NFL Week 17 Picks

Last week 11-5. 30-17 over last 3 weeks (since SD Insider Started).

Week 17 and we are getting ready for the Playoffs. Some teams are already in and are sitting players, others are still trying to determine their playoffs seeding. Some teams are in need of a win to seal their playoff chances, and yet even more are banking on multiple teams to lose and a win for themselves.

Panthers vs Falcons – Panthers

Ravens vs Bengals – Bengals are at home and still are capable of getting the 2 seed and a bye with a win and New England loss. Compounding that with the fact that this is a division game, I feel that the Bengals are ready to set the tone for their playoff run. Ravens had a long season last year winning the Super Bowl, and seem burnt out. I feel that they are going to finish the season today.

Ravens 17 Bengals 28

Texans vs Titans – Titans

Browns vs Steelers – Steelers are one of the teams that still have their playoff hopes alive, yet at a slim margin. Steelers need a win, plus a loss by the Ravens, Dolphins, and Chargers to advance to the playoffs with the AFC 6th seed. I fully expect the Steelers to come alive vs a division rival in the Browns. 

Brown 13 Steelers 27

Jaguars vs Colts – Colts -11.5

Jets vs Dolphins – The Dolphins absolutely need this win to stay alive for the playoffs. If both the Dolphins and Ravens win (and the Chargers lose) the Dolphins will not make the playoffs due to a regular season head-to-head loss vs the Ravens. The Dolphins are guaranteed to make the playoffs with a win and a Ravens loss as they have a tie breaker vs the Chargers with a better conference record. If all 3 of these teams win, the Dolphins will also take the 6th seed because the tie breaker drops to AFC Conference record with a 3-way tie. The Dolphins own conference record over all teams. Still with that said, I see the Jets coming to play hard for Rex Ryan. It is a divison matchup and I feel it will be a close game. The Dolphins looked like garbarge last week as they went scoreless vs the 6-9 Bills. Jets don’t have that bad off a defense either.

Jets 21 Dolphins 17

Lions vs Vikings – Lions

Redskins vs Giants – Giants

Packers vs Bears – This is a huge game with direct playoff implications. This is one of two games this week that will flat out decide who wins the division. That tie the Matt Flynn and the then Rodgers-less Packers got may be a blessing in disguise. Aaron Rodgers is now back officially after being out for 8 weeks. I think Chicago is overwhelmed with their quarterback situation and has had a long season. The Chicago defense has been awful this season when considering the franchise’s history at the unit. Their run defense has been near last in the league. Aaron Rodgers has been seemingly ready to play for the past couple weeks and I think he will have a big game.

Packers 31 Bears 20

Chiefs vs Chargers – Chiefs are already locked into the 5th seed with the first Wild Card spot in the AFC. They are more than likely sitting some starters for a majority of the game. Even with that, the Kansas City defense has been sub-par since San Diego put up 41 on the defense back in week 12. In contrast, the Chargers defense has actually got better since they played the Chiefs last. They have only given up 16 pts a game in their last 4 and are creating more turnovers. They have 8 turnovers in their last 4 after having only 9 in their first 11. We already know about the Chargers offense. I think this will be a solid end of the season win for the San Diego Chargers, with their playoff chances alive or not.

Chiefs 17 Chargers 34

Broncos vs Raiders – Yesterday I saw an odds sheet that had Raiders favored my 13 points. I do not know if that was fake or not. The Broncos still have something to play for so I am not sure if they will sit their starters as this spread suggests. If the Broncos were to lose and the Patriots were to win, both teams would be 12-4 and New England would have the tie breaker with a head-to-head win. Broncos will shut the Raiders down.

Broncos 34 Raiders 16

Bills vs Patriots – Patriots

Buccaneers vs Saints – Saints

49ers vs Cardinals – This is actually a huge games as both teams are vying for a playoff spot. The Cardinals are a team that could potentially go 11-5 and still miss the playoffs due to tiebreaker situations. Bruce Arians has done an excellent job with the Cardinals in his first season. I think the Cardinals will keep it close at home, but San Francisco has too much all around fire power. The 49ers have also been pretty dominant in the recent series of the two teams.

49ers 34 Cardinals 31

Rams vs Seahawks – Seahawks

Eagles vs Cowboys – This is another take-all game for the division. The Eagles sit at 9-6 and the Cowboys at 8-7 with the tiebreaker if  they won. Tony Romo is injured for the rest of the season and will not play in the playoffs if the Cowboys were to make it. I cannot see the Cowboys players stepping up in Romo’s absence and raising their energy. Eagles have been playing well especially in the second half of the season. I think Chip Kelly has done an excellent job with the team as a whole as well as developing new star QB Nick Foles. LeSean McCoy has been an absolute beast this year and I think will be too much to handle for a week Dallas Defense.

Eagles 27 Cowboys 20

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NFL Week 16 Picks

Last week went 10-6.

I am going to make this weeks picks short and sweet…

Mia @ Buffalo – Buffalo

NO @ CAR – Saints. Although the Saints and Drew Brees have struggled on the road a little bit this season, I still feel as though this is their game to lose. Carolina has a good defense but I am not sure if they can contain the passing game of the Saints. Carolina’s DBs are suspect, and Drew Brees is set to avenge another loss from last week.

Min @ Cin –  Bengals

Denver @ Houston – Broncos

TEN @ JAX – Jaguars

IND @ KC – Kansas City. Kansas City is simply too tough to play on the road in December. Indianapolis has been inconsistent most of the season, and I just don’t see second year QB Andrew Luck bringing enough to the table to overcome a tough KC Defense.

CLE @ NYJ – Jets

TB @ STL – TB

Dal @ Was – Dal

NYG @ DET – Lions

Ari @ Sea – Seahawks (duh)

NE @ Bal – Patriots. Patriots have struggled as of late verse the Ravens. I still see Tom Brady and the offense coming alive verse a Ravens defense that is not what it was of past years. 

Pit @ GB – Pit

Oak @ SD – CHARGERS

Chi @ Phil – Eagles. Too many changes on the Bears roster this season are going to doom this team. I do not think Jay Cutler is a Super Bowl QB and I think their season ends on the road in Philly. This was a tough one to pick since the Eagles do not play very well at home, but Chip Kelly should have this team ready.

Atl @ SF – Niners

 

Sorry I was brief this week, been busy with the holidays. WIll be back in full force next week with analysis! 

Thank you!

Padres Acquire Relief Pitcher Joaquin Benoit, Pending Physical

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Only a couple days have past, and it looks as if Josh Byrnes and the Padres’ front office have found their replacement for Luke Gregerson. The Padres are reportedly paying the 12-year pro $15.5 million over 2 years.

Benoit played the majority of his career with the Texas Rangers where he began his career as a starter. After a few sub-par seasons, the Rangers moved Benoit to the bullpen where he would reside and have success.

Joaquin probably had his best season to date when he did a one time stint with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010. he helped the Rays go 96-66 and win the AL East Crown and a playoff berth. Ironically, the Rays eventually lost to Benoit’s former team the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. Joaquin’s season was outlined with his 6.82 Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio and boasted a 1.34 ERA.

After the quick stint with the Rays, Joaquin moved on to the Detroit Tigers where he played for the past three seasons. As a Tiger, Benoit helped Detroit to three back-to-back AL Central Pennants and AL Championship Series appearances, including a World Series loss in 2012. This past season, Joaquin assumed the role as a 9th inning closer for the first time in his career. He had 24 saves in 26 chances. His only real blunder happened to be in the playoffs when he gave up a game tying grand-slam in the ALCS to David Ortiz. The Red Sox went on to win the series, and thereafter became the World Series Champions.

With his years of experience and recent success as the lead closer, Joaquin Benoit should bring some veteran leadership to the bullpen. Although his $15.5 million over 2 years seems like a lot to be an 8th inning set-up man, it may be a key piece to this Padre’s bullpen.

The Padres have always been known for their strong bullpen and this should help solidify that status in 2014. Benoit may also be insurance for Huston Street as the Padres closer found himself with injuries in 2013. The Padres front office continues to make offseason moves to strengthen their team.

The Padres have now acquired OF Seth Smith, P Patrick Schuster, and IF Ryan Jackson this offseason. They have also been in other trades for ‘Players to be Named Later’ with the Astros in an Anthony Bass trade.

Padres Trade Jesus Guzman to the Astros

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On Wednesday Padres send Jesus Guzman to the Astros and get infielder Ryan Jackson in return.

Jesus Guzman was never a full-fledged starter, but did have some production in Bud Black’s versatile lineups. He was primarily a utility player who played first base and in the outfield. Although Guzman’s numbers are not flashy, he brought power to the plate in a lineup that really lacked it.

In 2011, Jesus Guzman’s first season as a Padre, he had arguably his best production in a limited role. He played in only 76 games, but still managed 77 hits, 22 doubles, 5 homeruns and a .312 batting average.

In the last 2 seasons Jesus Guzman’s role has been expanded, and his batting average has been negatively correlated. He played in over 120 games each of the last two seasons, but his production decreased as he had less hits, less doubles, and a drop to a combined .237 Batting Average in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Although this overall productivity has dropped, his number of homeruns has increased with the increased amount of plate appearances.

Guzman was a glue guy in this lineup that had a lot of little pieces. The outfield is starting to get crowded with Denorfia, Venable, Maybin, and Quentin all in the rotation. Yonder Alonso has seemed to solidify himself as the future franchise First-Baseman. It seems as if the Padres need for Jesus Guzman was just not as much of a necessity as it has been in years past.

Ryan Jackson has played most of his career primarily in the Minor Leagues. He had a chance with the Cardinals playing 20 games with St. Louis from 2012-13. He batted .083 in 24 at bats. In the Minors, Jackson played mostly shortstop and batted .278.

Looks as if the Padre’s front office is looking to the future and trying to improve their depth in the infield.

Raiders vs Chargers

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The San Diego public relations department is calling on all Chargers fans for support this weekend. I do not blame them. 

Another possible blackout looms as the Chargers play the Raiders at home in week 16. There are only 3,000 tickets left and should sell out as a ton of So Cal Raiders fans will probably show up. The San Diego public relations department has a point though. After the Charger’s last huge win in Kansas City, the Chargers could not sell out their home game verse the Bengals and went on to lose in a poor offensive and defensive performance. I was personally at that game and I will say it was disappointing how few people were in the actual stadium. 

San Diego fans showed great support against Eli Manning and the Giants, and that is what needs to continue for this fan base. That game proved the loyalty of Chargers fans and how much passion this fan base really has, there have been just too many down years and tough losses so it has been hard to take. San Diego fans need to come out big and do their part against the Raiders and moving forward. WIth the success of this new regime in Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy will come better stadium atmosphere.

The fact is the Chargers may know their fate by the time kickoff takes place at 1:25 on Sunday. The Dolphins play an early game at 10 am Pacific Standard Time and should finish off before the Chargers get going in San Diego. A win will give the Dolphins 9 wins and with a tie breaker will officially eliminate the Chargers from the playoffs. 

The way they will play after they know their fate my show the true character of this team in any situation. The Chargers are a much better team than the Raiders and should come out with a win at home regardless of how tough the Raiders play them. The worst thing that could happen is if the Dolphins win and the Chargers blow this game at home. That will not happen though.

The Raiders are a mess of a team right now and the Chargers are firing on all cylinders right now. San Diego will outmatch the Raiders at home and should keep rolling verse the Chiefs in Week 17. The Chargers should finish the season out strong and end with a winning record (9-7) in order to keep building momentum going into next season. They have grown tremendously getting better as the season has gone on. With the additions and returns of some key players next year they will be in playoff contention.

They just have to keep rolling.

Dolphins Win, Ravens Win, Chargers Playoff Chances Lose

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After the big win on Thursday Night Football, Chargers fans were starting to think playoffs. Now that Week 15 has finished out, Chargers fans might be thinking about next season.

Although their playoffs chances are still technically alive, it is even more of a longshot with Miami and Baltimore winning Sunday and Monday.

Miami was in a tight game with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots down at Sun Life Stadium. It looked like a typical game for the 2013 New England Patriots as they were ready to take another close one. They were in control most of the game, but never really pulled away as the Dolphins would not keep fighting. In the second half the Dolphins pulled ahead, only to go down then back up again.

With the Patriots down by 4 with less than 2 minutes left in the game and the ball, it looked like Tom Brady was ready for another one of his classic 4th quarter comebacks.

He drove all the way down the field near the redzone. It appeared as if Danny Amendola had caught the game winning touchdown catch until Michael Thomas knocked it out of his hands. Just a couple of plays later, Thomas secured the game winning interception in the endzone off Tom Brady. Thomas had just been signed off of the 49ers’ practice squad 5 days earlier and came to make the play. He has also been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

Danny Amendola looks as if he obtained the game winning touchdown catch before Michael Thomas rips it out of his hands in the air
Danny Amendola looks as if he obtained the game winning touchdown catch before Michael Thomas rips it out of his hands in the air

Not the luck the Chargers were hoping for.

The bad luck continued going into Monday as the Ravens played the Lions in Detroit.

It was a close game as the Lion’s Defense play pretty solid not giving up a single touchdown. The Raven’s defense also played well which was part of the problem. Matt Stafford and the offense had only scored 10 points in the game up until about 2:30 in the 4th quarter to play when they scored their go ahead touchdown. At that moment the score was 16-15, as the Ravens kicked 5 field goals.

Justin Tucker kicks 61-yard game winning field goal
Justin Tucker kicks 61-yard game winning field goal

The Lions went for 2 following the touchdown. It was a call that definitely had to be made. Knowing you had not given up a touchdown all game, you knew the Ravens were probably going to try and drive to kick a game winning field goal with about 2 minutes left to go in the game. The Lions ended up not converting on the 2-pt conversion and wrote their own destiny.

Justin Tucker's 61-yd field goal barely makes it through
Justin Tucker’s 61-yd field goal barely makes it through

The Ravens went on to drive only barely to mid field. Justin Tucker went on to kick a 61 yard field goal with nearly no time left on the clock to seal the victory. It was his sixth FG on the night as he scored all of the Raven’s points.

Just the Chargers’ luck.

That is two weeks in a row now where San Diego needed losses from these two teams, and narrowly missed out on good fortune. Last week the Dolphins appeared to have lost as Antonio Brown ran back a kick off on a miracle play only to have stepped out of bounds [with no time left] giving the victory to the Dolphins. Same week, Ravens beat the Vikings on a touchdown pass to Marlon Brown with 4 seconds left. There were touchdowns scored in the final 5 minutes of that game and took a lot of steam for that Ravens team to win that game.

It has to make you think that this probably just isn’t the Chargers’ year. With the Ravens and Dolphins both at 8-6 and with tiebreakers, the Chargers are now realistically a game and a half back at 7-7. They beat a lot of good teams this year and played pretty well at times. Other times they played inconsistent and lost to bad teams in close games at the end. They couldn’t finish early on, but have seemed to caught onto a rhythm late in the year.  Look for good things to come in 2014.

Chargers Dominate in Big Win on TNF

 

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The fact is the Chargers went into Denver to face Peyton Manning and the #1 AFC seeded Broncos, and came out with a upset victory.  No body gave the Chargers a chance. Many of the players said that their mindset going into the game was that they were going to win, including Eric Weddle. As a San Diego fan who has watched this team this year, and has watched former Charger teams take on Peyton Manning, new that there was a chance.

Even though he did not put up flashy numbers, Philip Rivers played an excellent game. He was efficient going 12/20 with 2 TDs and no INTs. The San Diego offense dominated time of possession having the ball for nearly 40 minutes. Back in week 10, San Diego had the ball for nearly 40 minutes as well, this time Philip and the offense scored touchdowns. They finished drives and played aggressive.

Keenan Allen hurdles Broncos defender into he endzone
Keenan Allen hurdles Broncos defender into he endzone

Both of Rivers’ touchdowns were to Keenan Allen. The pair of scores were Allen’s only two receptions on the night as he totaled 4 touchdowns in 2 games now. The first-year wide receiver continues to build on his chances to win Rookie of the Year with his 7 TDs, rookie-leading 63 receptions, and his nearly 1,000 yards. On his first score of the night night he took a shallow crossing route to the house in what seemed was all effort. He hurdled over a defender and then muscled his way into the endzone through another.

Ryan Mathews brushes off Broncos DE Robert Ayers
Ryan Mathews brushes off Broncos DE Robert Ayers

The offensive line dominated which helped Ryan Mathews have a fantastic game. Ryan rushed 29 times for 128 yards for back-to-back 100-yd games. Ryan Mathews ran hard and continuously finished. The entire offensive was playing into the run very well and Mathews was able to take advantage. His score on the night was a 23 yard run which he had players blocking all the way down field.

The way the offense controlled the ball and was able to score made it much easier on the defense. Scoring against Peyton Manning and taking a lead was beneficial for the defense as it took off some of the pressure to make ‘the big play.’ San Diego’s defense made all the little plays that counted causing Manning and the Broncos offense to have three consecutive 3-and-outs. They locked down receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, as well as Tightend Julius Thomas. This led to some production by fifth-option Andre Caldwell, but nothing too overwhelming.

Thomas Keiser celebrates after huge 4th quarter interception
Thomas Keiser celebrates after huge 4th quarter interception

The Chargers defensive line played very well getting into Manning’s face on some of the big plays that the defense did have. Corey Liuget was a force as he helped pressure the quarterback into a Marcus Gilchrist sack. He also had a huge play in the 4th quarter where he hit Manning as he threw which led to the game-sealing interception by Thomas Keiser.

San Diego played a great game in all facets and truly deserved the victory. This win sets them at 7-7 on the outside of the playoff picture looking in with slim chances. This may be the season that could have been if the Chargers end up not making the playoffs. This is a growing year with a Rookie head coach in Mike McCoy. He has had to learn with his team and build upon an identity of the team and the formula they want to go about in winning football games. There were many losses this season that could have been differed with smarter coaching and smarter playing. The Chargers have showed a lot of positives this season and if they do not make the playoffs, should still feel good about their team and chances going into the 2014 season.