NFL14: Week 16 Matchup Predictions

Let’s get right to the action for this penultimate week to the 2014 regular season…

Tennessee Titans (2-11) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11)
Look at the records and ask yourself if you were really interested in my thoughts for the winner.
PICK: OMITTED

Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) @ Washington Redskins (3-11)
No upset here, the Eagles still have much too much for the Redskins and are looking to turn around a two game slide.
Pick: EAGLES

San Diego Chargers (8-6) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-7)
This one is going to be tough, but I’m going to pick the Chargers to end their winless drought on the road thanks to vintage Philip Rivers at QB
Pick: CHARGERS

Detroit Lions (9-4) @ Chicago Bears (5-9)
The Lions are surging, beating the teams that they should for the last three weeks.  Benching Cutler as QB will not bring enough continuity to beat a league leading defense.
Pick: LIONS

Baltimore Ravens (9-5) @ Houston Texans (7-7)
I think this is a win for Baltimore, with the running game as strong as its been.

Pick: RAVENS

Green Bay Packers (10-4) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12)
Expect Green Bay to win this one, no upset this week.  Aside from the Saints (who could still end up at .500) the Packers have not lost this year to a sub .500 team.

Pick: PACKERS

Atlanta Falcons (5-8) @ New Orleans Saints (6-8)
The only thing worse than a Saints defense is the Falcons, which perplexes me because they each practice against an elite QB week after week.  Pick the Saints to seize and hold the division lead.
Pick: SAINTS

Minnesota Vikings (6-8) @ Miami Dolphins (7-7)
I like the Dolphins to hold serve and win at home given their ability to (usually) shut down opponents passing attack.

Pick: DOLPHINS

Cleveland Browns (7-7) @ Carolina Panthers (5-8-1)
A neophyte at NFL QB Manziel vs a QB returning from a car accident, Cam Newton.  The one thing that the Browns do well is force turnovers, but if the offense doesn’t stay on the field long enough they’ll get what happened last week, a loss.  Same story here.

Pick: PANTHERS

New England Patriots (11-3) @ New York Jets (3-11)
Just like the records indicate, where the Jets struggle, the Patriots excel.  I’m picking the Patriots to win.
Pick: PATRIOTS

Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
Steelers winning ways will be on full display.  The Steelers will have a tough time with the Chief’s passing defense but the Steelers are far from a one-trick pony.  The Chiefs will soon find out
Pick: STEELERS

Stay Tuned for more Picks!!!

New York Giants (5-9) @ St. Louis Rams (6-8)
The never say die Rams are continuing to surprise teams with their tough defense.  But the Giants are prepared, and with Mr. Beckam continuing to produce, I think the Giants will take this one
Pick: GIANTS

Indianapolis Colts (10-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
Home field advantage means to the Cowboys as all of their 4 losses were home games.  Then again, as long as their not hosting beyond the divisional round, they’re doing themselves a favor by knowing how to win on the road.  This week though, the Cowboys will figure it out for the home finale (regular season).
Pick: COWBOYS

Buffalo Bills (8-6) @ Oakland Raiders (2-12)
What the Bills did last week was not a fluke, beating Green Bay was a testament to fearless and imposing defense.  Look for them to finish this game on top.
Pick: BILLS

Seatlle Seahawks (10-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (11-3)
The Seahawks have been winning lately by dictating the opponents offense with the Legion of Boom.  No reason for it to change this week.
Pick: SEAHAWKS

Denver Broncos (11-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1)
Trending against the Bengals is that they’ve lost to Brady, Luck, and Roethlisberger; QBs that can truly pass the ball. Trending for the Bengals is that the Broncos pass defense is also rather porous.  All in all, I think the Broncos will get this one.
Pick: BRONCOS

No, Mayweather you need Pacquiao, Pacquiao does not need you

D. Gulley for The Shop Report

I’ve made the obscure proclamation that I believe that Pacquiao will beat Mayweather in a match, until Mayweather decides to fight him.  Now, it appears closer to becoming a possibility.  But TBE must realize that his legacy, great as it is, needs Pacquiao while ‘Pac Man’s does not.  I’ve been rather hard on Mayweather in the past on this very topic; fight selection.  It’s the only flaw in his fighting style, if fight selection were ever to be considered a component of style.  Nonetheless, Mayweather has created this flaw for himself, at least when it comes to Manny Pacquiao and the best non-fight to have never happen (yet).

The Blame Game is an Equal Opportunity Employer

The following were the most persistent excuses for not having this fight:

    • Manny Pacquiao initially refused to agree to Olympic Style drug testing.
      Fueling speculation that the Pac Man packed something extra behind his punch, Manny initially refused to agree to such terms, which had never been placed on him by any previous opponent (even from his rival Juan Manuel Marquez).  For that matter, speculation of Pacquiao’s use of PHDs was not widespread until the accusations by Mayweather.  Though Manny eventually agreed to such terms, Pacquiao’s refusal for any duration should be a credit – not a discredit – to Mayweather’s claim.  Advantage – Mayweather
    • The two sides could not agree to purse split.
      Even though Pacquiao has relented his rather soft stance on the issue in recent days, he should have never done relented in the first place.  This is Mayweather’s fault exclusively, as Pacquiao never demanded more than 50% of the purse, never.  More on this later… Advantage – Pacquiao
    •  The fight can only be promoted by Showtime
      Here’s an argument that I can both understand and disagree.  Mayweather the boxer also has a heavy hand in his fight promotion and the deal he has with Showtime is the product this arrangement.  Manny Pacquiao is promoted by Bob Arum, one of many nemeses of Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, and therefore Pacquiao has much less do to with promoting fights as Mayweather.  Consequently, Mayweather the promoter can claim that only Showtime can promote the boxer’s fights but the boxer terribly misguided in thinking that his opponent would not want to be represented by his promotion company. No Advantage – push.

Certainly, there could be many more, but there merely white noise when compared to these three fickle ideas that impede the biggest prizefight in sports history.

Mayweather initiates the value of the fight…

Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather is the best pound for pound fighter in the world.  Critics deride his purported ‘cherry-picking’ of opponents but there is a measure of consistency in each of his fights: Mayweather’s supreme skill.  Compubox numbers show better than I can tell that Mayweather is arguably the most highly skilled tactician ever seen in the sport.  He both lands and evades punches more often than all of his opponents.  What Compubox and no other statistical analysis cannot show is how Floyd always adjusts to a fighter during the fight.  Floyd Mayweather is Shang Tsung personified; if his default strategy is somehow not effective, he will use his opponent’s strengths against them (reference his matches against Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley).  This is why he’s unquestionably the best pound-for-pound and his matches, snoozers that they can be at times, are still a sight to see.  Fans, haters and everyone in between can actually watch a fighter show you how to box and protect yourself.  There is no part of his style that would be a risk to emulate, unlike volume punchers who are high risk-high reward (see Manny Pacquiao).  47 victories, no defeats, and always firmly in control of any situation makes him the ulitmate prize-fighter.  Among the many rewards for a prize fighter are many millions of dollars, which is something that Floyd so eagerly enjoys mentioning.  Add to this his arrogant persona, which makes many seethe to see him beaten and you have a certifiable drawing attraction.  This is why the boxing world is waiting to see what’s next for a fighter who has offered so much already and has one, possibly two, more achievements left to accomplish.

…but Pacquiao sustains the value of the fight

As previously stated, we are already aware of what Mayweather brings to a match, well too aware in fact.  When explaining why the two haven’t met, Floyd always regurgitates his body of work, undefeated streak, the win-loss record of Pacquiao and his earning power for each fight.  Yet these are the reasons why he hasn’t fought the next best fighter of his generation?  Manny Pacquiao’s body of work includes winning titles in 8 weight classes.  This feat can also be a latent reason for Mayweather’s PHD accusation lobbied against Pacquiao, as the record outdoes Mayweather’s titles in 5 different weight classes.  He is not undefeated, obviously, but two of his five losses to date include a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley, and a knockout loss to a rival Juan Manuel Marquez who was knocked down earlier in the fight and behind on the judges’ score cards until he rocked the Pac Man.  Nonetheless, he avenged the loss to Bradley and owns the career matchup over Marquez in four fights (which is why we don’t need to see this again).  Pacquiao is nothing if not exciting, and for fans of the action more than the sweet science of boxing, he delivers ten-fold.  He’s a volume puncher who’s increasingly becoming a smarter boxer.  Most significantly, Manny Pacquiao doesn’t have the stigma of dodging opponents in their prime.  Pacquiao didn’t wait long to meet Erik Morales once arriving in the weight class, and avenged his loss in their March 2005 bout only 10 months later.  Pacquiao scored a TKO against Miguel Cotto in 2009 a full 18 months before Cotto met Mayweather.  Aside from Ricky Hatton in 2008, none of the common opponents that Mayweather met first were in their prime (Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, Rafael Marquez in 2009 and Shane Mosley in 2010).  All told, the pound for pound rankings in the eyes of the public have remained Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao respectively, but it has been Floyd Mayweather pushing the discussion further down the road by fighter selection.

The peculiar mind of a multi-millionaire

Strangely, stretching the machine behind this super-fight makes some sense in Floyd’s case.  The frustration of the boxing world behind the non-fight thus far is because Manny has been recognized for years as the last guy left.  This would imply that as previously mentioned, Floyd’s body of work is largely completed if and when the fight happens.  And if so, then what?  Imagine if Mayweather and Pacquiao would have met in 2010 when originally planned, and Floyd won.   What interest would the public have in any of the subsequent fights; what about even a rematch between the two?  What interest would there be in Mayweather vs. Robert Guerrero fight after Mayweather beat Pacquiao? Or, how about Mayweather vs Maidana the first time after a Mayweather victory over Pacquiao?  The difference in these fights occurring before and not after Pacquiao is millions (and The Rock means MILLIONS – check the WWE reference) of dollars.  Floyd would likely tell you that being the number one money earner and earning as much money as you can are in fact mutually exclusive.  Floyd Mayweather has become the highest earning athlete by having never fought the second biggest draw in the sport, Manny Pacquiao – a guy who arguably eclipses Mayweather’s popularity outside of the mainland USA.  So, the case of Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao may not be one of procrastination but of maturation, with an tremendous ROI at start that has amazingly gained interest several years after it would have peaked.  There has been no fighter or matchup able to “shale” the demand of a Mayweather-Pacquiao matchup, so it has not plummeted like oil in recent days.  Rather like gold over the last ten years, it has remained increasingly high.  It remained high because Mayweather kept winning, and Pacquiao kept bringing excitement.  For this reason, Floyd must understand that half of the value in this dream matchup is with Pacquiao, because he’s done his part to remain to sustain the interest.    Pacquiao deserves what two fighters would split.  Mayweather is more than welcome to finagle his “promotional” works into some revenue stream leading from this green lake.  Perhaps too, it annoys Mayweather that his pristine body of work is continually compared to Pacquiao’s which has lost some luster in recent years.  But testing one’s mettle and getting scarred is no excuse for refusing to reward a guy who has ultimately brought half the interest to the fight, no more but certainly no less.  This is why Pacquiao’s legacy is complete with or without a Mayweather match and Mayweather’s is…

NFL14: Week 15 Matchup Predictions

The AFC has two teams that can clinch divisions this week in Denver and New England.  The AFC South was once a foregone conclusion is actually a race with the Texans and Colts meeting this week.  The NFC is still a huge mess with each division race separated by one game or less.  If you were waiting until the matches became relevant, then now is the time to tune in…

Arizona Cardinals (10-3) @ St. Louis Rams (6-7)

The Rams have a two game win streak versus teams in much worse shape, this is good for the Rams.  The Cardinals are a different story, far from hapless and close to clinching a division and a conference.  The difference though is the Cardinals top 5 INT total and rushing TDs allowed.  Defense wins championships…

PICK: CARDINALS

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-5)

Look for Baltimore to win this one, Ravens run well and the Jaguars don’t defend well.

PICK: RAVENS

Houston Texans (7-6) @ Indianapolis Colts (9-4)

As potent as the Colts offense is, especially at home, the Texans are a never say die team that has already played the Colts tough earlier in the year.  But I like the Colts to continue winning today with Luck continuing to help T.Y Hilton firmly establish himself as a top tier receiver.

PICK: COLTS

Washington Redskins (3-10) @ New York Giants (4-9)

It appears that the Giants just have more effort and pride in the season that remains than the Redskins.  For that reason, they’ll look like the team of yester-year for the home fans

PICK: GIANTS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11) @ Carolina Panthers (4-8-1)

You know, Tampa Bay is not actually eliminated from playoff contention just yet.  This is a tough one to call, but I think Derek Anderson is just the right quarterback for the Panthers to lose this game with.

PICK: BUCCANEERS

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) @ Atlanta Falcons (5-8)

It’s going to get ugly for the Falcons, as Big Ben doesn’t turn the ball over often and while they don’t rush for many touchdowns, they wear down the body of the defense like a champion boxer, then deliver knockout blows over the air.

PICK: STEELERS

Green Bay Packers (10-3) @ Buffalo Bills (7-6)

The Packers will win today in Buffalo, given their ability to force turnovers and score at will.  Rodgers is preparing for ring #2, and today will be a case-study on how they may get it.

PICK: PACKERS

Miami Dolphins (7-6) @ New England Patriots (10-3)

Three of Miami’s wins were against teams with a winning record; ALL of their losses were against teams with a winning record.  Today is not the day that they’ll turn the corner on that stat. New England will clinch a playoff birth and yet another division title

PICK: PATRIOTS

Oakland Raiders (2-11) @ Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)

Oakland has really embraced the role of spoiler, and the Chiefs losing streak started when they met Oakland the first time.  The Chiefs need to return to form quickly, and I believe they will, at home.

PICK: CHIEFS

Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) @ Cleveland Browns (7-6)

Hard to believe but formerly Hoyer-led Browns and the Bengals are nearly identical in Rushing TDs, and Interceptions.  The Bengals reach the end-zone more frequently, but we don’t know (good or bad) about Manziel. However, Browns D leads the league in INTs and rushing TDs allowed.  All things considered…

PICK: BENGALS

New York Jets (2-11) @ Tennessee Titans (2-11)

I think the Titans win this game because they’re at home.  That’s all I got

PICK: TITANS

Denver Broncos (10-3) @ San Diego Chargers (8-5)

A win for Broncos clinches a division title and a win for the Chargers may only prolong the inevitable, but look for the Chargers to pull the upset in their last home game of the season.

PICK: CHARGERS

San Francisco 49ers (7-6) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-4)

The Seahawks did what surprised many in soundly containing the Eagles offense last week.  San Francisco is not looking too good, and Seattle is tuning up.

PICK: SEAHAWKS

Minnesota Vikings (6-7) @ Detroit Lions (9-4)
Pick the Lions to win with top tier defense that will frustrate the Vikings something terrible.

PICK: LIONS

Dallas Cowboys (9-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)

The Cowboys owe the Eagles some get backs on count of the Thanksgiving day embarrassment that the Eagles doled out.  Will it happen, I think so due to the Cowboys re-discovering their offensive identity against the unfortunate Bears.

PICK: COWBOYS

New Orleans Saints (5-8) @ Chicago Bears (5-8)

The Saints are polar opposites, among the league’s best offense yet worst defenses.  They practice against Brees every week, how can they struggle like this?  I like the Saints in this game because as bad as the Saints are at D, the Bears are worse, and the Saints have a QB that knows how to thrive when something is on the line, a playoff birth.

PICK: SAINTS

There you have it, folks! Enjoy your football weekend!

NFL14: Week 14 Matchup Predictions

D. Gulley here with this weeks predictions . Playoffs are in the air, and the smell maybe the closest that some teams get. All these games are tougher because the records no longer matter to the outcome, as we’ve already seen last week. Prepare for much more of the same.

Dallas Cowboys (8-3) @ Chicago Bears (5-7)

The Cowboys need this victory so much more than it shows, and the challenge, while tougher than it looks is not quite like the Eagles.

PICK: COWBOYS

Indianapolis Colts (8-4) @ Cleveland Browns (7-5)

Regardless of who’s behind center, the Browns have the toughest matchup yet of their season.  The amplified angst that Hoyer’s starting instead of Manziel will only make matters worst.  Expect a WIN for the Browns, the enigma of the NFL

PICK: BROWNS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-10) @ Detroit Lions (8-4)

The Lions will win this game on the strength of the Lions D, which has allowed the fewest yards per game.  Interestingly enough, both teams rank in the bottom the league in offensive TDs.  Nonetheless, Detroit will win this one

PICK: LIONS

Carolina Panthers (3-8-1) @ New Orleans Saints (5-7)

I’ll give the edge to New Orleans, after a solid performance against Pittsburgh last week, I think that they’re ready to force themselves into the conversation for playoff contender. And like the 2012 Giants proved, 9-7 can win a Ring (can, but not likely)

PICK: SAINTS

Houston Texans (6-6) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)

I pick the Texans to win this week on the road and not make it close.

PICK: TEXANS

St. Louis Rams (5-7) @ Washington Redskins (3-9)

I like the Rams on the road today, though they have yet to win back-to-back games this season; look for that streak to end.

PICK: RAMS

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) @ Miami Dolphins (7-5)

This is one tough game to call.  The Dolphins currently own the playoff tie-breaker, but the Ravens don’t have as much a problem scoring as one would think.

PICK: RAVENS

New York Jets (2-10) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-7)

Minnesota has lost only 2 games to sub .500 teams, and there’s a reason why.  Minnesota’s problem is their offense, not their defense, and the Jets are in even worse shape.

PICK: VIKINGS

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1)

Pick the Bengals to win this game and hold fast onto their lead in the AFC North.  The Bengals have figured themselves out and will continue the trend

PICK: BENGALS

New York Giants (3-9) @  Tennessee Titans (2-10)

The Giants have a slight advantage here, advantage being several of the 9 losses being tough.  They will win today.

PICK: GIANTS

Kansas City Chiefs (7-5) @ Arizona Cardinals (9-3)

Both teams need to win to resolve confidence in themselves and keep the playoffs in sight.  While this is less of a problem for Arizona, the Chiefs are in a tie with virtually half the conference for a wild card spot.  Nonetheless, the Cardinals with Drew Stanton will play well at home and get a quality win at home, call it the Fitzgerald affect.

PICK: CARDINALS

Buffalo Bills (7-5) @ Denver Broncos (9-3)

Don’t let the records fool you; Buffalo as a tough defense and the Broncos haven’t looked as dominant as earlier in the season.  Home field advantage may prove with an even tougher test in the Broncos offense at home.  But give it to the Broncos

PICK: BRONCOS

San Francisco 49ers (7-5) @ Oakland Raiders (1-11)

Tough as the talk may be, the 49ers still have a better team.  Expect a big win in the Black Hole.

PICK: 49ers

Seattle Seahawks (8-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (9-3)

Tough offense versus a tough defense.  This is a tough one two pick but I think the Eagles win this in a dogfight.  They’ve really found and sustained an offensive identity that will be hard to stop going forward.

PICK: EAGLES

New England Patriots (9-3) @ San Diego Chargers (8-4)

I’ll pick the Patriots to win this tough one on the road; shame too, because I kinda want Philip Rivers to see some sustained post-season success and a loss will make it tougher to see that through.

PICK: PATRIOTS

Atlanta Falcons (5-7) @ Green Bay Packers (9-3)

The Packers are at home again and outlasted the Patriots in Lambeau last week.  The Falcons have been a completely different team since their bye week but this is one matchup that heavily favors a team with the skill to win.

PICK: PACKERS