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The Black Cat's 128K Picks of 2018

Twitter: @BlackCatNfl

2006: 58%
2007: 58%
2008: 62%
2009: 49%
2010: 60%
2011: 53%
2012: 43%
2013: 52%
2014: 45%
2015: 60% Hilton Contest Winner w/ 65%
2016: 45%
2017: 48%
2018: 55%

Week 1: 7-0-1 100% (Stars: 14-0 100%)
Week 2: 4-4 50% (Stars: 15.5-11.5 57%)
Week 3: 4-4 50% (Stars: 13-14)
Week 4: 3-4-1 43% (Stars: 7.5-14.5)
Week 5: 3-2-1 60% (Stars: 8.5-8.5 50%)
Week 6: 3-6 33% (Stars: 10.5-20.5)
Week 7: 3-1-1 75% (Stars: 10.5-2.5 80%)
Week 8: 3-5 40% (Stars: 10-16 38%)
Week 9: 5-1 83% (Stars: 13.5-3 82%)
Week 10: 2-4-1 33% (Stars: 5-15-2 25%)
Week 11: 6-2 75% (Stars: 18.5-7.5 71%)
Week 12: 4-3 57% (Stars: 13.5-10 55%)
Week 13: 5-4 56% (Stars: 16-8.5 65%)
Week 14: 5-2 71% (Stars: 14.5-7.5 66%)
Week 15: 5-3 62% (Stars: 15-9.5 61%)
Week 16: 2-5-1 (Stars: 5-14.5)
Week 17: 3-5 (Stars: 8-19.5)
Hilton Overall: 47 of 85 picks for 55%

Favorites: 23-27-3 (46%)
Underdogs: 44-28-3 (61%)
Overall: 67-55-6 55% (Stars: 198.5-182.5 52%)

PLAYOFFS: 3-3 50% (Stars: 10-10 50%)

Special thanks to NFLsavant for gathering some of the statistics used in this report....great free site, check it out!


LA Rams +2.5 NE Patriots (3 Stars) LOSS

Out of the 267 games I've analyzed this season, this may be the closest game yet! No hyperbole. I'd probably rate this a perfect pick'em. While my algorithms are in wild agreement, I basically have this game locked in somewhere between the Rams winning by 2 and the Patriots by 1/2 a point. I certainly don't have the Patriots by 2.5 but the value edge is nominal. Right down the line, I project pretty much the same stats. Slightly less than 300 yards passing, 125 or so rushing, 2 sacks, and less than a 50% chance of 1 int or fumble. My prediction is that the Rams will win because somewhere along the way, the Patriots miss a FG - and the Rams do not - and those 3 points end up being the difference in the game. My "best bet" is for a close game, 3 points or less for sure!

Rams 28, Patriots 27


New England +3 Kansas City (4 Stars) **WIN**
Does defense still win championships? We'll find out here, as the Patriots bring the D against the Chiefs explosive offense. But it may not matter if the Patriots slice up the Chiefs defense the way they did to the Chargers last week, basically putting Rivers out of the game in 1 quarter. It wouldn't shock me if this game reached into OT. If you are looking at parlays, the Pats&Under may be a good square as they can run the ball and play defense to win.
Patriots 27, Chiefs 27 OT PATS

New Orleans vs LA Rams (0 Stars)
The Rams obliterated the Cowboys on the ground last week, and they take their potent offense into NO. New Orleans may have an even more dangerous rushing game themselves. Ultimately, this is similar to the Patriots game in that the Saints are the ones packing the better defense, and that should make the difference in another close one as I predict Brees & the Saints to emerge victorious, although maybe not by the spread.
Saints 27, Rams 26


Last week, all the underdogs covered. On a value basis, they are all good plays again - although home field in the 2nd round is one of the best advantages. One thing though about all the upsets is these wild card winners have won on the road in the playoffs and that's always big. I don't really see an upset in the NFC because of the strength of the home teams. I think there could be one in the AFC, but nothing is certain. The Chargers inability to close things out in the 4th quarter is scary when you consider they now will face Brady. The Bears moved the ball awfully easy at the end on the Eagles, something that should worry anyone hoping for the Eagles to cover against the Superbowl-bound Saints. But those are not the games I'm picking...

Indianapolis +5 KC (4 Stars) LOSS
The Chiefs have a gimpy leading receiver and are on their 2nd RB. They haven't played defense most of the season. I think this game could be a virtual tossup and you might even get an upset. The Colts ability to move the ball could make Luck scary in this matchup.
Colts 23, Chiefs 24

LA -7 Dallas (3 Stars) **WIN**
Dallas is another team that looked real shaky trying to hold a lead. While the Rams kind of limped at the end of the season, I expect them to pick up with renewed vigor and potentially blow out the Cowboys. It is true that the Cowboys ground game is something to worry about, but the air game tilts heavily for the Rams, they can pressure the Qb, and they should have a pretty productive running game themselves.
Rams 27, Dallas 17


Philadelphia +5.5 Chicago (3 Stars) **WIN**
The Bears were idiots to win on Sunday. The one team you REALLY don't want to play are the Eagles. Statistically, they may survive this but I calculate a 42% chance the Eagles upset them, and that's without statistically considering how dangerous they may be in the playoffs. The Eagles may struggle to run and need to limit the turnovers in order to win. But I won't be surprised if the Eagles send the Bears packing.
Eagles 22, Bears 24

Dallas -2.5 Seattle (3 Stars) LOSS
My numbers are definitely not in uniform agreement about this game, but the look I'm going with says the Cowboys are going to have a big day passing the ball. Cooper has been a stud and I predict he gets showcased.
Cowboys 23, Seahawks 17


121. Oakland +14 Kansas City (5 Stars) LOSS
The Raiders have been a good bet lately...and the Chiefs have not. Like the Steelers, it gets harder when you lose the top Rb(s)! The Raiders have done well against porous defense. Unfortunately, they haven’t really done well on the road though so the cover could be dicey. The last matchup (at home) was a 7 point loss. The Raiders have won 2 of their last 3. The Chiefs have not won a game by more than 7 since the bye and also dumping Kareem Hunt.
Raiders 24, Chiefs 33

122. Tennessee +3 Indianapolis (4.5 Stars) LOSS
The Titans have been a hard out all year and they have that December running game going! When have the Colts ever had a good running game? I’ll go with the physical team here.
Titans 24, Colts 21

123. Denver +7 SD (4 Stars) LOSS
The Chargers have nothing to play for and – in spite of that – this would figure to be a fairly close game.
Broncos 20, Chargers 23

124. NY Jets +13.5 New England (3.5 Stars) LOSS
The Patriots play it tight when things are on the line. A slow but certain death for the Jets...
Jets 20, Patriots 30

125. Detroit +8 Green Bay (3 Stars) **WIN**
Detroit isn’t a good team, but neither are the Packers.
Lions 23, Packers 28

126. Houston -7 Jacksonville (3 Stars) **WIN**
It’s hard to imagine the Jags making a game of this.
Texans 27, Jaguars 17

127. New Orleans -7.5 Carolina (2.5 Stars) LOSS
However the Saints handle this game, it has to be better than the implosion that has happened t the Panthers.
Saints 27, Panthers 17

128. Cincinnati +14.5 Pittsburgh (2 Stars) **WIN**
I don’t like laying 15 points on the Steelers with Antonio Brown hurt, and I’m not sure James Conner’s return makes up for that.
Bengals 19, Steelers 31


113. Tennessee -10.5 Washington (3 Stars) LOSS
The Titans will run them into the ground and the Redskins are literally a shell of themselves. A win over Jacksonville just spoke to how bad Jacksonville is...
Titans 24, Redskins 12

114. Carolina +3 Atlanta (5 Stars) LOSS
Cam is no more but that may not be a bad things for the Panthers, as he's been limited for weeks. If they don't implode without him and channel their inner Cardinals (who I horrendously picked as my best game 2 weeks straight), they should be able to handle the Falcons.
Panthers 24, Falcons 22

115. NY Giants +9.5 Indianapolis (3 Stars) **WIN**
The Colts don't have a clear statistical edge in this matchup. In fact, they may struggle to protect Luck.
Giants 22, Colts 28

116. Tampa Bay +7 Dallas (2.5 Stars) PUSH
The Cowboys are able to outrush the Bucs easily, but their struggles in the passing game will make this a close game.
Bucs 21, Dallas 26

117. New England -13.5 Buffalo (2.5 stars) LOSS
When looking at a line this large, the question to ask is do you believe there is any realistic chance the Bills will win. I don't...the Patriots are something like 50-3 against the conference at home and coming off 2 losses for the first time in 100 years. This is a layup!
Patriots 31, Bills 15

118. Miami -3.5 Jacksonville (2 Stars) LOSS
Jacksonville managed all of 20 net passing yards last week, losing to the moribund Redskins. How can you not bet against them?
Dolphins 23, Jags 17

119. Chicago -4.5 SF (2 Stars) **WIN**
If I were the 49ers Qb - whoever that is these days - I'd be pissing on myself right about now.
Bears 92, 49ers 0

120. Denver -2.5 Oakland (2 Stars) LOSS
Lindsay is going to celebrate his Pro Bowl berth...with every single carry.
Broncos 32, Raiders 28


105. Arizona +8.5 Atlanta (5 Stars) LOSS
Even the Cardinals should be able to find some way to score on the Falcons.
Cardinals 20, Falcons 23

106. Pittsburgh +2.5 NE (4.5 Stars) **WIN**
Let's see how the Steelers do in the role of underdog. I'm really bullish on Roethlisberger in this game, so long as he can remain in it!
Steelers 27, Patriots 24

107. Tennessee +2.5 NY Giants (3 Stars) **WIN**
Can Henry do it again this week? I say "yes".
Titans 27, Giants 26

108. Philadelphia +11 LA Rams (3 Stars) **WIN**
11 points? How far the Eagles have fallen!
Eagles 21, Rams 29

109. Chicago -6 Green Bay (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
I just don't see the Packers moving the ball on the ground well, regardless of who is coaching. But Aaron & Aaron could surprise...
Bears 28, Packers 20

110. Denver -3 Cleveland (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Denver is one team that always plays better at home. Could they play worse? Tough spot for the surging Browns. Expect the Broncos to run all day, all the way.
Broncos 24, Browns 19

111. Oakland +3 Cincinnati (2 Stars) LOSS
The Raiders continue to be competitive and the Bengals are a mess! Finally, a team the Raiders can sack!
Raiders 23, Bengals 24

112. Indianapolis -3 Dallas (2 Stars) **WIN**
Dallas is fat & happy - this game means more to the Colts.
Colts 27, Cowboys 23


98. Arizona +3 Detroit (5 Stars) LOSS
The Cardinals have been on a bit of an uptick. Fitzgerald is in the mix again, they have a new rookie running back challenging Johnson. The Lions are just the lions. I think it'll be close.
Cardinals 20, Lions 18

99. Oakland +9.5 Pittsburgh (4 Stars) **WIN**
The Steelers have been in down-to-the-wire games for weeks, even though they had a chance to put the Chargers away early last Sunday night (but didn't). Now the Steelers are finding people to run the ball again and the Raiders have shown a bit of life, with a Qb that doesn't turn over the ball.
Raiders 24, Steelers 29

100. Cleveland +1 Carolina (3 Stars) **WIN**
The Panthers have been backsliding and Cam is dinged, and the 2018 Browns are no pushover. And the line is begging you to take the Panthers, so let's fade that.
Browns 24, Panthers 22

101. Seattle -3 Minnesota (3 Stars) **WIN**
The Seahawks will run all over the Vikings and control the game at home. The Vikings certainly have a better arial game, but it's been a bit out-of-sync lately.
Seahawks 27, Vikings 21

102. Chicago +3 LA Rams (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
Chicago has a chance to be taken seriously and expect them to bring the house on SNF in what could be a very close game.
Bears 29, Rams 30

103. Houston -4 Indianapolis (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Houston just keeps winning & winning & winning. And with their running game taking off, this could be another notch in their belt in a big divisional matchup!
Texans 29, Colts 23

104. Cincinnati +15 LA Chargers (2 Stars) **WIN**
Perfectly bad sandwich game for the Chargers, coming off a huge win over the Steelers and looking forward to a showdown next week against the Chiefs. They will be without Gordon again - his backup did nothing last week and got overshadowed by some other guy - and they will have a hard time getting up for the lowly Bengals. I like the points here!
Chargers 32, Bengals 19


89. Oakland +14.5 Kansas City (5 Stars) **WIN**
Hunt’s swift departure means that the Chiefs will be handing the ball off to guys who have barely touched the ball in gameplay for a month. It’ll be hard to motivate the Chiefs for this sad game, or fans, or anyone really....
Chiefs 31, Raiders 22

90. Philadelphia -6.5 Washington (4 Stars) **WIN**
The formula has broken down for the Redskins, and it won’t surprise me if they lose every game left on their schedule – most of them badly.
Philadelphia 23, Redskins 12

91. Jacksonville +4 Indianapolis (3 Stars) **WIN**
Indianapolis will win, but their weak defense doesn’t allow the team to win dominantly.
Jacksonville 26, Colts 27

92. Tennessee -7.5 NY Jets (2.5 Stars) LOSS
The Titans will rebound off of last week’s poor showing and handle the Jets.
Titans 27, Jets 17

93. Minnesota +5 New England (2 Stars) LOSS
The Patriots aren’t as good vs. the NFC at home as they are the AFC. The Vikings face a real test and I expect them to show up bigly.
Vikings 24, Patriots 27

94. Houston -5.5 Cleveland (2 Stars) **WIN**
The Browns step up in competition this week against the red-hot Texans, and it will show.
Texans 27, Browns 20

95. Baltimore +1.5 Atlanta (2 Stars) **WIN**
The Falcons score, but they don’t win. And they may even struggle to score against this defense, which doesn’t allow big WR days.
Ravens 24, Falcons 23

96. Miami -4.5 Buffalo (2 Stars) LOSS (but was -3.5&win when I posted this!!)
With Tannehill back in the saddle, they will beat the Bills.
Dolphins 28, Bills 22

97. Green Bay -14 Arizona (2 Stars) LOSS
It may literally SNOW in Green Bay.
Packers 34, Cardinals 18


82. Buffalo +3 Jacksonville (5 Stars) **WIN**
The Bills defensive front will swallow Jacksonville’s broken line and spit it out whole. Jacksonville hasn’t won in 6 games.
Bills 21, Jaguars 19

83. Indianapolis -7.5 Miami (4.5 Stars) LOSS
The line moved towards Miami when Tannehill was re-inserted into the lineup. Maybe it should have moved further away? That's a potent Colts offense now and an absolutely dreadful Miami...everything.
Colts 36, Dolphins 24

84. Seattle +3 Carolina (4 Stars) **WIN**
The gutty pound-and-ground Seahawks will hang on against the reeling Panthers and may pull this one out too! Seattle is slightly better so some result less than home field seems fair.
Seahawks 28, Panthers 27

85. Arizona +13.5 SD (3 Stars) LOSS
I’m not playing the Chargers by 13.5 points with Melvin Gordon gimpy! The Chargers offense really doesn't warrant a double-digit margin anyhow but not having their bellcow is gonna hurt.
Cardinals 15, Chargers 25

86. Oakland +12 Baltimore (2.5 Stars) LOSS
The Ravens will be grounded again with their backup Qb, making it hard to lay 12.
Raiders 18, Ravens 28

87. Houston -4.5 Tennessee (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
Like my cabbie told me, when someone dies it is a bet! Also doesn’t hurt that the Texans have quietly won 7 straight games as they play at home on MNF!
Texams 34, Titans 27

88. Cleveland +1 Cincinnati (2 Stars) **WIN**
No defense and without AJ Green – no offense for the Bengals either! Browns are gonna ground and pound the Bengals too. Bengals have now dropped 4 of their last 5.
Browns 23, Bengals 22


74. Seattle -2.5 Green Bay (5 Stars) **WIN**
Green Bay finally won last week. At home. In ice cold weather. Against MIAMI. But now they begin a long stretch on the road on a short week across 2 timezones on Thursday night football against a team that likes to ground-and-pound now with their triple-headed rushing attack. This will not turn out well...
Seahawks 31, Packers 22

75. Pittsburgh -5.5 Jacksonville (5 Stars) LOSS
The Steelers are rolling and they should be able to manage this game with more pressure, turnovers, and a deeper downfield game playing off the effective running game. This is not the 2017 Jaguars. They can limit Ben a little but really not outplay them in any area of the game.
Steelers 28, Jaguars 17

76. Dallas +3.5 Atlanta (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
Dallas seems to have found their rushing attack and that'll be a huge problem for the Falcons for sure, but they can't keep pace through the air in what I think will be a tight ballgame.
Cowboys 27, Falcons 28

77. Washington +3 Houston (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
This one also could be tight, but I think there are more big plays to be had for the Texans, just enough to pull this out. And frankly, it is hard to trust the patchwork line the Redskins are forced to start on offense.
Redskins 19, Texans 20

78. Kansas City +3.5 LA Rams (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
Gonna be one hell of a game but neither team is going to run away with this one. As well as the Chiefs will play, the Rams will be unstoppable.
Chiefs 33, Rams 34

79. Tennessee +2 Indianapolis (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Both teams will be productive and are playing well, but the Colts will need to limit and likely overcome mistakes to yank this one out.
Titans 30, Colts 31

80. Detroit +4 Carolina (2 Stars) **WIN**
Carolina had a rough one in Pittsburgh, but they'll run all day over the Lions. The game will not be as close as the final score.
Lions 27, Panthers 29

81. Cincinnati +6.5 Baltimore (2 Stars) **WIN**
The Ravens can run all day on the Bengals beaten up defense, but the passing game will miss Flacco especially as the backup missed much of the game prep. That's enough not to lay nearly 7 points!
Bengals 19, Ravens 24


67. TB -2.5 Washington (5 Stars) LOSS
I think the Redskins can win any game where the offense they are playing isn't firing on all cylinders. Tampa Bay has some bad spark plugs in their engine but they can definitely score. With the problems on the offensive line and a pedestrian offense, I don't think the Skins can keep pace.
Bucs 24, Redskins 17

68. NY Jets -7 Buffalo (4 Stars) LOSS
I've got one word to describe Josh McCown: winner! The Jets defense can swarm Buffalo and McCown will pick them apart like a Qb clinic. He's no clown, bet McCown!
Jets 27, Bills 16

69. Atlanta -6 Cleveland (3 Stars) LOSS
If Cleveland thought the Chiefs RBs were hard to tackle, wait until they face the explosive Falcons with Tevin Coleman and co. I found 6 points to be very fair but in simulations, generally when the falcons won they won by enough to cover this spread!
Falcons 28, Browns 19

70. Philadelphia -6.5 Dallas (3 Stars) LOSS
The Eagles reloaded their WR gun a bit with the addition of Golden Tate. The Cowboys also added a competant receiver, but it is unlikely he'll make an impact on the predictable moribund cowboys. It is already full panic in Dallas and the Eagles are likely to put them out of their misery as they come off the bye firing on all cylinders again. The Cowboys enter this game very banged up to boot.
Eagles 28, Dallas 18

71. LA Chargers -9.5 Oakland (3 Stars) **WIN**
Oakland put in a horrific performance for the ages against the 49ers, turning a guy who never played in the NFL before into a superstar. There is every reason to think it is just getting worse by the week in Oakland, a place they would be better off not playing. They would have more fans in an LA game. The Chargers can pass, run, and stop the run. And if you think the Raiders can carry the day in the air, you haven't seen many raiders games. And ultimately, I think the Chargers can support a double-digit vegas line here.
Chargers 35, Oakland 23

72. Indianapolis -3 Jacksonville (2 Stars) PUSH
This appears to be another case of just too much offense on one side of the ball. In fact it appears as one of the biggest margins on the board as the Colts are fairly explosive even if they suck at playing defense. However, the Colts are good at run defense and it'll be a hard game for Fournette to return to and restore production to the Jacksonville offense.
Colts 25, Jaguars 20

73. New Orleans -5.5 Cincinnati (2 Stars) **WIN**
I'm not even sure the Bengals mash unit can field a defense for this one. Not a good thing to say when you are playing the NFL's hottest offense!
Saints 35, Bengals 28


61. Tennessee +6.5 Dallas (4.5 Stars) **WIN**
When two 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust teams meet, it is a safe bet that the game will be close.
Titans 18, Dallas 20

62. Cleveland +8 Kansas City (3 Stars) LOSS
We are in the 2nd half of the season, so it is time for the Chiefs to start losing. It'll be hard to lose to the Browns, but what is true is it'll be hard for the Chiefs to play as perfectly in the 2nd half as in the 1st half of the season. So they have been measured, they have been weighed, and the books should not have problems putting out numbers that their opponents can cover. Cleveland can run the rock really well on these guys, and that's good because it is about all they are good at anyway.
Browns 21, Chiefs 26

63. Minnesota -4.5 Detroit (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
Stephen Diggs may not produce this week, but Golden Tate DEFINITELY won't produce this week. Look for the Vikings to rebound from a tough loss against the elite Saints.
Vikings 31, Lions 24

64. Pittsburgh +3 Baltimore (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
This should be a war. The Ravens defense will be reduced by the familiarity and talent of the Steelers offense. The Steelers defense is also playing pretty well. Not sure who will win, but I like the odds of it being close.
Steelers 23, Ravens 24

65. Carolina -6 Tampa Bay (2 Stars) **WIN**
Tampa Bay's explosive offense has imploded on themselves. You can't trust them and their defense is horrible. Cam is playing great and the Panthers compete well every week.
Panthers 30, Bucs 22

66. Chicago -10 Buffalo (2 Stars) **WIN**
Chicago's offense can click and their defense can overwhelm the Bills, who are trotting out Pederson again. While they held Brady in check for most of the game - as if that really matters - it was really just redzone defense that kept the game from being a blowout early. And unlike the Bears, the Patriots had no running game, which allowed the Bills to defend one-dimensionally. Look for a different story this week.
Bears 22, Bills 10


53. NY Giants PK Washington (5 Stars) LOSS
Peterson put the Redskins on his back and carried them to victory in Dallas, but the passing game is tired and there is no Odell Beckham on the Redskins roster. The Redskins are a 500 team because of losses like this one.
Giants 24, Redskins 19

54. Green Bay +9.5 LA Rams (4.5 Stars) **WIN**
It's a Rams home game but there will be a lot of Green in LA. It is hard to put the Packers away as they do have the aerial assault to hang around. Cooper Kupp is hurt too.
Packers 21, Rams 30

55. Cleveland +8 Pittsburgh (3 Stars) LOSS
Pittsburgh always beats the Browns, but it is usually ugly ball. The way Cleveland has hung in most of their games this year, expect more of that.
Browns 30, Steelers 35

56. Oakland +3 Indianapolis (3 Stars) LOSS
Vegas got hurt on the Bears +3 last week against the Patriots, so they better know what they are doing living on just 3 points against the productive Colts. Indy is pretty banged up right now, with Marlon Mack missing practices and 5 players out. They seem ripe for a close game.
Raiders 24, Colts 26

57. Philadelphia -3 Jacksonville (3 Stars) **WIN**
This team is not nearly as good as it was last year, and so far you probably don't know which team I am talking about. The London game has got to be a defacto home game for the Eagles to some extent, because nobody in London has heard of Jacksonville and everyone has heard of the Eagles. Statistically the Eagles slump into this but it is Jacksonville that seems to be in a death spiral with an unproductive running game, a disappointing defense and looking at Bortles to carry the load. The Jags are also short too corners and the 3rd is pretty banged up just as the Eagles are finding their air game.
Eagles 29, Jags 20

58. Baltimore -2 Carolina (3 Stars) LOSS
Cam has been uncontainable this season, but he faces the immovable object in the Ravens defense this week.
Ravens 29, Panthers 24

59. NE -13.5 Buffalo( 2.5 Stars) **WIN**
Vegas is desperate for someone to cover against the Patriots and maybe they are just giving the farm away here, but the Bills really are in bad straits without a Qb against Brady on MNF.
Patriots 33, Bills 17

60. KC -10 Denver (2 Stars) LOSS
No - Denver is not going on the road and hanging with the Chiefs offensively, or getting their defense to shutout the league's hottest offense.
Chiefs 33, Broncos 21


48. Carolina +4.5 Philadelphia (5 Stars) **WIN**
The Eagles "got right" last week by defeating the Giants and that shouldn't really surprise anyone. Perhaps there is a line of thinking that all is well again in Philadelphia? I don't really know about that, but I do know the Panthers are coming in healthy and with Cam having strong performances every week. I think these teams are evenly matched and the cat will eat the bird here with a better offensive attack.
Panthers 25, Eagles 20

49. New Orleans +2.5 Baltimore (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
The Saints bring their top 5 offense against the Ravens top 5 defense, and neither team is that bad on the other side of the ball. It's a very even game so I'll sit on the points here.
Saints 24, Ravens 23

50. Tampa Bay -3 Cleveland (3 Stars) PUSH
Winston has full control of an offense that has a plethora of aerial weapons. Even though the Browns have a penchant for keeping it close and the Bucs defense has been absolutely awful, the odds are good they will blow them out of the water here and the Browns simply won't be able to keep up.
Bucs 33, Browns 26

51. NY Jets +3 Minnesota (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Really close game here, perhaps a nod to the slightly healthier Vikings with all of their weapons and the Jets secondary being a bit thin. But I do think it'll be a tough game.
Jets 28, Vikings 29

52. Houston +5 Jacksonville (2 Stars) **WIN**
The Jags try to correct their skids against a Texans team that gets better every weekend. Should be another real good one and that's a lot of points for a close low-scoring game. Hyde may be a good answer for Jacksonville, but not going to tilt the scale this weekend.
Texans 22, Jags 25


39. Dallas +3 Jacksonville (5 Stars) **WIN**
Sensing a theme to week 6? Another 3 point dog at home against a seemingly better opponent. And no, I don't think that Dak will outpass Bortles. But the running game is just a complete obliteration of the left side of the Jags defense as Zeek will have a very very very big day and the Jags go another week without Fournette. Both defenses are pretty banged up so there could be a surprising number of points for these two 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust teams.
Cowboys 25, Jaguars 22

40. Tennessee +3 Baltimore (5 Stars) LOSS
Baltimore attempts to recover from a hugely disappointing loss to the Browns and many will expect them to rebound. But the Titans also had their share of humiliation after winning a few games that they probably shouldn't have this season by losing to the always-surprising-that-they-can-win-a-game Buffalo Bills. Taken on its own merits, we have a couple plodding passing games and some reasonably productive running games in a defensive struggle that I sleepy nod to the home team. The secret sauce is in this matchup is (finally) the return to health of the Titans tackles, which should lead to a much more productive day by Derrick Henry.
Titans 21, Ravens 18

41. Houston -9.5 Buffalo (4.5 Stars) LOSS
After popping their head up again last week to surprise the Titans, expect the Bills to beging another losing streak. Houston has looked better each week and Watson figures to have another 300 yard day slicing and dicing the Bills. I don't see this one as being competitive and the Texans are overwhelmingly likely to secure a W.
Texans 26, Bills 12

42. Tampa Bay +3.5 Atlanta (3 Stars) LOSS
Embedded in the hippocampus is the unforgettable memory of the Bucs getting ripped to pieces once again, this time by...the Bears? Certainly there is concern that they can't stop Atlanta much better than the Democrats can stop a confirmation. But Atlanta certainly has their own defensive problems and the weapons of Atlanta are formidable.
Bucs 28, Falcons 31 (OT)

43. New England -3.5 Kansas City (3 Stars) LOSS
The Patriots lose a conference home game about as often as you've run a 5 minute mile. With Brady & Co back on their game, the Chiefs good times will come crashing down here. Brady might not even have to do much with that running game working all day! The defense does need to make a lot more splash plays, something the computer thinks they are sorely lacking in. The Patriots wouldn't be "The Patriots" if they lost games like this one. Probably as close to a sure thing as there is on the board, even if it isn't the best "value".
Patriots 28, Chiefs 22

44. Oakland +3 Seattle (3 Stars) LOSS
The Seahawks do their Superman->Clark Kent thing when they leave the state of Washington, and that may on full display here when they leave the United States. What happens when a team that can't rush the passer plays a team that can't pass protect? While both teams should run the rock productively, the Seahawks may be on the shorter end of the stick on the air attack in a game I feel the Raiders may actually win.
Raiders 28, Seahawks 24

45. Denver +6.5 LA Rams (3 Stars) **WIN**
It is hard to see the Broncos winning this game, but they look like they can have a great deal of success throwing and running the ball in an exchange of points with the high-powered Rams in Mile High. Freeman and Lindsay should have career days this Sunday. Will it be enough?
Broncos 31, Rams 33

46. NY Jets -2.5 Indianapolis (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
The Colts are very beat up and the Jets are going to run all day on them while shutting down the Colts running game. It is all on Luck and I think he will make too many mistakes.
Jets 31, Colts 26

47. Chicago -3 Miami (2 Stars) LOSS
What a difference a couple weeks make! Not long ago, the Dolphins looked like they could challenge the Patriots for the division and the Bears were...the Bears. Now a couple weeks later, the Bears are 3 point favorites here on the road? Sure, why not! With the Bears defense harassing the Dolphins all day, I think the Bears O is setup nicely for another win. The Bears are also an extremely healthy football team, which never hurts.
Bears 27, Dolphins 22


33. Carolina -7 NY Giants (5 Stars) LOSS
Carolina should lead this game with more passing yards and have 2x rushing yards, sacks, interceptions made and fumbles recovered. Other than that, the Giants have a good chance? Cam has been ripping it up every week too.
Panthers 27, Giants 15

34. Washington +6.5 New Orleans (3.5 Stars) LOSS
The rested Redskins will be homecoming guests on Drew Brees night, but they come armed with a surprisingly stingy defense that can get after the Qb and limit yards. With the master of the short game at the helm for the Skins and a more productive rushing attack, the Skins will try to keep pace with Brees, who still figures to rack up 300 and break the all-time passing record while overcoming a stymied rushing attack.
Redskins 17, Saints 20

35. Pittsburgh -3 Atlanta (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
It’s all about Roethlisberger right now, and he was a bit off last week missing some opportunities. Playing at home again, expect Big Ben to connect and setup a productive ground game as he may rack up a very big night against the Falcons. Certainly Atlanta will get their chunk plays too but they will be hard-pressed to keep pace and run the ball with the consistency they are accustomed to doing.
Steelers 28, Falcons 22

36. Seattle +7 LA Rams (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
We know how tough the Seahawks can be at home. They’ve found a new love for their own running game and they will need it to keep the high-octane Rams under wraps.
Seahawks 21, Rams 25

37. Minnesota +3 Philadelphia (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
We all know it is against the laws of time and space for the Patriots to lose 3 in a row. But what about...the Vikings? First, let’s understand the Vikings won’t be nearly as bad on defense without playing the Rams, and they have shown tons of firepower to go toe-to-toe with anyone. They also lost Cook early, which may not have had an impact on much more than my fantasy football team, but I like to complain. In all seriousness, this is a major concern because while Cousins and company can rack up plenty of yards in the air, the Eagles figure to have a significant advantage running the ball if the Vikings can’t crank it up. Given the very fair line here and the pressure on the Vikings, I’m going to uncharacteristically say they find a way NOT to lose 3-in-a-row and stay in the hunt in the NFC!
Vikings 24, Eagles 23

38. Houston -3 Dallas (2.5 Stars) PUSH
I’ve felt since week 1 that the Texans will become a very good team this year once they start getting settled, and they are showing signs of more life on both sides of the ball every week. I can’t say the same for Dallas, which I expect to be a plodding offense all season long. The escapability of Watson will help counter the Cowboys strong pass rush. Texans were beat up this week, but it looks like they will suit up.
Texans 20, Cowboys 14

Week 4

25. Miami +6.5 New England (5 Stars) BIG LOSS
I am a statistical-based prognosticator and I don't delve into the witchery of the Patriots magic box that'll guarantee them to win. I base my projections on how teams have played so far. It also doesn't hurt that the oddsmakers have rolled out such a favorable line, anticipating the inevitable Pats bounce back. By the numbers, the Dolphins running game is better and the passing games are even. I think the Dolphins have a legitimate chance of winning this game. The Patriots were pretty beat up but I did not see a big impact on the actual game, as their players have been in practice.
Dolphins 23, Patriots 20

26. Tampa Bay +3 Chicago (4 Stars) BIG LOSS
The Bucs sputtered early on MNF and it seemed the lights were a bit to bright for them. But they did come back and Fitzmagic posted another 400 yard game. If Tampa Bay can dictate the pace of this game through the air, they have a big advantage in the matchup. And since there's little chance they'll run the ball a lot - and I project less than 100 yards for the Bears rushing - that's what I expect. Even with all of those pass attempts, I do not see a ton of sacks against Fitzpatrick.
Bucs 29, Bears 25

27. LA Chargers -10 San Francisco (3 Stars) LOSS
CJ Beathard is a walking disaster. Rivers is going to chew up the 49ers here badly. Call in Kaep?
Chargers 31, 49ers 16

28. Denver +5 KC (3 Stars) **WIN**
If you take away the fact that the Chiefs score on every red zone opportunity (or so it seems), then there isn't a big difference here between how I expect these teams will do. So if the TD machine comes back to earth - and the Broncos can keep their versatile weapon from being ejected - it'll be a damn close game.
Broncos 28, Chiefs 25 (OT)

29. Pittsburgh -3 Baltimore (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Pittsburgh is always primetime ready and they play better at home. I see Ben connecting the big shots in this game vs. the Ravens and the ground game will be productive. The Steelers appear to be pretty healthy for this game too.
Steelers 27, Ravens 19

30. Cincinnati +5 Atlanta (2.5 Stars) **WIN**
Atlanta figures to be in another dogfight here with the Bengals. Just looks very even by my analysis, so take the points.
Bengals 23, Falcons 26 (OT)

31. Arizona +3 Seattle (2 Stars) PUSH
As woeful as the Cardinals have been - and the Qb change certainly can't hurt them any - they still look like they can be competitive. With a better running game and a passing game projection that seems favorable, maybe this is one the Cardinals can actually win. In particular, it'll help if the Cardinals Qb can throw to people on his team.
Cardinals 22, Seahawks 21

32. Oakland -2.5 Cleveland (2 Stars) **WIN**
The Raiders are another team that would benefit if the Qb can figure out who he plays for. The Browns defense has been a turnover machine. If that doesn't happen, the Raiders win. Don't expect the Browns rookie to look quite as good in a regular start on a long road trip.
Raiders 25, Browns 19

Week 3

17. Tampa Bay +1 Pittsburgh (5 Stars) LOSS
Yes, I am staying on the Fitzpatrick train! One thing that jumps out at me is that while you may have seen highlights of Fitz hitting a deep TD, a lot of their yards are coming from high-percentage short throws turning into long gains. That sounds pretty reliable to me. The Steelers pass defense looks really concerning and they will struggle to run the ball here. Compound that with a beaten up Steelers O line and you begin to wonder why the Steelers are even favored in this game!
Bucs 31, Steelers 17

18. Detroit +7 New England (4.5 Stars) **WIN**
Ok, yes I know I’m hanging my ass out bigtime here, but Week 3 is about playing against the betting trend that “the Patriots can’t lose two inn a row”. Nobody likes the lions but there was a real red flag waved this week when the Patriots picked up Josh Gordon, admitting they have a serious WR issue going on. Compound that with a very soft defense, don’t be surprised if the Lions bring it together and win this. Of course, it is the Patriots – maybe the Lions won’t be allowed to win and will get hit with a slew of penalties like week 2 – but don’t be shocked when this game goes down to the wire.
Lions 27, Patriots 20

19. N.Y. Jets +3 Cleveland (4 Stars) LOSS
Cleveland…is favored? This is the team that has lost 400,000 games straight right? And they enter this game with a slew of injuries? You must be joking.
Jets 20, Browns 12

20. Arizona +6 Chicago (3.5 Stars) **WIN**
With a total of 6 points in 2 games, the Cardinals are a front-runner for the NFL’s worst team. But if you are holding David Johnson, don’t fret. As shown on the stat site NFLsavant , the targets in the Red Zone go to Johnson, who is still around the top 10 in the NFL for Red zone touches. So they will score and when they do, he’ll be the guy dancing. Chicago is on a short week and will have their hands full as the Cardinals find a win at home.
Cardinals 23, Bears 20

21. New Orleans +3 Atlanta (3 Stars) **WIN**
When your Qb is Easy Breesy, no game is really out of reach. Expect Brees to light it up. It isn’t that Atlanta won’t play well, but they’ll be in a shootout with the Saints who are quite at home in a dome game.
Saints 28, Falcons 23

22. LA Chargers +7 LA Rams (2.5 Stars) LOSS
The Chargers won’t need to travel far for this one, but they are carrying a lot of injuries that are concerning. A healthy Chargers team might stick it to the Rams, but this team will likely fall short of that – Chargers style.
Chargers 24, Rams 24 (OT, Tied)

23. Dallas +2 Seattle (2.5 Stars) LOSS
It doesn’t take a genius to realize if the Cowboys can obliterate the Giants O-Line, what will they do to a Seahawks line with a banged up Center?
Cowboys 16, Seahawks 10

24. Washington +2.5 Green Bay (2 Stars) **WIN**
The Redskins running game gets back on track and that could be a real problem for the Packers, who lack one even with their suspended RB likely suiting up. The Packers do have a banged up right corner, and that already hasn’t been an area of strength for them this season. It may sound a bit far-fetched, but the Redskins have a real chance to control this game and post a win at home.
Redskins 20, Packers 17


This week, I am excited to introduce my new prediction algorithm – MONTY! Monty came together very recently when I had an inspiration on how to implement it. For years, this column has been called the “Black Cat’s 128k Picks” and now it is a reality – these picks were made from games simulated 128,000 times “Monte Carlo” style. Monty has the unenviable task of following last week’s 7-0 debut. Without further ado….get ready for the FULL MONTY!

9. Tampa Bay +3.5 Philadelphia (5 Stars) **WIN**
The Bucs offense fired on all cylinders against the Saints, and if you drafted the Saints defense in fantasy football, you are probably sweating. Does the Bucs offense really have teeth or did they peak in Week 1? It is worth noting they have a formidable stable of receivers, led by all-star Mike Evans. The Eagles limped into the season but managed to hold off the Falcons on the emotional opening night. But will reality sink in week 2? One thing that jumps out at me is this would have been a +3.5 point game last year. Now you have damaged eagles and a hot Bucs team and I just see lots of upside to the Bucs to make a statement that they are here to play in 2018.
Bucs 28, Eagles 12

10. Detroit +6 San Francisco (4.5 Stars) **WIN**
Monty had a couple weird picks this week. One was the Bengals and we already know how that turned out (perfectly). Detroit was another one. Monty thinks that Stafford is gonna rip through the 49ers like a Hurricane near Hatteras and wants me to pick up the Lions D in all my fantasy leagues, where oddly they are available. Now my sources tell me the Lions are a bit banged up and tired from an overly physical training camp, they are on a short week, and could be flat and over-matched here with the new coach. But don’t be surprised if the 49ers are just the fresh meat the Lions needed. +6 is at worse a fair line and – at best – an incredible bargain that nobody sees coming.
Lions 28, 49ers 19

11. LA Chargers -7 Buffalo (4 Stars) **WIN**
In case it wasn’t clear yet, the Ravens disappointing showing Thursday night was another indicator that the Bills just aren’t very good. This is a massive mismatch and expect the Chargers to simply dominate this matchup as they circle the wagons vs. the Buffalo Bills.
Chargers 27, Bills 9

12. Washington -6 Indianapolis (3.5 Stars) LOSS
The Redskins had a near perfect debut against the hapless Cardinals last week and it is a bit hard to imagine it going much better. The Colts showed a bit more teeth with Luck at the helm, but this is still a bad team that is like the Lions of Indianapolis. And the Lions always get crushed in Washington! I’m staying ON the Peterson train at least another week in a game the Redskins will definitely win if they play anywhere near the way they did in Week 1.
Redskins 24, Colts 8

13. NY Jets -2.5 Miami (3 Stars) LOSS
The Jets Defense is for reals and they will have their ears pinned back for this one. The Jets are going to win this game...I guarantee it!
Jets 32, Dolphins 20

14. New Orleans -8.5 Cleveland (2.5 Stars) LOSS
The Browns gave the Steelers a hard time in wet Cleveland, but when you get a half-dozen turnovers you can generally stay in a game. Easy Breesy should get a Tsunami of yardage in this one! 500?
Saints 34, Browns 17

15. NYG +3 Dallas (2.5 Stars) LOSS
Last week didn’t really differentiate much from 2017, but I believe this week will. The Cowboys would have mopped up the Giants and their medic unit last year easily but now it is the Cowboys that look hapless and punchless. The Giants traded punches with the Jaguars and that almost never looks good for anyone. But if the Cowboys look anywhere near as bad as they did last week, they are going to be in for a very very long season...
Giants 12, Cowboys 7

16. Tennessee PK Houston (2 Stars) **WIN**
Another Battle of the Houstons! The Titans had a miserable Sunday in Miami with two long breaks and their biggest rushing play of the day called back. They will happily restart the season at home in week 2. Houston looked miserable in New England, although they only lost by 7 and who doesn’t look miserable in New England, who has literally won something like 95% of their home division games. I still am hopeful for the Texans this season and we may see them breakout here, but they have a lot of rust to shakeoff before they recapture the early season glory of 2017. The PK seems to give the Texans a benefit of the doubt they have yet to earn and I’m not taking the leap of blind faith when I know I’ll get some solid running and defense from Tennessee. This is a pick'em and the Titans figure to have a 70%+ chance to win, so I like that.
Titans 19, Texans 12


1. Cleveland +3.5 Pittsburgh (3 Stars) **WIN**
Pittsburgh always beats the Browns (who doesn't?) but it isn't always pretty. And you have to wonder how pretty it'll be in a monsoon without their Bell-cow RB. Roethlisberger hasn't played as a top 10 Qb in 19-of-20 road games so he certainly doesn't figure to rip it up this Sunday.
Steelers 8, Browns 6

2. Seattle +3 Denver (3 Stars) PUSH
Denver was pretty sad last year and would have been whacked by the Seahawks, even on the road. I think the Broncos will be better this year but given a home-field pick'em, I'm sticking with Russell and the Seahawks here. The Seahawks don't need to travel far in this one.
Seahawks 27, Broncos 24 (OT)

3. LA Rams -4 Oakland (3 Stars) **WIN**
This California matchup would have been a bargain last year, and I have no reason to think the Raiders will be any better this year. This reminds me of those Charger/Raider openers that never turned out well for the Raiders.
Rams 31, Raiders 24

4. NY Jets +6.5 Detroit (2 Stars) **WIN**
It is too early for the Jets to give up on this season. Detroit doesn't really distinguish themselves as that much better than the Jets, so I'll just take the points.
Jets 26, Lions 30

5. KC +3.5 LA Chargers (2 Stars) **WIN**
There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes, and the Chargers finding ways to lose close games in September.
Chiefs 24, Chargers 23

6. Washington +1 Arizona (2 Stars) **WIN**
I think Alex Smith is actually a really good Qb and give the Redskins an advantage on two teams looking to rebound after injury-plagued 2017 campaigns. You also have Peterson opening up fresh with that big line against his team last year, which you have to balance against the explosive return of David Johnson. No Cardinal coach has ever won their first game dating back to the late 70s.
Redskins 27, Arizona 26

7. Minnesota -6.5 SF (1 Star) **WIN**
Cousins had great stats last year working with absolute trash and now he takes over a team ready to win it all. It's hard to say for sure how this will play out, but I'm optimistic the Vikings look improved and will be a tough out for the 49ers first game.
Vikings 27, 49ers 20

8. New England -6.5 Houston (1 Star) **WIN**
I actually am very bullish on the Texans this year and think they could have an outstanding campaign. But I don't know how you look at this game and not think 6.5 is pretty darn cheap!
Patriots 31, Texans 24

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