The halfway point of the season is here. Well, if you were being absolutely mathematically correct, it will arrive shortly after kickoff of the late afternoon games, but I’m not going to write up a mid-season post then.
So here are some thoughts on the first part of the season before getting to the picks.
MVP: Carson Wentz
Tom Brady, Alex Smith, Russell Wilson and yes, Deshaun Watson are in the conversation and it’s far from over. But Wentz has made the leap, leading an offense that has no real consistent running threat, and throwing for 19 TDs while Philadelphia has the league’s best record.
Rookie of the Year: Deshaun Watson
This has been a strong year for rookies. Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette have both made instant impacts. But Watson made the biggest impact. Of course, with today’s news that Watson tore his ACL, his season comes to an end, but man, was it a great run. Hard to believe that the Texans started the year with Tom Savage.
Game of the (Half) Year: Kansas City at Oakland
There are lots of candidates, but the Thursday night showdown between the Chiefs and Raiders had about everything, from Marshawn Lynch’s ejection to a wild ending that finished with :00 on the clock.
Play of the (Half) Year: Odell Beckham one-handed catch against Eagles
Bust of the (Half) Year: The New York Giants
If it could go wrong, it has gone wrong.
Best Trade: The Browns and Bengals should have a buddy cop movie together.
Worst Non-TD on a Technically Correct Ruling: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins against New England, by a nose over Golden Tate against Atlanta
And now to the picks–
Last Week: 5-8 ATS
Overall: 56-45-2 ATS
Buffalo (-3) at NY Jets
Nothing like going from the excitement of the World Series to Bills-Jets. Bills fans will be rooting for a Bills win while Jets fans will also be rooting for a Bills win. Jets +3.
SUNDAY 1 PM
Denver (+7.5) at Philadelphia
Brock Osweiler will start this game. This is your reminder that Brock Osweiler wasn’t good enough to play for the Browns. Eagles -7.5.
LA Rams (-3.5) at NY Giants
The Rams traveling cross-country as a favorite to play an early game, against a team coming off a bye? I like the Giants +3.5 here.
Tampa Bay (+7) at New Orleans
The Saints are on a five-game winning streak, while the Bucs have been a major disappointment. Saints win, but Bucs +7 with the cover.
Cincinnati (+3.5) at Jacksonville
The best point differentials per game? The Rams and the Jags, as we all knew. I’ll trust that the Jaguars defense gets it done here, and Fournette is back. Jags -3.5.
Atlanta (-1) at Carolina
Carolina traded away Kelvin Benjamin mid-week. Atlanta, meanwhile, can’t seem to find Julio Jones in the red zone. This line has moved to Atlanta being favored. Is this the week Atlanta turns it around? Falcons -1.
Indianapolis (+12.5) at Houston
The news finally came that Andrew Luck is officially out for the year. This is your reminder that the Colts did nothing to address the position until they traded for Jacoby Brissett days before the opener. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson’s season is now over as well. I liked the Colts +12.5 before that news in the letdown spot, and still like them when the line gets adjusted down to 6.5 or so.
Baltimore (+3.5) at Tennessee
The Ravens are coming off a 40-0 drubbing of the Dolphins, and getting more than a field goal against a team that has underwhelmed all year. Ravens +3.5.
SUNDAY AT 4:05/4:25
Arizona (-2) at San Francisco
Look, Jimmy Garoppolo might not play this year, folks. Yes, the 49ers gave up a very early 2nd round pick. And yes, he’s a free agent. And of course to keep him they either need to lock him into a big contract or franchise him. But CJ Beathard just needed a competent backup. 49ers +2.
Washington (+7) at Seattle
Washington had a lot of things go wrong last week, and had so many injuries. This line still feels too high. Washington +7.
Kansas City (PK) at Dallas
Tony Romo is back in Dallas, and will be tipping the Cowboys’ plays. Should be entertaining. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are 0-2 in games broadcast by Tony Romo and 6-0 otherwise, so Kansas City fans are one more loss from thinking Romo is a choker. Chiefs Pk.
Oakland (-3) at Miami
Prediction: There will be lots of people boycotting on Sunday Night.
There are really only two ways this can go. Miami gets crushed by 50, or they win on a late field goal. Dolphins +3.
Detroit (-2.5) at Green Bay
Things look bleak for the Packers without Rodgers. This is the Lions’ chance to make a move. After a 2-0 start, they’ve dropped to 3-4. But they can bury the Packers with a road win and move into a tie with them (holding the tiebreaker and the better prospects going forward). The last time the Lions were favored in Lambeau was that New Year’s Day game where they made Matt Flynn millions of dollars. You have to go back to B.F. (Before Favre) to find another time they were favored.
Any true Detroit fan knows how this plays out. Packers +2.5.