Andrew Luck having a terrible first quarter & the Lions' inept offense cost me on special props last week. Unacceptable. I will bounce back this week & here are my picks for Week 9.
Blaine Gabbert 'Over/Under' 220.5 Passing Yards, 1.5 TD Passes, 1 INT
Bovada offered a Week 8 prop on NFL odds asking if 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick would be pulled from a game this season for non-injury reasons. I said no as I worried the team would wreck his confidence. And technically I am still right. But Kaepernick was benched this week and will be replaced by perhaps the worst starting quarterback in the NFL this decade in Gabbert. I'm a bit surprised Bovada doesn't offer a prop on whether Kaepernick is a 49er next season. I don't see how he is now, plus the team is line for a potential Top 5 draft pick and could take QB Jared Goff from neighboring Cal-Berkeley. Kaepernick is completing just 59.3 percent of his passes with five picks and a rating of 78.8. The Niners' league-low 109 points are the fourth-fewest in team history through eight games. Some teammates wanted Kaepernick benched. And Coach Jim Tomsula said his QB needed a mental break. That's all fine. But Gabbert!? The former No. 10 overall pick by Jacksonville did look great this postseason but so did Ryan Leaf years ago. Gabbert got into one game last year with the Niners and was 3-for-7 for 38 yards and a TD vs. Denver. That was the only fourth-quarter TD pass that the 49ers had all season, which is hard to believe. The Niners host Atlanta this week and the Falcons are No. 25 against the pass. They have allowed nine TD passes and picked off eight.
NFL Free Picks: I'm going 'OVER' all. Why? The Niners are down to their third-string running back with injuries to Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush (he's out for season). I don't see them running well. So Gabbert will put up garbage-type numbers in another loss.
Jason Pierre-Paul O/U .5 Sacks
Pierre-Paul, the New York Giants' defensive end and top pass-rusher, hasn't played this season after a July 4 fireworks accident led to his right finger being amputated while losing parts of his middle finger and thumb. Pierre-Paul intends to use his left hand on the ground now. He used his right hand most of the time while playing right defensive end last season. It's still not clear yet if JPP will debut Sunday at Tampa Bay, but he has been practicing after only signing his deal with the team last week and it is looking good for him to go. The Giants' defense needs him. JPP had 12.5 sacks last year; New York has a NFL-low nine in 2015 and was torched for 52 points and seven TD passes last week in New Orleans. Tampa Bay has allowed 14 sacks this season of rookie QB Jameis Winston.
NFL Free Pick: 'UNDER' at -160.
Will The Jets Make The Playoffs?
No is -150 on NFL odds and yes +110. Winning the AFC East is out of the question so the Jets would have to claim a wild-card spot. At 4-3, they currently hold down the final AFC spot. New York should win this week at home vs. Jacksonville as starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been cleared to play despite a thumb injury. The remaining schedule is: vs. Buffalo (next Thursday), at Houston, vs. Miami, at NY Giants, vs. Tennessee, at Dallas, vs. New England, at Buffalo. Only the Patriots currently have a winning record among that group.
NFL Free Pick: I could see the Jets finishing 9-7 -- if they win Sunday and Thursday vs. the Bills. That should be enough in the AFC. Go YES.
Will The Falcons Make The Playoffs?
Yes is -400 and no is +300. Atlanta (6-2) is two games in the loss column behind Carolina in the NFC South, but the Panthers are underdogs Sunday at home vs. Green Bay and the Falcons favored at San Francisco. So it could be one game by Sunday evening. Atlanta currently holds the NFC's top wild-card spot. Its remaining schedule after this week: bye, vs. Indianapolis, vs. Minnesota, at Tampa Bay, at Carolina, at Jacksonville, vs. Carolina, vs. New Orleans.
NFL Free Pick: I'm going with NO. I'll say Falcons finish 9-7 but lose out on the second wild card to either Seattle or New Orleans (Vikings take the first one).