Saturday, December 31, 2016

With Few Exceptions, Good Riddance 2016

Wasn't going to post any kind of New Year's sentimentality this time around, but keeping it short let me just go on by saying that 2016 (with few exceptions) was absolutely a terrible year for the United States of America.

We all know why.

There are some people who just don't understand they choose against their own best interests to benefit the top one percent in this country, so next month we have to deal with insanity for the next four years.

Enough said on that subject.

In other areas, 2016 took away so many beloved people (entertainers, sports figures, etc.) we like to call celebrities.
The list is simply TOO LONG this year to name them all, but some of the more famous (or most recent ones) included Pop music icons Prince and David Bowie, as well as singer/song writer George Michael, who died on Christmas Day.
Also passing away last summer were NHL legend Gordie Howe and golfing ambassador Arnold Palmer.
Carrie Fisher of "Star Wars" movie fame just passed away a few days ago and one day later her mother, singer/actress Debbie Reynolds died.
Former U.S. Senator and astronaut John Glenn died in early December and so did former First Lady Nancy Reagan earlier this year. Again, so many names to list . . .

And of course, boxing legend "The Greatest" Muhammad Ali died earlier this year as well.

On a bright note (at least here in Chicago) the CHICAGO CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES in 2016!!!  That ended a 108 year sports championship drought for the historic franchise.

All in all, 2016 was a horse shit year, so good riddance.

Here's hoping that 2017 brings more cheer. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

NFL - Week Seventeen Preview

The Sunday Night Football game will be the one to determine the NFC North division champion as the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions play for all the marbles in Motown. These two teams met back in Week Three in Green Bay and the Packers won 34-27 in that game.
Both the Packers and Lions are 9-6, but have been trending in opposite directions recently. Green Bay has won five straight games to vault back into contention in the NFC playoff race while backing up quarterback Aaron Rodgers' claim they could "run the table" and make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Lions who looked so good just a few weeks ago, have lost two in a row and now have to win or else get a lot of help if they don't to make the playoffs.
They lost to the Dallas Cowboys last Monday night, 42-21 and what made the beat down especially difficult is the fact the Cowboys had nothing to play for as they had already clinched the NFC East crown and home field advantage throughout the post-season.
The NFC has two spots left to decide and this game will definitely solve one of those. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7) and Washington Redskins (8-6-1) are both right there to snatch the sixth and final playoff spot away from the loser of the Lions-Packers tilt. The good news for both of the NFC North foes is they will KNOW what their fate is when the game begins.
The Redskins host the New York Giants (10-5 and playoff bound) while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the disappointing Carolina Panthers (6-9), who find themselves on the outside looking in this season as far as the playoffs are concerned.
The AFC playoff picture is set as far as teams go and the only thing to be decided is the seedings of the teams.
The AFC West is still up for grabs as the Oakland Raiders (12-3) play on the road against the Denver Broncos while the Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) travel to San Diego in what should be an easy win. The Chargers have been awful in recent weeks and are coming off a road loss to the previously winless Cleveland Browns.
The Raiders will be without their star quarterback Derek Carr for the rest of the season (and playoffs) as he suffered a broken leg in last week's win against Indianapolis.
The other playoff bound teams in the AFC include the New England Patriots (13-2) who will be in Miami (10-5) to face the Dolphins, who are going back to the post-season for the first time in eight years. Pittsburgh (10-5) has the number-three seed locked up and the Houston Texas (9-6 and number-four seed) will likely face either Oakland or Kansas City in the wild card round.

The following offers a look at all of the games for the season finale along with the Heftyinfo predictions as well.

New York Giants (10-5) at Washington Redskins (8-6-1) - The Redskins must win or else.

New Orleans Saints (7-8) at Atlanta Falcons (10-5) - The Falcons would wrap up a first round playoff bye with a win.

Carolina Panthers (6-9) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7) - Who would have thought the Bucs could be playing for a post-season spot in this one?

Houston Texans (9-6) at Tennessee Titans (8-7) - The Titans choked away their shot at making the playoffs in last week's loss to the lowly Jaguars. The Texans are in the playoffs again.

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-9-1) - Both of these teams have U-Haul trucks backed up to locker room already.

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12) at Indianapolis Colts (7-8) - Will this be Colts' Head Coach Chuck Pagano's last game with the team?

New England Patriots (13-2) at Miami Dolphins (10-5) - This could be a good one as both teams have incentive to win.

Chicago Bears (3-12) at Minnesota Vikings (7-8) - Who cares?

Buffalo Bills (7-8) at New York Jets (4-11) - Bills coach Rex Ryan (and his brother Rob) were fired this week.

Dallas Cowboys (13-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-9) - Take the Eagles, Cowboys will be resting key players.

Cleveland Browns (1-14) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5) - The Steelers should win this one, even with the reserves in the game.

Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1) at Los Angeles Rams (4-11) - Both of these teams used to play in St. Louis.

Oakland Raiders (12-3) at Denver Broncos (8-7) - The defending Super Bowl champs would love to prevent the Raiders from clinching the AFC West in the Mile High City.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at San Diego Chargers (5-10) - This could be the Chargers last game in San Diego. Sentimental hog wash - Chiefs need to win this one.

Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) at San Francisco 49ers (2-13) - Seahawks roll !

Green Bay Packers (9-6) at Detroit Lions (9-6) - This game could go down to the wire. The Packers rate the edge.

The Heftyinfo picks for Week 17  . . . . .  (Home teams are listed in bold; Lock of the Week is listed in BOLD CAPS)

Washington over NY Giants
Atlanta over New Orleans
Tampa Bay over Carolina
Cincinnati over Baltimore
Tennessee over Houston
INDIANAPOLIS over Jacksonville
New England over Miami 
Minnesota over Chicago
NY Jets over Buffalo
Philadelphia over Dallas
Pittsburgh over Cleveland
Arizona over Los Angeles
Oakland over Denver
Kansas City over San Diego 
Seattle over San Francisco
Green Bay over Detroit

Last Week's Record:  9-7

SEASON RECORD:  157-81-2

Lock of the Week Record:  16-0

Monday, December 26, 2016

NFL - Week Sixteen Review

Following this weekend, the AFC playoffs picture is set while only two spots remain to be filled in the NFC as the 2016 NFL season goes into the final week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5) wrapped up the AFC North division with a resounding come-from-behind win at home against the Baltimore Ravens, 31-27 as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Antonio Brown with only nine seconds left in the game.
The Ravens (8-7) squandered a double-digit lead as Pittsburgh rolled up 21 points in the fourth quarter as Roethlisberger had three touchdown passes in the victory, which was the sixth straight for the Steelers. Running back Le'Veon Bell had 122 yards rushing in the win and also scored twice.
By winning 34-31 on the road in Buffalo on Saturday, the Miami Dolphins (10-5) are going to the playoffs. Kicker Andrew Franks nailed a game-winning 27-yard field goal in overtime. Earlier, Franks made a 55-yard FG as time ran out in regulation to force the overtime.
Miami RB Jay Ajayi rushed for 206 yards and scored a touchdown while QB Matt Moore had two TD passes. Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor had three TD passes in the loss.
The Houston Texans (9-6) clinched the AFC South division on Saturday night with a 12-10 win over stubborn Cincinnati. Texans kicker Nick Novak made two field goals and RB Alfred Blue made the difference with a 24-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter. Bengals kicker Randy Bullock missed a potential game winning field goal (wide right) as time expired.
The fact Houston won the division with the win was made possible when Tennessee laid an egg in Jacksonville, losing 38-17 to the Jaguars, who ended a nine-game losing streak. In addition, Titans QB Marcus Mariota suffered a broken leg in the loss. The Jags defense limited the Titans to 263 yards in total offense.
The Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) clinched a playoff spot with a 33-10 thumping of the Denver Broncos (8-7), which eliminated Denver from playoff contention. Two big plays made a big impact for Kansas City as Tyreek Hill ran 70 yards for a score and tight end Travis Kelce caught an 80-yard TD pass from QB Alex Smith.
The New England Patriots continued to roll as they won at home, 41-3 against the hapless New York Jets. Tom Brady had three TD passes and RB LeGarrette Blount rushed for two more scores to pace the rout. The Pats defense came up with four turnovers in the game, including three interceptions.
Oakland won a 33-25 home decision against the Indianapolis Colts, but lost QB Derek Carr (three TD passes) for the season to a broken leg. Running back DeAndre Washington had two scoring runs for the Raiders (12-3) as they maintain a one-game lead over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
The Atlanta Falcons won the NFC South division as they toppled the Carolina Panthers, 33-16 behind a pair of touchdown passes from QB Matt Ryan.
The New Orleans Saints helped the Falcons clinch by beating the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-24 as RB Mark Ingram had two rushing touchdowns. Bucs QB Jameis Winston had a pair of TD passes and two interceptions in the loss. Tampa Bay (8-7) can still make the playoffs with a win in the final game and some help.
QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are rolling.
The Green Bay Packers (9-6) kept the pressure on the Detroit Lions for first place in the NFC North as they won at home, 38-25 against Minnesota. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had 347 passing yards and four touchdown passes to earn the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week. Two of Rodgers TD passes went to WR Jordy Nelson, who had nine receptions for 154 yards in Green Bay's fifth consecutive victory.
The Washington Redskins (8-6-1) kept alive their playoff hopes as they routed the host Chicago Bears, 41-21 on Saturday afternoon.  Redskins QB Kirk Cousins had two rushing touchdowns and also a TD pass in the game as they piled up 478 yards in total offense while the defense intercepted five passes.
Arizona surprised the host Seattle Seahawks, 34-31 as kicker Chandler Catanzaro made a 43-yard field goal as time expired to give the Seahawks (9-5-1) their first home loss this season. Cardinals RB David Johnson scored three touchdowns to help lead the way. Seattle QB Russell Wilson had four TD passes in the loss . . .  The Dallas Cowboys (13-2) kept rolling even after clinching home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs by throttling the Detroit Lions, 42-21 on Monday Night Football. QB Dak Prescott had three TD passes (including two to WR Dez Bryant) and RB Ezekiel Elliott rushed for two more scores to lead the way.

                                                     Elsewhere Around the NFL . . . . .   

The Philadelphia Eagles beat the visiting New York Giants, 24-19 last Thursday night as RB Darren Sproles scored a touchdown. Giants QB Eli Manning was intercepted three times . . .  The Cleveland Browns (1-14) finally won a game as the held off the visiting San Diego Chargers, 20-17 when Chargers kicker Josh Lambo shanked two field goals in the final minutes, including a miss as time was running out. Browns RB Isaiah Crowell scored two touchdowns in the win while the Chargers defense had nine QB sacks in defeat . . .  The San Francisco 49ers snapped a 13-game losing streak by rallying late in the fourth quarter in a 22-21 win at Los Angeles. Colin Kaepernick had two TD passes in the win and the 49ers defense limited the Rams (4-11) to a paltry 177 yards in offense.

Philadelphia 24, NY Giants 19
Miami 34, Buffalo 31 (OT)
Atlanta 33, Carolina 16
Washington 41, Chicago 21
Cleveland 20, San Diego 17
Green Bay 38, Minnesota 25
Jacksonville 38, Tennessee 17
New England 41, NY Jets 3
Oakland 33, Indianapolis 25
San Francisco 22, Los Angeles 21
New Orleans 31, Tampa Bay 24
Arizona 34, Seattle 31
Houston 12, Cincinnati 10
Pittsburgh 31, Baltimore 27
Kansas City 33, Denver 10
Dallas 42, Detroit 21

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

NFL - Week Sixteen Preview

Without question, the biggest game of the coming weekend in the NFL is the Christmas Day battle in Pittsburgh between the host Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens in what is the game that will determine the AFC North division champion.
The Steelers (9-5) have won five straight games and the Ravens (8-6) are right there in the AFC North and with a win would sweep the Steelers and take over first place in the division.
Another Christmas Day game later that evening takes place in Kansas City where the Chiefs will host the Denver Broncos (8-6), who are in desperation mode regarding their playoff chances with an 8-6 record and trailing the Miami Dolphins (9-5) and the Chiefs (10-4) for the final two AFC playoff spots.
Both the Chiefs and Broncos recently lost to the Tennessee Titans (also 8-6) so it's a must win for the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos or else they can kiss their playoff chances goodbye.
The Monday Night Football finale for the 2016 season is a good one as well as the Detroit Lions (9-5 and leading the NFC North) travel to face the Dallas Cowboys (12-2) as the 'Pokes look to wrap up the NFC East division title.
The action for Week Sixteen gets started tonight as the New York Giants (10-4) face the Philadelphia Eagles (5-9) in the Thursday night tilt. The Giants have been rolling and their defense looks to dominate the struggling Eagles in this one.

For a look at all of the action for Week Sixteen, the following offers a capsule style look at each game and is followed by the Heftyinfo predictions for the games.


New York Giants (10-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-9) - The Giants are rolling and their defense is looking rather dominant these days.


Miami Dolphins (9-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-7) - The last gasp for the Bills this season and possibly for Coach Rex Ryan too?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) at New Orleans Saints (6-8) -  The Saints could very easily win this one and spoil any chances the Bucs have of making the playoffs.

New York Jets (4-10) at New England Patriots (12-2) - The Patriots are looking to wrap up home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Tennessee Titans (8-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) - The Titans have to be careful not to look past this game to the finale against Houston.

Minnesota Vikings (7-7) at Green Bay Packers (8-6) - The loser of this game is out of playoff contention in the NFC.  Take the Packers.

San Diego Chargers (5-9) at Cleveland Browns (0-14) - This is the last chance the Browns have to win a game this season.

Washington Redskins (7-6-1) at Chicago Bears (3-11) - The Bears can play spoilers for the Redskins playoff hopes.

Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at Carolina Panthers (6-8) - Can Cam Newton and company play spoilers again as they did vs. the Redskins last weekend?  It's possible.

Indianapolis Colts (7-7) at Oakland Raiders (11-3) - The Raiders are already in the AFC playoffs while the Colts are fighting for their playoff lives.  Take the Raiders.

Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) at Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1) - No tie game this time around . . . Seahawks roll !

San Francisco 49ers (1-13) at Los Angeles Rams (4-10) - Who cares?

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) at Houston Texans (8-6) - The Texans need this one and the Bengals are playing out the string. Caution Houston Texans.


Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) - The Steelers will wrap up the AFC North division in this game - Merry Christmas!

Denver Broncos (8-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) - The Chiefs need to beat Denver again and prove they are the team that can contend with New England for AFC supremacy.


Detroit Lions (9-5) at Dallas Cowboys (12-2) - The Cowboys looking to win the NFC East division crown at home. The Lions must win to keep the surging Green Bay Packers at bay in the NFC North race.

The Heftyinfo picks for Week Sixteen   . . . . .    (Home teams are listed in bold; Lock of the Week is listed in BOLD CAPS)

NY Giants over Philadelphia
Buffalo over Miami
New Orleans over Tampa Bay
Tennessee over Jacksonville
Green Bay over Minnesota
San Diego over Cleveland
Chicago over Washington
Atlanta over Carolina
Oakland over Indianapolis
Seattle over Arizona
Los Angeles over San Francisco
Houston over Cincinnati
Pittsburgh over Baltimore
Kansas City over Denver
Dallas over Detroit

Last Week's Record:  12-4

SEASON RECORD:  148-74-2

Lock of the Week Record:  15-0

Monday, December 19, 2016

NFL - Week Fifteen Review

Three more teams joined Dallas in stamping their post-season tickets as the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders each took care of business this past weekend by winning their games.
The Seahawks blasted the visiting Los Angeles Rams, 24-3 limiting them to just 183 yards in total offense. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns to lead the way on offense as the Seahawks (9-4-1) clinched the NFC West division.
The Oakland Raiders are playoff bound for the first time since the 2002 season as they squeaked by the host San Diego Chargers, 19-16 to improve to 11-3 for the season. Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski made four field goals and QB Derek Carr connected with wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a touchdown to make the difference. Chargers QB Philip Rivers had two TD passes in the loss.
The New England Patriots won the AFC East for the eighth consecutive season as they beat the host Denver Broncos, 16-3 to improve to 12-2. LeGarrette Blount scored on a one-yard touchdown plunge and the Pats defense smothered the Broncos offense, forcing three turnovers and sacking QB Trevor Siemian four times.
The Sunday night game saw the Dallas Cowboys (12-2) win a 26-20 thriller against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cowboys defense forced four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble) while sacking Bucs QB Jameis Winston four times. 'Pokes QB Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott (159 rushing yards) each scored a rushing touchdown to go with four Dan Bailey field goals to make the difference.

                                                     Elsewhere Around  the NFL  . . . . . . .   

The New York Giants improved to 10-4 with a 17-6 win against the Detroit Lions (9-5) as QB Eli Manning threw for two touchdowns . . .  The Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) rallied past the host Cincinnati Bengals, 24-20 as kicker Chris Boswell made six field goals . . .   The Houston Texans (8-6) rallied as well as they beat the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, 21-20 behind backup QB Tom Savage leading the offense after starter Brock Osweiler was benched. RB Lamar Miller scored on a one-yard run to clinch the win. The Jaguars (2-12) fired Head Coach Gus Bradley following the loss . . .  The Baltimore Ravens (8-6) kept pace with the Steelers in the AFC North as they held off the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-26 behind two TD passes from Joe Flacco. The Eagles decided to go for two points following a late touchdown, but the Ravens defense stymied the play to provide the win . . .  The Tennessee Titans continued their "magic carpet ride" season going as they improved to 8-6 (tied for first place in AFC South with Houston) by beating the host Kansas City Chiefs, 19-17 as former Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop nailed the game winning 53-yard field goal as time expired . . .  The Atlanta Falcons (9-5) claimed sole possession of first place in the NFC South with a 41-13 trouncing of the hapless San Francisco 49ers (1-13) as their offense piled up 550 total yards.
Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week Devonta Freeman (pictured lower right) scored three rushing touchdowns and went for 139 yards on the ground to lead the way. 
The Indianapolis Colts (7-7) kept alive their slim playoff hopes with a huge win, 34-6 at Minnesota. Colts QB Andrew Luck had a pair of scoring passes while the defense gathered three turnovers. The Vikings dropped to 7-7 (after a 5-0 start this season) and third place in the NFC North division . . .  The Green Bay Packers (8-6) took over second place in the NFC North with a 30-27 win at frigid Chicago. Packers RB Ty Montgomery ran for 162 yards and two scores and Christine Michael rambled 42 yards for another TD to pace the offense. The Bears rallied back from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but Packers kicker Mason Crosby drilled the game winning 32-yard field goal as time expired to give Green Bay their fourth straight win . . .  The Buffalo Bills (7-7) kept the Cleveland Browns winless by virtue of a 33-13 blowout in Buffalo. Bills RB LeSean McCoy ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns to pace the rout . . .  The highest scoring game of the weekend happened in Arizona as the New Orleans Saints topped the host Cardinals, 48-41 behind four TD passes from Drew Brees and a pair of scoring runs by former Cardinals RB Tim Hightower . . . The Miami Dolphins (9-5) leaped back into playoff contention in the AFC with a 34-13 rout of the host New York Jets (4-10) on Saturday night. Dolphins QB Matt Moore made his first start in over four years and had four TD passes while the Miami defense forced four turnovers, including three picks. The game was close (13-10 in favor of Miami) at halftime, but the Dolphins rolled the Jets with 21 points in the third quarter to get the easy victory . . .   The Washington Redskins (7-6-1) blew a big game at home on Monday Night Football by losing to the Carolina Panthers, 26-15 that could very well cost them a wild card playoff spot in the NFC. The Panthers defense came up with three turnovers and QB Cam Newton had two TD passes while RB Jonathan Stewart ran for 132 yards to pace the offense.

Seattle 24, Los Angeles 3
Miami 34, NY Jets 13
Green Bay 30, Chicago 27
NY Giants 17, Detroit 6
Tennessee 19, Kansas City 17
Indianapolis 34, Minnesota 6
Baltimore 27, Philadelphia 26
Buffalo 33, Cleveland 13
Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 20
Houston 21, Jacksonville 20
Atlanta 41, San Francisco 13
New England 16, Denver 3
Oakland 19, San Diego 16
New Orleans 48, Arizona 41
Dallas 26, Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 26, Washington 15

Friday, December 16, 2016

NFL - Week Fifteen Preview

Just three weeks to go in the regular NFL season and these are a few of the headliner games this weekend.

Green Bay (7-6) at Chicago (3-10) - Packers should roll in this one, but the temperatures are expected to plummet to sub-zero wind chills in the Windy City after a good amount of snow this weekend. Could be closer game than most might think.

Detroit (9-4) at New York Giants (9-4) - Two of hotter teams going right now in the NFL. This game will likely be a defensive battle.

Tampa Bay (8-5) at Dallas (11-2) - This Sunday night game could go down to the wire, although if the Cowboys get out to an early lead, they could easily turn this one into a rout.

New England (11-2) at Denver (8-5) - MUST WIN game for the host Broncos against Tom Brady and the Patriots, who are looking to build up a lead on Kansas City and Oakland (both 10-3) for home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Tennessee (7-6) at Kansas City (10-3) -  The surprising Titans looking to prove they belong in the post-season talk, will get their chance to prove it against the surging Chiefs, who are one of the hottest teams in the entire NFL right now.

Pittsburgh (8-5) at Cincinnati (5-7-1) - The Steelers should win this road game, but the Bengals would like nothing better than to put a dent in the Steelers playoff chances.

Philadelphia (5-8) at Baltimore (7-6) - The host Ravens CANNOT be caught looking ahead to next week's huge showdown game (on Christmas Day) against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Oakland (10-3) at San Diego (5-8) -  Throw out the records when these two teams go at it. Raiders obviously playing for something, but never count out Philip Rivers and the 'Bolts at home, especially against their bitter rivals.

Indianapolis (6-7) at Minnesota (7-6) - Must win game for both teams as the loser of this one is likely going to be OUT of playoff contention.

Carolina (5-8) at Washington (7-5-1) - The Redskins need this one to stay in the thick of the NFC "wild card" playoff chase. Panthers are just playing out the string.

The Heftyinfo predictions for Week 15     (Home teams are listed in bold;  Lock of the Week is listed in BOLD CAPS)

SEATTLE over Los Angeles
Miami over NY Jets
Green Bay over Chicago
Houston over Jacksonville
Buffalo over Cleveland
Baltimore over Philadelphia
Kansas City over Tennessee
NY Giants over Detroit
Minnesota over Indianapolis
Arizona over New Orleans
Atlanta over San Francisco
New England over Denver
Oakland over San Diego
Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
Dallas over Tampa Bay
Washington over Carolina

Last Week's Record:  11-5

SEASON RECORD:  136-70-2

Lock of the Week Record:  14-0

Monday, December 12, 2016

NFL - Week Fourteen Review

The New York Giants knocked off the Dallas Cowboys 10-7 on Sunday night, marking the second win against them this season. The win improved the Giants to 9-4 for the season and prevented the Cowboys (11-2) from clinching the NFC East division. The Cowboys also saw their eleven game winning streak snapped.
The Giants defense limited Dallas to 260 yards in total offense and also intercepted quarterback Dak Prescott twice. Meanwhile Eli Manning hooked up with wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (pictured right) for a 61-yard touchdown and Robbie Gould kicked a 39-yard field goal to make the difference.
Last Thursday night, the Kansas City Chiefs raced out to a big lead and defeated the Oakland Raiders, 21-13 to take over first place in the AFC West. Chiefs QB Alex Smith threw a 36-yard scoring pass to Tyreek Hill, who also returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown to pace the win. Both teams are 10-3, but Kansas City swept Oakland in the head-to-head games.
The Houston Texans pulled off a mild upset as they beat the host Indianapolis Colts, 22-17 as the defense forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble) while kicker Nick Novak made five field goals. The win put Houston (7-6) into a first-place tie with Tennessee in the AFC South.
The Tennessee Titans held off the Denver Broncos, 13-10 to forge a first place tie with Houston in the AFC South division as running back DeMarco Murray scored a touchdown and kicker Ryan Succop kicked two field goals. The loss dropped Denver to 8-5 for the season.

                                                                 Elsewhere around the NFL  . . . . .      

The Detroit Lions (9-4) continued to roll as they beat the visiting Chicago Bears, 20-17 as QB Matthew Stafford scored on a seven yard run with three minutes remaining to play . . .   The Green Bay Packers smashed the visiting Seattle Seahawks, 38-10 as the defense intercepted five passes and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had three TD passes . . .   The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) beat the host Buffalo Bills, 27-20 behind a huge day from Le'Veon Bell, the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week.
Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell was dominant in win.
Bell rushed for 236 yards (on 38 carries) and caught four passes for 62 yards while scoring three touchdowns to lead the way . . .   The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) won a nail biter against New Orleans, 16-11 behind stellar defense that held Saints QB Drew Brees without a TD pass. Bucs RB Doug Martin scored the game's only touchdown as Tampa Bay stayed in a first place tie with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South . . .   The Atlanta Falcons blasted the host Los Angeles Rams, 42-14 behind two defensive scores and three TD passes from QB Matt Ryan to improve to 8-5 and remain in a first place tie with Tampa Bay. The Rams followed up the loss by firing Head Coach Jeff Fisher, who was in his fifth season with the team . . .  The Washington Redskins topped the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-22 to stay in the NFC playoff hunt. 'Skins RB Robert Kelley scored on a 22-yard run and QB Kirk Cousins had two touchdown passes to lead the way . . .  The Miami Dolphins improved to 8-5 with a 26-23 home victory against Arizona. Dolphins kicker Andrew Franks made a chip shot 21-yard field goal as time expired for the win . . .  The Minnesota Vikings rolled to a 25-16 win at Jacksonville as kicker Kai Forbath made four field goals to help make the difference that improved them to 7-6 and keep them in playoff contention in the NFC . . .  The Carolina Panthers drilled the visiting San Diego Chargers, 28-16 as they raced out to a 23-0 lead while intercepting Chargers QB Philip Rivers three times. Chargers RB Melvin Gordon and linebacker Joey Bosa left the game with injuries and were listed as day-to-day . . .  The Cincinnati Bengals won a yawner at Cleveland, 23-10 that kept the Browns winless. Bengals QB Andy Dalton hooked up with tight end Tyler Eifert for two touchdowns to lead the way . . .  The New York Jets roared back from a 14-point deficit to hand the host San Francisco 49ers their 12th consecutive loss in a 23-17 overtime game. Jets RB Bilal Powell (145 yards rushing) scored on a 19-yard run in  the OT to win it. San Francisco RB Carlos Hyde rushed for 193 yards in the loss . . .  New England Patriots QB Tom Brady carved up the NFL's best defense for 406 passing yards and three touchdowns as the host Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens, 30-23 on Monday Night Football. Ravens QB Joe Flacco passed for 324 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the loss.

Kansas City 21, Oakland 13
Detroit 20, Chicago 17
Cincinnati 23, Cleveland 10
Tennessee 13, Denver 10
Tampa Bay 16, New Orleans 11
Pittsburgh 27, Buffalo 20
Washington 27, Philadelphia 22
Minnesota 25, Jacksonville 16
Houston 22, Indianapolis 17
Carolina 28, San Diego 16
Miami 26, Arizona 23
NY Jets 23, San Francisco 17 (OT)
Green Bay 38, Seattle 10
Atlanta 42, Los Angeles 14
NY Giants 10, Dallas 7
New England 30, Baltimore 23

Friday, December 9, 2016

NFL - Week Fourteen Preview

There are some key games on tap as Week Fourteen approaches the NFL schedule, with the Dallas Cowboys taking on the New York Giants in the Sunday night game.
That game could be the one that gives the Cowboys (11-1) the NFC East division title as they seek their twelfth straight victory following a loss to the Giants (in Dallas)  in the opening game of the 2016 season. The Giants are 8-4 and saw their six-game winning streak snapped last week in Pittsburgh.
Other games with some big implications include the Monday night tilt in New England, where the Patriots (10-2) face the Baltimore Ravens (7-5), who currently share the lead in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts (6-6) will host the Houston Texans (also 6-6) in a battle for first place.
The Tennessee Titans (6-6) are the third team in the AFC South tied for the top spot and they will host the Denver Broncos (8-4) in a game that could go a long way to determine "wild card" positions in the AFC playoff chase.
The Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1) will travel to play the Green Bay Packers (6-6) as they look to continue to cement away the NFC West division. The Packers have won two in a row and are back in the hunt for a wild card spot as they trail the Detroit Lions (8-4) in the NFC North race.
The games get bigger and bigger as December ticks away toward the last game of the season in three weeks, so this weekend will help clear some things up as far as the playoffs are concerned.

For a more detailed look at all of the games this weekend, the following offers a capsule style preview followed by the Heftyinfo predictions for the games.

Pittsburgh (7-5) at Buffalo (6-6) - The Steelers rate the edge, but the Bills will not just roll over, especially at home.

Denver (8-4) at Tennessee (6-6) - The Broncos need to continue to win to keep pace with Kansas City and Oakland in the AFC West race. The Titans likewise to keep up in the AFC South.

New Orleans (5-7) at Tampa Bay (7-5) - The Buccaneers look to keep their "magic carpet ride" going against a desperate Saints squad.

Washington (6-5-1) at Philadelphia (5-7) - This could be looked at as an elimination game.

Arizona (5-6-1) at Miami (7-5) - Another good match up between two teams on the "playoff bubble."

San Diego (5-7) at Carolina (4-8) - Who cares?

Cincinnati (4-7-1) at Cleveland (0-12) - The Browns might actually win this game. The Bengals are banged up and RG3 is back at quarterback for the Browns.

Chicago (3-9) at Detroit (8-4) - Can the Bears de-claw the Lions once again this season? The game is in Motown, so don't count on it.

Houston (6-6) at Indianapolis (6-6) - The battle for first place in the putrid AFC South.

Minnesota (6-6) at Jacksonville (2-10) - The Jaguars may be just the tonic the sagging Vikings need, but they better be ready to play.

New York Jets (3-9) at San Francisco (1-11) - These two teams stink.

Atlanta (7-5) at Los Angeles (4-8) - Falcons need to win this game, but the Rams defense keeps them in games.

Seattle (8-3-1) at Green Bay (6-6) - The Packers need to win out to have a shot at the playoffs. The Seahawks are looking to stay ahead of the pack for a first round "bye" in the post-season.

Dallas (11-1) at New York Giants (8-4) - Can the Giants beat Dallas once again and spoil their victory party for the NFC East title?  Nope.

Baltimore (7-5) at New England (10-2) - This is one of the better Monday night games this season and could very well go right down to the wire.

The Heftyinfo picks for Week Fourteen  . . . . .       (Home teams are listed in bold; Lock of the Week pick is listed in BOLD CAPS)

Kansas City over Oakland
Pittsburgh over Buffalo
Tennessee over Denver
Tampa Bay over New Orleans
Philadelphia over Washington
Miami over Arizona
Carolina over San Diego
Cleveland over Cincinnati
DETROIT over Chicago
Indianapolis over Houston
Minnesota over Jacksonville
San Francisco over NY Jets
Atlanta over Los Angeles
Green Bay over Seattle
Dallas over NY Giants
New England over Baltimore

Last Week's Record:  11-4

SEASON RECORD:  125-65-2

Lock of the Week Record:  13-0

Monday, December 5, 2016

NFL - Week Thirteen Review

The Dallas Cowboys are the first NFL team to clinch a playoff spot after they defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 17-15 last Thursday night, coupled with the Washington Redskins 31-23 loss at Arizona on Sunday.
Despite gaining just 264 yards in offense, the Cowboys improved to 11-1 (eleven straight victories) as quarterback Dak Prescott threw a scoring pass to wide receiver Dez Bryant and running back Ezekiel Elliott scored a rushing touchdown.
The Redskins had a 20-17 lead entering the fourth quarter but could not maintain as Cardinals QB Carson Palmer had two of his three TD passes in the final quarter to pace the 31-23 victory.
The Detroit Lions served notice they are the real deal as they cruised to a 28-13 road win against the New Orleans Saints as QB Matthew Stafford (two TD passes) out dueled Drew Brees (three interceptions thrown) while kicker Matt Prater drilled five field goals to lead the way.
Joe Flacco led the Ravens to easy win.
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers both had easy victories on Sunday. The Ravens steamrolled the Miami Dolphins, 38-6 behind four TD passes from Joe Flacco, the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week.
In addition, Flacco passed for 381 yards while the Ravens piled up 496 yards in offense. The Dolphins (7-5) saw their six-game winning streak snapped.
The Steelers rolled the visiting New York Giants, 24-14 to snap the Giants six-game winning streak. Pittsburgh's defense limited the Giants to just 234 yards in offense while QB Ben Roethlisberger had two TD passes in the win.

                                                        Elsewhere Around the NFL  . . . . . .  

The Oakland Raiders (10-2) won their sixth consecutive game, rolling back the visiting Buffalo Bills, 38-24 by scoring 29 unanswered points in the second half. Raiders QB Derek Carr had a pair of scoring passes and RB Latavius Murray scored two rushing touchdowns to lead the way . . .  The Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) kept pace with Oakland by getting a 29-28 win on the road against the Atlanta Falcons (7-5) thanks to a pair of interceptions by Eric Berry, who took one back for a TD and the last one for a two-point play to make the difference in the outcome . . .   The New England Patriots (10-2) smashed the hapless Los Angeles Rams, 26-10 as LeGarrette Blount scored on a 43-yard run and the Pats' defense stymied the Rams by allowing just 162 yards in offense . . .  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) took advantage of a huge break (13-yard INT TD off a deflected pass) to thwart the snake bitten San Diego Chargers, 28-21. The win was the fourth in a row for Tampa Bay . . .  Green Bay (6-6) won at home in a snow storm, 21-13 over Houston (6-6) as Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had two TD passes . . .  The Denver Broncos won a yawner at Jacksonville, 20-10 as Bradley Roby took an interception back 51 yards for a score to make up for a putrid offense, which managed just 206 total yards . . .  The Chicago Bears snapped a three-game losing streak with a 26-6 trouncing of the visiting San Francisco 49ers as RB Jordan Howard (117 yards rushing) scored three touchdowns while the Chicago defense allowed just 147 yards in offense and registered six QB sacks . . .  Cincinnati also snapped a three-game losing streak with a 32-14 win against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles as Andy Dalton had a pair of scoring passes and kicker Mike Nugent made four field goals . . .  The Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1) blasted the visiting Carolina Panthers, 40-7 on Sunday night as the offense rolled up 534 total yards while the defense forced two turnovers. Running back Thomas Rawls had a pair of rushing touchdowns in the win. However, Seattle's All-Pro safety Earl Thomas was lost for the rest of the regular season (or longer) with a broken leg . . .  Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck threw for four touchdowns, including three to tight end Dwayne Allen as the Colts throttled the host New York Jets, 41-10 on Monday Night Football. The win propelled the Colts (6-6) in to a three-way tie for first place with Houston and Tennessee in the AFC South division.

Dallas 17, Minnesota 15
Chicago 26, San Francisco 6
Cincinnati 32, Philadelphia 14
Detroit 27, New Orleans 13
Denver 20, Jacksonville 10
Baltimore 38, Miami 6
Green Bay 21, Houston 13
New England 26, Los Angeles 10
Kansas City 29, Atlanta 28
Oakland 38, Buffalo 24
Tampa Bay 28, San Diego 21
Pittsburgh 24, NY Giants 14
Arizona 31, Washington 23
Seattle 40, Carolina 7
Indianapolis 41, NY Jets 10

Sunday, December 4, 2016

College Football Top Ten

Heftyinfo College Football Top Ten              (Week ending December 4)      

1.  Alabama (13-0)
2.  Clemson (12-1)
3.  Ohio State (11-1)
4.  Washington (12-1)
5.  Michigan (10-2)
6.  Penn State (11-2)
7.  Oklahoma (10-2)
8.  Wisconsin (10-3)
9.  USC (9-3)
10.  Western Michigan (13-0)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

NFL - Week Thirteen Preview

As the calendar rolls into December, the playoff picture for the NFL is still very much up in the air as to who the contenders and pretenders are.
The Dallas Cowboys (who beat Minnesota 17-15 on Thursday night) will be the first team in if Tampa Bay and Washington lose this weekend. That very well could be the case as the Buccaneers travel to play the San Diego Chargers, who always are in their games even with a 5-6 record.
The Redskins have to go on the road against the Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1), who have been a disappointment this year but cannot be taken lightly.
The NFC playoff picture has the Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1) as the top two teams to date with Atlanta and Detroit (both 7-4) right there in the mix. After that, there are many contenders/pretenders vying for the final two playoff spots with five game remaining in the regular season.
In the AFC, the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots (both 9-2) are the top two seeds with Baltimore and Houston rounding out the top four division leaders. The last two spots (for now) are occupied by Kansas City (8-3) and Miami (7-4), two of the hottest teams in the NFL right now.
Week Thirteen promises to be exciting in what many have considered to be a rather lack luster NFL season to this point.
The following offers the capsule style previews for all of the action this weekend along with the Heftyinfo predictions for the games.

Kansas City (8-3) at Atlanta (7-4) - This game is one of the better ones this weekend and should go down to the wire.

Detroit (7-4) at New Orleans (5-6) - Saints QB Drew Brees coming off a very impressive showing last game . . . take the Saints.

Los Angeles (4-7) at New England (9-2) -  Patriots roll, even without All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Denver (7-4) at Jacksonville (2-9) - Upset alert!  Jags could win this one . . . they are due.

Houston (6-5) at Green Bay (5-6) - Packers need to win out to make the playoffs. They should beat the visiting Texans.

Philadelphia (5-6) at Cincinnati (3-7-1) - The Bengals have been a huge disappointment this year. The Eagles look to be in a free fall following a very hot start to the season.

Miami (7-4) at Baltimore (6-5) - Dolphins keep finding ways to win while the Ravens have been erratic this season.

San Francisco (1-10) at Chicago (2-9) - The loser of this game stays in the hunt for the top pick in the next NFL draft.

Buffalo (6-5) at Oakland (9-2) - The Raiders continue their winning ways in the 2016 season.

New York Giants (8-3) at Pittsburgh (6-5) - The Steelers will snap the Giants winning streak.

Washington (6-4-1) at Arizona (4-6-1) - This game is an interesting one for sure. Flip a coin.

Tampa Bay (6-5) at San Diego (5-6) - Two very evenly matched teams in this game.  Again, flip a coin in this one.

Carolina (4-7) at Seattle (7-3-1) - The Seahawks got a wake up call last week in a road loss. The Panthers are just awful this year.

Indianapolis (5-6) at New York Jets (3-8) - A yawner game for Monday Night Football.

The Heftyinfo picks for Week Thirteen   . . . . .    (Home teams are listed in bold;  Lock of the Week is listed in BOLD CAPS)

Dallas over Minnesota
Atlanta over Kansas City
New Orleans over Detroit
New England over Los Angeles
Jacksonville over Denver
GREEN BAY over Houston
Cincinnati over Philadelphia
Baltimore over Miami
Chicago over San Francisco
Oakland over Buffalo
Pittsburgh over NY Giants
Arizona over Washington
San Diego over Tampa Bay
Seattle over Carolina
Indianapolis over NY Jets

Last Week's Record:  12-4

SEASON RECORD:  114-61-2

Lock of the Week Record:  12-0