2019 was just one of those years when it came to picking games in the NFL. In 2017, I won 171 regular season games of the 256 followed up by 174 last year. I was on the rise…I had the NFL pegged and 180/256 was the next target!
I wasn’t even close. Not in the same stratosphere. I lost to my radio colleagues…and badly. It was an embarrassment. But 2020 is upon us so time for a new set of predictions below.
I’d love for my playoff predictions to help me gain back some of that credibility I lost during the regular season but if so, that might come at the expense of my personal rooting interests.
Enjoy this week’s column and feel free to post your thoughts below!
Recapping the Regular Season
Week 17: 13-3 Straight Up (SU), 11-5 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 157-98-1 SU, 128-128 ATS
The funny thing is – remember the grid where I picked every game during the regular season in advance? (You can find it here). I went 156-99-1 straight up…only one game off my weekly predictions. I’m not sure what that says other than it was a BAD year picking games for me.
For my betting locks, I finished:
Pathetic showing there…but it was typical of the season I had in general.
Boom Players: 20-31
Bust Players: 23-28
Another example: I had 9 fantasy football teams…none won: 2nd, 2nd, 5th, 5th. 5th and the other four missed it. Pathetic.
On to the playoffs:
Wild Card Round:
Buffalo Bills 23, HOUSTON TEXANS 19 (Bills +3, Under 43.5)
I simply don’t trust Bill O’Brien teams in the playoffs. He has a 1-2 playoff record but last season’s first round dud against the Colts still stands out. The Bills have been the better team this year and I believe Buffalo will win on Saturday with a strong running game from Josh Allen and rookie RB Devin Singletary.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 28, Tennessee Titans 17 (Patriots -4.5, Over 44)
Most people (including myself at times) are writing the Patriots’ obituary as we speak…and as good as Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry have been over the last eight weeks, would you really feel confident picking against New England in what COULD be the final game of the Brady-Belichick era? Me neither.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 34, Minnesota Vikings 17 (Saints -8, Over 49.5)
Easiest pick of the weekend. Blazing hot team facing an underachieving one with a QB who chokes in big games.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 23, Seattle Seahawks 20 (Eagles +2.5, Under 44.5)
From the easiest game of the first round to the toughest. Philly is banged up, a lot more so than Seattle which says something considering the Seahawks have been decimated recently. But the Eagles are riding high having won their last four games and owe the ‘Hawks some payback for the 17-9 loss in Week 12. Going with Doug Pederson’s playoff magic once again.
BALTIMORE RAVENS 26, Buffalo Bills 13
The Bills have been a great story but they won’t be able to slow Lamar Jackson as the future MVP notches the first of likely many playoff W’s.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 27, New England Patriots 23
The revenge angle is a factor in this game…but I’m not sure which side is stronger? The Chiefs beat the Patriots a few weeks ago in Foxboro though New England won in Arrowhead to advance to the Super Bowl last season. This time, I’m confident in Patrick Mahomes doing just enough to dethrone the reigning champs.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 23, Philadelphia Eagles 13
While it’s hard to pick against Philly in the postseason of late, the 49ers are out to prove they aren’t a fluke. I’m going with the healthier team and the much better defense, not to mention home field advantage.
New Orleans Saints 26, GREEN BAY PACKERS 20
This one hurts. I want to pick my favorite team led by my favorite player…but the advanced weather forecast has this one not as bitterly cold as it needs to be to affect Drew Brees and the Saints’ lightning fast offense. The Packers have only beaten three winning teams this season so to me, the odds are stacked against them. New Orleans advances in yet another playoff disappointment for the home team at Lambeau Field.
Conference Championship Games:
Kansas City Chiefs 28, BALTIMORE RAVENS 27
Upset Special #1. In the battle of the 2018 and soon-to-be 2019 MVPs, Mahomes prevails over Jackson in a last minute thriller. Remember…the Chiefs held a 30-13 lead at the end of the 3rd quarter when these two teams met in Week 3. Sure, Lamar Jackson led a 4th quarter comeback but truly the game was never in doubt. Andy Reid advances to his 2nd Super Bowl after one of the most exciting games in any sport in recent memory.
New Orleans Saints 30, SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 24
Upset Special #2. Or is it? The 49ers won the Week 14 thriller in the Superdome on a last second Robbie Gould field goal in the NFL’s most exciting regular season game in at least the last few years. So naturally it’s time for payback…and it’s also time for good karma to shine on Sean Payton / Drew Brees after last year’s NFC Championship Game officiating debacle. Like Andy Reid above, the Payton / Brees combo advances to only their second Super Bowl in a game where the score will be closer than the teams’ play on the field.
SUPER BOWL LIV:
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 35, Kansas City Chiefs 32
In what would be an all-time classic matchup in Miami, Drew Brees wins the MVP in his final game (before retiring soon thereafter), throwing for 350+ yards and 4 TDs. Patrick Mahomes goes for 400 / 3 but it’s not enough to win Andy Reid that elusive championship. To me, this would be the most exciting Super Bowl matchup we could have…with storylines galore.
Enjoy the postseason!