"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

THURSDAY NIGHT NFL AND COLLEGE PICKS

College:

(2) Florida State (7 - 0) 27 @ (25) Louisville (6 - 2) 24: It's popular to think that this is the game that will disrupt the Seminoles' run to the playoffs. I disagree, but it will probably be close. Until Jameis Winston leaves Florida State or is benched for one of his many indiscretions, I think he is good enough to lead his team to an undefeated season. If so, they will most likely be the only one without a loss, given the tough schedule that Mississippi State faces the rest of the way. Look for Florida State to find a way to keep their streak alive on the road against a team that will be very dangerous in the ACC in seasons to come.

NFL:

New Orleans (3 - 4) 27 @ Carolina (3 - 4 - 1) 30: This is a big divisional game in the NFC South, where no team is above .500. The Saints erupted at home against the Packers last week, but they have yet to win on the road. Carolina is always dangerous behind Cam Newton and took Seattle to the wire before losing a tight one, 13 - 9. Home team, Thursday night, Cam Newton against a still suspect New Orleans defense...I'll take the Panthers, despite the Saints' win last week. Of course, if the league is intent on the Saints remaining relevant, then you can forget about the X'x and O's and leave it to the Zebras to determine the outcome of the game. I happen to think the Saints have had their day and it's time for Cam Newton to thrive in front of a national audience.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WEEK 8 NFL PICKS RECAP

The lone dominant team left seems to be the Broncos, led by the player who is arguably the face of the league in Peyton Manning. Otherwise, it appears things are settling into parity mode, with Green Bay, Indianapolis and Dallas all losing in inexplicable fashion to fall back into the pack. Is it just me, or do things seem a little too orchestrated and predictable, now that we know what's going on?

Last Week:    10 - 5
Overall:      80 - 42 - 1

San Diego (5 - 2) 24 @ Denver (5 - 1) 31: Correct. Best offense, really good defense. It's hard to make a case against Denver for best team in the league, unless the league wants it to be New England. We'll find out this week.  Denver 35 - 21

Detroit (5 - 2) 28 @ Atlanta (2 - 5) 24: Correct.I guess the Falcons had their chances from 2010 to 2012. No chance for this team except that the entire division is below .500. Look for them to be tossed a bone for having to go to London.  Detroit 22 - 21.

St. Louis (2 - 4) 20 @ Kansas City (3 - 3) 24: Correct. In a pool I'm in I picked the Rams to be the lowest scoring team of the week. I guess I finally got something right. Kansas City 34 - 7.

Houston (3 - 4) 27 @ Tennessee (2 - 5) 20: Correct. Houston benefits greatly by Indy's defensive meltdown against the Steelers. They're still in the playoff hunt and stand a good chance of making some noise at season's end.  Houston 30 - 16.

Minnesota (2 - 5) 30 @ Tampa Bay (1 - 5) 24: Correct. The Vikings prevailed but weren't as productive offensively as I thought they would be A second half run isn't out of the question.  Minnesota 19 - 13.

Seattle (3 - 3) 23 @ Carolina (3 - 3) 27: No. It took some late heroics for the Seahawks to come out on top. I don't see them making the playoffs unless they get their act together. Seattle 13 - 9.

Baltimore (5 - 2) 28 @ Cincinnati (3 - 2 - 1) 24: No. A questionable call cost the Ravens, but this division won't be decided until week 16 or 17. Four pretty good teams with great rivalries. Cincinnati 27 - 24.

Miami (3 - 3) 20 @ Jacksonville (1 - 6) 17: Correct. Miami needs to find a way to get through a very difficult stretch of their schedule. And at the end of that stand the Patriots on the road.  Miami 27 - 13.

Chicago (3 - 4) 21@ New England (5 - 2) 27: Correct. This one was probably more about the ineptness of the Bears than it was about the Patriots. But after being left for dead after week four, New England looks poised to contend for another Super Bowl appearance.  New England 51 - 23.

Buffalo (4 - 3) 17 @ New York Jets (1 - 6) 19: No. Bye Bye Rex. If you're going to build your team around average QB's and a good defense, you better give up less than 43 points against a marginable offense. Buffalo 43 - 23.

Philadelphia (5 - 1) 27 @ Arizona (5 - 1) 30: Correct. Not much of a surprise in this one, except for the low final score. Don't look now, but the Redskins are only a couple of games behind the Eagles and Cowboys, all without RGIII, who should be back on the field in a week or two. Arizona 24 - 20.

Oakland (0 - 6) 23 @ Cleveland (3 - 3) 28:  Correct. The Raiders are the only team with a zero in their record. It's well deserved. The son is paying the dues for his late father's sins against the league. Of course, he also inherited poor personnel management skills. A deadly duo. It's been ten years since a Super Bowl appearance and thirty one since a championship. Another one is nowhere in sight. Cleveland 23 - 13.

Indianapolis (5 - 2) 31 @ Pittsburgh (4 - 3) 24: No. You have to be kidding me. If you ever imagined that the NFL is going the away of the WWE, this was the first of three games that substantiated your case. It looked like the Colt's defensive line was playing in slow motion. Big Ben had more time to throw than a pitcher in the World Series. Really?  Pittsburgh 51 - 34.

Green Bay (5 - 2) 34 @ New Orleans (2 - 4) 28: No. This was truly Conspiracy Theory Game II. I think it was the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay on the field. Oh, wait, they don't have a football team. My point exactly. It didn't look the Packers did either. New Orleans 44 - 23.

Washington (2 - 5) 28 @ Dallas (6 - 1) 27: Correct. And the trifecta was completed with the Redskins' dismantling of the Cowboys on Monday night, behind a third string QB no less. Case made. Washington 20 - 17 OT.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

WEEK 9 COLLEGE FOTBALL PICKS RECAP

I correctly predicted that one of the Mississippi teams would go down, and I even picked the right one on my way to a 15 - 1 picking week. The lone loss was a  last second victory by Utah over USC. Along the way, TCU put up more points then their basketball did in all but two games last season. That's just crazy.

It sounds improbable, but there is a scenario where no SEC West team finds its way into the playoffs, since the contenders all play each other down the stretch.

Last Week:    15 - 1.
Overall:       147 - 60

(1) Mississippi State (6 - 0) 27 @ Kentucky (5 - 2) 17: Correct. The Bulldogs were challenged by Kentucky, but never let the Wildacats take a late lead. Mississippi St. 45 - 31.

(3) Ole Miss (7 - 0) 20 @ LSU (6 - 2) 23: Correct. LSU probably won't be in playoff consideration, but their game against Alabama in two weeks looms large in the national picture. The Rebels are still in the mix, but games against Auburn, Arkansas and Mississippi State remain.  LSU 10 - 7.

(4) Alabama (6 - 1) 34 @ Tennessee (3 - 4) 16: Correct. I don't think the Tide will lose again this season, even though they have LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn left on the schedule. If they do run the table, there's little doubt about them jumping over Florida State to Number One. Alabama 34 - 20.

South Carolina (4 - 3) 27 @ (5) Auburn (5 - 1) 38: Correct. This was a very entertaining game with Steve Spurrier at his best. The Tigers' defense concerns me as they try to get into the playoffs. Auburn 42 - 35

Michigan (3 - 4) 17 @ (8) Michigan State (6 - 1) 34: Correct. I think we can all say goodbye to Michigan coach Brady Hoke. Now the Spartans' matchup with Ohio State in two weeks looks like a playoff elimination game. Michigan St. 35 - 11.

Texas Tech (3 - 4) 27 @ (10) TCU (5 - 1) 38: Correct. The only thing I can think is that TCU coach Gary Patterson thinks that running up the score will impress the playoff selection committee. At least Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingbury signed a nice contract extension earlier this season. I think he's going to need it. TCU 82 - 27.

Texas (3 - 4) 16 @ (11) Kansas State (5 - 1) 27: Correct. Kansas State may be the best team nobody's talking about. The Big 12 and Big Ten are the two conferences most likely to be left out of the four team playoff, so the upcoming games with TCU, West Virginia and Baylor will be huge. Kansas St. 23 - 0.

(13) Ohio State (5 - 1) 30 @ Penn State (4 - 2) 24: Correct. I'm not sure this game did much to help Ohio State's claim that they are worthy of playoff consideration. They'll need to play a lot better to defeat Michigan State. Ohio St. 31 - 24 2 OT

(14) Arizona State (5 - 1) 30 @ Washington (5 - 2) 28: Correct.This one was a lot closer than the score. The Sun Devils scored on a late pick six for the final margin. Conference games with Utah and Arizona remain, plus a big one against Notre Dame. Arizona St. 24 - 10.

(15) Arizona (5 - 1) 37 @ Washington State (2 - 5) 24: Correct. It's going to be interesting to to see if a contender to Oregon will emerge from the Pac 12 South. With Arizona's win over the Ducks, they may have an advantage in a potential conference title rematch. Arizona 59 - 37.

Rutgers (5 - 2) 23 @ (16) Nebraska (6 - 1) 27: Correct. We seem to be focusing on Michigan State and Ohio State from the Big Ten, but the Cornhuskers continue to churn their way through the West. Nebraska 42 - 24.

(20) USC (5 - 2) 28 @ (19) Utah (5 - 1) 27: No. Utah's touchdown with eight seconds left kept me from sweeping the picks for the week. Ouch! Utah 24 - 21.

Syracuse (3 - 4) 20 @ (21) Clemson (5 - 2) 31: Correct. Clemson's offense didn't look like a top 20 team, but their defense held the Orange out of the end zone. Clemson 16 - 6.

(22) West Virginia (5 - 2) 34 @ Oklahoma State (5 - 2) 31: Correct. We'll get to see just how good the Mountaineers are when they host TCU next week. They already have a win over Baylor, so it's a real possibility. West Virginia 34 - 10.

Florida Atlantic (2 - 3) 20 @ (23) Marshall (7 - 0) 27: Correct. Marshall came back from a 16 - 14 halftime deficit. Why they're in the top twenty amazes me. Their schedule reads like a candidate list for future homecoming games for power conference schools. They haven't played a game against a Big Five conference team. Really? Marshall 35 - 16.

(25) UCLA (5 - 2) 31 @ Colorado (2 - 5) 27: The Bruins almost allowed this one to get away after squandering a 17 point 4th quarter lead. UCLA is just hanging around in the Pac 12 South. Correct. UCLA 40 - 37 2 OT






Saturday, October 25, 2014

WEEK 8 NFL PICKS

Some big questions remain as we close in on the halfway point in the season. Can the Cowboys continue their solid play in a Monday night rivalry matchup with the Redskins? Are the Seahawks still in contention to win a second consecutive Super Bowl? Will the Broncos continue to roll behind Peyton Manning's record setting pace? And can Oakland go on the road and get their first win? I guess we'll see!

Last Week:    10 - 5
Overall:      70 - 37 - 1

San Diego (5 - 2) 24 @ Denver (5 - 1) 31: I just can't go against a touchdown passing machine that now has a defense to go with it. The Broncos are my clear pick to get the Super Bowl again, as long as they can stay healthy.

Detroit (5 - 2) 28 @ Atlanta (2 - 5) 24: It looks like the Lions are starting to round into form. The defense is possibly playing as well as any in the league. If Megatron gets back in the lineup, the banged up Falcons will have a tough time. But this game is in London, so it may be a bit unpredictable.

St. Louis (2 - 4) 20 @ Kansas City (3 - 3) 24: Both teams are coming off surprising victories. I like the Chiefs at home in this I-70 rivalry game, but they'll need to overcome a tough Ram defense.

Houston (3 - 4) 27 @ Tennessee (2 - 5) 20: The Texans imploded with turnovers at the end of the first half against the Steelers, so they should come into Nashville with a chip on their shoulder. The Titans have shown a couple of glimpses of improving, but not enough to take down the Texans.

Minnesota (2 - 5) 30 @ Tampa Bay (1 - 5) 24: I think the Vikings will come together against the Bucs, who got a week off after a 48 - 17 drubbing by the Ravens. Neither team will be in the playoff hunt this season, so they'll be playing for pride the rest of the way.

Seattle (3 - 3) 23 @ Carolina (3 - 3) 27: The Seahawks go east for the second week in a row, hoping to avoid a three game losing streak. A lot of analysts seem to think Seattle is still an elite team, but you can't lose at home and then to St. Louis and be that good. The gig's up for this season.

Baltimore (5 - 2) 28 @ Cincinnati (3 - 2 - 1) 24: The Ravens look a lot like a team that can make a deep run in the playoffs. They have come up with an explosive offense to complement a shut down defense. The Bengals are struggling a bit and I just don't see them prevailing if Baltimore plays like they have been.

Miami (3 - 3) 20 @ Jacksonville (1 - 6) 17: The Dolphins stuffed the Bears and the Jags surprised the Browns, with both teams playing solid defense. Miami is almost a touchdown favorite, which seems like a lot considering the way Jacksonville is stopping their opponents.

Chicago (3 - 4) 21@ New England (5 - 2) 27: The Patriots will finally have Rob Gronkowski at almost full strength, not a good thing for opposing teams. The Bears seem to be in a bit of disarray with the inconsistent play of QB Jay Cutler. Don't look now, but New England is poised to make a  run in the second half of the season.

Buffalo (4 - 3) 17 @ New York Jets (1 - 6) 19: This is one of those picks where I have no rationale except that it's the NFL and I don't think the Jets are as bad as their 1 - 6 record would indicate. All I can say is that I think they're due for a win.

Philadelphia (5 - 1) 27 @ Arizona (5 - 1) 30: This is the game of the week, with the winner getting themselves in position to contend for home-filed advantage in the playoffs. I don't like the Eagles' inconsistency on defense, despite their beat down of the Giants prior to the bye week.

Oakland (0 - 6) 23 @ Cleveland (3 - 3) 28: The Browns were a fashionable pick last week, and then laid an egg in Jacksonville. They need a win to keep pace in their division. The Raiders are the lone winless team, and I think they'll stay that way for another week.

Indianapolis (5 - 2) 31 @ Pittsburgh (4 - 3) 24: Pittsburgh turned a couple of minutes of opportune events into a win last week against Houston. But the Colts are on a five game winning streak after back to back opening losses. I just don't think the Steelers are solid enough to hold off Andrew Luck and company.

Green Bay (5 - 2) 34 @ New Orleans (2 - 4) 28: The Saints need something to breathe life into the season, and a big win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers would certainly do that. However, I haven't seen much from New Orleans that would indicate they can overcome Green Bay, even if the game is in the Superdome.

Washington (2 - 5) 28 @ Dallas (6 - 1) 27: So the Cowboys are suddenly America's Team again, the Redskins are struggling and will start a third string QB who played his college ball at the University of Texas. Dallas is a ten point favorite, seemingly on their way to a Super Bowl matchup against the Broncos. Really?

WEEK NINE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS

Both Mississippi teams go on the road today, and I think there's a good chance that one of them falls. I just don't know which one it will be, and despite that, I may not pick either one to lose. But then again, maybe I will. Let's see!

(1) Mississippi State (6 - 0) 27 @ Kentucky (5 - 2) 17: This is all new territory for the Bulldogs, especially since a trip to Kentucky usually meant an easy win. But the Wildcats are 5 - 2 with  couple of SEC wins under their belt. They're coming off a 41 - 1 beating by LSU and should be motivated to make a better showing.

(3) Ole Miss (7 - 0) 20 @ LSU (6 - 2) 23: After slumping a little earlier in the season, LSU has rebounded to get back in the SEC West conversation. The Bayou Bengals stumbled at home against Mississippi State, but I believe they'll even their record against their neighboring state tonight.

(4) Alabama (6 - 1) 34 @ Tennessee (3 - 4) 16: Don't forget about the Crimson Tide, just because they looked sluggish against Ole Miss and Arkansas. They put a big whooping on Texas A&M last week and appear poised to make a run at the SEC West title.

South Carolina (4 - 3) 27 @ (5) Auburn (5 - 1) 38: The Gamecocks' youth has finally caught up with them, something that Auburn should be able to exploit today.

Michigan (3 - 4) 17 @ (8) Michigan State (6 - 1) 34: It's hard to believe that the Spartans are 17 point favorites in this one. But unfortunately for Michigan, it's probably justified.

Texas Tech (3 - 4) 27 @ (10) TCU (5 - 1) 38: The Red Raiders could use some help on defense. They'll really need it today.

Texas (3 - 4) 16 @ (11) Kansas State (5 - 1) 27: The Longhorns could go a long way in their rebuilding program with a win in the Little Apple. But that's probably not going to happen. The Wildcats are on a collision course with TCU and Baylor to determine the Big 12 winner.

(13) Ohio State (5 - 1) 30 @ Penn State (4 - 2) 24: Since an early loss to Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes have rebounded with high scoring victories. True, it hasn't exactly been murderer's row, but 56 points a game is still pretty impressive. I doubt they get that total today, but they should leave Penn State with a win.

(14) Arizona State (5 - 1) 30 @ Washington (5 - 2) 28: This is one of those unpredictable Pac 12 games, but here I am making a prediction anyway. I'm going to stay with the visitors in a nail-biter.

(15) Arizona (5 - 1) 37 @ Washington State (2 - 5) 24: Other than an upset over Utah, Washington State hasn't been very impresssive. The Wildcats have.

Rutgers (5 - 2) 23 @ (16) Nebraska (6 - 1) 27: The Cornhuskers have continued to improve and stand a good chance of playing for the Big Ten title. Rutgers is not a team anyone can take lightly.

(20) USC (5 - 2) 28 @ (19) Utah (5 - 1) 27: I'm a big USC supporter, but they go into a tough environment against Utah. The Utes have squeaked by their last two opponents after a close loss to Washington State. I'm picking the Trojans in a mild upset.

Syracuse (3 - 4) 20 @ (21) Clemson (5 - 2) 31: Clemson is on an impressive four game roll since losing in overtime to then top-ranked Florida State. I look for them to continue that against an overmatched Syracuse team.

(22) West Virginia (5 - 2) 34 @ Oklahoma State (5 - 2) 31: I believe this is one of the most difficult games to pick this week. West Virginia's two losses are against Alabama and Oklahoma and they head to Stillwater ranked 22nd. The Cowboys are coming off a drubbing to TCU. Tough decision.

Florida Atlantic (2 - 3) 20 @ (23) Marshall (7 - 0) 27: Marshall is still trying to keep pace with ECU to play their way into a major bowl game.

(25) UCLA (5 - 2) 31 @ Colorado (2 - 5) 27: The Bruins are hoping to kick start their season before a tough finishing run in the Pac 12.







Sunday, October 19, 2014

WEEK 7 NFL PICKS

Things are starting to take shape in the NFL, as Dallas' defeat of Seattle substantiated that the Cowboys are the real deal, at least to this point in the season. In a division that was thought to be one of the weakest before the first game was played, we now find two NFC East teams at the top of the NFC, with Philadelphia joining Dallas at 5 - 1. In the other conference, San Diego has emerged as a contender to Denver as the class of the AFC. As for the rest of the league, with the exception of Washington, Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay, everyone else is fighting to emerge from the middle of the pack.

Overall: 60 - 32 - 1

Thursday (from a previous blog);

New York Jets (1 – 5) 16 @ New England (4 – 2) 27: I would have to be totally insane to entertain any scenario where the Jets would be in a position to defeat the Patriots in New England. Except that over the years, Rex Ryan has had a knack of handing Brady and company an untimely loss, even in the playoffs. Of course, those were teams capable of getting to and competing in the post-season, not 1 – 5 teams that are struggling on both sides of the ball. Still, you have to wonder if the bad Patriots might resurface at some point.  Judging from the way they’re playing, I would think that is probably not likely tonight. Even if the Jets looked better at times against Denver, that was at home against a team that is traditionally lethargic at sea level. If the Jets can find a way to prevail, it may mean a resurgence for Rex and his antics. I think it’s more likely to be his last visit to Gillette Stadium as head coach of New York’s AFC team.

Sunday:

Atlanta (2 - 4)  20 @ Baltimore (4 - 2) 28: Joe Flacco  was on fire last week. I don't expect quite the same performance against the Falcons, but he'll get enough defensive support to win.

Tennessee (2 - 4) 17 @ Washington (1 - 5) 23: Maybe the Redskins will switch to blaze orange jerseys so Kirk Cousins can make sure which team he's throwing the ball to. The Titans have struggled this season and it's time for Washington to get another victory.

Seattle (3 - 2) 24 @ St. Louis (1 - 4) 20: The Seahawks have to hit the road after a rare and tough loss at home to Dallas. I think they'll pull out the victory, but it will be closer than it should be.

Cleveland (3 - 2) 28 @ Jacksonville (0 - 6) 17: Browns are on a roll, but they had the same record last year and went in the tank after an injury to starting QB Brian Hoyer. The Jags are just awful and need to start winning to stay in Jacksonville, otherwise they'be heading to L.A.

Cincinnati (3 - 1 - 1) 24 @ Indianapolis (4 - 2) 28: The Bengals have hit the skids after an impressive start. The Colts have won four in a row after a bad start. I like what Indy's doing.

Minnesota (2 - 4) 19 @ Buffalo (3 - 3) 27: The Bills are trying to keep pace with the Patriots in the AFC East while the Vikings are still attempting to adjust to life without Adrian Peterson. Both teams have been up and down, but I like Buffalo's defense to hold down Minnesota..

Miami (2 - 3) 20 @ Chicago (3 - 3) 24: If this game was in Miami, I might go with the Dolphins. In Soldier Field, I have to stay with the home team. The Bears need to win if they want to remain in contention in the NFC North.

New Orleans (2 - 3) 24 @ Detroit (4 - 2) 28: The Saints have been very disappointing and the Lions are starting to play very good defense. I liked Detroit to win the NFC North before the season and they seem to be rounding into form.

Carolina (3 - 2 -1) 27 @ Green Bay (4 - 2) 30: Another NFC North team that's getting it together in mid-season is Green Bay. Since QB Aaron Rodgers told the Packer nation not to panic, he's led his team to three consecutive victories. The Panthers are leading a weak division and might be able to keep this one close.

Kansas City (2 - 3) 24@ San Diego (5 - 1) 30 : San Diego just looks like a team that could have a great season. Two games against the Broncos remain, so notching another victory is essential for the Chargers to look ahead to securing home field in the playoffs. The Chiefs will have to play beyond themselves to pull the upset.

Arizona (4 - 1) 31 @ Oakland (0 - 5) 20: Don't look now, but the Cardinals are on top of what many believe is the toughest division in football (outside of the SEC West, of course). The Raiders are, well, the Raiders. They played better last week, but Arizona is tough to beat.

New York Giants (3 - 3) 21 @ Dallas (5 - 1)  24: Can the Cowboys consolidate their big win over the Seahawks with rivalry victory against the Giants?  Can the Giants come back after getting dismantled by the Eagles last week? The answer to both is yes, but the 'Boys win it in a close one.

San Francisco (4 - 2) 20 @ Denver (4 - 1) 27: Peyton Manning is going for Brett Favre's career TD record today against a terrific defense. The Broncos have New England and San Diego following this game, so this should be the beginning of a stretch that will give us a good indication of just how good Denver is.

Monday Night:

Houston (3 - 3) 27 @ Pittsburgh (3 - 3) 23: The Texans are probably better than their record would indicate and Pittsburgh might not be as good as their's. It's time to make a move and I believe we'll see it made by Houston, even if it's on the road on a Monday night.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

WEEK 8 COLLEGE PICKS

Mississippi State vaulted Florida State to move into the top position in the polls, but the Bulldogs still have a daunting schedule the rest of the way, with games at Kentucky, followed by Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss the rest of the way. If they get through that gauntlet, then they’ll be facing an SEC East foe in the conference championship game. It will most likely be a jumbled mess by the time the playoff committee meets in early December to name their final four teams.

I’ve been doing a lot of work in preparation for the release of my second book in the PK Frazier series, “Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel”, which is now available at www.smashwords.com, www.amazon.com and iBooks. So this week’s picks segment will be fairly brief, focusing more on the projected scores.

Overall 118 - 50

(5) Notre Dame (6 - 0) 27 @ (2) Florida State (6 - 0) 30: I’ve been a believer in the Irish all season, but last week’s close win against a weak UNC team leaves me wondering.

Tennessee (3 - 3) 16 @ (3) Ole Miss (6 - 0) 27: The Rebels defense will prevail.

(4 ) Baylor (6 - 0) 34 @ West Virginia (4 - 2) 28: This is a very difficult game for the Bears. Morgantown is a tough place to win.

(21) Texas A&M (5 -2) 20 @ (7) Alabama (5 - 1) 23: Look for more focus and intensity from the Tide today.

(8) Michigan State (5 - 1) 30 @ Indiana (3 - 3) 20: Indiana pulled a surprise on Missouri earlier in the season, but that win has been diminished with Missouri’s performance last week.

Washington (5 - 1) 27 @ (9) Oregon (5 - 1) 31: The Ducks had better be on upset alert today.

(10) Georgia (5 - 1) 23 @ Arkansas (3 - 3) 24: If the Razorbacks can get a call or two to go their way, Bret Bielema could get his first SECC win.

(14) Kansas State (4 - 1) 24 @ (11) Oklahoma (5 - 1) 27: The winner jumps into the playoff picture, the loser is out.

(15) Oklahoma State (5 - 1) 37 @ (12) TCU (4 - 1) 34: The Cowboys have gone mostly unnoticed since their opening loss to Florida State.

Rutgers (5 - 1) 20 @ (13) Ohio State 28: Rutgers had two weeks to prepare for this game. It probably won’t help, even though I’m a fan of the New Jersey team.

(22) Stanford (4 - 2) 27 @ (17) Arizona State (4 - 1) 28: Tough call here.

(19) Nebraska (5 - 1) 27 @ Northwestern (3 - 3) 21: The Wildcats have looked good and not so good at times. The ‘Huskers are still hanging around the playoff conversation.

Colorada (2 - 4) 21 @ (22) USC (4 - 2) 31: The Trojans finally get a game they should win.

(24) Clemson (4 - 2) 30 @ Boston College (4 - 2) 24: The Tigers head north to try to keep momentum.

(25) Marshall (6 - 0) 37 @ Florida International (3 - 4) 28: The Thundering Herd is hoping to challenge ECU for a major bowl bid.

Virginia (4 - 2) 27 @ Duke (5 - 1) 23: The Cavaliers are the turnaround story of the season. This game has significant impact on the ACC Coastal.

Georgia Tech (5 - 1) 38 @ North Carolina (2 - 4) 30: The Tar Heels put a real scare into Notre Dame last week, but still gave up 50 points.

Kansas (2 - 4) 31 @ Texas Tech (2 - 4) 37: It’s time for the Red Raiders to get a victory.

Iowa (5 - 1) 24 @ Maryland (4 - 2) 20: Where did Iowa come from?

UCLA (4 - 2) 42 @ California (4 - 2) 31: This could look more like a basketball score.


Missouri (4 - 2) 23 @ Florida (3 - 2) 27: Pride is on the line in the Swamp.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

THURSDAY NIGHT NFL AND COLLEGE PICKS



There are some potentially entertaining games tonight, particularly on the college side.  Virginia Tech goes into Pittsburgh where they look to win for the first time in this century. Utah heads to Oregon State, a difficult place to win, especially on a raucous Thursday night. And in the NFL, the recently revived Patriots play host to a dismal Jets team that goes into New England with a 1 – 5 record.

College:

(20) Utah (4 – 1) 27 @ Oregon State (4 – 1) 30: Traditionally, Oregon State has been an upset machine at home.  But Utah has already won against UCLA and Michigan on the road, so they’re used to playing against good (okay, I’m giving Michigan the benefit of the doubt here) teams away from home. I’m not that impressed with Oregon State’s offense, but they play decent defense, especially for the wacky Pac – 12. With the exception of being at home on a Thursday night, I can’t really see a good reason to go with the Beavers. Except they are playing at home, and it’s a Thursday night. I’ve started off most  of the last few weeks with a loss, so why change now? I’ll go with the home team in what I’m sure will be very colorful orange and black uniforms in this Halloween season.

Virginia Tech (4 – 2) 27 @ Pittsburgh (3 – 3) 20: This is another matchup that doesn’t usually go very well for the visitors. Going back to their Big East days, the Panthers have given the Hokies fits in Pittsburgh. I remember spending a miserable Saturday afternoon in San Diego in 2001 watching a fifth ranked 6 – 1 Tech team get drilled 38 – 7. Those were three hours that could have been spent on Coronado enjoying the California sunshine. Back to this year’s game, this sets up as a real trap game for Virginia Tech. The Panthers have lost three in a row and their offense has all but disappeared. On the other hand, the Hokies seem to have fixed some of the issues that led to back to back heartbreakers against ECU and Georgia Tech.  On paper, it looks like all Tech, except there was 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2012, with Tech finally breaking the four game skid with a defensive show last year in Blacksburg.

NFL:

New York Jets (1 – 5) 16 @ New England (4 – 2) 27: I would have to be totally insane to entertain any scenario where the Jets would be in a position to defeat the Patriots in New England. Except that over the years, Rex Ryan has had a knack of handing Brady and company an untimely loss, even in the playoffs. Of course, those were teams capable of getting to and competing in the post-season, not 1 – 5 teams that are struggling on both sides of the ball. Still, you have to wonder if the bad Patriots might resurface at some point.  Judging from the way they’re playing, I would think that is probably not likely tonight. Even if the Jets looked better at times against Denver, that was at home against a team that is traditionally lethargic at sea level. If the Jets can find a way to prevail, it may mean a resurgence for Rex and his antics. I think it’s more likely to be his last visit to Gillette Stadium as head coach of New York’s AFC team.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

WEEK 7 COLLEGE PICKS RECAP

Not as much turmoil at the top as last week. With number 2 playing number 3, someone in the top five had to lose. I feel good about the Oregon, USC, Georgia and Baylor picks when it was fashionable this week to go the other direction. Mississippi State is certainly in the driver's seat, but games against Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss still loom large for the Bulldogs. We're barely at halfway in the season and there are only five Power 5 unbeatens, and two of those have to lose since in addition to the battle for Mississippi to close the regular season, Florida State hosts Notre Dame this weekend.

On another note, I have a hard time putting teams that give up over 50 points in contention for a playoff spot. They might want to make the case that their own tempo of play results in more opportunities for their opponents to possess the ball. I would argue that perhaps that isn't good football strategy and that maybe they should learn how to control the clock and keep their opponents offense off the field. Or perhaps an even more radical concept, play solid defense. Yes, Baylor and TCU, I'm talking about both of you.

Last Week: 15 - 5
Overall:      118- 50

Washington State (2 - 4) 27 @ (25) Stanford 31 (3 - 2): Correct. The Cardinal flexed their defensive muscle, staying in the playoff conversation, but just barely. Stanford 34 - 17.

(13) Georgia (4 - 1) 30 @ (23) Missouri (4 - 1) 28: Correct. The Bulldogs may be the a bigger roadblock in the SEC than anyone in the West wants to think. A close loss to South Carolina and a win over Clemson might just give them some credibility if they can pull an upset in the SEC Championship game. Georgia 34 - 0. 

(1) Florida State (5 - 0) 34 @ Syracuse (2 - 3) 23: Correct. No surprise in this one. FSU 38 - 20.

Texas (2 - 3)  17 @ (11) Oklahoma (4 - 1) 27 (in Dallas): Correct. This was a better game than we thought it would be, giving the 'Horns fans some hope. Oklahoma 31 - 26.

Duke (4 - 1) 21 @ (22) Ga. Tech (5 - 0) 27: No. ACC teams just can't seem to keep their momentum. Nothing against Duke, but the Yellow Jackets didn't show up. Duke 31 - 25.

(12) Oregon (4 - 1) 31 @ (18) UCLA (4 - 1) 28 : Correct. I really couldn't understand why everyone was discounting the Ducks after a close loss. The ESPN Game Day crew went with the Bruins. Bad pick. Oregon 42 - 30.

(2) Auburn (5 - 0) 27 @ (3) Mississippi State (5 - 0) 24: No. I whiffed on this one. It there's a real deal left standing, the Bulldogs are probably it. But we're less than halfway there. Mississippi State 38 - 23.

North Carolina (2 - 3) 16 @ (6) Notre Dame (5 - 0) 37: Correct. Not sure how UNC scored so many points, but the Irish clearly weren't prepared defensively. Notre Dame 50 - 43.

(9) TCU  (4 - 0) 27 @ (5) Baylor (5 - 0) 30: Correct. It's hard for me to think either one of these teams is elite when they give up so many points. Maybe I'm old school, but really? There were less points scored in basketball games last year.  Baylor 61 - 58.

(8) Michigan State  (4 - 1) 24  @ Purdue (3 - 3) 13:  Correct. The Spartans took care of business on the road, but gave up some points in the process. Michigan State 45 - 31.

(16) Oklahoma State  (4 - 1) 30 @ Kansas (2 - 3) 17: Correct. The Jayhawks made this closer than I thought it would be, but Oklahoma State still stayed in the playoff hunt. Oklahoma State 27 - 20.

(7) Alabama (4 - 1) 27  @ Arkansas (3 - 2) 24:  Correct. Eventually things will go the Razorbacks' way and they'll close out one of these games with a win. They've outplayed their opponents in eight  of twelve quarters in their three losses. For Alabama, they're fortunate to be alive in the playoff picture. Alabama 14 - 13.

(19) East Carolina  (4 - 1) 38 @ South Florida (2 - 3) 20: Correct. The Pirates needed most of the game to put the Bulls away, but a win on the road is still a good thing. East Carolina 28 - 17/

(3) Ole Miss (5 - 0) 31 @ (14) Texas A&M  (5 - 1) 30: Correct. A&M's defense let them down and the offense wasn't sharp. You have to give Ole Miss a lot of credit. They have quite a team. Mississippi 35 - 20.

USC  (3 - 2) 30 @ (10) Arizona (5 - 0) 28: Correct. "The gig's up for the home team." That's what I wrote in the picks blog. Couldn't have summed it up better. USC 28 - 26.

West Virginia (3 - 2) 35  @ Texas Tech (2 - 3) 31: Correct.  The Mountaineers prevailed on a last second field goal and made me look like I know what I'm talking about. West Virginia 37 - 34/

Louisville (5 - 1) 23 @ Clemson (3 - 2) 31: Correct. Maybe the Tigers can hang in there and take advantage if things go south for Florida State. Clemson 23 - 17.

LSU (4 - 2)  20 @ Florida (3 - 1) 23: No. This game did little to change my impression of either team. Both still have the meat of their schedules in front of them. LSU 30 - 27.

Washington (4 - 1) 40 @ California (4 - 1) 42: No. So I stayed with Cal a week too long. Makes me think of Sheryl Crow's "stayed in Mississippi a day too long..." Fortunately for teams outside of the SEC West no one will have to be in Mississippi at all. Washington 31 - 7.

Penn State (4 - 1) 27 @ Michigan (2 - 4) 24: No. Okay, in sticking with the musical theme, maybe Brady Hoke isn't as the Eagles sang,"Already Gone". But he definitely can't "see clearly now, the clouds are gone..." Michigan 18 - 13.




Monday, October 13, 2014

WEEK 6 NFL PICKS RECAP

We're now down to 11 from 18 teams that are either .500 or one game above or below that number. The good teams are starting to separate themselves from the mediocre ones. Jacksonville and Oakland still don't have a win, and since they don't play, there is still a chance for both to put up a goose egg for the season. My bet is on Oakland to win first.

Last Week:   9 - 5 -1
Overall:     60 -32 - 1


Indianapolis (3 - 2) 27 @ Houston (3 - 2) 24: Correct. Indy continued their nice run, winning their fourth in a row to take the lead in the AFC South. Indianapolis 33 - 28.

Jacksonville (0 - 5) 17 @ Tennessee (1 - 4) 23: Correct. Someone had to win. Tennessee 16 - 14.

Baltimore (3 - 2) 20 @ Tampa Bay (1 - 4) 24: No. I guess I was way off on the Bucs. The Ravens aren't THAT good, even if Joe Flacco threw 127 first quarter touchdowns. Baltimore 48 - 17.

Denver (3 - 1) 27 @ New York Jets (1 - 4) 16: Correct. This game was still in doubt down to the final pick six by the Broncos. It's probably time for a change at the top for the Jets.  Denver 31 - 17.

Detroit (3 - 2) 27 @ Minnesota (2 - 3) 20: Correct. Maybe the Lions are ready to show up every week and challenge a resurgent Packer team for supremacy in the NFC North.  Detroit 17 - 3.

New England (3 - 2) 20@ Buffalo (3 - 2) 23: No. New England 37 - 22.

Carolina (3 - 2) 20 @ Cincinnati (3 - 1) 24: Tie. 37 - 37

Pittsburgh (3 - 2) 27 @ Cleveland (2 - 2) 24: No. It looks like the pretty good team is Cleveland. Pittsburgh continues to be up one week, down the next.  Cleveland 31 - 10.

Green Bay (3 - 2) 28 @ Miami (2 - 2) 24: Correct.  I almost picked this one on the number. Not a big surprise.  Green Bay 27 - 24.

San Diego (4 - 1) 31 @ Oakland (0 - 4) 17: Correct. The Raiders looked as good as they have all year, but they'll have to wait at least another week for that first win. San Diego 31 - 28.

Chicago (2 - 3) 28 @ Atlanta (2 - 3) 30: No. Not as close as I thought it would be. Fortunately for the Falcons, their division is weak enough to still give them a chance. Chicago 27 - 13.

Dallas (4 - 1) 20 @ Seattle (3 - 1) 28:No. This was the game of the week and didn't disappoint. The Cowboys look like they're for real, but they still have ten games to go. Dallas 30 - 23.

Washington (1 - 4) 20 @ Arizona (3 - 1) 27: Correct. Washington QB Kirk cousins plays like he's color blind in the fourth quarter of close games. I took a survey to see if I qualified to play QB for the Redskins. The first question showed a white jersey with "Our Team" on it, the other one was a red jersey the "DON'T THROW IT HERE"  on it. The questions: Unless you're Kirk Cousins, which jersey do you look to be open and throw the ball to? It was the only question on the quiz. Just sayin'... Arizona 30 - 20.

New York Giants (3 - 2) 26 @ Philadelphia (4 - 1) 30: Correct. Either 1) the Eagles are the best team since the '85 Bears, 2) the Giants are the worst team since the '76 Bucs, or 3) it's just the NFL and those kind of games happen. I'll take what's behind door number 3. Philadelphia 27 - 0.

Monday Night:

San Francisco (3 - 2) 34 @ St. Louis (1 - 3) 24: Correct. The Niners failed by three points in equaling the total of each of the first three teams to defeat the Rams this season. For a team that is supposedly in disarray and whose coach has lost locker room, San Francisco is playing surprisingly well. San Francisco 31 - 17.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

WEEK 6 NFL PICKS

The NFL season is starting to take some shape, but there are still 18 teams with records of 3 - 2, 2 - 3, or 2 - 2 before the start of play this week. Six games involve two teams from that group, so we could end up with a big logjam in the middle or some separation in the standings. It just gets fun to watch at this point.

Indianapolis (3 - 2) 27 @ Houston (3 - 2) 24: The Colts have run off three wins in a row after a tough start, while the Texans have dropped two of their last three after jumping out to 2 - 0 to start the season. These Thursday night games definitely favor the home team, but both participants have to adjust to an abbreviated preparation schedule and recovery time. This one is just too close to make a definitive call, but I'm going to go with the Colts. I think their offense is better than Houston's and their defense is playing pretty well.

Jacksonville (0 - 5) 17 @ Tennessee (1 - 4) 23: The Jags put a pool in their stadium, but it won't keep the league from pushing for them to be the top candidate to fill the vacancy in the nation's second largest television market. But for this game, I have to go with the Titans.

Baltimore (3 - 2) 20 @ Tampa Bay (1 - 4) 24: The Ravens have a tough task, going on the road for the second week in a row to take on a team on the rise, despite their misleading record. I'm taking the Bucs in an upset.

Denver (3 - 1) 27 @ New York Jets (1 - 4) 16: The Broncos head east to take on a desperate Jets team that needs to find a quarterback that can either play or get prepared to play. Manning has always been able to do both, so advantage Denver.

Detroit (3 - 2) 27 @ Minnesota (2 - 3) 20: Both teams are coming off losses, the Vikings in a rout and the Lions in a tight game. Minnesota's inconsistency bothers me, so I'll stick with what I think is the better overall team.

New England (3 - 2) 20@ Buffalo (3 - 2) 23: Can the Patriots sustain the energy they had in last week's home destruction of Cincinnati? Because all of the issues surrounding New England still exist, regardless of the win. Buffalo's defense is stout and they should be able to give the Pats a lot of problems.

Carolina (3 - 2) 20 @ Cincinnati (3 - 1) 24: The Bengals laid an egg last week, casting some doubt on how strong they really are. I'll give them a bit of a pass as they were heading into the lion's den, with Pats' QB Tom Brady on fire to set aside all of the negative conjecture about his team.

Pittsburgh (3 - 2) 27 @ Cleveland (2 - 2) 24: The Browns made a stunning comeback against the Titans last week that was led by QB Brian Hoyer, not that other guy. That should keep that other guy on the bench for a few more games. This is one of those true college style rivalries in the NFL, complete with nasty fan behavior and "throw the records out the window" type of environment. But on the field, I'll stick with a pretty good Steeler team.

Green Bay (3 - 2) 28 @ Miami (2 - 2) 24: The Dolphins went into the bye week with a big win over Oakland, but everyone gets a big win over Oakland. The Packers have dispelled doubts with eighty points in victories over Detroit and Minnesota. When Aaron Rodgers gets on a roll, he's tough to stop, even for a pretty good defense.

San Diego (4 - 1) 31 @ Oakland (0 - 4) 17: This is one of those games where ;you have to think the Raiders have little or no chance of victory. But as I say frequently, it's the NFL. However, the Chargers are really playing well and I don't think this is the game where it comes to an end.

Chicago (2 - 3) 28 @ Atlanta (2 - 3) 30: This is a very interesting game.The Falcons are 2 - 0 at home while the Bears have played well on the road, going 2 - 1. Both teams have been inconsistent, but I'll toss the coin and come up with the home team today in a close one.

Dallas (4 - 1) 20 @ Seattle (3 - 1) 28:As good as Dallas has played at times, it's just not smart to predict that they'll prevail in the toughest place to play in the league. The Cowboys QB Tony Romo hasn't made some of the mistakes that have led to tough losses in the past, but Seattle has a way of making good quarterbacks look pretty average.

Washington (1 - 4) 20 @ Arizona (3 - 1) 27: The Cardinals won't be announcing a starting quarterback until a couple of hours before kickoff, so there are still three possibilities. If they have to go with rookie Logan Thomas, Washington has a chance. If they get starter Carson Palmer back, then I have to figure the Cardinals will win big. If it's backup Stanton, then it could be a closer game. I'll take two out of three.

New York Giants (3 - 2) 26 @ Philadelphia (4 - 1) 30: By the time this one kicks off, these teams will know if the Cowboys pulled an upset to got to 5 - 1. If so, it becomes an early season must win for the Giants. Philadelphia has looked impressive at times, but at others have given up a lot of points to either fall behind early or let teams back in the game. New York has won three in a row after looking terrible to start the season.The Eagles are three point favorites, which means the oddsmakers see this as a tossup.

Monday Night:

San Francisco (3 - 2) 34 @ St. Louis (1 - 3) 24: The 'Niners are playing tough defense and running the ball very well. The Rams have given up 34 points in each of their three losses and are giving up over 150 yards rushing per game. That's not a good combination for St. Louis.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

WEEK 7 COLLEGE PICKS

Before we get to the picks, I have some comments on the national rankings. I include the rankings next to the teams because I use them to decide what games to make predictions on. But this week's polls are ridiculous. It seems odd that Oregon loses to an unbeaten team and falls to 12. UCLA falls to a team that was highly regarded prior to the season, and plunges to 18. Yet Alabama loses and drops ...if you can call it a drop, to  7. Yet Michigan State, the team Oregon beat, and soundly, is at number 8. Arizona, who beat the number two team in the country, gets ranked at number 10, behind a team that Oregon beat. There is no doubt in my mind that the polls have a distinctly east coast bias, except when it comes to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have defeated Virginia Tech, who beat Ohio State, who is ranked 15th. They also beat Miami. who beat a really good Duke team, yet are only at number 22. There are 13 teams with a loss ranked ahead of Georgia Tech. Really? If Ohio State is 15, and Georgia Tech beat the only team to defeat the Buckeyes, how do the pollsters vote the way they do? It's simple. Either they don't know anything about college football, they don't watch the games or they don't take it seriously. In all cases, they don't deserve to have a vote. It's about time the polls have participants that know a pick six from a six pack.

Washington State (2 - 4) 27 @ (25) Stanford 31 (3 - 2): As good as Stanford's defense is, they'll be tested by the Cougars. The Cardinal are  coming off a very tough loss at Notre Dame, while Washington State scored 59 points in regulation last week and still lost by a point to Cal.

(13) Georgia (4 - 1) 30 @ (23) Missouri (4 - 1) 28: The SEC East is as compelling as the West, but for different reasons. The West has four teams ranked in the top 7 and the East has two in the top 23. Missouri has been tough to figure out, but so has Georgia. 

(1) Florida State (5 - 0) 34 @ Syracuse (2 - 3) 23: The Seminoles have a history of stubbing their toe at the most unpredictable time. I would love to go with the upset, but Syracuse just hasn't shown me enough to think they can pull it off.

Texas (2 - 3)  17 @ (11) Oklahoma (4 - 1) 27 (in Dallas): The Sooners let the game and possibly a chance at the playoffs slip away last week against TCU. This rivalry has lost a little of its luster on the national level, but not with the teams and the fans of these programs.

Duke (4 - 1) 21 @ (22) Ga. Tech (5 - 0) 27: This is a critical game in the ACC Coastal. Georgia Tech can keep up with Virginia and take a big step with a victory, after already defeating Virginia Tech and Miami. I think the Yellow Jackets are the real deal.

(12) Oregon (4 - 1) 31 @ (18) UCLA (4 - 1) 28 : This is really an elimination game for the playoffs.. I still like the Ducks, despite their loss last week. The Bruins weren't impressive early n the season, until a big win over Arizona State jumped them into the top ten.

(2) Auburn (5 - 0) 27 @ (3) Mississippi State (5 - 0) 24: The SEC  West is so wide open, it's almost impossible to predict week to week what will happen. However, I'm going to stay with what has been a very impressive Auburn team. They've been here before, whereas it's new territory for the Bulldogs.

North Carolina (2 - 3) 16 @ (6) Notre Dame (5 - 0) 37: The Tar Heels haven't been able to stop anyone. Virginia Tech's young offense even put up 34 on them last week. I don't see Notre Dame stumbling, but this is a bit of a trap game, given the difficulty of the Irish's schedule.

(9) TCU  (4 - 0) 27 @ (5) Baylor (5 - 0) 30: I guess I'm missing something, but a lot of people seem to have fallen in love with TCU. Not me. but then again, I'm wrong a lot. I'll stay with a very impressive Baylor team at home.

(8) Michigan State  (4 - 1) 24  @ Purdue (3 - 3) 13:  With all of the upsets, Michigan State suddenly has life in the hunt for the playoffs. Their schedule will work against them and it didn't help that Oregon lost last week. I'm not sure Purdue has enough to overcome the Spartans' tough  defense.

(16) Oklahoma State  (4 - 1) 30 @ Kansas (2 - 3) 17: The Cowboys have one loss, and that was to the top-ranked Seminoles. Obviously, there isn't much respect for them as they are only ranked 16th. They should roll today.

(7) Alabama (4 - 1) 27  @ Arkansas (3 - 2) 24: The Razorbacks are much improved, but Alabama is coming off a rare loss in the Saban era. Bret Bielema's squad had Texas A&M on the ropes two weeks ago but couldn't finish the deal. The Tide is beaten up and is without a couple of key players, but I still think Arkansas is a couple of players short on defense from being able to cover the entire field.

(19) East Carolina  (4 - 1) 38 @ South Florida (2 - 3) 20: The Pirates are probably the surprise of the non-power conference teams. South Florida doesn't have quite the team they had a few years ago. ECU has a lot of motivation to get to a big New Year's Day bowl game.

(3) Ole Miss (5 - 0) 31 @ (14) Texas A&M  (5 - 1) 30: The Aggies return home after a couple of tough games against Arkansas and Mississippi State. Ole Miss rolls in with a team that is their best in a couple of generations. A&M's defense just isn't very good, and Ole Miss can play on both sides of the ball. Another coin toss. Heads, it's Ole Miss close.

USC  (3 - 2) 30 @ (10) Arizona (5 - 0) 28: Who would have thought that the team in the top ten would be the Wildcats?  I'm not convinced that Arizona is that good. USC beat Stanford and their losses both came on last second plays. The gig's up for the home team.

West Virginia (3 - 2) 35  @ Texas Tec (2 - 3) 31: The Mountaineers are probably better than their record would indicate. Those losses are to Alabama and Oklahoma. Texas Tech just can't stop anyone, which puts a lot of pressure on their offense.

Louisville (5 - 1) 23 @ Clemson (3 - 2) 31: The Tigers are really coming around on offense and then last week shut down N.C. State. I expect them to keep it going against a tough Louisville team.

LSU (4 - 2)  20 @ Florida (3 - 1) 23: Neither of these teams is among the elite in the SEC, but I think Florida has a better chance of competing for a division title. It's hard to tell, though, since the Gators really haven't played a lot of games. Their only game against an elite team was a blowout loss to Alabama.

Washington (4 - 1) 40 @ California (4 - 1) 42: I know that Cal's defense is horrible, but for some reason I jumped on the Golden Bear bandwagon a few weeks ago and I'm picking them today. It's going to be a shootout, though.

Penn State (4 - 1) 27 @ Michigan (2 - 4) 24: Brady Hoke is probably already gone, but his team has a chance to give him a big victory over a quality opponent. The problem is, Michigan just isn't all that good this season, and after Northwestern beat Wisconsin, the Nittany Lions' lone loss looks a lot better.



Friday, October 10, 2014

FRIDAY NIGHT COLLEGE PICK

It's rare when a ranked team from a Big 5 power conference plays on a Friday night. But we have one that may be a bit more compelling than we would have thought at the beginning of the season.

Washington State (2 - 4) 30 @ (25) Stanford 26 (3 - 2)

As good as Stanford's defense is, they'll be tested by the Cougars. The Cardinal are coming off a very tough loss at Notre Dame, while Washington State scored 59 points in regulation last week and still lost by a point to Cal, a team that is really flying under the radar. Just wait until the big boys in the Pac-12 have to take on the Golden Bears. How Stanford is still ranked 25th is ludicrous. Reputation is one thing, but the pollsters need to focus on the games. In three games against quality opponents, (nothing against Army, but they haven't really been competitive recently) Stanford has been able to produce just 44 points. Really? In an era where teams routinely put up 30 or more points, Stanford's lack of production is startling. Washington State's defense is porous at times, but I just don't think the Cardinal can keep up with the Cougars. I look for Mike Leach's squad to put a big number up on Stanford tonight. And I don't think the Cardinal can keep up.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

WEEK 6 COLLEGE PICKS RECAP

I've been watching college football for most of my life, and I can't remember a crazier Saturday this early in the season. Of course, I was definitely on the short end of the upset prediction stick, but I probably wasn't alone. But picks aside, you couldn't have picked a better day to sit back and let the DVR and remote do their things. From Game Day at 9:00 am to the last play of the night, I was tuned in. What a day! And just think, there are eight weeks left!

Last Week: 16 - 8
Overall:     103 - 45

Thursday:

Arizona (4 - 0) 31 @ (2) Oregon (4 - 0) 45: No. What a start to the weekend. I don't think many people saw this one coming. Arizona 31 - 24.

Saturday:

Wake Forest (2 - 3) 13 @ (1) Florida State (4 - 0) 31: Correct. No surprise, but the 'Noles still have Notre Dame looming. Florida State 43 - 3.

(3) Alabama (4 - 0) 27 @ (11) Ole Miss (4 - 0) 26: No.  I sure was right about the Tide getting tested. What a comeback by the Rebels. Ole Miss 23 - 17

(4) Oklahoma (4 - 0) 27 @ (25) TCU (3 - 0) 24: No. The Sooners need to play better defense if they're going to be able to put this game behind them. TCU isn't THAT good.  TCU 37 - 33.

(15) LSU (3 - 1) 27 @ (5) Auburn (4 - 0) 31: Correct. LSU got exposed by the other Tigers. They'll have their work cut out for them the rest of the way. Auburn just keeps on rolling.  Auburn 41 - 7.

(6) Texas A&M (4 - 0) 30 @ (12) Mississippi State (4 - 0) 34: Correct. I really like the Bulldogs, but LSU and Texas A&M aren't quite as good as a year ago. Let's not get ahead of ourselves with Mississippi State.  Mississippi State 48 - 31.

(7) Baylor (4 - 0) 30 @ Texas (2 - 2) 21:  Correct. Mack Brown left the cupboard bare in Austin, but Baylor can make a run to the playoffs if they can play some defense.  Baylor 28 - 7.

Utah (3 - 1) 28 @ (8) UCLA (4 - 0) 37: No. I predicted that the Utes would be able to move the ball, but figured UCLA would be able to outscore them. Guess I was wrong! Utah 30 - 28.

(14) Stanford (3 - 1) 17 @ (9) Notre Dame (4 - 0) 23: Correct. Notre Dame just keeps winning. Their schedule doesn't get any easier, but they should be in the playoff conversation throughout the season.  Notre Dame 17 - 14.

(19) Nebraska (5 - 0) 20 @ (10) Michigan State (3 - 1) 24: Correct. Another good game that the Spartans were able to gut out with their defense.  Michigan State 27 - 22.

Vanderbilt (1 - 4) 17 @ (12) Georgia (3 - 1) 30: Correct. You don't think coaches matter? Vandy loses theirs and they don't look competitive this season.  Georgia 44 - 17.

Arizona State (3 - 1) 24 @ (16) USC (3 - 1) 31: No. Fluke play. That's all I can say. Arizona State 38 - 34.

(17) Wisconsin (3 - 1) 27 @ Northwestern (2 - 2) 17: No. It looks like the Wildcats will be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten. And with very little depth in the conference, who knows how far they can go?  Northwestern 20 - 14.

(20) Ohio State (3 - 1) 34 @ Maryland (4 - 1) 28: Correct. The Buckeyes are really a lot better than the 20th team in the country. Ohio State 52 - 24.

Iowa State (1 - 3) 17 @ (23) Oklahoma State (3 - 1) 35: Correct. Don't count the Cowboys out it they keep playing well. Don't forget that their only loss so far is to top-ranked Florida State.  Oklahoma State 37 - 20.

SMU (0 - 4) 10 @ (22) East Carolina (3 - 1) 48: Correct. SMU looked surprisingly good, but ECU is the class of the non-power conference teams.  East Carolina 45 - 24.

Texas Tech (2 - 2) 20 @ (23) Kansas State (3 - 1) 28: Correct. The Wildcats are another quality one-loss team, with theirs coming against Auburn in a close game.  Kansas State 45 - 13.

Virginia Tech (3 - 2) 31 @ North Carolina (2 - 2) 27: Correct. The Hokies looked as good as they have since the opening win over Ohio State. This one wasn't as close as the final score.  Virginia Tech 34 - 17.

N.C. State (4 - 1) 31 @ Clemson (2 - 2) 34: Correct. I picked this one to be close but it really never was...except at the opening kickoff. Clemson 41 - 0.

Miami (3 - 2) 30 @ Georgia Tech (4 - 0) 27: No. It looks like the Yellow Jackets may be the real deal. Georgia Tech 28 - 17.

South Carolina (3 - 2) 27 @ Kentucky (3 - 1) 24: No. I said it wouldn't be the upset of the week. I was right, but it was still an upset, which I missed. Kentucky 45 - 38.

Michigan (2 - 3) 24 @ Rutgers (4 - 1) 30: Correct. Brady Hoke's days in East Lansing are definitely numbered. Rutgers 26 - 24.

Kansas (2 - 2) 6 @ West Virginia (2 - 2) 34: Correct. I was pretty close on this one. West Virginia 33 - 14.

California (3 - 1) 37 @ Washington State (2 - 3) 31: Correct. Did I mention that Cal could put points on the board? When I saw this score, I was certain it was like a four overtime affair. No, those points were all scored in regulation.  California 60 - 59.

WEEK 5 NFL PICKS RECAP AND THURSDAY NIGHT PICK

As I mentioned in my predictions blog, I thought the Miami Dolphins could begin popping the champagne now, because I didn't think the two unbeatens left before this weekend would stay that way for long. Well, it turned out they didn't make it past Sunday night. One of them I predicted would lose, the other one I didn't, but wasn't at all surprised by the Bengals' loss to the Pats. Unfortunately, I correctly picked the Monday night score, which meant another loss for Washington. Overall, not a bad week for the picks.

In a side note, this is my 200th posting since beginning this blog a couple of years ago. In that time, I've also written two books, the second of which, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" will be published later this month.

Before we get to the full recap, there's a potentially great game on tap for tonight.

Indianapolis (3 - 2) 27 @ Houston (3 - 2) 24:

The Colts have run off three wins in a row after a tough start, while the Texans have dropped two of their last three after jumping out to 2 - 0 to start the season. These Thursday night games definitely favor the home team, but both participants have to adjust to an abbreviated preparation schedule and recovery time. This one is just too close to make a definitive call, but I'm going to go with the Colts. I think their offense is better than Houston's and their defense is playing pretty well.

WEEK 5 PICKS RECAP

Last Week:  11 - 4
Overall:       49 - 27

Thursday Night:

Minnesota (2 - 2) 24 @ Green Bay (2 - 2) 28: Correct. This one went pretty much as I thought, this the exception that the Vikes never got untracked. Green Bay 42 - 10.

Sunday:

Chicago (2 - 2) 20 @ Carolina (2 - 2) 27: Correct. Like I said when I made the pick, it's the NFL and miraculous recoveries happen. Carolina 31 - 24.

Cleveland (1 - 2) 23 @ Tennessee (1 - 3) 20: Correct. When I said the Browns were just a little better than the Titans, I couldn't have been more accurate. Cleveland 29 - 28.

St. Louis (1 - 2) 24 @ Philadelphia (3 -1) 30:  Correct. This time it was the Eagles who almost lost the big lead, but they held on to go 4 - 1 and keep pace with Dallas.  Philadelphia 34 - 28.

Atlanta (2 - 2) 27 @ New York Giants (2 - 2) 28: Correct. I didn't think any team looked worse than the Giants through week two. Now, I don't think many teams look any better. New York Giants 30 - 20.

Tampa Bay (1 - 3) 21 @ New Orleans (1 - 3) 24: Correct. The Bucs almost pulled a second big upset in a row. I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a nice run the rest of the season.  New Orleans 37 - 31 OT.

Houston (3 - 1) 20 @ Dallas (3 - 1) 28: Correct. With their fourth win, Dallas only needs to go 5 - 6 the rest of the way to get off their 8 - 8 bubble of the past few seasons. If anyone can choke to fall to 8 - 8, it's Romo and the Cowboys. Dallas 20 - 17.

Buffalo (2 - 2) 17 @ Detroit (3 - 1) 27: No. There are going to be a lot of 8 - 8 type teams this season. These might be two of them unless they can get some consistency. Buffalo 17 - 14.

Baltimore (3 - 1) 30 @ Indianapolis (2 - 2) 27: No. I underestimated how well the Colts would be able to handle the Ravens' offense. Now it's on to Houston for a tough Thursday nighter. Indianapolis 20 - 13.

Pittsburgh (2 - 2) 23 @ Jacksonville (0 - 4) 20: Correct. The Steelers made it to 3 - 2 somehow. The Jags are still looking for that first win. Pittsburgh 17 - 9.

Arizona (3 - 0) 30 @ Denver (2 - 1) 34: Correct. These Broncos are looking more like last year's version every week. If Arizona's Carson Palmer had been healthy at QB, this one would definitely have been a lot closer.  Denver 41 - 20.

Kansas City (2 -2) 27 @ San Francisco (2 - 2) 24: No. This was a very good football game. There's no way to count these two teams out, even if 'Niners' coach Jim Harbaugh is rumored to have lost the locker room. San Francisco 22 - 17.

New York Jets (1 - 3) 20 @ San Diego (3 - 1) 24: Correct. I don't know if this game says more about the Chargers or the Jets. It's probably a little of both. San Diego 31 - 0.

Cincinnati (3 - 0) 27 @ New England (2 - 2) 20: No.I was tempted to take the Patriots, just to be contrarian, but it didn't surprise me at all to see them come out and try to dispel the rumors of their premature demise. New England 43 - 17.

Monday:

Seattle (2 - 1) 27 @ Washington (1 - 3) 17: Correct. Washington actually had a chance in this game, but it showed how far the Redskins still have to go to be a playoff caliber team. Too bad the owner can't get fired.  Seattle 27 - 17.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

WEEK 5 NFL PICKS

We're only in week five, but there are only two unbeatens left. I doubt the 1972 Miami Dolphins have much to worry about this season. They might as well pop the champagne now. One of those teams without a loss has to travel to Denver to face the Broncos after Peyton Manning had an extra week to prepare. Almost every other game is very difficult to predict, especially the battle for Texas between two 3 - 1 teams, so I'm just hoping to get eight or nine right to stay above .500 for the week.

Thursday Night (copied from a previous blog):

Minnesota (2 - 2) 24 @ Green Bay (2 - 2) 28:

Both teams got big victories last week to keep pace in the NFC North, which may be one of the tightest in the league. Terry Bridgewater is out for the Vikes, replace by Christian Ponder for tonight's game. Short week, different QB, coming off a big win...I don't feel good about Minnesota's chances. But this is the NFL, which could stand for "Not For Long" when it comes to trying to figure out how long things stay the same. Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau Field on a Thursday night against a division rival that has been up and down this season and without Adrian Peterson makes me lean toward the Pack.

Sunday:

Chicago (2 - 2) 20 @ Carolina (2 - 2) 27: The Panthers have looked pretty lame while losing their last two games. While I would like to think that will continue, it's the NFL so I look for a miraculous recovery from Carolina.

Cleveland (1 - 2) 23 @ Tennessee (1 - 3) 20: Both teams are coming off a bye week. Oh, sorry, it just seemed like the Titans took the week off. I think the Browns are a little bit better than Tennessee.

St. Louis (1 - 2) 24 @ Philadelphia (3 -1) 30: The Eagles weren't clicking on offense at San Francisco, but they should have a better week at home.

Atlanta (2 - 2) 27 @ New York Giants (2 - 2) 28: The Falcons have been inconsistent while the Giants have gone from looking terrible to looking unbeatable. In a close game I'll take the home team.

Tampa Bay (1 - 3) 21 @ New Orleans (1 - 3) 24: Conventional wisdom would say that the Saints will surely turn it around at home. I'll go with that, but if the Bucs pull the upset, New Orleans' playoff chances are probably next to nil.

Houston (3 - 1) 20 @ Dallas (3 - 1) 28: Who would have thought these two teams would be division leaders a quarter of the way through the season and that this battle for Texas would be one of the premier games of the week? The Cowboys lead the league in rushing and the Texans have been vulnerable on the ground.

Buffalo (2 - 2) 17 @ Detroit (3 - 1) 27: Other than laying an egg on the road at Carolina, the Lions have been living up to expectations. The Bills got off to a hot start, but haven't been able to generate any offense the last couple of weeks. Their strength is their rushing defense, but the Lions win through the air.

Baltimore (3 - 1) 30 @ Indianapolis (2 - 2) 27: The Ravens have been playing as well as anyone since an opening week loss to Cincinnati. The Colts have put up big numbers on two teams with one win between them. I'm going to take Baltimore to continue their good play.

Pittsburgh (2 - 2) 23 @ Jacksonville (0 - 4) 20: The Steelers let one winless Florida team get their first victory last week. I don't think Mike Tomlin wants his team to let the Jaguars collect their initial victory at his team's expense.

Arizona (3 - 0) 30 @ Denver (2 - 1) 34: The Cardinals are sitting atop the NFC West, what many believe to be the toughest division in football. But they have to match up with what may be the second toughest, the AFC West. I don't see the Broncos losing this one at home.

Kansas City (2 -2) 27 @ San Francisco (2 - 2) 24: The Chiefs have really turned things around in the last couple of weeks. There is a lot of speculation about 'Niners' coach Jim Harbaugh's future in San Francisco. Despite their win over the Eagles last week, I still think the home team is vulnerable.

New York Jets (1 - 3) 20 @ San Diego (3 - 1) 24: You would think the Jets have two chances in San Diego - slim and none. But as I like to say, this is the NFL and strange things happen. I'm tempted to take the Jets here, but I just can't do it.

Cincinnati (3 - 0) 27 @ New England (2 - 2) 20: There are many that are predicting the demise of the Patriots after they were routed last week by the Chiefs. As ESPN's Lee Corso likes to say, "Not so fast my friend." But unfortunately for New England, they have to face an undefeated Bengals team coming off their bye week.

Monday:

Seattle (2 - 1) 27 @ Washington (1 - 3) 17: Washington is fifth in total offense and twelfth in total defense, yet are 1 - 3 on the season. They host the reigning Super Bowl champs in what is a must win situation. Given the way Kirk Cousins self destructed against the Giants, I don't give them much of a chance against a very opportunistic defense. I hope I'm wrong.

WEEK 6 COLLEGE PICKS

We don't just stick our toe into the conference season water, we dive into the deep end of the pool. There are six games matching top 25 foes, three of those in the SEC alone. The SEC West is going to be a dog fight, with six of the seven teams in the division ranked in the top 25. There are even some important league games involving teams outside the top twenty-five, such as NC State at Clemson and Miami at Georgia Tech in the ACC and South Carolina at Kentucky in a rare SEC game where neither team is ranked. So here we go for this week's predictions.

Overall: 87 - 30

Saturday:

Wake Forest (2 - 3) 13 @ (1) Florida State (4 - 0) 31: It doesn't look like there is anyone left on the Seminoles' schedule that will pose a significant challenge. The Demon Deacons certainly won't.

(3) Alabama (4 - 0) 27 @ (11) Ole Miss (4 - 0) 26: The Crimson Tide will be tested in this one, as will the Rebels. I can't go against the visitors, but an Ole Miss win wouldn't surprise me.

(4) Oklahoma (4 - 0) 27 @ (25) TCU (3 - 0) 24: TCU hasn't been tested this season, to it't difficult to tell if they have what it takes to defeat the Sooners. Oklahoma went into Morgantown and knocked off West Virginia, so I'll go with them to continue their run.

(15) LSU (3 - 1) 27 @ (5) Auburn (4 - 0) 31: LSU got fortunate against Wisconsin and looked pretty average in their loss to Mississippi State. Auburn is tough to beat.

(6) Texas A&M (4 - 0) 30 @ (12) Mississippi State (4 - 0) 34: This is a tossup for me. The Aggies escaped Dallas with an overtime win over Arkansas, while the Bulldogs has had a week to digest their big win over LSU.

(7) Baylor (4 - 0) 30 @ Texas (2 - 2) 21: Texas showed some defensive teeth against Kansas last week, but I don't think they've made enough progress to down the Bears.

Utah (3 - 1) 28 @ (8) UCLA (4 - 0) 37: The Bruins need to play better defensively as the season progresses if they're gong to run the table. Utah is averaging 42 points a game and can move the ball against UCLA, but hasn't exhibited the type of defense needed to win this game.

(14) Stanford (3 - 1) 17 @ (9) Notre Dame (4 - 0) 23: I'm not usually an Irish fan, but this season I think they have a really good team. Stanford's defense is giving up less than a touchdown a game, but they'll be tested by Notre Dame QB Everett Golson.

(19) Nebraska (5 - 0) 20 @ (10) Michigan State (3 - 1) 24: I was not sold on Nebraska earlier in the season, but they still keep winning. The Spartans' loss to Oregon looks a little worse now that the Ducks fell to Arizona Thursday night. But Michigan State's defense should prevail.

Vanderbilt (1 - 4) 17 @ (12) Georgia (3 - 1) 30: Georgia gets a rare opportunity to pick up an easy SEC win. Vandy is trying to rebuild under a new coach.

Arizona State (3 - 1) 24 @ (16) USC (3 - 1) 31: Arizona State's defense was exposed against UCLA. The Trojans don't have the same firepower as the Bruins, but they should have enough to topple the Sun Devils.

(17) Wisconsin (3 - 1) 27 @ Northwestern (2 - 2) 17: After a slow start, Northwestern pulled a huge surprise by knocking off previously unbeaten Penn State on the road last week. Wisconsin hasn't been tested since their opening loss at LSU, but the Badger's defense should be good enough this week.

(20) Ohio State (3 - 1) 34 @ Maryland (4 - 1) 28: Maryland hasn't been impressive but they keep winning. The Byrd Stadium crowd will most certainly be nasty as the Buckeyes make a visit. Ohio State got a wake up call against Virginia Tech and they should be able to outscore the Terps.

Iowa State (1 - 3) 17 @ (23) Oklahoma State (3 - 1) 35: The Cowboys are flying under the radar despite a close loss to Florida State to start the season.

SMU (0 - 4) 10 @ (22) East Carolina (3 - 1) 48: This game could really get out of hand unless the Pirates field some walk-ons in the second half.

Texas Tech (2 - 2) 20 @ (23) Kansas State (3 - 1) 28: The Red Raiders are going to have to play an exceptional game to pull the upset. I don't see it happening.

Virginia Tech (3 - 2) 31 @ North Carolina (2 - 2) 27: The Tar Heels have given up an average of 60 points in their last two games. The Hokies are a couple of late scores from being undefeated. The Tech running game should be able to get on track today.

N.C. State (4 - 1) 31 @ Clemson (2 - 2) 34: Clemson is battle tested and N.C. State is coming off a loss to Florida State where they gave up a 17 point first quarter lead. I'll make my nieces happy by finally picking the Tigers in a close one.

Miami (3 - 2) 30 @ Georgia Tech (4 - 0) 27: The Hurricanes played what may be their best game in a long time in defeating Duke last week. Georgia Tech squeaked past a rebuilding Virginia Tech and otherwise has been unimpressive in wins over lesser opponents.

South Carolina (3 - 2) 27 @ Kentucky (3 - 1) 24: The Gamecocks have played two bad games in a row since knocking off Georgia. Mark Stoops has Kentucky playing pretty well. Is this the upset of the week? Probably not.

Michigan (2 - 3) 24 @ Rutgers (4 - 1) 30: Brady Hoke's days in East Lansing are probably numbered, and today's game won't help his cause.

Kansas (2 - 2) 6 @ West Virginia (2 - 2) 34: Kansas fired coach Charlie Weis last week following a 23 - 0 loss to Texas. West Virginia's two losses are to top five teams. The Jayhawks have no chance.

California (3 - 1) 37 @ Washington State (2 - 3) 31: Cal is a pretty good football team that no one is talking about. They can really put points on the board.