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Super Bowl Shorts, Volume V: Prediction

| February 10th, 2023


Four Thoughts on the Ballgame

  • The legs of the quarterbacks could possibly be the story. Patrick Mahomes has always extended drives with his legs in the biggest moments of his career. Jalen Hurts’ ability to carry the ball is the added dimension that makes Philly so difficult to defend. Mahomes is on one leg. Hurts has been reticent to carry the ball since injury. It begs the question: which player is more lethal with limited mobility? The answer is simple: Mahomes.
  • How do these two quarterbacks handle the pressure? Hurts and the Eagles were sacked 44 times. Mahomes and the Chiefs only 26 times. What does it mean? It is a question of design. The Eagles want to get the ball to their big-ticket wide receivers. And doing so takes time. The Chiefs are perfectly happy to dink and dunk their way around the field, especially considering they can dink to an unstoppable Travis Kelce.
  • If you’re looking for a statistical dividing line between the two clubs this regular season it is turnover differential. Eagles were +8. Chiefs were -3. What questions can we ask? Can the Eagles continue this trend of not turning it over? Can the Chiefs survive a turnover or two against this, the best opponent they have faced all season? How might an early turnover swing each team’s approach?
  • This feels even, with two players capable of being game winners: Chris Jones (KC) and DeVonta Smith (PHI). If one of these two guys dominates, I think it swings the result. If neither dominates, I like the Chiefs narrowly.

Kansas City Chiefs 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21

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Super Bowl Shorts, Volume III: DeVonta Smith (My Eagle to Watch)

| February 8th, 2023


Player to Watch on the Philadelphia Eagles.

DeVonta Smith is one of my favorite players in the NFL. Here is what I wrote in the leadup to the 2021 NFL Draft:

I don’t get it.

I’m sure there are scouty/personnel types who will quibble at Smith’s measureables (oh no, he doesn’t weigh enough!) but when you watch him on the field, which is where he actually plays football, you see an NFL star.

In the modern NFL there are very few line-em-up-and-beat-the-corner wide receivers. The game is about matchups and Smith is a matchup nightmare. He’s the best wide receiver in this draft. He’s the best return man in this draft. He’s the best player in this draft.

This season, Smith had 95 catches for 1,196 yards and 7 touchdowns. He’s a star, but on a stacked roster, he’s not treated like one. The Super Bowl has a habit of changing the perception of a player and I think that’s about to happen with Smith. With the deep shots to A.J. Brown made more difficult by Chris Jones and the pass rush, expect Smith to devour the Chiefs underneath.

If the Eagles win the game, it will not surprise me to see Smith win the MVP.

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Championship Sunday Predictions: Birds, Bengals to Meet on the Final Sunday

| January 27th, 2023

The four best teams in the NFL remain. That’s all we can ask for in the final weeks of an NFL season.


49ers at Eagles (-2.5), Over/Under 46.5

  • Let’s look at some regular season rankings:
    • Yards per game: Eagles 3, Niners 5
    • Points per game: Eagles 3, Niners 6
    • Yards allowed per game: Niners 1, Eagles 2
    • Points allowed per game: Niners 1, Eagles 8
    • Opposing passer rating: Eagles 3, Niners 6
    • Sacks: Eagles 1, Niners 11
    • Interceptions: Niners T-1, Eagles T-4
    • Turnover differential: Niners 1, Eagles 3
  • What do those stats show? There is no advantage in this game. It is going to be decided by a big play here, or a big play there, or a costly turnover at the wrong moment, or a brilliant special teams moment. I give the Eagles a slight edge at quarterback, and a slight edge for the home field. And that slight edge is reflected in my score prediction.
  • Eagles 24, 49ers 23

Bengals (-1) at Chiefs, Over/Under 47.5

  • The Chiefs had been favored in 14 consecutive postseason games, and the only reason they are not favored this week is because of the health of their quarterback. What will Patrick Mahomes look like Sunday evening? There is a strong chance we won’t know until the game kicks off, and that makes it near-impossible to predict with any semblance of certainty.
  • Joe Burrow’s postseason stats: 5-1, 68.1% completion, 1,556 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTS, 98.4 rating. Against the best competition, Burrow is at his best. Is he the best quarterback in the sport?
  • With a hobbled Mahomes, I don’t think the Bengals are the better team. I think they are the significantly better team. So…
  • Bengals 31, Chiefs 20

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Jags Drop the Ball, Bills Don’t Show Up: Divisional Round Thoughts

| January 23rd, 2023


Kansas City 27, Jacksonville 20

Four mistakes.

Four mistakes cost the Jaguars a remarkable trip to the AFC Championship Game.

  • They dropped an easy Chad Henne interception that would have likely been returned for a touchdown.
  • Christian Kirk dropped a beautiful Trevor Lawrence deep shot that Cris Collinsworth inexplicably described as “overthrown.” (Collinsworth’s praising of Patrick Mahomes during this game became comical at times. Throws into the ground were being called brilliant.)
  • Jamal Agnew let the kicker tackle him on a return when he was coasting into the open field. Every return man will tell you that the kicker can NEVER be the tackler.
  • Agnew committed an unforced fumble, with the Jags driving for a score, down ten, just over five minutes to go.

A dissertation could be written about the Jaguar approach to Travis Kelce but even with the tight end’s dominant performance, Jacksonville should have won this ballgame. They didn’t. Because of four mistakes.


Eagles 38, Giants 7

It’s not surprising the Eagles won. It is a bit surprising that the Giants – who have been defined lately by their grit – were completely toothless. I came away from this snooze of a game with three thoughts.

  • I don’t remember a more difficult evaluation than Daniel Jones and I don’t envy Joe Schoen in the coming weeks. Jones is clearly a starting quarterback in the NFL but is he an upper echelon starting QB? Do upper echelon starting quarterbacks pitch quarterback ratings of 53 in the postseason? Would Jones accept a contract in the Kirk Cousins realm: short-term and fully guaranteed? Three years, $75 million?
  • The Vikings were the hollowest 13-game winner in the history of the NFL.
  • Did the Eagles even need Robert Quinn? They have pass rush coming from every direction and that’s going to make them incredibly difficult to beat in their building next week. Folks are fond of saying the Niners have the best roster in the sport. The Eagles have a real argument.

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Three Bullets Per Game: Division Round Weekend Gambling Guide

| January 20th, 2023

Ultimately, I went 7-5 on Wildcard Weekend, completely whiffing on Cowboys/Bucs to finish. (Each of Brett Maher’s FOUR missed extra points kept the game from hitting the over.) Now we enter the NFL’s best weekend, and the league has served us four terrific games. The goal is simply to stay above .500 the rest of the way.

This week’s three-bullet approach will be a point on each team and a score prediction. Again, my picks against the spread and the total are in the final score predictions. All numbers from DraftKings Sportsbook.


Jaguars at Chiefs (-8.5), Over/Under 53

  • There is nothing particularly interesting about the Chiefs. We saw this story in New England for decades. When you have the best coach and quarterback at the same time, you’ll find yourself in just about every conference title game. The Reid/Mahomes Chiefs have reached a point where they don’t play an important game until late January.
  • The Jags did not look good in their regular season finale, and that carried over into Los Angeles. Fun comeback, sure, but felt more like a Chargers collapse than a Jaguars creation. (Still mind blowing that the scapegoat for that loss has been the LA offensive staff and not the head coach.)
  • Chiefs 40, Jaguars 27

Giants at Eagles (-7.5), Over/Under 48

  • Which quarterback is going to have more success on the ground. Jalen Hurts averaged 4.6 yards per carry this season. Daniel Jones averaged 5.9. Giants’ receivers won’t be as wide open against this secondary, and Jones won’t have hours in the pocket against this pass rush. If Jones isn’t moving the chains with his legs, the Giants will be chasing this game.
  • There are 2006 Chicago Bears vibes with this 2022 Eagles team. Nobody believed that Bears team was capable of making it to the Super Bowl, even though they’d been the best team in the conference the entire season. The Eagles are quite simply the far better team here. Theyll find a way.
  • Eagles 27, Giants 20

Bengals at Bills (-5), Over/Under 48.5

  • Who the hell knows? Honestly, how is this spread five points? There is very little discernible difference between these two clubs, so the small advantage goes to Buffalo’s home field. (But they were home last weekend and looked about as sloppy as they have all year.)
  • If you’re looking for a Bengals advantage, it is turnovers. Bengals were +6 on the season and used a shocking turnover to advance from the first round. Bills broke even with turnover differential during the season and tried everything they could to fumble and drop their playoff opener. My brain tells me this is a budding upset. But…
  • Bills 33, Bengals 30

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