2.01.2019

NFL Picks - Super Bowl LIII

New England @ Los Angeles Rams
It’s time for Super Bowl LIII and we’re all gonna barf. Some of us from nervous anticipation, some from disgust at another Patriots appearance, and the rest from going too hard at the Royal Rumble last weekend. Regardless of the reason, I think we can all agree that this is going to be an excruciating viewing experience. 
Of course there’s the prevailing story line of the old coach and quarterback against their young gun counterparts. As you may have heard, the Rams duo of Sean McVay and Jared Goff will be setting a record for the youngest head coach/QB combo in Super Bowl history, with a combined age of 57. They’ll be breaking the existing mark set in Super Bowl  XII by Broncos head coach Red Miller (age 50) and contest winner Mickey Sazeran (age 12). In retrospect, allowing their starting quarterback for the first drive of the game to be chosen by a sweepstakes was a critical error for Denver that led to a 7-0 deficit on the first play of the game. But Mickey (1966-'78) will live on in our hearts forever! 
As we all know, if Brady wins again he’ll extend his record for Super Bowl wins by a starting QB to 6. Though, you may not have realized, if New England is defeated Brady will match Jim Kelly for most SB losses by a starting quarterback with 4. If so, Tom Terrific will certainly be lumped in with the Buffalo Bills as the most notorious losers in NFL history. I feel sorry for him already. 
At a certain point we have to put aside historical factors and consequences and look at the actual game at hand. In their Super Bowl losses the Patriots have been beaten by the type of interior pass rush that LA can generate. So it’s feasible that New England could struggle to light up the scoreboard. Meanwhile, Jared Goff has been merely average in the second half of the season and who knows what kind of factor Todd Gurley will be after seeing limited snaps in the NFC title game due to poor performance? Now I’m starting to wonder if anybody is going to score points in this game. Eventually someone will have to, but it could be a grind. I’m talking myself in circles here; I need some sound advice, and there’s no one I trust more than the best analyst in the biz. What do you have for me CriColl?


Damn it Cris. Alright, what do I do here? Obviously it has to be a one-possession game either way, since that's been the case in every Brady/Belichick Super Bowl. I'd prefer a tie, but since that's impossible in this scenario I'll go ahead and say ...

Rams 23-20 

1.18.2019

NFL Picks - Conference Championships

NFC

Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans
Oh baby, it’s the NFC title game that everybody wanted to see! Except for the fans of the 14 other teams in the conference. Though, I imagine even that contingent would begrudgingly admit that this should be an entertaining contest. When the Rams and Saints first met in the Super Dome in Week 9 it resulted in 80 total points and even more yards! Yep, more than 80 yards. Back in early November, prior to that first game a lot of wannabe analysts and purported NFL pundits opined that it could determine who would host the NFC championship game. Sadly, it turns out they were right. It’s just so aggravating when casual fans fancy themselves experts. Leave the analysis to people who really know what they’re talking about, ok?!? Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, I predict that there will be at least 100 yards of total offense in this game, probably by both teams. Going into Sunday this one looks pretty even, and, in fact, the score is currently tied at 0. I expect it to remain as such up until some point in the first quarter, unless the Rams successfully petition the league for a 3 point head start to counterbalance the Saints’ home field advantage. Don’t bet on it though, as the league has only agreed to such a request four times so far this season, and most of those involved the Raiders. In the end I believe that aforementioned home field edge will be exactly what pushes New Orleans over the top ... literally, when a Rams receiver gets confused by his indoor surroundings and loses a key pass in the lights.

Saints 31-24




AFC

New England @ Kansas City
Couldn’t we all see this coming after the first Pats/Chiefs game in Week 6? Well maybe not all of us, considering I predicted that both of these teams would lose in the Divisional Round. So as recently as last week I didn’t think either team would be playing in the conference title game. But really, I can’t say that I’m surprised, the Chiefs’ offense has been a runaway train all season, whereas the Patriots are more akin to a European train: on time, reliable, and filled with an inordinate amount of white people. This is the eighth straight AFC championship game appearance for New England, as opposed to the Chiefs who haven’t been here since January of 1994. And, believe it or not, this is the first AFC title game to ever be played in Kansas City. Couple that with a kick off of 5:30p local time and Arrowhead should be a madhouse. I originally thought the only thing that could tamp down the enthusiasm of the KC fans was a kickoff temperature in the teens.  Now, however, the forecast has improved to 30+, so we can probably through that factor out the window. I suppose the fact that the opposing team is the Patriots, who are usually pretty good at making it to the Super Bowl could be another buzzkill for the Arrowhead crowd. Taking everything into account I’m going to go with the Chiefs in a close game that’s not quite as high scoring as the 43-40 shootout we saw from these two in October. But don't be surprised if the Patriots win, because that's what always happens.

Chiefs 30-27


Unfortunately, these games will be broadcast on Fox and CBS, respectively, meaning that viewers won't be hearing from Cris Collinsworth this weekend. Luckily for you though, he has such an appreciation for this blog that he's provided us with some of his trademark, hard-hitting analysis for this Sunday's match-ups. Enjoy:
  

1.11.2019

NFL Picks - Divisional Round

Saturday

Indianapolis @ Kansas City
The Colts may be the hottest team still playing football. After starting 1-5 they've won 10 of their last 11 including a dominant Wild Card win in Houston last week. Now they travel to Kansas City where the Chiefs have been, well, not great in their recent playoff history. Will Patrick Mahomes be able to change that narrative? Why don't we ask the man who will be there in person to call the action on Saturday ... It's CriColl time:
Ok, this time you definitely didn't make an actual pick. I guess it's up to me. Andrew Luck vs. the Chiefs' defense + what should be a tense atmosphere in Arrowhead has me leaning towards Indianapolis. You can call me crazy, and wonder why, but don't be surprised if on Saturday the Chiefs make you cry.

Colts 30-27 




Dallas @ Los Angeles Rams
This season in the NFL, offense was the name of the game. Actually that’s not true, the name of the game remained “football” for the 135th consecutive year. Before that it was known "Pig Grab." But my original point, which I was about to get to before I was rudely interrupted by my own inanity, is that we witnessed one of the most offensive regular seasons in NFL history. But last week, in the opening round of the playoffs, the Cowboys were the highest scoring team with a modest total of 24. One could argue that postseason football is a different animal (a more sluggish, plodding animal akin to a koala or a sloth), where points are at a premium and defense rules. Though, I would argue that the four highest scoring teams in the league all had byes in the Wild Card round, an argument that would be factually correct. With the most potent offenses the league has to offer now entering the fray, keep your eyes on the scoreboard ... ok I didn’t mean just stare at it, obviously you should look at the game too. Yeesh, sometimes I’m not sure about you. I’ll pick the Rams to win, but not by much. If you look at their schedule, every time they’ve played a decent team they’ve either lost or won by one score (with the exception of a 12 point win over the Chargers in Week 2), so why should this be any different?

Rams 29-24




Sunday

Los Angeles Chargers @ New England
Since the NFL adopted its current 12 team playoff format in 1990, the fifth and sixth seeds have never met in a conference title game. For the last 28 years at least one of the lowest wild card teams has lost before reaching the championship round. Well you know what they say, history was meant to be broken! Er, actually records were, but you get the point. Anyway, I say history will be broken this weekend! As you’ve seen above, I think the 6th seeded Colts will upset the Chiefs, and I hereby predict that the Chargers will go into Foxborough and defeat the Patriots. I’ll admit, some of this is wishful thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I actually believe both underdogs have a very good chance to win this weekend, but primarily these picks stem from a strong desire to see an AFC championship game played at the StubHub Center. We’ve waited 28 years to see a 5/6 title game match-up, what better place than the StubHub Center, what better time than now?

Chargers 24-21




Philadelphia @ New Orleans
The Eagles will not die. Philly got past Chicago last week thanks to a late touchdown and a Bears field goal attempt that ricocheted off of both the left upright and the crossbar. Fans across the nation were stunned by those ever so fateful and unlikely bounces, however, some of us were not so surprised. After all, this isn’t the first time that two doinks have played a pivotal role in determining the outcome of a major sporting event. Who among us could forget the WrestleMania IX showdown in which Kona, Hawaii’s own Crush was miffed by the appearance, and subsequent interference, of a second Doink the Clown? Many of you may be saying that you were never aware of such an occurrence, and that’s fine, but if you had seen it there’s no way you could forget it, much like the Bears’ timeline-altering miss last week. Now the Eagles move on to New Orleans to face a Saints team that destroyed them 48-7 eight weeks ago. Can Philly really go back into the Super Dome and manage to come away with a win this time around? I don’t know, is Nick Foles 42 points better than Carson Wentz? If you think that I’m over-simplifying things you’re probably not a regular reader of this blog. That’s what we do here! Anyway, my answer to that Foles question would be no, not quite.

Saints 31-19 


1.04.2019

NFL Picks - Wild Card Round

Saturday

Indianapolis @ Houston
The Texans have now won five AFC South titles in the last eight seasons. Some would say that this era has been defined by JJ Watt, however I would argue that the true hallmark has been Saturday afternoon playoff games in Houston. As you probably know, in the opening round of the NFL postseason two games are played on Saturday and two games are played on Sunday, with the least attractive match-up usually being scheduled as the opener on Saturday at 1:35p PT. Each and every time the Texans have made the playoffs they’ve had this time slot foisted upon them. Again, that means that come this weekend five of the past eight NFL postseasons will have opened in NRG Stadium in Houston. The Texans are 3-1 in such contests, so it would seem they don’t have many qualms about their positioning, but it has to sting at least a little. Haven’t they been in the playoffs enough to have earned a brighter spotlight? It’s like being a successful businessman but still having to sleep on a single bed when you visit your parents for the holidays. And it's not even a racecar bed or something cool like that. Then again, maybe the NFL considers the Texans to be such a marquee team that they can think of no better spot to open the playoffs than Houston. I mean that’s definitely not true, but that’s the spin I’d try to put on it if I were the Texans. That could serve be a much-needed ego boost after what I expect to be an opening-round loss.

Colts 27-24




Seattle @ Dallas
At the midpoint of the season these teams were a combined 7-9. Since then they’ve gone a collective 13-3. So over the past couple months these squadrons have played like potential Super Bowl contenders. However, their mediocre beginnings can not be discounted, they’re like a grizzled hero with a haunted past. What this game will come down to is who can learn from their history, move forward, and finally stop blaming themselves for letting her go. It’s not their fault! They had to make a choice and so did she. How were they supposed to know what would happen?!? Anyway, I think all of that and the added pressure of a judgmental home crowd gets to the Cowboys and leads to their demise.

Seahawks 23-16




Sunday

Los Angeles Chargers @ Baltimore
A mere two weeks ago the Ravens went on the road and beat the Chargers 22-10. It was a statement win that ended up propelling Baltimore into first place in the AFC North, a position they would not relinquish in Week 17 on their way to a division title and a home game this Sunday. One might naively assume that since the Ravens beat the Chargers in LA they should be able to handle them in Baltimore. What that aforementioned dullard failed to take into account is that the Chargers only lost games in Los Angeles this season. And I’m not just talking about the StubHub Center, where opposing fans regularly occupy the 27,000 seats, the Chargers also lost in the Coliseum to the Rams. This proves that when in LA the Chargers are saddled with the shame of playing in front of a city that doesn’t want them. It’s only when they leave SoCal that they are freed from this burden and can play to their true potential. How else would you explain their 7-0 mark outside of their “home” city? Thus, picking against them in Baltimore seems foolish at this point. Almost as foolish as moving the Chargers to LA in the first place.

Chargers 20-17




Philadelphia @ Chicago
The defending Super Bowl champs scratched and clawed their way to the playoffs and have been rewarded with a trip to Chicago for their troubles. Who will prevail in this Wild Card clash? Let's check in with Cris Collinsworth to find out:
Pertinent stuff CC! I'd be a fool to dssent.

Bears 24-14