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Nick Mariano

Against the Spread: Conference Round Picks
Thu, Jan 18
Against the Spread: Conference Round Picks
Game: Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-9)
Pick: New England Patriots (-9)
The Patriots are the kind of team that can put an inexperienced QB in a hole early, and while this has some "grind it out" potential, I think this boils down to Bortles faltering through the second half in an effort to keep pace. Folks will be in on JAX to cover after last week's astonishing showing, but New England doesn't employ Todd Haley and should be just fine en route to yet another Super Bowl.

Game: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (+3)
Pick: Minnesota Vikings (-3)
The emotional ending to Minnesota's divisional victory highlights their ability as a team to make big plays, something I don't think Philadelphia is capable of right now. Philly's defense will keep things interesting, but Minnesota can cover the FG and become the first true "home team" in a Super Bowl.

Which game pick are you most confident with?
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (+3)

Against the Spread: Divisional Round Picks
Fri, Jan 12
Against the Spread: Divisional Round Picks
Game: Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (+3)
Pick: Atlanta Falcons (-3)
With both teams sporting solid defensive units, the difference here is a shaky Nick Foles against a hungry Matt Ryan. The Falcons gained some much-needed postseason confidence last week and have a lot of experience to bank on. I want to take the rested No. 1 seed as home underdogs, but the QB disparity is too much.

Game: Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-13.5)
Pick: New England Patriots (-13.5)
I can't go against a Patriots team that has just been put on blast regarding internal struggles, at home, with their RB stable likely fully stocked, against a Titans team that I consider pretty fraudulent.

Game: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)

Game: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)
Pick: Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)

Which game pick are you most confident with?
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (+3)

Against the Spread: Wild Card Picks
Thu, Jan 4
Against the Spread: Wild Card Picks
Game: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-8)
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (-8)

Game: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-5)
Pick: Atlanta Falcons (+5)
Straight and to the point: I think the fact that Sam Ficken, and not Greg Zuerlein, is kicking for the Rams is what sways this line toward Atlanta.

Game: Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (-8.5)
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars (-8.5)
Even though we've seen Jacksonville's stellar defense show a couple cracks in the armor, Buffalo doesn't have Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback and, more seriously, they have LeSean McCoy operating at less than 100 percent, if at all. Meanwhile, Leonard Fournette and Allen Hurns are both healthy to give Jacksonville's offense some depth. Anything over a touchdown makes for a tough sell, but I don't think Tyrod Taylor can drag that team to a cover.

Game: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-6)
Pick: New Orleans Saints (-6)

Which game pick are you most confident with?
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-5)

Start/Sit Week 16
Thu, Dec 21
Start/Sit Week 16
Give us a player (non tight end) outside of our top 100 Flex that represents a deep sleeper start and tell us why you think he has upside this week.
I'd say Kenny Golladay is a worthy flex flier with T.J. Jones now on the IR. The Lions are still in the playoff hunt and will need to win in order to keep pace at 9-6 with the winner of the Cowboys-Seahawks game, and they're playing a beaten-up Bengals squad. Minnesota didn't need to press the action against Cincy last week in a beatdown, but Detroit can't lean on their running game (or defense) like the Vikings can. I like Golladay more than other big-play WRs such as Kenny Stills, Ted Ginn and Josh Doctson, to name a few.

On the flip side, what player inside the top 40 Flex is likely to disappoint fantasy owners this week?
I need to knock Samaje Perine down a couple slots in my rankings. Neither Morgan Moses (ankle/illness) nor Trent Williams (knee) practiced on Wednesday and Perine has only rushed for 120 yards with 67 receiving yards over his last three games. Mix in that Kapri Bibbs gained some momentum with his 36-yard receiving touchdown in Week 15 (though he's far from a "rusher") and how Washington's opponent, Denver, has allowed just two RBs to top 80 yards this season, and I've got concerns. At least Perine should get nearly 20 touches, but the key word is "disappoint" and I think Washington loses here anyway, especially if LB Zach Brown can't go.

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Nick Mariano


Born and raised in New York, now living right next to Fenway Park. When I'm not typing away about sports then you can find me running in my Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For The Cure shirt. I'm hopelessly addicted to apples and peanut butter -- don't try to save me.

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