Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Week 15 NFL picks

Three games left, and it's all over. Looks like Carolina will fight it out with the Giants for supremacy in the NFC, while the AFC has already pretty much gone to the Titans. The Steelers, the Ravens, and the Colts are the three next-best teams there. The Colts can't get the #2 seed, because they are in the same division as Tennessee, so Pittsburgh and Baltimore will fight for the #2 slot. It's there that things are interesting. The Ravens, if they beat Pittsburgh this week, have a real shot at the AFC #2 seed. The Colts ought to win out, with three fairly easy games on tap. All three teams should be in the playoffs - the real battle is in the AFC East, where the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins are all 8-5, and likely only the division winner will make it in. The Jets are still in control there, with the tiebreakers going their way, but with two weak efforts in a row, this could get very very interesting over the next three weeks.

Chicago - New Orleans: Great Thursday game! Based on the way the Saints have played the last couple of weeks, and the way their offense is clicking, they should have a real shot here. They are a better team than the Bears, and New Orleans really seems to think they have a shot at the playoffs. They would have to win their final three to get there, and get some help, but it's possible. The big problem here though is that the Bears are very good at home, and New Orleans has been absolutely lousy on the road all year long. Bears to win, Saints to cover the 3 point spread. This will be very very close.

Bears, 27-24. What a game! And it was, indeed, very very close. Although at first, it looked as though it might be a blowout, with the Bears defense playing very, very well. And the opening kickoff return for a TD is always the coolest way to start a game. But the Saints offense can't be held down for an entire game, and they caught fire in the second half, at least enough to tie the game at 24 and force overtime. Bears do win, but what with the OT, Saints couldn't exactly cover the 3 points. Instead they were right on the three points. Push!

Arizona - Minnesota: Arizona is excellent at home. They won big last week. And they are one of the few teams already in the playoffs. That is dangerous. For the Cardinals. Because there is very little left for them to play for. Minnesota, on the other hand, is in a really tight race for their division title with the Bears, and they need all the wins they can get. But I just don't see them getting over their road woes against a good team like Arizona. I'm taking the Cardinals in this one, but there's no line on the game right now.

Vikings, 35-14. Well, I was wrong. The Vikings just plain wanted it more. And their offense took off early on. Who would have thought a QB would throw for four TDs in this game, and it wouldn't be Kurt Warner? Well, not me, obviously.

Atlanta - Tampa Bay: Tampa looks really, really good...except for this past week when the Panthers ran over them for a big win. You never know with a divisional game like this one, but in this particular division, there are only two home losses this year, and I look for that trend to continue as the Falcons edge out the Bucs at home. Falcons are favoured by three, it'll likely be even closer than that.

Falcons, 13-10. Well, it went to OT. Which is as close as it gets. Falcons do indeed edge out the Bucs at home, but it was "home" that was the key word, as it has been in this division all year. Tampa Bay remains a better team.

Baltimore - Pittsburgh: Matchup of the week. Both teams are excellent, both have incredible, stifling defenses. Ravens are favoured by 1 1/2 at home, thanks to a great home record. But I think it will come down to the offenses, and who can weather the storm best. And I am betting on Ben Roethlisberger to be able to get a little bit out of the Ravens defense where Joe Flacco, the rookie, can get totally overwhelmed by the Steelers defense. Pittsburgh to win.

Steelers, 13-9. Well, this was an amazing game. Now, I wouldn't give Ben Roethlisberger much credit for "weathering the storm" for the bulk of the day. But at the end of the game, with the crazy Baltimore pressure still right in his face, he was able to drive the length of the field and throw the only TD of the game. (Full disclosure - I too believe that was not in fact a touchdown.) But had the Steelers been forced to settle for a field goal there, they would still have won in overtime. Flacco just can't play great ball against a defense like Pittsburgh. Look for the Steelers to run the rest of the table, including Tennessee next week.

Carolina - Denver: I am really hoping the Broncos end up 8-8. And get blown out in the first wild card game. I hate the Broncos so much. And so far this year, I don't think I have picked a single one of their games accurately. I am hoping for a Panthers blowout here. In fact, I am expecting one. And I am picking the Panthers to cover the 7 1/2 spread and then some. Because Denver has no defense, and Carolina is very very good. But then, I've been wrong every other time.

Panthers, 30-10. Finally! I got a stupid Denver game right! The Panthers won big, and they should have. They ran all over that Broncos defense. They threw all over the Broncos defense. And they disrupted the offense just enough, as they should have done. I really hope the Broncos lose the rest of their games, and get hammered in the wild card round. They deserve it.

Dallas - New York Giants: Dallas is favoured by three at home, even after blowing that late lead in losing to the Steelers. The Giants also suffered a big loss last week, one that I would say was far more convincing that the Cowboys' loss. But here's the thing - does anyone, really, see the Giants losing two in a row? Especially in their own division? New York can't afford to coast to the finish at this point, and they will bounce back with a big game against Dallas. Giants to win.

Cowboys, 20-8. Maybe the Giants miss Plaxico Burress more than they let on. I suspect, however, it's Brandon Jacobs they miss most of all. On the plus side for Dallas, they are now in a playoff position, and they appear to have discovered how to win in December. It will be difficult next week, as they host Baltimore, but it's even tougher for the Giants, as they have to play the Panthers, who now look like they might be the best team in the NFC.

Green Bay - Jacksonville: I guess the oddsmakers are still showing Green Bay some love, despite their home loss to the Texans this weekend. Packers are favoured by 2 1/2, IN Jacksonville. The theory there I guess being that the Jaguars have been truly lousy at home this season. Both teams have been huge disappointments, but I think the Packers are falling faster at the moment. Take Jacksonville.

Jaguars, 20-16. The Pack is indeed falling fast. Once again, they were unable to take full advantage of mistakes. The Jaguars are not a good team this year, and they weren't in this game either, but the Packers are a worse team right now.

Indianapolis - Detroit: Wow. A 17-point spread. That is pretty darn big, especially since the Lions have actually been quite competitive over the past few weeks. Well, competitive is a relative term when you're staring at 0-16. And the Lions will go 0-16. The Colts have blown out their last few weak opponents, don't look for them to stop now. Indianapolis isn't going to let up until they get knocked out of the playoffs, and they are on fire. Colts to cover the 17 points.

Colts, 31-21. The Colts did NOT cover the 17. In fact, I was ignoring this game for much of the first half, because I figured it was a foregone conclusion. Then I flipped over, and it's tied at 21. The Lions are playing real tough, but it looks like the only chance they will have for an actual victory this year will come against the fading Packers in Week 17.

Miami - San Francisco: An interesting matchup. The Niners have all of a sudden looked like a good team these past couple of weeks. and the Dolphins keep piling up the improbable wins. Both are looking good but not great, and this will be a tight one. Tighter than the 6 1/2 spread that is the line right now. But the Fish will still take it.

Dolphins, 14-9. God, I am so amazingly right. Fish did take it. It WAS closer than the 6 1/2. The Niners are coming on, but we all need to realize that the Dolphins this year are a very good team. Tied for the division lead after week 15. Who would have thought a year ago? Amazing coaching job this year.

New England - Oakland: The Patriots are fighting for their playoff lives, tied at the top of their division with the Dolphins and Jets, both of whom should win this week. So should New England, with the weak Raiders as a easy game that won't be overlooked. Patriots to win by more than the 7 points they're getting now.

Patriots, 49-26. New England covered this spread, I would say. They are still not a top-tier team, but they are miles ahead of the Raiders, who just plain stink. Patriots are tied for top spot in the division now, and one of those three teams (the Jets, the Pats and the Fish) will be sorely disappointed when this season ends. I think that team will be New England. In fact, chances are there will be two sorely disappointed teams, and I think they will be New England and the Jets.

New York Jets - Buffalo: The Jets are favoured by 7, and they should cover that pretty easily against a Bills team that can do nothing right of late. Buffalo has looked simply terrible over the last few weeks, and they're just getting worse. In a divisional game, anything can happen, but I wouldn't count on it. Jets to win big and get off their slide.

Jets, 31-27. Well, that's not exactly what I call winning "big". That's what I call "barely winning". Especially since it took that bizarre fumble recovery for a TD to make it happen. The Jets are still tied for first in the division, they still have their own destiny in their own hands, and the Bills are officially out. But they certainly don't look like the team that took out the Titans a couple of weeks ago. Speaking of the Titans...

San Diego - Kansas City: A blowout. Only because the Chiefs have given up, and not because the Chargers are all of a sudden good again. The Chargers will not make the playoffs, they are done, but the Chiefs are done even worse. San Diego to cover the 5 points with ease.

Chargers, 22-21. Well, "with ease" is a relative term. How about...the Chargers will win after leaving themselves a maximum amount of difficulty? How much tougher could the Chargers have made it for themselves? If they were playing anyone other than Kansas City (or maybe the Lions) they would have been totally cooked. Lucky.

St. Louis - Seattle: Seahawks are the better team. With the exception of an exceptional two-game spurt in the middle of the season, the Rams have been just awful. And although this is a divisional game, and played in St. Louis, and the teams have identical records, I have to go with the Seahawks thanks to their improbably tough performance against the Patriots this week. No line at the moment.

Seahawks, 23-20. Yeah, it was close. And yes, the Rams looked good for a moment. But the Hawks are simply, (if such a thing can be said about a team with three wins at this point in the season) a better team. Seattle still has the talent to run with any team in the NFL. They've just forgotten how to do it.

Tennessee - Houston: Sure, the Texans just knocked off the Packers. But this is the last, real, meaningful game for the Titans this year. Win it and they have a first-round bye, and it's clear sailing to the playoffs. And so they will win it. In Houston. By a heck of a lot more than the three points they're getting right now. Three points? Against the Texans? Seriously? I know they've won three straight, but...come on.

Texans, 13-12. OK, I was wrong. Three points made great sense. And OK. I'm not an NFL coach, and I hate to second-guess a real one. But seriously? Going for it on fourth-and-three, with a long pass play down the left side, when you could have attempted a game-winning 49-yard field goal? You have a kicker who has kicked a sixty yard field goal before. He is more than capable of winning it from 49. Seriously. What are you thinking?

Washington - Cincinnatti: The Redskins season is done. They will not make the playoffs. They are the fourth-best team in their very good division, and they are faltering. But not enough to lose to the Bengals, who gave up completely weeks ago. Right after their tie with the Skins' divisional buddies the Eagles. Bengals will get hammered in this game too - by way more than the 6 1/2 point spread.

Bengals, 20-13. OK, this was the battle of the teams-that-have-thrown-in-the-towel. And truly, I would not have guessed that the Redskins have thrown it in even harder than the Bengals. My goodness! The Skins are now a terrible team. Really, really terrible.

Philadelphia - Cleveland: The Eagles are locked in. I think they will win all three games they have left, and convincinly. But they still may not make the playoffs. This is one they need, and the Browns are in disarray. Eagles to win by way more than the fourteen point spread they have now.

Eagles, 30-10. The Eagles look very, very good again. If they win their final two games, I think they will be in the playoffs, because the Falcons and Buccaneers will lose at least one, and that tie makes them a little better off than teams that don't have a tie. Had they won that stupid game against the Bengals, they would be in the drivers seat. Philly is scary right now.

I am now 139-85-1 straight up, 129-94-2 ATS.

3 comments:

  1. Better stick to Breaking Rock News, cause your sports casting sucks! N.F.L is out of your league.

    Sorry but true!

    Yours Truely

    The Leaf Fan!!!!

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  2. I certainly wouldn't counsel anyone to use my picks!

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  3. I certainly won't be using your picks next season!! I guarantee that's a fact!!

    Man, your Packers are gonna be behind the Bears & Vikings next season. What would you do to improve the Pack if you were the general manager?

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