In honor of Labor Day…here’s a super-sized column highlighting my (official) NFL predictions for 2017 and plenty of thoughts on college football’s awesome first weekend.
What did I really think of UofA’s 62-24 win on Saturday night? Is my national championship pick toast after Week 1? And why didn’t I include Liberty or Howard in my Best Bets from last Friday? Those topics and more in the second half of the blog.
But first let’s talk NFL. Remember my pre-preseason predictions? Time to revise those in a major way. No more Jaguars winning the AFC South. Downgrade the Bills after their preseason sell-off. And I’m adding a surprise playoff team in the NFC.
First, the regular season matrix with revised picks for all 256 games:
Projected Regular Season Standings:
New England Patriots: 16-0**
Miami Dolphins: 7-9
Buffalo Bills: 5-11
New York Jets: 0-16
Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4**
Baltimore Ravens: 9-7*
Cincinnati Bengals: 7-9
Cleveland Browns: 3-13
Tennessee Titans: 10-6**
Houston Texans: 9-7
Jacksonville Jaguars: 8-8
Indianapolis Colts: 6-10
Oakland Raiders: 10-6**
Kansas City Chiefs: 9-7*
Denver Broncos: 8-8
Los Angeles Chargers: 8-8
New York Giants: 11-5**
Philadelphia Eagles: 9-7*
Dallas Cowboys: 8-8
Washington Redskins: 6-10
Green Bay Packers: 12-4**
Minnesota Vikings: 8-8
Detroit Lions: 6-10
Chicago Bears: 4-12
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 10-6**
Atlanta Falcons: 10-6*
Carolina Panthers: 9-7
New Orleans Saints: 8-8
Seattle Seahawks: 11-5**
Arizona Cardinals: 9-7
San Francisco 49ers: 4-12
Los Angeles Rams: 4-12
Playoff Predictions – AFC:
(4) Tennessee Titans over (5) Baltimore Ravens
(6) Kansas City Chiefs over (3) Oakland Raiders
(1) New England Patriots over (6) Kansas City Chiefs
(2) Pittsburgh Steelers over (4) Tennessee Titans
(1) New England over (2) Pittsburgh Steelers
Playoff Predictions – NFC:
(3) Seattle Seahawks over (6) Philadelphia Eagles
(5) Atlanta Falcons over (4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(1) Green Bay Packers over (5) Atlanta Falcons
(3) Seattle Seahawks over (2) New York Giants
(1) Green Bay Packers over (3) Seattle Seahawks
Super Bowl LII
New England Patriots 34, Green Bay Packers 30
Super Bowl MVP: (you guessed it) Tom Brady
Awards and Superlatives
MVP: Tom Brady (I have the Patriots going 19-0 after all)
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Dalvin Cook (Vikings)
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Myles Garrett (Browns)
Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick
Passing Yards Leader: Eli Manning (Giants)
Rushing Yards Leader: Jay Ajayi (Dolphins)
Receiving Yards Leader: Mike Evans (Buccaneers)
Team to sign Colin Kaepernick: Indianapolis Colts
Recapping college football’s awesome Week 1:
-UofA beat NAU by 38 on Saturday and for the second straight regular season game, topped 500 yards rushing. Fine, great, sure. They also gave up over 600 yards on defense, not including the bad snap on NAU’s first quarter field goal which lost 40 yards. To call it a subpar defensive effort throughout is putting it mildly. I have no doubt that Arizona will rack up amazing rushing yardage totals in games they’re winning and / or slightly trailing. But that passing game looks downright horrendous. Brandon Dawkins’ ability to throw the ball hasn’t improved a bit from last season and his weapons at wide receiver have clearly diminished. As much as it pains me to admit this an an alumnus and diehard fan of the team, I saw nothing in person on Saturday night that made me think this team is capable of making a bowl game in 2017. I really hope I’m wrong. As of now, I’ll be picking Houston to win in Tucson this upcoming Saturday night.
-Missed my thoughts on ASU-New Mexico State? Read them here.
-Can I re-predict my college football national champion? Because Florida State QB (and one of my projected Heisman finalists) Deondre Francois is done for the season with an ugly looking patellar tendon injury. Sorry Noles fans…it’s OVER for your team this season. They may still win the ACC and finish in the top -0 (both unlikely), but they DEFINITELY won’t run the table. While other top contenders struggled for a half or so (USC, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Washington), they ended up finishing well. Florida State’s performance against Alabama was just the opposite. As for the Crimson Tide, once again they have stamped themselves as college football’s top team and are showing no signs of letting up anytime soon.
My revised Week 1 National Championship Game prediction: Alabama over Penn State. Call me crazy for now (I probably am) but the Nittany Lions looked as sharp as can be against a competent Akron team.
-I was all ready to write about how UCLA needed to get rid of Jim Mora (actually I did…then erased it). They were down 44-10 in the 3rd quarter! Texas A&M was absolutely dominating on Sunday night…and then their QB, Nick Starkel got hurt. It was as if the game restarted and UCLA realized how talented they really were. They rattled off 35 in a row and put A&M’s Kevin Sumlin halfway to the unemployment line. He’s toast. I don’t know how a coach, already on the hot seat, can rebound from such a meltdown. Will he last the season now?
Also Bruins QB Josh Rosen jumps to the front of the 2017 Heisman list (for now) with a 491 yard, 4 TD performance. It was as stunning a comeback as college football has ever seen! The craziest game of the year comes in Week 1 on Sunday night – just like last year (Notre Dame – Texas). Top that next Sunday, NFL!
-Michigan is crazy talented though they have major QB issues for now. Florida never had a chance to score an offensive TD and was lucky to be in the game due to two interceptions returned for touchdowns.
-I predicted that LSU would blow BYU out…but 27-0…with the Cougars posting -5 net rushing yards? It’s too early to tell if the Tigers are THAT good or the Cougs are THAT bad…but wow.
-The two most impressive road wins from Saturday’s action: Maryland putting up 51 and winning at Texas…and Cal kicking off at 9am PST and beating North Carolina in Chapel Hill. A very, very, VERY disappointing way for the Longhorns to begin under new coach Tom Herman to say the least. I’m not on the Golden Bears’ hype train just yet as UNC looked to be in rebuilding mode as is; either way many props to new coach Justin Wilcox on a successful debut.
-UNLV and Baylor absolutely suffered the worst losses of the weekend though – to FCS (1-AA) teams Howard and Liberty respectively. Check this out:
Only in dreams:
Howard +45 ov UNLV
Liberty +33 ov Baylor
(both Top 10 upsets ALL-TIME)
$100 parlay on BOTH wins would’ve paid $4.1 MILLION!!
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) September 3, 2017
A standard two team parlay pays 2.6-1 odds. This two team parlay would’ve paid 41,000-1 odds and I guarantee you that no one had it! Gambling: what dreams are made of; for Baylor and UNLV, only nightmares.