Only four weeks left in the NFL season. The first of many tears has already started to fall from my baby blue eyes. Not just because the NFL is going to be done soon, but because I have to put up with constant NBA highlights. I was really hoping that the NBA would not be coming back, but it is. At least there is hockey and baseball starts in April. I’m thinking too far ahead. For now, we still have four weeks of the regular season and the playoffs to get through. Which means I have a column of picks to write.
Last week I didn’t do fabulous, but it was a positive week. I’m 63% on the season, which is pretty good but not as good as I want. Time to buck up and really think about these picks. Or not think about these picks. I doubt all the people at work who do better than me on their picks every other week really do much analysis. Maybe I over analyze. I have no idea. That takes too much thought to determine if I’m applying too much thought.
In more personal news, I’m currently looking for strong freelance or even part-time(ish) for hire gigs. Writing, editing, content producing, whatever. So you have a need or know someone who does, please have them contact me. That was a link. Directly to email. That’s how I roll. I’m open to anything, anywhere, any bat channel, any bat time. Enough of that, on with the picks!
New York at Dallas Line: -3.5
The 6-6 Giants roll in to face the 7-5 Cowboys in their first meeting this season (can you believe that?) The table for this dinner isn’t set yet, since they still have to play again in week 17. Basically it’s like this, the winner of this series is the one that makes the playoffs from this division. I’m guessing both of these teams finish 10-6. Which means what for this prediction? It means that the Giants win this week and Dallas wins the next match-up in New York? I guess that’s what it means. Which means divisional record is the tie breaker. At the beginning of the season I picked the Cowboys to win the division, and I’m sticking with that. However, I think they way the Giants played against the Packers and all season is much more impressive than the Cowboys. To this point, and this week – the Giants win. Needless to say, I’ll probably be picking the Cowboys in week 17. Giants on the road by a field goal or less.
Tailgate City (The Rest)
Cleveland at Pittsburgh Line: -14.0
For some reason I picked Cleveland last week. As a lifelong Browns fan I should have known better that even at home, they weren’t going to beat their former incarnation in the Ravens. Instead, they got pistol whipped like they were wandering the streets of Cincinnati. The Ravens worked them in every aspect of the game, there were no bright points. It was sad. It’ll be even sadder this week as they visit Pittsburgh. Traditionally, the Steeler vs. Browns match-up is a good game, but there is so much disparity between these two teams over the last couple years that there is no doubt that the Steelers will dominate the Browns. After watching the Steelers run, pass and score at will against the Bengals last week, the Browns don’t stand a chance. Steelers at home.
Houston at Cincinnati Line: -1.0
The Texans are continuously overcoming serious injuries to keep in the game for the playoffs. They have the Titans to watch for, at only two games behind, but they are playing pretty well considering. Yates isn’t terrible and held it together after Johnson was sidelined again this season. The victory over the Falcons was a win for the defense as well, missing Mario Williams. In a year this defense (overall) went from 30th to second. Good job Wade Phillips. The Bengals, while still looking average on both sides of the ball, couldn’t get past the true division test in the Steelers and Ravens. They’ll miss the playoffs. But the Dalton to Green connection is getting exciting to watch. I’m down with that for the future. I think Houston rolls in this week and pulls off a mild upset to secure their spot in the playoffs. Houston on the road.
Minnesota at Detroit Line: -0.0
The downfall of the Lions has almost been as exciting to watch as their surprise start to the season. Schwartz doesn’t seem to care that his team (even without Suh) is committing penalty after penalty, a lot of them in the area of personal fouls. Morons. Their drubbing by the Saints knocked them off the shelf of elite teams for good this season. They really can’t turn it around. The Saints showed that simple double coverage on Megatron really mucks up the offense. Minnesota has a competent defense and I think they can do the same. Losing last week to the Denver Tebows was tough, but the offense turned the ball over at some crucial moments. This should be an interesting game, and I think that if Detroit keeps up it’s penalty ridden ways, the Vikings win this game. Otherwise the Lions win. Do I have to pick a winner with a zero line? Fine. Detroit at home.
New Orleans at Tennessee Line: +4.0
The Titans aren’t out the playoff hunt yet, but they are hoping they continue to be underestimated. Now that CJ2K is finally finding the holes to punch through, they have stepped up their game a notch. 153 yards and two TD’s against Buffalo, and a week before also racking up huge yards it’s undeniable that Johnson is back. Hasselbeck is playing better, finding targets but still managing to throw it to the defense every once in a while. Finding those holes against the Saints defense might prove to be difficult, and they’ll need to if they hope to keep up with the offense. I’m taking the Saints in this game just cause they are the much better team, but I expect the Titans to make it interesting.
Philadelphia at Miami Line: -3.0
Aside from the Lions the other most exciting collapse to watch is that of the Eagles. McCoy is having a great season on the ground, but it doesn’t matter. Vince Young throws interception after interception and Vick can never get the game moving like he promised. It’s a disaster in Philly. Will Andy Reid be out of a job at the end of the season even considering his winning history with the team? Vick was a mistake. Meanwhile, Matt Moore, previously undrafted, will have every right to ask for a nice new contract at the end of the season, regardless of the coach. Assuming he keeps winning. They could finish 8-8, which considering their start would be great for the Dolphins. Reggie Bush has found new life in Miami and I think the Philly defense doesn’t put the brakes on the Dolphins winning ways. Fins to win at home.
Kansas City at NY Jets Line: -9.0
A 38 yard hail mary mixed in with terrible offense, terrible defense and a non-existent running game created a win. An improbable win, but a win and a loss for the Bears. The Chiefs are treading water, with no chance at a winning season and just a sad, sad year. The Jets shouldn’t have a problem with the visiting team this week, since unlike the Bears their team is more than just two guys. Of course, the Jets are the kings of week to week inconsistency on defense and offense, but if even one of those sides sparks just a bit, the win should come easy. Jets to win at home.
New England at Washington Line: +9.0
The difference between the Packers defense and the Patriots defense is turnover margin. While both allow a good chunk of scoring, the Packers defense forces a lot of turnovers that result, either directly or indirectly (in the hands of the offense) in points. The Patriots defense is horrid, making the Colts look moderately good in the passing game last week. This is going to cost them in the playoffs, when they have to face teams like the Ravens or Steelers that can easily take advantage of those defensive holes. I think even Washington this week takes advantage and keeps the game close. while they lost their shoes to the Jets, for the first half of the game they looked like they were in it. Obviously, Patriots to win these week, but they don’t make it look easy.
Atlanta at Carolina Line: +3.0
Cam Newton, rookie of the year? That’s the consideration, though wouldn’t the biggest an impact a player could have on a team be winning? He’s doing a little bit of that, but the best that the Panthers can hope for is a third place finish in the division. The future looks bright for this team and if they can beat Atlanta this week, perhaps the immediate future will look real bright. The Falcons lost against Houston with the inability to run against that defense and a late penalty killed the tying drive. The Panthers don’t have that strong of a defense, and while they whipped up on the Bucs last week, that was the Bucs. Look for the Panthers to come out on all cylinders, but the Falcons to prevail late or in overtime. Falcons to win.
Tampa Bay at Jacksonville Line: +1.0 CRAPFEST OF THE WEEK!!
Chance are that wherever you are in the country this game will be blacked out, thank your lucky stars for that. The Jaguars seemed like they could get something together after inexplicably beating the Ravens but never did. Getting whupped by the Chargers on Monday night was just another nail in the coffin for Del Rio. What? Del Rio is already gone? Oh. Yeah. MJD will run all over the Bucs. This is the point in the season where it gets hard to pick game cause the match-ups are either too good, or too shitty to care about. Let’s be analytical here though. The Bucs run defense, as Carolina proved, is shit. That’s the ONE highlight of the Jags. Jags to win at home.
Indianapolis at Baltimore Line: -17.0
For a team that competed with the Patriots, a seventeen point line has got to be an insult right? Well, consider that while the Patriots have shitty pass defense, the Ravens have a superior pass and rush defense. Now that Flacco has finally learned to hand the ball to Ray Rice more often, the Ravens are looking unstoppable. I mean, at for the moment. The playoffs could be another issue altogether. The Colts, in their “suck for luck” campaign have some hope in Dan Orlovsky – just kidding. Remember him from the 0-16 Lions? Yeah, that’s probably some bad karma right there. I’d be surprised if Peyton is even on the Colts staff next year and not working the sideline with his brother as a QB coach or something. Ravens to win.
Chicago at Denver Line: -3.5 UPSET SPECIAL!!
I realize that this isn’t a true upset special, as the line favors the Broncos – but no one else does. Many of us who have man love for Tim Tebow are rooting for the Broncos, but the haters are just waiting for him to fail. If he makes it to the playoffs (and he will) they’ll be biting their lips waiting to see if he blows it. And if he does (he won’t) they’ll accuse him of not being clutch or whatever. The haters (including Elway) will find a way to bring Tebow down. But he won’t have any of it. It’s not about him, and he’s made that clear. Last week it was about him in the second half though, with 202 yards passing and 2 TD’s. He only rushed four times during the game. Surprised? The Bears will be too. John Fox has done an excellent job adjusting the offense to his QB’s strengths, rather than forcing him to learn a new system mid-season. Coach of the year for sure. Meanwhile, Martz as offensive coordinator for the Bears has done a shitty job adjusting anything for the constantly struggling Caleb Hanie. His “west coast” offense is not eay for a rookie to pick up, much less mid-season. Perhaps Cutler comes back this game, perhaps not but with Forte out for the season most likely – the Bears are done. Doesn’t matter, I was going to pick the Broncos no matter what. Broncos at home.
San Francisco at Arizona Line: +4.0
With a month to go in the season, the Niners have already locked up the division, even though technically Arizona and the Seahawks are in the wild-card hunt (is the NFC that bad this year?) That being said, while Arizona pulled off an improbable victory against the Cowboys, attempting to do that against the Niners is going to be a bit more difficult. The Niners defense is tighter than a… I’ll leave that metaphor to your imagination. The Cardinals won by finding the glaring holes in the Cowboys run defense and because Romo sucks. The Niners keep winning on great defense and killer passing from young Alex Smith who is on his way to the NFC Championship game against the Packers. Niners to win.
Oakland at Green Bay Line: -11.5
Meh. The Packers might toy with the Raiders for a little while, letting them score some points. The defense might give up some points, but they can score too. The Raiders have been decimated with injuries and penalties. That ass kicking they took at the hands of the Dolphins also helped them lose their standing in the division. They aren’t out of it yet, but they are this week. The Packers are unstoppable, especially by an inferior team like the Raiders. Should be fun for Palmer, just cause he gets to meet Rodgers, the QB that Palmer could have been had he been just a tad better. Packers to win.
Buffalo at San Diego Line: -7.0
What to say about the Bills? I think the loss of Fred Jackson hurt this team more than previously assumed. Spiller has been carrying the load, and doing alright, but the offense hasn’t been the same. Not to mention the defense suddenly giving up big plays late in the game. Last week against the Titans they gave up tons of yards to CJ2K and while the Chargers don’t have explosive a runner, Tolbert isn’t terrible in the backfield. The question for the Chargers is the consistency, something that hasn’t been there. Breaking a six game losing streak the Chargers now absolutely have to win to think about breaking even for the season. I’m taking the Bills in this game just because I don’t think the Chargers are for real this season. I could be wrong, because the Chargers have “charged” up late in the season in previous seasons, only to fall short come the playoffs. But those charges were contingent on the Broncos losing, which I don’t think they are going to do. Bills to somehow prevail on the road.
St. Louis at Seattle Line: -0.0
Meh. The Rams are nothing short of terrible, and the Seahawks somehow still have a chance at making the playoffs. They beat the Eagles, but so what? The Rams shouldn’t be much of a challenge, but who knows with this team? Taking the home team cause it’s easy. Seahawks at home.