Predicting Week 6 of the NFL season

Hello and welcome back to the Cowan Corner for another week of predictions for the upcoming slate of NFL games.

Four more teams have byes this week so it will be another spread of 14 games to choose from this weekend.

We have a long way to go until the playoffs as the playoff picture could change dramatically in the next few weeks.

With that being said, let’s get into this week’s picks beginning with the Thursday night game.

Panthers over Eagles

This is probably the best overall game of the week and we’re getting it early on Thursday night.

Both of these teams are clear playoff contenders and I could see it going either way. However, the Panthers have shown a capability to be a top contender this season while I think the Eagles aren’t quite at that level yet.

That combined with the Panthers playing at home means I am going with them.

Falcons over Dolphins

The Falcons are coming off of a bye week and they have the luxury of facing a terrible Dolphins team at home.

I’m just wondering what it’s going to take for the Dolphins to bench Jay Cutler considering how horrible he has played thus far couple with his terrible body language.

Regardless, whether it’s Jay Cutler or Matt Moore under center for the Dolphins, I think the Falcons win easily.

Packers over Vikings

Aaron Rodgers showed once again why he is the best quarterback in the NFL Sunday with his marvelous final drive to beat the Cowboys.

Now the Packers travel to Minnesota for an important NFC North matchup and I think they will win this one as well to improve to 5-1.

The Vikings are a decent team, but their offense has no identity and the quarterback combo of Case Keenum and Sam Bradford doesn’t inspire confidence.

Saints over Lions

This game should be the quite a shootout with two teams used to playing in domes and with quarterbacks who can sling it around facing off.

I think this game will be close, but I think the Saints coming off of a bye week will pick up the victory.

Patriots over Jets

The Jets and Patriots come into this game with identical 3-2 records which is not something I would not have expected going into the season.

Regardless, the Patriots are much better than the Jets even if their defense isn’t what it used to be and I think the Patriots will pick up an easy win here.

Redskins over 49ers

The 49ers are one of three winless teams at this point in the season and I don’t think they will get their first win this week.

The Redskins are a decent team and Kirk Cousins should be able to lead his offense to a solid win over the 49ers.

Ravens over Bears

The start of Mitchell Trubisky’s NFL career was not particularly eye-catching as threw for just one touchdown and had less than 200 yards passing, but his performance was passable.

However, this week he is matched up against a formidable defense in the Ravens and I expect the Ravens to overwhelm the young rookie with pressure throughout.

Texans over Browns

Will the Browns win a game this season? Maybe. Will they win against the Texans this week? I don’t think there is any chance that happens.

The Texans did lose handily to the Chiefs Sunday, but Deshaun Watson has continued to look impressive and should pick apart the Browns.

Buccaneers over Cardinals

These two teams have evenly matched records going in, but I would say the Cardinals have been a little less impressive.

After being decimated by the Eagles last week, I could see the Cardinals getting torched again by the combined power of Mike Evans and Desean Jackson.

Jaguars over Rams

The Jaguars are the early favorite for most confusing team of 2017 because you can never tell which version of them will show up. Some weeks they absolutely destroy the competition, but then the next week they’ll get torched themselves.

I’m making this prediction based on the assumption and hope that the Jaguars put on another dominating performance like they have in their three wins so far this season.

Chiefs over Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger is an old man in football years and he showed Sunday when he threw five interceptions to the Jaguars including two pick-sixes.

When you combine that with the fact that Alex Smith is putting together an MVP season and Kareem Hunt has continued to dominate defenses, and there’s no way I can pick against the Chiefs to win at home.

Raiders over Chargers

Derek Carr is projected to play this Sunday if everything goes well which is good for the Raiders because without him, the team goes from a playoff contender to a pretender.

Even without Carr, I would favor the Raiders here, but if he is starting then I will definitely pick them to win at home.

Broncos over Giants

The season-ending injury to Odell Beckham Jr. Sunday put the nail in the already-closed coffin of the Giants season as they are now among the top contenders for the No. 1 overall pick come April.

With that being said, they should get one step closer to that premier spot this week as they will be completely outmatched against the Broncos.

Titans over Colts

The NFL week wraps up with a matchup that could be terrible or interesting depending on the status of quarterbacks.

Marcus Mariota is apparently probable for the game at this point, but it could be a decision made on the day of the game.

Meanwhile, the Colts will likely still be without Andrew Luck though Jacoby Brissett has done a decent job in his place.

Regardless of which combination of quarterbacks play, I think the Titans are definitely better so I will go with them.

That does it for this week’s picks. Check back next week for more NFL picks and analysis of the week that was in football.

Week 5: 7-7

Overall: 50-27

Steph Curry signs well-deserved mammoth contract with Warriors

The NBA’s free agency period officially began Friday night at 12:01 a.m. and the Warriors instantly made headlines by signing their star player to the largest contract in NBA history.

After playing with a very franchise-friendly four-year, $44 million contract, point guard and 3-pointer machine Steph Curry signing a deal Friday which will net him $201 million over the next five years.

These totals make him the highest paid athlete per year in North America right now in addition to being the highest paid player in the NBA, beating out LeBron James by about $7 million in that department.

It should come as no surprise that the Warriors were willing to give Curry the money considering the tear he has been on for the past three years.

Curry has become one of the most dominant offensive weapons in basketball, hitting an astonishing 1,012 3-pointer since 2014 and leading the Warriors to two NBA championships in the last three years.

Curry also garnered two MVPs in that time including becoming the first-ever unanimous MVP in 2016.

Granted, Curry is not the only one who deserves credit for the Warriors’ success. Klay Thompson has been almost as proficient from behind the arc, Draymond Green has become a defensive force who can also punish people inside and players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston have provided valuable veteran experience on the court.

The addition of Kevin Durant during the 2016 offseason transformed the Warriors from one of the top teams in the league to a dominant team which ran over everyone en route to the 2017 NBA championship.

However, Curry is the man through which the offense runs through and it is his combination of deadliness from long-range and dangerous passing acumen which has helped turn the Warriors into one of the best teams in basketball for the past three years.

Now the Warriors still have some decisions to make in free agency with the next focus likely on Durant, who declined his player option for next season to structure a favorable deal which will benefit the Warriors in free agency.

Iguodala also sits on the free agency bubble as another member of the Warriors core, but it is hard to see him going anywhere else and he will likely take a veteran discount to stay with the Warriors.

Livingston was another question mark for the Warriors going into free agency, but a three-year, $24 million deal was reported Friday which will keep him around as another versatile option for them.

Assuming these deals go through, the Warriors will return to the court in 2017 with all of their pieces intact and seemingly set for a third title in four years unless another team finds a way to match them from a pure talent perspective.

Curry’s payday is well-deserved given what he has done for the Warriors during his career and it sets up the Warriors to continue their stay at the top of the NBA pecking order.

Predicting Week 13 of the NFL season

Hello and welcome back to The Cowan Corner for another week of NFL picks and predictions.

The NFL season enters its homestretch this week as five weeks remain in the regular season and the last NFL teams have their bye week.

December is a month where games are played in colder temperatures around the league and it will be interesting to see which teams perform as the pressure to make the playoffs intensify.

Without further ado, let’s get into this week’s picks.

Cowboys over Vikings

The Cowboys franchise-record 10-game winning streak is on the line in this game and I see it continuing this week.

I just don’t see the Vikings scoring enough to beat out the well-oiled machine that is the Cowboys’ offensive unit.

Falcons over Chiefs

This has potential to be a high-paced explosive game between two playoff contenders. I think the Chiefs defense is overrated and Matt Ryan should be able to burn them for enough scores to get the win.

Lions over Saints

The Lions hold sole possession of first place in the NFC North, which is not something I thought I would be writing in December.

Regardless, this will likely be like almost every Lions win this season where they trail for the entire game before finding some way to pull it out.

Patriots over Rams

There is absolutely no chance the Rams will win against the Patriots on the road. If I were Jeff Fisher, I might start working on my resume with the way this season has gone for his team.

Broncos over Jaguars

The Broncos currently sit outside of the AFC playoff picture due to tiebreakers and need a win this week to get back on track.

Luckily for them, they play the Jaguars who are the NFL’s resident punching bag.

Packers over Texans

The Packers finally showed some life Monday night with a win over the Eagles, but are still not a playoff team.

They play the Texans who are only a potential playoff team because of the division they play in. I will take the Packers at home this week.

Eagles over Bengals

AJ Green is expected to return this season, but he will not be suiting up for the Bengals this week and their offense will be heavily affected by it.

This might end up being a close game, but I will go with the Eagles here.

Dolphins over Ravens

Since 1978, nine teams have made the playoffs after a 1-4 start. The Dolphins are in position to be the tenth after a six-game winning streak has them currently as the sixth-seed in the AFC.

They play on the road this week, but the Ravens have yet to impress me in any of their wins and so I will go with the Dolphins to continue their streak.

Bears over 49ers

This is what the whole season has been leading towards, folks. Two struggling franchises meet to determine who will make the second overall pick in the 2017 draft after Cleveland inevitably whiffs on the first overall pick.

I guess I will take the Bears since they play at home and have at least shown life as of late.

Raiders over Bills

I cannot figure out if the Bills are good or not, but I know for certain that the Raiders are good and that makes my pick in this game pretty easy.

Giants over Steelers

Everyone keeps saying the Cowboys are the best team in the NFC, but the Giants are quietly lurking just two games back in the division and already have a win over Dallas.

The Giants will need a win to keep pace in the division and I think they will do it here.

Redskins over Cardinals

The Cardinals do have homefield advantage, but they are in rough shape. On the other hand, the Redskins have looked good the last couple of weeks and are playing on a few extra days rest.

Chargers over Buccaneers

The Buccaneers surprised a lot of people the past couple weeks with their wins over the Chiefs and the Seahawks, but I think their run ends here.

The Chargers are not a playoff team, but they are still good and should do enough to pick up the win here.

Seahawks over Panthers

The Panthers season is basically over at this point, but they have a chance to make a final stand in Seattle.

The Panthers did win the last time the two teams met here, but I see the result going the other way this time around.

Jets over Colts

The only winner here is those who enjoy watching bad football. I will go with the Jets because they are the home team and will otherwise ignore this game entirely.

That does it for this week’s picks. Check back next week for more NFL picks and analysis of the week that was in football.

Week 12: 13-3

Overall: 110-65-2

Predicting Week 9 of the NFL season

By Sam Cowan

Last week was yet another successful one for my picks column as I went 11-3. Here’s hoping that my string of weeks above .500 will continue with an intriguing Week 9 upcoming.

Here are my picks for the week beginning with one of the four unbeaten teams in action on Thursday.

Bengals over Browns

This is the first of three straight prime time games for the Bengals. I had this penciled in as a win for the Bengals before Joe Haden and Josh McCown were ruled out.

Now, I think a win is certain, especially in Cincinnati.

Panthers over Packers

On Sunday, we learned that Aaron Rodgers is human and can have bad games at quarterback now and again. This is a huge test for the Panthers to find out if they are real contenders.

I think Carolina comes through with a big win at home.

Patriots over Redskins

The Patriots train will keep on rolling here. If this game is even close, I will be shocked.

Saints over Titans

Drew Brees found the fountain of youth at some point this season and he gets the benefit of playing a terrible Titans team this week.

Bills over Dolphins

This is a must-win game for both teams. I have the Bills winning because the Dolphins are a mirage with their blowout wins over the awful Titans and Texans.

Vikings over Rams

The Vikings might be the best team no one is talking about. This game should be a close one, but the Vikings should come out on top.

Jets over Jaguars

The Raiders’ dismantling of the Jets last week was startling to see, but I think Todd Bowles will right the ship in this game.

Raiders over Steelers

Speaking of the Raiders, they look like a bonafide playoff contender and get to play an injury-addled Steelers team this week.

Giants over Buccaneers

It must stink to lose a game in which you scored 49 points like the Giants did last week. However, I expect Eli Manning and company to take care of business this week.

Falcons over 49ers

I think the Falcons are another mirage team that is not as good as their record implies, but I can’t pick a team that has Blaine Gabbert under center.

Broncos over Colts

We’ve never had four 7-0 teams in a single season prior to this one. I think after this week we’ll have four 8-0 teams.

This game could be historically important because Peyton Manning can break Brett Favre’s record for career passing yards.

Eagles over Cowboys

Good news for Cowboys fans is Tony Romo should be back in a few weeks. That will be the only good news for them this week.

Bears over Chargers

The Chargers’ terribly disappointing season will continue with another prime time loss at home. On the bright side, they might be in Los Angeles soon.

That will do it in for this week’s picks. Come back next week for more thoughts on what is happening and what is to come in the NFL here at the Cowan Corner.

Week 8: 11-3

Overall: 78-41

Bold Predictions for the 2015 MLB season

By Sam Cowan

Welcome to a new recurring feature on my blog, Bold Predictions, where I will predict the future of the sports landscape based on what I know and what I can guess. Expect to see more of these types of columns as the weeks and months roll along.

Today, I will be covering my predictions for the second half of the 2015 MLB season and looking at why I think these things will happen.

The Giants will make the playoffs

Over the previous five seasons, the San Francisco Giants have built a dynasty that has seen championships in 2010, 2012, and 2014. However, the years in-between have seen the Giants fail to even make the playoffs.

I think that streak will end this season as the Giants edge out the Dodgers for the NL West division title with the Dodgers settling for a wild-card spot.

The Giants have a great mix of hitting, pitching and experience to make another run in October.

However, I don’t think the Giants will repeat as champions this year- more on that at the end.

Mike Trout will win his second straight MVP and Bryce Harper will win his first MVP

As of Sunday, Trout is sixth in the American League in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, first in home runs and tied for eighth in RBIs. Harper is third in the National League in batting average, first in OBP, tied for first in home runs, and fourth in RBIs.

Trout was a unanimous selection for AL MVP last year and I expect him to be a near-unanimous choice this year with Josh Donaldson or his teammate Albert Pujols stealing some votes.

Harper is the clear choice for MVP and I expect him to be the unanimous choice unless his numbers fall off dramatically in the second half. If so, Harper would be the fourth-youngest player ever to win the MVP award in either league.

At least one more no-hitter will be thrown this season

We’ve already seen two no-hitters this season, one by an established veteran and the other by a relatively-unknown rookie. It feels like every week a pitcher takes a no-no into the sixth or seventh inning.

I’m not brazen enough to declare when or where it will happen, but I do think it is bound to happen at least once before we head into the postseason.

Ichiro will retire after this season

Ichiro has had a remarkable career to this point. A career.316 hitter, Ichiro has recorded almost 3,000 hits in the majors and that doesn’t include the almost 1,300 hits that he got in Japan.

You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think Ichiro is a Hall of Famer and it is simply a matter of when he wants to retire from the game.

While it is possible Ichiro may try to reach an even 3,000 hits for his MLB career, I think this season will be the last in his storied career.

Your new world champions are…

In the AL, I have the Angels, Blue Jays and Royals as division winners with the Twins and Astros as wild-card teams. In the NL, I have the Cardinals, Nationals and Giants as winning their divisions with the Pirates and Dodgers claiming the last two playoff spots.

From that group, there is one team that I think stands out based on their combination of hitting and pitching and that team is the Pittsburgh Pirates.

24-year old Gerrit Cole has been impressive as the team’s ace and A.J. Burnett is having a career year at the age of 38. Francisco Liriano has also done well the last couple years and is a viable third-man in their postseason pitching rotation. The Pirate’s team ERA of 2.92 is second in the majors.

On offense, Andrew McCutchen leads a core of solid bats that, while not overwhelming, does well enough to keep the team winning.

I predict the Pirates to ride their pitching staff and some key offensive plays to the World Series to play the Angels. My final prediction is that the Pirates beat the Angels in six games for the team’s first championship since 1979.

Lessons learned from a hectic All-Star week

By Sam Cowan

The 2015 MLB All-Star week came to an end Tuesday as the people of Cincinnati now return to their normal lives after five straight days of celebrating baseball’s best.

It was a wild week that saw the players of the future get their time to shine, celebrities locking horn with legends and local heroes, a hometown guy getting his big win in front of an ecstatic crowd and Mike Trout making history yet again.

Here are just a few lessons learned from a wild week of action.

Lesson 1: Sometime the forecast being wrong is a good thing

It has been a rainy season for the Cincinnati Reds so far and that may be putting it lightly. Thus far, the Reds have seen a total of almost 30 hours of delays and multiple cancellations along the way.

Heading into the week, the forecast called for rain to hit during both the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game and there was major concern that the events may have to be moved.

Then, nothing really happened. There were spurts of rain around the events, but the skies were clear when it mattered most and it allowed everything to go on without a hitch.

Lesson 2: The new Home Run Derby format needs to stay

On the heels of Todd Frazier’s emotional win in the derby, more on that in a moment, the response to how the competition played out was almost universally positive.

The new format combined the spectacle of watching men smash baseballs an incredible distance with the thrill of a single-elimination tournament and the urgency of a constant race against the clock.

Everything combined perfectly to create several memorable moments in what some are calling the best Home Run Derby ever.

This was a perfect shot in the arm for the yearly event and I am excited to see what futures derbies bring.

Lesson 3: Todd Frazier is the king of Cincinnati

The crowd at Great American Ballpark isn’t always the loudest. During some games, the stadium feels downright empty.

However, a full house showed up for the Home Run Derby and you could tell that almost all of them were there for one man: Todd Frazier.

Frazier rewarded them with an incredible performance that saw 39 homers over three rounds including 15 in the finals to beat young power hitter Joc Pederson.

It felt like the crowd got louder with every ball that Frazier hit. By the end, the crowd was as loud as I have ever heard it and the last homer by Frazier capped off a memorable night for everyone involved.

Lesson 4: Mike Trout is a special player

It’s hard to believe that Mike Trout is in his fourth full major league season already. Trout made his fourth straight ASG appearance on Tuesday and did something no one has ever done before.

Helped by his solo shot to leadoff the game, Trout won the ASG MVP for the second straight year and he continued to establish himself as one of the best baseball players in the modern era.

Trout has 4 All-Stars appearance at the age of 23 and seems to be getting better by the season.

Whatever happens in the coming years, we are in the midst of watching a truly great player rising to the top of his sport, one historic moment at a time.

Welcome

Hello and welcome to the debut of my new blog, The Cowan Corner. The main goal of this blog is to discuss news and provide opinions on what is happening in the world of sports, primarily focusing on Cincinnati sports.

I will also sometimes delve into video games, movies and television where appropriate.

Stay tuned later this week for coverage of the MLB All-Star break festivities live from Cincinnati.

For additional coverage and updates on articles before they’re posted, follow @TheCowanCorner on Twitter.