand, I want to pick the Giants, as they are usually pretty good on the road and it is hard to imagine them starting 0-4. On the other hand, the Giants this year may really be terrible. The Chiefs are a solid team, but they aren’t really a prototypical 4-0 team, so I’d expect them to slip up sooner rather than later.
Giants cover
Under

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3, 0-3) at Minnesota Vikings (0-3, 1-2):- London Game
Line: Steelers by 3
Over/under: 41
My prediction: Steelers- 27, Vikings- 13.. Imagine a soccer game between Crystal Palace and Sunderland in New York City. That’s basically what the NFL has given London, as the Steelers and Vikings might be the two worst non-Jaguar teams in the NFL (and the NFL is also sending Jacksonville to London, so of the four teams London sees, three are among the five worst in the NFL).
Steelers cover
Under

Arizona Cardinals (1-2, 2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3, 1-2):*
Line: Buccaneers by 1
Over/under: 40
My prediction: Cardinals- 20, Buccaneers- 17.. This is just a terrible game, and for some reason I’m taking the Cardinals, who are dreadful on the road, to win.
Cardinals cover
Under

Indianapolis Colts (2-1, 1-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3, 0-3):
Line: Colts by 9.5
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: Colts- 23, Jaguars- 13.. Until the Jaguars show something, I’m not picking them. But this could well be the game that Maurice Jones-Drew breaks out against a soft Colts run defense. That’s why I’m giving them 13 points
Colts cover
Under

Seattle Seahawks (3-0, 3-0) at Houston Texans (2-1, 0-3):*
Line: Seahawks by 1
Over/under: 41.5
My prediction: Texans- 23, Seahawks- 20.. I understand why everyone loves the Seahawks. I do too. But don’t forget that they have always had huge home/road splits, and their last two blowouts have come at home. They beat Carolina by five points in their lone road meeting, so I think the Texans can edge them here.
Texans cover
Over

New York Jets (2-1, 3-0) at Tennessee Titans (2-1, 2-0-1):
Line: Titans by 3.5
Over/under: 40.5
My prediction: Titans- 16, Jets- 10.. It’s hard to imagine, but one of these teams will be 3-1. I think it will be the Titans at home, but to be honest I’m not really sure. I am pretty confident in the “Under” pick, as both of these teams have impressive defenses and sluggish offenses.
Titans cover
Under

Philadelphia Eagles (1-2, 1-2) at Denver Broncos (3-0, 3-0):- Lock of the week
Line: Broncos by 10.5
Over/under: 58.5 (highest of the year?)
My prediction: Broncos- 41, Eagles- 35.. Going back to last season, the Broncos have scored at least 34 points in six straight regular season games. That streak will end, but not against the Eagles. Plus, this 58.5 over/under should end up being the highest this year, and I would even argue that it should be a little higher. I thought the highest spread was last week with Seattle vs. Jacksonville, but look out for week six, when Jacksonville has to travel to Denver. If things keep going the way they are going right now, Denver could be 25 point favorites.
Eagles cover
Over

Washington Redskins (0-3, 0-3) at Oakland Raiders (1-2, 2-1):*
Line: Redskins favored by 3
Over/under: 44
My prediction: Raiders- 31, Redskins- 27.. Am I missing something here? Two terrible defenses and a 44 over/under? The terrible Washington Redskins are not six points better than the Raiders (three point favorites + three point home field advantage). I just don’t believe it.
Raiders cover
Over

Dallas Cowboys (2-1, 3-0) at San Diego Chargers (1-2, 2-0-1):*
Line: Cowboys favored by 1
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: Chargers- 23, Cowboys- 20.. No, I’m not confident in this pick. At all. But I’m going to avoid picking the NFC East to win football games until they prove me otherwise, which the Cowboys might just do if they win this one.
Chargers cover
Under

New England Patriots (3-0, 1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2, 1-2):*
Line: Falcons favored by 1
Over/under: 49.5
My prediction: Patriots- 27, Falcons- 21.. Here is the bottom line: The Falcons might not be a good team. Until we see Roddy White and/or Tony Gonzalez break out, I’m going to assume that this is Matt Ryan & Julio Jones vs. the Patriots. And I like the Patriots there.
Patriots cover
Under

Miami Dolphins (3-0, 3-0) at New Orleans Saints (3-0, 2-1):
Line: Saints favored by 6.5
Over/under: 48
My prediction: Saints- 30, Dolphins- 20.. I also like the Dolphins, and I don’t think this will be a big loss for them in the long run. But the Saints at home favored by less than a touchdown facing a Miami team without Cameron Wake on Monday Night Football? Yes, please.
Saints cover
Over

Upset picks:
Cardinals over Buccaneers
Patriots over Falcons
Chargers over Cowboys
Raiders over Redskins
Texans over Seahawks

I probably shouldn’t pick this many upsets week in and week out, because I’d be doing pretty well if I didn’t pick so many. Oh well.

Lock of the week:
Broncos over Eagles

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One Day Left… And Texas & Tampa Bay are tied

Posted: 09/28/2013 by levcohen in Baseball

Going into this weekend, the Rays were two games clear of the Rangers and had what looked like an easier match-up against the Blue Jays (they were 10-6 against Toronto), while the Rangers had to go against the rival Angels, who disappointed this year but were streaking and have a very talented roster. Things have definitely changed. The Rangers have beaten the Angels twice in a row while the Rays have suddenly slumped and lost by a combined eight runs yesterday and today against the last place Blue Jays, who actually had the incentive to lose (by winning these two games, they may well have knocked themselves out of a top 10 pick in the draft, which is huge, because the top 10 don’t need to give their first round draft picks as FA compensation (they give their second instead) while everyone else does).

So, with one day left, this is the way the standings are looking:

Cleveland Indians: 91-70.. play @MIN at 2:10 EST.. pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez (12-9, 3.38)
Tampa Bay Rays: 90-71.. play @TOR at 1:05 EST.. pitcher: Matt Moore (16-4, 3.23)
Texas Rangers: 90-71.. play vs LAA at 3:05 EST.. pitcher: Yu Darvish (13-9, 2.82)

So all three will be playing fairly poor teams with good pitchers on the mound. I think, given how the Indians have played against overmatched opponents, it is safe to say that the Indians will win. It is also likely that both the Rays and Rangers will also win, which would set up a one game playoff for the right to play the Indians in the real one day playoff. Think that seems hectic? Well, think about what would happen if the Indians were to lose and the other two were to win. There would then be a three team tie, and Major League Baseball has only just announced how they would handle such an occurrence. Much like if two teams tied, there would be just one extra tie-breaking game added to the slate, but this one is different, as the teams basically got to decide when and who they would play.
The games would be as followed: One game on Monday, and then a game between the loser of the Monday game and the third team, with the third team at home. Since the Indians had the best record against the other two teams, they got to choose first, and they picked to play at home on Monday. That way, even if they were to lose a home game, they’d be given another shot. The Rays, with the second best h2h record, picked  to be on the road Monday, so they essentially picked two road games over one home game. The Rangers were stuck with single elimination.

That is all very exciting and all, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing it, because Jimenez and the Indians have been on a role lately. Really on a role. Since the all-star break, Jimenez has a 1.86 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 77 and 1/3 innings. In September, he’s been ever better, with an incredible 1.04 September ERA. And the Indians have won nine in a row and are dominant against bad teams.

What do I think will happen? Well, if I had to bet on it, I’d say that the Indians will finish with home-field advantage in the one game playoff. I do think there will be a Rays-Rangers tiebreaker because I can’t see Yu Darvish losing at home or the Rays getting swept by the Blue Jays at this point in the season. And if there is a tiebreak, I’d take the Rays over the Rangers, knowing that the non-Moore Rays pitching options are a heck of a lot better than the non-Darvish Rangers pitching options.

So, when all the dust is settled, I think will still be facing the same match-up that we thought was inevitable a few days ago: Rays against Indians. But the Rangers sure have put up a fight. I just hope for their sake that it isn’t too little, too late.

Thursday Night Football Prediction

Posted: 09/26/2013 by levcohen in Football

Up tonight is a match-up between two teams that have been somewhat disappointing. Not only are the 49ers and Rams both 1-2, but they are also 1-2 and 0-3 against the spread, respectively.

San Francisco 49ers (1-2, 1-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-2, 0-3):
Line: 49ers favored by 3
Over/under: 42
My prediction: 49ers- 27, Rams- 17.. The 9ers were terrible against Indianapolis, but I still think they are a good football team, and that will show in this game. I think they will control the ball and the clock and keep the Rams offense off of the field, and the Rams defense won’t be able to stop San Fran.
49ers cover
Over

Updating MLB Playoff Race With 5 Days Left

Posted: 09/25/2013 by levcohen in Baseball

There are just five games left in the season, and eight playoff spots have been locked up, with two AL Wild Card spots up for grabs (realistically, three teams have a shot for the two spots). Four of the six divisions have also been clinched, with Detroit’s 4.5 game lead in the Central looking unassailable and the Cardinals in a good position to clinch over the weekend when, while WC teams Pittsburgh and Cincinnati duel it out against each other for home field advantage in their upcoming one game playoff, St. Louis are at home against the Cubs. But today I’ll focus on those two playoff spots that are still up for grabs, and, perhaps more importantly, the outlook for teams that will be in the playoff race.

AL Wild Card Playoff Race:

Tampa Bay Rays (88-69): Playoff chances: 88.5%. The Rays, after being close to a total meltdown and collapse, have now won five games in a row and have just five days left in the season to hold on to a two game lead. They end the season with five straight games on the road, but those games are against the Yankees and cellar-dwelling Blue Jays, so they are winnable.

Playoff outlook: If the Rays make the playoffs, they’ll be in a one game playoff against either the Indians or the Rangers. I think they’d rather face the Indians, even though they are the hotter team right now, and that is because the Indians don’t have an ace they can throw at Tampa, and because they have struggled against good teams while beating up on bad teams. The Rays, at this point, would have home field advantage in that game, and that actually means a lot, even though they have almost no fans coming to their games. Tampa is 51-30 at home, and under .500 on the road.

If the Rays do lock up a playoff spot before the final couple days of the season, they’ll be able to line up David Price, who is pitching tonight, for the one game playoff. If they are able to do that, they’ll probably be favored to win the game, especially if the opposing pitcher is not Yu Darvish, and it probably won’t be (if the Rangers are to make the playoffs, they’ll likely need to use Darvish in the last few days of the regular season to lock up the playoff spot). If the Rays are to get past the play-in-game, they will face off against the Red Sox, which is a grim match-up. They can beat their division rivals, but they need everything to go right (namely a few timely blowups by guys like Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jake Peavy and some non-Longoria production on offense).

Chance to make the playoffs and advance past the play-in game: 47%
Chance to win the play-in-game and beat the Red Sox: 22%
Chance to advance to World Series: 10%
Chance to win World Series: 5%

Cleveland Indians (87-70): Playoff Chances: 83.4%. Well, at least I can take credit for this one. Earlier in September, when the Indians had about a 25% chance to make the playoffs, I (and, to be fair, a few other people) pointed to their soft schedule to end the season. And the Indians have been so good at beating bad teams this year. Think about this stat: the Indians are 51-18 against sub-.500 teams, and 36-52 against everyone else. That is absolutely incredible, and is good news for their playoff likelihood (they close with the White Sox and Twins), but it’s not good for their chances once they make it. The home field advantage also means quite a lot to Cleveland, who is 50-30 at home and 37-40 on the road, so I think the Indians will play their hardest and win maybe four of their last five games, which means they could be home for the play-in-game.

Playoff outlook: This is where it gets tough. The Indians, with no true ace (Ubaldo Jimenez has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past month, but I can’t trust him in the playoffs), have a solid chance of getting through the play-in-game, but their trip to Boston likely won’t go as well, in Terry Francona’s awkward return to Boston (remember all the mean comments made about him after his last season in Boston?). The offense is deep, but they don’t have the stars needed to go deep into  the playoffs.

Chance to make the playoffs and advance past the play-in-game: 40%
Chance to win the play-in-game and beat the Red Sox: 15%
Chance to advance to WS: 7%
Chance to win WS: 3%

Texas Rangers (86-71): Playoff Chances: 27.9%. The Rangers have won five of their last eight, but it might be too little, too late, as before that they had a total collapse, losing 12 of their previous 15. Still, they do have a fairly easy final four games, facing Houston and the Angels four times, all at home. They are one game behind the Indians, but I wouldn’t expect Cleveland to lose more than one more game, so their best bet might be the Rays faltering and losing three of their last five, in which case the Rangers could sneak in.

Playoff outlook: It’s not rosy for the Rangers, either. They’ll probably have to pitch Yu Darvish again in the regular season, so he won’t be available for the play-in-game. And this has not been the vintage Rangers offense.

Chance to make playoffs and advance past the play-in-game: 13%
Chance to win the play-in-game and beat the Red Sox: 6%
Chance to advance to WS: 3%
Chance to win WS: 1%

On to the AL teams that have already clinched the division (assuming the Tigers win one more game):

Boston Red Sox (95-63): This Red Sox team did not collapse. They are a game ahead of Oakland for the race for home field advantage through the ALCS, and I think they’ll be able to hold onto that lead. They have gotten a huge boost from their pitching, especially with Clay Buchholtz back and pitching at an elite level. Jon Lester has a 2.29 post all-star break ERA, and closer Koji Uehara has pitched unprecendentedly sinced the break, with a .30 ERA and a .30 WHIP (no, that is not a typo) in 30 innings since then (that’s a lot of “30”). And this is supposed to be an offense-heavy team.

Chance to advance past first round: 58%
Chance to advance to World Series: 31%
Chance to win WS: 15%

Detroit Tigers (92-66): The Detroit Tigers have been one of the best teams in baseball, both offensively and in terms of pitching, all season long. But now, injuries have struck their best player, Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera, after posting an OPS above 1.000 in every month since May, is hitting just .262 with a .728 OPS and only one home run in September. So his power is definitely being compromised by a groin injury. And without Cabrera and with Max Scherzer struggling, all of a sudden this team is not so fearsome, partly because high payed superstars Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander have been just slightly above average, not top 10 players that they were last season. They need Cabrera healthy, and I’m not sure he will be, to beat the Athletics.

Chance to advance past first round: 46%
Chance to advance to World Series: 22%
Chance to win World Series: 12%

Oakland Athletics (94-64): The Athletics have clearly found another subtle stat that they are now using to their advantage, as they are again dominating with a low payroll. Josh Donaldson is a legitimate MVP candidate, with a Fangraphs WAR equal to Miguel Cabrera’s. The A’s are using platoons to their advantage, and as a result have just four players who have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. As for pitchers, former cast off Bartolo Colon has been one of the best pitchers in the MLB all season long. This team has what it takes to beat Detroit and maybe get even farther in the playoffs.

Chance to advance past first round: 54%
Chance to advance to World Series: 27%
Chance to win World Series: 12%

Now on to the NL Central, where the division is still up for grabs:

St. Louis Cardinals (93-65): As mentioned earlier, the Cardinals should win the NL Central, and could possibly end up with the best record in the NL, as they are just half a game behind the Braves, who have struggled of late. They are a team that are set up very well for the playoffs, as long as Allen Craig comes back healthy. With Craig, they have a dangerous, balanced lineup to go along with two legitimate aces, Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller. Oh, and they also have Michael Wacha, the exciting rookie who was one out away from a no hitter just yesterday (and the hit was very wimpy, as it didn’t get out of the infield).

Chance to advance past first round (Assuming division win and #2 seed): 46%
Chance to advance to World Series: 25%
Chance to win World Series: 14%

Pittsburgh Pirates (91-67): The Pirates are currently one game ahead of the Reds for home field advantage in the play-in-game, but they haven’t played well recently and might have a lot of problems come playoff time (they have some holes in their lineup and rotation). Ideally, they’d start A.J. Burnett in the play-in-game and then Francisco Liriano in game one,

Chance to advance past play-in-game: 45%
Chance to advance past first round: 20%
Chance to advance to World Series: 9%
Chance to win World Series: 4%

Cincinnati Reds (90-68): For some reason, I really like the Reds chances to possibly do some damage in the playoffs. Joey Votto, for all the controversy (really there shouldn’t be one. He gets on base, which is what he is supposed to do, rather than swing at bad pitches, which is what his stupid manager wants him to do) is one of the three or four best all around hitters in the National League, if not #1. But perhaps more importantly, Johnny Cueto is back, and he is pitching better than ever, with 12 innings of one run ball since his return. Mat Latos is a good #1 starter, but he is a terrific #2. And by the way: The Reds have a +120 run differential, sixth in baseball. Their run differential is better than the Dodgers’ and Pirates’ combined.

Chance to advance past play-in-game: 55%
Chance to advance past first round: 28%
Chance to advance to World Series: 13%
Chance to win World Series: 7%

And now the NL teams who have clinched their divisions:

Atlanta Braves (93-64): I’m pessimistic about the Braves once they reach the playoffs. For one thing, they have been slumping of late, probably because they have been near-assured of a playoff spot for so long now. For another, they don’t have a true ace, with Mike Minor the closest they have. Minor is not as experienced in big games as any game one starter they will face. They are also a very hot and cold team, and strike out a lot, a combination that doesn’t work well in the playoffs, with a lot of teams with elite strikeout pitchers. So while the Braves have a lot of talent, I’m not a big fan of their playoff chances.

Chance to advance past first round: 52%
Chance to advance to World Series: 24%
Chance to win World Series: 11%

Los Angeles Dodgers (91-66): The Dodgers, in my opinion, have as good a chance as any in the NL to win the World Series. They have three pitchers that are easily better than any other team’s top three (Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, Zach Greinke is one of the top #2’s, and Hyun-Jin Ryu might be the best #3), and they also have loads of offensive firepower that is now healthy. Just think about it. This could be the lineup they field:
1. Yasiel Puig
2. Hanley Ramirez
3. Adrian Gonzalez
4. Matt Kemp
5. Juan Uribe
6. Carl Crawford
7. A.J. Ellis
8. Mark Ellis

Just look at that one through four, and then look at their rotation and their closer, Kenley Jansen, and tell me you aren’t optimistic about their playoff chances. I dare you. Unfortunately, they probably have a match-up against the Cardinals in the first round.

Chance to advance past first round: 54%
Chance to advance to World Series: 29%
Chance to win World Series: 16%

Now a recap.
In the AL, my likelihoods to make the WS are as follows:
1. Boston Red Sox (31%)
2. Oakland Athletics (27%)
3. Detroit Tigers (22%)
4. Tampa Bay Rays (10%)
5. Cleveland Indians (7%)
6. Texas Rangers (3%)

And in the NL..
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (29%)
2. St. Louis Cardinals (25%)
3. Atlanta Braves (24%)
4. Cincinnati Reds (13%)
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (9%)

And for the top five WS favorites…
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (16%)
2. Boston Red Sox (15%)
3. St. Louis Cardinals (14%)
4. Oakland Athletics (12%)
5. Detroit Tigers (12%)

Week 3 review

Posted: 09/24/2013 by levcohen in Football

Green Bay Packers (1-1, 1-1 against the spread) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1, 1-0-1 ATS):*
Line: Packers favored by 3
Over/under: 50
My prediction: Bengals- 26, Packers- 21.. The Bengals are too good of a team to be three point home underdogs against anyone. Even a team like the Packers, who under normal circumstances I would never pick to go 1-2. But I like Cincy here.
Bengals cover
Under

Results: Bengals- 34, Packers- 30.. The Packers made me sweat it out until the end, but in the end I got a 2/3 with the over/under wrong. The Bengals are a really good football team.

St. Louis Rams (1-1, 0-2 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1, 2-0):
Line: Cowboys favored by 3
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: Cowboys- 27, Rams- 21.. The Cowboys aren’t very good, but they should probably be more than field goal favorites at home against St. Louis.
Cowboys cover
Over

Results: Cowboys- 31, Rams- 7.. The Rams offense was terrible in this one, which again prevented me from getting a 3/3, as I missed the over/under.

San Diego Chargers (1-1, 2-0) at Tennessee Titans (1-1, 2-0):*
Line: Titans favored by 3
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Chargers- 27, Titans- 17.. I think the Chargers, led by a rejuvenated Philip Rivers, are a more talented and better football team than the Titans, led by Jake Locker. But the Titans have proved me wrong twice in a row, so who knows. This game is a tough one to pick.
Chargers cover
Over

Results: Titans- 20, Chargers- 17.. I got an 0-2-1 on this one, but it should have been a 2-1, as the Chargers made a defensive gaffe at the end of the game that lost them the contest.

Cleveland Browns (0-2, 0-2) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2, 1-1):
Line: Vikings favored by 7
Over/under: 40.5
My prediction: Vikings- 20, Browns- 17.. The Browns, after the Trent Richardson trade, are probably the front runners for worst non-Jaguar team in the NFL. They hit the road to play perhaps the worst team in the NFC, the Vikings. What a terrible game.
Browns cover
Under

Results: Browns- 31, Vikings- 27.. I got the spread right, but I was as shocked as anyone else with this result.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2, 1-1) at New England Patriots (2-0, 0-2):
Line: Patriots favored by 7.5
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Patriots- 27, Buccaneers- 16.. This was another game that was incredibly difficult to pick. The Patriots are 0-2 against the spread in two very underwhelming wins, and Rob Gronkowski has been ruled out. On the other hand, the Bucs, who were semi-hyped going into the season, lost a poorly played game to the Jets and covered against the Saints. For one more week, I’ll trust the Pats.
Patriots cover
Under

Results: Patriots- 23, Buccaneers- 3.. I got a 3/3 here, as the Bucs are an incredibly anemic offense. Their defense is fine, but if their offense continues to struggle this much, they’ll keep getting blown out.

Arizona Cardinals (1-1, 2-0) at New Orleans Saints (2-0, 1-1):
Line: Saints favored by 8
Over/under: 48.5
My prediction: Saints- 24, Cardinals- 20.. I think people might be slightly overrating a Saints offense that has put up 39 points total in the first two games. And they might be slightly underrating a Cardinals team that is 2-0 against the spread.
Cardinals cover
Under

Results: Saints- 31, Cardinals- 7.. The Saints underrated defense kept me from getting a 3/3, as they absolutely throttled the Cardinals en route to a thrashing.

Detroit Lions (1-1, 1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2, 0-2):*
Line: Lions favored by 1
Over/under: 48
My prediction: Redskins- 31, Lions- 30.. This is just a random shot in the dark. Both of these teams are shaky defensively, and with Reggie Bush out, I’ll give the Redskins the benefit of the doubt at home. But if they fall to 0-3, I’ll be convinced that they are a bad team.
Redskins cover
Over

Results: Lions- 27, Redskins- 20.. Ok, the Redskins suck. I’m now convinced. 0/3.

New York Giants (0-2, 0-2) at Carolina Panthers (0-2, 0-2):
Line: Giants favored by 1
Over/under: 47
My prediction: Giants- 28, Panthers- 23.. This is another “who knows” game. I just don’t see the Giants falling to 0-3. Now I’ve predicted the NFC East, the worst division in football, to go 4-0 this week. I’m already 0 for 1. What do I know?
Giants cover
Over

Results: Panthers- 38, Giants- 0.. Again, everyone was shocked by this, and I’m no exception. The Giants also look like a terrible football team. Man, the NFC East is terrible. 0/3.

Houston Texans (2-0, 0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1, 1-1):
Line: Texans favored by 1
Over/under: 45
My prediction: Texans- 24, Ravens- 16.. I might have picked the Ravens, but Ray Rice isn’t playing, which is obviously a huge blow to a very Rice-oriented offense. Curiously, the line, which was at Texans -2.5, has actually gone more towards the Ravens.
Texans cover
Under

Results: Ravens- 30, Texans- 9.. I got just the over/under correct, as the Texans really played terribly in an all around sloppy game.

Atlanta Falcons (1-1, 1-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-0, 2-0):
Line: Dolphins favored by 2.5
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Dolphins- 24, Falcons- 20.. I reallly like the Dolphins, although I would have thought that this would be more like a pick ‘em, as the Falcons are a popular team. I’m picking Miami to go to 3-0, which is frightening but very realistic.
Dolphins cover
Under

Results: Dolphins- 27, Falcons- 23… I was pretty happy with this prediction, but I got the over/under wrong as I picked just under and it went well over. The Dolphins are now 3-0, although this looked like a loss throughout most of the game, and I think they are a playoff team.

Buffalo Bills (1-1, 2-0) at New York Jets (1-1, 2-0):*
Line: Jets favored by 2.5
Over/under: 40.5
My prediction: Bills- 17, Jets- 16.. Another toss up. These two teams are identical. They both barely lost to the Patriots and barely beat a poor team at home. Who knows what will happen.
Bills cover
Under

Results: Jets- 27, Bills- 20.. Another 0/3.

Indianapolis Colts (1-1, 0-2) at San Francisco 49ers (1-1, 1-1):
Line: 49ers favored by 9.5
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: 49ers- 31, Colts- 17.. The 49ers are going to be angry. I don’t know if I like picking against the Colts when they are 9.5 point underdogs, but the 49ers are going to come out strong.
49ers cover
Over

Results: Colts- 27, 49ers- 7.. Yet another 0/3, and I was absolutely shocked by this result. Perhaps the 9ers aren’t the team we all think they are? Or is the Colts offense really this good?

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2, 0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (2-0, 2-0):-LOCK OF THE WEEK
Line: Seahawks favored by 19
Over/under: 40
My prediction: Seahawks- 24, Jaguars- 6.. This will likely be the biggest line of the year, with the worst team in the NFL traveling to play the best. The Seahawks are probably 20 points better than the Jags based on talent, but they will rest their starters.
Jaguars cover
Under

Results: Seahawks- 45, Jaguars- 17… Ok, so they did cover. Remind me never to pick the Jaguars again. Ever.

Chicago Bears (2-0, 0-1-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2, 0-2):
Line: Bears favored by 1
Over/under: 41
My prediction: Bears- 27, Steelers- 16.. Another terrible game to pick. The Steelers stink.
Bears cover
Over

Results: Bears- 40, Steelers- 23.. I got a 3/3 here, in a game that was slightly closer than the 17 point final spread indicates. The Steelers, after going down 17-0 by the end of the first quarter, rallied and cut the deficit to 27-23 midway through the fourth, before the Bears ran away with the game.

Oakland Raiders (1-1, 2-0) at Denver Broncos (2-0, 2-0):
Line: Broncos favored by 14
Over/under: 48.5
My prediction: Broncos- 38, Raiders- 20
Broncos cover
Over

Results: Broncos- 37, Raiders- 21.. I almost nailed this one exactly.

Upset picks:
Bengals over Packers- CORRECT
Chargers over Titans- INCORRECT
Redskins over Lions- INCORRECT
Bills over Jets- INCORRECT

1-3.. 3-8 total

Lock of the week:
Seahawks over Jaguars- CORRECT

3-0 total

Straight up picks: 8-8.. 29-19 total
Against the spread.. still gulp..: 7-8-1.. 17-29-2 total
Over/under.. terrible: 5-11.. 24-24 total

NFL Week 3 Predictions

Posted: 09/22/2013 by levcohen in Football

After being disappointed by my Eagles on Thursday night, it’s time to make the week three predictions. This is a weird week, with the two highest lines in the season to this point as well as a lot of slight road favorites, which are games that are traditionally hard to pick (the quintessential elite team goes on the road to face average-good team. See: Packers-Bengals, Texans-Ravens, etc.).

*= upset pick.

Green Bay Packers (1-1, 1-1 against the spread) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1, 1-0-1 ATS):*
Line: Packers favored by 3
Over/under: 50
My prediction: Bengals- 26, Packers- 21.. The Bengals are too good of a team to be three point home underdogs against anyone. Even a team like the Packers, who under normal circumstances I would never pick to go 1-2. But I like Cincy here.
Bengals cover
Under

St. Louis Rams (1-1, 0-2 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1, 2-0):
Line: Cowboys favored by 3
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: Cowboys- 27, Rams- 21.. The Cowboys aren’t very good, but they should probably be more than field goal favorites at home against St. Louis.
Cowboys cover
Over

San Diego Chargers (1-1, 2-0) at Tennessee Titans (1-1, 2-0):*
Line: Titans favored by 3
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Chargers- 27, Titans- 17.. I think the Chargers, led by a rejuvenated Philip Rivers, are a more talented and better football team than the Titans, led by Jake Locker. But the Titans have proved me wrong twice in a row, so who knows. This game is a tough one to pick.
Chargers cover
Over

Cleveland Browns (0-2, 0-2) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2, 1-1):
Line: Vikings favored by 7
Over/under: 40.5
My prediction: Vikings- 20, Browns- 17.. The Browns, after the Trent Richardson trade, are probably the front runners for worst non-Jaguar team in the NFL. They hit the road to play perhaps the worst team in the NFC, the Vikings. What a terrible game.
Browns cover
Under

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2, 1-1) at New England Patriots (2-0, 0-2):
Line: Patriots favored by 7.5
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Patriots- 27, Buccaneers- 16.. This was another game that was incredibly difficult to pick. The Patriots are 0-2 against the spread in two very underwhelming wins, and Rob Gronkowski has been ruled out. On the other hand, the Bucs, who were semi-hyped going into the season, lost a poorly played game to the Jets and covered against the Saints. For one more week, I’ll trust the Pats.
Patriots cover
Under

Arizona Cardinals (1-1, 2-0) at New Orleans Saints (2-0, 1-1):
Line: Saints favored by 8
Over/under: 48.5
My prediction: Saints- 24, Cardinals- 20.. I think people might be slightly overrating a Saints offense that has put up 39 points total in the first two games. And they might be slightly underrating a Cardinals team that is 2-0 against the spread.
Cardinals cover
Under

Detroit Lions (1-1, 1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2, 0-2):*
Line: Lions favored by 1
Over/under: 48
My prediction: Redskins- 31, Lions- 30.. This is just a random shot in the dark. Both of these teams are shaky defensively, and with Reggie Bush out, I’ll give the Redskins the benefit of the doubt at home. But if they fall to 0-3, I’ll be convinced that they are a bad team.
Redskins cover
Over

New York Giants (0-2, 0-2) at Carolina Panthers (0-2, 0-2):
Line: Giants favored by 1
Over/under: 47
My prediction: Giants- 28, Panthers- 23.. This is another “who knows” game. I just don’t see the Giants falling to 0-3. Now I’ve predicted the NFC East, the worst division in football, to go 4-0 this week. I’m already 0 for 1. What do I know?
Giants cover
Over

Houston Texans (2-0, 0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1, 1-1):
Line: Texans favored by 1
Over/under: 45
My prediction: Texans- 24, Ravens- 16.. I might have picked the Ravens, but Ray Rice isn’t playing, which is obviously a huge blow to a very Rice-oriented offense. Curiously, the line, which was at Texans -2.5, has actually gone more towards the Ravens.
Texans cover
Under

Atlanta Falcons (1-1, 1-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-0, 2-0):
Line: Dolphins favored by 2.5
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Dolphins- 24, Falcons- 20.. I reallly like the Dolphins, although I would have thought that this would be more like a pick ’em, as the Falcons are a popular team. I’m picking Miami to go to 3-0, which is frightening but very realistic.
Dolphins cover
Under

Buffalo Bills (1-1, 2-0) at New York Jets (1-1, 2-0):*
Line: Jets favored by 2.5
Over/under: 40.5
My prediction: Bills- 17, Jets- 16.. Another toss up. These two teams are identical. They both barely lost to the Patriots and barely beat a poor team at home. Who knows what will happen.
Bills cover
Under

Indianapolis Colts (1-1, 0-2) at San Francisco 49ers (1-1, 1-1):
Line: 49ers favored by 9.5
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: 49ers- 31, Colts- 17.. The 49ers are going to be angry. I don’t know if I like picking against the Colts when they are 9.5 point underdogs, but the 49ers are going to come out strong.
49ers cover
Over

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2, 0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (2-0, 2-0):-LOCK OF THE WEEK
Line: Seahawks favored by 19
Over/under: 40
My prediction: Seahawks- 24, Jaguars- 6.. This will likely be the biggest line of the year, with the worst team in the NFL traveling to play the best. The Seahawks are probably 20 points better than the Jags based on talent, but they will rest their starters.
Jaguars cover
Under

Chicago Bears (2-0, 0-1-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2, 0-2):
Line: Bears favored by 1
Over/under: 41
My prediction: Bears- 27, Steelers- 16.. Another terrible game to pick. The Steelers stink.
Bears cover
Over

Oakland Raiders (1-1, 2-0) at Denver Broncos (2-0, 2-0):
Line: Broncos favored by 14
Over/under: 48.5
My prediction: Broncos- 38, Raiders- 20
Broncos cover
Over

Upset picks:
Bengals over Packers
Chargers over Titans
Redskins over Lions
Bills over Jets

Lock of the week:
Seahawks over Jaguars

Thursday Night Football Prediction

Posted: 09/19/2013 by levcohen in Football

TNF today features Andy Reid’s return to Philadelphia, so emotions will be running high in Philly. Oh, and both of these teams figure to be playoff candidates, so this game will mean a lot in the standings, too.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1):
Line: Eagles favored by 3
Over/under: 50.5
My prediction: Eagles- 34, Chiefs- 30.. The Eagles are going to be involved in a lot of games like this in which they score a lot but their defense gets torched. It might just be a matter of who has the ball last.
Eagles cover
Over