Twitter Picks for NFL Wild Card Weekend

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
Saturday, 4:30 pm ET, ESPN/ABC
Favorite: Chiefs by 3
Chiefs: 11-5, AFC 5th seed (Wild Card)
Texans:  9-7, AFC 4th seed (AFC West Champion)


Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, CBS
Favorite: Steelers by 3
Steelers: 10-6, AFC 6th seed (Wild Card)
Bengals: 12-4, AFC 3rd seed (AFC North Champion)


Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, 1:00 pm ET, NBC
Favorite: Seahawks by 5
Seahawks: 10-6, NFC 6th seed (Wild Card)
Vikings: 11-5, NFC 3rd seed (NFC North Champion)


Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins
Sunday, 4:30 pm ET, FOX
Favorite: Redskins by 1
Packers: 10-6, NFC 5th seed (Wild Card)
Redskins: 9-7, NFC 4th seed (NFC East Champions)



And for my predictions for how the NFL Playoffs will play out…


Season to Date
Overall Record: 64-49
College Overall Record: 55-41
Game of the Week: 11-5
Big Game Guarantee: 31-17
Upset of the Week: 6-14
Closer Than the Experts Think: 7-6
NFL Game of the Week: 8-8


Twitter Picks for College Football Week 12

I found the following paragraph from a post from 2013 picking college football games, and it applies this week too, after last week I hit some picks while others didn’t make me look exceptionally bright.

“We learned last week that this weekly post of mine, or others like it, are just simple predictions that can be wrong in a heartbeat.  But, in the spirit of the game, and in preparation for another big week of college football, those like me who think they can predict the future continue.  That being said, here are my picks for Week 9.”

So, that being said, here are this week’s Twitter picks.

Game of the Week

#9 Michigan State (9-1) at #3 Ohio State (10-0)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ABC
Favorite: Ohio State by 14
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Michigan State- 10th, Ohio State- 3rd


Big Game Guarantee(s)

#10 Baylor (8-1) at #6 Oklahoma State (10-0)
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, FOX
Favorite: even
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Baylor- 9th, Oklahoma State- 5th


#18 TCU (9-1) at #7 Oklahoma (9-1)
Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, ABC
Favorite: Oklahoma by 11
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  TCU- 13th, Oklahoma- 6th


#20 Northwestern (8-2) at #25 Wisconsin (8-2)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, BTN
Favorite: Wisconsin by 10
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Northwestern- 19th, Wisconsin- 21st


#24 USC (7-3) at #23 Oregon (7-3)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite: Oregon by 4
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  USC- 25th, Oregon- 20th


California (6-4) at #11 Stanford (8-2)
Saturday, 10:30 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite: Stanford by 11
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  California- unranked, Stanford- 14th


#21 Memphis (8-2) at Temple (8-2)
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, ESPNU
Favorite: Memphis by 1
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Upset(s) of the Week

#15 LSU (7-2) at #24 Ole Miss (7-3)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, CBS
Favorite: Ole Miss by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  LSU- 15th, Ole Miss- unranked


UCLA (7-3) at #13 Utah (8-2)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, FOX
Favorite: Utah by 1
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  UCLA- unranked, Utah- 22nd


Closer Than the Experts Think

Purdue (2-8) at #5 Iowa (10-0)
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, ESPN2
Favorite: Iowa by 22
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Purdue- unranked, Iowa- 7th


NFL Game(s) of the Week

Green Bay Packers (6-3) at Minnesota Vikings (7-2)
Sunday, 4:25 pm ET, FOX
Favorite: Vikings by 1


Cincinnati Bengals (8-1) at Arizona Cardinals (7-2)
Sunday, 8:30 pm ET, NBC
Favorite: Cardinals by 5



Season to Date
Overall Record: 49-36
Last Week: 7-5
College Overall Record: 41-31
Game of the Week: 7-4
Big Game Guarantee: 23-11
Upset of the Week: 5-11
Closer Than the Experts Think: 6-6
NFL Game of the Week: 7-5


NFL Picks for Wild Card Weekend

The best time of year, at least in football, started with bowl games over the last 2 weeks.  Now it continues with the NFL Playoffs.  While some may brush off the Wild Card matchups as irrelevant, since the top 2 in each conference don’t play until next week, the last 3 Super Bowl champions have played on Wild Card weekend, meaning that the 4 teams who advance to next week’s divisional round may have a good shot to win it all.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
The Colts are a 2-point home favorite after winning the AFC South, and as the 4 seed host the Chiefs, who are the 5 seed after falling short of the AFC West title.  The Chiefs are 0-7 in the playoffs since their last playoff win in January 1994, including 3 losses to the Colts.  They started this season at 9-0, but have lost 5 of the last 7, although each of those 5 losses was to a playoff team (then again, one of those losses, this past Sunday against the Chargers, was a bit controversial after a referee no-call).  The Colts have a playoff losing streak of their own, but it is only 3 games, and only dates back to their last Super Bowl trip in 2010.  The Colts are 1 of 3 teams since 2003 with 3 wins over 12-win teams.  Out of the first 2, the 2011 Ravens reached the AFC Championship, and the 2003 Patriots beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl.  These teams are pretty statistically even, but a head-to-head matchup just 2 weeks ago shows otherwise.  The Colts won 23-7, in Kansas City.  This time the Colts have a home-field advantage to help them even more.
Colts 28, Chiefs 13.

New Orleans Saints (11-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
The Eagles are 3-point home favorites coming off a big road win in Dallas for the NFC East division title, leading into a rematch of a 27-24 Saints win in the 2007 NFC Divisional round.  The Eagles claimed the 3 seed with that division title, and will host the Saints, who captured the 6 seed with their win over the Buccaneers on Sunday.  This game is certainly meaningful, since it is a Wild Card playoff game, but it is even more meaningful in suburban Austin, TX, at Westlake High School.  Drew Brees of the Saints and Nick Foles of the Eagles, both starting QBs in this game, went to the school.  Since there is a 10-year age difference, they actually didn’t ever meet each other until both had made it to the big leagues, but this high school connection has football fans everywhere intrigued.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is actually the 2nd time a playoff matchup has included QBs from the same high school, after Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers and Joe Ferguson of the Bills both graduated from Woodlawn High School in Shreveport, LA, before meeting in the 1974 AFC Divisional Round.  As for these 2 teams (it is a team sport, after all), the Eagles have won 7 out of 8 on their way to the division title, including 4 straight at home.  The high-powered offensive attack that first year coach Chip Kelly brought from the University of Oregon is working in the pros, as the Eagles are ranked 1st in the league in rushing and 9th in passing.  Foles didn’t start the year as the starting QB, but has stepped in nicely, throwing 27 TDs and only 2 interceptions on the year, and tying the NFL record with 7 TDs in a single game on November 3.  In addition to the passing attack, the Eagles have the league’s leading rusher in LeSean McCoy.  The Saints were undefeated at home this year, but that doesn’t mean anything this weekend in Philadelphia.  The fact they are 3-5 away from the Superdome, and have lost 3 in a row on the road and 4 out of 5, certainly does mean something.  Not only are their win-loss numbers alarming, but so are the differences in Brees’ numbers.  Out of his 39 TD passes, 27 are at home, with only 12 on the road.  Out of 12 interceptions, only 3 were at home, while the other 9 were on the road.  This game will also be in cold weather, with a high around 40 and a forecast for rain, which should benefit the Eagles even more.
Eagles 34, Saints 24.

San Diego Chargers (9-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
The Bengals are 7-point home favorites in this game between the 3 and 6 seeds in the AFC.  The Bengals, as the higher seed, are hosting the Chargers, and the fact that the Bengals have this game at home is huge for their chances.  First of all, they are undefeated at home and just 3-5 on the road so far this season.  They will also have a very hungry fan base behind them, as they haven’t won a playoff game since 1991, losing 5 straight.  Perhaps it’s a good thing they aren’t playing the Houston Texans, as they are the team that eliminated the Bengals the last 2 seasons.  Cincinnati has won 5 out of 6, and the 2 losses right before that streak were both in overtime.  They have a 4-0 regular season record against the 12 playoff teams, including a 17-10 win over these Chargers on December 1, in San Diego.  However, this isn’t the same Chargers team as even the one that lost that game just 5 weeks ago.  After a first half that included losses to the Texans, Titans, Raiders, and Redskins, their stretch run that included a 5-1 stretch included 2 wins over the Chiefs and 1 over the Broncos.  They also had earlier wins over the Colts and Eagles.  With both teams coming in on such hot streaks, this should be one of the best-played games of the weekend, and one team may play well but not be rewarded with a win.  Weather in the mid-30s with a chance of a rain/snow mix should favor the Bengals, and if matchup history means anything, the Bengals have won 3 straight in the series, and won their only playoff meeting, 27-7, in the 1982 AFC Championship.|
Bengals 24, Chargers 20.

San Francisco 49ers (12-4) at Green Bay Packers (8-7-1)
The Packers are a 3-point underdogs at home against the defending NFC Champions, the 49ers, in a rematch of a meeting in the NFC Divisional Round last year which the 49ers won 45-31 at Candlestick.  The Niners are, in fact, the highest-finishing team from last years playoffs in this year’s tournament, since the Ravens, who won last year’s Super Bowl, missed the playoffs with their loss to the Bengals on Sunday.  For what it’s worth, the 49ers beat the Packers 34-28 in Week 1, although it’s really not worth much since that was back on September 8, almost 4 months ago.  The 49ers, in fact, followed up that win with consecutive losses, even though they were to the Seahawks and Colts, a pair of division champions, before going 11-2 the rest of the way, including a 6 game winning streak to end the regular season.  One negative about the 49ers is they are 2-4 against this year’s playoff teams, with both of the wins coming at home.  They are 6-2 on the road, which is a pretty good mark, especially considering the 2 losses are at Seattle and New Orleans, 2 of the toughest places in the league to play as a visitor.  Then again, Green Bay is a tough atmosphere as well, particularly in the playoffs, as the Packers are 16-4 all-time in Lambeau Field playoff games.  While the Packers are 8-7-1 on the year, they are 6-3 with Aaron Rodgers under center, as he missed 7 games with a broken collarbone, and during that time they were 2-4-1.  While the Packers are 0-3 against playoff participants, 2 of the losses were on the road and the 1 at home was during Rodgers’ injury sabbatical.  It is Rodgers who is responsible for the Packers even being here, after his 48-yard TD pass to Randall Cobb on 4th and 8 in the final minute last week against the Bears in the de facto NFC North title game.  A final advantage the home-standing Packers have will be the weather, like the other 2 outdoor playoff games that also happen to be in the northern part of the country.  Unlike the games in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, this game will see temperatures below zero, with Sunday’s high forecast as -3, with wind chills of -20 to -30, and there is also a chance of snow.  Green Bay leads the series 6-3 since 2001, and has won 4 out of 6 playoff meetings
Packers 21, 49ers 14.

NFL Picks for Week 17

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft.

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Week 17 in the National Football League is here, and very little is settled in the playoff race.  Up to 13 games out of the 16 scheduled for Sunday will have playoff implications in some way, whether it is on seeding, divisional titles, wild cards, first round byes, or all of the above.  I’ve narrowed that list from 13 down to the 5 biggest games from Sunday, all of which (except one) have playoff implications for both teams.

Game of the Week:  Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) at Chicago Bears (8-7)
The Bears are 3-point home underdogs in this game for the NFC North division title.  Why?  Aaron Rodgers.  Early in the week, the Bears were favored by 3, but then the Packers announced QB Aaron Rodgers would return to action after a 7-week layoff with a broken left collarbone.  The former MVP of both the NFL regular season and the Super Bowl returns for another big game, a spot he tends to thrive in.  On the other sideline, Bears QB Jay Cutler is 1-8 in his career against the Packers, and has horrific numbers in recent games against them.  The Bears are playing another good offense this week, just 7 days after allowing 54 points against the Eagles (in a game I picked them to win!).  The Packers won’t score that much, but Aaron Rodgers will let the Bears’ defense know he’s back.  By the way, the Packers are trying to become just the 2nd division winner since 1970 with no Pro-Bowlers (although that could change due to injuries and Super Bowl players dropping out of the Pro Bowl)
Packers 38, Bears 24.

Big Game Guarantee:  Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) at Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
The Eagles are 7-point road favorites in another win-or-go-home divisional game, this one being in the NFC East.  I had already decided after watching the Eagles beat the Bears 54-11 on Sunday night that I would pick them against the Cowboys, who seemingly have made it a perennial habit to play these Week 17 elimination games (only winning 1 in recent memory, in 2009).  Then the news broke Monday (and was confirmed on Friday) that Cowboys QB Tony Romo had a season-ending back injury.  While Kyle Orton is a more than worthy backup (69 career starts), it’s tough to ask someone to step into an elimination situation for their first significant playing time of the year.  Recent teams in such a situation in Week 17 elimination games or playoff games are 1-3.  The Eagles have won 6 out of 7, and are 5-2 on the road, although the Cowboys are 5-2 at home, and are attempting for their first sweep of division games since 1998 (they are 5-0 so far against the NFC East).  The Cowboys defense has really been struggling ever since, ironically, the last time they played the Eagles, and the Eagles offense is firing on all cylinders, led by breakout QB Nick Foles.
Eagles 45, Cowboys 21.

Another Big Game Guarantee:  San Francisco 49ers (11-4) at Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
The Cardinals are 1-point favorites in a game they must have to stay alive for an NFC Wild Card berth in the playoffs.  They need the Saints, who will be playing their game simultaneously, to lose to the Buccaneers for this game to be a potential playoff clincher, although I wouldn’t hold my breath that the Bucs will beat the Saints.  This is a tough Cardinal team at home, at 7-1, and they are the first team in 2 years to go into Seattle and leave with a win.  Then again, the 49ers are 5-2 on the road, with their only losses to the Seahawks and Saints, and they beat the Cardinals 32-20 in Week 6.  The 49ers have clinched a playoff berth, but still have an outside chance at the division title, and even more of an outside chance at being the NFC’s top seed.  Both teams “need” this game to accomplish one of their goals, but the Cardinals need it more, and will have the crowd behind them (although I don’t think it will matter, in the end).
Cardinals 24, 49ers 20.

Upset of the Week:  Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5)
The Bengals are a touchdown favorite at home, in a game with large playoff implications.  The Bengals still have a shot at a first round bye, needing a win and some help.  The Ravens still have a shot to make the playoffs, needing a win and some help.  Therefore, this should be a good game, since both teams have a lot to play for.  The Bengals are 7-0 at home this year, very quietly establishing themselves with one of the league’s biggest home-field advantages.  The Ravens are 2-5 on the road, which is certainly problematic for coach John Harbaugh, although they picked up a big road win 2 weeks ago in Detroit and beat the Dolphins in Miami in a game that may come in handy as a playoff tie-breaker.  They have also won 4 out of 5 and 5 out of 7 since their 3-6 start.  Like last year’s team on their run to the Super Bowl title, they will find a way to win one they really need.
Ravens 23, Bengals 21.

Closer Than The Experts Think:  Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at San Diego Chargers (8-7)
This game is the exception out of these 5 games, because it doesn’t have any playoff implications for the Chiefs.  No matter what happens in any game on Sunday, they will be the 5th seed in the AFC.  The Chargers do have a lot to play for…maybe.  They need a win and losses by both the Dolphins and Ravens to clinch the AFC’s 6th and final seed.  Since the Dolphins and Ravens both play at 1:00 ET and this game is at 4:25 ET, the Chargers will know if their dreams are still alive or not.  If my upset pick above is correct, this game will actually be meaningless for both teams.  Either way, I think Pro Bowl QB Philip Rivers will lead his team to victory, but by a margin closer than the spread which favors the Chargers by 9, but only because the game may only be meaningful for them and not the Chiefs, who may or may not rest some of their players.  In Week 12, the Chargers beat the Chiefs in Kansas City, 41-38.

By the way, I just looked at my projections for how everyone would finish that I published in my “NFL Midseason Report”.  For laughs, it had the Redskins at 8-8, the Texans and Falcons at 7-9, and the Dolphins at 6-10.  Other than a handful of teams, however, I feel like my projections were fairly accurate, and there is a real possibility of me getting all 6 AFC teams correct, and almost in the right order.