NFL

Week 3 NFL Picks – An All Texans Fantasy

Two weeks in, and I’m in the black. Let’s keep the good luck rolling.

Home teams are in CAPS, and as always, here’s an explanation for each of the categories of games:

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games are worth 5 apples.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games are worth 10 apples.

KFC Double Down Games are worth 20 apples.

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Lock o’ the Week is worth 50 apples.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Game:

FALCONS (-6.5) over Buccaneers
How is this game primetime and Seahawks-Broncos is not? We have the great matchup of a team that lost to Austin Davis and a team that lost by two touchdowns to the Bengals last week, so I’ll be doing anything but watching this game on Thursday.

SEAHAWKS (-5) over Broncos
Speaking of the Super Bowl XLVIII rematch, the Seahawks won their last matchup by 35, and this line is 5 points. Silly Vegas, you don’t even know how to make a line.

Raiders (+14.5) over PATRIOTS
I hate lines like this. The Raiders are bad but could very easily score a touchdown with a minute left to cut a 21-point deficit to 14 points and cover. Don’t bet on this game.

BROWNS (+1.5) over Ravens
Any game in the AFC North that doesn’t include the Bengals is probably going to be the Who Cares Game of the Week.

EAGLES (-6.5) over Injuns
I’m starting to think the Eagles could go 8-8 and win their division. Now they’re a whole lot more talented than that, but the rest of the division is more bleak than RG3’s future.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Game:

Chargers (+2.5) over BILLS
Honestly I’m surprised a team that took down the defending champions isn’t getting more respect. This is the first of four games the rest of the way this week that I pick the underdog but would still take them even if the line was flipped around.

BENGALS (-7) over Titans
I watched the Titans game last week while keeping stats for the FOX Sports broadcast (humblebrag), and the Titans looked impossibly bad. Until further notice, I’ll be picking against them every week, especially when they play playoff teams like the Bengals.

SAINTS (-10.5) over Vikings
Pop Quiz: Is Matt Asiata A) the Vikings’ new starting running back with Adrian Peterson placed on the exempt list B) one of the featured artists on Ne-Yo’s new album Non Fiction or C) my Politics and Mass Media professor? Well since this quiz is under the Vikings game, I really hope you picked A.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 4.55.00 PM

Jay Cutler got absolutely level by Quinton Dial last week. Also fun fact: he went to Vanderbilt.

Bears (+3) over JETS
Pop Quiz: Is Devonte Hynes A) the Bear’s new nickelback with Charles Tillman out for the season B) one of the featured artists on Tinashe’s upcoming album Aquarius or C) the full name of Keegan-Michael Key’s MADtv character? Trick question he’s a singer!

Texans (-2.5) over GIANTS
Some guy drafted a team of all Texans for his fantasy team and managed to win in Week 1, so colored me shocked he didn’t go 0-16. That got me thinking: what team would make the best fantasy team? It’s got to be Denver, Green Bay, or New Orleans, right?

KFC Double Down Game:

Cowboys (-1) over RAMS
I thought Vegas was supposed to to favor Dallas more because the Cowboy faithful will always bet on their team…

Colts (-7) over JAGUARS
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. Morehead State students’ dunking skills
2. Hardin Valley High School’s screen pass
3. Mr. Met’s new haircut
4. Arkansas State’s trick plays
5. MLB’s Photoshopping skills
6. Andrew Bynum’s hair
7. Andrew Bynum’s hair
8. Andrew Bynum’s hair
9. Andrew Bynum’s hair
10. Andrew Bynum’s hair oh wait he actually wore something normal for once

Chiefs (+4.5) over DOLPHINS
I’m not ready to live in a world where losing to the Bills by 19 leads to you getting favored by a likely playoff team by more than a field goal.

Packers (+2) over LIONS
Among the awful things said this week, Jameis Winston is getting the most press, but Reggie Bush takes the cake (in my opinion) for the straight up dumbest thing to say.

Niners (-3) over CARDINALS
Honestly I thought Drew Stanton was Drew Henson, but it won’t matter who’s under center against the Niners.

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Lock o’ the Week

PANTHERS (-3.5) over Steelers
This line makes so little sense to me that I’m worried I’m missing something. Did Cam Newton re-aggravate his back injury? Did Luke Kuechley join a human trafficking ring? What am I missing??!

Overall record: 18-13-1

Last week: 10-6

Apple Total: 65

Apple Total Last Week: 85

Categories: NFL | 1 Comment

Week 2 NFL Picks – Donkey Kong Suh

After one week of making picks, I got most of them right. Eight out of 15 to be exact. Of course, I missed the inaugural Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Lock o’ the Week, so I lost 20 apples on the week.

There aren’t even any big lessons to be learned because the games I missed were a good mix of road dogs (2), road favorites (1), home dogs (3), and home favorites (1). Take more underdogs I guess?

Anyway, I’ll be keeping up the key to my picks for the rest of the season to avoid confusion about what my different sections mean.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games are worth 5 apples.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games are worth 10 apples.

KFC Double Down Games are worth 20 apples.

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Lock o’ the Week is worth 50 apples.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Game:

Steelers (+2.5) over RAVENS
I said it last week, but I don’t think either team is that good. My usual rule of thumb (when these teams were good) was to take the points every time, so now that they’re both average at best, I think I’ll stick with that strategy.

BILLS (+1) over Dolphins
After watching Kenny Trill Hill play two weeks in row and hearing about Kyle Allen, there’s a really strong possibility that the Dolphins drafted the worst Texas A&M quarterback in a decade to be their franchise QB.

Chiefs (+13.5) over BRONCOS
Before we anoint the Broncos the supreme rulers of the universe, can we let them have one decisive victory? Denver almost blew at 24-0 lead at home.

Jets (+8.5) over PACKERS
Did you see the Jets’ offense look competent last week?? Sure, it was against the Raiders, but they averaged 6.2 yards on the ground and Geno Smith had a very un-New York quarterback game with only one interception.

NINERS (-7) over Bears
I really want to like the Bears with the combination of Jay Cutler (did you know he went to Vanderbilt??) and his big receivers (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, and Martellus Bennett) plus Matt Forte, but the team did not look great against the Bills. They got sliced up for 193 yards on the ground and turned it over three times. Once they face a real run game and real defense, they had better show last week was a fluke.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Game:

INJUNS (-6) over Jaguars
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. Antonio Brown’s hurdling skills
2. This bear’s ability to play golf
3. Arizona State fraternities’ taste in party themes
4. The Dodgers’ defense
5. Josh McCown’s improvisation skills
6. Chris Bosh’s photobombing
7. Chris Bosh’s photobombing
8. Chris Bosh’s photobombing
9. Chris Bosh’s photobombing
10. Chris Bosh’s photobombing while holding his daughter after a game

Cowboys (+3.5) over TITANS
Jake Locker made it through one regular season without getting hurt, so the Titans are really just in the black for the rest of the way.

Seahawks (-6) over CHARGERS
Seattle and San Diego are two of my favorite cities in the US. I could work with 60-70 year round temperatures. However, I could not live with the Chargers’ defense. They were last in the NFL in defensive DVOA last year, and after Eric Weddle and Brandon Flowers, I’m not sure I’d want another one of their players starting for me.

Eagles (+3) over COLTS
In the first half last week, the Eagles trailed the Jaguars 17-0, and Chip Kelly lost his genius moniker. Then they out-scored Jacksonville 34-0 in the second half, and Chip Kelly was a genius again. For my own sake as a Darren Sproles fantasy owner, I’m banking on him still being a genius.

Saints (-6.5) over BROWNS
Did anyone else know Isaiah Crowell was still playing football? I assumed after he got kicked off of Georgia’s team he’d go the way of Maurice Clarrett.

KFC Double Down Game:

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This picture is too good not to post

Texans (-3) over RAIDERS
With Derek Carr vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick and no Jadeveon Clowney because of potholes in NRG Stadium, this is definitely the Who Cares Game of the Week.

PANTHERS (-3) over Lions
In today’s media session, Cam Newton kept reiterating that he’s “trying to find ways to stay protected by Donkey Kong Suh” and said it with a straight face. That’s some serious shade. I’m taking the Panthers.

BUCCANEERS (-5) over Rams
Pop Quiz: Is Austin Davis A) the newest teen country star B) the lead actor for new Disney Channel show “Girl Meets World” or C) the Rams new starting quarterback.

Falcons (+5) over BENGALS
I’m going to ride out the Falcons to start the year because I think people/Vegas are underrating them coming off an extremely disappointing 4-12 season. (Yes, I know I picked against them last week.)

Cardinals (-2.5) over GIANTS
I’m going to ride out picking against the Giants to start the year because I think people/Vegas are overrating them for winning two stupid Super Bowls with their stupid quarterback. (Yes, I know I picked them last week.)

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Lock o’ the Week

Patriots (-3) over VIKINGS
Give me Tim Brady vs. Matt Cassel, I’ll take the older guy every time.

Overall record: 8-7-1

Last week: 8-7-1

Apple Total: -20

Apple Total Last Week: -20

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Week 1 NFL Picks – The Washington Injuns

Welcome back to my weekly NFL picks, the column you mostly come to see which ten awful things that are still better than the Jacksonville Jaguars.

As you (may or) may not remember, I’ve been using a complicated system for my picks the last two years, weighting each game differently. I bet a certain amount of apples on each game because, of course, betting money on sports is illegal in the United States.

We have the Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games, which are worth 5 apples.

We have the Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games, which are worth 10 apples.

We have the KFC Double Down Games, which are worth 20 apples.

And finally, we have the Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Lock o’ the Week, which is worth 50 apples.

(I’m still waiting on my checks from my sponsorship companies. I think they may have gotten lost in the mail.)

The math is tough, but you’ll have to hang in here. Basically, the more confident I am, the more apples I’ll wager. I’m very unclear how I did last year because I didn’t make picks every week but I went 123-113-8 but lost 320 apples. That’s sort of what happens when you go 6-9-1 in the 50 apple games.

Really, one of the main reasons I saved face and was even that good was because friend of the program Cristina Dafonte (AKA @turntuptina) picked for me twice and went 17-11-3 and made me 85 apples. She will undoubtedly be back later this season for a guest appearance.

Without further ado, let’s get this season going strong. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Game:

Raiders (+5) over JETS
I’m honestly not too sure how many worse quarterback matchups we’ll get this year than Derek Carr vs. Geno Smith. I honestly feel sorry for anyone watching this game.

SEAHAWKS (-5.5) over Packers
This will always be one of my favorite games because it brings back great memories of the replacement refs. I still like to yell “TOUCHDOWN SEAHAWKS!” and no one seems to remember it. I’m setting the over/under on mentions of that game at 2.5.

Chargers (+3) over CARDINALS
I must have lost at least four Locks o’ the Week last year betting against the Cardinals, so I figured I’d start off the new season picking against them again.

COWBOYS (+5) over Niners
I’m still legitimately upset that the Cowboys didn’t draft Johnny Football. It would have been the best thing to ever happen to sports. ESPN would set up a third headquarters in Dallas and have an entire network devoted to Johnny Football, Tony Romo, and Jerry Jones. Such a shame. And it almost happened, too.

Giants (+6) over LIONS
The line’s a little too high for me to pick the Lions, but the Giants might be a big mess this year. They were 29th in rushing last year, and now their leading rushers are Rashad Jennings and Peyton “Wait how did he ever get on the cover of Madden” Hillis.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Game:

Vikings (+3.5) over RAMS
Poor Sam Bradford. Two straight knee injuries to end his seasons. You’d think he could pay someone to give him bionic knees with that $86 million contract he got.

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I’d just like to take this time to re-post one of my favorite Onion articles of all time.

TEXANS (-3) over Injuns
Lots of different publication are protesting the Redskins name in different ways. The Washington Post editorial board and New York Times will no longer print the name. Bill Simmons only writes Washington. I thought about naming different tribes of American Indians for every week in reference to that great commercial that ran during the Super Bowl, but instead I’m going with a slightly less offensive name than the Redskins: the Injuns.

Saints (-3) over FALCONS
The Falcons’ offensive line wasn’t great to start with, and then left tackle Sam Baker suffered a season-ending injury. I still like them, but not that much.

Browns (+6.5) over STEELERS
The Steelers aren’t as good as you’d think, and the Browns aren’t as bad as you’d think. Remember, Cleveland is returning four Pro Bowlers (not including Josh Gordon), signed Karlos Dansby, Donte Whitner, and Ben Tate, and had two first-round picks. This could be a shockingly good team once they finally give Johnny Football the ball.

BRONCOS (-7.5) over Colts
I don’t know if any team will be able to beat the Broncos this year. Did you see everyone they added? They might be unstoppable. This definitely isn’t a reverse jinx. Nope.

KFC Double Down Game:

Panthers (+2.5) over BUCCANEERS
I can’t get behind a team led by Josh McCown being protected by Anthony Collins, Logan Mankins, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Patrick Omameh, and Demar Dotson. Also is it crazy to say that the Panthers may have a better receiving corp with Kelvin Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery, and Jason Avant compared to Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, and Ted Ginn?

BEARS (-7) over Bills
Did you know that Jay Cutler went to Vanderbilt?

EAGLES (-10.5) over Jaguars
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. The NFL’s suspension policies on drugs and domestic abuse
2. Taylor Swift’s dancing in the Shake It Off music video
3. The Arkansas-Little Rock athletic director’s filter
4. This woman in a Hawaiian shirt’s quintette
5. People who have posters of Django chained up in their room
6. Jacksonville’s divorce rate
7. Jacksonville’s job market
8. Jacksonville’s happiness
9. Jacksonville’s drinking water
10. Jacksonville’s safety for its pedestrians who are walking back after spending three miserable hours watching their train wreck of a team

Bengals (+2) over RAVENS
This line doesn’t make much sense to me. The Ravens weren’t particularly good last year, and the Bengals were. In fact, only three teams (Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco) had better point differentials than Cincy.

Patriots (-5) over DOLPHINS
This reeks of classic Patriots crapping the bed to open the season, eeking out a 1-point win over an underwhelming Dolphins team. So I’m taking the Patriots to win big.

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Lock o’ the Week

Chiefs (-4) over TITANS
I’m also legitimately upset that the Titans didn’t draft Johnny Football. Every night I go downtown, there would be a not-insignificant chance I would see Johnny on Broadway, AND NOW THAT DREAM IS RUINED. Well, except for the weekend of October 5th, when, of course, I’ll be in Athens watching Vanderbilt get throttled by Georgia. Thanks, Obama.

Overall record: 0-0

Last week: 0-0

Apple Total: 0

Apple Total Last Week: 0

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The Case for Jordan Matthews

I don’t often over-enthusiastically endorse players I cover for upcoming drafts because I’ve seen them long enough to see their warts.

Take, for instance Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, who I’ve greatly enjoyed covering for the past two years. When he’s on, I don’t think I’ve seen a more dominant collegiate pitcher, but I’ve also seen his command wobble, which is why I understand ESPN’s Keith Law having him fall from the 4th overall prospect to the 14th prospect.

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I’m going to make sure Jordan Matthews is on my fantasy team next year, even if it’s with the first overall pick

This is not the case with Jordan Matthews. There just aren’t any notable warts.

In my two years covering Matthews, I’ve seen a receiver quite literally put the team on his back, making several catches in do-or-die situations I didn’t think were possible.

Matthews became the SEC all-time leaders in receptions and receiving yardage despite playing without top-level quarterbacks. Jordan Rodgers, Larry Smith, and Austyn Carta-Samuels were at best good, not great; only Carta-Samuels finished in the top half of SEC quarterbacks in QB Rating, and he played just ten games in 2013. Patton Robinette was very limited when he played, mostly keeping Matthews to passes under five yards.

Furthermore, Matthews hardly had much protection in the form of another receiver. Chris Boyd and Jonathan Krause each had one 700-yard receiving years, but the defense knew Vanderbilt was trying to get the ball to Matthews nearly every time they dropped back to pass and still couldn’t do a thing to stop him.

Obviously teams don’t draft players off past performance, but it’s hard to imagine such a great college player—the most productive receiver in the toughest conference—falling in the draft. Especially one with prototypical size, prototypical speed, and enormous hands.

The knock on Matthews has been that he’s just a possession receiver and lacks the athleticism and explosiveness of other receivers. Maybe that comes about as a heuristic because Matthews is the only senior among top draft prospects, but that doesn’t make sense, since he’s actually younger than Marqise Lee and Kelvin Benjamin.

But look at the numbers from the combine. Matthews is every bit the athlete as the other six top draft prospects and is even a marginally better athlete than consensus top receiver Sammy Watkins.

Name Height Weight Hand 40 Yard Bench Vert Leap Shuttle 3Cone Age
Odell Beckham 71 198 10 4.43 7 38.5 3.94 6.69 21.5
Kelvin Benjamin 77 240 10 1/4 4.61 13 32.5 4.39 7.33 23.3
Brandin Cooks 70 189 9 5/8 4.33 16 36 3.81 6.76 20.6
Mike Evans 77 231 9 5/8 4.53 12 37 4.26 7.08 20.7
Marqise Lee 73 192 9 1/2 4.52 38 4.01 22.5
Jordan Matthews 75 212 10 3/8 4.46 21 35.5 4.18 6.95 21.8
Sammy Watkins 73 211 9 5/8 4.43 16 34 4.34 6.95 20.9

Aside from a handful of games, I haven’t gotten to see much the other six receivers, but I can tell you what I know about Matthews: there’s no way he’s going to be a disappointment in the pros. Worst-case scenario he’s a taller Anquan Boldin–a strong possession receiver–but he’s got the potential for much more.

That’s why it surprises me why teams are so down on Matthews. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has mocked Matthews as high as 22 to the Eagles, but he has him going to the 49ers at number 30 in his latest mock draft. SI’s Peter King has Matthews going 28th to the Panthers, and FoxSports’ Joel Klatt has him going 32nd to the Seahawks, but ESPN’s Todd McShay, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, and all of the CBSSports.com writers don’t have Matthews as a first-round pick at all.

The NFL Draft is nothing more than a glorified crapshoot (and I’ll admit I eat it up every single year), but it blows my mind that Matthews isn’t getting more attention considering his history, physical characteristics, and durability, not to mention his incredible personality and leadership. He’s even got such a strong work ethic that he studied up on film of cornerbacks at the Senior Bowl, even if he didn’t put on an outstanding showing there.

I could go on and on about what makes Matthews special, but there’s one thing that sticks out most to me, something his coaches have reiterated in his time at Vanderbilt: when the ball is in the air, he knows it’s his. Part of that is his massive size and giant hands (nearly an inch wider than Mike Evans’!!!) but a large part of it is also his incredible will and determination, part of what brought him from a 2-star recruit to being an All-American.

There’s a very good chance that Jordan Matthews falls to the second round in this draft, but I think that these teams will be making a big mistake. And I think history will be on his side.

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Divisional Round NFL Picks – Vegas Can Kick Rocks

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve made NFL picks because I’ve been busy over winter break with vacation and following the crazy James Franklin saga, but I’m back for the second round of NFL picks.

Although this season has been… tough to say the least, I’ve actually been historically really good in the playoffs. Just last season, I was 7-1 and made 160 apples, and last week, I was 2-2 but still made 25 apples.

If you’re like me and are tired off all this college football drama, here are my picks for this weekend’s slate of games. Now that we’re out of the regular season, I promise you’ll make a killing off these picks.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Chargers (+9.5) over BRONCOS

I’ll admit this off the bat: I’ve never been a huge Peyton Manning fan. But this pick doesn’t have to do with hatred, it has to do with stone cold facts.

Facts like Peyton Manning being 11-12 when the temperature is under 40 degrees at kickoff.

Facts like Peyton Manning being 9-11 in the playoffs.

Facts like Peyton Manning being 0-73 when his team has less points at the end of the game.

There’s a funny feeling to this Chargers team. And not just because Philip Rivers has brought bolo tie fashion to San Diego or because two weird trends say they will win the Super Bowl. Rivers is having a career year–partly thanks to Offensive Rookie of the Year co-favorite Keenan Allen–and the shockingly good combo of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead has combined for 2,478 yards at running back.

There are certainly red flags in this game for San Diego–their defensive line is ranked last in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate, and they’ve given up the 4th-most passing yards in the league. But at the same time, this Broncos team is slowly falling apart with Von Miller, Ryan Clady, Rahim Moore, and Kevin Vickerson all on the IR.

We’ve already seen that the Chargers can hang with the Broncos–they lost 28-20 at home in Week 10 and won 27-20 in Denver in Week 15–so I don’t think it’s out of the question for them to win. And pardon me for questioning John Fox playoff teams coming off a bye. (No, I don’t actually think you can draw any conclusions from one game, but I’m still bitter about 2009.)

In the end, I think that Denver’s offense is a little to strong for San Diego to keep up with, but this 9.5-point spread seems a bit high.

Prediction: Broncos 31 Chargers 27

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

PATRIOTS (-7) over Colts

Somehow, the Patriots and Colts have only faced each other in the playoffs three times (2004, 2005, and 2007), but each time, the home team went on to win the Super Bowl. Something tells me that trend ends this year.

Even as a noted Patriots homer, I’ve still been very vocal in saying the Patriots will not win the Super Bowl this year now that they’ve lost Vince Wilfork and Rob Gronkowski. But that’s not to say you should count out Touchdown Tom.

The Colts have been one of the most bizarre teams all year, beating the Niners, Seahawks, and Broncos, yet losing to the Dolphins, Rams, and Cardinals. They don’t have a single rusher over 550 yards on the season, and T.Y. Hilton is their best receiver. Their defense is a reinvigorated Robert Mathis and that’s it.

Although Tom Brady has had far from his best year, he’s had an excellent 70.6 QBR since his bye, if you exclude the weird Week 17 game. I really like Andrew Luck, but I’ll still take Brady in the playoffs, especially at Gillette, where he’s 11-4. The Patriots running game has really picked up lately, watch out for LeGarrette Blount, and that could be the difference in this game, since Denver is 26th in the NFL against the run.

Prediction: Patriots 30 Colts 20

KFC Double Down Games:

SEAHAWKS (-8) over Saints

I was tempted to pick the Saints here for a while, but then I thought better of it. Eight points is a large spread, but the Seahawks are incredibly good at home, and Percy Harvin should finally be healthy.

Most people agree that the Seahawks are the Super Bowl favorites between Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, their incredible defensive front, huge (roiding) cornerbacks, and steady QB play from Russell Wilson. But the bigger scare to me here is that the Saints’ passing attack is so good that Drew Brees could easily pull a backdoor cover.

Despite having a nearly absent running game all season, Brees has still flourished. Part of that is thanks to Jimmy Graham finally breaking out and Kenny Stills becoming the next in a long line of successful, young Sean Payton receivers, but his season is still impressive nonetheless. So impressive that he didn’t have a QBR under 50 until Week 13. Of course, Week 13 was against Seattle.

Seattle is the top team against the pass, largely because they have two 6’3″ defensive backs, another at 6’1″, and three-time Pro Bowler Earl Thomas as the last starter. That helps prevents mismatches against teams with tall receivers like, say, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, and Robert Meachem.

We’ve seen how this game plays out in that Week 13 matchup–the Seahawks ran away with it 34-7 coming off a bye. It won’t be so lopsided, but New Orleans just doesn’t have much luck in the Emerald City.

Prediction: Seahawks 31 Saints 17

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

PANTHERS (+1) over Niners

I’m upset that the Panthers are underdogs in this game. That’s just disrespectful. Carolina went into Candlestick Park and held the Niners to 9 points, and then Vegas pulls this?

You’re damn right I’m going to fill this section up with fan propaganda.

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I’ll just leave you with this picture.

Sure, the Niners are getting back Michael Crabtree, and Aldon Smith only played limited snaps last game, but last time they played wasn’t even the Panthers’ best effort. The Panthers sacked Colin Kaepernick six times, and Greg Hardy wasn’t even included in that barrage. Now he said he’s going to break Kaepernick’s face.

The Panthers might just have the best front seven in the league–even after trading Jon Beason for pocket change–and we’ve seen them hold Kaepernick to 91 yards passing.

The Panthers have become a dominant team when Cam Newton plays well. They’re 8-2 with a +121 point differential when Cam has a QBR over 50, and they’re 5-2 with a +49 point differential when he doesn’t turn the ball over. With more consistent play and a strong running attack (they’re the only team to rush for at least 80 yards every game), this Panthers team is just complete across the board.

So you can kick rocks, Vegas.

Prediction: Panthers 24 Niners 16

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Week 16 NFL Picks – Leather Jogging Pants

There’s gotta be a Kanye West reference in here if the title is Leather Jogging Pants, right? Week 16 NFL Picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Raiders (+10) over CHARGERS
Going from playing at Denver to hosting Oakland is a pretty huge dropoff. I’m betting the Chargers let up to some extent here, especially with Kansas City coming to town next week.

Steelers (PK) over PACKERS
Matt Flynn’s playing really well with the Packers. I wonder if he’ll finally get paid this off-season.

Falcons (+12) over NINERS
Record be damned, the Falcons do have talented players, which is more than most 4-10 teams can say. I highly doubt they win this one, but I also doubt they get blown out in primetime.

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         I’m pretty bummed this game isn’t on Sunday Night Football.           I ❤ Kraken

Saints (+3) over PANTHERS
I really want to believe the Panthers are going to win this game. I do. And I know the Saints are 1-6 against the spread on the road. But the Panthers looked awful in the Superdome, and I have a hard time convincing myself they’ll outright win this game, let alone cover the spread.

BENGALS (-7.5) over Vikings
When one team has to use a backup punter, you know it’s your Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That Game of the Week.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

REDSKINS (+3) over Cowboys
Sure, Mike Shanahan has totally butchered this RG3 situation from playing him in last year’s playoff game to this entire season, but Kirk Cousins is making me dolla dolla bills on Earn Like a Pro. GO KIRK COUSINS!!!

SEAHAWKS (-10.5) over Cardinals
The Texas Rangers taking Russell Wilson in the Rule V draft makes little sense for several reasons, not the least of which is Wilson plays about 200% better in Seattle. Seattle is not in Texas.

Bears (+3) over EAGLES
Chicago is 15 yards away from having three players with 1,200 yards rushing or receiving. Just think about that for a second. And then think about Jay Cutler throwing interceptions and looking grumpy.

Patriots (+2.5) over RAVENS
Without Gronk and Wilfork, the Patriots don’t have a Super Bowl run in them. But they probably have a scrappy run to the AFC Championship Game in them that will get the entire city of Boston’s hope up, only to see it come crashing down.

Giants (+9) over LIONS
Hey, why not?

KFC Double Down Games:

Dolphins (-2.5) over BILLS
I’m a little tired of the idea the Bills are so much more used to the cold weather than the Dolphins. Sure, the fans are used to the cold, but most of the players on roster are from the South. E.J. Manuel? Virginia Beach. C.J. Spiller? Lake Butler, Florida. Mario Williams. Richland, N.C.

RAMS (-5.5) over BUCCANEERS
Zac Stacy is closing in on 1,000 yards rushing in his rookie year, despite only receiving one carry in his first four games. Oh, and Vanderbilt hit it first.

Titans (-5.5) over JAGUARS
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. The Bengals’ tackling
2. Arizona Western’s punter
3. Bolbi Stroganovsky’s dancing
4. Al Jefferson’s hook shot
5. This dog’s ability to protect its owner from a cat
6. Nick Young’s trick shot ability
7. Nick Young’s ability to run a fastbreak
8. Nick Young’s choice in nicknames
9. Nick Young’s shot selection
10. Nick Young’s ability to not infringe upon Kanye West’s leather jogging pants monopoly

Broncos (-10.5) over TEXANS
As much as the Texans’ front office may want to lose their last two games to lock up Teddy Bridgewater, but you know who doesn’t want that to happen? Case Keenum. Luckily, there’s not much he can do about it.

CHIEFS (-7) over Colts
Fun fact: Alex Smith’s 5 touchdown passes went a combined 13 yards last week. That’s it. I don’t have any stats to throw at you about why the Chiefs will win, but they will.

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

Browns (+2) over JETS
The Jets (specifically Geno Smith) have trouble against teams with good defenses. Believe it or not, the Browns have a great pass rush, led by 4.5-sack, $40 million Paul Kruger with one of the best corners in the game, Joe Haden.

Overall record: 113-104-7

Last week: 12-4

Apple Total: -230

Apple Total Last Week: 85

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Week 15 NFL Picks – Above .500!!!

For the first time all year, I broke the .500 mark picking games after going 9-7. As a comparison, Bill Simmons, who originally inspired me to go into sports writing, is 90-112-6 on the season. Small Miracles.

However, I’m still 315 apples in debt since I’m fully incapable of picking my Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week. Basically I don’t know what I’m good at. At the very least, I’m getting most of my picks correctly, which bodes well for the future.

In case you forgot, never knew, or don’t read my intros (which doesn’t help in this case), each of my four unofficially officially sponsored sections of picks are weighted by different amounts of apples. Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games are worth 5 apples, Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games are worth 10 apples, KFC Double Down Games are worth 20 apples, and the Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week is worth 50 apples.

Basically if you go 5-8-1 in Cook Out Drive-Thru Locks o’ the Week, things aren’t going to go well.

But like Arian Foster’s season-ending surgery, I’m back. Week 15 NFL Picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Chargers (+10.5) over BRONCOS
Early games actually feature an average of almost six more points per game than Sunday or Monday games, but who uses numbers these days. Nerds, that’s who! I don’t think a banged up Denver team will put up so many points that San Diego will lose by 11.

COLTS (-5.5) over Texans
Never underestimate the power of Wade Philips.

Bills (-2) over JAGUARS
Is it worth running this segment anymore now that the Jags have the longest winning streak in the AFC? Ehh why not? Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. Bears fans’ evasiveness
2. Canadian football players’ ability to factor in wind
3. Game of Thrones spinoff songs
4. Francisco Liriano’s case for the NL to not use DHs
5. Tyler Zeller’s ability to remember which basket is his
6. Johnny Manziel’s ability to not have fun on Halloween
7. Johnny Manziel’s reception at the University of Texas
8. Johnny Manziel’s choice in jerseys
9. Johnny Manziel’s ability to not profit off his name
10. Johnny Manziel’s ability to show any sort of respect the institution that is the NCAA, dammit!

Jets (+11) over PANTHERS
The Panthers actually only average 21 points per game and have looked pretty stagnant on offense. The Jets also have probably the best front 7 after the Panthers, so Cam Newton will have to have an especially great day to cover this spread. Then again, it is the Jets…

Packers (+7) over COWBOYS
The Cowboys defense is so bad that it made Amare Stoudemire laugh. Sorry for mixing up sports.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

Redskins (+6.5) over FALCONS
Say what you want about Mike Shanahan’s controversial decision to (finally) shut down RG3 for Kirk Cousins, but there’s no way I’m giving up nearly a field goal to pick the Falcons.

Ravens (+6) over LIONS
It was pretty ridiculous to ask the Lions and Eagles to play in that crazy snow last week when they couldn’t even get off a PAT. There’s a reason baseball calls off game for rain and snow. But still, I really enjoyed Matt Stafford’s face in the game.

    Sure, Josh Gordon leads the NFL in receiving yards despite missing two games, but he smoked weed, so he's a bad person.

Sure, Josh Gordon leads the NFL in receiving yards despite missing two games, but he smoked weed, so he’s a bad person.

Eagles (-4.5) VIKINGS
Watching the Eagles’ offense take flight makes me sad that the Panthers didn’t jump on him this off-season. Thank God they fired Ron Rivera for that Riverboat Ron guy…

Bears (PK) over BROWNS
Josh McCown has been surprisingly solid so far, but I feel so bad for the team that gives him $20 million this summer.

Seahawks (-7) over GIANTS
Sure, the Seahawks are only 5-2 on the road with an average point margin of 5.7 points, but they’re playing the Giants. Also, this has nothing to do with Turnt Up Tina bailing on doing the picks this week.

KFC Double Down Games:

Cardinals (-2.5) over TITANS
I’m fully on the Begrudgingly Pick The Cardinals Because They Keep Screwing Me Over When I Don’t Pick Them bandwagon. Also, the Titans inspire less confidence than DeAndre Jordan in a free throw contest. Again, sorry for mixing up sports.

Niners (-5.5) over BUCCANEERS
Before you get excited about the Bucs turning things around, their four wins came against teams with a 21-31 record. And their quarterback is still Mike Glennon. Who lost to Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl last year.

Bengals (-2.5) over STEELERS
This might be the first Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That Game of the Week all year featuring a team that may get a bye.

Patriots (-2.5) over DOLPHINS
Without Vince Wilfork and Rob Gronkowski, the Pats stand about no chance to win the Super Bowl this year. With Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Miller, the Dolphins stand about no chance to win this game.

Saints (-5.5) over RAMS
I’m starting to get nervous about how easy these 2.5-5.5 point favorites in my KFC Double Down games seem…

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

Chiefs (-4.5) over RAIDERS
After personally picking the Raiders two times in a row and losing, I’m starting to question the greatness of Matt McGloin.

Overall record: 101-100-7

Last week: 9-7

Apple Total: -315

Apple Total Last Week: -35

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Week 14 NFL Picks – Heisman Talk

For the second week this year, huge Giants fan and noted ridiculous person Cristina Dafonte made my weekly picks and did better than I’ve done all year. Last week she went 10-5-1 and made me 75 apples, pulling me one win away from reaching the .500 mark for the first time all year.

Well this explains a lot.

Well this explains a lot.

But I’m taking back the reins this week to prove that I know at least something about football. I swear.

Also, don’t forget to check out my latest article for the Vanderbilt Hustler, by far my favorite one of the year so far. I tell the story of Jahmel McIntosh, Jimmy Stewart, and Steven Clarke’s journey from humble beginnings to Vanderbilt, and how much the scholarship means to them.

(As a side note, the Packers-Falcons game isn’t on this week because there is no line for the game as of Wednesday because of Aaron Rodgers’ injury status.)

Week 14 NFL Picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Vikings (+7) over RAVENS
What Adrian Peterson has done in less than seven seasons–rush for 10,000 yards–is nothing short of amazing. It’s just too bad he’s had his talent wasted, playing next to quarterbacks like Matt Cassel. At this point, isn’t Kevin Love the best quarterback option in Minnesota?

Browns (+11.5) over PATRIOTS
Sure, the Browns might be starting a quarterback who is most famous for his trick shot video, but they have Josh Gordon! Dude’s amazing! 498 receiving yards in the past two games–151 more than the top Jets receiver all year, Jeremy Kerley. And no, my love for Gordon has nothing to do with him helping lead all four of my fantasy teams to the playoffs the past two weeks.

Dolphins (+3) over STEELERS
I’m still scratching my head why Le’Veon Bell is even questionable for this game. I thought he died last week on the field. The last time I thought a player died on the field was Jahvid Best’s leaping touchdown when he was at Cal, and he missed the rest of the season after his hit.

Bills (+2.5) over BUCCANEERS
Isn’t this just the definition of the Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That Game 0f the Week?

CARDINALS (-6.5) over Rams
I’m just tired of losing my picks against the Cardinals, so I’m finally picking them. I’ve lost my last three times picking against them, including two Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Weeks.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

Lions (+3) over EAGLES
Detroit is second in passing and third in run defense, while Philly is thirty-second in pass defense and second in rushing. Aren’t the Lions the perfect team to Philly?

Giants (+3) over CHARGERS
I’m not sure about the logic behind this pick, but I feel like Turnt Up Tina would pick the Giants, and she’d probably beat me this week anyway.

BRONCOS (-12) over Titans
Is it ironic that Knowshon Moreno had the scariest trail of tears I’ve ever seen against the Kansas City Chiefs?

BENGALS (-5.5) over Colts
Did you know that since Reggie Wayne went out for the season in Week 7, his QBR fell from 69.4 to 40.4, while his neckbeard just continues to grow? Things are looking worse and worse in Indianapolis.

KFC Double Down Games

Texans (-3) over JAGUARS
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. The Nuggets’ announcer’s ability to not make things sexual
2. DIII special teams and refereeing
3. Jon Gruden’s ability to pass a sexual harrassment test
4. Alabama fans’ ability to tip
5. Alabama fans’ ability to let things go
6. Eli Manning’s ability to stand in the pocket
7. Eli Manning’s ability to show emotions
8. Eli Manning’s ability to text
9. Eli Manning’s ability to celebrate
10. Eli Manning’s ability to get though one whole game without looking like a bumbling idiot

Raiders (+3) over JETS
You know what I don’t get about this line? The Jets have scored three total points in each of their last two weeks, yet are favored to beat the Raiders by three. I’m guessing they’re not shutting out the great Matt McGloin.

Panthers (+3.5) over SAINTS
What an awful Heisman race this year. We have the best statistical player (Jameis Winston) who has all sorts of off-the-field issues, a player with integrity on a great team with no logical reason to win (A.J. McCarron), and a cornucopia of other equally flawed candidates (Johnny Manziel, Jordan Lynch, and Andre Williams). I miss the good ol’ days when we had a clear-cut winner with unbelievable talent and even better model behavior like Cam Newton.

Chiefs (-3.5) over REDSKINS
I can’t wait to see how the fans dress up for this game like I can’t wait to read the comment section of an article about racial profiling.

Seahawks (+2.5) over NINERS
Believe it or not, the 49ers have won their last four matchups with the Seahawks at home. But there’s no way I’m passing up taking the top team in the league plus nearly a field goal with this guy coaching.

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

Cowboys (Pick) over BEARS
For his career, Tony Romo is 26-6 in November (by far the best month of his career) and 13-17 in December (by far the worst month of his career). Since we’re still in November, I’m going with–wait what?

Overall record: 92-93-7

Last week: 10-5-1

Apple Total: -280

Apple Total Last Week: 75

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Week 13 NFL Picks – Thankful For Tina

There are many things to be thankful for around this time of the year. Football. Food. Family. All the other F’s of this holiday season.

But the thing I’m most thankful for this week is huge Giants fan and noted ridiculous person Cristina Dafonte and her football picks. Because I am apparently incapable of picking football games correctly.

Because I lost apples last week–largely thanks to my Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week Panthers exactly covering their spread–Turnt Up Tina will be taking over my picks for the second time in three weeks. This is going to happen every week after I fall in the red for the rest of the season, if not the foreseeable future.

Week 13 NFL Picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Raiders (+9.5) over COWBOYS
I promised Kayla I’d pick the Raiders. That’s it that’s all that matters.

Broncos (-5) over CHIEFS
I know I can’t believe that that they’re favored over Kansas City. But I think that I’m going to have to pick the Broncos because a) we believe in Peyton Manning, and b) he deserves a win after that game against the Patriots last week.

VIKINGS (-1) over Bears
I don’t really know. I don’t really care about this particular game. Then I’ll pick the Vikings to win by more than a point. Well it’d be hard for them to win by just one point, so yeah I’ll pick them.

Dolphins (+2) over JETS
So last time I picked the Jets, and my dad read the picks, and his only advice to me was to never pick the Jets. So I’ll pick the Dolphins.

TEXANS (+7.5) over Patriots
I’m going to go with Houston. I don’t have it in me to root for Tom Brady ever.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

LIONS (-6) over Packers
Isn’t Aaron Rodgers not playing for the Packers? Isn’t he hurt? According to Google, he is hurt. I’m gonna go with Detroit.

BROWNS (-7) over Jaguars
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. Proposing to a girl in an airport
2. Shoppers’ survival rate on Black Friday
3. Americans’ geographic knowledge of America
4. Miley Cyrus’ new eyebrows
5. Miley Cyrus in negative
6. Cristina Dafonte’s ability to wrap a present
7. Cristina Dafonte’s ability to hide her drink
8. Cristina Dafonte’s ability to wink
9. Cristina Dafonte’s taste in wizards
10. Cristina Dafonte’s ability to just be a normal, functioning person for one night

BILLS (-3) over Falcons
Well then I’m definitely picking the Bills because they’re definitely the only people in this country who know how to play in weather as cold as it is in Buffalo. (It’s being played indoors in Toronto.) It still doesn’t matter; its freezing there.

Cardinals (+3) over EAGLES
No I’ll pick the Cardinals. I’ll never pick the Eagles ever because I hate the Eagles. They are the worst team ever. Not worse than the Cowboys, though, second worst.

CHARGERS (-1) over Bengals
Like really who cares about San Diego and Cincinnati football teams? Who’s favored to win? San Diego? Sure.

KFC Double Down Games

Titans (+4.5) over COLTS
I’m going to pick the Titans because the last time I picked against the Titans, it felt sacrilegious. I live in Tennessee.

Steelers (+3) over RAVENS
Pittsburgh Steelers, right? Pittsburgh’s the Steelers? Yes they are. I don’t know why, but I’m going for it.

PANTHERS (-8) over Buccaneers
Because you like the Panthers, and it’ll make you happy if they win.

NINERS (-8.5) over Rams
Because they kicked the shit out of the Redskins last Monday, which I realize isn’t that hard to do.

Saints (+5) over SEAHAWKS
Good lord okay. I just googled the Seahawks’ quarterback because I didn’t know who he was. So I’m going to go with the Saints because I know who Drew Brees is.

We believe in Eli Manning.

We believe in Eli Manning.

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

Giants (-1) over REDSKINS
Who do you think I’m going to pick, Ben?

Overall record: 82-88-6

Last week: 6-7-1

Apple Total: -355

Apple Total Last Week: -20

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Week 12 NFL Picks – Big Daddy Indonesia

I gave up my picks last week to friend of the show Cristina Dafonte, and whaddya know, she did better than I’ve done most of this year. To add insult to injury, it was my seventh most read article of all-time, the most since my Top 20 Kanye West songs post.

But since she only went 7-6-2 and made me 10 apples, and I still have 335 apples to make up (plus I’m stubborn), I’ll be reclaiming my picks this week. If and when I do worse than her this week, she’ll be back for more picks. Don’t worry.

Also, I’ve received at least one question about what each category of games means. Check out my first picks of the year, which gives a translation for the apple value of each of my unofficially official sponsored games.

Without further ado, here are my Week 12 NFL Picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Buccaneers (+9) over LIONS
Quiz time! Is Bobby Rainey a) the stage name for a Seattle weatherman, b) one of the featured artists on Rick Ross’ upcoming album Mastermind, or c) the Buccaneers new running back? Well, this is under the Bucs game, so hopefully you got this one right. It’s c.

Vikings (+5) over PACKERSQuiz time! Is Kevin Cossom a) a Kevin Costner impersonator available to perform at Bar Mitzvahs, b) one of the featured artists on Pusha T’s new album My Name Is My Name, or c) the Packers’ new backup to quarterback Scott Tolzien? Ha! Trick question! He’s actually a singer!

Bears (+1) over RAMS
Two backup quarterbacks? It’s your Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That Game of the Week.

RAIDERS (-1) over Titans
The Titans had an extra week of preparation, but is that really enough time to prepare for Matt McGloin and the Raiders?

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

TEXANS (-10) over Jaguars
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. The Minnesota-Penn State football trophy
2. Amare Stoudemire’s defense
3. Minnesota TV reporters’ skating skills
4. Chris Webber’s analysis
5. MLB Tonight’s analysis
6. Johnny McCrary’s ability to ride a fish
7. Johnny McCrary’s ability to remember what page he’s on
8. Johnny McCrary’s ability to not be a lion cub
9. Johnny McCrary’s singing voice
10. Johnny McCrary’s ability to not do weird things with his tongue while he dances in front of a camera

Cowboys (+2.5) over GIANTS
I don’t have anything to add to this game other than Turnt Up Tina probably would have picked the Giants and made this her Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week. So I’m going to inevitably miss this one and forfeit my picks to her next week.

RAVENS (-3.5) over Jets
I’m 1-9 picking Jets games this year, including missing the last 8, so take this pick with a full shaker of salt.

Broncos (-2.5) over PATRIOTS
I feel dirty picking against the Patriots getting points at home, but the Broncos are just such a better team right now. And to address the Gronkroversy from Monday night, yes he was definitely interfered with, but there’s no way he could have gotten back to the ball before Lester did. That’s it. Go Panthers!

KFC Double Down Games

Saints (+9.5) over FALCONS
This line made me sad because this series used to be so fun when teams had good quarterbacks.

We've really glanced over the fact that Andre Ellington had multiple dreadlocks pulled out of his head. How was he not writhing in pain on the ground?

We’ve really glanced over the fact that Andre Ellington had multiple dreadlocks pulled out of his head. How was he not writhing in pain on the ground?

Colts (+2) over CARDINALS
Earlier this week, Trent Richardson said, “I’m not frustrated at all because I think I’ve been playing good.” I’m not sure which is more embarrassing: his perception of good play or his Alabama-quality grammar.

CHIEFS (-5) over Chargers
Alex Smith being 28-6-1 in his last 35 games has to be one of the dumbest stats brought up all the time. Smith is a competent quarterback who happens to play on teams loaded with Pro Bowl payers. However, it’s a perfectly applicable stat when he plays against bad teams at home like the Chargers.

Niners (-4.5) over REDSKINS
We have a Monday Night Football matchup of Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick. Which is RG3 vs. the new RG3. Which is the new Cam Newton vs. the new RG3. But now that’s the second year Cam Newton vs. the second year RG3. Follow?

Steelers (+2) over BROWNS
The Cleveland Indians are selling Terry Francona 2013 AL Manager of the Year shirts. That’s the kind of thing Cleveland sports fans have to get excited about.

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

Panthers (-4) over DOLPHINS
Minus a DeAngelo Williams fumble and pre-Riverboat Ron coaching in Buffalo, the Panthers would be 9-1. Yeah, almost every team has moments like these each season, but this Panthers team is really good and really fun. Hop on the bandwagon!

Overall record: 76-81-5

Last week: 7-6-2

Apple Total: -335

Apple Total Last Week: 10

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