Thursday, December 22, 2011

NFL Week 16 Picks: Winning Out

So in my town of football, there are two camps; those who have checked out on this Eagles team for months and refuse to get sucked into the false dawn of a two-game winning streak to get to 6-8, and those that think if they just somehow get themselves into the dance, that they'd be a hard out... and even imagine some kind of miracle scenario where they get to the NFC championship game in Green Bay or New Orleans. You know, kind of like the 2008 year, when Michael Bush gave the laundry the chance to run all the way to Phoenix and Coach For Life Reid's second loss to Kurt Warner with a Super Bowl on the line.

That's kind of like the rest of the NFL, really; the vast majority of people are done with their fantasy leagues, trying to figure out a playoff window, or just getting their ducks in a row because, well, it's Christmas. I'm more in the latter camp myself, but the picks have been going well, and in a world where the Chiefs can beat the Packers, the Giants can get absolutely hammered by the Redskins, and the top seeds all seem about as sturdy as a house made of straw, you just let it ride. And pick every game, and try to make a few more bucks for the holidays. And with that... on to the picks!

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HOUSTON at Indianapolis (+6)

Now that the Colts have their relief win, and the Texans their dispiriting loss, it's time for the classic reversion to the mean game... especially since the Texans need the win for playoff positioning, and the Colts need the loss to make sure that Jim Caldwell gets canned, and that they get Andrew Luck in the draft. The number gives me no pause, because I think the Texans are up for a long time in this one, and put it away with the running game late.

Texans 24, Colts 13

DENVER at Buffalo (+3)

Here's the really funny thing about the Tim Tebow Era... as he's getting better, his team is getting worse. Last week in Denver, they ran out to a big early lead with a ton of rushing yards in the first quarter, but the defense could not hold it despite a huge time of possession edge. Assuming he can avoid an early stink bomb in Buffalo, I think they get the lead this time and hold it, if only for the fact that Buffalo's tight ends don't present nearly the same problem as New England's. Also, it's not as if the Broncos can't play in the cold.

Broncos 24, Bills 16

Arizona at CINCINNATI (-4)

Reality check time for second-string QB John Skelton, who will have the usual rookie QB road blues against a Cincy team that's still in the fringe of the playoff hunt. (Well, technically, so are the Cardinals, but please.) I think the Bengals get a defensive score in this one, which will make the cover a lot easier.

Bengals 27, Cardinals 17

Jacksonville at TENNESSEE (-7.5)

Which Jags team shows up -- the guys that beat down the quitters in Tampa, or the ones that got absolutely handled last week? I'm looking for the latter, if only because the Titans haven't quit, and are probably well and truly bent over being the only Indy Victim this year.

Titans 31, Jaguars 10

OAKLAND at Kansas City (-2)

I'm going contrarian here... I just don't see the Chiefs coming up with great back to back games, even at home, even against a Raiders team that can't stop the run. It's not a charming feeling going with Carson Palmer on the road, but it's also not thrilling to go with Kyle Orton, either. And neither of these teams can be trusted. So go with the road dog in a coin flip.

Raiders 25, Chiefs 24

MIAMI at New England (-10)

Miami still has a bit of fight in them, and the Patriots tend to let late covers happen, especially at home, where they like to take their foot off the gas and the starters in the fourth quarter. Take advantage of the too much number, and know also that this defense means that all things are possible. Especially if you get pressure on Dreamboat Brady, which I think the Fish can do in this one.

Patriots 31, Dolphins 24

New York Giants at NEW YORK JETS (-3)

Rex Ryan said that he had the better team this week, and the nasty little fact of things is that he's right. They run the ball better, they stop the pass better, they seem to care for their coach, and they play in a much better division. They also benefit from playing the Giants when their starting TE is banged up (since, as Brent Celek just demonstrated, the Jets are awful against TEs right now), their secondary is in tatters, and they've been in a tailspin for much of the last two months. One more domino falls for the Eagles playoff run. And an 8-8 division champion. Bleah.

Jets 24, Giants 20

ST. LOUIS at Pittsburgh (-17)

Pretty big line for a home team that can't run the ball, protect the QB, or keep him healthy. The Rams aren't going to score very much in this game, and they aren't going to win it, either. But they will cover, if only because this Steeler team doesn't lock it down on defense nearly well enough to cover this line. And if Big Ben misses the game...

Steelers 20, Rams 6

MINNESOTA at Washington (-6.5)

I'm going with the road dog here mostly because I think that some Skins Fans might actually be starting to think that Rex Grossman might be their QB in 2012, and that it might not be another year of their lives wasted. The Vikings also have some players, and the line is too high for a dog team. Especially one that has burned up any good energy from their home crowd for, well, most of the century.

Vikings 24, Redskins 20

Tampa Bay at CAROLINA (-7.5)

Not sure I'd take the Bucs to cover 10 points on the road against any team in the league, let alone one with actual offensive weapons and reasons for hope. The season can't end fast enough for Buc Fan, who has had to endure a team-wide mutiny of quit that came out of the clear blue sky. When a talented young team goes this far south this quickly, it's just not pretty at all.

Panthers 31, Bucs 17

Cleveland at BALTIMORE (-13)

The dreaded every other week problem for the Browns, who get to go to Baltimore to face a team that got punked in San Diego, needs the game to lock up the division, and just plain owns them. Browns Fan, take heart: Art Modell has to die one day. But for now, continue to test that patience of yours.

Ravens 31, Browns 17

SAN DIEGO at Detroit (-3)

Is Norvalicious going to save his job yet again? Charger Fan sure as hell hopes not, but after another solid win against a talented team, it might be inevitable. Assuming that the road team can keep its QB upright. they'll take advantage of a suspect secondary and a Detroit offense that's one dimensional and turnover prone.

Chargers 24, Lions 20

PHILADELPHIA at Dallas (-3)

There's just no getting rid of Coach For Life Andy, is there? Nope, and maybe not even the Little Moron That Could, Juan Castillo, who has somehow parlayed two wins over suspect Fish and Jets teams into a chance to keep his defensive coordinator job despite rampant malpractice and screwups that cost this team an easy ride into the playoffs. As for this game in question, it will mean something to both teams, and it will be decided by the club that doesn't crap the bed with turnovers. So, basically a coin flip, but I'll take the team that has the best RB in the game, and a growing sense that Destiny is coming again to save their status quo. Their horrible, maddening, exasperating and alienating status quo...

Eagles 24, Cowboys 20

SAN FRANCISCO at Seattle (+2)

Who would have thought that Marshawn Lynch against the Niners' defense would be a meaningful matchup in December, let alone something borderline historic? The Niners still look like a one and done limited playoff team to me, but maybe I'm judging them too harshly, especially if they can start getting TE Vernon Davis back to being a consistent threat. There's also something inspiring about a team that just doesn't allow anyone to run for a touchdown against them; I'm envious, really. As for the Seahawks, there's something happening here, but they are still a fair number of linemen away from it being consistent.

Niners 20, Seahawks 14

Chicago at GREEN BAY (-13)

Sure, the Pack is beat up and not playing for anything, but the Bears are either going to go with Josh McNown or Caleb Hanie, on the road, against a club that wants to prove that last week was a fluke. This doesn't add up to a road cover. It might not even add up to a road cover in the first half.

Packers 31, Bears 10

Atlanta at NEW ORLEANS (-7)

Finally a solid game on MNF, where home field and superior firepower adds up to the Saints putting the NFC South to rights. Atlanta won't get as close as they did in the fourth and Mike Brown Is A Moron game, and with Dan Marino's all-time passing record in sight, it's very possible that this one gets a little out of hand. Nice year to be a Drew Brees owner in fantasy. (And no, I'm not. Sigh.)

Saints 34, Falcons 24

Last week: 8-7-1

Year to date: 114-102-6

Career: 519-507-23

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