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.


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.