Super Bowl Predictions

Updated: February 3rd 2019

Welcome to Super Bowl weekend. As I mentioned on Twitter right after the game, what Tom Brady & Bill Belichick have accomplished over the last two decades will go down as the greatest achievement in modern sports. The parity in the NFL is second to none when compared to other leagues and sustained success is extremely rare, and since becoming the everyday starter in 2001 (and not including 2008 when he was injured), Brady has missed the playoffs once (in 2002 despite finishing in a tie at 9-7 with the Dolphins/Jets in the AFC East), and he has made the AFC Championship game 13 times…to give you some context, during this same time span, the Steelers (a widely successful franchise over the past 20 years) only made the playoffs 12 times. Now entering his 9th Super Bowl, Brady will have played in more Super Bowls than any other NFL franchise. So, what a story for Super Bowl 53. Perhaps the greatest storyline is that Brady (41) and Belichick (66) are up against Jared Goff (24) and Sean McVay (33)…who knows, maybe McVay and Goff are about to start a dynasty of their own (McVay seems to have all the skills of a young Belichick even if Goff seems far off from a young Tom Brady). Brady and Goff will get much of the pregame attention, but the running backs will be critical to the outcome of the game, which should be a classic.

After the first three rounds of the playoffs, here is how our writers stand with their respective predictions:

  1. Stephen Wendell: 6-4 ML & 6-4 ATS
  2. Matt Papson: 7-3 ML & 7-3 ATS
  3. Kyle English: 6-4 ML & 3-7 ATS
  4. Matt Goodwin: 6-4 ML & 5-5 ATS
  5. Nick Andrews: 6-4 ML & 5-5 ATS
  6. Bernard Faller: 6-4 ML & 7-3 ATS

Super Bowl Predictions below (we have four guys on the Pats and two guys on the Rams). Enjoy the game!

New England Patriots vs. @ Los Angeles Rams [Line: NE -2.5]

Stephen Wendell: There is no way Tom Brady loses this game. Something could get crazy with the spread at the end of the game I feel, but I think Tom gets it done in convincing fashion and Pats win by seven. Projected Score: Patriots 31 – Rams 24.

Matt Papson: Tom Brady FTW. Projected Score: Patriots 31 – Rams 27.

Kyle English: No analysis, just predictions. Projected Score: Rams 24 – Patriots 23.

Matt Goodwin: Since I’ve picked against the Patriots since the divisional round, why not do it once more? While I hate to doubt the GOAT Tom Brady in the clutch and it seems unlikely he’d let the Patriots lose two Super Bowl games in a row, the Rams getting points as an underdog is appealing yet again. What a chess match this will be between Sean McVay and Bill Belichick who will be trying to neutralize the Rams offense. I fully expect Todd Gurley to bounce back big time in this game and have a dominant performance after a puzzling one in the NFC Championship.  The Patriots offensive line has been lights out in the playoffs and battles a tough front for the Rams. While Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski made big plays against the Chiefs and the Rams secondary is grossly overrated, I do think Nickell Robey Coleman is actually underrated as a slot corner. Sure, Edelman finds ways to make plays in big moments and the Patriots have looked very solid in the backfield with rookie Sony Michel (a likely 2019 fantasy stud) grinding, James White catching passes and Rex Burkhead doing a little bit of the rest. In the end, I think Jared Goff just figures out a way to carve up the Patriots defense and Greg the Leg gets it done in the dome. Maybe it’s wishful thinking that my son Jory will be happy after this game in that his Rams won, but that’s who I’m going with in what I think will be an incredibly entertaining game. Projected Score: Rams 30 – Patriots 27.

Nick Andrews: As much as the players will determine the outcome of this game the best matchups may be wearing the headsets on the sideline. Sean McVay vs. Bill Belichick is getting a lot of discussion but Josh McDaniels vs. Wade Phillips might be equally as masterful to watch this Sunday. Rarely is the coaching so evenly matched on both sides of the ball. In a close game the tie goes to the G.O.A.T. wearing number 12. Projected Score: Patriots 27 – Rams 23.

Bernard Faller: Simple formula so far for New England offense in playoffs.  Consistently cram Michel down the defense’s throat to suck them in.  Throw to Edelman or check down to White when other receivers not open.  Keep marching down the field.  I see no reason to change now.   Projected Score: Patriots 34 – Rams 27.

 

More Analysis by Stephen Wendell

NFC/AFC Championship Predictions

Updated: January 19th 2019

The road teams dominated the first weekend of the playoffs and the home teams took care of business last weekend in the Divisional Round. Consequently, the four best teams from the regular season are now the final four teams left in the chase to the Lombardi Trophy. The #1 seeded Saints will host the #2 Rams in what will be a very boisterous Super Dome and the #2 Patriots hit the road to Arrowhead to face the #1 Chiefs in Tom Brady’s unprecedented 13th AFC Championship Game and his eighth in a row. Here is how our writers stand after two weeks of the playoffs with their respective predictions:

  1. Stephen Wendell: 6-2 ML & 5-3 ATS
  2. Matt Papson: 5-3 ML & 5-3 ATS
  3. Kyle English: 6-2 ML & 3-5 ATS
  4. Matt Goodwin: 5-3 ML & 4-4 ATS
  5. Nick Andrews: 5-3 ML & 4-4 ATS
  6. Bernard Faller: 5-3 ML & 6-2 ATS

A quick summary of the picks for this week are below in case you don’t want to read each writer’s analysis…but you should because there are some great nuggets of information down there:

  1. #2 Los Angeles Rams @ #1 New Orleans Saints (Line NO -3): ML – 2 LA & 4 NO // ATS – 2 LA & 4 NO
  2. #2 New England Patriots @ #1 Kansas City Chiefs (Line KC -3): ML – 2 NE & 4 KC // ATS – 3 NE & 3 KC

#2 Los Angeles Rams (13-3) @ #1 New Orleans Saints (13-3) [Line: NO -3]

Stephen Wendell: Drew Brees is going to prove too good at home. They showed a ton of poise coming back on the Eagles last week and I think the Saints win a shootout. Projected Score: Saints 35 – Rams 31.

Matt Papson: The Rams lost their way a bit toward the end of the season, but they have the most talented roster in the NFL. Even though the Super Dome will be rocking, I think the Rams will take care of business. Projected Score: Rams 31 – Saints 27.

Kyle English: No analysis, just predictions. Projected Score: Saints 28 – Rams 24.

Matt Goodwin: The Rams getting points as an underdog is appealing on many fronts. While they are on the road and lost handily to the Saints there earlier in the season, I like what the Rams are doing with the run game right now with Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson and the chess match between the All-Sean coaching matchup is going to be fun. I expect the very-banged up offensive line of the Saints (three starters got in limited practice on Wed) and that also adds Terron Armstead, who has been playing through a pectoral injury since Week 10, to get all sorts of overpowered by Aaron Donald and the front four of the Rams. I’d like the Rams to have Cooper Kupp in this game to feel better about their passing offense, but I expect them to do enough there to win this game outright and definitely to cover. To me, the only way the Saints win this game is if Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas both go off in this game, which is certainly possible because “Can’t Guard Mike” has been more than a Twitter handle this year and Marcus Peters talks more than he produces. In the end, my LA-born and huge Rams fan Jory celebrates a Rams victory this weekend. Projected Score: Rams 30 – Saints 27.

Nick Andrews: Will the Saints continue to hold off teams with strong running attacks? They better if they hope to continue on in the playoffs. The Rams ran right through the Cowboys last week and will likely gameplan to do the same. I think the Saints have the better defense of these two teams and in a Dome this could be a track meet. It will likely come down to that particular matchup in which I think the Saints do enough to hold back the Rams. Projected Score: Saints 38 – Rams 31.

Bernard Faller: I like the diversity of the Los Angeles passing attack a little better than the Saints where Michael Thomas dominates targets.  The Rankins loss also hurts the core of this Saints defense which is facing a team that ran for 273 rushing yards last week.  The Rams get revenge in this one after losing the first meeting.  Projected Score: Rams 31 – Saints 27.

#2 New England Patriots (11-5) @ #1 Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) [Line: KC -3]

Stephen Wendell: I love Patrick Mahomes and will be rooting for him to win the football game but I have learned one thing in all my years of betting on football games, do not bet against Tom Brady. So, Chiefs win but by one point in an exciting finish at Arrowhead. Projected Score: Chiefs 28 – Patriots 27.

Matt Papson: Deep, deep in my heart, I want Andy Reid & the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. I think he’s not only the second best coach of the modern era, but one of the best coaches of all time. A Super Bowl victory would cement his legacy. Despite that, for a truly unknown reason, I suspect the Patriots to emerge victorious. Projected Score: Patriots 28 – Chiefs 27.

Kyle English: No analysis, just predictions. Projected Score: Chiefs 34 – Patriots 28.

Matt Goodwin: I was a week premature to officially bury the Patriots as they breezed past the Chargers and looked amazing on offense in doing so. Which Bill Belichick likes to take the best weapon out of the mix for a team like the Chiefs, they have a few to focus on. I think Pat Mahomes gets his anyways, and it will prove impossible to stop both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill in this game. Hill seems to play big vs. the Patriots. In the end, if this game was in Foxboro, I’d like the Patriots who were 9-0 at home this season. However, the Patriots went 3-5 on the road and while that doesn’t mean much for as experienced team as they are and it is hard to pick against the GOAT Tom Brady in a game like this, I think the weather helps the Chiefs and Arrowhead is a huge home-field advantage. Plus, selfishly I want to see a rematch of the epic Monday Night Football game from earlier in the season. If the Patriots end up on the plus side of the scoreboard, I do think this is the first game where they will feel the sting of having Damien Williams and Spencer Ware instead of Kareem Hunt from a skill-set perspective. Projected Score: Chiefs 31 – Patriots 27.

Nick Andrews: Unlike the first game I don’t see this one being a shootout. In fact I see this AFC Championship going similar to last year’s with a Patriots’ opponent getting out to a lead late in the 3rd quarter but coach Reid takes his foot off the gas just enough for the Pats to rally with a couple 4th quarter scores. Projected Score: Patriots 24- Chiefs 21.

Bernard Faller: The Patriots absolutely decimated the Chargers last week seemingly scoring at will by dinking and dunking short passes to James White and running the ball at will with little resistance from the Los Angeles defense.  The Chiefs similarly destroyed the Colts.  A Brady-Brees super bowl matchup certainly has some appeal, and is a good possibility, but two of the NFL’s top young offenses provide a tantalizing storyline also.  New England edged out Kansas City in the first meeting.  The Chiefs take this one at home. Projected Score: Chiefs 39 – Patriots 35.

 

More Analysis by Stephen Wendell

Divisional Round Predictions

Updated: January 12th 2019

Well, the road teams were the story of last weekend, covering the spread in all four games and winning three of them outright, culminating in an absolutely crazy finish to the Eagles-Bears game with a double doink missed/blocked FG as time expired (putting huge smiles on the faces of Matt and me). Here is how our writers performed last week (some 3-1 ATS and ML but nobody with the clean parlay):

  1. Stephen Wendell: 3-1 ML & 2-2 ATS
  2. Matt Papson: 2-2 ML & 3-1 ATS
  3. Kyle English: 3-1 ML & 2-2 ATS
  4. Matt Goodwin: 2-2 ML & 1-3 ATS
  5. Nick Andrews: 1-3 ML & 2-2 ATS
  6. Bernard Faller: 2-2 ML & 3-1 ATS
  7. Luke Patrick O’Connell: 2-2 ML & 3-1 ATS

A quick summary of the picks for this week are below in case you don’t want to read each writer’s analysis…but you should because there are some great nuggets of information down there:

  1. Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs (Line KC -5): ML – 5 KC & 1 IND // ATS – 5 KC & 1 IND
  2. Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams (Line LAR -7): ML – 0 DAL & 6 LAR // ATS – 4 DAL & 2 LAR
  3. LA Chargers @ New England Patriots (Line NE -4): ML – 2 LAC & 4 NE // ATS – 4 LAC & 2 NE
  4. Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints (Line NO -8): ML – 2 PHI & 4 NO // ATS – 4 PHI & 2 NO

Indianapolis Colts (10-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) [Line: KC -5]

Stephen Wendell: Mahomes overpowers Luck as his legend continues to grow. Projected Score: Chiefs 30 – Colts 24.

Matt Papson: Andy Reid is dominant off a bye. Projected Score: Chiefs 35 – Colts 24.

Kyle English: Call it a homer pick if you want, but I think the Colts are the real deal.  I expect plenty of points to be scored, I just think the Colts offense has a larger advantage over the Chiefs defense than the Chiefs offense has against the slightly underrated Colts defense. Projected Score: Colts 31 – Chiefs 28.

Matt Goodwin: Color me impressed by how dominant Andrew Luck, Marlon Mack and the Colts were last weekend in Houston. I’m really impressed with the Colts’ offensive line and running the ball will be paramount to controlling clock and keeping the high-octane Chiefs offense off the field at raucous Arrowhead Stadium. With that said, I think Pat Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill are too much for the Colts defense to contend with and Kansas City has found ways to still get solid contributions out of their running backs as well.  Projected Score: Chiefs 30 – Colts 20.

Nick Andrews: There is only one factor that will determine the outcome of this game, Indy’s O-Line. If the Chiefs are unsuccessful at getting pressure on Andrew Luck the Colts defense should be able to hold of Pat Mahomes for a least enough drives to keep them under 28 points. If there is snow during the game this only helps the Colts who are better equipped to produce through their run game. Despite all this, I still think the Chiefs will come out the victor but the Colts will have a real shot at the end. Projected Score: Chiefs 27 – Colts 21.

Bernard Faller: This should be a shootout with two of the top passers in the NFL.  Andrew Luck is playing at a MVP level and second-year pro Patrick Mahomes likely wins the MVP.  Kansas City scored 30+ in all but four games this year and the Colts won 9 of their last 10. Questions remain as to how Mahomes will react in his first post-season start but the Chiefs offense is playing at a different level.  Projected Score: Chiefs 34 – Colts 28.

Dallas Cowboys (10-6) @ Los Angeles Rams (13-3) [Line: LAR -7]

Stephen Wendell: Cowboys keep it really close but the Rams learn from last year and prevail. Projected Score: Rams 24 – Cowboys 20.

Matt Papson: I expect this to be a relatively close game. Despite being 13-3, the Rams seem vulnerable. Projected Score: Rams 27 – Cowboys 24.

Kyle English: I expect this to be a blowout with the Rams dominating the Cowboys across the board. Projected Score: Rams 31 – Cowboys 17.

Matt Goodwin: Dallas is 3-5 on the road this season and head to Los Angeles to face the Rams who have had several weeks to get Todd Gurley healthy and scheme for the Cowboys (since the Seahawks are in the Rams division, guessing the focus was on scheming for either Dallas or Chicago since the playoff bracket was announced). Anyways, while Dallas looks to run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott and get their defensive line pressuring Jared Goff into bad decisions, the Rams just have too much for Dallas to handle schematically on the road and if a team like the Colts can blow the Cowboys out, imagine what a more dynamic offense can do to them. Projected Score: Rams 34 – Cowboys 17.

Nick Andrews: All the talk this week with head coaches being hired has surprisingly focused on a coach who is already employed, Sean McVay. Every pundit and analyst is saying that X team needs to find their Sean McVay but can we pump the breaks until he’s won a playoff game at least. The Rams this season have looked superhuman, and then average around the 2/3rds marker, then back to great the final two weeks of the regular season against cupcake opponents. Whichever team shows up against the Cowboys this weekend is likely going to be the decider. Projected Score: Rams 24- Cowboys 20.

Bernard Faller: Dallas has the tools to bleed out the clock, keeping the ball away from the potent Los Angeles offense.  It will not happen this game.  Too much Aaron Donald.  Too much Rams passing attack.  Los Angeles learns from last post-season’s loss.  Projected Score: Rams 27 – Cowboys 20.

Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) @ New England Patriots (11-5) [Line: NE -4]

Stephen Wendell: Tom Brady in Foxboro in January. Enough said! Projected Score: Patriots 22 – Chargers 17. 

Matt Papson: I had more trouble picking the victor in this game than any other, but have to give the edge to BB & TB in the playoffs. Projected Score: Patriots 24 – Chargers 23.

Kyle English: I’ll be cheering for the Chargers, but I don’t think they have enough to pull out another road upset. Projected Score: Patriots 20 – Chargers 17 

Matt Goodwin: While I don’t want to stake myself against the Patriots at home with all their playoff experience, this Chargers team is 8-1 on the road this season and with such a lack of home field advantage at Stubhub Center, you can argue they play on the road every week. 12-4 in the regular season and with the most balanced team they’ve had, this Chargers team is capable of going into Foxboro and beating a potentially “cooked” Patriots team and signaling a changing of the guard. While the Patriots like to run the ball when the playoffs come, I don’t think they have enough in the passing game (especially with Gronk seemingly all sorts of banged up) to fool the Chargers stalwart secondary. On the other side, I don’t think the Patriots can take away the best weapons the Chargers have and even if they do, the Chargers have secondary weapons like Mike Williams to deal with. It will be nice to see what Hunter Henry does in his return as well. I’m calling the upset here. Projected Score: Chargers 27 – Patriots 23

Nick Andrews: Can Philip Rivers finally give Brady a loss? Does the silly stat of Nick Saban and Bill Belichick alternating championships mean anything? The answer to both is no, probably, but a fun idea for people to debate about. The Patriots are 19-3 at home in the playoffs, 11-1 in Divisional games after a bye, and 2-0 against Rivers and the Chargers during the Brady-Belichick era. The Chargers are a great team and should be a better matchup than several of the previous years’ divisional opponents but making the AFC Championship is what the Patriots do.  Projected Score: Patriots 20 – Chargers 16.

Bernard Faller: Do I necessarily trust Phillip Rivers over Tom Brady? No.  I do believe the Chargers are the better, more balanced team on both sides of the ball.  Los Angeles basically played away games this whole season so they handle one more.  Projected Score:  Chargers 28 – Patriots 24.

Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) @ New Orleans Saints (13-3) [Line: NO -8]

Stephen Wendell: I projected Sir Nick to go 7-0 and win the SB when Wentz went down with injury. He has won four in a row since then and Sunday he will make it five. Projected Score: Eagles 35 – Saints 34.

Matt Papson: The Church of Nick Foles. Projected Score: Eagles 31 – Saints 21.

Kyle English: I’d love to see more Foles magic and he’ll probably have a good game, but I think the Saints offense will be too much for them. Projected Score: Saints 31 – Eagles 27.

Matt Goodwin: St. Nick struck again last week in Chicago and the Eagles seek revenge from an earlier in the season drubbing at New Orleans. The Saints are a different team at home and while a project a close shootout, I think the Saints move on to the NFC Championship behind Alvin Kamara and Drew Brees. Look for the Eagles to lose a close one, although nothing would surprise me. Projected Score: Saints 34 – Eagles 31.

Nick Andrews: A rematch of what should have been the NFC Championship game last year we will see if Nick Foles is really a football Messiah. The Saints obliterated the Eagles 48-7 in the regular season with Carson Wentz as the starting QB and there’s not much that would make me think that the outcome would be any different this time. Blowouts are hard to pull off so while the Saints should win again the likelihood of a 41 points spread is highly unlikely. If Nick Foles somehow upsets the Saints with the same roster Wentz had in week 11 he may really have a direct link to the man in the clouds. Projected Score: Saints 31 – Eagles 20.

Bernard Faller: The key to this game is Philadelphia’s defensive front against New Orleans’ run game.  The Eagles have a chance if they can shut down Kamara and company.  The odds are against it.  New Orleans is too good in both the pass and run areas.  I also really like the Saints’ defensive backfield improvements to finish the year. Projected Score: Saints 31 – Eagles 20.

More Analysis by Stephen Wendell

Wildcard Weekend Predictions

Updated: January 5th 2019

Welcome to wildcard weekend and the NFL playoffs! With your fantasy season over, the playoffs are the perfect holdover between now and when the RSO site reopens a few days after the Super Bowl. We have three lines below three points and the defending champions +6.5 on the road in Chicago. The games should be highly entertaining this weekend. Like last year, some of the RSO Writers have made their predictions for and given a little analysis of each game, which can be found below. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the weekend!

A quick summary of the picks in case you don’t want to read each writer’s analysis…but you should because there are some great nuggets of information down there:

  1. Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans (Line HOU -1.5): ML – 4 IND & 3 HOU// ATS – 4 IND & 3 HOU
  2. Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys (Line DAL -2.5): ML – 4 SEA & 3 DAL // ATS – 4 SEA & 3 DAL
  3. Los Angeles Chargers @ Baltimore Ravens (Line BAL -2.5): ML – 5 LA & 2 BAL // ATS – 6 LA & 1 BAL
  4. Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears (Line CHI -6.5): ML – 2 PHI & 5 CHI // ATS – 3 PHI & 4 CHI

#6 Indianapolis Colts (10-6) @ #3 Houston Texans (11-5) [Line: HOU -1.5]

Stephen Wendell: Andrew Luck quietly has gotten his team back to the playoffs, which is a good sign for the future of the Colts. However, Deshaun Watson is back to looking healthy and I think he and his other Clemson buddy DeAndre Hopkins are too much for the Colts to handle in the end.  Projected Score: Texans 28 – Colts 21.

Matt Papson: Both teams enter the playoffs red hot, tying each other at 9-2 their last 11 games. An incredible story for the Colts, with Andrew Luck returning from a devastating injury, barely able to throw a football a year ago, first year Head Coach and second year GM Chris Ballard making the best use of their personnel. The colts and Texans May battle for the AFC south for years to come. The Texans also have a great story, with Bill O’Brien going from the hot seat to coach of the year candidate, an incredible defense, deshaun Watson’s return from his own injury, and the passing of Bob McNair, the team’s founder and owner, as inspiration. Ultimately I think the Texans win a tight thanks to their defense. Projected Score: Texans 27 – Colts 24.

Kyle English: I am not about to pick against the Colts who have been on fire lately (Editor’s Note: and our my favorite team). Projected Score: Colts 27 – Texans 24.

Matt Goodwin: With some assistance from my 8 year old son Jory who wanted to pick these games with me, here we go. Both division rivals won on the road in this series this season, with the Colts winning 24-21 to start their four game winning streak. I think (and Vegas agrees) that a similar score is in order for this game. TY Hilton has performed very well in Houston in the past. However, I think the Texans defense will cause a lot of problems/turnovers for Andrew Luck even with an improved Colts offensive line and the Deshaun Watson/DeAndre Hopkins will shine in this game, giving the Texans the edge. Additionally, Ka’imi Fairbairn was the best kicker in the game this year and is practically automatic at home (18/19 for the season). Projected Score: Texans 27 – Colts 20.

Nick Andrews: This matchup is probably the least interesting to the casual football fan but by the end of wild card weekend, this may be the biggest nail-biter. The Colts have looked solid in the final quarter of the season with a shutout win over Cowboys and a victory over these very same Texans just four (4) weeks ago. If the playoffs started in December the Texans would have been the hottest team entering the tournament but losing two of their last four games has put them in a bit of a slump. The playoffs sometimes have teams roll through a couple weeks on pure momentum and after a must win on Sunday night last week I think the Colts are going to be coming out of the gate a little faster than the Texans. Colts 27 – Texans 24.

Bernard Faller: The AFC South rematch resumes with both teams posting identical points scored and 1-1 records against each other this season.  The Texans’ weaknesses jump off the page when compared to the Colts.  Houston’s offensive line is still a mess while the defensive secondary is exploitable if Indianapolis’ stellar offensive line can contain Watt and Clowney to a degree.  Expect another tight one. Projected Score:  Colts 31 – Texans 28.

Luke Patrick O’Connell: The FantasyDocOC is letting his scores speak for themselves this week. Projected Score:  Colts 24 – Texans 21.

#5 Seattle Seahawks (10-6) @ #4 Dallas Cowboys (10-6) [Line: DAL -2.5]

Stephen Wendell: Seattle has had a remarkable year and Pete Carroll deserved the contract extension but they are 4-4 away from the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field, and Dak + Zeke + Cooper will be too much for the Seahawks in Jerry World. Dallas wins and covers. Projected Score: Cowboys 28 – Seahawks 21.

Matt Papson: The Cowboys have been great at home this year, but I don’t think this team is ready for this moment. With Kris Richard getting looks from other teams as a head coaching candidate, it will be interesting to see if Jerry finally decides to move on from Jason Garrett and again replace from within. This Seahawks team could be dangerous in the playoffs, though they’d need to win two road games, and have the eagles win two road games, in order to host the NFC championship in Seattle. I don’t think this one will be as close as the line suggests. Projected Score: Seahawks 31 – Cowboys 16. 

Kyle English: Both teams have been on a roll, but I’ll take the Cowboys at home. Projected Score: Cowboys 20 – Seahawks 17.

Matt Goodwin: Probably the most evenly matched game of the weekend where both teams hope to impose their will by pounding the other in the ground game. Expect continued heavy usage by both Ezekiel Elliott for the Cowboys and both Chris Carson and Mike Davis for the Seahawks. The Seahawks have had some trouble against running backs catching passes, so I expect Elliott to be a significant factor in that aspect as well. The Seahawks impressed me this season by changing up their scheme successfully and I wouldn’t doubt Russell Wilson in the fourth quarter with the game on the line if he gets the chance (and if he does, my favorite part of any NFL game is the reaction in Jerry Jones’ owner suite after the Cowboys blow a game). I just don’t think they’ll get the opportunity as Dallas will play keep away with Dak Prescott being one of the hottest QBs of late playing better at home with shiny new toy Amari Cooper doing enough in the passing game as well.  Projected Score: Cowboys 23 – Seahawks 20

Nick Andrews: This game is either going to be the highest or lowest scoring game of the week, there’s no middle ground. Both teams want to run the ball as much as they can to get down to the final possession and have a chance to either score the game winner or milk out the clock. Sure, there will be some big plays in the passing game between Lockett, Baldwin, and Cooper but I think both sides would be more comfortable if their running game had close to 30 touches and 150 yards on the ground. Red zone trips will become the premium and whichever teams make at least 2 red zone touchdowns will in the game. Seahawks 13 – Cowboys 10.

Bernard Faller: This should be a good game between franchises which have exceeded many expectations this season.  Both teams play a similar style pounding away at the run game with better defenses than many give credit for.  I trust Russell Wilson a lot more than Dak Prescott to make plays when needed in a low scoring affair.   Projected Score:  Seahawks 17 – Cowboys 13.

Luke Patrick O’Connell: The FantasyDocOC is letting his scores speak for themselves this week. Projected Score:  Colts 24 – Texans 21.

#5 Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) @ #4 Baltimore Ravens (10-6) [Line: BAL -2.5]

Stephen Wendell: Wow, Phillip Rivers puts up one of his best years of his career, goes 12-4 and travels to face a first-year QB in Lamar Jackson and is a 2.5 point underdog. I think it is Rivers’ time and the Chargers avenge the Week 2 loss to the Ravens and come out of Baltimore with a win.  Projected Score: Chargers 24 – Ravens 20. 

Matt Papson: The Chargers are sneaky good, but I can’t help but take the hot hand. I have always admired the Ravens organization ability to be competitive year after year. They’re seemingly always risk moving on from veterans a year early rather a year late, and it’s only been a few games, but getting Lamar Jackson with the last pick in the first round, giving them an option for his fifth season, looks like a final stroke of genius by one of the best GMs of the modern era. After the season, it wouldn’t be totally surprising if they decide to trade (yes, trade) John Harbaugh to another team and move forward with Eric DeCosta and a new coach with their young QB into a new era. Projected Score: Ravens 24 – Chargers 23.

Kyle English: I’ll take the veteran QB over the rookie. Projected Score: Chargers 24 – Ravens 20.

Matt Goodwin: Baltimore is like the Pharcyde as they want to keep “Runnin'” with rookie sensation Lamar Jackson providing the lightning to Gus Edwards’ thunder; however the Chargers offense getting off to a quick start can potentially alter the game script. In the meeting a few weeks ago in Los Angeles, an interception on an underthrown bad decision ball to Mike Williams by Philip Rivers set the tone early and took the Chargers rhythm from the game, particularly from Melvin Gordon and early penalties called back some big plays. I think the Chargers getting Austin Ekeler back from a stinger/concussion helps in the utility role and a fully healthy Keenan Allen should carve up the Ravens very solid secondary as they continue to play him in the slot where Baltimore just gave up 5-102-1 to Jarvis Landry last week. If Hunter Henry comes back (even on a pitch count) that should also help matters in the very attackable middle of the field against the Ravens. I also think that the Chargers get more pressure on Lamar Jackson this go round and in spite of being on the road, the better team wins in this one. Projected Score: Chargers 24 – Ravens 20.

Nick Andrews: I want Philip Rivers to have a rubber match game at the Chiefs in the divisional round next week. I just can’t see the outcome of this week’s game being any different then what transpired in week 16. The Ravens play a smothering defense that doesn’t allow most offenses to go the length of the field multiple times in a game. Combine that with the fact that each offensive drive the Ravens have drains so much of the clock with their running game it puts an even greater emphasis on Rivers getting at least a score on every other drive. The only way I see the Chargers flipping the script is if rookie QB Lamar Jackson makes multiple mistakes that lead to short fields and easier scoring chances. Ravens 24 – Chargers 12.

Bernard Faller: Baltimore dominated the first game between these two teams where the Ravens suffocating defense forced Phillip Rivers into his worst game of the year.  Baltimore’s run-heavy approach with rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has given teams fits so far.  I believe the Chargers adjust this time around and Rivers out-duels Jackson for the win.  Projected Score:  Chargers 24 – Ravens 17.

Luke Patrick O’Connell: The FantasyDocOC is letting his scores speak for themselves this week. Projected Score:  Chargers 31 – Ravens 14.

#6 Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) @ #3 Chicago Bears (12-4) [Line: CHI -6.5]

Stephen Wendell: No surprise from me here. When Wentz went down in Week 14, I texted some old Eagles buddies to chin up because Nick Foles was going to come in and win seven straight to become a Philadelphia God (he is currently a Philadelphia legend). He took care of the first three games, and I think this will be number four (remember Mitchell Trubisky is playing in his first ever playoff game). Projected Score: Eagles 20 – Bears 17.

Matt Papson: The Church of Nick Foles. Projected Score: Eagles 33 – Bears 31. 

Kyle English: As much as I want to believe in the Foles’ magic, the Bears are the better team. Projected Score: Bears 24 – Eagles 13.

Matt Goodwin: A stalwart Bears defense goes against St. Nick in the final game of the playoff slate in frigid Chicago. While Foles’ magic has been impressive, this Bears defense is one of the best in recent history and they undoubtedly will double team Zach Ertz and make the wide receivers beat them. While it is a tough draw to face the hot defending Super Bowl Champions in your first playoff game in awhile for Mitch Trubisky and company and running against the Eagles front is particularly arduous, the Bears get this game on defense and a little bit of Tarik Cohen gadgetry. I expect the Bears DST to score a touchdown and to cause all sorts of problems for Nick Foles. Projected Score: Bears 24 – Eagles 16

Nick Andrews: Foles Magic Part Deux is upon us once again and much like the Colts who started their playoff a week earlier than everyone, the Eagles have been in must-win mode for most of December. Unlike the Texans who I think have a good defense, I think the Bears have a great defense that, even when their offense isn’t working at full capacity, can more than make up for it. Much like Lamar Jackson in Baltimore I think all Mitch Trubisky has to do is not have negative plays and this team should easily move on to the divisional round. Bears 20 – Eagles 13.

Bernard Faller: This game presents more questions than answers.  How will Mitchell Trubisky react in his first post-season game?  Will a Nick Foles with bruised ribs continue last season’s incredible playoff run?  The one known is a Chicago defense with no true weakness decimating offenses of late.  The Foles’ post-season magic dries up playing in the cold confines of Chicago. Projected Score:  Bears 21 – Eagles 10.

Luke Patrick O’Connell: The FantasyDocOC is letting his scores speak for themselves this week. Projected Score:  Bears 17 – Eagles 14.

More Analysis by Stephen Wendell

RSO Staff Picks: Week 17

Updated: December 28th 2018

Week 16 Results

1. Wendell – 12-4

2. Papson – 11-5

3. English – 10-6

Overall Standings

1.  English – 150-89-2

2. Papson – 148-91-2

3. Wendell 140-99-2

I can take some solace in winning a week but at a full ten games behind Kyle and eight games behind Matt, I will be officially riding the caboose for the season. Kyle lost a game to Matt and so only two games separate them heading into our final week of the season where there will be a handful of super meaningful games, including a win and in game between the Titans and Colts to finish out the regular season on Sunday night. Our picks for the final week of the year are below. Enjoy the games!

NFL Game Picks

Game

Wendell

Papson

English

MIA @ BUF

DET @ GB

NYJ @ NE

CAR @ NO

DAL @ NYG

ATL @ TB

JAX @ HOU

LAC @ DEN

OAK @ KC

SF @ LAR

CHI @ MIN

CIN @ PIT

ARI @ SEA

PHI @ WAS

CLV @ BAL

IND @ TEN

More Analysis by Stephen Wendell

RSO Staff Picks: Week 16

Updated: December 22nd 2018

Week 15 Results

1. English – 10-6

2. Papson – 8-8

3. Wendell – 7-9

Overall Standings

1.  English – 140-83-2

2. Papson – 137-86-2

3. Wendell 128-95-2

Kyle takes a commanding lead with two weeks to go by going 10-6. Matt was too focused on keeping his perfect season going in the RSO Writers League. Kyle just needs a normal last two weeks here to maintain the crown. Papson could overcome and I am so far out of it now it is not even funny. No Thursday football this week but two playoff implication games for all four teams involved tomorrow as the Redskins travel to Nashville to take on the Titans and the Ravens go to LA to take on the red hot Chargers, who need to keep winning to try to win the AFC West and get a first-round bye in the playoffs. Our picks for those games and the rest of the slate on Sunday are below. Good luck to everyone playing for an RSO championship this weekend!

NFL Game Picks

Game

Wendell

Papson

English

WAS @ TEN

BAL @ LAC

HOU @ PHI

NYG @ IND

JAX @ MIA

GB @ NYJ

CIN @ CLV

TB @ DAL

MIN @ DET

BUF @ NE

ATL @ CAR

CHI @ SF

LAR @ ARI

PIT @ NO

KC @ SEA

DEN @ OAK

More Analysis by Stephen Wendell