NFL Picks Week 4

Week 4 NFL Picks 

Buccaneers –6.5: Tom Brady heads home to face an inferior Patriots team. Regardless of all of the storylines and all of the pageantry that will happen the Bucs are miles better than the Pats and Brady is motivated coming off a loss. This will be a blowout and ultimately mean nothing for the Brady vs Belichick debate. Cash it. 

Steelers +6.5: This is too big of a spread for a good Steelers team that will be desperate for a win. They have issues but the defense will be better with Watt back and Rodgers’ achilles heel is a front 4 that can get after him quickly. Look for it to be low scoring and the Steelers to hang around, cover but ultimately lose. Cash it. 

Colts ML: Simply put the Colts are much better than the 0-3 record shows, as they’ve played 3 good teams who likely end up in the playoffs. The Dolphins are reeling and are a good test but these Colts will not go 0-4. Hungry dogs are the most dangerous in the world of sports. Wentz gets his first dub as a Colt. Cash it.  

Chargers –3.5: The Raiders are overvalued at this stage at 3-0 and the Chargers have proven to be able to beat the best, and on the road at that. Now they come back home to take on an undefeated division opponent. Expect Herbert to go wild and the Chargers to pull away in a high scoring high action Monday Night thriller. Cash it.  

2021 Penn State Preview

Key Departures: Myreon Jones (–>Florida); Izaiah Brockington (–>Iowa St); Jamari Wheeler (–>Ohio St)

New In Town: Greg Lee (<–W. Michigan); Jalen Pickett (<–Siena); Jaheam Cornwall (<–Gardner Webb)         Jevonnie Scott (JUCO); Jalanni White (ßCanisius)

State of the Program:

                  It’s a new era for the Nittany Lions, and after last year’s tumultuous season led by interim Coach Jim Ferry, they have their man in Micah Shrewsberry. Shrewsberry came up under Brad Stevens, as an assistant at both Butler and with the Celtics, and also had stints under Matt Painter at Purdue. Quite the tutelage to have received on your way up, but his first D1 head coaching gig will not come without its challenges. 3 starters from last year’s 11-14 squad have left town, and with limited time to recruit amidst the chaos induced by the resignation of longtime coach Pat Chambers, Shrewsberry will be relying solely on the transfer market to replenish the program. I would expect based on his past experiences, he will come in and try and establish an old school culture based on good defense and disciplined offense. He could have his own style in there, but the impact of a dozen years alongside Stevens and Painter will surely be noticeable. He does get back a few weapons, including a couple of starters and a few role players that should be able to slide into that starting group. They will be led by the returning frontcourt Seth Lundy (JR) and John Harrar (SR), along with guards Myles Dread (SR) and Sam Sessoms (SR). They should represent 4/5 starters while returning G Daillon Johnson (SO) and F Caleb Dorsey (SO) will battle for backup minutes after playing limited minutes a year ago. The remaining rotation will be made up of transfers.

What’s New:

                  Leading the transfer group is Siena transfer, 6’4” G Jalen Pickett (SR). Pickett was a 3-time All-MAAC selection and was the unquestioned leader of the Siena team his entire time there. He was the main playmaker, both for himself and for his teammates, averaging 15/5/6 over 3 seasons with Siena. He should come in and start with Dread and Sessoms in the backcourt, and provide much needed playmaking for Shrewsberry. Next up is 6’9” F Greg Lee (SR) out of W. Michigan. Lee averaged 13/7 in his one season with the Broncos after transferring from CS Bakersfield, and looks to come in and be the primary backup for Harrar at the 5. 6’0” G Jaheam Cornwall (SR) out of Gardner Webb comes in with a pure jumper, having made over 200 3’s at a 42% clip with ability off the bounce and in catch and shoot situations. He should be the primary guard off the bench, and could serve as a sort of sparkplug for an offense that will likely struggle at times. JUCO transfer F Jevonnie Scott (JR) comes in as an elite athlete that excelled at using his quickness and strength to finish above the rim with ferocity. How he handles no longer being the quickest/strongest player on the floor will determine how much playing time he’s able to get in the frontcourt. 6’8” F Jalanni White (SR) enters the program as mostly a depth piece after starting off-and-on over his 4 years at Canisius and not averaging more than 7 ppg in any one season, finishing at only 4 ppg and 2 rpg last year.

Prediction: 13th Big Ten (NR)

                  Expectations for Shrewsberry and Penn St this season are pretty low, as the transition year could be rough at times. What is important to watch is how he’s able to establish and instill his philosophies into the existing talent, and how he can create some cohesion with this hodge podge of a roster. There are enough quality pieces to make them at least competitive so I don’t see it being a total disaster so long as he comes in and establishes a sound culture. Lundy is a bit of an x-factor for this team, as he’s had multiple explosive offensive performances in the past, if he can find some consistency he could become an all-conference performer. His past streakiness, which saw him drop 30+ and then disappear for several games, will need to be overcome however. Over the long term I have high expectations for Shrewsberry, as he’s been being molded for this opportunity over the last dozen years, and his experiences should have him fully prepared for what he’s facing. It will not be easy and it will not be quick, but I think he gets Penn St back to relevancy and back to the tournament a few years down the road. This year marks the beginning of a painful yet hopeful rebuild for a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2011.                  

2021 Rutgers Preview

Key Departures: Jacob Young (–>Oregon); Myles Johnson (–>UCLA); Montez Mathis (–>St. John’s)

New In Town: Aundre Hyatt (<–LSU); Ralph Agee (<–San Jose St); Jaden Jones (#154); Jalen Miller (#185)

State of the Program:

                  What Steve Pikiell has done with this Rutgers program is nothing short of a miracle, as he has turned a program that was the laughing stock of multiple conference over the last 30+ years into a consistently competitive team. Last year they won their first tournament game since 1983, and have turned in back to back .500 or better conference records for the first time since 1991, which was also their most recent tournament appearance prior to last season. Pikiell is the best coach nobody knows in the country, and if I was a major program hiring a HC I would be doing everything I could to bring him in. He has turned this Rutgers program into a nightmare opponent as they have boasted a top-20 defense the previous 2 seasons. The offense has lagged behind, but the talent level is increasing year over year. He will continue to build and push this program in the right direction, and despite a few key losses he welcomes back a solid group from last year’s squad. That group is led by 3rd Team All-Conference Ron Harper Jr (SR), who returns as the unquestioned go-to option offensively. He’s joined by returning starters Geo Baker (SR) and Paul Mulcahy (JR), and key reserves Caleb McConnell (SR) and Clifford Omoruyi (SO). These 5 will likely be the starting group, with the bench roles likely coming from transfers and Freshmen.

What’s New:

                  Headlining the incoming group is LSU transfer wing Aundre Hyatt (SO). Hyatt is an athletic wing that can attack the basket and could develop an efficient jump shot as well. He should fit right in on the defensive side with his quickness and length, and serve as a quality backup wing this season. San Jose St transfer C Ralph Agee (SR) joins as an incredible athlete that excels at finishing above the rim and blocking shots. He also has ability off the bounce to beat his defender and finish inside. He will handle the 5 spot along with Omoruyi and help anchor this stingy Rutgers D. 6’7” F wing Jaden Jones (#154) came to the program early last spring and will look to join Hyatt and returner Mawot Mag (SO) in the wing rotation. He went viral as a 5th grader showing off his game, and enters this Rutgers program with a DeMar DeRozan style offensive style, excelling at attacking the basket and using his craftiness to get open mid-range looks. He should earn a few minutes this year and could develop into a really nice player down the road. Lastly is 6’3” PG Jalen Miller (#185), who is a springy athlete that can attack the basket and finish acrobatically and he has great vision as a playmaker as well. He enters a pretty thin backcourt so he actually could get some time this season as a backup guard, albeit pretty limited as Harper and Baker figure to get play as much as possible.

Prediction: 8th Big Ten (NR)

                  The outlook for this Rutgers group is ultimately pretty similar to last season. The losses of Young and Mathis present a challenge to an already struggling offense, as more pressure will be put on Harper and Baker to score at a high clip. The defense should remain at an elite level, with Omoruyi and Agee as shot blockers inside allowing these athletic wings and guards to put a lot of pressure on opposing teams. This style that Pikiell has implemented has been essential in terms of the rise of the program, however it is also what limits the program’s ceiling at this point. Because he recruits strong, athletic guys who can excel defensively, they all enter the program with offensive limitations. There are no 3-point marksmen or high volume scorers coming in, so an offense ranked 82nd a year ago will undoubtedly continue to struggle to score consistently. Their hard-nose defensive style will keep them competitive though, and they should grind out wins against quality opponents, especially at home. I think Harper can elevate his game some, as well as Baker, but a lot of shooting punch was lost with the exit of Young and Mathis. I expect Rutgers to continue to make program history by making yet another NCAA tournament as a low seed once again, but I don’t think they take a step forward in terms of competing with the top of the Conference. If Pikiell can start reeling in some higher level scorers that’s when Rutgers can really elevate itself as a true challenger for a Conference Championship and deeper March runs, and based on what I’ve seen from him thus far, I’m not ruling that out.