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The Black Cat's 128K Picks of 2017

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%

Week 1: 2-5-1 (Stars: 5-13)
Week 2: 4-4 (Stars: 11-14)
Week 3: 6-2 75% (Stars: 22-5.5 80%)
Week 4: 5-3 63% (Stars: 13.5-6.5 68%)
Week 5: 1-4-1 (Stars: 1-12.5)
Week 6: 3-4 (Stars: 11-14)
Week 7: 3-3-1 (Stars: 8-11.5)
Week 8: 5-1 83% (Stars: 18-2 90%)
Week 9: 4-2 66% (Stars: 14-7.5 65%)
Week 10: 2-5-1 (Stars: 5-17)
Week 11: 3-2-1 60% (Stars: 10-7 59%)
Week 12: 3-3 (Stars: 8-11)
Week 13: 4-2 66% (Stars: 14.5-6 72%)
Week 14: 2-6 (Stars: 3-16)

Favorites:22-22-1
Underdogs: 25-24-4
Overall: 47-46-5 (Stars: 144-143.5)

GOW: 6-8

Week 15 (Thurs-Sat)

99. Indianapolis +2.5 Denver (5 Stars GOW)

I would rate the Colts as slightly better than the Broncos both on offense AND defense. The Broncos benefitted last week from a Jets meltdown but I don't hold too much stock in that. Now they get the dreaded visitor slot across country on Thursday night, and the Colts had a pretty spirited game against Buffalo in a snowstorm. I like them in this spot and it is worth noting the Broncos are 0-6 on the road in 2017.
Colts 22, Broncos 17

100. LA Chargers -1 KC (2.5 Stars)

Rivers looks to complement a decent rushing attack with 300 yards through the air while his Alex Smith tries to stay in one piece. It could be a barnburner, but I like the Chargers in this one.
Chargers 31, Chiefs 28

101. Chicago +5.5 Detroit (2.5 Stars)

A bit of egg on my face from last week, as I threw in the towel on the Bears just as they rediscovered their running game for the first time in weeks. That running game should be there again along with a fierce pass rush against the ailing Stafford, but it probably won't be enough in a tight divisional matchup.
Bears 24, Lions 27

Week 14

91. Houston -2.5 San Francisco (5 Stars GOW) LOSS

I feel like I should apologize for calling this the "GOW" but it is a value I like. I like this much the same way I liked the Bears last week, although this time I'm pretty sure the Texans will actually run the damn ball! A great ground game should really help the Texans Qb suck less.
Texans 26, 49ers 20

92. Cincinnati -6.5 Chicago (3 Stars) LOSS

I don't trust Chicago anymore. They seem swamped with injuries and their performance is declining. Dalton has played great against bad opponents, and the Bengals ran the ball with vigor & vim last week against the Steelers. The numbers don't scream "Bengals" but I think when you take into account how these teams are playing, this one can be a blowout.
Bengals 25, Bears 16

93. N.Y. Jets -1.5 Denver (2.5 Stars) LOSS

With an absolutely dreadful offense and a mediocre-at-best defense, the Broncos are a pretty terrible team. The Jets D hasn't been much better, but their offense certainly has...
Jets 27, Broncos 23

94. N.Y. Giants +3.5 Dallas (2 Stars) LOSS

Whenever teams fire the coach, they often seem to play better. With Eli back under center, I think this could be a spirited effort against a Cowboys team that hasn't looked very good since Zeek's suspension took effect. I don't expect Alfred Morris to dominate quite the way he did motivated against his for team, either.
Giants 21, Dallas 23

95. Tennessee -2.5 Arizona (2 Stars) LOSS

I didn't really have great expectations for Arizona's running game to begin with. Without Peterson? It may be frighteningly awful. I don't know how they can win one-dimensional football with who they have available under center.
Titans 26, Cardinals 21

96. Kansas City -4 Oakland (1.5 Stars) **WIN**

I've been calling KC pretty well the last few weeks (lose, lose, lose)...but I think they get the win in this one. The Chiefs offense is certainly playing better than the Raiders of late.
Chiefs 29, Oakland 24

97. Jacksonville -2.5 Seattle (1.5 Stars) **WIN**

Seattle goes on the road where they are much more vulnerable and they continue to play defense with a bit of smoke and mirrors. Add to that the Jaguars are great at harassing opponents Qb, I don't think they'll continue to play as well as they did against the Eagles - who frankly had an off night.
Jaguars 30, Seahawks 22

98. L.A. Rams -1 Philadelphia (1.5 Stars) LOSS

The Rams will need to beat an Eagles team looking to bounce off last week's primetime defeat in Seattle, where they did not play particularly well. The key is whether Todd Gurley can get on track, or will he pull another Vikings? The Eagles can and will try to shut him down. But overall, I think the Rams defense is a bit better. Even with both defenses being excellent, I bet the NFL would love for this to be a shootout and my gut tells me it will be just that.
Rams 26, Eagles 24

Week 13

85. NY Giants +8.5 Oakland (5 Stars GOW) **WIN**

So Eli has been benched, boo-hoo boo-hoo. Frankly, I'm not going to fret over a Qb change on one of the league's worst offenses. What gathers my attention more is that the Raiders not only don't have a healthy passing game either, but their defense is pretty awful. Sure I trust Marshawn Lynch more in a ground game battle, but not by 8.5 points.
Giants 20, Raiders 23

86. Minnesota +2.5 Atlanta (4.5 Stars) **WIN**

The Falcons are clicking but they might not even have the better offense on the field, and they definitely do not have the better defense. I don't see much reason why the Vikings won't just win this game outright.
Vikings 23, Falcons 22

87. Houston +6.5 Tennessee (4 Stars) LOSS

I scratch my head a bit on this one. I don't see Tennessee as that much better. In fact, Texans might be able to bring more heat on the Qb this Sunday. I not only believe this will be a competitive fight, but I think the Texans may even walk out with a "W".
Texans 23, Oilers 25

88. NY Jets +3 KC (3 Stars) **WIN**

The Chiefs continue to reel into madness when they fell short in a late comeback bid last week. I think everyone would be reasonable to expect the Chiefs to bounce back in this game and end the streak. But the numbers just aren't that favorable. Teams seem to have figured out the Chiefs offense and they go on the road. With a little luck for the Jets, the Chiefs might actually lose AGAIN.
Jets 24, Chiefs 23

89. Jacksonville -9 Indianapolis (2 Stars) **WIN**

The last time these two teams played, the Colts didn't even score. This is the gaudiest statistical mismatch of the week, with massive advantages in both the running and passing game and the Jags all over whomever plays Qb for the Colts these days...
Jaguars 26, Colts 15

90. Chicago -3.5 SF (2 Stars) LOSS

The one thing the Bears can do is RUN and the one thing the 49ers can't stop is RUN. This should turn out well for the Bears. There should be some good pressure on Guerillapolis too on a bunch of 3rd-and-longs.
Bears 29, 49ers 23

Week 12 (Continued)

81. Jacksonville -4.5 Arizona (5 Stars GOW) LOSS

While Peterson may play for the Cardinals, it is the Jaguars who look to run wild on Sunday. Coupled with a slightly more potent passing game and a fierce pass rush to force mistakes to the leagues most dangerous secondary feasting on a young Qb, this one looks like it should be pretty lopsided.
Jaguars 31, Cardinals 21

82. Denver +4 Oakland (3.5 Stars) LOSS

Everything on the statistical docket looks lopsided towards the Broncos in their matchup with the reeling Raiders. I literally just had to discount double-check that the Broncos are a 4 point dog and not a 4 point favorite in this one. Based on pure statistics, they certainly are not the better team this Sunday even if they have one more win and a few more points this season. Denver is looking for their first road victory of the 2017 season.
Broncos 23, Raiders 24

83. Buffalo +8.5 KC (2.5 Stars) **WIN**

Both teams are bouncing off bad outings and KC certainly is more likely to right the ship. While everything points there way in this game, 8.5 points is pretty heady for them and doesn't leave much room for error. Buffalo just had a 30 point road loss and a 13 point road loss before that, but were competitive in their other road games.
Bills 24, Chiefs 30

84. Pittsburgh -14 Green Bay (2.5 Stars) LOSS

Pittsburgh will be all over the Packers Qb and has a mammoth advantage over the Packers passing game. It would not surprise me if they continue to force the ball to Antonio Brown...and it continues to work.
Steelers 32, Packers 16

Thanksgiving Day

79. Washington -7 NY Giants (3 Stars) **WIN**

The uptrend is definitely with the Redskins, although they will have to compensate for the loss of Chris Thompson. Sure, the Giants are coming off of statistical noise by beating the Chiefs. This is hardly a turnaround. The Redskins played 1-1-1 against a brutal 3 game stretch, coming on the short end last week. This still signifies a substantially better team than the Giants can produce. With an effective ground game and a passing game that can stretch the field much better than the Giants, the Redskins should keep their season alive one more week with a win.
Redskins 31, Giants 21

80. Minnesota -2.5 Detroit (2.5 Stars) **WIN**

Any time you can't run the ball at home and your opponent can, you are looking at a loss. Even worse, the Lions Qb will be running for his life. I expect the Vikings to get big chunks on the ground and set their Qb up for success as they get a chance to show America that their stellar defense makes them one of the 5 best teams in the NFL, even pitted against the productive offense of the Lions.
Vikings 29, Lions 24

WEEK 11

73. Buffalo +6.5 LA Chargers (4.5 Stars GOW) LOSS

Even Buffalo might look decent when playing the chargers, an unusual spot as a "home" favorite.
Buffalo 19, Chargers 21

74. NY Giants +10 KC (4.5 Stars) **WIN**

The Chiefs haven't really had that September form for a while, while the Giants are at least consistently bad.
Giants 22, Chiefs 27

75. Jacksonville -7 Cleveland (3 Stars) **WIN**

A close game outside the splash plays Jacksonville makes on a regular basis this season.
Jaguars 31, Browns 21

76. Baltimore -2 Green Bay (2.5 Stars) **WIN**

I have no confidence in the Rodger-less packers, even if they did surprise last week. Probably even more because they surprised last week...
Ravens 27, Packers 26

77. Oakland +7.5 New England (2.5 Stars) LOSS

Could be like a home game for the Raiders in Mexico. As seen in the last 7 superbowls, the Patriots rarely dominate the score on neutral fields.
Raiders 23, Patriots 27

78. Chicago +3 Detroit (2.5 Stars) PUSH

Should be a good close divisional matchup.
Bears 23, Lions 24

WEEK 10

A whopping 25 Stars in play this week...

65. Arizona +6 Seattle (3 Stars) PUSH

Arizona is coming off another game where Peterson ran 30+ times for countless yards to lead them to victory, but that won't happen against the staunch Seahawks run defense. That leaves the Cardinals is a close game with the Seahawks where every yard will count. But the Seahawks aren't scoring lots of points and aren't blowing anyone out, as they go on the road on a short week for TNF. They will win, but I think 6 points is pushing it. While we will see what Drew is made of, it isn't like Palmer was lighting it up in 2017 so there is room to surprise.
Cardinals 19, Seahawks 21

66. Jacksonville -4.5 LA Chargers (5 Stars GOW) LOSS

Jacksonvilleís well-rested Fournette should have a monster game is his return. That coupled with their staunch pass defense figures to make this a tough road trip for the unplugged Chargers.
Jaguars 28, Chargers 19

67. Dallas +3.5 Atlanta (4 Stars) LOSS

So Zeek got suspended and this line has only moved about a point. As odd as that is, my thinking tends to agree with this. Dallas is going to have a hugely productive running game against the Falcons regardless of who Dak hands off to. There will be other games where the Cowboys will miss him, but probably not this one. Outside of that, things square up pretty evenly between these teams but I think a couple more splash plays by the Cowboys defense may tilt this contest in their favor.
Cowboys 24, Falcons 23

68. Houston +12 LA Rams (3 Stars) LOSS

Houston wonít get much from their replacement at Qb, but they might not need to. The Texans will run the rock at will against the Rams, and only will need to contain the legendary Rams Qb in order to hang in this one. Probably not a game you would want to take as an under. It is hard to ignore that the Rams home field advantage is negligible too, making this a very expensive line.
Texans 23, Rams 32

69. Chicago -4 Green Bay (3 Stars) LOSS

The Bears are going to run hog wild over the Packers and pressure their replacement Qb all day long. Iím not sure if the Packers will win another game without Rodgers, but Iím very sure it wonít be this week.
Bears 23, Packers 17

70. SF +2.5 NYG (2.5 Stars) **WIN**

The 49ers would also do well against most college teams. Frankly if the Giants were getting 2.5 points, Iíd take them.
49ers 21, Giants 20

71. Minnesota -2.5 Washington (2.5 Stars) **WIN**

The Redskins continue to battle injuries. I donít see how that banged up O-Line of the Skins will keep Cousins upright or move the ball well in the running game against the Vikings formidable defensive front.
Vikings 25, Redskins 20

72. Denver +7 NE (2 Stars) LOSS

When I look at this game objectively Ė sure the Patriots have a better offense than the Broncos, but not so much I think the Broncos have absolutely no chance at home. The Broncos can really gash the Pats in the running game for big chunks, and might even throw the ball well.
Broncos 21, Patriots 26

WEEK 9

59. Buffalo -3 NY Jets (4 Stars) LOSS

I always know I have a vulnerable home team when they project as one of the worst rushing teams of the week. It is even worse when the opponent could have the most rushing yards of the week! Being able to outrun your home opponent will drain the home crowd and give you control of the clock. With other factors not proving favorable to the Jets - including turnovers and sacks - there is no doubt who the better team is...a quick look at my Thursday night record this season is also 5-2 and I don't recall if I even played the "2".
Bill 27, Jets 20

60. Baltimore +3.5 Tennessee (5 Stars GOW) **WIN**

Baltimore's defense stepped it up last week, and they can still outscore a weak Titans offense. The stat sheet could be close but the Ravens should get the only stat that matters....a "W"
Ravens 23, Titans 21

61. Jacksonville -6.5 Cincinnati (3.5 Stars) **WIN**

The Bengals anemic offense will have to take their crack at Jacksonville defense. But the real story could be that Fournette could be looking at a career day.
Jags 29, Bengals 19

62. Kansas City +2.5 Dallas (3.5 Stars) LOSS

The Cowboys are fortunate to have EE in the lineup again, and he projects to have a huge day. But KC will also be moving the ball well and could get enough pressure on the Cowboys Qb to swing this game in their favor. KC has been in their share of shootouts and Dallas may be outgunned.
Chiefs 26, Cowboys 25

63. Philadelphia -7 Denver (3 Stars) **WIN**

The Broncos continue to disappear in offensive issues, whereas the Eagles bring one of the most productive offenses to this matchup. It won't matter who is under center for the Broncos if they spend most of their time on their back.
Eagles 29, Broncos 19

64. Carolina +2.5 Atlanta (3 Stars) **WIN**

This game stacks up very close, but the Panthers have a top defense and I'm going with that in a big divisional matchup.
Panthers 23, Falcons 22

WEEK 8

53. Baltimore -3 Miami (3 Stars) **WIN**

The Dolphins have won 3 games in a row. Even if you gave this team a 50% chance to win every week, their odds of winning 4 in a row are under 10%. And considering in reality they are lucky to ever win a game, it's probably more like "when hell freezes over". The Dolphins do sport a good defense so the Ravens will need to be competent. The Ravens defense has been extremely disappointing so far, but the Dolphins are punchless on offense...getting most of their yards by roughing the Qb. Speaking of Qb, can the team actually get worse without Jay Cutler? That's the big question as they go into Thursday night. On a short week with a new Qb and a defensive opponent that might just surprise, the Dolphins will be very lucky to score 16....
Ravens 22, Miami 16

54. N.Y. Jets +6.5 Atlanta (5 Stars) **WIN**

Something seems off with the Falcons and that won't help them much against the rolling Jets. If the Falcons turnover the ball and can't slow down the Jets rushing attack, they will have a tough time winning this one.
Jets 23, Falcons 24

55. Minnesota -10 Cleveland (4 Star) **WIN**

This looks like a sack/turnover nightmare for Cleveland! The Vikings were all over Baltimore and this figures to be worse. Compound this with a much deeper passing game and this could get ugly quickly.
Vikings 29, Browns 15

56. Buffalo -2.5 Oakland (3 Stars) **WIN**

Bills will bring a balanced attack and are likely to win the turnover battle. I don't see that generating a win for the Raiders.
Bills 23, Raiders 17

57. Houston +6 Seattle (3 Stars) **WIN**

Houston's offense has been explosive this year and Seattle's...not so much. Houston can run the rock in this matchup and bring balance to this game.
Seahawks 23, Texans 21

58. Cincinnati -10.5 Indianapolis (2 Stars) LOSS

The yards per pass advantage of the resurgent Bengals offense vs. the Colts is hard to ignore.
Bengals 29, Colts 17

WEEK 7

46. Oakland +3 Kansas City (3 Stars) **WIN**

The Chiefs remain the best offense in the game despite getting dominated last week by the Steelers. They won't find the Raiders much easier, and the Raiders probably took some notes last week. But the real question here is can the Raiders offense improve with Carr back under center for the 2nd week? They face a giant ypp disadvantage that Carr must make up for by playing better. The good news is that there is nowhere to go but UP!
Raiders 30, Chiefs 27

47. Indianapolis +3 Jacksonville (5 Stars GOW) LOSS

Indianapolis is not the worst offense in the league, but nobody really wants to try to pass the ball against the Jaguars. Fortunately, the Colts should be able to pound it and also protect their horrible defense. There is no edge in this game on turnovers, which is a bit unexpected.
Colts 23, Jags 21

48. Arizona +2.5 LA Rams (4 Stars) LOSS

Arizona looked a hell of a lot more like their old self on offense last week, and the Rams don't figure to be great run stoppers. Plus not much of a home field advantage for the Rams in London.
Cardinals 30, Rams 28

49. Dallas -6.5 SF (3 Stars) **WIN**

The 49ers fall behind early in every game...and this week they won't catch up as Dallas is great at playing with a lead.
Cowboys 28, 49ers 19

50. Baltimore +4.5 Minnesota (2.5 Stars) LOSS

The Ravens defense has not been good this season, but they don't need to be great to hang with the Vikings.
Ravens 19, Vikings 21

51. Tampa Bay +3 Buffalo (2.5 Stars) PUSH

This is a battle of passing offenses and the Bucs are way beyond the Bills, even if they face a much stiffer defense.
Bucs 19, Bills 20

52. Seattle -3.5 NYG (2 Stars) **WIN**

The Giants pulled a rabbit out of the hat last week, but I don't see how that happens this week when they can't pressure seattle or stop the Seahawks running game despite the Seahawks woeful O-line. And it'll be cause for alarms if the Seattle defense can't handle the Giants wideouts.
Seahawks 22, Giants 20

I got burned on favorites again. We've had two straight weeks of underdog domination, and I incorrectly went for a couple thinking the tide would change. As bad as that was, it could have been worse. I also like Detroit, Tampa, and Washington.

25 units in play for...

WEEK 6

39. Philadelphia +3.5 Carolina (5 Stars GOW) **WIN**

The Panthers have struggled to run the ball all season, and that won't get much better against the Eagles. Newton has been explosive the last couple weeks, but the struggling running game will set him up for failure. He was sacked NINE times in their 2014 matchup! Will it go any better this time? The computer really likes this one and is a standout road dog on the board, so it earned GOW selection!
Philadelphia 26, Carolina 20

40. Denver -11.5 NY Giants (4.5 Stars) LOSS

I'm not even sure the Giants can field a complete team! Remember what Denver did to Dallas? Dallas had an offense. The Giants are probably holding tryouts right now. They are so desperate, they'd probably sign the Eagles guy from that movie. This one has U-G-L-Y written all over it. While the focus is on the flailing Giants offense, the Broncos hold a massive ground advantage in this one that may be one of the biggest of the season.
Broncos 20, Giants 0

41. Atlanta -11.5 Miami (4.5 Stars) LOSS

If Adam Gase and the owner make good on their promise to bench kneelers, would it matter? The Dolphins best play is a kneel. Last week, they managed one of the ugliest "victories" in NFL history putting up a net 78 yards passing. Good luck with that against the ATLANTA FALCONS. Talk about a ypp mismatch? Miami will be eating birdshit in this game and the fans will be snorting coke to forget it.
Falcons 23, Miami 3

42. LA Chargers +3.5 Oakland (4 Stars) **WIN**

While Carrís return is a welcome sight for Raiders fans, I donít feel it guarantees them victory. The Chargers play *somewhere* in California and I have much more faith in Rivers to roll up the yardage than Carr in this matchup. Add to it the fact that Carr is going to be laid out on his very sore back, and there is risk in Oakland. Expect the Raiders to lean on their running game to carry them through. While they may grind out the clock successfully, that doesnít necessarily translate to a big win.
Chargers 22, Raiders 21

43. KC -3.5 Pittsburgh (3 Stars) LOSS

Pittsburgh is getting a lot of respect after a dreadful performance vs. the Jags, but you canít overlook the fact that KC is simply playing better football.
Chiefs 27, Steelers 21

44. Cleveland +9 Houston (2 Stars) LOSS

Houston had some big losses on defense last week, but they showed they can definitely play offense. Thatís troublesome for the Browns who struggle on offense, although perhaps not the worst in the league at that position. Interestingly enough, Cleveland might even roll up more yardage in the air than the Texans this week! I know thatís a bold claim, but enough to make me want to take the points.
Browns 20, Texans 27

45. Chicago +6.5 Baltimore (2 Stars) **WIN**

Both of these teams are struggling in the passing game mightily, so letís look at the running game for a key on how this will go. In that, I like the Bears a bit more for having the better total yards and ypr average in this game. Thatís enough for me to take the points.
Bears 23, Ravens 27

WEEK 5

15 Units in play this week as the byes are starting to mount! But so are the wins...

33. Cleveland +1 NY Jets (5 Stars GOW) LOSS

I actually heard someone refer to the Jets today as being ďon fireĒ. And I think they actually meant it in a positive way. Admittedly, it would be hard to play worse than the Browns have done so far, but I think the Jets schedule has been a farce and they are going to cool down.
Browns 21, Jets 16

34. Pittsburgh -7 Jacksonville (3 Stars) LOSS

You can pretty much cut and paste what I said about the Jets and apply it to Jacksonville. Vegas is asking a lot of the Steelers with this line, but I think they know what they are doing as the Jags step up in class. The line has been flying towards Jacksonville but the Steelers have won 10-of-11 at home and face a Jaguars team yielding massive yards-per-rush against the surging Bell.
Steelers 23, Jaguars 10

35. Tennessee -2.5 Miami (2.5 Stars) LOSS

Tennesseeís offense is rolling, and Miami has scored 25 points ALL SEASON so farÖand most of that was in their first game. The main tilt here shows up in the running game.
Titans 22, Dolphins 19

36. St. Louis -1.5 Seattle (2 Stars) LOSS

Did you know the Rams are leading the NFL In points scored? Their defense may be Patriot-like in its lack of effectiveness, but the Seahawks arenít exactly lighting it up these days. No doubt the public will be all over the Seahawks, so this smacks of a good wiseguy bet to me.
Rams 27, Seahawks 24

37. Minnesota -3 Chicago (1.5 Stars) PUSH

Minnesotaís defense is a wall and Chicagoís offense is anemic.
Vikings 24, Bears 17

38. Indianapolis -1.5 San Francisco (1 Star) **WIN**

How does it get better than the Colts against the 49ers? The 49ers are a completely hopeless franchise that simply can not win football games Ė and usually can not even be competitive. Plus the Colts have Frank Gore, who has to be smacking his lips!
Colts 25, 49ers 23

Now that I have some 2017 data to work with, the wins are piling up with 11-5 (36-12 units) over the past 2 week! Considering one of my losses was the Redskins covfefe ending, another great weekend for TBC nation...

WEEK 4

I'm laying out 20 Units this week. I feel strong about the lower rated ones, but it looks like a strong board to me and relative strength prevailed. Yahoo has me rated over 60% for every game played this season vs. the spread and we hit the homer in Week 3!

25. N.Y. Giants +2.5 TB (5 Stars) **WIN**

At least the Giants defense can play, and the offense can only get better... especially against the burnt Bucs.
Giants 17, Bucs 16

26. Tennessee -2.5 Houston (4 Stars) LOSS

Remember the Titans? They have more offense in their pinky than the Texans have in their entire hand. And not much seperates these defenses right now.
Titans 24, Texans 17

27. Carolina +9 New England (3.5 Stars) **WIN**

The Patriots struggles on defense still exist and that's exactly the boost the Panthers need right now.
Panthers 21, Patriots 24

28. Cincinnati -3 Cleveland (2 Stars) **WIN**

Playing the worst defense in the league, the Bengals offense can only find ways to look better.
Cincinnati 24, Cleveland 19

29. LA Rams +6.5 Dallas (1.5 Stars) **WIN**

I prefer the Rams offense right now, and I'm not a huge believer in the Cowboys defense. On the line, it is strength vs. strength.
Rams 24, Cowboys 27

30. Washington +7 KC Chiefs (1.5 Stars) LOSS

The Redskins bounce of an epic performance, but they'll have to do it against the hottest team in the league. The Skins don't figure to go down easy in this battle of Little Big Horn.
Redskins 17, Chiefs 23

31. Denver -3 Oakland (1.5 Star) **WIN**

Last week, Oakland couldn't handle Washington's maligned defense. What are the Broncos going to do to them?
Broncos 26, Raiders 20

32. Baltimore +3 Pittsburgh (1 Star) LOSS

Baltimore is vertically challenged in this matchup and the offense is not playing well, but 3 points at home is asking an awful lot in this heated division rivalry that is going to be fiercely contested on both sides of the ball.
Ravens 24, Steelers 23

WEEK 3

The Black Cat is a computerized prediction system based on 2017 statistics. While it would be great to do well in weeks 1 & 2 (and often have in week 2), my results from the early games are largely meaningless. As the season goes on, I get Category 5 stronger! I'm actually having a good season so far as my unpublished picks are going virtually undefeated. If you want some off-the-record selections and updates, tune in to my twitter @blackcatnfl for full schedule musings...

17. Cincinnati +8.5 Green Bay (5 Stars GOW) **WIN**

NFL teams bounce around certain medians. You'd be surprised at how thin the margin is between the best and worst teams mathematically. The Bengals actually have a very good defense and the offense has absolutely nowhere to go but UP after firing their offensive coordinator. Meanwhile, the Packers look a bit less impressive now that we saw Seattle struggle at home to move the ball and getting punked last week. The statistical projections are pedestrian enough not to make you want to lay 8.5 points. So the points are a good value on this side that only a computer can love!
Bengals 17, Packers 21

18. New Orleans +6.5 Carolina (4.5 Stars) **WIN**

Cam Newton should lead the league in passing this week against the Saints defense, and I certainly wouldn't bench him in fantasy football. But again, week 3 is a bit about norms and I expect the Saints to somehow look better when not facing Tom Brady. The Saints also seem to play better on the road. Facing an 0-3 start, this looks like a bounce-back game for the easy Breesy!
Saints 17, Panthers 20

19. Buffalo +3 Denver (3.5 Stars) **WIN**

C'mon now, Trevor isn't the next John Elway, just like the other Trevor isn't Jon Stewart. The defense humiliated the Cowboys and the offense lapped it all up, but the Broncos don't figure to run away with this one and it's going down to the wire with the Broncos Qb on the road. I'm calling...an UPSET!
Bills 21, Broncos 20

20. KC -3 LA Chargers (3 Stars) **WIN**

Whose HOUSE? CHIEFS HOUSE! The Chargers continue to play "on the road" in LA against the hottest team in the NFL. While Rivers can move the ball, their defense sucks. No reason to think the Chiefs won't take it to them and through them.
Chiefs 26, Chargers 20

21. Seattle +3 Tennessee (3 Stars) LOSS

Certainly nothing in the stats will make you excited about the Seahawks chances in this game, explaining a line that almost screams TRAP!!! But the Seahawks know how to win games and the Titans don't. Led by their still-stellar defense, the Seahawks will gut it out again.
Seahawks 23, Titans 22

22. Dallas -3 Arizona (3 Stars) **WIN**

Arizona has some real problems with their star injured physically, unlike the mental one plaguing the Cowboys RB. The Cardinals barely survived the bottom-dwelling Colts. Even though Dallas had a horrific offensive game last week, there is little seperating these teams statistically and the upside is for the Cowboys offense to rebound.
Cowboys 23, Cardinals 17

23. Indianapolis PK Cleveland (3 Stars) **WIN**

Here's a game you will NOT want to miss! Just kidding, you may want to miss it. The Colts try not to throw away their season, while the Browns season never really happened in the first place.
Colts 19, Browns 17

24. New England -13 Houston (2.5 Stars) LOSS

I can't even tell you who the Texans Qb is.
Patriots 31, Texans 14

I probably regret the Pittsburgh pick the most, having the Vikings without Bradford. Anyway, a pedestrian effort on my part. Home teams do very well in week 2 - and many of them had little trouble covering the spread against their low-powered roadkill. Except for Seattle, what was up with THAT?!?

Week 2


9. Houston +6 Cincinnati (2 Stars) **WIN**

This week, the Bengals are favored by 6 points...which is 6 more points than they scored last week! An unusual situation to be sure. Last week was a disaster for both teams, both featuring complete offensive meltdowns at home. The Texans were particularly awful, as their Qb was flooded with pressure all game. We don't want to over-analyze one game, so who were these team's last year? The Bengals were marginally better, something reflective in this spread. Both teams had respectable defenses and probably still do. While the Texans offense might be worse than last year, how much worse can they really be? They were pretty bad last year. It's really the Bengals offense that has downside (and looked bad), as at least they didn't completely suck last year. So from this, the spread is fair or perhaps slightly generous to the Bengals. Now last week, it is really hard to glean anything. They both sucked pretty equally - but that has meaning vs.a 6 point spread. Ultimately, this projects as a pretty lackluster game with little offense, a lot of sacks and punts, and nothing really differentiating these bad teams except maybe the home field advantage. So take the points in a game that should be sluggish.
Texans 23, Bengals 27

10. New Orleans +6 New England (5 Stars GOW) LOSS

This line looks properly inflated. We all know it is simply impossible for the Patriots to lose a 2nd game and nobody plays worse at home than the Saints. But could there be some real chinks in the armor that a desperate Saints team can exploit? Is Brady less superhuman without Edelman? Do you really doubt the Saints can run yard-for-yard with the Patriots given how poorly they stopped the run last week? Do you really doubt Brees can throw yard-for-yard with Brady? Get your popcorn ready, this could be a real show! I know it's insane, but there is no denying there is value in this spread.
Saints 24, Patriots 27 (OT)

11. Indianapolis +6.5 Arizona (4 Stars) **WIN**

Indianapolis may feel like one of the worst teams in the NFL right now, but they did move the ball a little last week. I am concerned about the Cardinals ability to run the ball, especially with their superstar injured. I don't think Carson Palmer is going to go in there and light up the Colts secondary, so they just need a passable performance from whoever plays Qb for the Colts.
Colts 24, Arizona 27

12. Minnesota +7 Pittsburgh (4 Stars) LOSS

The Vikings passing game looked in sync last week, certainly more than the Steelers did against a weak Browns defense. The Vikings don't have a week defense. I don't want to sound like a broken record, but the Steelers rushing game was missing last week and the Vikings may not make it easy for skipped-training-camp-for-no-damn-reason Bell to find his rhythm. I think Steelers fans should worry about this game, because they could drop this one if they play like they did in week 1.
Vikings 21, Steelers 19

13. Philadelphia +5 KC (3 Stars) LOSS

The Chiefs are coming off a legendary victory, but they better refocus with the Eagles coming to town. The Eagles offense made plays against the Redskins and the defense looked respectable. I expect the Eagles to give the Chiefs all they can handle.
Chiefs 26, Eagles 24

14. Denver +2.5 Dallas (3 Stars) **WIN**

While you have to be a bit concerned with the Broncos offense, this is a very powerful defense playing at home against the Cowboys. If the Broncos QB can get the ball out of his hands quickly and avoid taking sacks, they will be ok.
Broncos 23, Cowboys 20

15. Buffalo +6.5 Carolina (2 Stars) **WIN**

I think Buffalo can outrun AND outpass the Panthers, still featuring a nursing Cam Newton and a run-by-committee. So should we give up 6.5 points? I don't think so!
Bills 17, Panthers 21

16. N.Y. Jets +13 Oakland (2 Stars) LOSS

Oakland may have had an exciting start to the season, but I wouldn't get too excited about topping the Titans. One Raider fan I spoke to was ready to book tickets to the next Superbowl. But, I don't see much evidence that they are going to run and pass up-and-down the field like the 2016 Falcons in this matchup. I'll take the points and expect neither team to do much here either.
Raiders 17, Jets 14

Week 1

1. Kansas City +8.5 New England (2 Stars) **WIN**

Certainly a possibility that the Patriots simply blow out the Chiefs and nobody will be surprised if they do...but KC has matched up well against the Pats in recent years, playing tight in all but 1 game. Kelce is probable but in handicapper talk, "Probable" means "Probably gonna score 3 TDs and 120 yards". New England hasn't opened the season covering the spread since 2012, including a Pittsburgh opener at home they won by 7. In fact, the Pats seem to close out a lot of home games by 7, and I think there is some marginal value in 8.5.
Patriots 25, Chiefs 19

2. Dallas -4 NY Giants (3 Stars) **WIN**

The Cowboys have been tough to beat with their 2016 rookies on the field, and both are playing this Sunday. Despite edging out the Cowboys in last year's opener, the Giants lost the previous 5 openers straight. Last year the Cowboys would have warranted a line over a TD so I'm just going to hold to that expectation in a game that is probably undervalued because of the suspension that didn't happen.
Cowboys 25, Giants 17

3. Washington +1.5 Philadelphia (4 Stars) **GOW** LOSS

I believe the Redskins will feel the loss of Desean Jackson a bit more acutely in this matchup, but the Redskins always beat out the Eagles. It may not be pretty, it may not be easy, but it will be.
Redskins 26, Eagles 23

4. NY Jets +8.5 Buffalo (3 Stars) LOSS

The Jets may be one of the worst teams ever assembled in the history of the NFL. Fortunately, they are playing the Buffalo Bills. Beside being pretty awful themselves, the Jets have done pretty well against the Bills. They swept them last year, and played within 5 points in 2015.
Jets 20, Bills 25

5. Chicago +6 Atlanta (2 Stars) PUSH

Home dogs are pretty good bets in the opener, at least as long as you donít pick one that absolutely stinks. I think thatís a good description of Chicago. The great thing about playing the Falcons is no matter how far you fall behind, you just never feel like you are out of the game. Iím not even sure the Falcons WANT a big leadÖbut expect the Falcons to jump out to a 28-3 lead, but blow it in the 4th quarterÖ.until they hang on to WIN!
Bears 24, Falcons 28

6. Cincinnati -3 Baltimore (2 Stars) LOSS

There are 3 certainties in life: Death, Taxes, and the Bengals always beat the Ravens at home.
Bengals 24, Ravens 19

7. Pittsburgh -9 Cleveland (2 Stars) LOSS

Pittsburgh really doesnít have a great record as a road favorite in recent years, despite once being the NFLís most dominant team in this category. Of course, thatís only because they donít play the Browns on the road more than once a season! (Certainly not in the playoffs) The Browns have an opportunity to be historically awful this year, and this is about the last team they want to play to kickoff a season that could be historically awful.
Steelers 28, Browns 17

8. Houston -5 Jacksonville (2 Stars) LOSS

Who would have thought Jacksonville would be relieved to be in Houston after last week? Houston is still reeling from a record breaking flood and JJ Watt made headlines raising nearly 30 million dollars for the community. While statistically I canít make a great argument for Houston, this feels like a homecoming game and I think a few bucks on Houston will be very safely invested.
Texans 24, Jags 17

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