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Football season will be here very soon and with the NBA and NHL seasons winding down, this is the perfect time to start looking at the NFL. Last year, the Patriots made it to yet another Super Bowl, but this time they were just not up to the test as they fell to the Eagles by a score of 41-33. Who will walk away with the hardware this year? No one knows for sure but no surprise that the Patriots are the favorites at +600, while the Eagles are 2nd at +800.
The Chargers Are Ready For The Next Step
Last year, the Chargers made the move from San Diego to Los Angeles and they started out their season at 0-4, which obviously had their fans very upset. There was a time when there were more opposing team fans than Charger supporters at their home games. Los Angeles then turned things around and went 9-3 the rest of way. They just missed out on a playoff berth, but their strong finish has them ready to take the next step this year. The Bolts have a very complete offense that is led by Philip Rivers, who guided the top-ranked passing attack in the league and Melvin Gordon, who ran for 1105 yards last year. They also have a very strong WR corps which is led by Keenan Allen, who had 1393 yards receiving a year ago, plus a much-improved offensive line. The run defense was one of the worst in the league last year, but their pass defense ranked 3rd and as a whole should finish in the top 10, especially after adding rookie safety Derwin James and former Eagles cornerback Jaylen Watkins. The Chargers have a shot at a strong start as they open at home, followed by road games against Buffalo and the Rams. They then come home to face the Niners and Raiders before going in the road to face the Browns and then coming home to face the Titans. I look for them to head into their bye week at 6-1, with their lone loss over that stretch being at the Rams. They will then probably lose their first two games out of the break as they have roadies against the Seahawks and Raiders. They should win their next two, which are home games against Denver and Arizona before suffering a loss at Pittsburgh. Cincinnati at home, KC on the road, Baltimore at home and Denver on the road will close out their season and I see them winning three of their last four to give them an 11-5 record on the year.
Pick: Los Angeles Chargers Over 9.5 at +100.
Jimmy Garoppolo To Lead A Much-Improved Niners' Squad
The Niners were really going nowhere last year and then they acquired Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade with the Patriots and the Niners went on to win their final five games of the season. They now have hope for this year and I feel that they compete with the Rams for the Division Title. The offense was stagnant for much of the year as they averaged just 16.8 ppg through their first 12 games but were able to turn it around in Garoppolo’s last four games as they averaged 32.3 ppg over that stretch. The offense was good with him at the helm and it should be much better from the start this year. The defense also got it’s act together late in the year as they allowed just 19.8 ppg over their last five games after giving up 27.7 ppg over their previous nine games. Now they have Richard Sherman on that side of the ball this defense will be far better this year. The Niners open at Minnesota, which should be a loss, but they should win their next two which are home vs Detroit and at Kansas City, before taking a loss at the Chargers. I look for them to beat Arizona at home and then go on the road and stun the Packers, before coming home and beating the Rams. They should also beat Arizona on the road, which is their next game. I will look for them to lose at home to Oakland and then bounce back against the Giants at home. I say they will lose their next two road games, which are at Tampa Bay and Seattle, before winning three straight at home against the Broncos, Seahawks, and Bears. Their final game is against the Rams on the road, which will be for the division title and I expect the Rams to win that one. I look for the Niners to finish at 10-6.
Pick: San Francisco 49ers Over 8.5 at (-130).
The Falcons Will Just Miss Out On A Playoff Berth
The Falcons went 10-6 last year and made it to the NFC Divisional round before falling to the Eagles by a score of 15-10. The Falcons have been known for their offense, but it didn't play well down the stretch as they averaged just 17.1 ppg over their last seven games, including their two playoff games. Overall, they finished just 15th in the league in scoring and will really need to find their top-notch offense that they had the previous years. Matt Ryan is one of the best QBs in the league and Julio Jones is one of the best WRs, while the combination of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman is a powerful one-two punch at RB. The offense should be fine, but can the defense do what it did after ranking 8th in the league in points allowed last year? I feel that they will be about the same as last year as they did make a couple of nice moves on that side of the ball. This is a solid team on both sides of the ball, but the problem for them here is that they may be in the toughest division in the league and they will finish behind both Carolina and New Orleans in the standings. The Falcons start off with a game against the Eagles on the road, which should be a loss. They then come home four three straight and should be Carolina, lose to New Orleans and beat Chicago in those games. A road loss against the Steelers in next, but they should win their next two at home, which is vs Tampa Bay and the Giants. They will come out of their bye week at 4-3 and I look for them to beat Washington on the road, but fall to the Browns on the road in their next game. I will call for a home win against the Cowboys next, followed by a road loss to New Orleans, a home win against Baltimore, a road loss to the Packers, a home win against Arizona, a road loss to Carolina, and a road win over Tampa Bay to close out the year. That puts them at 9-7 on the year and they will just miss out on a playoff berth.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons Under 9.5 at -125.