McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 3

Maybe if DeShaun Watson started Week 1, I’d still be in this Survivor Pool. And if I had survived Week 1, I probably would have made it to Week 3 based on how my Week 2 picks went.

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Week 2 would have made me some money, and it was even better straight up. I went 9-7 against the spread, and 14-2 straight up. The only two I got wrong were the debacle in Denver, and the missed field goal by Younghoe not so Koo anymore. Here’s a quick look back at the picks I made (team winning in red, spread winner in red).

Texans (+6.5) at Bengals

Browns (+8) at Ravens

Bills (+7.5) at Panthers

Cardinals (-7) at Colts

Titans (-2.5) at Jaguars

Eagles at Chiefs (-5.5)

Patriots (-6.5) at Saints

Vikings (+5.5) at Steelers

Bears (+7) at Buccaneers

Dolphins at Chargers (-4)

Jets at Raiders (-14)

Redskins (+2.5) at Rams

49ers at Seahawks (-14)

Cowboys (-2.5) at Broncos

Packers at Falcons (-2.5)

Lions (+3.5) at Giants

2017 Straight Up: 25-6, 2017 vs. Spread: 16-14-1

Week 3 is now upon us.

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Rams (-2.5) at 49ers

  • Despite losing last week, it’s clear that this Rams team is going to be much more competitive than the team they sent out last year. The 49ers know this could be their best chance all year to get a win, but I’m going to choose the Rams to win and cover over one of two teams who still have not scored a touchdown yet.

Ravens (-3.5) at Jaguars

  • The Ravens have been looking great on both sides of the ball this year. The Jaguars stunned all of us in Week 1, but came back down to Earth a little bit last week. The Ravens will continue their hot start and win and cover over the London Jaguars.

Broncos (-3) at Bills

  • Everyone knew their defense was great, but I do not think anyone thought the Broncos would be this impressive through 2 games. Whether Trevor Siemian will be manageable enough to lead this team to a great season is yet to be seen, but give me the Broncos continuing to start their season hot.

Saints at Panthers (-5.5)

  • The Panthers struggled to score points last week- but the Saints have struggled even more trying to stop opponents. The Panthers have only given up 6 points this year, and if their offense can get clicking, they will for sure be a team to watch out for once again. The strength of the Panthers defense combined with the weakness of the Saints’ defense will lead the Panthers to win and cover.

Steelers (-7.5) at Bears

  • Talk about a tale of two weeks. The Bears went from being a dropped pass away from knocking off the Falcons to getting absolutely crushed by the Bucs. The Steelers looked great last week against Minnesota, so expect the trend to continue and for them to easily win and cover in Chicago.

Falcons at Lions (+3)

  • Upset pick of the week right here. The Falcons looked great last week, but the Lions have impressed two weeks in a row. Matt Stafford is proving he’s worth what he got, and the Lions will continue their hot streak. The Falcons struggled against their previous NFC North opponent, and with this one being much stronger, give me another Stafford 4th quarter comeback as the Lions win.

Browns at Colts (+1)

  • The Browns have only been road favorites 9 times in the past 20 years, and there is a reason why. They have not played bad the last two games, but I do not like the idea of them as road favorites. Jacoby Brissett and the Colts nearly pulled one out against the Cardinals last week, so look for them to get their first victory of the season against a weaker opponent in Cleveland.

Buccaneers at Vikings (EVEN)

  • Sam Bradford’s health is huge in this one, as it is clear how much better the Vikings were in Week 1 than in Week 2. If he plays, expect the Vikings to look much more like their Week 1 selves, and for the Minnesota defense to shutdown the young Bucs offense and get the win.

Texans (+13.5) at Patriots

  • While the Saints are not the greatest test, the Patriots looked much more like their normal selves in Week 2. New England never has problems beating the Texans at home, so they will definitely win this time in Foxborough. However, the Texans defense was much improved last week, and this spread usually indicates the Patriots are hosting a team like the Jets. The Texans should be able to cover the spread in a losing effort.

Dolphins at Jets (+6)

  • The Jets have not looked good at all through two weeks, but that was expected. Taking on their rival Dolphins in their home opener, expect them to keep it interesting and give their fans the idea they might win a game this year. But the Dolphins are a much better team, so expect them to win but not cover.

Giants at Eagles (-6)

  • Whenever OBJ gets completely healthy, don’t be shocked if the Giants break out one week. But I don’t think this is the week. The Giants have looked brutal offensively and the Eagles have impressed in both weeks despite being 1-1. The Eagles will keep the Giants offense stagnant and get the victory while covering in their home opener.

Seahawks at Titans (-2.5)

  • Like most seasons, I think the Seahawks will eventually find their groove and still end up as one of the better teams in the NFC. However, I think their early season offensive struggles will continue in Tennessee. The Seahawks are commonly a weaker road team, so expect Mariota and the Titans to get the victory at home over Seattle.

Bengals at Packers (-9)

  • Honestly, I’m shocked this spread is not higher. The Bengals have looked brutal and have not scored a TD this season, with both games being at home also. Despite being 1-1, the Packers have looked themselves, however, so the same will continue as the Packers will rout the Bengals.

Chiefs (-3) at Chargers

  • The Chargers string of heartbreaking losses from last season has been nothing but the same in 2017. In a division rivalry game against the hot Chiefs, I’m expecting the same. If the spread was Chiefs (-4), I may take the Chargers in the spread to lose by a field goal. However, I’m not predicting the push, so give me the Chiefs winning by one score, but enough the cover.

Raiders (-3) at Redskins

  • The Raiders have looked amazing through two weeks, and I’m expecting nothing different this week. The Raiders finally get to show this team off in prime time, and they will make the most of it and crush the Redskins in Washington.

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Cowboys (-3) at Cardinals

  • The game will be very interesting to watch for both teams. The Cowboys are coming off by far their worst performance in the Dak/Zeke era, and the Cardinals have looked weak since David Johnson went down. The rest of the season will be a better implication of how the Cowboys will recover from that loss, but the Cardinals looked bad despite winning against the weak Colts, so expect the Cowboys to bounce back, winning and covering.

Be back next week for Week 4. Maybe by then the Bengals and 49ers will have TDs in 2017.

Chase Headley Getting Pegged in the Baby-Makers Means Yanks Are Officially Back on Track

Before I write this blog, let me make it clear I firmly appreciate the year Chase Headley has had this season. He carried the Yanks offensively when they were struggling before and after the All-Star break, and has unexpectedly put together a nice 2017 campaign.

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Chase Headley could be batting .570 with 94 dingers, I’d still feel like he’s hitting .248 with 6 home runs and striking out swinging on sliders in the dirt.  He’s what Katy Perry is talking about in the song “Hot N’ Cold”, he’s yes then he’s no, he’s in and he’s out, he’s up and he’s down (back when Katy Perry was actually good).

When the Yankees were hot this season (excluding the first two weeks of the season), Chase Headley was not. He went from hitting an insane .380 in the beginning to plateauing at a consistent .240 for the rest of the year. During that time, the Yankees were playing 1st-place baseball.

Then when the Yankees were falling far into second place and rubbing shoulders with the Rays for third, Chase Headley was scorching hot, going 3-4 almost every game and contributing to a failing offense.

Right on schedule, Headley has started to come down to earth lately, and last night him being hit in the twig and berries firmly makes me believe the Yankees are back on track.

When things are right for the Yankees, they are wrong for Chase Headley.  He’s hot, Yanks are cold. He’s cold, Yanks are hot. It’s science. Ask the nearest nerd what they think, it’s undeniable.

So by Chase being plunked in the Golden Snitch, it’s clear that things are not going his way right now. Coincidentally, the Yankees are 8-2 in their last 10 and their magic number is down to 5 to clinch a playoff spot. Crazy how some things just make sense.

Thank you, Chase. You’re the hero we need, but not the one we deserve. Ice up.

Kevin Durant Uses Fake Accounts to Respond to His Twitter Trolls, But Still Totally Isn’t Mad

Anyone who reads this blog regularly (not sure why you would we’re absolute garbage) knows how much I hate Kevin Durant. Just last week, I blogged about KD’s new shoes that addressed his haters. I definitely didn’t like that move but some people thought it wasn’t bad and the shoes were cool. Whatever, maybe KD cares a little about the haters but not that much. Well apparently Kevin really wanted to confirm how much he cares about his Twitter trolls. Continue reading Kevin Durant Uses Fake Accounts to Respond to His Twitter Trolls, But Still Totally Isn’t Mad

Mayor Duck Special – Ep. 9 “Bounce-Back Picks, Sleepers, and QB Matchup” w/ Rob Sartori

Rob and I break down everything you need to know for Week 2 of the 2017 NFL season, so before 1 o’clock hits on Sunday, make sure to take 10 minutes out of your day to listen to some expert analysis.


An Easy Fix That All Baseball Fans Should Agree On

Everyone knows that Judd Apatow’s movies are always 15 minutes too long.  Similarly, you loyal readers of BTB probably realize that my posts are always 2-3 paragraphs too long.  I am going to try to compensate for that with a quick little post about an easy fix to something all baseball fans hate.

Every baseball fan hates the expanded September rosters.  Nobody wants to see a 6-5 9-inning game with 16 total pitchers used.  You shouldn’t be able to drive from North Jersey to Montreal over the length of a 9-inning game.  The signature moment of the 2016 Mets season was a walkoff homerun by Asdrubal Cabrera.…but that was still the end of a 9-8 11-inning victory in which 19 pitchers were used!  The game lasted 4.5 hours, the last three of which occurred during Jacoby Brissett’s first NFL win (27-0 shutout over Houston).  Therefore, the signature moment of the Mets’ 2016 season occurred well after many fans had tuned out.

I have heard smart people like Howie Rose and influential people like Mike Francesa come up with clever solutions.  Howie has suggested that teams continue to be able to expand to 40-man rosters in September, with the caveat that teams can only “dress” 25 players per game.  Francesa says that teams should be able to have a 30-man roster all year, with 25 people “dressing” each game.  This all sounds well and good, but there is one major flaw.  In both situations, teams will not dress starting pitchers unless they are starting that night.  For example, in a mythical world where the Mets’ five young starters are healthy and dominating; if it’s deGrom’s night to pitch, the team would deactivate Syndergaard, Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler.  Since NL teams typically carry 7 relievers while AL teams typically carry 8, this loophole would essentially cause NL teams to have 11 active relievers and AL teams to have 12.  Problem not solved.  Joe Girardi and Terry Collins would definitely try to use a double-digit number of relievers every night.  What a nightmare.

Therefore, the best solution is this.  No team should be able to use more than 7 pitchers in a 9-inning game.  If you make that change, all the other proposals are rendered unnecessary.  Really, an MLB team should be able to get through every game with no more than 5 pitchers, so I’m being nice.  I know that purists hate rule changes, but purists also long for the days where starters usually went 9, while relievers pitched until they were no longer effective.  Non-purists are fine with rule changes.  Everyone should like this change. Plus, by capping a team at 7 pitchers per 9-inning game, managers would be forced to try to stick it out with pitchers a little longer.  Managers would want to “keep pitching changes in their pocket” for later in the game when the biggest at-bats arise.

Let’s do it, Rob Manfred.  Save these overthinking managers from themselves and cap teams at 7 pitchers per 9-inning game.

Rhys Hoskins: Crazy Name, Crazier Stats

For the second year in a row, we have seen rookies do their best Steroid-Era impressions. With the likes of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Cody Bellinger, rookie hitters have treated MLB pitching like it’s their dad throwing them BP on a Little League field.

Added to this list is Philadelphia Phillies rookie Rhys Hoskins. With 18 HR in his first 34 games, he is making the bottom of the NL East seem cool again (although the Mets are doing everything in their power to do the opposite).

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Sure, this early success could be accredited to “beginners luck” and the usual argument will be made that “Oh, pitchers and coaches will eventually learn how to throw to him”. Similarly, this jaw-dropping success happened to Judge and Sanchez, and they have since cooled off some.  The same story is going to happen with Hoskins, as this pace is not possible to keep up, but there are often two roads that players go down when they start their career with an historic hot streak. They can continue to be an effective player throughout their career, or they can fall into the “what could have been” category.  Don’t expect Hoskins to be done in the headlines once this season ends.

To name one recent example, we saw Trevor Story last year hop out to an amazing start with seven home runs in seven games, but has never been the same player since. His sophomore slump hit him pretty hard.  Many players find success in their rookie years and never see it again (especially in the NFL), most because they do not have the proper instincts or the intelligence to make greater, necessary adjustments.  But, if you take a deeper look at what Hoskins brings to the table, I think you’d be ready to go all-in on this kid.

He is the Phillies Number 4 overall prospect, and recently (August) turned 24 years old. As I stated before, it is beyond impossible to keep up this power surge, expect big time home run numbers from him throughout the rest of his career. In his 2016 Double-A campaign, he hit 38 home runs and had 116 RBI, and before he was called up in 2017, he was having another fantastic season with 29 home runs and 91 RBI.

Here is his Baseball America Scouting Report:

Hoskins is, first and foremost, a hulking human. The Sacramento State product is built like a linebacker at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds with a broad chest, chiseled arms and thick, muscular frame.

He generates easy power when he connects, punishing balls to all fields both when he elevates and drives it on a line. Where Hoskins stands out is, unlike many other baseball players so large and muscular, he generates elite bat speed. He consistently posted the fastest bat speeds at the Futures Game, surrounded by the game’s elite prospects, and he matches it with patience, strike-zone discipline, and hitters instincts. Hoskins strikes out very rarely for a power hitter, and overall has 64 walks against 75 strikeouts this season.

Hoskins has further worked to turn himself into a serviceable defender at first. He has good hands that make him reliable picking up scoops and grounders, and he has improved his range, although it would never be considered elite.

Evaluators have generally been skeptical of his ability to play the outfield because of his size and lack of speed. He is not the most agile or quick-twitch of an athlete, and the last three games he played in left field were the first three of his professional career. He played left field as a freshman at Sac State.

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Phillies fans

It doesn’t really sound like luck to me.  His elite bat speed and hitters discipline is something that takes years for many players to master (ie: Aaron Judge), but the fact that it is so clear in his scouting report is a great sign for him to be a factor in the NL next season.  I often say baseball intelligence is one of the most underrated aspects of a player. If you don’t understand the game, you will never achieve your max potential. Discipline is often partnered with intelligence and great baseball knowledge, so it seems Hoskins has a great deal figured out. I really do not think anybody is that concerned about his defense. They say he is good at first, so boom, now you have the righty version of Cody Bellinger.

So get your jerseys now, folks. Rhys Hoskins (one of the hardest names to write in a blog because you never know if the “y” comes before the “h” and every part of you wants to write “Hopkins” instead. Lots of discipline, lots of focus here) is here to become an elite hitter in the MLB, and quite possibly bring the Phillies back to a playoff berth.