NFC South: expert picks

Experts: Falcons have no chance

January, 17, 2013
It appears as if the consensus is that the Atlanta Falcons have very little chance to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.

At least that’s what Las Vegas odds-makers and lots of media members are saying. The ESPN NFL Expert Picks are out, and Chris Mortensen and Keyshawn Johnson are the only two of the 14 panelists to pick the Falcons.

I generally stay clear of predictions, but I make exceptions for the postseason. In case you missed the Double Coverage segment I did with NFC West Colleague Mike Sando on Tuesday, I made my prediction there.

I picked the Falcons to win, 31-27. I think the home-field advantage means more than a lot of people realize, and I think Matt Ryan will shine in this game. Oh, and KC Joyner has this Insider piece with 10 reasons why the Falcons can win.

So, at least there are a few people out there that are giving the Falcons a chance.

Experts: Falcons will win

January, 10, 2013
All season long, Atlanta fans have been talking about how the Falcons don’t get enough respect.

I never have understood the obsession so many fans have with how they think they’re perceived by the national media. It really is a pointless exercise. Coaches and players don’t spend much time thinking about whether they’re getting their due.

Most of them believe you don’t go out and ask for respect. You earn it.

And the fact is, the Falcons aren’t going to get wide-spread respect until they win a playoff game for the first time in the Mike Smith-Matt Ryan era.

But Atlanta fans might be happy to know their team is a solid favorite against Seattle, according to the ESPN NFL Expert Picks. Nine members of the panel picked the Falcons.

Mark Schlereth, Tom Jackson, Mike Ditka and Cris Carter picked the Seahawks. So did SportsNation, but that’s based on a vote by fans. There’s a lesson to be learned there. If Atlanta fans wanted another pick in the Falcons’ column, they should have voted more often than Seattle fans.

Anyway, most of you know that I generally don’t make predictions. But I make an exception for the playoffs.

You can go here to see my prediction on who wins the Seattle-Atlanta game.

Checking out the expert picks

December, 14, 2012
ESPN’s panel of experts are evenly split on Sunday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants.

Seven are picking the Falcons to win and seven are picking the Giants.

The other games involving NFC South teams aren’t nearly as close in the eyes of the panelists.

They have the New Orleans Saints as the overwhelming favorite against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Adam Schefter was the only panelist to pick Tampa Bay. I’m mildly surprised by this one. The Bucs have been in a slump of late, but it’s not like New Orleans has been on a roll. I think Tampa Bay has shot to win this one.

Only three panelists (Schefter, Tom Jackson and Mike Ditka) chose the Carolina Panthers to win their game at the San Diego Chargers. I’m also a little surprised by this one. Carolina is coming off a big win against Atlanta and quarterback Cam Newton and the defense have played better recently. The Panthers also seem to be playing hard to help coach Ron Rivera keep his job, so I can also see Carolina pulling off the upset.

Checking out the experts' picks

November, 15, 2012
I went to check on the ESPN NFL Expert Picks expecting the panel to be unanimous in this week’s games involving NFC South teams.

But it turns out that’s the case in only one game. The panel was unanimous in its choice of the Atlanta Falcons over the Arizona Cardinals. That makes plenty of sense because the Falcons are very tough at the Georgia Dome and the Cardinals are crumbling after a fast start.

But there was a little bit of division among the panelists when it came to the other two NFC South games.

Twelve panel members are picking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Carolina Panthers and I’d make the same prediction. The Bucs suddenly are hot and the Panthers are having a dismal season. But Keyshawn Johnson, who played for both teams, and Adam Schefter picked the Panthers.

Schefter also went against conventional wisdom in picking the Oakland Raiders to defeat the New Orleans Saints. He and Chris Mortensen are the only two panelists picking against the Saints.

Experts divided on Buccaneers, Saints

November, 2, 2012
As you would probably expect, ESPN’s panel of experts likes the Atlanta Falcons, but not the Carolina Panthers in Week 9.

The panel is much more split when it comes to the games involving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.

The 14-member panel made the Washington Redskins a unanimous choice over the Carolina Panthers, which isn’t surprising given Carolina’s losing streak.

The panel also has a strong consensus on the Falcons against the Dallas Cowboys. Twelve members have the Falcons winning.

The panel has an even split on the Buccaneers against the Raiders.

The Saints got eight votes to win their Monday night game against the Eagles.
ESPN’s panel of experts isn’t giving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Carolina Panthers much chance on Sunday.

Twelve of the 14 panelists are predicting the New Orleans Saints will defeat the Buccaneers. Adam Schefter and Tom Jackson were the only panelists to pick Tampa Bay.

Eleven panelists have Dallas defeating Carolina. The exceptions are Jackson, Eric Allen and Keyshawn Johnson, who, by the way, played for both the Cowboys and Panthers.
It’s time for our weekly look at the ESPN NFL Expert Picks.

Each week, a 14-member panel predicts all the NFL games. This week, that panel is giving two NFC South teams absolutely no shot to win.

The vote is unanimous on the Atlanta Falcons over the Carolina Panthers, which isn’t a huge surprise. The Falcons are 3-0 and playing at home and the Panthers are coming off an ugly loss to the Giants. But that was a Thursday night game, so the Panthers have had a few extra days to prepare and the Falcons just made a West Coast trip (to San Diego) after playing a Monday night game. The Falcons obviously are the favorites, but I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the Panthers pulled off an upset.

The panel also is unanimous in picking Green Bay over New Orleans. I get the logic on that -- the Saints are struggling and the Packers are at home and probably will looking to work out a little frustration after their controversial loss to Seattle on Monday night. But, again, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the Saints somehow pull this one out. This could be a “last-stand’’ game for the Saints, who would fall to 0-4 if they lose.

The only game involving an NFC South team that the panel has any debate on is Washington at Tampa Bay. The split is straight down the middle with seven picks for the Bucs and seven for the Redskins. Sounds about right because no one is certain what these two teams are all about yet.

I like what I’ve seen out of Tampa Bay’s defense. If the Bucs can just put together some sort of rhythm on offense, they could be a .500 team by Sunday evening.

Expert picks for Week 2

September, 13, 2012
Let’s take a look at the ESPN's experts’ picks for the Week 2 NFC South games.

The 14-member panel is unanimous on the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants. Every pick is for the Giants.

There’s a bit more of a split on the game between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. There are 11 picks for the Saints and three for the Panthers.

Finally, the biggest divide is on the Monday Night Football game between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons. Nine picks went for the Falcons and five for the Broncos.