Talbs & His Theories
The local sports scene is busy tonight with three tournament games. Let’s take a look:
No. 7 Athol volleyball vs. No. 10 Mount Everett, Mallet Gymnasium, 5 p.m.
This year’s Lady Raiders feel like they have something to prove and the Eagles are likely to feel their wrath. After consecutive WMass title game appearances, Athol has flown under the radar this season. I’m predicting they make easy work of Mount Everett and set their sights on No. 2 Lee.
No. 7 Mahar girls’ soccer vs. No. 10 Putnam, James S. Woodward Athletic Complex, 6 p.m.
The Lady Senators face the Beavers in what should be nothing more than a tune-up for No. 2 Wahconah. Expect seventh-grader Delaney Parker to be involved early and often and Mahar to roll to victory.
No. 8 Athol girls’ soccer vs. No. 9 Renaissance, O’Brien Field, 6 p.m.
The Lady Raiders battled to the end while reaching the tournament for a 10th consecutive fall. The Phoenix provides Athol a perfect opportunity to build its confidence before facing No. 1 Granby for a third time.
Now, to the NFL picks:
Browns at Bengals (-11)
The two teams have split in each of the last two seasons and are playing on a short-week. Cleveland will be trotting on Johnny Manziel at quarterback and I suspect he will provide a spark against a worn down Bengals’ defense which should be worn down from a physical battle with the Steelers last week. Take the points. Bengals 23-17.
Raiders at Steelers (-4)
Le’Veon Bell has officially destroyed fantasy football seasons for a number of owners. Those who braved a two-game suspension and drafted Bell are kicking themselves in the butt right now. Oakland is playing great right now, but a trip to the East coast will wear them down. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown will find their stride in their second week back together. Steelers 31-24.
Jaguars at Jets (-2.5)
We learned a lot about the Jets with last week’s poor showing in Oakland. Fortunately for them, they return home against a weak Jacksonville squad. Jets 24-20.
Rams at Vikings (-2.5)
Believe it or not, Minnesota is 5-2. If this game was in St. Louis, I would feel quite good about the Rams. Todd Gurley is a superstar and the defense is outstanding. Take the Rams, but proceed with caution. Rams 20-17.
Dolphins at Bills (-3)
After back-to-back starts by EJ Manuel, Tyrod Taylor is back for the Bills. That should be good news, but the real problem has been the disappointing defense. It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins can bounce-back after being dismantled by the Patriots. Buffalo won the first meeting 41-14. Bills 27-20.
Titans at Saints (-8)
Ken Whisenhunt is out, Mike Mularkey is in. It shouldn’t matter as the Saints have played well in recent weeks and the Tennessee offense won’t be able to keep pace. Saints 35-17.
Redskins at Patriots (-14)
This one is going to be on Kirk Cousins as the Washington running game has struggled mightily. Expect Tom Brady to pick the Redskins apart and the Patriots to win in another rout. Patriots 40-10.
Packers (-2.5) at Panthers
Green Bay didn’t look like themselves at Denver, but their lack of weapons became evident. Aaron Rodgers is unbelievable, but without Jordy Nelson, a viable tight end and a passing back they are incredibly thin. Randall Cobb was a star a year ago, but with the lack of threats around him he has struggled this year. I never doubt Rodgers, but they might just be too thin — including on the offensive line. Carolina is 7-0 and that defense is legit. With the gaping holes Denver opened up, I could see the Panthers pulling this one off. Panthers 24-20.
Falcons (-7) at 49ers
Atlanta has proven unreliable and this one is in San Francisco. Fortunately for the Falcons, Blaine Gabbert is under center for the 49ers. He can’t be any worse than Colin Kaepernick and I can’t lay a touchdown with Atlanta. Falcons 20-17.
Giants (-2.5) at Buccaneers
Eli Manning’s roller coast career continues. He was unbelievably good a week ago which suggests he could struggle this week. New York’s defense lacks talent and the Jameis Winston/Mike Evans duo could make them pay. Bucs 27-24.
Broncos (-5) at Colts
I didn’t consider Denver a threat until its defense placed Green Bay under lock-and-key. It’s time to take the Broncos seriously. The Colts are feeling the heat, but Andrew Luck could heat up at any time. Rob Chudzinski is taking over the play-calling duties and I like what he has done in the past. Colts 27-24.
Eagles (-2.5) at Cowboys
The Dallas defense has played great, but the offense just can’t get going without Tony Romo. Philly is coming off a bye week and the offense seems close to breaking out. This could be the week. Eagles 31-17.
Bears at Chargers (-4)
San Diego’s defense has been terrible all year and Alshon Jeffrey looks like he’s in for a big night. Chicago is without Matt Forte while the Chargers will be minus Keenan Allen. Allen’s absence will hurt, but Phillip Rivers will make do. Chargers 30-27.
Against the spread: 6-6-1 in Week 8; 57-54-4 on the season
Straight up: 8-5 in Week 8; 73-42 on the season