Jon Gruden: The Return

Sorry Jack, Chucky’s back.

Back in 1998, then Raiders renegade owner, the late Al Davis, made a bold head coaching move. He fired coach Joe Bugel after a terrible 4-12 season, the Raiders worst season since 1987, in favor of a young, fiery, unknown commodity by the name of Jon Gruden. Gruden was a hit with the Raider Nation, embodying the eccentric fan base to a T. The fans showed their adoration for the coach by bestowing him the nickname of “Chucky”, the killer doll and horror icon from the Child’s Play franchise.

Jon Gruden roams the sidelines during his first tenure with the Oakland Raiders.

Gruden’s tenure with the Raiders was immensely successful, posting a 38-26 record in 4 seasons as the Raiders head coach, and guiding them to the AFC Championship game in 2000. His stint with the Raiders came to an abrupt end, however, when Raiders lost in controversial fashion in what is now known as “The Tuck Rule Game” against the New England Patriots. Gruden lost a power struggle with owner Al Davis, the same man who had hired him to lead the Raiders to the promised land. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a king’s ransom, including Tampa Bay’s 2002 and 2003 first round draft picks, their 2002 and 2004 second round draft picks, and $8 million in cash.

A joyous Jon Gruden hoists the Lombardi Trophy after his Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated his former team, the Oakland Raiders, 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Gruden made Davis pay for his move, as the Buccaneers blew out the Raiders the next season in Super Bowl XXXVII 48-21. Gruden’s next six seasons as head coach of the Bucs weren’t nearly as successful, posting a 45-51 record, appearing in the playoffs twice, and no playoff victories. He was fired at the end of the 2008 season after a season ending loss, which knocked Tampa out of the playoffs, to the same Raiders that had traded him away six years earlier. Ironic.

Jon Gruden looking underwhelmed during a press conference while head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It didn’t take long for Gruden to land on his feet, as he was soon announced as the color commentator for ESPN’s flagship sporting event, Monday Night Football, and remained in that role for nine years. Gruden’s star power emerged even more during this time, as he was not only praised for his commentary inside the booth, but began hosting rookie QBs ahead of the NFL Draft in “Gruden’s QB Camp.” He starred in commercials for Corona and Hooters as well, and seemed like a man who was comfortable living his life without the stresses and pressures of coaching in the NFL. But the 3:17 a.m. wake-up calls and itch to coach again never left Chucky, and teams, both in the NFL and the NCAA, seemingly pursued him every offseason. But Jon didn’t feel the time was right to return. Until now.

Jon Gruden during a broadcast of ESPN’S Monday Night Football.

Following a colossally disappointing 6-10 season for the Raiders, a season in which before it began many believed Oakland would appear in the Super Bowl, head coach Jack Del Rio was fired. The team’s star QB, Derek Carr, lost confidence. The offense under the guidance of first year offensive coordinator Todd Downing looked broken. The Raiders had massively underachieved. Before Del Rio could even announce he was fired, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortenson reported Jon Gruden was set to return to the Black Hole, where his head coaching career began. Nearly 10 days later, Jon Gruden was introduced as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders.

“This is a big effing deal,” proclaimed Raiders owner Mark Davis at the introductory press conference. It absolutely is. Gruden’s contract is reportedly for 10 years and $100 million dollars. Mark Davis knew he had to make a splash and keep scorned Oakland Raider fans invested in the lame duck franchise for the next two years while they remained in Oakland before bolting to Las Vegas. The fate of the franchise depended on it.

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis needed to make a splash head coaching hire for his “lame-duck” franchise or risk losing fans before the team’s move to Las Vegas.

It helps, however, Jon Gruden believes he has unfinished business with the Raiders, as he invoked horrific memories of his final game as a Raider, “The Tuck Rule” game. “(Tom) Brady fumbled that ball,” Gruden stated. He went on to say, “Yeah, there is unfinished business as a coach. I was traded, I was fired. I’ve missed the game terribly. But I’ve really missed the Raiders. And for my career to end on that night in New England? It still ticks me off. I’m just so thrilled to be back here.”

Jon’s love for the fanbase and the city of Oakland was also prevalent throughout the press conference. “A big reason why I’m here is my passion for the city of Oakland and this franchise. And the people in the Black Hole, if you’re out there listening. I can’t wait to see you guys, man. I really can’t.”, Gruden stated. While Gruden may have 100 million little reason as to why he’s back, it’s clear he wants to be a Raider again, and wants to deliver a winning football team to the city of Oakland before loading the moving trucks. So much of the love letter to Oakland in the wake of the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas has seemed like a PR strategy, as evidenced by the acquisition of retired RB Marshawn Lynch, a native of Oakland, last offseason. But Jon Gruden epitomizes the Raiders and the East Bay’s attitude, so his adoration for the city and the franchise seems genuine.

Gruden didn’t make any promises in regards to producing a winner on the field, however, stating “I’m gonna do everything I can, no guarantees, no promises, but I want to win.” The Raiders will have to find a way to repair their offense, and must greatly improve their defense as well. Gruden seems to have taken steps in those directions already, as he announced Rams QB coach Greg Olson and Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will be the offensive and defensive coordinators respectively.

It’s not often former head coaches come back to the NFL and succeed, only Dick Vermeil won a Super Bowl with the then St. Louis Rams in 1999 after taking a hiatus from coaching. It’s not like the Raiders have had much success at bringing back old coaches either, as evidenced by Art Shell. After coaching the team from 1989 through 1994 during their Los Angeles days, Shell was re-hired to coach the team in 2006, yielding a disastrous 2-14 campaign, their worst in franchise history.  History may not be on Gruden’s side, but the time was right to come back. “I just, in my heart feel this is the thing to do. This is what I want to do. This is the organization that I want to be a part of, and I’m all in.”, Gruden said.

Jon Gruden and the Raiders won the press conference. They’ve riled-up the Raider Nation and have them believing 2018 will be their year. They have reason to believe Gruden can guide the team back to championship contention despite his near decade-long absence from coaching. Win, lose, or tie, Jon Gruden will be a member of the Raider Nation forever, but only time will tell if Mark Davis’ desperate hire will pay dividends within the next 10 years. Much like at a high stakes poker table in a Las Vegas casino, Mark Davis is all-in on Jon Gruden.

Jon Gruden and Mark Davis pose for a photo after Gruden’s introductory press conference at the Raiders headquarters in Alameda, California on January 9th, 2018.

 

 

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Bro-Picks: NFL Wild Card Weekend Predictions

The wild wild (card) weekend.

After weeks of debating who would get in and who would be left out, the NFL Playoffs are upon us. They begin with what is typically the most unpredictable of rounds the NFL Playoffs have to offer, Wild Card Weekend. This round is reserved for seeds 3 through 6, with the 3rd and 4th seeds being division winners and the 5th and 6th seeds representing teams who may not have won their division, but won enough games to punch their ticket into the dance.

Only six teams in NFL history have ever won the Super Bowl as a Wild Card team: the  1980 Oakland Raiders, the 1997 Denver Broncos, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, the 2007 New York Giants, and the 2010 Green Bay Packers. The odds may be stacked against this year’s wild card teams, which include the Tennessee Titans, the Buffalo Bills, the Carolina Panthers, and the Atlanta Falcons, but all of these teams have a reason to believe they can make it to Minneapolis and hoist the Lombardi trophy. Never count out the wild card.

Last Week: 10-6

Overall: 164-92

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday 4:20 EST)

Two of the NFL’s most boring/ “they won’t win the Super Bowl” teams face off in ESPN’s biggest money loser. In what could be Jon Gruden’s last game calling Monday Night Football/ Wild Card games for ESPN before he and “The Rooney Rule” breaking Raiders reunite, it’s the Chiefs suddenly resurgent offense that should carry them to victory. However, the Chiefs supposed home-field advantage in Arrowhead stadium hasn’t meant much in years past, as Kansas City is 0-5 in home playoff games dating back to the 1995 NFL Playoffs. Don’t be shocked if the impotent Titans lull the Chiefs to sleep and come away with an upset victory, but all bad things turn around eventually, right?

Winner: Chiefs

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (Saturday 8:15 EST)

The Los Angeles Rams are the biggest surprise to arise from the NFL this season. Head coach Sean McVay has turned the league’s worst offense in 2016 into the league’s highest scoring offense in just a year’s time, making him the favorite for coach of the year honors. RB Todd Gurley has been reborn into an MVP candidate, piling up 2,093 yards from scrimmage and scoring 19 total touchdowns. But at QB, the league’s most important position, the Rams tout a much improved Jared Goff, while the Falcons will trot out reigning league MVP Matt Ryan. From muscle memory alone, you’d think the Falcons have a clear advantage over the upstart Rams, who currently have only six players on their roster with playoff experience.

Winner: Falcons

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday 1:05 EST)

Bills mafia, the eccentric and dangerous fan base of the Buffalo Bills, rejoiced when Bengals QB Andy Dalton threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to WR Tyler Boyd to send the Ravens home packing, while catapulting Buffalo into the playoffs for the first time this millennium. It came at the price of the sprained ankle of RB LeSean McCoy, who is a game-time decision for the match-up. The Bills offense desperately needs him, as the vaunted “Sacksonville”defense ranked 2nd in the league in total defense this season. If they can hold down Buffalo’s rushing attack, all the Jaguars need from QB Blake Bortles is to hand the ball off to potential offensive rookie of the year winner, RB Leonard Fournette, and not turn the ball over. That formula should result in a re-match against the Steelers in the Divisional round.

Winner: Jaguars

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (Sunday 4:40 EST)

New Orleans dominated their regular season meetings against Carolina, averaging nearly 33 points and winning those contests by nearly 16 points per game. The Saints have finally surrounded Drew Brees with a running game, compliments of the one two punch that is Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The Saints defense has also improved greatly, as they were 10th in turnover differential the NFL at + 7. The Panthers are a seasoned veteran team, and QB Cam Newton bounced back from his awful 2016 season. He threw 22 touchdown passes and led his team and all QBs in rushing yards with a career high 754 yards, and is the Panthers 1st, 2nd, and 3rd option. For better or worse, Carolina goes as Cam goes, which isn’t the greatest position to be in against a future hall of famer in Drew Brees.

Winner: Saints

 

 

 

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 17 Predictions

A long regular season comes to an end.

After 4 arduous months of mediocre football at best, the NFL’s regular season finally comes to an end this Sunday. It’ll go out on a whimper as well, as the NFL elected not to flex one of Sunday’s games into the Sunday Night Football time slot. The NFL claims this is due to the fact that it’s New Year’s Eve, but its mostly due to the fact none of the match-ups this Sunday will draw a crowd. So much for the NFL still being the king of all American sports, as injuries have derailed some of the league’s rising stars, you can have stretches of playing god-awful football during the regular season and still be in the playoff picture, and we still don’t know what in God’s name a catch is. We can only hope these week 17 match-ups can provide marginal entertainment ahead of what will hopefully be an unpredictable postseason.

Last Week: 11-5

Overall: 154-86

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

Some NFL teams believe the Packer should have to release QB Aaron Rodgers because he was placed on injured reserved and it wasn’t because of a new injury he suffered, a violation of NFL rules. If this were to happen, it would force Packers GM Ted Thompson to finally build a team instead of relying on one of the greatest QB talents to ever be under center. What a concept.

Winner: Lions

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

Colts QB Andrew said he doesn’t feel like he’s part of the team this week, but expects to start throwing next week. Oh the agony…

Winner: Colts

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings know what’s at stake this week, a first round playoff bye. They need to take care of business against the lowly Bears, who should “FireFox” as soon as the final horn blows Sunday.

Winner: Vikings

New York Jets at New England Patriots

The Patriots continued their diabolical ways by signing Steelers legend James Harrison this week in an attempt to play mind games with Pittsburgh ahead of their presumed AFC Championship Game match-up. Oh Belichick, you silver tongued devil you.

Winner: Patriots

Washington Redskins at New York Giants

A match-up many believed would determine playoff seeding at the start of the season is now a battle of ineptitude. The biggest question that looms in this one is where both team’s starting QBs will play next season.

Winner: Redskins

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have nothing to play for this week, as they clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs due to their ugly win over the Raiders on Christmas. As usual, the Cowboys found  a way to choke away a playoff birth under the guidance of Jason Garrett. He used to have Tony Romo to blame for these blunders, but it’s become abundantly clear Garrett is not the one to guide the Cowboys to the Super Bowl.

Winner: Cowboys

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Here lie the remains of the 2017 Cleveland Browns, the 3rd team in NFL history to have a winning percentage of 0 in an NFL season.

Winner: Steelers

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

For the Falcons it’s simple: win, and they’re in. But accomplishing this against a Panthers team no one will want to face come this postseason is easier said than done.

Winner: Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

Ravens coach John Harbaugh pulled a Kanye this week by saying the NFL doesn’t care about the Ravens by moving their game from 1 p.m. to 4:25 p.m., which he believes will result in a smaller crowd at the game. He’s not entirely wrong, and he can get back at the NFL by making a long postseason run with his boring team if they beat the Bungles.

Winner: Ravens

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

The Bills mafia has a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999 if they win on Sunday. This should be an easy task against smokin’ Jay Cutler and the Dolphins, but the Bills have known cold, playoff-less winters for nearly two decades. One has to wonder if they have it in them to finally end their playoff drought.

Winner: Bills

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Despite the rumblings of their former Super Bowl winning coach, Jon Gruden, being interested in the head coaching position, the Bucs have inexplicably retained head coach Dirk Koetter for next season. That won’t put a smile on Chucky’s face.

Winner: Saints

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

The Titans have a chance to still make the postseason as a wild card team, but the Sacksonville defense will want to prove last week’s thrashing at the hands of the 49ers was a fluke.

Winner: Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos

The Chiefs will start rookie first round pick QB Patrick Mahomes against the “No Fly Zone” Denver defense this Sunday. Could this be the beginning of the Patrick Mahomes era in KC?

Winner: Chiefs

Oakland Raiders at Los Angles Chargers

Despite what will surely be a road game against LA’s favorite team, the Raiders, the Chargers actually have a chance to make it to the playoffs with a win and some help Sunday. The Raiders, who have been the NFL’s most disappointing team this season, may want to consider a coaching change if they want to just win, baby.

Winner: Chargers

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are resting up for the playoffs with the NFC West wrapped up. Jimmy Garoppolo appears to be the answer at QB for the 49ers, and a team that many thought could go winless not long ago may finish as the hottest team in the NFL.

Winner: 49ers

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians denied a report this week saying he will resign as coach of the Cardinals, but all signs point to that report being true. Despite all the dysfunction with Earl Thomas courting free agent suitors already, the Seahawks can fall into the playoffs with a win and a Falcons loss. They may be dysfunctional, but this is a team that knows what it’s doing once they find themselves in the postseason.

Winner: Seahawks

 

 

 

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 16 Predictions

Playoff spots on the line paired with bad officiating? What’s the worst that could happen?

Week 15 of the NFL might have been one of the most controversial weeks in the NFL this season, no thanks to the men in stripes.

First, in the pivotal AFC match-up between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL referees continued to make us beg the question: What’s a catch?

Most would agree, that call reversal not only determined the outcome of the game, but might have been one of the bigger blown calls in the league this year. Surely nothing could top it, right?

Gene Steratore, who officiated the Dallas Cowboys match-up against the Oakland Raiders, said “hold my beer.”

A first down was determined by a folded piece of paper. And many wonder why the NFL’s ratings have dipped this year.

Last Week: 12-4

Overall: 143-81

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (Saturday Afternoon)

Colts QB Andrew Luck is going to test out his surgically repaired throwing shoulder to see if it needs more surgery. The fate of the Colts’ future rests upon the health of his shoulder, while the Ravens are gunning for a wild card spot in the AFC.

Winner: Ravens

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (Saturday Night)

After trotting out Aaron Rodgers for one interception filled game against the Panthers, the Packers have shut down their franchise QB for the remainder of the season now that they are eliminated from playoff contention. Back-up QB Brett Hundley going up against the Vikings vaunted defense? Merry Christmas cheese heads.

Winner: Vikings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are embroiled in controversy at the moment due to owner Jerry Richardson’s boorish behavior and decision to sell the team come seasons end. Apparently Diddy wants to own the team, and (*still not signed*) Colin Kaepernick and NBA superstar Stephen Curry want in on the action. Imagine those guys in a room with a bunch of old white men…

Winner: Panthers

Detroit Lions at Cincinnati Bengals

Rumors surfaced last Sunday Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis will be leaving at the conclusion of the season. He of course said there’s nothing to these reports, but if his team’s effort against the Vikings was any indication, Cincinnati will be looking for a new coach come next year. Paging Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns…

Winner: Lions

Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs

Don’t look now, but the Chiefs seem to have regained their explosive form from earlier this season after two dominating wins over the Raiders and Chargers. Meanwhile, Miami Dolphins QB Jay Cutler has been non-committal in regards to his future. How smokin’ Jay Cutler of him.

Winner: Chiefs

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots

If we are to take him at his word, Bills CB Tre’Davious White claims “The whole hood want him” in regards to getting back at Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski for his dirty hit on him just weeks ago. Also, Tom Brady’s snake oil salesman/ trainer, Alex Guerrero, has had his sideline and team plane privileges revoked. Is trouble brewing in title town?

Winner: Patriots

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

The Falcons are somehow still in the race for the NFC South division title, but one would be shocked to learn the Falcons rank in the top 10 in total offense and total defense. The Saints will be in for a dog fight this week, and can’t afford to slip-up against the Falcons again after their week 14 debacle against them.

Winner: Saints

Cleveland Browns at Chicago Bears

It’s now or never Brownies…

Winner: Browns

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets

The Chargers once again let everyone down by laying an egg at Arrowhead last week. They still have a shot at the division if the win out and get some help, and they catch a huge break by first facing the QB-less Jets.

Winner: Chargers

Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee Titans

Just one year ago, 2016 number 1 pick Jared Goff looked like a bust. Now, he’s thriving under the tutelage of sure-fire coach of the year winner Sean McVay. Meanwhile, the Titans have started floundering at the wrong time, and are now in danger of missing out on the playoffs for the ninth straight year.

Winner: Rams

Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins

Inexplicably, the Broncos are on a two game winning streak despite not having a quarterback. If Paxton Lynch is healthy, he needs to play to see if he is in the franchise’s plans for the future. That bodes well for the mediocre Redskins, who still can’t decide if QB Kirk (*or Kurt?*) Cousins figures into their plans for the future.

Winner: Redskins

Jacksonville Jaguars at San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers got a franchise QB in exchange for a second round pick. This could end up being one of the nest trades in NFL history if Jimmy Garoppolo can keep up his winning ways. And despite his reputation, Jaguars QB Blake Bortles hasn’t been trash, throwing for 10 touchdowns and 0 interceptions the last 3 games, guiding the Jaguars to their first playoff berth since 2007.

Winner: Jaguars

New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals

Neither team is having a good season despite being playoff hopefuls at the start of the season. Giants QB Eli Manning has rebounded well enough from his benching, throwing for 4 touchdowns his last two games. He’s not what he once was, but he’s got enough in the tank to get a win this week and to show teams he can still help a contender next year.

Winner: Giants

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys

At 8-6, the Cowboys are still alive in the NFC playoff picture and get star RB Ezekiel Elliott back just in time for one last playoff push. The Seahawks, on the other hand, are imploding. Star defensive players Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner are feuding, and it may be time to blow up the Legion of Boom.

Winner: Cowboys

Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans

In a game in which star WR Antonio Brown was taken out in the first half, the Steelers were one blown call and bad decision away from seizing control of the AFC away from the Patriots. One would think the Steelers are due for a letdown this week, but a Christmas Day tilt against the Texans should alleviate any wounds leftover from last Sunday.

Winner: Steelers

Oakland Raiders at Philadelphia Eagles

The Raiders’ staggeringly disappointing season can be summed up in one play/ one photo.

Winner: Eagles

 

 

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 15 Predictions

The play clock is winding down.

The start of the final four games of the NFL’s regular season brought plenty of surprises to the league’s best, ranging from devastating injuries to head-scratching losses. There’s little time for teams to feel sorry for themselves, as week 15 of the NFL season brings us another sizzling slate of games that will decide team’s playoff fates.

Last Week: 9-7

Overall: 131-77

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts (Thursday Night Football)

Oh the humanity of Thursday Night Football.

Winner: Colts

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (Saturday Afternoon)

Both of these teams are coming off of wins in week 13, something that seemed improbable just weeks ago. Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky has shown flashes of competency, but the Lions need this one to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

Winner: Lions

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday Night)

Kansas City suspended their best defensive player in CB Marcus Peters last week and somehow it paid dividends, as the Chiefs demolished the Raiders. The Chargers have won 7 of 9 after starting the season 0-4. In a battle for first place in the AFC West, it’s the home field advantage Arrowhead Stadium provides that will make the difference.

Winner: Chiefs

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills

Dolphins QB Jay Cutler looked like a competent QB against the Patriots and outplayed Tom Brady. Can he outplay any of the QBs Buffalo may trot out in unfavorable conditions?

Winner: Bills

Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has been medically cleared to play, which should give Green Bay a boost in time for a potential playoff run. The Panthers, who are coming off a statement win against the Vikings, could be the team to benefit most from the recent slew of injuries in the NFC.

Winner: Panthers

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns

The Browns were up by 14 last week against the Packers heading into the 4th quarter. The lost 27-21 in overtime. Even by Cleveland’s standards, that’s and ungodly choke job.

Winner: Ravens

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars boast a championship level defense and a stout running game led by offensive rookie of the year candidate Leonard Fournette. If QB Blake Bortles can avoid turning the ball over, Jacksonville could be a team no one wants to face this postseason.

Winner: Jaguars

Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings

Vikings coach Mike Zimmerman was once on Marvin Lewis’s coaching staff in Cincinnati. Come next year, the reverse may be the case.

Winner: Vikings

New York Jets at New Orleans Saints

The Saints are now a run first team, as they’re 9-0 when they run the ball 22 times or more. The loss to Atlanta last week is somewhat startling, but it’s not like the Jets are a force to be reckoned with.

Winner: Saints

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Eagles QB Carson Wentz suffered an ACL tear and is out for the season. Backup Nick Foles is good enough to keep the Eagles afloat, but their Super Bowl chances are now slim to none.

Winner: Eagles

Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins

Believe it or not, this used to be a classic NFC East tilt. The interesting story here is Redskins QB Kirk (*or Kurt?*) Cousins, who may be playing himself out of a long term contract after what has been a down year for him.

Winner: Cardinals

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

If you had said at the start if the season a week 15 match-up between the Rams and the Seahawks would decide the NFC West, most would call you insane. The Rams are averaging 30 points per game this season, and head coach Sean McVay is in the running for coach of the year. The Seahawks are coming off a crushing loss to the Jaguars, and won’t be willing to give up their hold of the NFC West just yet.

Winner: Seahawks

Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo became the 2nd QB in the franchises’ history to win his first two road starts. There’s definitely some intrigue in the Bay Area now that he appears to be the QB of the future. The Titans are coming off a bad loss to an average Cardinals team, and need a win to keep pace with the Jaguars in the AFC South.

Winner: Titans

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

A game that will decide the top seed in the AFC comes at a time when both teams have major questions. The Steelers are missing LB Ryan Shazier badly, as the Ravens hung 38 points on them last week. The Patriots looked vulnerable in their AFC East tilt against the Dolphins, but do you really think the hoodie will allow the Pats to drop an important game such as this one?

Winner: Patriots

Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders (Sunday Night Football)

What was thought to be a potential Super Bowl 52 preview at the start of the season is now a battle between two teams on the outside looking in as it pertains to the playoff picture. The Raiders came out flat and got demolished against the Chiefs no thanks to  struggling QB Derek Carr, while Cowboys QB Dak Prescott may have finally figured out how to play without RB Ezekiel Elliott.

Winner: Cowboys

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Monday Night Football)

Just when you think the Falcons are DOA, they find a way to make you believe they can make a deep playoff run. Atlanta won despite Matt Ryan throwing 3 interceptions last week, something the Buccaneers can’t overcome with Jameis Winston under center.

Winner: Falcons

 

 

 

 

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 14 Predictions

The 4th quarter has begun.

Week 14 marks the start of the 4th quarter in the NFL season. While some teams have already started making vacation plans for January, other teams are either thriving or barely hanging on to their playoff hopes. One thing is for certain, the intensity of the NFL’s playoff races will only grow larger in these last 4 weeks.

Last Week: 12-4

Overall: 122-70

 

News Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (Thursday Night Football)

The Saints revival seems unstoppable due to the RB combo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, and they still have a future hall of fame QB in Drew Brees. The Falcons playoff hopes took a damaging blow last week by losing to the Vikings, and a loss Thursday night would be the final nail in the coffin.

Winner: Saints

 

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills

The Bills suffered a major blow last week with the injury to QB Tyrod Taylor. Back-up QB Nathan Peterman may get the chance to start again, but we all remember what happened the last time he started.

Winner: Colts

 

Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers

The Vikings are on a roll with a 10 game winning streak, and could be the first team to ever play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The Panthers are clinging on to the 6th seed in the NFC, and need a bounce back win if they want to remain on the inside of the playoff picture.

Winner: Panthers

 

Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are licking their wounds after another prime time game meltdown, while the Bears keep finding more ways to shoot themselves in the foot and lose. It may be time for a house cleaning in Chicago.

Winner: Bengals

 

Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is practice again in the hopes his collar bone will heal in time to play in the Packers’ final three playoff implicating games. If QB Brett Hundley can get past the Browns, the Packers could be primed for a playoff run.

Winner: Packers

San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo made the inept 49ers offense look functional last Sunday despite red-zone struggles. He’ll need to be sharper against Jadeveon Clowney and the Texans vaunted defense.

Winner: Texans

 

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

With a three way tie atop the AFC West, this one could be an elimination game. The Raiders have been fortunate enough to have faced backup QBs the last 2 weeks, and the Chiefs appear to be falling apart. But Andy Reid can solve the Chiefs’ woes in time to win the division, right?

Winner: Chiefs

 

Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers QB James Winston looked good in his return, but had another careless turnover that cost his team the game last week. You would think he’d be more careful with the ball after considering he’s in his third NFL season. The Lions got smacked by the Ravens last week, and QB Matt Stafford will be playing through pain with a badly injured hand.

Winner: Lions

 

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell signed a 5 year, $200 million contract extension, thus making Jerry Jones look like a dope for threatening to sue him and the league. After cleaning house by firing GM Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo, the Giants have reinserted Eli Manning as their starting QB. Years from now, we’ll ask what was the point of benching the two time Super Bowl champion, and we won’t have a good answer.

Winner: Cowboys

 

Tennessee Titans at Arizona Cardinals

The Titans have a minus 16 point differential despite being in first place in the AFC South. The Cardinals are a shell of their former 2015 NFC Championship Game selves, but it’s mediocre teams like them the Titans have trouble beating handily.

Winner: Cardinals

 

New York Jets at Denver Broncos

In what was supposed to be a year in which they were tanking, the New York Jets have somehow already matched their win total in 2017 and still mathematically alive in the AFC playoff hunt. The Denver Broncos have three QBs on their roster, meaning they have no QBs. GM and Mr. Bronco himself John Elway called the Broncos season “embarrassing”, might we see first year head coach Vance Joseph gone after just one season?

Winner: Jets

 

Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Chargers

The Washington Redskins have injuries piling up and are on their way to a below .500 record. The Chargers have now won 6 of their last 8 games after starting 0-4 behind a ferocious pass rush and borderline hall of fame QB Philip Rivers. Go Chargers, Go ! (*Arnold Schwarzenegger voice*)

Winner: Chargers

 

Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars

If you had told someone at the start of the season a wee 14 game between the Seahawks and the Jaguars would have major playoff implications for both squads, you’d had been labeled insane. A win for the Jaguars would implicate the Jaguars are the real deal, while a win for the Seahawks would be business as usual.

Winner: Seahawks

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Ram

A battle between the number 1 and number 2 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft could potentially be a preview of the NFC Championship game. The Eagles are coming off a rough loss to the Seahawks, while the Rams throttled the Cardinals in an impressive road win. The winner of this one is in the driver seat for a playoff bye, and maybe even the number one seed in the NFC.

Winner: Eagles

 

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night Football)

AFC North football in December. Nothing is greater than a good ole’ fashioned showdown between two blood rivals who can’t stand each other. The Steelers look to keep rolling and remain the top seed in the AFC, while a win for the Ravens would make them a team no one would want to face should they make it to the postseason.

Winner: Steelers

 

New Englan Patriots at Miami Dolphins (Monday Night Football)

If there’s one place the Patriots have struggled to play over the last few seasons, it’s in South Beach. The Patriots have lost 3 of their last 4 games in Miami, and stumbling against them could cost them a number 1 seed in the playoffs. Luckily, the Dolphins are quarterbacked by Jay Cutler, meaning their chances of winning in Miami are considerably higher than previous seasons.

Winner: Patriots

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 13 Predictions

Winter is coming.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, signifying the end of Fall and the first 12 weeks of the NFL season. With the calendar turning to the month of December, winter is upon us. But while most of the U.S. gets colder, the NFL season begins to heat-up, especially with a Week 13 slate of NFL games that will heavily alter the playoff picture.

Last Week: 12-4

Overall: 110-66

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (Thursday Night Football)

The Cowboys look so lost without RB Ezekiel Elliott to the point many are questioning whether or not QB Dak Prescott can competently play the position without him. The Redskins are still alive in the playoff race, and the winner of this NFC EAST smackdown will live to fight another day for a spot in the playoffs.

Winner: Cowboys

Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons

Don’t look now, but suddenly the Atlanta Falcons seem to be regaining their Super Bowl form. Their schedule the rest of the season includes “prove it” games such as this one, but it’ll be Vikings QB Case Keenum who will prove he deserves to be under center for the NFC North leading Vikings.

Winner: Vikings

Detroit Lions at Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens seem to be reverting back to their classic form: a putrid offense combined with a pulverizing defense. The Lions need this game in order to stay in the playoff hunt, but their dreams of winning the NFC North may have sailed away last week by losing to the Vikings.

Winner: Lions

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

After proving head coach Sean McDermott wrong for benching him, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor led the charge in an upset win over the Chiefs. It’s wishful thinking to believe he can do the same against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Winner: Patriots

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo makes his much anticipated starting debut after leading a garbage time scoring drive last week. Only time will tell if he’s the franchise’s savior, but we know Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky definitely isn’t the answer for the Bears.

Winner: 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers

Don’t let last week fool you, QB Brett Hundley can’t keep the Packers afloat in the NFC playoff picture until Aaron Rodgers comes back. Buccaneers QB James Winston finally returns after missing a couple of games due to a shoulder injury, but one must wonder how focused he’ll be with the recent allegation against him claiming he sexually assaulted an Uber driver.

Winner: Buccaneers

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars fell victim to the Blaine Gabbert revenge game against the Cardinals last week. It’s time to start envisioning Eli Manning in a Jags uniform if they have any hope of competing for a Super Bowl.

Winner: Jaguars

Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins

QB Paxton Lynch made the Raiders awful defense look ferocious last week and cried about it. Trevor Siemian gets the start for the impotent Broncos against the Dolphins, who are still convinced Jay Cutler is a competent QB.

Winner: Dolphins

Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets

The once invincible Chiefs have hit a wall, losing 5 of their last 6 games. They’re lucky to be playing the self imploding Jets, who can’t get out of their own way.

Winner: Chiefs

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

It’s hard to take the Titans seriously when they barely beat hapless teams like the Colts. If only the Texans had Deshaun Watson to expose the Titans even more than he did in their Week 4 meeting.

Winner: Titans

Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers look like the best team in the AFC West right now. They face the STILL winless Browns, whose only win last year came against the Chargers last December. Coincidence?

Winner: Chargers

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

The Saints fell back to earth last week in their loss to the Rams, while Panthers QB Cam Newton struggled against the Jets. The winner of this game more than likely rides that momentum all the way to an NFC South title.

Winner: Panthers

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals

The Rams showed they’re for real by knocking off the Saints, and are close to completing one of the most stunning turnarounds in modern NFL history. But even against a team down to their back-up QBs, the Cardinals won’t go away quietly.

Winner: Rams

New York Giants at Oakland Raiders

The New York Giants have benched QB Eli Manning for Geno Smith. GENO SMITH. THEY CHOSE NOT TO FIRE BEN MCADOO BUT CHOSE TO BENCH ELI MANNING. Let that sink in.

Winner: Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday Night Football)

The Eagles are the NFL’s best team, as they electric slid their way to a victory over the dreadful Bears. In what could be a potential NFC Championship game preview, they’ll need to overcome the NFL’s best home field advantage against Seattle’s 12th man in order to solidify themselves as the team to beat in the NFL.

Winner: Seahawks

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (Monday Night Football)

At 5-6, the Bengals still have a shot at the postseason. The Steelers made Packers back-up QB Brett Hundley look like Aaron Rodgers last week, and tend to play down to their competition. If they want to certify themselves as the class of the AFC, the need to take care of business against a desperate Bengals squad.

Winner: Steelers