Super Bowl LII is upon us, as the New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Minnesota. The Eagles have been beating the odds all year and winning games that nobody expected them to en route to an NFC Conference Championship. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots are right where most fans expected them to finish at the start of the season. If Carson Wentz were healthy for the Eagles, Philadephia might pull this game off in upset fashion. However, given the powerhouse that Belichick has built, I expect the Patriots to win this game in close fashion. I am currently doubtful for the Justin Timberwho halftime show with the flu, so Final score: New England Patriots 27, Philadelphia Eagles 24.--Mike B.
The Championship Round of the 2017/2018 playoffs is upon us, and following this weekend's games, our Super Bowl matchup will be set. This is an intriguing set of teams with the potential to make a title run, with only the New England Patriots being Super Bowl regulars. Who makes it to the Super Bowl? Who goes home? Here are some picks!
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots. Everyone thinks this game is a given; the Patriots are going to come out on top and the Jags are going home. Brady and Belichick are unstoppable in Foxboro. I'm not so sure. This game will be closer than many expect, and with the drama present in New England this post-season, the Jaguars could stun the football world and pull off an upset. I think the Jaguars win, barely. Final score: Jacksonville Jaguars 24, New England Patriots 23.
Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings have a real chance to be the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. With this defense, I think they make it happen. Both of these teams are making deep playoff runs with strong defenses and backup quarterbacks. The Vikings' defense is better. Vikings win. FInal score: Minnesota Vikings 27, Philadelphia Eagles 21. --Mike B.
Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles. If Carson Wentz was active in this game, this would be a no-brainer. However, the defending NFC Champions catch a break and get to face Nick Foles this week in Philly. While I think this will be a close game, I do not think that Foles does enough to walk away with a victory. Falcons win. Final score: Falcons 42, Eagles 35.
Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots. Sorry Marcus Mariota, but you have to face the Patriots and Tom Brady in Foxboro, and the Patriots have had Dick LeBeau's number throughout his career. Patriots win. Final score: Patriots 35, Titans 28.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Steelers are the better team in this matchup, the Jaguars dominated them earlier in the season, picking off Roethlisberger 5 times. They are also 13-11 all time against the Steelers. Meanwhile, LeVeon Bell is worried about his contract instead of this game. I smell an upset, Jaguars win! Final score: Jaguars 28, Steelers 24.
New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings. The Purple People Eaters are back and the Vikings defense is dominant. A dominant defense and an average QB can win you a Super Bowl. The Vikings defense will win them this game by shutting down the Saints' rushing game. Final score: Vikings 24, Saints 21.--Mike B.
Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs. This is a game that I expect the Chiefs to win. While the Titans have a ton of talent led by Marcus Mariota, the Chiefs' offense is explosive, and they still have great defensive pieces. With Kareem Hunt regaining his early-season form, the Chiefs should win this one. Final score: Chiefs 27, Titans 20.
Atlanta Falcons @ LA Rams. One of these teams could play in the NFC Championship game. It's not the Falcons. I think Sean McVay and the Rams continue to build on a great start to the season, and win one at home. Final score: Rams 28, Falcons 23.
Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars. This is my favorite game of the season so far. The Bills are in their first playoff game this millenium. The Jaguars finally returned to playoff form. However, I think Jacksonville has the edge at home. This is a team we've expected to be a playoff contender for the past few seasons and they've finally made it there. They'll continue their ascent as they win this one at home. Final score: Jaguars 28, Bills 14.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints. This is going to be a great, great game. Two rivals in a playoff setting. These teams both have a ton of weapons, but the Saints have more. I expect Kamara and Brees to carry the Saints to victory at home. Final score: Saints 35, Panthers 28.--Mike B.
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions. Both of these teams are out of the playoffs, and Brett Hundley is starting for the Packers. If it was Rodgers I'd go with Green Bay, but with Rodgers out, Detroit wins. Final score: Lions 28, Packers 24.
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts. We're in that surreal point of the season where losing will help both of these teams with draft stock. However, the Colts are better at losing, so Texans win. Final score: Texans 21, Colts 20.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings. The Bears are who we think they are, a very bad football team. Minnesota wins this one at home even if they rest starters. Final score: Vikings 35, Bears 14.
New Jersey Jets @ New England Patriots. The Jets year ends on a disappointing note with a loss on the road in New England. Final score: Patriots 28, Jets 3.
Washington Redskins @ New York Giants. Even with Eli Manning, the Giants are a very bad team. The Redskins should win this one on the road. Final score: Redskins 14, Giants 10.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles. Nick Foles is not an elite quarterback. However, he is good enough to win when he needs to. Eagles win unless they rest a ton of starters. Final score: Eagles 24, Cowboys 21.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers. It takes talent to go 0-16. The Browns don't have talent, so by some fluke, I believe they'll get lucky and beat the Steelers. Final score: Browns 7, Steelers 6
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers are in the playoffs. The Falcons are playing for their playoff lives. Expect them to squeak out a close one at home. Final score: Falcons 27, Panthers 23.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens. Marvin Lewis' tenure with the Bengals ends with a loss on the road in Baltimore. Final score: Ravens 35, Bengals 17.
Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are struggling with Jay Cutler under center. The Bills can secure a winning season with a win in Miami. Bills win. Final score: Bills 14, Dolphins 12.
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even with a playoff berth clinched, the Saints are too good to lose to this year's Bucs. Final score: Saints 27, Buccaneers 17
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans. This week I expect the Jaguars to right the ship with a hard-fought win over the Titans. Final score: Jaguars 14, Titans 13.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos. Patrick Mahomes pulls off a win in his first career start against the Broncos. Chiefs win. Final score: Chiefs 21, Broncos 7.
Oakland Raiders @ LA Chargers. Boring game, both teams are out of the playoffs, but the Chargers have more weapons and therefore win at home. Final score: Chargers 24, Raiders 21.
San Francisco 49ers @ LA Rams. The magic continues for Jimmy Garoppolo as they take on the Rams and the Rams try to stay healthy. Upset alert: 49ers win! Final score: 49ers 24, Rams 17.
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are playing for their playoff lives and the Cardinals are eliminated. Seahawks win at home. Final score: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 14.--Mike B.
Before we begin our picks, I want to extend warm holiday wishes to all readers. Be safe, both to all those traveling this holiday season and especially to those men and women fighting in the armed forces so that we can be with our families this season. Thank you for your service, and happy holidays to all. This year's Christmas miracle? The Cleveland Browns win a game! Here are some picks!
Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens. This week the original Baltimore football team travels to Baltimore to take on the original Cleveland Browns. However, this year the Colts are playing more like the Browns and the Ravens defense is decent. I expect the original Browns to beat the original Baltimore team at home after all the Ravens fans massage Johnny Unitas' (a former COLT) golden toe on a statue outside of the stadium. Final score: Ravens 24, Colts 14.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers. In this battle of backup qbs, these two teams are trending towards opposite directions. The Vikings are going to the playoffs. Brett Hundley and the Packers are not. Vikings win this one on the road. Final score: Vikings 27, Packers 24.
LA Rams @ Tennessee Titans. The Titans should be a far better team than they are given the talent on their roster. The Rams are one of the best teams in the NFL. Rams win this one. Final score: Rams 35, Titans 21.
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots. This is the week that the Bills' playoff hopes all but come to an end on the road in Foxborough. Patriots win this one at home. Final score: Patriots 28, Bill 24.
Cleveland Browns @ Chicago Bears. The Chicago Bears have a running game but not much else going on on offense. The Browns have a surprisingly stout rushing defense, and Hue Jackson is undefeated on Christmas Eve. The Browns will win their first game of the 2017 season this week in Chicago. Final score: Browns 21, Bears 3.
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints. This might be the game of the week this week, but I think Alvin Kamara and the Saints hold on to win an extremely important game at home. Final score: Saints 28, Falcons 3.
Detroit Lions @ Cincinnati Bengals. Every time the Bengals face the Lions, long-time fans cringe with memories of Ki-Jana Carter's devastating pre-season knee injury against the Lions as a rookie. This week will be disastrous for the Bengals as well, as this is a franchise in transition as they wonder who will replace head coach Marvin Lewis. Hopefully they can escape healthy. Final score: Lions 35, Bengals 14.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers. The Bucs showed last week that they can play good football when they want to. That won't be enough to beat Cam Newton and a contending Carolina Panthers team in Carolina. Final score: Panthers 24, Buccaneeers 21.
Miami Dolphins @ KC Chiefs. Jay Cutler is playing like Jay Cutler again, and the Chiefs are playing good football again. Chiefs win this one at home. Final score: Chiefs 28, Dolphins 17.
Denver Broncos @ Washington Redskins. I can't pick the Broncos to win anything this season, even after a surprisingly strong start to the season. Redskins win at home. Final score; Redskins 23, Broncos 7.
LA Chargers @ New Jersey Jets. The Jets are a team in turmoil and the Chargers have looked threatening at times. Without McCown for the Jets, Chargers win this one. Final score: Chargers 27, Jets 24.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Francisco 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal in San Francisco, but this 49ers team is not deep enough to beat a playoff-bound Jaguars team this week! Jaguars win one on the road! Final score: Jaguars 27, 49ers 23.
Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys. This is one of those matchups that I don't know how to pick. It could go either way, and although many would favor the Cowboys this week, after last week's loss against the Rams, I expect the Seahawks to come into this game extremely hungry. Seahawks win this one. Final score: Seahawks 35, Cowboys 14.
New York Giants @ Arizona Cardinals. One team has no quarterback, one team has no receivers or running game. I'll take the Cardinals defense at home in this one. Final score: Cardinals 7, Giants 3.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Houston Texans. The Steelers without Antonio Brown are still better than the Texans without DeShaun Watson. Steelers win this one as Juju Smith-Schuster has a big game. Final score: Steelers 35, Texans 14.
LA Raiders @ Philadelphia Eagles. This week in Philly, Nick Foles does just enough to bring home a win and keep Philly in contention for a bye. The Eagles pull off another one without Carson Wentz. Final score: Eagles 21, Raiders 17.--Mike B
Week 15 of the 2017 NFL season is upon us, and Carson Wentz's season-ending ACL tear shows us that Roger Goodell has indeed succeeded in making the NFL a safer place,at least for doctors. The rule changes under the Goodell regime have succeeded in cutting down on concussions to a degree, but this comes at a price, the creation of a rash of lower-body injuries. While the NFL has succeeded in protecting itself from liability, it has created an epidemic of leg and lower-body injuries.
Meanwhile, the NFL is trying to be college with two Saturday games this week (why play on Saturday?). The Bears travel to Detroit to take on the Lions and the Chargers travel to KC totake on the Chiefs this Saturday. Who will win? Here are some picks.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions. Even after destroying the Bengals, the Bears are who I think they are, a pretty bad football team. The Lions should win this game at home. Final score: Lions 24, Bears 17.
LA Chargers @ KC Chiefs. This week, the Chargers and Chiefs compete for the AFCW divisional crown. The Chargers come in to face a Chiefs team that has been woefully inconsistent this season, especially lately. The Chargers should win this one. Final score: Chargers 14, Chiefs 7.
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills. Jay Cutler just played a really good game for Miami and beat the Patriots. Can he make it 2 in a row at Buffalo? I'm going with Miami in this one. Final score: Dolphins 24, Bills 14.
Green Bay Packers @ Carolina Panthers. The return of Aaron Rodgers is upon us, and the Packers deliver a hard-fought win on the road this week. Packers win. Final score: Packers 28, Panthers 21.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns.This week the old Cleveland Browns travel to Cleveland to take on the new Cleveland Browns. The old Cleveland Browns win. Final score: Ravens 24, Browns 17.
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars. Without Deshaun Watson in Houston, the Jaguars roll to their 10th win of the season. Final score: Jaguars 35, Texans 21.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Minnesota Vikings.This week the Bungles get beaten by the Vikings after an embarrassing loss to the Chicago Bears. Final score: Vikings 35, Bengals 14.
New York Jets @ New Orleans Saints. Without McCown, the Jets' season is over. Saints win. Final score: Saints 35, Jets 20.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants. Even without Carson Wentz, the Eagles are good enough to destroy the Giants. Final score: Eagles 38, Giants 3.
Arizona Cardinals @ Washington Redskins. This should be a good game and could go either way. That being said, the Redskins are healthier and should win at home. Final score: Redskins 38, Cardinals 35.
LA Rams @ Seattle Seahawks. This is going to be an exciting game to watch, as the Rams head to take on a Seahawks team that is tough at home and is coming off of a chippy loss against Jacksonville. Seahawks pull one out with the 12th man. Final score: Seahawks 12, Rams 10.
New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots are coming off of a loss. The Patriots do not lose consecutive games. Patriots win and control the #1 seed. Final score: Patriots 38, Steelers 35.
Tennessee Titans @ San Francisco 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo is for real. The 49ers win in surprising fashion at home this week. Final score: 49ers 28, Titans 24.
Dallas Cowboys @ Oakland Raiders. This game could go either way, but the Raiders are way too inconsistent for my tastes this season. Cowboys win in a close one. Final score: Cowboys 28, Raiders 27.
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have the potential to be a good football team, but they can't seem to put things together this week. Falcons win on the road. Final score: Falcons 28, Buccaneers 3. --Mike B.
This week on Thursday Night Football, the ghost of Peyton Manning looms large as the 4-9 Broncos travel to Indianapolis to take on the 3-10 Colts. Both of these teams are playing abysmal football right now, and neither team has a quarterback, with the Broncos still trying to find a franchise quarterback to follow Peyton and the Colts' franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, chronically injured. This is going to be a sloppy and disappointing game that could go either way, but I expect the Broncos to win it on the road. Final score: Broncos 17, Colts 13. --Mike B.
Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills. Peterman in for the Bills? Colts win. Nothing against Peterman as a quarterback but has shown that he is not NFL ready. If Tyrod starts, the Bills win. With Peterman starting, Colts win. Final score: Colts 24, Bills 20.
Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers. This is a huge test game for the Vikings on the road in Carolina. That being said, Minnesota is way more consistent than Carolina has been this season, and this unit should put together a big-time road victory. Final score: Vikings 28, Panthers 14.
Chicago Bears @ Cincinnati Bengals. After giving away a game to the Steelers on Monday night, I don't trust this Bengals team at all. Chicago is a rushing team. Cincinnati can't stop the run. Bears win. Final score: Bears 14, Bengals 13.
Green Bay Packers @ Cleveland Browns. Another week, another Cleveland loss. Final score: Packers 28, Browns 7.
San Francisco 49ers @ Houston Texans. It's Jimmy Garoppolo time in San Francisco and this team is coming off of a win! Expect them to win again this week against the Texans. Final score: 49ers 14, Texans 7.
Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs. Both of these teams are somehow still in the playoff hunt! These teams are both playing sloppy football, so I'm going to go with the Chiefs at home. Final score: Chiefs 27, Raiders 23.
Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Two teams that could be contenders but aren't. I'm going with the Buccaneers to build some momentum heading into the offseason. Bucs win. Final score: Buccaneers 28, Lions 27.
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants. Eli Manning has been benched and he is angry. That being said, even with him starting this week, who does he have to throw to? I expect a big game from Eli, but the Cowboys will squeak out a road win. Final score: Cowboys 38, Giants 35.
Tennessee Titans @ Arizona Cardinals. The Titans are awfully close to locking up a playoff berth, and the Cardinals are riddled with injuries right now. I'm going with the Titans. Final score: Titans 17, Cardinals 14.
New York Jets @ Denver Broncos. The Denver Broncos are struggling on all fronts right now. Jets win this one on the road. Final score: Jets 35, Broncos 14.
Washington Redskins @ LA Chargers. This should be a great game to watch. That being said, the Chargers are suddenly in the playoff hunt and could come up big at home. Chargers win. Final score: Chargers 38, Redskins 35.
Seattle Seahawks @ Jacksonville Jaguars. This is going to be an outstanding game, but can Blake Bortles handle the Seattle defense? I think not. Seahawks win this one on the road! Final score: Seahawks 27, Jaguars 14.
Philadelphia Eagles @ LA Rams. The Eagles finally faced a top tier football team. They lost. They lose again as they head to LA to face the resurgent Rams! Final score: Rams 42, Eagles 38.
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers may have just lost Ryan Shazier permanently. This is a team that is going to come out and fight hard for their teammate. Steelers win this one. Final score: Steelers 35, Ravens 14.
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady still own this division. Patriots win. Final score: Patriots 28, Dolphins 17.--Mike B.
This week on Thursday Night Football, Alvin Kamara and the Saints travel to Atlanta to take on Mohamed Sanu and the Falcons. The Falcons are still squarely in the playoff hunt, but with Kamara and Ingram together in New Orleans,this Saints offense might be one of the most explosive Sean Payton-led units we've ever seen. This game has the potential to be the best Thursday Night Football match-up of the season, and it will be fun to see Alvin Kamara receive an opportunity to shine on the national stage. While the Falcons are a good team, I think the Saints are too dynamic for the Falcons to keep up with. Saints win this one, but in closer fashion than my traditional 28-3 Falcons picks this season. Final score: New Orleans Saints 28, Atlanta Falcons 24.--Mike B.
Minnesota Vikings @ Atlanta Falcons. The Vikings are the feel-good story of the 2017 NFL Season. After going through multiple starting quarterbacks due to injury, they are sitting at a 9-2 record heading into Atlanta. This is a phenomenal Minnesota team and I expect them to pull out another win this week at Atlanta. Final score: Vikings 28, Falcons 3.
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans. With Watson under center, this would be a hard game for the Titans. That being said, Watson is out for the Texans, which makes this one easy. Titans win. Final score: Titans 21, Texans 17.
Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets. I don't believe in the Chiefs right now. This is a unit with lots of talent that has somehow turned into a one-dimensional, predictable offensive unit. I expect the Jets to win at home. Final score: Jets 24, Chiefs 22.
Denver Broncos @ Miami Dolphins. I have no idea who to pick in this matchup. Sloppy coaching, sloppy quarterback play, sloppy mistakes, sloppy teams. I'm going to roll the dice with Denver on the road. Final score: Broncos 14, Dolphins 7.
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars. This week, the Jaguars beat the Colts at home to march one step closer to a divisional title. Jaguars win. Final score: Jaguars 35, Colts 14.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers. If the Buccaneers were playing like they are capable of, this is a game they should win with a Rodgers-less Packers offense. That being said, they are not. Therefore, Packers win this one at home. Final score: Packers 24, Buccaneers 23.
Detroit Lions @ Justin Tucker's House. This week, the Lions travel to Baltimore to take on a team carried by the strong leg of Justin Tucker. Both of these teams are clinging to playoff hopes, but at home, Baltimore has the edge. Final score: Justin Tucker 38, Lions 35.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills. I'm losing faith in Buffalo. I'll never lose faith in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Patriots win this one. Final score: Patriots 28, Bills 24.
San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears. It's Jimmy Garoppolo time in San Francisco, and they head towards a winnable game on the road. I think that the 49ers pull off a victory this week as they try out their potential new franchise quarterback. Final score: 49ers 28, Bears 27.
Cleveland Browns @ LA Chargers. Josh Gordon returns this week for the Cleveland Browns. That will not be enough to help them win a game. Final score: Chargers 35, Browns 14.
New York Giants @ Oakland Raiders. By benching Eli Manning and starting Geno Smith, the Giants have shown their intent to lose out in an attempt to draft a franchise quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. Raiders win. Final score: Raiders 27, Giants 7.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints. This should be one of the best games to watch this week. However, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram should be enough to carry this Saints offense to victory at home against a solid Panthers team. Final score: Saints 35, Panthers 27.
LA Rams @ Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are a good football team with Carson Palmer and David Johnson. Without them, they lose to the Rams at home this week. Final score: Rams 37, Cardinals 21.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Seattle Seahawks. This week the Eagles travel to Seattle to take on Branden Jackson and the Seahawks. This is the best team the Eagles have faced this season, and Seattle is good enough to stop Philadelphia. I expect the Seahawks to win this one at home. Final score: Seahawks 28, Eagles 21.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals. Why is this a Monday night game? The Steelers nearly always dominate the Bengals, and the Bengals are horrid in prime time with Marvin Lewis. This looks like a potential blowout. Final score: Steelers 42, Bengals 17.--Mike B.
This week, the Redskins travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. While in most cases, Dallas would be the perceived favorite in this game, I don't trust the Cowboys without Zeke Elliott. Sure, Rod Smith played great replacing Zeke, but the Cowboys have struggled since his suspension began. The Redskins have been a streaky team this season, but should fare well against this struggling Cowboys unit. I think Washington sneaks this one out on the road. Final score: Redskins 17, Cowboys 14.--Mike B.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons. The Bucs should be a playoff team this year but aren't playing like one. The Falcons, however, are. They should win this one at home. Falcons win. Final score: Falcons 28, Buccaneers 3.
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals. On paper, the Bengals should easily win this one. They have more talent than Cleveland on both sides of the ball and they're playing against the Browns. That being said, these two teams usually play each other tough. Cleveland is bound to win at least one game this year. Why not win in an upset against Cincinnati? Browns win! Final score: Browns 27, Bengals 24 in overtime.
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts. The Titans are a solid team who should continue to contend for a playoff berth down the stretch. The Colts are a very weak team without Andrew Luck. With Luck, this game might be a different story, but without Luck I have to go with the Titans. Titans win. Final score: Titans 35, Colts 14.
Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs. I don't know what to think of the Bills. Just when they have a solid start to the season and look like contenders, they bench Tyrod Taylor and start Nathan Peterman. Nothing against Peterman, but that's no way to run a playoff-caliber team. The Chiefs should win this matchup at home, even though they've faded down the stretch. Final score: Chiefs 27, Bills 21.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots. Nothing to see here. While I still see Matt Moore as an upgrade over Jay Cutler, the Patriots should still easily take this game at home. Patriots win. Final score: Patriots 35, Dolphins 14.
Carolina Panthers @ New Jersey Jets. The Panthers are finally looking like the team people envisioned heading into last season. The Jets are exceeding expectations at every turn. That being said, I think the Panthers are clearly the better team and should win this game. Final score: Panthers 28, Jets 24.
Chicago Bears @ Philadelphia Eagles. You're going to call me crazy, but this is a classic trap game for the Eagles. Great team facing a not-so-great opponent that can put up huge defensive games from time to time. I think the Bears are who I think they are, and I think the Eagles let them off the hook. While former Eagles CB Herm Edwards once said that "you play to win the game," I think this week the Eagles play to play it, and lose it. Final score; Bears 21, Eagles 20.
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers. Nothing to see here. Branden Jackson and the Seahawks win this week in San Francisco. Final score: Seahawks 35, 49ers 7.
New Orleans Saints @ LA Rams. Before the season began, who would have marked this matchup as the game of the week? Put your hands down; nobody expected this game to be this big. That being said, I think the Rams hit the Jeff Fisher margin at home this week and win. Final score: Rams 23, Saints 21.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Arizona Cardinals. With Carson Palmer healthy this would have been a good game. Without Palmer, this is a game that the Jaguars should win. Final score: Jaguars 28, Cardinals 17.
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders. The disappointment bowl! Both of these teams are having disappointing seasons. That being said, the Raiders are slightly more stable than Denver right now and should win at home. Final score: Raiders 14, Broncos 13.
Green Bay Packers @ Pittsburgh Steelers. This Super Bowl rematch isn't quite as enticing without Aaron Rodgers under center. The Steelers should win this game even without Juju Smith-Schuster. Final score: Steelers 28, Packers 24.
Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens. This is the weirdest Monday night game I've seen in a long time and I'm not sure how it will play out. That being said, I'm going to take the Texans defense over the Ravens offense; Texans win! Final score: Texans 13, Ravens 10. --Mike B.
Here at Matt and Mike Sports, we're looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving in a manner which memorializes the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform both historically (through remembering veterans such as Gino Marchetti, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge), and in our most recent wars. We'd also like to pay tribute to the Native Americans who played a key role in the first Thanksgiving, and also to Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indians for their role in the early development of football as a sport. There are three games this year on Thanksgiving, to me, the one day of the year where I agree with football being played on a Thursday in the NFL. Who do I think will win? Here are some thoughts:
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions. On paper, the Vikings should win this game. However, when one considers history, the Lions have been good on Thanksgiving in recent years; they always come to play for the holiday. I think they walk away with a huge divisional win this week against the Vikings. Final score: Lions 24, Vikings 21.
LA Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys. I don't know how to gauge this game, but with Denzel Perryman healthy for the Chargers, I expect the LA defense to be on point. I think Perryman, Bosa, and company pull out a close one on the road. Chargers win! Final score: Chargers 21, Cowboys 20.
NY Giants @ Washington Redskins. The Redskins should win this game, but this is an NFC East divisional matchup, which means anything can happen. That being said, the Redskins have the better team and should pull this one off at home. Redskins win. Final score: Washington Redskins 17, New York (New Jersey) Giants 14.--Mike B.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Miami Dolphins. The Bucs have more talent than the Dolphins but can't seem to catch a break. However, I expect them to pull together a win this week against a Dolphins team with no run game. Final score: Bucs 21, Dolphins 20.
Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears. The Bears are who I think they are; a better team than they get credit for. They prove that this week as they win at home against the Lions. Final score: Bears 28, Lions 27.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns. The Browns are a team with no hope and no wins. They continue to lose hope against a phenomenal Jaguars team this week. Final score: Jaguars 21, Browns 7.
Baltimore Ravens @ Green Bay Packers. With Rodgers injured, I don't believe in either of these teams. That being said, the Packers are just good enough to squeak out a close one at home. Packers win. Final score: Packers 24,Ravens 17.
Arizona Cardinals @ Houston Texans. This week the NFL's medical bus visits Houston as the Cardinals take on the Texans. Both of these teams are fraught with injuries, but the Texans are in better shape and should win at home. Final score: Texans 14, Cardinals 7.
LA Rams @ Minnesota Vikings. These two teams are playing for playoff seeds. The Rams are playing to overcome the Jeff Fisher barrier and pass 8 wins. They'll get win #8 this week against Minnesota. Final score: Rams 10, Vikings 7.
Washington Redskins @ New Orleans Saints. Alvin Kamara and Samaje Perine should both break out with big games this week. That being said, the Saints have more weapons than the Redskins and will win this game at home. Final score: Saints 35, Redskins 31.
Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Giants. This week a playoff team plays a not-playoff team. The playoff team wins. Final score: Chiefs 35, Giants 14.
Buffalo Bills @ LA Chargers. The NFL's quarterback controversy merry-go-round lands in LA this year as both the Chargers and the Bills come in with huge questions at quarterback. I think the Chargers and former Bill Cardale Jones pull off a win at home this week. Final score: Chargers 17, Bills 14.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos. Both of these teams are 3-6. One of these teams has no starting quarterback. One of these teams has no offensive line. The team with an offensive line wins in what should amount to a defensive battle. Final score: Broncos 7, Bengals 3.
New England Patriots @ Oakland Raiders. The Patriots and Bill Belichick are too good to bet against. Therefore, I have to pick the Patriots this week. Final score: Patriots 35, Raiders 28.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys. This week the best team in the NFC travels to Dallas to take on the Cowboys without Zeke Elliot. The Eagles win this one. Final score: Eagles 27, Cowboys 24.
Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks. The Falcons are a good football team, but I don't see them knocking off the Seahawks in Seattle. Seahawks win. Final score: Seahawks 28, Falcons 3. --Mike B.
This week on Thursday Night Football, the greatest defensive coordinator in NFL history, Dick LeBeau, and the Titans, head to Pittsburgh to take on his former team the Steelers. This should be a phenomenal matchup between two competitive teams, and LeBeau should be able to draw up some classic zone blitzes to make Roethlisburger's life difficult. That being said, I think the Steelers take this game with the rise of gamebreaking receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster adds an explosive element to the Pittsburgh offense that makes it nearly impossible to stop. I think they win one at home this week, barely. Final score: Steelers 21, Titans 20.--Mike B.
Raymond Berry is one of the greatest wide receivers ever to play the game of football. Playing split end for the Baltimore Colts from 1955 to 1967, Berry won two consecutive NFL Championships and was selected to six Pro Bowls. He led the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards three times, and in receiving touchdowns twice. As a 20th round draft pick in 1954, Raymond Berry was not expected make the Colts roster. However, he went on to have perhaps the most successful career of any wide receiver thanks to the impact he made in his era as a player. In the 1958 NFL Championship Game, "the Greatest Game Ever Played," Berry caught 12 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. He ended his career as a player with 631 receptions, 9,275 receiving yards, and 68 receiving touchdowns, legendary numbers for a player in the 1950s and 1960s. Berry was a versatile, durable player who didn't miss a single game until his 8th year in the NFL. Raymond Berry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973.
What made Raymond Berry great was not simply athletic talent; Berry was also one of the hardest working players ever to play the game. He constantly worked with Johnny Unitas after practice to prepare for games and to improve his craft. Off the practice field, Berry regularly squeezed Silly Putty to strengthen his hands, and constantly studied both his own craft and also his opponents. His hard work and dedication on and off the field helped him to form the greatest QB-WR duo of all time with Johnny Unitas, and also prepared him for a successful career as a NFL head coach, highlighted by a trip to Super Bowl XX following the 1985 season with the Patriots and a 51-41 career record. We were fortunate enough to have a chance to interview Mr. Berry here at Matt and Mike Sports, and here it is. Questions in red, Raymond's replies in blue.
Mr. Berry, you were the best receiver of your era. How did your preparation outside of practice prepare you for a dominant NFL career?
In the off season I took 2 months off, then went back to work; running, push ups, sit ups, catching, ball carrying drills, film study, pass route practice.
You played for the Colts in what was the franchise's best era. What are some of your favorite memories as a player?
-Having the good fortune to play for Weeb Ewbank, who was a master of simple fundamental football.
-Having the opportunity to play with John Unitas; No receiver ever had a better deal.
-The Colts defense featuring Gino Marchetti always got us the ball.
Who was the toughest opponent you faced (or teammate you had), and why?
-Toughest Opponent? Abe Woodson, 49ers and Irv Cross, Philadelphia Eagles then LA Rams. They knew how to cover man to man.
-In practice Lenny Lyles. I was glad when the game came.
One of your teammates with the Colts was Gino Marchetti, a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. What impact did the Second World War have on the NFL and its players?
World War II impacted my life since I had 2 older cousins die-one in Europe, one in the Pacific. As a young boy I saw the devastating effect this had on my aunts and uncles.
Gino said the Battle of the Bulge was in the coldest winter in European history. "I've never been so cold," he said.
One lesser-known fact about your career is your use of custom sun-goggles to protect your eyes during games. Where did you get the idea for the goggles? How were they made?
Playing in the LA Coliseum and San Francisco's Kezar Stadium in December, the sun set on the rim of the stadiums and blinded me. Dr. Joshua Breschkin, an eye specialist in Baltimore, designed the goggles which fit on the helmet.
Tell us about the 1958 NFL Championship Game. For you, what was the defining moment of that game?
The 1958 Championship game's defining moment: When Unitas hit me on 3 straight inside routes to move the ball into field goal range for the field goal that put the game in overtime (an NFL first).
How did your experiences as a player prepare you for success as a coach?
Playing for my Dad (a Texas high school coach) taught me my first lessons on basic fundamentals like blocking and tackling and the kicking game. Playing for Weeb Ewbank (a disciple of Paul Brown) re-emphasize the power of simplicity; very few plays, mastering the basics, not confusing the players, letting the players play at full speed with no hesitation. Let their natural athletic ability flow...get great athletes; they make a great coach. As a matter of fact great athletes make people think you are a great coach whether you are or not!
What coach or player had the greatest impact on your career, and why?
-My Dad, due to his example of combining simplicity with soundness.
-Weeb Ewbank because:
1) he recognized talent in me before anyone else.
2) he recognized talent in a free agent named John Unitas.
3) He combined simplicity with soundness.
Tell us about your preparation for games as a player and coach. What specific things helped you prepare to make plays and win games on a regular basis?
As a player:
-Physically worked out in March, April, May, and June in preparation for July training camp.
-Studied films of opponents and other receivers, in season and during the off season.
-I learned opponents' tendencies, their strengths, their weaknesses, how other people beat them, what to avoid.
As a coach:
-Film study to learn strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies to plan strategy, plays, and what to avoid.
What are some of the most significant changes in the NFL since your retirement as a player?
Holding. I call it the National Holding League.
How has the NFL Draft changed since your time in the league? What about NFL scouting?
The main thing I see is that there used to be 12 teams; now there are over 30! Spreading the talent thin.
What players today do you especially enjoy watching?
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Your faith has had a huge impact in your personal development. Tell us about your conversion. What was your personal Road to Damascus moment?
When I was playing in the NFL I began to realize there had to be more to life than chasing a football. I also had reached a realization that I had no piece; I had guilt. Then my best friend on the Colts, LB Don Shinnick, said to me: "Raymond, I don't think you have ever accepted Christ as your savior." That went over my head since I had gone to church all my life and believed Jesus was the Son of God. I had been baptized when I was 12. Don persisted, so I said "how do you do this?" He told me what to say: "God, I'm trusting Jesus as my Savior. I don't really know what I'm doing but I mean it." "Raymond," Don said, "If you trust Christ He will come and live in you. He's the power to live the Christian life. Your job is to let Him and when you screw up tell Him." So that's what I did. After that I started seeing my sin nature for the first time. I also began to be aware of Him for the first time. I experienced forgiveness. The Bible started becoming alive to me. I realized all my athletic ability and the opportunity to use it was no accident. My life changed forever. Now I'm writing to you about it.
What advice would you give to young people today who want to pursue a career as an NFL coach or player?
Check with God first to see if that's what he wants you to do or if He has other plans for you.
Mr. Berry, thank you for taking time out of your schedule for this interview. Here at Matt and Mike Sports, we consider you to be the greatest receiver ever to play the game, and it is a privilege to have an opportunity to discuss the game with you. Your career is a truly inspiring one, and you are one of the few players who's approach to the game redefined a position. We look forward to continuing to follow your legacy both as a player and a coach. Thank you again!
-Mike Bertasso and Matt Koontz, Matt and Mike Sports.
New Orleans Saints @ Buffalo Bills. This might be the game of the week; two great offenses facing off against each other? That being said, I think the Bills squeak by at home against a weak Saints defense. Final score: Bills 28, Saints 27.
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears. The Bears are who I think they are; a team capable of beating mediocre teams. The Packers are mediocre without Rodgers, so Bears win. Final score: Bears 21, Packers 12.
Cleveland Browns @ Detroit Lions. The Browns have to win a game eventually. Why not against the only team in NFL history that has ever gone 0-16? Browns win! Final score: Browns 10, Lions 7.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Indianapolis Colts. Complete team vs. incomplete team. Steelers win. Final score: Steelers 35, Colts 14.
LA Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are a team that is way better than their record, and they should take care of the Chargers at home this week. Final score: Jaguars 24, Chargers 14.
NY Jets @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These teams have swapped their projections and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Jets are playing phenomenal football right now and pulling together wins. They get another one this week. Final score: Jets 21, Buccaneers 14.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans. I don't know how the Bengals have any wins this season with that offensive line. The Titans should dominate them with Dick LeBeau. Final score: Titans 35, Bengals 17.
Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins. This should be a close game and could go either way, but I believe the Vikings continue to fight towards a divisional title this week. Final score: Vikings 35, Redskins 27.
Houston Texans @ LA Rams. The Rams are looking like a playoff team, and are just 2 wins away from the Jeff Fisher threshold. They get 1 win closer this week against a Texans team with no starting quarterback. Final score: Rams 35, Texans 12.
Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons. This game should be a good matchup, but I think the Falcons squeak out one at home against an overrated Cowboys team. Final score: Falcons 28, Cowboys 3.
New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers. Both of these teams are having embarrassing seasons. The 49ers will get less embarrassing as they win their first game of the year against the little Giants. Final score: 49ers 35, Giants 27.
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos. The Patriots are one of the best teams in football right now and should win on the road against the Broncos. Final score: Patriots 28, Broncos 27.
Miami Dolphins @ Carolina Panthers. This game could go either way, but I expect a big game out of Cam Newton and Devin Funchess this week. Panthers win. Final score: Panthers 14, Dolphins 13.--Mike B.
This week, the Seattle Seahawks travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. If Carson Palmer was healthy, this would be an intriguing matchup. However, Palmer is not, which makes this game a wash. Seattle is back in playoff form and should put up a big game on the road this Thursday. I have to pick the Seahawks in this one. Final score: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 14.--Mike B.
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers. Not completely sure what to make sure about the Panthers after the Benjamin trade, but it's Funchess time! This game could go either way, but leaning towards the Panthers as the home team. Final score: Panthers 28, Falcons 3.
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans. The depression bowl? Both of these teams are without their franchise quarterbacks. The only difference in this game is the fact that the Texans have a defense. Therefore, Texans win. Final score: Texans 14, Colts 7.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bengals have no offensive linemen but lots of defensive talent. The Jaguars have lots of defensive talent but no quarterback. This will be a close game, but the Jaguars will overwhelm the Bengals O-line and win. Final score: Jaguars 24, Bengals 14.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints. This game should be a great game, but the Buccaneers are struggling so far this season. The Saints, on the other hand, have been dominant. I've gotta give them an edge at home, although the Buccaneers are a better team than they have shown so far. Final score: Saints 24, Buccaneers 23.
LA Rams @ New Jersey Giants. The Rams are a decent football team. The Giants are a team in shambles. Rams win. Final score: Rams 35, Giants 14.
Denver Broncos @ Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are the best team in the NFC right now. THe Broncos do not have an offense. Eagles win this one at home, easily. Final score: Eagles 35, Broncos 21.
Baltimore Ravens @ Tennessee Titans. The Titans have more weapons than the Ravens do right now. Therefore, the Titans win. Final score: Titans 20, Ravens 10.
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers. Miracle alert. The 49ers win a game this week with the injury to Palmer. 49ers win! Final score: 49ers 27, Cardinals 20.
Washington Redskins @ Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are back in playoff form. I still don't trust the Redskins. Seahawks win at home. Final score: Seahawks 24, Redskins 14.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Dallas Cowboys. Just suspend Zeke Elliott or don't already! This is getting ridiculous. That being said, this could be the game of the week, and should be fun to watch. I'm going with the Chiefs in a close matchup. Final score: Chiefs 21, Cowboys 20.
Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins looked pathetic last week. They should be a team on a mission this week against a Raiders team which has struggled at times this season. I think Miami pulls one out at home. Final score: Dolphins 28, Raiders 27.
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers. Brett Hundley shows the Packers faithful why Colin Kaepernick is not the answer and leads the Packers to a win in Green Bay! Final score: Packers 27, Lions 21. -- Mike B.
P.S. Wishing all of our readers a happy Guy Fawkes Day!
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