Thursday, December 22, 2016

Week 16 NFL Picks: Overcoming Nihilism

Deal Me Out
There comes a point in every NFL season -- well, every NFL season for Eagles fans like me -- where you have to overcome your disappointment in how the year has gone, and how it's going to be yet another year in a goat ride to nowhere, and still care about the league as a whole.

In easier years, there are substitute teams to root for. Pittsburgh and Green Bay are admirable franchises. Maybe you've got a soft spot for Andy Reid, and would be OK with the Chiefs catching fire, or just enjoy the way Russell Wilson plays football, so you pull for the Seahawks. Maybe you've got fantasy guys that are breaking through, or a good year going against the spread.

But when you've got none of those things, and the only thing left is rooting against teams you hate, and hope against hope that you don't wind up with a Super Bowl between *two* teams that make you want to give up on the game, if not life in general?

Well, that's just about as bad as it gets, honestly, and you just resent the league for having a hold on you, or just wind up watching out of inertia.

That's where we are, and all of that after a first three weeks where it looked like we had something so, so much better.

History tells us that this kind of year happens more often than good ones, and that most human endeavors will fail. Four years ago, when the Eagles were making a head coaching decision, many folks wanted hot Seattle DC Gus Bradley over Chip Kelly. Both are clear and abject coaching failures now, and in all likelihood, so is the current Eagle hire. But unless you are Daniel Snyder, you don't get to run your coach for fun every year, so we don't even get that moment of diversion. Adult up and just be good with the losing.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

NY Giants at PHILADELPHIA (+2.5)

Just a feel pick here, in that I don't think the team has quit on HC Doug Pederson, and games in this series are usually a coin flip. With the exception of the Green Bay game, this club has been better at home, and after beating the Lions in a big game last week, the Giants are ready to blow a trap game. Besides, Cleveland holds the Eagles' first round pick next year, and bad things happening to the Browns is even more of a given than bad things happening to the Eagles. Final point: the Eagles are +17 for the year on points and 5-9, while the Giants are +22 and 10-4. It's really that close of a league.

Eagles 24, Giants 20

Miami at BUFFALO (-3.5)

Bills HC Rex Ryan is a dead man walking, but he knows how to mess up a QB2 on the road, and that describes Matt Moore to a T. Besides, Florida team in bitterly cold weather in late December? Not a great mix.

Bills 26, Dolphins 20

NY Jets at NEW ENGLAND (-16.5)

The Jets usually play the Patriots close, but not with a never was QB like Bryce Petty, and not on the road when the Patriots still need the game for home field in the playoffs. This will be ugly.

Patriots 37, Jets 13

TENNESSEE (-5) at Jacksonville

Fun fact: if you forfeit a football game, the official score goes into the record books as 1-0. The Jags are now the domain of Doug Marrone, who was last seen leaving Buffalo for greener pastures that didn't materialize; he is no one's idea of a viable next HC. So why not bet a massive amount on his team to cover the spread with overseas sports books, then forfeit the game and collect? All of that would be more interesting to think about than anything in this contest. Titans will run it a lot, Jags will turn it over, yada yada yada.

Titans 24, Jaguars 17

Minnesota at GREEN BAY (-6.5)

Picking the right time of the year to get hot seems to be a forte of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, and while he's hobbled with a hamstring issue and the Vikings have done well against him in the past with their physical defense, the Pack is just on a roll right now. Oh, and Sam Bradford is sad. More points than I want to give, but at least I'm on the right side of the nickel.

Packers 27, Vikings 20

SAN DIEGO (-6) at Cleveland

Just two weeks left for the Browns to avoid winless infamy, and the Chargers aren't exactly world beaters... but Cleveland's going to kid up and get this done, probably with an ill-timed turnover. Ya gotta disbelieve.

Chargers 23, Browns 14

WASHINGTON (-3) at Chicago

Bad MNF loss at home followed by a short week of prep is leading the smart money to think the Bears can continue the DC collapse, but while QB Matt Barkley has been better than expected in recent games, he's still a turnover machine. DC will complete some drives this week.

Racial Slurs 27, Bears 20

ATLANTA (-2.5) at Carolina

Tough test for the likely NFC South winner and probable first round out, but the Panthers on a short week, and the Falcons have too many weapons to let this one get away.  

Falcons 23, Panthers 17

Indianapolis at OAKLAND (+3.5)

Worrisome game and point spread, but the Colts are just threadbare, and the Raider defense has been on the climb recently.

Raiders 23, Colts 17

TAMPA (+3) at New Orleans

Bucs trying to recover from a road loss to Dallas last week, and I just don't see them dropping back to back games. Dome field just isn't what it used to be.

Bucs 31, Saints 24

Arizona at SEATTLE (-8)

A lot of points to carry for the home team, but when they win in Seattle, it tends to be on the side of comfort. Cardinal defense also looks like they've packed it in for the year,

Seahawks 31, Cardinals 20

San Francisco at LOS ANGELES (-3.5)

Rams return the favor for the Niners' sole win, which came back in, um, Week 1. It's been a year for betting the outliers, and the Ram defense is something of an outlier.

Rams 16, Niners 10

CINCINNATI (+1) at Houston

Texans go to QB2 Tom Savage to stop the madness, and while he's better than Brock Osweiler, he's still not good. Bengals are playing for pride, and shockingly have some.

Bengals 24, Texans 20

Baltimore at PITTSBURGH (-5.5)

Again, hate the spread as I feel like the Steelers are likely to give up the suck out score that blows it. That's no way to bet, especially when the Ravens' secondary is just an open whole against a good and experienced QB.

Steelers 34, Ravens 27

Denver at KANSAS CITY (-3.5)

The also-rans of the division in a de facto playoff game, with the added bonus of recent revenge to boot. I'm going with the home team and (shh!) better coach.

Chiefs 24, Broncos 20

Detroit at DALLAS (-7)

I'd say more about this, but it's late, I'm tired, and writing about how good Dallas is exceptionally depressing.

Cowboys 24, Lions 16

Last week: 8-8

Season: 98-123-5

Career: 857-870-54

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