Sunday, November 23, 2014

NFL Picks Week 12: Sunday Predictions

For the rest of the regular season, The Rishab Report will be hosting a new program incorporating a "picking contest" for each game of the regular season.  Here are the standings so far:

Rishab: 8-7
Michael: 8-7
Andrew: 8-7
Nick: 2-3 (only picked five games)

Currently, Michael, Andrew, and myself are tied, but Week 12 could put one of us over the rest. With that in mind, we'll start our predictions:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Chicago Bears
Rishab- Both of these teams are coming off of a win, but Lovie Smith, former coach of the Bears, still has a strong understanding of his old roster and quarterback Jay Cutler.  I think Josh McCown and Tampa Bay win a close one in Chicago.  30-27 Tampa Bay.

Michael-Mike Evans and Josh McCown have been playing very well as of late and I don't see them slowing down in this one.  31-28 Tampa Bay.

Tennessee Titans @ Philadelphia Eagles
Rishab- The Philadelphia Eagles, who I still think are postseason pretenders, need to win this game before their Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys.  While they were shellacked against Green Bay, I think they'll win this one.  30-20 Philadelphia.

Michael- LeSean McCoy finally breaks out of his slump as the Eagles roll over the Titans.  31-13 Philadelphia.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans
Rishab- Andy Dalton lost his first two postseason games to the Houston Texans in 2011 and 2012, but needs a win against them to help solidify this year's playoff berth.  However, these Texans are far better than last year with Ryan Mallett at the helm.  I'm going with the Texans.  23-20 Houston.

Michael-If Arian Foster plays against the Bengals, I'm going with the Texans.  If not, Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill lead the Bengals to another impressive road win.  21-17 Houston.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts
Rishab- I can't see the Colts losing to the lowly Jaguars again, but I have a feeling Jacksonville might make this one a bit more competitive than the last time these two faced off. 30-21 Indianapolis.

Michael- Coming off of a tough loss at home, Andrew Luck and the Colts bounce back.  35-21 Indianapolis.

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
Rishab- The best quarterback in the league, Aaron Rodgers, will have yet another strong performance and will lead his team to victory over the Vikings.  However, the Vikings are starting to collect some great talent and Teddy Bridgewater looks like the future of the franchise.  38-26 Green Bay.

Michael- With star running back, Adrian Peterson, suspended for the year, Green Bay wins in a blowout.  42-17 Green Bay.

Cleveland Browns @ Atlanta Falcons
Rishab- These Falcons are starting to climb back to winning a playoff berth and I think that they can slow down the Browns and Josh Gordon here.  Matt Ryan and Julio Jones need to connect in this one if they want to win this one.   24-20 Atlanta.

Michael- Josh Gordon return and comes back right in stride to deliver the Browns a road victory.  27-21 Cleveland.

Detroit Lions @ New England Patriots
Rishab- I can't see the Patriots losing at home: their last loss was to the San Francisco 49ers in the 2012 season.  Brady, who might have a tough time against the Lions, finds a way to win.  27-20 New England.

Michael- Detroit manages to slow down the Patriot's offense, but New England manages to overcome.  24-21 New England.

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
Rishab- The Cardinals upset the Seahawks again on the road, this time with Drew Stanton at quarterback.  The Cardinal's defense is one of the best units in the league.  They advance to 10-1.  19-13 Arizona.

Michael-Seattle returns to championship caliber form with a statement win over the Cardinals.  28-13 Arizona.

St. Louis Rams @ San Diego Chargers
Rishab- These Rams have beaten some very, very good teams this season (San Francisco, Seattle, Denver) and beat another great team in this one.  This is my upset pick of the week: the Chargers have not been the same since their loss to the Broncos in Denver.  20-14 St. Louis.

Michael- The Rams are shut down on the road after a big win against the Broncos.  27-14 San Diego.

Washington Redskins @ San Francisco 49ers
Rishab- Colin Kaepernick needs to step up and help the 49ers win an important game before the highly anticipated game against the Seahawks on Thanksgiving.  I think he and the 49ers defense will lead this team to an impressive victory over the Redskins.  37-10 San Francisco.

Michael- Robert Griffin III is finally benched as the 49ers win another home game.  30-20 San Francisco.

Miami Dolphins @ Denver Broncos
Rishab- The Dolphins have been playing some great football while the Broncos have not enjoyed a statement win in a while after losing to the Patriots and Rams.  While the Dolphins make this competitive, the Broncos ultimately win the game.  35-24 Denver.

Michael- The Broncos bounce back and pour it on Miami.  41-27 Denver.

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
Rishab- I am very tempted to pick the Giants here, because they normally win when no one expects them to. However, I have no faith in Perry Fewell to stop the Cowboys offense in this one.  I'm going 29-20 Dallas.

Michael- This is where the Giants thrive.  With their backs against the wall, Eli and the Giants shut down the Cowboys.  34-28 New York.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NFL Picks Week 12: Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders

For the rest of the regular season, The Rishab Report will be hosting a new program incorporating a "picking contest" for each game of the regular season.  Here are the standings so far:

Rishab: 8-6
Michael: 8-6
Andrew: 8-6
Nick: 2-2 (only picked four games)

Currently, Michael, Andrew, and myself are tied, but Week 12 could put one of us over the rest. With that in mind, we'll start our Thursday Night Predictions:

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders 

Rishab-In all honesty, this game could be a blowout for Kansas City: Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis run all over the Raiders, and Oakland drops to 0-11 and 0-17 in their last seventeen games.  Raiders are a good shot to get the first pick in the next draft.  40-13 Kansas City

Michael- Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis combine for three touchdowns as the Chiefs roll over the winless Raiders.  27-10 Kansas City.

Nick- Oakland has not won a game yet this season, and that streak continues as Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs strong run offense will run all over the Raiders.  31-14 Kansas City.

Monday, November 17, 2014

NFL Picks Week 11: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans

For this week and the rest of the regular season, The Rishab Report will be hosting a new program incorporating a "picking contest" for each game of the regular season.  Joining me on this weekly program will be some of my classmates, Michael Mufson, Nick Constantino, and Andrew Hurdman. The winner of this contest will have the title of "best picker for the year".  Without further ado, we will conclude our Week 11 Picks with Monday Night Football!

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans

Rishab-  In all honesty, the Steelers usually play down to their level of competition (Jets and Tampa Bay) but match up well against the league's better teams.  However, I happen to think that Mike Tomlin is one of the better coaches of the league and can lead his team to a win over the much maligned Titans.  30-17 Pittsburgh.

Michael- Pittsburgh is coming off of a tough loss to the horrid Jets and will bounce back in this one. Expect a big day from the Steelers running game against the Titans' 29th ranked rush defense.  24-10 Pittsburgh.

Andrew- Pittsburgh has been in top form lately with a hiccup against the Jets last week.  Not this week though.  38-17 Pittsburgh.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NFL Picks Week 11

For this week and the rest of the season, The Rishab Report will be hosting a new program incorporating a "picking contest" for each game of the regular season.  Joining me on this weekly program will be some of my classmates, Michael Mufson, Nick Constantino, and Andrew Hurdman.  The winner of this contest will have the title of "best picker for the year".

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears 

Rishab- The Vikings have a legitimate shot to beat the Bears on the road: the Bears haven't won a home game so far and Teddy Bridgewater has some real talent and weapons at his disposal.  
20-13 Minnesota

Michael- The Bears continue to play sloppy at home as the Vikings patiently await Adrian Peterson's return.  28-17 Minnesota

Nick- I think the Bears bounce back and find their hidden offensive talent.  24-10 Chicago.

Andrew- I like the Vikings coming off of two straight victories, especially with the Bears playing the way they are and Brandon Marshall's comments about his lack of hope for the rest of the season. Expect a 31-17 win for Minnesota.  

San Francisco 49ers @ New York Giants

Rishab- The 49ers are coming off of a huge victory over the Saints on the road.  Despite the pathetic outing of the 49ers receivers, I'm expecting a big game from the 49ers' rushing attack.  23-14 San Francisco.

Michael-Giants reestablish the run game with the return of Rashad Jennings, opening up the passing game for the Giants and Eli.  31-20 New York.

Nick-I'm going Giants in this one: 49ers are too inconsistent and they can't win on the road.
34-28 New York.

Andrew-I like the 49ers coming off of a big victory against the Saints playing a 1:00 game in the East.  San Francisco 31-30.

Denver Broncos @ St. Louis Rams

Rishab- The Rams have played some excellent football in their division, but have failed to show up against other teams.  With the Broncos starting to regain momentum, I'm going with the Broncos in a relatively large road victory.  36-20 Denver.

Michael- Denver's passing attack will get in rhythm against the woeful Rams' defense, which has faced some injuries in the secondary.  35-10 Denver.  

Andrew-This one is easy for me.  I'm going with Denver 41-14.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Washington Redskins

Rishab- I believe in Robert Griffin III, even when many have given up on the much maligned quarterback.  He's got the weapons to have a fantastic game in this one.  I'm predicting a close one-23-17 Washington.

Michael- Alfred Morris and the Redskins run game will open up the field for RGIII and DeSean Jackson.  24-13 Washington.  

Andrew- The Buccaneers couldn't even beat the Falcons at home, so I like Washington at home 26-21.

Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns

Rishab- Though Ryan Mallett is getting his first start, the Browns' pass rush is very formidable.  I'm calling a close game, but 16-13 Cleveland.

Michael-JJ Watt and the Texans' defensive line will get after Hoyer in this game, slowing down the Browns passing game before Josh Gordon's return from suspension.  27-24 Houston.

Andrew-Brian Hoyer will once again prove himself to the league in a Cleveland victory.
23-7 Cleveland.

Seattle Seahawks @ Kansas City Chiefs

Rishab- With both teams coming off of impressive victories, it is crucial for both to rejoin the contenders of their respective conferences.  However, I'm going with the Chiefs here: I'm really liking their development as a team so far.  24-14 Kansas City.

Michael- The Chiefs make it five straight against a Seattle team which is just not the same as last year's Super Bowl winning squad.  20-17 Kansas City.

Andrew-I like the Chiefs at home to beat the defending Super Bowl champions in a battle of 6-3 teams.  24-19 Kansas City.

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers

Rishab-I've been picking the Panthers very often this season, which really hasn't helped at all.  This is not a "revenge" pick, but I'm going with Atlanta in this one.  Matt Ryan has more offensive weapons at his disposal than Cam Newton does.  24-20 Atlanta

Michael- In a matchup between two disappointing NFC South teams, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta pass defense will outmatch Cam Newton in a shootout.  35-31 Atlanta

Andrew- The Panthers haven't won a football game since Oct. 5 against the Bears.  Atlanta is coming off of their first win since September.  I expect them to make that two in a row.  Atlanta 24-10.

Cincinnati Bengals @ New Orleans Saints

Rishab- After correctly picking the 49ers to beat the Saints last week, I'm going with the Saints this week.  The Bengals are struggling on the offensive side of the ball, despite having some elite talent.  I trust Drew Brees more than I trust Andy Dalton.  31-10 New Orleans.

Michael-New Orleans rebounds against an inconsistent Cincinnati defense and a quarterback in Andy Dalton.  28-17 New Orleans.

Andrew- The Saints will beat the Bengals after that pathetic performance on national television last week.  24-14 New Orleans.

Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers

Rishab- If we were to pick this game purely on momentum, I'd still go with the Chargers.  Despite losing some important games to Kansas City, Denver, and Miami, the Chargers are still one of the league's better teams.  I'd expect a decent victory for the Chargers in this one.  40-24 San Diego.

Michael-The Chargers roll over the helpless Raiders in Ryan Matthews' return.  27-7 San Diego.

Andrew- If you're picking the Raiders in this one, reevaluate the way you think about the NFL.  31-16 San Diego.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Green Bay Packers

Rishab-I love the fact that Aaron Rodgers is simply destroying his competition right now.  If he did not get injured in that game against the Saints, then the Packers would look even better right now. I've said this from the beginning: The Eagles are pretenders and won't last in the playoffs.  40-28 Green Bay.

Michael-The Packers stay hot against an Eagles' "high scoring" offense headed by Mark Sanchez in another high scoring affair. 42-31 Green Bay.

Andrew- After a big win at home against the Bears, the Packers should get another home victory, but this time will be much closer.  34-31 Green Bay.

Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals

Rishab-Contrary to popular opinion, these Cardinals will not remain as elite because of the loss of Carson Palmer.  I don't see Drew Stanton leading the Cardinals to winning a playoff game or this one, even if it is in Arizona.  29-20 Detroit.

Michael- Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate will be too much for Arizona's 30th ranked pass defense giving Arizona their first home loss of the season.  27-20 Detroit.

Andrew- I've always been a Lions fan due to family in Detroit.  I can't go against my Lions as they find a way to pull out a win.  26-24 Detroit.

New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts

Rishab-To say these Patriots are on fire is an understatement.  Tom Brady has nearly matched his touchdown output of last year within just a little bit more than half a season.  He's also got a health Gronk and they should be ready to out-duel Andrew Luck.  40-34 New England.

Michael- Coming off of a huge win against the Broncos, the Patriots continue to roll against a Colts team coming off of a week of rest.  38-35 New England.

Andrew-As good as Andrew Luck has looked this year, I can't pick against a Brady/Gronk combo.  41-31 New England.

*We'll post our Monday Night prediction before the game.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NFL Picks Week 11: Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

For this week and the rest of the season, The Rishab Report will be hosting a new program incorporating a "picking contest" for each game of the regular season.  Joining me on this weekly program will be Michael Mufson, Nick Constantino, and Andrew Hurdman.  The winner of this contest will have the title of "best picker for the year".

With that in mind, we begin...

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

Rishab- I'm really liking the way the Dolphins are playing and Ryan Tannehill is starting to become one of the league's better quarterbacks, I'm going with the Dolphins.  31-20

Michael- Tannehill will rebound in this divisional matchup coming off of a rough loss to the Lions. Dolphins 21-14

Nick- I still like the Bills in this one: the last time these teams faced, the inconsistent EJ Manuel was under center.  Now, the Bills have a much better quarterback in Kyle Orton.  26-21 Bills

Andrew- I'm going with the Dolphins 27-24.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

NFL Week 8 Picks: Examining the Projected Playoff Contenders and Pretenders

The NFL season is nearing the halfway point, or the time when we can legitimately begin the discussion of the possible playoff scenarios and seeding. Both conferences, the NFC and AFC, have clear division leaders but lack clarity with the possible Wild-card Selections.

To talk about the AFC, we need to consider the ramifications of the recent game between the Broncos and the Chargers. Along with Peyton Manning, a revamped but rugged defense helped Denver take down the San Diego Chargers in a relatively large win (35-21).  However, both of these teams are still likely favorites to make the playoffs.  If the playoffs were held today, this is how the AFC would look.

1. Denver Broncos
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. New England Patriots
4. Baltimore Ravens
5. San Diego Chargers
6. Cincinnati Bengals

In the running:
7. Buffalo Bills
8. Pittsburgh Steelers

Obviously, there is some consistency with the AFC with five of the six teams as previous playoff seeds last year.  Currently, the two teams that might make the playoffs are the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills, who both have been fairly close to .500 for a majority of the season.  Because the AFC appears stronger than last year's iteration of the conference, it will be hard for both of these teams to reach the playoffs in January.

In the NFC, we are witnessing the rise of new powers while old ones struggle to win important games.  Consider that of the six playoff teams last year, their combined record is a meager 22-16-1 or a 56.4 winning percentage.  Compare that to this year's projected playoff teams who have a combined record of 21-12-1 or a 69.04 winning percentage.  As a result, we are looking at a very different group of playoff contenders.  Here are the projected playoff seeds:

1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Arizona Cardinals
3. Detroit Lions
4. Carolina Panthers
5. Philadelphia Eagles
6. Green Bay Packers

In the running:
7. San Francisco 49ers
8. Seattle Seahawks

The most surprising aspect of this year's playoffs is that both teams that made the NFC Championship game last year are right now slated to miss the games in January.  Only half of last year's teams (Panthers, Eagles, and Packers) are expected to reach the playoffs while the top three seeds were not even in consideration last year.  Thus, we are looking at a very different NFC.  With that in mind, we shall begin our weekly projections.

St. Louis Rams @ Kansas City Chiefs:
Both of these teams were not expected to be very good this year, but there are encouraging signs to believe otherwise.  Austin Davis, the new quarterback for the Rams, has significant potential to lead the Rams this season while Alex Smith, who recently signed a deal with the Chiefs to keep him in Kansas City, looks to move the Chiefs in to the playoff mix.  Andy Reid, coach of the Chiefs, is 13-2 in his coaching career after a bye week.  I think he'll do an excellent job in preparing his team to win an important home game.

Rams 16
Chiefs 27

Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans:
I'm really disappointed with the Titans this season: it appeared that they were ready to make a leap in the relatively weak AFC South to playoff contention.  The Houston Texans, the NFL's worst team last year, has had a difficult time winning crucial games like its earlier match-ups against Dallas and Pittsburgh.  Despite their struggles to beat better teams, they should be favored on the road in this one because they have beaten some fairly weak teams (Redskins, Raiders, Bills) and are getting Jadeveon Clowney back.

Texans 20
Titans 14

Minnesota Vikings @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Both of these teams have been disappointments to say the least with a combined 3-10 record so far this season.  However, this game will be important in determining who can rise out of the hole of unimpressive performances and might actually make an attempt to do well this year.  Obviously this is the first year for coaches Mike Zimmer and Lovie Smith in their respective new teams but there should be some sort of accountability here: I have to go with Smith's track record and the fact that his team has had a whole week to prepare themselves for this game.

Vikings 23
Buccaneers 33

Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers:
This meeting between these two teams is the third in three seasons: each matchup has been defensive "slugfests" and are relatively low scoring.  However, while both teams relied on defense to win challenging games last year, they now have to rely on their quarterbacks more than they have had to in the past to win games this season.  Thus, we have to account for home-field advantage and the recent success of Cam Newton.  While I think the Seahawks can still make the Super Bowl, they are going to lose this game.

Seahawks 16
Panthers 20

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals:
The last time these two met, the Bengals put on a show in Baltimore by beating the Ravens in Week 1.  Since that win, these Bengals have lost two important games to the Colts and Patriots and don't look as strong as they did to start the season.  Additionally, the Ravens are 5-2 and have been playing some fairly good football as of late with big wins over Tampa and Carolina.  Because I believe in momentum in football, I have to go with the Ravens here: they just look like the more complete team right now on offense and defense.

Ravens 24
Bengals 17

Miami Dolphins @ Jacksonville Jaguars:
I've had fairly high expectations for the Miami Dolphins this season after they beat the Patriots in the first week of the season.  However, they have been incredibly inconsistent and have not been able to have a winning streak this season.  The Jaguars, coming off of their first win of the season, will look to take that positive momentum to win their second home game of the season. Because Ryan Tannehill is playing his best football as of late, I'm going with his Dolphins on the road.

Dolphins 19
Jaguars 15

Chicago Bears @ New England Patriots:
Even though the Bears have played relatively good football on the road, I can't see them winning this game: New England has had almost two weeks to rest and prepare themselves to beat the Bears. Additionally, I would expect Tom Brady to light up the horrific Bears' Defense.  Expect a big Patriots win in this one.

Bears 20
Patriots 42

Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets:
The Jets have not won a single game after defeating the still winless Oakland Raiders in the first week of the season.  Meanwhile, the Bills have been inconsistent since opening up the season 2-0 and are hard to trust on the road in a place where they have not won a game yet (MetLife Stadium).  Even though this Bills team is much better than last years', I'm going with the Jets in an upset.

Bills 21
Jets 27

Philadelphia Eagles @ Arizona Cardinals:
To be completely honest with you, I am not a believer in the Philadelphia Eagles with Nick Foles leading the team.  After throwing only two last year, Foles already has seven to start this season. Additionally, the Cardinals are more talented on the defensive side of the ball and may cause some turnovers that might dramatically affect the game.  I'm going with the Cardinals in this one.

Eagles 26
Cardinals 35

Oakland Raiders @ Cleveland Browns:
Coming off of an ugly loss to the Jaguars, Brian Hoyer needs to have a big game or he might be replaced by Johnny Football.  The Raiders, who have not a game this season so far, need some kind of performance to appease their fans.  As a result, if Hoyer cannot play well, the Raiders will capitalize on his mistakes and come out with a win.  Unfortunately, I believed the Raiders would win last week and they let me down.  I'm going with Cleveland.

Raiders 14
Browns 23

Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers:
Andrew Luck and the Colts have arguably been one of the NFL's best teams for the last five weeks. Luck, to put it simply has been spectacular with his accuracy, ability to throw, and his affinity for throwing touchdowns.  While the Steelers are coming off of a considerable home win over the Texans, they have not been able to garner a winning streak and they should not be the favorites at home.  I'm going with the Colts.

Colts 31
Steelers 27

Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints:
Considering the fact that the Saints have been awful this season, I hesitate to pick them here.  I trust Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in this one to win a statement game.  Expect a relative shootout but a Packers victory.

Packers 45
Saints 31

Saturday, October 25, 2014

NFL in London: Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons Prediction

While this is one of the three games held in London this year, it does demonstrate the NFL's increasing willingness to support a team or more in Europe.  With the NFL constantly trying to improve its economic gains, it will likely have more and more games in London to prepare for a possible team or two.  With that in mind, we shall begin our projection for the game between the Falcons and Lions.

Much is on the line for the Atlanta Falcons in this game: this could be the make or break point of their season.  Coming off of a four game losing streak, the Falcons are in danger of having another nightmarish season and many speculate that this will be their fifth loss in a row because they are going up against one of the NFL's best defenses.  However, the Lions lack key playmakers on offense with Calvin Johnson Jr., Eric Ebron, Joseph Fauria, and possibly Reggie Bush not likely to play or have a substantial impact due to injury.  Thus, I trust Matt Ryan and the Falcons to make some adjustments and win a crucial game away from the Georgia Dome.

Lions 23
Falcons 34