NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
The Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams remain unbeaten so far in 2018. There are no win less teams remaining as the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers last week 28-12.
It is desperation time for a lot of NFL teams this week. The New Orleans Saints and the Detroit Lions will be idle this week. My record last week was 9-6. My record so far this season is 40-36-2. Who will win the games this week and what will the bold predictions be?
Philadelphia Eagles 31 New York Giants 14: Carson Wentz has had a very good season so far and he will have several opportunities to let his team march into the end zone. The Eagles defense could force a lot of three and outs. The Giants offense is stabilized with Eli Manning as their quarterback. They did score 31 points last week. It was the first time in 36 games they scored 30 or more. Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley sparked that offense realistically. Olivier Vernon will be making his season debut for the New York Giants on Thursday night. Philadelphia will have Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood as the primary backs with Jay Ajayi done for the season with a torn ACL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28 Atlanta Falcons 31: It will be another shootout for the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. They need to find an answer defensively, but they are banged up. This will be Jameis Winston's first start of the season and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off a bye week.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Cincinnati Bengals 26: The Bengals have a chance to put the Steelers in a big time hole this weekend in the division with a win. Andy Dalton will show up in a big game because Pittsburgh's pass defense has been horrendous all season long. Ben Roethlisberger will provide a spark to the Steelers offense, but expect the Bengals defense to shut down the running game early and often.
Los Angeles Chargers 24 Cleveland Browns 16: I thought about taking the Cleveland Browns in this one, but I will take the Los Angeles Chargers because they will be playing with a heavy heart this weekend because owner Alex Spanos passed away. The Chargers only two losses this season is against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams and they are both undefeated. The Browns are playing a lot better, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The difference in the game will be the quarterback play.
Buffalo Bills 13 Houston Texans 16: This could be an ugly game to watch on Sunday. Both teams have had shaky moments. This is also a big game because it could have playoff implications later on in the season. Josh Allen and Deshaun Watson will both be tested. Whoever wins the mental battle, there team will win the game.
Chicago Bears 27 Miami Dolphins 17: The Bears are coming off a bye week and they will look to continue their winning ways. Mitchell Trubisky threw six touchdowns in his last game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the bye week. Chicago also had a ferocious defense led by Khalil Mack. It looks like the Miami Dolphins are heading for a tail spin after blowing a 17-point lead last week on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Arizona Cardinals 14 Minnesota Vikings 35: The Vikings got a much needed win on the road last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. They now need to keep the foot on the gas pedal and not let up. Minnesota is still struggling in the running game. Josh Rosen got his first career win as a starting quarterback last week. The Cardinals will be in for a long afternoon though.
Indianapolis Colts 24 New York Jets 20: Andrew Luck is having a good season and he looks comfortable. The Colts have a very good pass rush and they will make Sam Darnold's life uncomfortable. Frank Reich will out coach Todd Bowles.
Seattle Seahawks 23 Oakland Raiders 31: This game will be played in London. Seattle gave the Los Angeles Rams everything they could handle, but it still wasn't enough. The Oakland Raiders offense will get into a groove this week against a bad Seahawks defense. Derek Carr is starting to develop some chemistry with Jordy Nelson. Amari Cooper could have a bounce back week.
Carolina Panthers 27 Washington Redskins 20: Graham Gano made a 63-yard field goal last week to win the game for the Carolina Panthers over the New York Giants 33-31. Cam Newton has been a lot better this season under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. The running game has been effective. Carolina will make more plays at the end of the day because they have more athletes on offense than the Washington Redskins do.
Los Angeles Rams 40 Denver Broncos 20: The Rams will continue to run an up tempo offense. They hope to have wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp this week. They are both in concussion protocol. They left the game against the Seattle Seahawks last week with a concussion. The Broncos have been a disappointment the last three weeks, especially against the opposing offense. Todd Gurley could have a big game because Denver's rush defense is pathetic.
Jacksonville Jaguars 17 Dallas Cowboys 13: The Jaguars signed running back Jamaal Charles this week because of the injury to Leonard Fournette. Blake Bortles will be better this week against a better defense despite playing against the worst defense in the league last week. The Cowboys offense will be stagnant all game long. The Dak Prescott questions will arise once again, but their biggest issue is a lack of game-breaking speed on the perimeter.
Baltimore Ravens 20 Tennessee Titans 22: This is a big game for both teams because it could have playoff implications later on in the season. The Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans both lost on the road last week against teams they should have beaten. Which ever teams loses this week, they could be heading towards a tail spin. Joe Flacco and Marcus Mariota will both be better this week. The difference in the game will be special teams play and good field position.
Kansas City Chiefs 38 New England Patriots 28: Hold off the Patriots are back talks for this weekend. The Kansas City Chiefs offense will show New England early and often who is boss in the AFC this season. Patrick Mahomes will be ready for the challenge and so will Head Coach Andy Reid. Kansas City has probably the worst defense in the league, but New England's defense isn't much better either. The Kansas City Chiefs will win this game because they have more speed and the New England Patriots don't.
San Francisco 49ers 13 Green Bay Packers 24: The Packers can't afford to play down to their opponent once again this week. If that happens, it will be an alarming event for Green Bay. The 49ers struggled at home against the Arizona Cardinals. San Francisco struggles defending the pass and Aaron Rodgers loves to sling it.
Bold predictions: 1. Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement each rush for 90 yards and a touchdown against the New York Giants.
2. A.J. Green will have a better day than Antonio Brown.
3. Derek Carr will throw for 350 yards and four touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks.
4. The Chicago Bears will pick off Ryan Tannehill four times.
5. Aaron Rodgers will throw for 400 yards and five touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers.