Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NFL week 16.

A bonkers, up-and-down year is almost over. And the ups are now down and the downs are now up and what is up with the Giants? And the Titans? There may well be a changing of the guard this week at the top of both conferences, what with two of the biggest games of the year happening on Sunday. And I think that both Tennessee and New York will lose. But then again, I have always cautioned people against using my picks, especially this year. Last week I went 12-4 straight up, and 7-7-2 against the spread, bringing this season's record to 139-85-1 straight up, and 129-94-2 against the spread. So...don't take my advice. I'm doing this for me, not you. (This way I have a timestamp on my blog entry, you see, and I can point to this for the people in my various pools if I forget to send in picks. Or something like that.) So, without further ado...

Indianapolis - Jacksonville: Opened at 6 1/2, is now down to 6 points. Either way, I think the Colts ought to cover. They are playing as well as anyone right now, and got that scare from the Lions last week. That should keep them on their toes, and they should beat a shoddy Jacksonville team that seems intent on beating themselves. Colts to win their 8th straight, covering the 6 points.

Colts, 31-24. Looked scary for a while, the Jaguars made a real game of it. Until the end, when they once again became intent upon beating themselves. Up 17-7 at halftime, Jacksonville looked pretty good. Especially when Peyton Manning was 13-13 in the first half, for 200 yards, and the Colts had one TD to show for it. At the very end of the half, the Colts looked ready to put one in the end zone, then missed a field goal, then let Jacksonville drive down the field for a 3-pointer of their own. But then, it's the Jaguars, and they just couldn't build on it. Colts win, Colts cover.

Dallas - Baltimore: The Cowboys all of a sudden look really, really good. The line is 4 points for Dallas, but I think that is too much here. Because the Ravens are also really, really good. And I think their defense can shut down Tony Romo. Also, I think the last game against the Giants was more a testament to the Giants fading than to the Cowboys having a resurgence. Dallas had a heck of a bad time with Pittsburgh's defense a week ago, and I will take Baltimore to win in the upset.

Ravens, 33-24. Well, the Ravens made Dallas look downright ordinary, and put a real wrench in their playoff hopes. They're still alive, and got lucky with the Eagles and Bucaneers defeat, but they have a difficult road ahead thanks to this loss. The Ravens look fantastic.

Cleveland - Cincinnati: The Browns are tanking, having lost four in a row, and they are playing on a pretty short week, having come off yet another inexplicable Monday night game. The Bengals are not a good team, but right now I think they are better than the Browns. Cleveland is favoured by three at home, but I think the Bengals will win in the upset.

Bengals, 14-0. The Bengals are better than the Browns, and when they win on the last week of the season (and they will), their record will be identical to that of Cleveland. The Browns will have to wait until next year, and if they get healthy, they could be good. But never bet on the Browns to be good.

Denver - Buffalo: No way 7 points is justified. Sure, Denver is much better at home, and they ought to be better than the Bills at this point, but this team is capable of laying some colossal eggs. I still hate Denver, and I will be cheering against them, but I don't think Buffalo is any good either. Broncos to win, but Buffalo to cover and make it really close. Don't be surprised if the Bills win by 30.

Bills, 30-23. Fantastic! I am totally thrilled. I hate those Broncos, and really hoped they would not be making the playoffs. Now, in point of fact, the Chargers shouldn't be making the playoffs this year either. But they deserve it more than the Broncos, who shouldn't win any games, ever. Week 17 will be awesome. Go Chargers!

Houston - Oakland: The Texans all of a sudden look like a playoff team! Of course they are not, but they look like it. They have a chance at a winning season, but that means they need to win this game. And the Raiders continue to be terrible, so it should be fairly easy. Houston to go into Oakland and cover the 7-point spread.

Raiders, 27-16. What? OK, this is one of those games I would have bet really good money on. If I bet money. What kind of team beats the Titans and then loses to the Raiders? Oh yeah...the two teams that have beaten the Titans this year. Stupid Jets. Raiders are like the ultimate spoiler this season.

Miami - Kansas City: The Dolphins are in control of their own destiny. Win out, and they are in the playoffs. The Chiefs have to be reeling after that collapse against San Diego, and I would be surprised if they put in a solid effort, let alone a winning one. KC is at home, which is totally meaningless for them, what with being 1-6 at home and 1-6 on the road. Dolphins to cover the 4 points in their win.

Dolphins, 38-31. Dolphins won, Dolphins covered, but KC did put in a great effort. Even leading for most of the game. The Chiefs are not a good team, and I think they will lose their season finale, but the Dophins have been winning tight ones all season long. They're going to make the playoffs, but they have had trouble putting away the bad teams convincingly.

Minnesota - Atlanta: The Falcons are the better team. The Vikings are a better home team, however, than Atlanta is a road team. Vikings lock up their division, and a playoff spot, with a win. Falcons need to win and get some help to get the wild card. I think the Vikings will win this one in a squeaker, but the 3 1/2 is too much. Falcons to cover.

Falcons, 24-17. Well, the Falcons proved that they are the better team. Atlanta looks great for that wild card now, and the Vikings could well lose their playoff spot to the Bears, depending on the Monday night result. Vikings lost, Falcons covered.

New England - Arizona: The Patriots are favoured by 7 1/2 right now. Against a team that has already made the playoffs. And that actually makes sense. Arizona no longer has anything to play for. They can't get a bye, they can't get home field, they can't do anything except sit and wait for the playoffs to begin. If Kurt Warner gets hit a few times, look for them to take him out. And look for New England to cover the 7 1/2.

Patriots, 47-7. Did Arizona even show up for this one? They sat and waited for the playoffs to begin. Throughout this game. I thought they would bench Warner earlier, but who knows? Maybe they want him to beat Marino's passing record. I think he'd have to throw for 400+ in the final game to do it now.

New Orleans - Detroit: The Saints are favoured by 6 1/2, but that is too much. New Orleans is terrible on the road. Of course, Detroit is terrible everywhere, but they play tough, game in and game out. Despite always coming out on the losing end. Look for the Lions to set a record here by going 0-15, but look for the Saints to have a tough time closing it out. Lions cover.

Saints, 42-7. New Orleans did not have a tough time closing this one out. They had a tough time not running up the score even more. The Lions are dreadful, but this appeared to be one of the only games this season where they didn't put in a game effort. In this one, it's like they didn't show up at all.

New York Giants - Carolina: The Giants are shaken after losing last week to the Cowboys. They are missing big parts of their offense, not the least of which is the shot-himself Plaxico Burress. And they are getting Carolina at the exact wrong time. The Panthers, I believe, are now the best team in the NFC. And they will have a clear path to the #1 seed if they defeat the Giants. Which I think they will. The Giants are favoured by three, but they will lose this game.

Giants, 34-28. I am truly surprised at this result, but in overtime, just about anything can happen. Had the Panthers connected with no time left in the fourth, of course this would be a different result. I still think Carolina is the best team in the NFC, but there is an awful lot of fight left in these Giants. (If only they had kicked a field goal in OT instead of going for it on the goal line! They would have been right on the spread!)

New York Jets - Seattle: The Jets ought to be thanking their lucky stars that just when it appears they are falling off the top of the heap in the AFC, and out of playoff contention, they get to play teams like the Bills last week and the Seahawks this week. The Jets need to win to keep their hope alive, and to go to 10-5 with the rest of the AFC East. And they will, and they will cover the 4 1/2 spread.

Seahawks, 13-3. Again, consider me totally surprised. The Jets are simply not a good team right now. Not only that, but this was a totally lousy game. Mike Holmgren may have won his final home game, but the game really sucked. So, too, do the Jets. Apparently.

Philadelphia - Washington: The Eagles are on fire, and they always play really well in December. They need to win out and get some help in order to make the playoffs, but it is certainly possible. Washington, on the other hand, is in a downward spiral from which it appears there may be no escape. Eagles to win by more than the five points they are being given.

Redskins, 10-3. What a finish to an otherwise lousy game! The Eagles lost the challenge on the one-inch line, the same way the Steelers won theirs against the Ravens last week. This really is a game of inches. This is one of the games I would have bet lots of money on as well. Thank goodness I didn't. Bet money.

Pittsburgh - Tennessee: The Steelers all of a sudden look like the best team in football, when last week that was the Titans. Monster game, huge matchup, and a statement game for Pittsburgh. With a win, they will take the drivers seat in the quest for the #1 seed going into the playoffs. And they will win. And they will cover the 1 1/2 point spread.

Titans, 31-14. The Steelers all of a sudden look as though they are not the best team in the AFC. The Titans looked dominant in this game. Even while they were missing some pieces. The Titans now look to have reclaimed their place as the AFC's top dog.

San Francisco - St. Louis: The Rams are, right now, the worst team in football. Yes, even worse than the Lions. St. Louis will not win again this year, and the Niners are looking pretty darn good for a pretty darn bad team. Niners to run it up in this one, covering the five points with ease.

Niners, 17-16. There was more fight in the Rams than I thought! Then again, there was more fight in the Niners than I thought as well, as they made a pretty tough comeback in the fourth quarter here. Rams covered, but Niners won. Not that it really matters for either team.

Tampa Bay - San Diego: The Buccaneers are clearly the better team in this matchup. The Chargers have fallen so far this season that Ladanian Tomlinson didn't even make the Pro Bowl. Amazingly, however, it could come down to one blown call by Ed Hochuli early in the season keeping the Chargers out of the playoffs. That's how terrible the Broncos have been. Anyway, Tampa is 6-0 at home and should crush San Diego by way more than the three point spread.

Chargers, 41-24. Wait, I meant...the Chargers will crush...never mind. The Bucs all of a sudden look like maybe they don't deserve a playoff spot at all. And maybe they won't get one. And all of a sudden, the Chargers, who have been weak-to-average all year long, could actually make it in! All they have to do is beat the Broncos next week. I was cheering for them in this game, because I hate the Broncos so very much.

Chicago - Green Bay: The Packers have fallen off a cliff here, and the Bears need a win to stay alive in the playoff hunt. But Green Bay has played their divisional rivals very tough this year, and this game should be no exception. Bears to win, but Packers to cover the four point spread. This one will be very very close.

Bears, 20-17. And it was, indeed, very very close. The Packers had their chance, but a blocked field goal changed the entire game and allowed the Bears to win in OT. Which means the Bears did win, and the Packers did cover the spread. Much like the Panthers - Giants game, this one could very easily have gone the other way. But it didn't, and the Bears are still alive in the playoff hunt.

This week I was a dismal 8-8 straight up, and a dismal 8-8 against the spread. I am now 147-93-1 straight up, and 137-102-2 ATS, overall.

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