The dream! Denver flips the script on Carolina, the entire league

The formula was simple: go 1 for 14 on 3rd down.

The 50th edition of a legendary game goes to a legendary player, and that’s pretty cool. (Photo credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Before the game, I felt that no matter who the confetti fell on, it would be a fitting end. It could’ve been Carolina sticking the landing to a near-perfect season, with Cam smiling next to the trophy while the talking heads praise his improved maturity and leadership. Instead, it’s what we saw last night. A game that, through both its quality of play and eventual winner, epitomized an NFL season that should be remembered for its surplus of flawed teams. Even with a record number of undefeated teams through six-plus weeks, we were somehow still left wondering, “Is anyone great?” And of the undefeated teams, “Who have they beaten?” And now, after watching Denver go 1 for 14 on 3rd down while Peyton threw for under 150 yards and no touchdowns, we’re asking similar questions. “Is anyone really great?”

Yes, one is. That Denver defense.

With doubts of Denver’s ability to win this game, I asked how they could possibly pull this off. I settled on the obvious: Denver’s defense must be great. Carolina launched into huge leads in their first two playoff games and it was too much for even the most spirited of comebacks. If the same happened here, it was over. Denver’s offense simply did not possess the firepower. And so, the defense had to be great. And holy crap, were they ever.

If you watched the game, you saw. Denver abused a great offensive line and harassed Cam Newton all night. Carolina faced 15 third downs and converted just three of them. They may have gained 315 yards and 21 first downs, but they lost the ball four times. Defensive games are almost always within reach, but Denver’s defense was suffocating. The frustration boiled over in the 4th quarter as Cam writhed on the ground in pain. The Denver defense didn’t just beat Cam, they broke him.


Even during his sullen and reserved press conference, Cam Newton offered three words of hope: “We’ll be back.” (Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Perhaps the most telling aspect of Denver’s dominance is the fact that we’ve gone this far without mentioning Peyton Manning’s legacy or retirement. If this is indeed the end for Peyton, it’s a strange one. He’s a legend, one of the best ever, and he went out in the way every player dreams of: walking into the sunset with a Super Bowl win as their last game. Yet, this “walk” into the sunset was more of a ride on the backs of his defense. He didn’t play particularly well this game or all season. There was even a time midway through the season where we wondered if he had played his last game. How will history remember him for this? It’s impossible to say less than 24 hours later, but history does have a knack for leaving out the details. The hard numbers are this: four Super Bowl appearances under four different coaches and two different teams. Two rings with two different teams. That’s something no other QB can say and that’s pretty memorable.

As for Carolina? Pain, for now. Plenty of blame will go around as it always does with losing teams. In this case, I don’t think that’s warranted. Cam didn’t choke. Rivera didn’t gameplan poorly. Denver simply played better, but it still hurts. The future, however, is extremely bright for Carolina. Cam is just now entering his prime and the defense will retain its young, growing stars. As much disbelief as I had throughout this whole run, this was no fluke season for the Panthers. Yesterday’s loss was just their second since November 30, 2014. This is a winning team and I don’t expect that to change.

Overlooked in this game: Denver up 16-7; with 5:44 left in the 3rd quarter, Cam Newton throws an interception to TJ Ward. Ward fumbled the ball at the Denver 14-yard line, which was somehow recovered by Denver’s Danny Trevathan at the 7. If Carolina recovers that fumble and scores, the game is 16-14 with an entire quarter left to play. Instead, Carolina never sees the inside of Denver’s 20-yard line again.

These are the type of plays that define a season. And with it, the Denver Broncos are Super Bowl 50 Champions.

The 2015-16 NFL season is over, but that doesn’t mean we have to be. In the coming weeks, we’ll take a look back on some preseason posts and see what we learned from another yet another weird year.


Super Bowl 50 Prop Bets (Printable)



One of my favorite parts of the Super Bowl is finally here: prop bets. On Thursday, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and released over 5oo prop bets that gamblers can actually place money on. They range from the mundane (Will Cam Newton score a touchdown?) to the absurd (Will Peyton Manning be seen crying at any point during the broadcast?) to the completely obvious (Will Mike Carey be wrong about a challenge?). I’ve sifted through the wagers and placed my favorite ones on the sheet above. I even added some of my own. I’ve split up the bets and grouped them under Special (not related to football) or Game (related to football). Together, they form Inside NFL’s Prop Bet sheet. Print it out, pass it out, and see who wins.

I used the odds on the betting sites to roughly match the point totals for each option. For instance, Bovada placed the wager for Coldplay first performing Adventure of a Lifetime at +200, Fix You at +350, etc. I’ve made some adjustments to the others but the idea is that each option provides a chance to earn some points. Obviously, the lower the point total, the more likely that option is to occur. If you want to have the most points by the end of the night, it’s time to get ballsy.

Note: There is a second prop sheet included at the end of this post that is designed for people who arrive early. It includes the coin flip and national anthem props, and removes the Panther touchdown ball prop.

Now let’s break these down and see if we can win some money:


Super Bowl seats and an official game ball? One kid, likely more, will be one of the luckiest fans on the planet. (Photo credit:

Will the Panthers player who scored the first touchdown give the football to a boy or girl? (Boy: 200 points, Girl: 300 points)

By now, you know the Panthers players–Cam Newton especially, but not exclusively–have a tradition of giving a touchdown ball to a child in the front row. Vegas set the winnings slightly higher on a girl getting the ball because there is almost certainly going to be more males in attendance (I assume this is the reason). That being said, I bet a girl gets the ball after the first touchdown. Kids in general are not afraid of being loud and obnoxious, but little girls especially have a knack for catching the attention of people. This really could go either way, so we might as well take the higher return.

My pick: Girl


Please don’t open with “Fix You.” (Photo credit: The Sun)

What song will Coldplay perform first? (Adventure of a Lifetime: 200, Fix You: 350, A Sky Full of Stars: 450, Viva la Vida: 500, Clocks: 750, Speed of Sound: 900, Paradise: 1000, Other: 1000)

This is a really tough one, for multiple reasons. First, this bet in itself has eight choices, two of which offer an 1000 point return if correct. That’s already enticing. Second, it’s often hard to predict how a band wants to kick off a concert. At least, for me it is. It seems logical to start off with a “banger,” but Coldplay doesn’t exactly have a lot of those to offer. If they kick off the show with A Sky Full of Stars, they aren’t left with a lot of songs to get a crowd pumped up in the middle or end. Adventure of a Lifetime lends itself to a good leading song. It’s one of their newer songs and it’s “dance-y” enough without being too intense, hence being the favorite. I’m going to play it safe here and stick with the oddsmakers. Adventure will make a good starting song with Sky Full of Stars and, hopefully, Paradise ramping things up later on.

My pick: Adventure of a Lifetime

What color will Beyonce’s footwear be? (White: 200, Black: 250, Gold/Brown: 350, Silver/Grey: 500, Other: 700)

The color bets are always fun because there’s no real logic to picking them… what a bad gambler would say. It’s true, we don’t have any real idea what color Beyonce’s shoes will be when she joins Coldplay on stage. White and black are the obvious favorites because they’re the base colors of most shoes. But this isn’t just any show. This is the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Not only that, it’s Super Bowl 50, a.k.a. the “golden” game. Golden logo, golden lettering on the field, and golden Beyonce shoes to go with it.

My pick: Gold/Brown



Southern housewives of America, hide your kids. Super Bowl 50 will feature plenty of dabbing. (Photo credit:

How many times will Cam Newton dab (over/under 5.5)? (Over: 300, Under: 300)

This is one of the ones I created myself and I’m actually surprised it’s not something we can wager on in Vegas. Besides the Superman, Cam’s dab is his staple celebration, not to mention the dab is the latest dance move everyone loves to do. It just seems logical to count Cam’s dabs. Vegas does have a wager proposing how many times the announcers will mention the word “dab,” so that’s something. Anyways, I set the over/under at 5.5 because I figured Cam dabs almost every time he scores and often when he runs for a first down. On top of that, he could dab on the sideline with teammates (note: the bet ends when the game officially ends). A touchdown here, a couple of first down runs there, some teammate fun on the sideline and Cam is dabbing around 5-6 times a game in my estimation (I could be way off). Cam says he wants to look back on his career and say he had fun playing in the NFL, for better or for worse. It’s the Super Bowl, the ultimate party. Expect Cam to dab it up.

My pick: Over



Chances on the color being blue two years in a row? Not high if you ask me. (Photo credit: Masslive)

What color will the Gatorade dumped on the winning coach be? (Orange: 150, Blue: 250, Clear/Water: 300, Yellow: 300, Red: 450, Green/Purple: 750)

Ah, the ol’ classic. No prop bet sheet is complete without the Gatorade shower. The color is often pretty hard to predict. I’m guessing orange and blue are the favorites because they’re the team colors of Denver and Carolina, respectively. On top of that, the Gatorade dumped on Ron Rivera in the both the NFC Championship and the NFC South clinching victory was orange. I’m going to play it safe again here and follow the research. I doubt Carolina would risk changing up the color in such an important game and even if Denver wins, there’s a chance they use orange (team color) as well! This is a good opportunity to steal some points over the people that will automatically assume blue just because of Carolina’s colors. Although I have to say, two reasonable colors (Green/Purple) sitting at 750 is super tempting. If you’re feeling gutsy, go for it.

My pick: Orange

What will be the result of Cam’s first pass? (Complete: 300, Incomplete: 600)

We’re now onto the football-related prop bets. They’re admittedly not as fun as the “Special” bets, but I still tried to pick some interesting ones. I like spreading out the bets across the entire game; some in the beginning, some at halftime, and some totals at the end. This is one we can look forward to right away. And it’s deceptively tough. My first instinct is to go with complete. Cam Newton is a great passer and I think he’ll start off with an easy throw to get in rhythm. On the other hand, it’s a huge game and even Cam should be nervous. Some early-game jitters could be enough to force his first ball to hit the turf. Add in the amazing Denver defense and I’ve got my pick.

My pick: Incomplete

What will the first score be? (Field goal: 300, Touchdown: 400, Safety: 1500)

This bet offers the highest possible point total. Correctly predict a safety as the first score and that’s 1500 points right there. Before telling me it’s too far-fetched, don’t forget that it happened in Super Bowl XLVI, just four short years ago. Also, Super Bowls 46-48 featured a safety at some point in the game. Something to think about. With two incredibly good defenses, I have to go with the field goal. Touchdown is just not enough points to make it worthwhile. I have a feeling it’ll be tough to get into the endzone early.

My pick: Field goal

Who will commit the first penalty? (Broncos: 200, Panthers: 300)

Broncos are the favorite here because they rank 9th in most penalty yards per game, whereas Carolina ranks 10th least. I could go with the logic, but I have a hunch that the Panthers defense will get called earliest. I only lose out on 200 points if I’m wrong.

My pick: Panthers

Will the game be tied at halftime? (Yes: 600, No: 50)

Only two Super Bowls have been tied at halftime in the past 20 years (XLIX, XXXIX). Not only is it unlikely to happen at all, but it’s extremely unlikely to happen two years in a row. Again, the temptation for the 600 is there. And this time, we take it. Unlike the other enticing bets with lots of options, you only lose 50 if you’re wrong here. If you’re right, it’s 600 points and you look like a genius.

My pick: Yes


Missed extra points just make the game more exciting. (Photo credit: Charlotte Observer)

Will there be a missed extra point? (Yes: 700, No: 200)

A new rule this season? Gotta include that. We’ve seen the number of missed extra points increase noticeably this season, but will we see one when it matters most? Carolina kicker Graham Gano missed three this season (none in playoffs), but he’s also attempted the most. Denver kicker Brandon McManus missed one all season. We find ourselves in a similar case as the halftime prop. A high ceiling and small loss if we go with Yes. Instead, I’ll take the easy 200 with two decent kickers in the game.

My pick: No

Who will have more rushing yards? (CJ Anderson: 300, Ronnie Hillman: 500)

I find this particular one interesting because these two Denver backs have shared carries all season, making it pretty tough to figure out who will gain more yards on a game-to-game basis. Here’s what makes it even tougher: Hillman gained more on the season than Anderson (863 vs. 720), yet Anderson has led Hillman in both playoff games. It’s not hard to see either back breaking a big one and throwing off the entire bet. However, I have to assume this won’t happen and go with the trend.

My pick: CJ Anderson

How many total sacks in the game (over/under 5.5)? (Over: 200, Under: 200)

Carolina and Denver are #2 and #3 in total sacks this postseason. There’s no doubt these defenses can get to the QB. The real question is, can the offensive lines protect the QB? Cam has only been brought down twice these entire playoffs, Peyton four times. It’s a tough call because these lines haven’t dealt with the caliber of pass rush of the other, but I’m going to go under. Get rid of the ball!

My pick: Under

20141228__Demaryius Thomas-p1.jpg

Demaryius Thomas’ drops could very well determine many other prop bets. (Photo credit: Tim Rasmussen/The Denver Post)

How many drops will Demaryius Thomas have (over/under 1.5)?  (Over: 300, Under: 300)

This is another one I created myself. Thomas, a great receiver, is building a reputation as a dropper. I predict many will take the over here for the comedic effect (“You should’ve put the over/under at 11.5! Hahaha!”), so I’ll go the other way. I don’t mind putting my faith in Demaryius for one game. Please, DT, don’t drop the ball on this one.

My pick: Under

How many total points will be scored (over/under 44)? (Over: 300, Under: 300)

This is a pretty low over/under. A 24-21 game already hits over. This makes it tough because that’s exactly the score I think this game will hover around. I’ll follow my gut again and take the under. I don’t see Carolina lighting it up like in the last two games.

My pick: Under

Who will win Super Bowl 50? (Broncos: 600, Panthers: 200)

Most of the time, the point of prop bets is to bet on things other than the winner. Not here. Picking the winner is the cherry on top and it’s always more fun with an underdog. Carolina opened as clear favorites and will stay that way, but expect the actual line (at -6 last time I checked) to keep moving. Do you have the guts to go with Denver and steal 600? I hope so, because I sure don’t. A small part of me thinks this game could get ugly. More on that later in the week.

My pick: Panthers

For the early birds:



How long will the National Anthem be (over/under 2:20)? (Over: 300, Under: 300)

Lady Gaga was finally announced as the singer of the National Anthem for Super Bowl 50. It’s a good choice. She has a great voice and will respect the moment. The bettors set the length at 2:20, which is LONG. The average length of these SB anthems are around 1:55 (last year’s was around 2:04), so they have her enjoying the spotlight. I have to take the under here, 2:20 seems like a lifetime.

My pick: Under

Result of coin flip? (Heads: 200, Tails: 200)

Coin flipping physics says that if a coin is tossed and caught, it will land on the same face it started on 51% of the time. I’m serious. Now, the SB coin will not be caught and will hit the turf, adding randomness. However, I’m willing to bet the weight of the coin won’t let it flip much, if at all, once it slams into the grass. I’m also fairly confident the ref will flip with heads facing up. Using those assumptions, I have to go with heads. If you don’t, you’re just asking for Vegas to take your money.

My pick: Heads

Friday Picks: Week 10 (2015-16)

They may be one of three undefeated teams, but it's been the Patriots' league so far this season. Can they shake off the history and top the Giants? Photo credit:

They may be one of three undefeated teams, but it’s been the Patriots’ league so far this season. Can they shake off the history and top the Giants? Photo credit:

We’re now 10 weeks in and somehow picking these games seems harder than it was in the first three weeks, when everything is turned upside-down. The AFC wildcard race is, like last week, absolutely absurd. What separates the fifth-seeded Bills and the dead last Browns? Three games. If we’re being realistic, not all of these teams have a real shot but enough of them do (e.g. Texans, Chiefs, Raiders, etc.) that it makes these midseason games pretty intriguing. Speaking of absurd, is it possible we’ll be watching a Panthers-Bengals Super Bowl in February? I sell these teams week after week, but they just keep winning! The words Andy Dalton and MVP in the same sentence just doesn’t sit right with me, but he’s in the conversation. Still, dominating both of those conversations is Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. They’re the undisputed best team in the league and already generating new 16-0 talk. To get there, they’ll have to get through the only team they haven’t beaten since 2008: the New York Giants. I don’t care what the point spread is, this has to be my Game of the Week. My picks below (HOME team in CAPS):

Last week: 7-6       Overall: 83-49

Cold Hard Lock: 6-3       Upset pick: 4-5

Bills over JETS (TNF)

RAVENS over Jaguars

STEELERS over Browns

Panthers over TITANS

RAMS over Bears

Cowboys over BUCS

PACKERS over Lions

EAGLES over Dolphins

REDSKINS over Saints

Vikings over RAIDERS

BRONCOS over Chiefs

Patriots over GIANTS

Cardinals over SEAHAWKS (SNF)

BENGALS over Texans (MNF)

Cold Hard Lock: Cowboys over BUCS; Ok it’s about time the Cowboys win. I understand how valuable Romo is, but they have a good team around him and can’t lose seven in a row, can they? They’ve held a lead in each of their past three games, only to lose them by one score. They’ll get the job done against the Bucs, who were 0-8 at home last year and have started 1-3 this year.

Upset Pick: Cardinals over SEAHAWKS; I’m always selling the Cardinals and buying the Seahawks. This week, I’m flipping the script. Arizona has clearly been the better team and they’re a three-point underdog? That’s an awful lot of home love for a team that survived the Lions and lost to the Panthers in Seattle this year. My gut still says Seattle, but any time I can get a team as good as Arizona as an underdog, I have to take it. Cardinals get it done again in CenturyLink and beat the Seahawks 23-21.

This year's Giants team has a host of problems. But really, is that much different than any other year? Photo credit:

This year’s Giants team has a host of problems. But really, is that much different than any other year? Photo credit:

Game of the Week: New England Patriots at New York Giants; The last thing I want to do is overhype this game, but it’s probably the most anticipated game of 2015. Maybe the decade. The Patriots have dominated this league for years on end and finally turned that domination into another Super Bowl last year. That could have been their third in eight years if not for the New York Giants, the one team that has consistently given them trouble in that span. Their last four meetings have been decided by four points or less. However, throw that all aside and this is one lopsided matchup. New England has been rolling through opponents (+133 point differential), beating them in all sorts of ways. The Giants have been on a roller coaster ride, alternating wins and losses every week since Week 5. The key part of the Giants’ victories over the Pats, a strong pass rush, is virtually non-existent. In a vacuum, the Patriots are the better team in every phase of the game. But this is the NFL, where vacuums don’t exist and there’s dirt all over the floor! I don’t know what it is, but something about these two teams defies football logic every time they meet. I have no idea what kind of game it’ll be this time, but based on the intense history, this is the Game of the Week.

Friday Picks: Week 9 (2015-16)

After eight weeks, Carolina owns the first seed in the NFC. In Week 9, they look to keep that spot out of the hands of Green Bay.

After eight weeks, Carolina owns the first seed in the NFC. In Week 9, they look to keep that spot out of the hands of Green Bay. Photo credit:

I’ll try to sum up the state of the AFC wildcard race with this: the New York Jets have the fourth-best record in the conference and the Chargers are just two games behind them…with the 14th best record. With the Pats, Broncos, and Bengals cruising, virtually every AFC team has a shot at the final three spots. And as the Chargers and Jets show you, the records are so concentrated that tiebreakers are bound to come into play. That’s why games like Dolphins-Bills and Jaguars-Jets are so important in every passing week. In the NFC, teams like the Saints, Eagles, and Bucs (yes, even them) are still afloat despite four early losses. This is what these November games are all about: win enough to put yourself in contention come late December. Here’s who I have picking up those key wins in Week 9 (HOME team in CAPS):

Last week: 9-5       Overall: 76-43

Cold Hard Lock: 6-2       Upset pick: 4-4

BENGALS over Browns (TNF)

BILLS over Dolphins

Packers over PANTHERS

JETS over Jaguars

Rams over VIKINGS

PATRIOTS over Redskins

SAINTS over Titans

STEELERS over Raiders

Giants over BUCS

Falcons over NINERS

Broncos over COLTS

Eagles over COWBOYS (SNF)

CHARGERS over Bears (MNF)

Cold Hard Lock: Chargers over Bears; San Diego just keeps losing close game after close game. Their last four games, all losses, have been decided by one score. I believe things will be different against Chicago on Monday night. The Chargers have one of the most prolific passing offenses in the league (lead NFL in passing yards), but their running game and defense holds them back. Luckily for San Diego, Chicago yields the 5th highest passer rating to opposing QBs while allowing the 4th most rushing yards per game. With offensive weapons Matt Forte and Eddie Royal out for the Bears, it’s looking like a great matchup for the Chargers. At home in primetime, San Diego will snap their four-game losing streak, and by more than one score.

Upset Pick: Rams over VIKINGS; These two teams have a lot in common. While both passing games leave a lot to be desired, they field solid defenses and own two of the best running backs in the NFL. Todd Gurley has been on an absolute tear, rushing for over 120 yards in four straight games. Minnesota’s weak spot on defense lies in their ability to stop the run (15th in opponent rush yards/game), so I don’t see Gurley slowing down. I have to give the slight edge to the Rams defense as well. They’ve looked fantastic lately, keeping opponents out of the endzone in nine straight quarters. One more thing these guys have in common: they are in the thick of the NFC wildcard race. In a game with some early playoff implications on the line, I’ll take St. Louis in the modest upset.

Game of the Week: Green Bay Packers at Carolina PanthersGreen Bay was featured in last week’s GOTW in their matchup against the Denver Broncos. Denver delivered a serious message to the rest of the league, holding the best QB in the league to just 77 yards. That QB (Aaron Rodgers, duh) and his team don’t get a break as they face yet another undefeated team and yet another top-5 defense. Oh, and it’s on the road again. Can Green Bay rebound? I get the sense that a lot of people think they can. We’re not used to them losing back-to-back games and many are still skeptical of Carolina. The Panthers are in an eerily similar situation as Denver just last week. If they win, they’ll get a lot more respect and cement themselves in the Super Bowl conversation. Green Bay looks to rebound while Carolina puts their undefeated record on the line in this battle of two fantastic teams. If you’re a fan of quality football, stop watching the NFC East and tune into this game,

Friday Picks: Week 8 (2015-16)

Peyton has relied on his defense to deliver the wins. With Aaron Rodgers in town, can the defense hold up for him? Photo credit:

Peyton has relied on his defense to deliver the wins. With Aaron Rodgers in town, will the defense still hold up? Photo credit:

We’ve seen seven weeks of football. How do we still not know if these teams are any good? Outside of the Patriots and Packers, I’m scared of picking any team. Even the Packers are on the road against an undefeated team. In fact, we have more undefeated teams (5) at this point in the season than ever before and yet somehow, I’m not confident in any of them. As far as actual NFL implications go, keep an eye on the Saints and Raiders, two teams we may have considered dead but are now starting to turn things around. I also like the underdog Colts, Chargers, and Lions to threaten an upset. With the Packers visiting the Broncos on Sunday night, we’ll finally see another undefeated team fall.

My picks are below (HOME team in CAPS):

Last week: 7-7       Overall: 67-38

Cold Hard Lock: 5-2       Upset pick: 4-3

PATRIOTS over Dolphins (TNF)

Lions over Chiefs (London)

RAVENS over Chargers

Cardinals over BROWNS

Vikings over BEARS

STEELERS over Bengals

TEXANS over Titans

SAINTS over Giants

RAMS over 49ers

FALCONS over Bucs

Jets over RAIDERS

Seahawks over COWBOYS

Packers over BRONCOS (SNF)

PANTHERS over Colts (MNF)

Cold Hard Lock: TEXANS over Titans; The way this season is going, I don’t feel comfortable choosing any of these games as my lock. I’m going to go with the Texans, a team I wouldn’t have been caught dead picking as my lock just a couple weeks ago. I don’t like this team at all. Their QB situation is a mess and the defense is severely underperforming. Their only two wins have come against the Bucs and Jaguars and they trailed 41-0 to Miami at the half last week. In a week where no pick is safe, I’m going with the team I can’t stand to watch. At home against a team without their starting QB, maybe they can pull out their third win. In fact, make it a lock.

Upset Pick: Lions over Chiefs; Speaking of teams I can’t stand, the Chiefs are without Jamaal Charles as well as their home fans as they travel to London to take on Detroit. Both of these teams are underperforming and pretty much out of playoff contention. However, I really love the Lions’ talent on offense and just can’t see them losing to the depleted Chiefs. Calvin Johnson has seemed to find a rhythm after struggling early, gaining more receiving yards and touchdowns in each of the past two games than in any one game this season. I think Johnson can continue the trend and help the Lions steal one from the Chiefs.

Game of the Week: Green Bay Packers at Denver BroncosThis game is not your typical battle between two undefeated teams. There’s a lot of people who think Denver is lucky to be 6-0 and they may have a point. They’ve played six opponents with a combined record of 13-27 and have won by more than one score in only one of those games. While there’s a general feeling that they haven’t played anybody, there’s no denying that their defense is outstanding. They’re lead the league in passing yards allowed, are second in takeaways, and second in points allowed. The one team that has allowed fewer? The Green Bay Packers. Even with Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning in the game, something tells me this will be a low scoring game. Low scoring games tend to benefit the underdog. If that defense is as good as it seems, Denver has a real shot of “upsetting” the Packers in this duel of unbeaten teams.

Friday Picks: Week 6 (2015-16)

Are the Seahawks in trouble? No. Photo credit:

Are the Seahawks in trouble? No.       Photo credit:

I hope you’ve recovered from an insane Week 5 because we are in for a fantastic slate of games in Week 6. Vegas has placed nine games with betting lines of four points or less. We’ve got undefeated teams on the road, new coaches looking for a good start, division rivalries being settled, and heavy underdogs just waiting to pull off a shocker. With Atlanta being the latest unbeaten to fall on Thursday night, will more follow? I deliver a 4-0 squad its first loss in my Cold Hard Lock and in my Upset Pick another unbeaten is stunned on the road.

My picks are below (HOME team in CAPS):

Last week: 10-4       Overall: 53-24

Cold Hard Lock: 4-1       Upset pick: 4-1

Falcons over SAINTS (TNF)

Bengals over BILLS

BROWNS over Broncos

LIONS over Bears

JAGUARS over Texans

VIKINGS over Chiefs

Dolphins over TITANS

Redskins over JETS

Cardinals over STEELERS

SEAHAWKS over Panthers

Ravens over NINERS

PACKERS over Chargers

Patriots over COLTS (SNF)

EAGLES over Giants (MNF)

Cold Hard Lock: SEAHAWKS over Panthers; An undefeated team as the loser in the lock? If you’re playing in Seattle, you better believe it. The Seahawks have won nine of their last 10 at home and if you’ve seen them play there, you know why. Russell Wilson is even more effective and the defense gets ultra physical in front of the home fans. They’re coming off a huge letdown in Cincinnati, they’re at home, and they’re playing a division rival who they’re used to beating up. Seattle has to get back on track over Carolina in CenturyLink.

Can Cleveland extend their win streak to two games? Photo credit:

Can Cleveland extend their win streak to two games? Photo credit:

Upset Pick: BROWNS over Broncos; I can’t lie, taking Cleveland in the upset doesn’t sit well in my stomach. Heck, taking Cleveland to win doesn’t sit right with me in general. But I keep watching Denver, week after week after week, barely survive on the back of their defense. They’ve escaped nearly every game over unimpressive opponents including the Ravens (1-4), Chiefs (1-4), and Raiders (2-3). I just have to believe that one of these teams will finally get it done. Now Cleveland doesn’t exactly blow those other teams out of the water, but I do think they are better than they get credit for. Josh McCown was a laughing stock in Week 1 after his helicopter fumble, but he’s been amazing these past two weeks (70% completion/ 4 TDS/ 1203 yards). As long as Cleveland’s defense can manage a struggling Peyton Manning, McCown shouldn’t need to generate a ton of points to win this one. The key for Cleveland’s offense is to avoid that huge mistake that Denver thrives on. Denver’s top-ranked defense leads the league in takeaways (14), so take that away from them (heh) and a win at home is a real possibility.

Game of the Week: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles; To round off a crazy week will be another chapter of the classic New York-Philly rivalry. Of all eight divisions, the NFC East is probably the one that is most up for grabs, making these divisional matchups that much more important. The Giants are on a three game winning streak after losing their first two. Sound familiar? That’s because the same thing happened last year as well as 2007. In both years, the Giants played their sixth game in primetime. Same story, different endings. Last year, the Giants lost to the Eagles on Sunday night and went on to drop their next six. In 2007, the Giants crushed the Falcons on Monday night and went on to stun the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Which fate are we in for in 2015? Another six-game losing streak or winners of Super Bowl 50? Or maybe a completely different result altogether because this is a different year and a different team? Either way, we’ll get the start of our answer when they play the frustratingly inconsistent Eagles. Many have been ready to pull the plug on Chip Kelly’s wacky experiment but then he pulls out an impressive win right before they can. After looking pitiful on offense in their first two games, Philly has seemed to progress a little each week and exploded in a victory over the Saints last week, scoring 39 points on over 500 total yards. Have they found the recipe for rolling to an NFC East title? They’ll have to get through the 3-2 Giants first. It’s one of the best rivalries in football and it all unfolds this Monday night.