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Cook: Breaking Down The 2021 NFL Conference Championship Games

This weekend is Conference Championship Sunday in the NFL, and Steve Cook is here to break it down and tell you what’s going to happen–and why!

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Patrick Mahomes NFL

This weekend is Conference Championship Sunday in the NFL, and Steve Cook is here to break it down and tell you what’s going to happen–and why!

No matter what happens this Sunday, we already know what the theme of Super Bowl LV will be. The NFC will be represented by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, theoretically in the final years of their career. The AFC will be bringing one of the best young quarterbacks of today, looking to take that torch out of the hands of the old guard. All us writers have to do now is fill in the names. Pretty sweet, isn’t it?

Before we get there, we need to do this first. One game pits two of the fellas in that GOAT conversation against each other. The other has two of the fellas looking to get in that conversation someday. Hell, one of them is already in that conversation according to some. Let’s break it down!

Sunday, 3:05 PM: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers

When I was a kid, there was a pretty interesting stat about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs lost their first twenty-one games that took place with a kickoff temperature below 40 degrees. Granted, most Tampa Bay teams during that time period were pretty miserable, things didn’t really get cooking there until Tony Dungy arrived in the late 90s. Tampa’s record isn’t much better now, but that’s at least partially because they haven’t played many cold weather games since 2002, when divisions realigned. Instead of making the trek to Chicago & Green Bay every year as part of the NFC Central, they’re going to Atlanta, Charlotte & New Orleans every year.

You kind of have to throw out everything you think you know about the Buccaneers. Only consider what you know about Tom Brady. He’s been pretty good in cold weather games over the year. Antonio Brown: also pretty good in cold weather games. These aren’t your father’s Buccaneers, even if Tom Brady was playing against your father’s Buccaneers back in the day.

Going to Lambeau Field is never easy though. The Packers looked good in their first playoff appearance this season, Aaron Rodgers was clicking on all cylinders against the top-ranked LA Rams defense. Tough to pick against them, except for one important thing:

I already picked against Tom Brady last week.

I didn’t want it to happen, but it’s undeniable now. Tom Brady’s going back to the Super Bowl and winning it once again. Why would anything else happen? Brady will throw a couple of touchdown passes, Rodgers will fall flat on his face, and the Golden Boy will retake his spot on top of the mountain. It’s what the NFL wants, and it just might be what the NFL needs.

Cook’s Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday, 6:40 PM: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City might have a problem. Patrick Mahomes suffered a concussion during Sunday’s game against Cleveland, leading KC to almost lose to the Browns. I’m sure Chad Henne is a nice guy, but he’s not Patrick Mahomes. Should Mahomes miss the AFC Championship game, the Chiefs won’t be beating the Bills and advancing to play against Tom Brady.

You’d like to see Buffalo make it past the Chiefs and return to the Super Bowl for the first time since Super Bowl XXVIII. Josh Allen has had a great season throwing the ball to Stefon Diggs among others. It’d be a great story, and the idea of the underdog Bills going against big bad Tom Brady has a nice ring to it.

You have to pick the Chiefs though, especially since it seems like Mahomes is playing. If Mahomes isn’t playing, pick the Bills.

Cook’s Pick: Kansas City Chiefs

So it’ll be Mahomes trying to take the torch from Brady. NFL pundits might declare Pat the greatest QB of all time if he wins. Enjoy Championship Weekend!


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NFL

Cook’s 2022 NFL Gambling Picks: Week 5

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NFL Week 5 Predictions Tom Brady

Hi, hello & welcome to Week 5! I’m Steve Cook, and I’m proud to say that I was able to get this whole thing done on time this week. I’m very impressed with myself, especially since the Reds closing their season cut into my writing time. It looks like I’ll have plenty of writing time in the immediate future, so hopefully I can use it to make my picks a bit more accurate.

As usual, there’s tons going on in the NFL, so let’s go. Lines provided by Vegas Insider Consensus on Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday, October 6

Indianapolis at Denver (-3.5)

Last week we were all hyped to fire up the Amazon Prime machine for some Dolphins/Bengals action. This week? Well, let’s see what else is going on this Thursday night…

  • MLB: Wild Card games don’t start until Friday
  • NCAAF: Games on Wednesday & Friday night, inexplicably none Thursday night
  • NHL: Preseason games, first regular season game on Friday afternoon (Go Preds!)
  • NBA: Preseason games on ESPN

There ain’t nothing on, folks. Impact Wrestling’s go-home show for Bound For Glory airs on AXS. Bound For Glory is on Friday night, by the way. I think The Chairshot is one of the few sites where a majority of the writers/podcasters might already know that. Anyway, this is going to be a slopfest, so my recommendation to you is to pick the Colts at this number. Well, honestly, my recommendation to you is to not even bother with this nonsense except taking the under at 43.5.

Sunday, October 9

NY Giants vs. Green Bay (-8)

It’s been nice to see the Giants get off to a 3-1 start, and it was even nicer to see the 80s style helmets make a comeback in Week 4. Unfortunately for the Giants, they also saw Daniel Jones & Tyrod Taylor get hurt in Week 4. It’s never great to have an uncertain situation at quarterback, but it’s pretty awful to have one while you’re traveling overseas to play football at a weird time.

The Packers have narrowly won their last two games and Aaron Rodgers hasn’t looked especially happy with his team. He should fit in well in England, in spite of being “jolly ol'” it doesn’t seem like the British are especially cheerful folks. I think Rodgers has a good day and leads the Packers to a big victory in front of their English fans.

Pittsburgh at Buffalo (-14)

This sounds like a ridiculously huge number until you take the following things into consideration:

  • The Bills defense just shuts teams down
  • The Steelers offense just gets shut down

CBS is sending the Tony Romo announce crew to Buffalo, which says more about the lack of interest in the rest of their slate than the quality of this game. The Bills have beaten better teams than the Steelers by more than 14 points, so they should be able to take care of business here. There is slight reason for worry that Kenny Pickett looks better than he did against the Jets & the Steelers find the magic horseshoe they’ve had up their ass for fifty years now, so it’s not like I’d bet the house on this game.

LA Chargers (-3) at Cleveland

I don’t know who’s going to be active in this game with the injury issues surrounding both teams. What I do know is this is going to be a high-scoring game that one can hit the over on. The Chargers’ offense should be able to execute against a Browns defense likely missing a couple of its key pieces. However, the Browns’ rushing attack should make mincemeat of a Chargers defense missing some key pieces and struggling against the rush.

I tend to steer clear of West Coast teams going to colder environments, so let’s pick the Browns to keep things close.

Houston at Jacksonville (-7)

Who would have thought that the Jaguars would be seven point favorites against anybody a month ago? Maybe a two or three point favorite against a Texans team that nobody saw anything in either, but it’s amazing how opinion can swing in a short period of time. They came up short last week in Philly, but most people aren’t really holding that against them. This is the kind of game that the Jaguars need to win easily in order to establish themselves, and I think Doug Pederson gets his guys ready to do just that.

Chicago at Minnesota (-7)

I think the Vikings have a vastly superior team to the Bears. That, combined with homefield, should make them the easy pick. Then you remember that this is a divisional game, the Vikings are returning from London, and the Bears have been reasonably competitive except against the Packers. Justin Fields hasn’t been great, but the Vikings defense made Andy Dalton look pretty good last week.

Let’s not overthink things. We roll with the better team, which I believe to be the Vikings.

Detroit at New England (-3)

Who is Bailey Zappe? Bailey played his first three seasons of college ball at Houston Baptist before moving to Western Kentucky for his senior season. He threw for 5967 yards & 62 touchdowns in the 2021 season, which got him noticed and drafted in the fourth round of the 2022 Draft by the New England Patriots. He was solidly on the third string until Mac Jones got hurt in Week 3 & Brian Hoyer got hurt during the Patriots’ Week 4 game with the Packers. Zappe at least looked the part during his first outing, keeping the Patriots competitive in what ended up being an overtime loss. Since it’s the Patriots, we have no idea who’s going to be quarterback this week, but whoever it is should have a shot against a Lions defense that has yet to stop anybody.

The Lions’ offense has been pretty good though, and should have a couple of their weapons back this week. Should be a tight one, but I’ll go with the Lions since their offense has shown more consistency so far.

Seattle at New Orleans (-5.5)

Sure, some of it has to do with the competition he’s seen. But nobody expected anything like what we’ve seen from Geno Smith the first four weeks of the season. We all gave up on Geno after his first few seasons with the Jets didn’t result in him becoming one of the best QBs in the league. With the NFL salary structure set up the way it is, quarterbacks are no longer able to slowly grow into the job. You’re either amazing right away or doomed to years of backup duty before exiting the sport. Maybe in past generations, guys like Geno, Blake Bortles, E.J. Manuel and other guys that were slow to grow into the QB1 gig would have had a chance. Not today. Too many youngsters in the pipeline, and not enough time for football teams to win before they have to pay their superstar QB too much of their payroll. Smith got lucky that the Seahawks were in a place where they didn’t have some young hotshot ready to go. If they did, he’d be sitting behind that guy.

Instead, he’s playing against a Saints team also lacking some young hotshot ready to go. Jameis Winston may or may not be ready to come back from injury. Andy Dalton looked fine in London against the Vikings. I think the Saints win, but the Seahawks keep it within the spread.

Miami (-3.5) at NY Jets

As far as backup quarterbacks go, Teddy Bridgewater is pretty much as good as it gets. Good leader, good person, won’t make too many mistakes. Veteran player, but not washed up. While Dolphins fans would rather see Tua Tagovailoa out there playing, most of them likely wish that Miami had made the right decision and put Bridgewater out there for the beginning of their Week 4 game. What’s done is done, and the Dolphins have to move forward.

Zach Wilson & the Jets didn’t look too hot after three quarters against the Steelers, but made up for that with a fourth quarter comeback where the young QB proved his resilience. I’ll take them to keep it within a field goal.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-8.5)

Tom Brady’s divorce proceedings will get most of the attention this week, understandably so given his position as the NFL’s North Star. Not being an expert on matters of the heart, I defer to my longtime Twitter friend’s thoughts on the issue. What could come as an even bigger surprise to people than the Brady story: The Falcons & Buccaneers are tied at 2-2 for first place in the NFC South. People thought the Bucs would be better and the Falcons would be worse, but here we are.

Even though the Bucs came up short against Kansas City, the fact is that there aren’t many offenses out there like the Chiefs’ that can make defenses look like kids. The Falcons seemed like they were rushing every play against the Browns, and Tampa should be able to fare better against that. Maybe I’m selling the Falcons short here, but I’m expecting a big bounce back effort from the Buccaneers.

Tennessee (-2.5) at Washington

Alarm bells are going off in Washington, which is only natural since they lost by two touchdowns to the Cowboys. Are they really one of the worst teams in the league? Probably, but it’s not like it’s all that shocking given the state of the organization. It’d be more shocking if they seemed like legit contenders. Carson Wentz doesn’t look like the answer, but again, that’s not exactly shocking. Sometimes things play out the way you thought they would. Not too often for me, as my record over the past couple of years in this column shows, but it happens sometimes.

The Titans should be able to get another big road win this week and work their way back up the AFC South power rankings. Somebody will win that division and get a playoff slot, it might as well be them.

San Francisco (-6.5) at Carolina

If you listened to the fanbases of these teams, you would think this game featured two bad quarterbacks. Carolina Panthers fans are probably right about their man, but San Francisco 49ers fans need to take a chill pill about the Jimmy G experience. They need to be as chill as their guy is. Does anybody doubt he’ll go to Carolina and take care of business?

Yes, San Francisco is a West Coast team going east. However, Carolina is typically a warmer environment than San Francisco, so this isn’t the same thing as the LA Chargers going to Cleveland. I feel fine rolling with the 49ers against a Panthers team that hasn’t been able to get much going offensively so far.

Philadelphia (-5) at Arizona

Looks like the city of Philadelphia will be dealing with the Cardinals all weekend. The local NFL team goes to Arizona, while the baseball team goes to St. Louis for the NL Wild Card round. Should be fun times all around! There are some pretty serious similarities between these teams, as many have made the observation that this season’s Eagles remind them of the 2021 Arizona Cardinals…during the first half of the season.

The Eagles are the NFL’s last unbeaten team, and I think they’ll stay that way after this week. Should be a high-scoring affair and a lot of fun, so it’s no wonder that Fox didn’t make it their game of the week.

Dallas at LA Rams (-4.5)

Dr. Jerry Jones updated us on Dak Prescott’s thumb on Tuesday, saying that Dak is not well enough to play just yet. Jones didn’t rule out Dak being ready by Sunday, but is there any reason to hurry Dak’s recovery process along when Cooper Rush has led the Cowboys to three straight victories? I don’t see one. What I do see is a Cowboys pass rush that should give a weak Rams offensive line fits all game long. Don’t get it twisted, I still expect Dallas to get it wrong in the end…but it’s Week 5. We’re just at the beginning of this story.

I’ve been talking about the Bengals’ Super Bowl hangover pretty regularly, but it might be time to make mention of the Rams going through a similar process. Like the Bengals, they sit at 2-2 with questions about their offensive line. Two lackluster showings in prime time hasn’t helped their cause. I think they could break Cooper Rush’s winning streak, but it should be a pretty close game. Take the Cowboys.

Cincinnati at Baltimore (-3)

Sunday was another difficult day for the AFC North. Cleveland & Pittsburgh both had leads that wilted away in the fourth quarter. Baltimore’s lead over Buffalo wilted away in the third quarter. As former Cincinnati Bengals Radio Network host Alan Cutler would have said, it was a great day to be a Bengals fan. After an 0-2 start with losses to seemingly inferior teams had Cincinnati fans on the ledge, two straight wins put the Bengals right back in an AFC North mix that seems likely to stay a mix for the rest of the season.

Do Ravens fans need to worry about their team being 2-2? Nah. The losses came to the Bills & Dolphins, two of the best performing teams in the NFL during the first month. It’s not like they were dropping games to Mitchell Trubisky & Cooper Rush. The one troubling aspect is the fact that the Ravens had sizeable leads in both games and could easily be sitting at 4-0 right now. You hope they clean it up at some point, and a divisional showdown on SUNDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT would be an ideal time to do so.

Traditionally, Bengals vs. Ravens is a closely contested game. That hasn’t been the case recently, as the last five meetings between the two have been decided by 20 points or more. I don’t think the margin gets that high this time, but I do think the Ravens win at home in semi-comfortable fashion in primetime in front of a hyped crowd.

Monday, October 10

Las Vegas at Kansas City (-7)

It was kind of cute for the month or so where people tried to act like the Chiefs weren’t the preeminent favorites to win the Super Bowl. We thought that maybe the offense wouldn’t be as explosive just because Tyreek Hill wasn’t around anymore. How adorable. One whooping of Tampa Bay later, and we remember that Andy Reid knows how to coach. While the other AFC West teams haven’t lived up to their preseason billing, the Chiefs are pretty much where we thought they would be. Except for that weird Colts loss.

One of those teams yet to live up to their billing would be the Raiders. They might have gotten back on track with a good win against Denver last week, but still need to find their chemistry. Josh McDaniels will get it figured out eventually. Maybe. This thing with him being a head coach has to work at some point, right? I see the Chiefs winning by more than ten.

Week 4 Results: 6-8-2
Overall Results: 28-34-3


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Cook’s 2022 NFL Gambling Picks: Week 4

Cook’s picks are staying marginally more 50/50 this year. Will we get a few tally marks for the good guys or continue the early season slide?

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Thursday night was a pretty great night for Cincinnati fans! The Bengals got back on track with a win over the Dolphins, putting them at 2-2 and right in the mix. It wasn’t a great night for Dolphins fans, or the NFL quite honestly. Tua Tagovailoa was stretchered out of the game after taking a big hit and what looked like to all the world another concussion just four days after Miami’s game against the Bills where everybody thought he got a concussion but the Dolphins claimed he injured his back/ankle. They said he passed the protocol and was good to play on Thursday, but everybody wondered if that was the best idea. It wasn’t.

Head injuries are a tricky thing to figure out, especially when you don’t even play a doctor on the Internet. I would not want to be the person to make that decision, especially when the player in question is likely demanding to play no matter what condition they’re in. I’d like to think that if I saw my future of the franchise quarterback stumbling off of the field after getting his head smashed into the ground, I would not try to claim it was a back/ankle injury and just plan on my experienced backup quarterback leading the team four days later. Then maybe I’d have a 2-point conversion play set up for him, along with other plays to give my team a better chance of victory. Bad deal by the Dolphins that didn’t give them the best chance to win in Cincy, and compromised the future of their franchise.

Now we deal with the rest of Week 4. Lines are via the Vegas Insider Consensus on Friday afternoon.

Sunday, October 2

Minnesota (-3) vs. New Orleans

Yep, the Vikings & Saints are in London this week, so forget any of that noise about a homefield advantage. The Saints would probably prefer to play this game in the SuperDome, and they’d also prefer to have Jameis Winston & Michael Thomas available to practice. Thomas was declared out on Friday, and it’s not looking great for Winston. Coming off a loss to the Panthers and possibly missing a couple of your key offensive starters? Not great, Bob! That said, there are worse backup options out there than Andy Dalton.

The Vikings went back on the “good” side of the ledger last week with a win over Detroit. They’re still figuring things out on offense, but I expect they’ll get there. I’m liking the Vikings to get some revenge for their ancestors in jolly ol’ England. Did the Norsemen have issues with the Brits back in the day? Probably, they seemed to have issues with everybody.

Cleveland (-1) at Atlanta

After two narrow losses to start the season, the Falcons scored a nice little win in Seattle last week. They seem to be slightly better than expected, and could pose a difficult test for a Browns team that could be missing Myles Garrett. Interesting how the media coverage & public opinion on Garrett has twisted over the past couple of days. It’s gone from “OMG I hope he’s ok” to “OMG this guy drives too fast and must be stopped”. I don’t really have an opinion on it, other than the flip-flop is pretty interesting.

Even without Garrett, the Browns have superior talent and should be able to run the ball all over the Falcons.

Buffalo (-3) at Baltimore

I have to do some travelling this Sunday. It’s one of those things that I’m kind of dreading, but at least I won’t have to worry about missing Josh Allen vs. Lamar Jackson in a battle of two MVP candidates. WKRC would rather have us watch Cleveland vs. Atlanta in a battle of Jacoby Brissett vs. Marcus Mariota. I could be sitting home watching that or Commanders vs. Cowboys, so I guess I can’t get on my friend too much for scheduling a wedding on a Sunday during football season. At least they were smart enough to not do it on a Bengals Sunday.

I might need to find somewhere to catch part of this game though, as it’s two of the best teams in the AFC with some playoff implications down the road if they’re vying for the top seed in the playoffs. Should be a good one. I’ll take the Ravens since they’ll be at home, but wouldn’t be shocked if Josh Allen & company went off after their loss in Miami. They looked pretty mad, didn’t they?

Washington at Dallas (-3.5)

One of the NFL’s most storied rivalries, though I must admit some of the marketability has been taken out of it since Washington stopped using Native American imagery. It’s still two of the most popular/hated franchises in sports going at it, and no matter what the teams look like people will watch them.

I’m done picking the Commanders after last week’s debacle, so look for Cooper Rush’s run of dominance to continue. My plan of setting the media up to talk endless Dak Prescott after the Cowboys go downhill when he returns seems to be working!

Seattle at Detroit (-4)

Awesome Twitter handle. The Lions have gone from being Vegas’s least favorite team over the past few years to being a darling of the industry. Unfortunately, that loss against the Vikings last week wiped out a good bit of their offense. D’Andre Swift doesn’t look good for Sunday, and new WR star Amon-Ra St. Brown will be out. Jared Goff will have to hope the backups are equally as effective. What I’m guessing is a low-scoring game, as the Seahawks weren’t able to score an offensive touchdown the last time they were on the road.

I’ll roll with the Lions, but this should be an ugly one.

LA Chargers (-5) at Houston

The Chargers are falling apart by the day. Joey Bosa has gone on the IL, taking away the best player on their defense. Justin Herbert is somewhere around 60% healthy if I had to guess. Keenan Allen might be playing this week, so that’s nice. It’s a mess of a team, and they’re going to Houston to play a Texans team that there’s no reason to have any confidence in. If I was actually a gambler, I’d stay far, far away from this mess.

Since I’m just making picks, I’ll tell you to go with the Chargers, simply because they actually have some players I’d start in a fantasy lineup.

Tennessee at Indianapolis (-3.5)

This is what the AFC South has been reduced to. Fighting for first place after the JAGS lose a game. Goodness Gracious. We are talking about two teams that rose from the dead last week to beat AFC West teams, so a win for either this week would revive their playoff hopes.

We’ll take the Titans at the current spread. I’m not really sure what to make of either team right now…I think they’ll both be decent at some point.

Chicago at NY Giants (-3)

If you’ve been wanting some of that old school football with three yards and a cloud of dust, this will be the game for you! Neither team passes the ball well, so expect the running backs to get carries early and often. Unfortunately for da Bears, David Montgomery won’t be playing and he happens to be their best running back. I was leaning Bears until that news broke, now I’m forced to go with the Giants. My apologies to Greg & Reby.

Jacksonville at Philadelphia (-6.5)

Those Eagles are rock & rolling right now, and Philly fans are pretty excited about it. They’ll be happy to welcome former Eagles coach Doug Pederson home on Sunday, who now coaches a Jaguars team that looks a bit spicy early in the season. Two early wins over teams projected to be playoff contenders isn’t what most folks were expecting from the Jags. After a struggle in Year 1, Trevor Lawrence is starting to live up to the hype in Year 2. Lawrence’s counterpart on the Eagles, Jalen Hurts, is right in the middle of MVP conversation after the first three weeks. Yes, I realize MVP conversation after three weeks is a bit wild, but it’s what we do in 2022.

I’d like the Jags to come in and make a game of it, but something tells me that the Eagles are going to give them the same treatment Minnesota & Washington received.

NY Jets at Pittsburgh (-3.5)

Zach Wilson should be playing this week! Jets fans are hoping that provides a boost to their offense, and for their sake I hope they’re right. If Wilson can’t do much more than Joe Flacco did the first three weeks (with the notable exception of that 4th quarter against the Browns), it’s a poor sign for their future. Steeler fans are hoping for a boost to their future at some point. Kenny Pickett’s time is coming, but it’s not going to be this week.

We’ll take the Jets to get within a field goal. Should be a bowling shoe type of affair.

Arizona at Carolina (-1)

Got the Panthers winning this one since I have to deal with a couple of Carolina fans on Sunday.

New England at Green Bay (-9.5)

If there’s one thing we know this week, it’s that Mac Jones is day to day. We don’t really know the status of his injury, as Bill Belichick doesn’t know how to read MRIs, and Jones is acting like he plans on playing this week. I assume this is the usual hocus pocus from the Patriots where they act all secretive and force their opponent to prepare for any damn thing. I would hope that the Patriots err on the side of caution and sit Jones this week. Thursday night’s game was Exbibit A for why you don’t run your future of the franchise quarterback out there when he’s not right. Bill Belichick, football genius that he is, should be smarter than that. Fortunately, Jones was ruled out on Friday, proving that Bill Belichick is smarter than the Dolphins organization.

The Packers got a good win in Tampa Bay, though the offense is still a bit of a struggle. It’s fair to wonder if Aaron Rodgers & his team can put up enough points to cover here. I’ll go with the Packers at Lambeau Field since it worked out pretty well the last time we did it.

Denver at Las Vegas (-2.5)

The Broncos, along with the 49ers, set football back approximately fifty years on Sunday night. Some may wish to tell you it was a great defensive struggle. I tend to think it was a battle of two offenses that couldn’t do anything. Even though the Broncos went to 2-1 with the victory, you won’t see as many people talking them up now as you did during the preseason when everybody thought Russell Wilson was Peyton Manning.

Meanwhile, the Raiders sit at 0-3 after a close loss in Tennessee. Doesn’t get much more “must-win” in Week 4 than it is for Vegas. Davante Adams knows the pressure is on and is making some noise about it. This would be a good spot for the Raiders offense to start gelling and get a big win to get back on track. That’s why I’m picking the Broncos to win a low-scoring game that annoys the heck out of everybody.

Kansas City at Tampa Bay

NBC must have had high hopes for this game when it was booked. Mahomes! Brady! Two of the best teams of the past few years! One would have expected both of these teams to roll into Week 4 at 3-0, looking like the Super Bowl contenders they usually are. Then games started getting played. The Bucs offense doesn’t look like the Bucs offense of previous years, mostly because all the WRs are hurt or getting suspended. Tom Brady can’t make everybody a star, as Cole Beasley proved last week. Mike Evans’ return this week should give a boost, and Tampa’s defense did look good against Green Bay, but Aaron Rodgers is in the same position as Tom Brady right now. Looking for people to throw the ball to that might actually catch it.

The football analytics tell you that Kansas City is still the best team in the NFL. They tell you that the Chiefs’ performance against the Colts was one of the best of Week 3, except for the part where they didn’t actually win. Stats are fun, but wins are even more fun. I’m not as worried about that Chiefs offense as most seem to be. Got plenty of faith in Andy Reid & Pat Mahomes to get things at an elite level during the season, and that AFC West isn’t looking as formidiable as it was during the offseason. The Chiefs will make the playoffs and be that team nobody wants to play, as they typically are.

Fortunately this game will be played in Tampa. Our thoughts are with those affected by Hurricane Ian over the past few days & beyond. I think the Chiefs have the more complete team, but sometimes emotion & intangibles play into things, and there should be enough positive vibes going the Buccaneers‘ way to like them this week. The game was a pick ’em at press time, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it stayed that way or even moved in the Bucs’ favor.

Monday, October 3

LA Rams at San Francisco (-1.5)

Yep, it was just last season that the 49ers hosted the Rams on MONDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT whilst sitting at 3-5 and looking for answers. They romped the Rams 31-10, lost two games the rest of the regular season and made a run to the NFC Championship Game. So you can see why San Fran fans are hanging onto hope here.

Me, I see the Rams slowly but surely getting things right while winning games. They were my pick to win the NFC again, and while it was tempting to balk on that after Week 1, they’re getting on the right track now. Maybe my mind is polluted by that awful SNF game the 49ers found a way to lose, but I’m taking the Rams.

Week 3 Results: 7-8-1
Overall Results: 22-26-1


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