NFL Week 4: Sunday Games Picks & Predictions with Colin Cowherd’s Balzin’ 5

Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans, NRG Stadium, 1:00 PM (Texans -5.5, O/U: 47.5)

Allen gets his second start but against an always hungry defense. The Texans have been in fairly close games all season so far due to the lack of running game which gives the offense an overall inconsistency despite the excellent passing game. With all the weapons Allen has, expect the Panthers to keep it close. Take the Texans to win but the Panthers to cover in the over, Texans 27-24.

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium, 1:00 PM (Ravens -7.5, O/U: 46.5)

The Browns are struggling mightily to score only averaging 16 points per game. Baker looks to have regressed with additional weapons while only completing 56.9% of his passes. The Ravens have had an offensive output unlike ever seen in this organization. They’ve averaged 36.7 points and went toe to toe with the supreme offense of the Chiefs last week in a close losing effort. Lamar Jackson has completed 63% of his passes for 863 yards, 7 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Take the Ravens to cover in the win, in the over, Ravens 31-20.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Detroit Lions, Ford Field, 1:00 PM (Lions +7, O/U: 54.5)

The Chiefs have been one of the top offensive teams in the league since week 1 of last year. This year they are averaging 33.6 points and even without Tyreek Hill the last 2 weeks. Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce, Demarcus Robinsons and newly signed LeSean McCoy have all stepped up when needed. The Lions are a scrappy team who surprisingly lead the NFC North while beating a road tough Chargers and upsetting a championship team in the Eagles in their house. They come home to try their hands at another upset. Stafford has been efficient but the running game with Kerryon Johnson has been lacking which takes a dimension away from this team. Take the Chiefs to cover in the under, Chiefs 31-21.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Miami Dolphins, Hard Rock Stadium, 1:00 PM (Dolphins +14, O/U: 44.5)

The Chargers are always a tough road team. They’ve missed key players and especially on defense with Derwin James. Phillip Rivers has been exceptional and especially with top target Keenan Allen, expect that to continue with Fitzpatrick now a Steeler. The Dolphins handed the keys to Rosen last week and given how bad the defense was and the many drops his receivers had, overshadowed the good things he did. Expect him to have a his best outing of the season today. Take the Chargers to cover in the under, Chargers 34-17.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills, New Era Field, 1:00 PM (Bills +7, O/U: 41.5)

The Patriots defense has started out very strong, probably the strongest any Pats defense have ever started by blowing out the Steelers, Dolphins and the Jets, only allowing 17 points. Brady has completed 68% of his throws for 911 yards, 7 TD’s and zero picks. The rushing game hasn’t really been there but it hasn’t been needed with how efficient Brady has been. The Bills have been scrappy and impressive with wins against the Jets and Giants on the road and beating the Bengals in a close one at home. You should rarely if ever bet against Bill Belichick and the Pats even though this one will be tough for them. Take the Patriots to cover in the under, Patriots 27-17.

Oakland Raiders @ Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium, 1:00 PM (Colts -6.5, O/U: 46.5)

The Raiders have looked ok to start off the season. Sure they had a bad week against the Vikings but they held the Chiefs scoreless in 3 of 4 quarters the week before and beat the Broncos in week 1. Josh Jacobs has looked like an offensive rookie of the year candidate averaging 5 yards per carry. Carr has completed 73% of his passes but has 4 TD’s and 3 picks. The Colts have kept all games under a touchdown and have won 2 of them. Brissett has also completed over 70% of his passes and Marlon Mack has averaged 4.9 yards per rush on 61 carries for 299 yards. Both teams have allowed 70+ points in the first 3 weeks but the Colts have faced one team that is mediocre at best on offense where the Raiders have faced a top team in the Chiefs and held them to 28. Take the Colts to win but the Raiders to cover in the under, Colts 21-20.

Tennessee Titans @ Atlanta Falcons, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 1:00 PM (Falcons -3.5, O/U: 46.5)

Tennessee has been inconsistent as a team since drafting Mariota and having him lead this team. The one thing Mariota has done well is not throwing picks. What has helped him do that is the rushing game with Derrick Henry and Mariota’s own legs. The Falcons have been shockingly average given the big names on this offense. The rushing game has been non existent and the big performances by Julio Jones to nab 4 reception TD’s and 2 for Hooper and Ridley, to be 1-2 with 2 road games and barely coming away with a win against an Eagles team who lost their 2 top receivers in the opening quarter at home is concerning for their defense and if they can hold an average Mariota. Titans defense can be stout but I expect the better quarterback to be more careful with the ball and start to turn it around. Take the Falcons to cover in the over, Falcons 31-17

Washington Redskins @ New York Giants, MetLife Stadium, 1:00 PM (Giants -3, O/U: 48.5)

The Redskins are choppy but hang in games for some reason. Keenan is a never give up guy and is very fiery. Keenan has completed 69% of his passes despite having a big name but we may see a big name emerging for them, Terry McLaurin who has 16 catches for 257 yards and 3 scores. Chris Thompson has been amazing out of the backfield with 16 catches and 195 yards as the second leading receiver on the team. Danny Dimes has breathed life into this team but it came at the expense of losing Saquon Barkley for at least 1-2 months with a severe sprain of his ankle. Evan Engram has been their top receiver, surprisingly. Given the Barkley injury, expect this one to be close.  Big late injury report has McLaurin out for the game as well. Take the Giants to cover in the under, Giants 24-13.

Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals, University of Phoenix Stadium, 4:05 PM (Cardinals +5, O/U: 47.5)

The Seahawks defense hasn’t been anywhere close to what they had been but Wilson has bailed them out with big time consistency, completing 71% of his passes for 901 yards and 7 TD’s with zero picks. Tyler Lockett has been the main target while D.K. Metcalf has emerged as another favorite target. Chris Carson has been a bruiser of a back but relatively ineffective. The Cardinals have played tough to start the season marking a tie against the Lions, going toe to toe with the Ravens and losing by less than a touchdown and suffered mightily against the Panthers at home. The defense hasn’t been great and they start slow in the first half, being outscored but have outscored opponents in the second half as you saw against the Lions. Take the Seahawks to cover in the over, Seahawks 27-21.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 4:05 PM (Rams -9, O/U: 48.5)

Jameis Winston has been highly inconsistent only completing 60% of his passes while tossing 5 TD’s and 4 picks. Ronald Jones has been a bright spot of the offense, emerging as their top back averaging 5.29 yards per carry but is not used as much as he should be given they’re often behind in games. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have been Winston’s top receivers. A big win against the Panthers makes you question their power but their losses haven’t been terrible. The Rams are looking as powerful as ever and Cooper Kupp being back shows how much Goff missed him while catching a team best 23 passes while seeing the teams best 31 targets for a team best 267 yards and a team best 2 reception TD’s. Cooks and Woods are right behind him and are virtually seeing the same amount of targets. The duo of Gurley and Brown have been powerful and effective in mixing it up, keeping defenses on their toes. Take the Rams to cover in the over, Rams 34-23.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Denver Broncos, Broncos Stadium at Mile High, 4:25 PM (Broncos -2.5, O/U: 37.5)

The Jags new found quarterback Gardner Minshew has taken the world and the meme world by storm. He’s come out firing and efficiently while also using his legs when in need. He’s been so good that Jalen Ramsey now doesn’t want to be traded. Minshew has completed 73.9% of his passes for 692 yards and 5 TD’s and just 1 pick. Fournette has been good enough when used but Minshew has 80 yards on 11 carries. DJ Chark and Chris Conley have been the top air targets with both averaging at least 16+ yards per catch, which is astounding. The Broncos thought the savior to their offensive troubles was the signing of Joe Flacco, who is trying to stave off retirement. they’ve played tough teams to start the year and have lost to them all but they weren’t terribly bad losses. He’s completed 69% of his passes but low yardage (773) and only 2 TD’s with 2 picks. Courtland Sutton has been his top target but has yet to reach the endzone while Emmanuel Sanders is showing he still has it being the second favorite target and 2 scores. With all of the big time players on this defense and defensive front, they are without a sack, which is a big deal! Take the Jaguars to cover in the win, in the over, Jaguars 24-21.

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears, Soldier Field, 4:25 PM (Bears -1, O/U: 38.5)

The Vikings have been an up and down team so far this year, beating 2 teams that are also inconsistent and tough. It almost seems like the Vikings don’t want Cousins to throw the ball given his inconsistencies, completing only 59% of his passes for 3 TD’s and 2 picks. Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison have been the real leaders of this offense with over 500 yards combined, both averaging over 5 yards per carry and 5 TD’s. The Bears offense has been stagnant and also don’t fully trust Trubisky throwing the ball. The best quote about him was from the Packers Tramon Williams who said the key to their planning on defense was making Trubisky play quarterback. If that doesn’t scare you about your QB situation, I don’t know what will. Take the Bears to win in the under, Bears 20-17.

Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 8:20 PM (Saints +3, O/U: 48.5)

Dak has been unbelievable to start the year, completing 75% of his passes for 920 yards, 9 TD’s and 2 picks.  He’s playing for a contract so expect him to be at the top of his game against a banged up Saints defense.  Zeke has been averaging over 5 yards per carry. Cooper, Gallup and Cobb have been going nuts on the offense and have seen many targets because it’s just too tough to cover all of them.  Bridgewater shocked everyone in the Seattle game with the win but he didn’t look great.  Going against a much tougher defense will expose him greatly.  Take the Cowboys to cover in the over, Cowboys 31-24.

Colin Cowherd’s Blazin’ 5:

  • Tennessee at Atlanta – Tennessee (+3.5)
  • Cleveland at Baltimore – Baltimore (-7)
  • Oakland at Indianapolis – Oakland (+6.5)
  • Seattle at Arizona – Arizona (+5.5)
  • Dallas at New Orleans – New Orleans (+2.5)

Week 8: Thursday Night Football

We barely escaped the week with a winning record and on the verge of a really good week or a really bad week with the 2 pushes.  Nevertheless, I had an issue with my bread and butter, the primetime games.  Now I knew that the Falcons were having trouble covering their games but every team that struggles can turn it around with a defense that allows a lot of yards, which the Patriots defense has done a bunch of this year.  WRONG!  Belichick corrected that ship.  Falcons were beyond ineffective until late when they threw Julio Jones’ way more.  Hopefully we can continue this roll with our back to back winning weeks.  On to tonight’s game:

Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens, 8:25p (Ravens -3, O/U: 37.5)

By god, what a barn burner we have tonight.  Sheesh.  Just when you thought the Thursday night games were turning out some good matchups for fans, they hand deliver this turd of a game.  As you just finish your delicious, beautifully constructed meal consisting pan seared steak and baked potato, this pops on your TV to put a bad taste in your mouth.

Cutler did everyone a favor and broke some ribs but the jokes on him, it’s hard to smoke a pack of cigs on the sideline with busted ribs.  Moore stepped in and showed his team why they should’ve had more (no pun intended) faith in him from the beginning.  Moore is a capable fill in until Tannehill takes back over.  Now, Cutler was actually having quite a game before his injury and against a Jets defense that hasn’t looked too bad against some good teams this year.  Cutler exits and Moore comes in to lead them back with 17 points in the 4th to win it.

The Ravens just haven’t been consistent.  Beating a poorly playing Bengals team in week one, the hapless Browns in week 2 and since have been 1-4 with their only win coming against a Raiders team without Derek Carr.  Flacco has looked bad, and they’ve been relying on their running game to pick up the slack which hurts their yards per play and to only average 18 points a game and 35% on third downs just spells out bad football.

I’m shocked that the Ravens are still 3 point favorites given their noticeable offensive struggles.  Take the Dolphins as road dogs to turnout Moore (pun intended) offense this week than under Cutler’s watch and to win this ugly baby of a game on the road in the under, Dolphins 20-14.

Extras:  World Series talk.  Holy S**t, what a series so far.  2 games in, noted at a game a piece, everyone swinging for the god damned fences, hoping for their chance at a memorable World Series moon shot.  The pitching has been great, the power hitting has been unreal and we’ve seen a really quick game one and a longer than normal game 2.  Puig’s stare down after looking a running back to second in the later innings was epic but the Astros comeback was thrilling.  Dodgers showed you how not to blow through your bullpen so quickly with a short lead.  Any-who, looking forward to the game in Houston this weekend, should be great.  Go Dodger dogs, haha!

Monday Night Mashup: Eagles @ Falcons & Vikings @ 49ers

Monday night football is back, here’s a rundown of the Eagles and Falcons game.

Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons,
TV: ESPN @ 7:10 p.m.; LINE: Falcons +3.5 O/U 56:

Sam Bradford finally can get things started in Philly. The fans have been clamoring about the hopes all offseason long and get a great chance at a good start against the Falcons in Atlanta. Atlanta hasn’t really had the hottest of defenses in recent years, this year seems to be no exception. The offense is usually there with a great air attack with Jones and White on the outside but the running game has been suspect. Two young backs are looking to change that, second year back Freeman and rookie Coleman look to complement each other and share reps in the backfield to give another dimension to an already potent offense. The masterful Chip Kelly will once again look to make some magic with his fourth starting quarterback in 3 years. He’s been able to squeeze out great season no matter the man behind center, but with an actual number one guy who is healthy and has tons of experience, the sky is the limit. It also helps to have the 3 headed back of Murray, Sproles and Matthews in the backfield. Young guns like Agholor, Matthews and Huff look to be the future of the air attack for Bradford. Chip also revamped the defense with Alonso and Maxwell, so look for that side of the ball to improve as well. This one will be a shoot out! My Pick: Eagles 38-28.

Minnesota Vikings vs San Francisco 49ers,
TV: ESPN @ 10:20 p.m.; LINE: 49ers +3 O/U 43:

New coach, tons of missing starters on defense and offense from a year ago make this one hard to evaluate. You can’t really see a sense of a teams losses in the preseason since most of the first team doesn’t play with each other and if they do it’s only for about a series or quarter at most. There just isn’t always enough time to establish rhythm in a meaningless game. They do have some studs in the backfield who proved they can replace Gore but Kaepernick hasn’t proven he’s worth the big contract the 49ers gave him. On the other hand, the Vikings were without their franchise guy in Peterson for the last 15 games of last season. Good or bad thing? Has it slowed him down or rested him immensely? A talent like Peterson only gets better with rest and doesn’t rust up like the tin man. He’s out to prove himself to everyone that he still has it and that he stuck around Minnesota and didn’t jet to Dallas for a reason. Peterson’s absence also gave Bridgewater more reign over the offense and really shinned late in the season on his way to winning rookie of the year in the NFC. Peterson will garnish about 25-28 carries and if Kaep struggles look for the same if not a few more touches for Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush, which all in all will slow the pace and scoring of this game. In all, the loss of Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and Chris Borland will be too many losses to stop a rising offense in the Vikes. It’s always a bad sign when your defense from a year ago was ranked in the top 5 among the NFL to outside the top 12 in most preseason rankings in the next year, that’s no coincidence folks. Not to mention a lot of new pieces on the offensive side of the ball will more than likely contribute to more struggles for Kaep. Look forward to a new era of Vikings football in 2015 along with their new crib. My Pick: Vikings 21-17

Week 3: Thursday Night Divisional Mash up

matt-ryan-pic-2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons,
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network. LINE: Falcons -6.5. O/U: 44.5

Atlanta, as I predicted, came out flat last week. Chalk one up for the Saints syndrome. Matt Ryan had gone from showing up big time in week one to disappearing behind his 3 picks last week. The Falcons had a hard time getting anything going in the first half with their longest drive being 40 yards and only getting a field goal from it. In the second half they went 3 and out, pick on first play of second drive in the 2nd half, 10 plays/59 yards/pick, 10 plays/77 yards/TD, 5 plays/6 yards/punt, 10 plays/22 yards/pick. The Buccs have kept their 2 losses to less than a TD difference. The problem is they lost by 6 to a Cam Newtonless Panthers and a Rams team without a true starting QB and their best pass rusher, lost by 2 at home. They are facing a fully loaded and ready to redeem themselves Falcons team. Josh McCown has completed at least 62% or more of his passes but has yet to have a 200 yard passing game. His TD/INT ratio is 2/3 so far through 2 weeks. He has yet to stretch the field beyond a 30 yard pass. That creates a lot of pressure in the box but they are 11th in the league with rushing yards. The star emerging is not Doug Martin, it’s Bobby Rainey who ran for 144 yards in last weeks game. Out of their 20 drives this year, only 7 have climbed above 50 yards and ended like this: 4 TD’s (their only TD’s on the season), 2 INT’s and 1 FG. They are 27th in the league averaging 17.5 first downs per game. The leading team are the Saints with 28. Their drives go like this: 11 drives of 21 over 50 yards ending with 2 FG’s, 7 TD’s, Punt, INT. Granted the Saints are 0-2 but have only lost by a field goal or less in those games. The Buccs need to sustain their long drives, eliminate those turnovers and they’ll result in more points and need to gain more first downs per game. The usual number you would like to see is 20 out of the 60-70 plays a team runs. The key for the Buccs may be for them to stray more towards the running and keeping McCown to shorter, more efficient passes to get those needed first downs. The Falcons are back at home where Ryan is 37-10 at home. He still has Roddy White and Julio Jones in the lineup so far which means bad things for the Buccs secondary. Look for the Falcons to win this one and taking the points -6.5 in the Over, the Falcons will put up points in bunches. Falcons 28-20.