Week 16 NFL
A week shy of Christmas and I got the lump of coal with another 8-8 week. My lock and upset came down fine, but instead of going with my gut and picking the Packers to lose, I went with the sheep and took the Pack and took an L, I just had the feeling that the Titans were going to get upset by the Colts especially after losing at the gun to the Saints in the previous week. But again, I went with the sheep and took another L. With the exception of the Christmas night special in Green Bay and the Monday Night finale in the Big Easy, all the games are Saturday kickoffs and by and large all but the three games being early kickoffs. Trying to do better as usual, the picks are heretofore submitted for your review, perusal and approval. Where applicable, playoff implications of the game are noted as well. Odds are provided by bodg.net and are for entertainment and comparison purposes only. I’ll be too busy eating Christmas ham, watching the Christmas day basketball games and getting noshed on mom’s rum cake to take your calls if you bet the lines and lose. If you don’t know by now, its your own damn fault. Please pardon the late post of the Thursday pick.
Thursday December 22
Texans (10-4) @ Colts (1-13)
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis 8:20 (NFLN)
Favorite Texans by 7
Last Week Texans lost to Panthers 28-13, Colts beat Titans 27-13
Fast Fact The Texans have never won in Indianapolis
Break up the Colts! They get off winless island with rollicking win over a despised divisional rival but have a short week to turnaround and face a Texans team with a bit of egg on their face, as it showed that they were unused to the postseason splendor that they have attained came up flat against a weak Panthers team and got thumped. I don’t expect the Texans will miss the rare chance to flex on their long time tormentors. Looking at an outside chance to still gain a coveted bye week ahead of the playoffs, the Texans wont spare the Colts any quarter. Even with 3rd stringer at QB and weak at WR, the Texans are better than Colts in spades.
Saturday December 24th (Merry Christmas!)
Cardinals (7-7) @ Bengals (8-6)
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Bengals by 4
Last Week Cardinals beat Browns 20-17 in OT, Bengals beat Rams 20-13
Fast Fact Bengals WR AJ Green needs 3 yards receiving to break the Bengals rookie receiving mark.
The Bengals are still very much in the playoff hunt and surprisingly so are the Cards who’s four game win streak has brought them within shouting distance of the NFC playoff race. You are never sure which team will show up on either side. The Cards have yet to name a starter between the oft-injured Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. The Bengals defense has been playing a bit inconsistent and despite setting a team rookie record for passing QB Andy Dalton has been struggling without his favorite target AJ Green on the field consistently. To be sure, the game is a tossup. You can be sure the Cards are thankful that it wont be frigid in Cincy on Saturday, but Im gonna play a hunch and say the Bengals continue to hang around in the playoff race for another week and win a tight one.
Vikings (2-12) @ Redskins (5-9)
FedEx Field; Landover, MD 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Redskins by 6½
Last Week Vikings lost to Saints 42-20, Redskins beat Giants 23-10
Fast Fact Vikings RB Adrian Peterson needs 68 yards to pass the 1000 yard rushing mark for the season, which would be the 5th straight time that he has attained that mark.
Two teams going nowhere, though the Skins seem to always get their dander up to play the Giants, going to Gotham last week and handing them a stunning beatdown. The Vikes death march continues unabated reaching a painful low as Drew Brees shredded their once proud defense for better than 400 yards and five scores. Will Rex the Wreck do much of the same? Im still not sold that he can be consistent but the Vikings defense is a shambles and aside from the the redoubtable Adrian Peterson the offense isn’t equipped to score big. I hate to do this but..
Broncos (8-6) @ Bills (5-9)
Ralph Wilson Stadium; Orchard Park, NY 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Broncos by 3
Last Week Broncos lost to Patriots 41-23, Bills lost to Dolphins 30-23
Playoff Implications Broncos can clinch AFC West with win and Raiders loss
Fast Fact Broncos QB Tim Tebow is the only quarterback that is unbeaten away from home with at least five starts. (5-0)
Back in September, it looked like the Bills would be the ones winging their way to a division title and the Broncos the one that would be scuffling. But invigorated by Tebow-Mania the Broncos have rebounded from a poor start to be on the cusp of a division title, a prospect unthinkable months ago. Meanwhile, the Bills have dropped 8 straight after an initial 5-1 start that had the locals dreaming of a playoff berth. The Bills offense crashed badly after a high flying start, with QB Ryan Fitpatrick shouldering much of the blame. The Bills defense has given up 32 points a game during their losing skid and can be run on with abandon. With the Broncos run heavy offense coming to town, it will be a long cold day.
Raiders (7-7) @ Chiefs (6-8)
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Chiefs by 2
Last Week Raiders lost to Lions 28-27, Chiefs beat Packers 19-14
Fast Fact Raiders QB Carson Palmer (still sounds strange to call him that) needs 207 yards passing to pass the 25,000 yard passing mark.
An old school AFL rivalry takes a high drama look, the badly fading Raiders who once controlled their own playoff destiny took a devastating loss last week to the Lions giving a 27-14 4th quarter lead away and having a desperation (but makeable for him) 65 yard game winning field goal blocked. The Chiefs are feeling quite froggy after being the first team in a year to solve the Packers riddle. Though the Raiders are the better team on both sides of the ball, something tells me that the Chiefs would like nothing more than to send their longtime hated rival home for Christmas with dashed playoff dreams.
Pick-Kansas City (Upset of the Week)
Giants (7-7) @ Jets (8-6)
MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Jets by 3
Last Week Giants lost to Redskins 23-10, Jets lost to Eagles 45-19
Fast Fact Without leaving their own locker room the Giants have the shortest road trip in the NFL. This is the one of the rare times that the visitors locker room in MetLife Stadium will be empty.
This is the one of the few times in the history of these teams that their quadrennial regular season meeting actually has meaning to it. The grinning, jeering Rex Ryan has amped up his usual mouthy talk to boast that his Jets are the better team in Gotham, but coming off a nasty beating in Philly he has more questions to answer, meanwhile the G-Men took a nasty pratfall against an otherwise pedestrian Redskins squad and now are in danger of giving away the hard-earned divisional edged gained on the Cowboys. The Jets are looking over their shoulders at a posse of teams led by the Bengals trying to take their playoff seed. Both teams in need of the win, I think the Jets wont be able to cash the check their mouthy coach writes and loses a tight game.
Pick-New York Giants
Buccaneers (4-10) @ Panthers (5-9)
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Panthers by 7½
Last Week Buccaneers lost to Cowboys 31-15, Panthers beat Texans 28-13
Fast Fact Panthers QB Cam Newton needs only 17 yards to break the rookie passing yard record set by Peyton Manning in 1998.
A matchup of two teams going in opposite directions, the Bucs sleepwalked through a Saturday beating by the Pokes and are marking time until seasons end. The Panthers on the other hand are rapidly improving and can chalk a win over a division winner on their season’s resume. Cam Newton is playing like a grizzled vet and the Panthers are rapidly improving with the results showing in the win column now instead of moral victories. I think the Panthers will win and rather handily
Dolphins (5-9) @ Patriots (11-3)
Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, MA 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Patriots by 10
Last Week Dolphins beat Bills 30-23, Patriots beat Broncos 41-23
Playoff Implications Patriots can clinch first round bye with win and Texans loss
Fast Fact The Patriots have outscored the Dolphins 117-45 over their last three meetings.
The Dolphins are another team improving rapidly, but they have a much steeper way to go facing the Pats, ruefully remembering the shellacking that Tom Brady dealt them in September look for the Dolphins to try to control the clock and limit the Pats offensive possessions. But the Pats at home in December is just about as money in the bank as you can get. The Pats spotted the Tebows in Denver a nine point lead and then methodically wore the Broncos down and blew them out. The Pats will do pretty much the same to the Dolphins.
Browns (4-10) @ Ravens (10-4)
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Ravens by 13
Last Week Browns lost to Cardinals 20-17 in ot, Ravens lost to Chargers 34-14
Playoff Implications Ravens can clinch AFC North with win and Steelers loss
Fast Fact The Ravens have won their last seven meetings with Browns
The Browns found yet another painful way to lose last week, blowing a ten point lead in Arizona. The Ravens took a startling woodshedding from the Chargers and are really looking for someone to take it out on. The Browns just don’t match up anywhere close to the Ravens and with the Ravens needing wins to stay ahead of the Steelers will be in no mood to fool around.
Pick-Baltimore (Lock of the Week)
Rams (2-12) @ Steelers (10-4)
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite No Line (Roethlisberger status in question)
Last Week Rams lost to Bengals 20-13, Steelers lost to 49ers 20-3
Fast Fact The Rams have a 26.9% 3rd down conversion rate, the worst in the NFC
The Rams played the Bengals tough but were their own worst enemy in not converting 3rd downs and taking dumb penalties. This will not brook well face a Steeler team that also took an uncharacteristic beatdown on the west coast in front of national audience. I know the whole any given Sunday mantra but the Rams are in serious trouble having to deal with a Steeler team that is looking for someone to slap around, even with the questionable status of Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers should roll to a win.
Jaguars (4-10) @ Titans (7-7)
LP Field, Nashville 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Titans by 7½
Last Week Jaguars lost to Falcons 41-14, Titans lost to Colts 27-13
Fast Fact Titans RB Chris Johnson needs 70 yards to join Earl Campbell and Eddie Georges as the only backs in franchise history with 1000 yards in each of their first four seasons.
The Jags are another team on a death march, just wanting it to be all over. Coming off a solid win against the Bucs, they got steamrolled by the Falcons and have had nine days to wonder where it all went wrong. Meanwhile, the Titans brooding over a show-shocker loss to the Colts are fading fast. Fading or not, the Titans will give their fans a nice Christmas present by taking it out on the Jags.
Chargers (7-7) @ Lions (9-5)
Ford Field, Detroit 4:05 (CBS)
Favorite Lions by 3
Last Week Chargers beat Ravens 34-14, Lions beat Raiders 28-27
Playoff Implications Lions clinch playoff spot with win
Fast Fact This is the last interconference game of the 2011 season as all the week 17 matchups are interdivisional.
This is the sleeper good game of the week. The Chargers have revived their playoff hopes with a bevy of big point games during a 3 game win streak. The Lions who were looking as if they were fading suddenly bounced back strong with a pair of badly needed wins and are in position to clinch their first playoff appearance since 1999. The Chargers are hitting on all cylinders defensively and will give the Lions a tough game. I just think that the Lions will get a nice boost from their rowdy fans and bring a long awaited playoff berth home.
Eagles (6-8) @ Cowboys (8-6)
Cowboys Stadium; Arlington, TX 4:15 (FOX)
Favorite Cowboys by 3
Last Week Eagles beat Jets 45-19, Cowboys beat Buccaneers 31-15
Playoff Implications Cowboys can clinch NFC East with win and NY Giants Loss
Fast Fact Though the Pokes have struggled in the last three games don’t blame Tony Romo he has thrown for 869 yards, completed nearly 70% of his passes and has a QB rating of 121.8 over those three games.
The Pokes are like that dude at the bar that you can’t stand, he does very little but flash a smile at the females and gets all the play. Or be the brooding bad boy the ladies know is heartbreaker but still leave with him. You know the Pokes are a fraud, but still they manage to get just enough breaks where they could still win the NFC East without having to beat the Giants in Gotham next week. The Eagles who handed the Pokes a nasty primetime beatdown in October have awoken enough to try to put a late dash together to be on the fringes of the NFC East title. Im still not convinced that the Pokes are a playoff caliber team much less a Super Bowl contender. I think that they will gain a measure of revenge on the Eagles and set up a New Years day winner take all showdown with the G-Men
49ers (11-3) @ Seahawks (7-7)
Century Link Field, Seattle 4:15 (FOX)
Favorite 49ers by 2
Last Week 49ers beat Steelers 20-3, Seahawks beat Bears 38-14
Playoff Implications 49ers clinch first round bye with win and Saints loss on Monday
Fast Fact The 49ers have not allowed a rushing touchdown this season, Miami has allowed the next fewest at 6
The Niners got a massive dose of dap and respect in the football world by bullying the Steelers pillar to post last Monday. The Seahawks thrashed the Bears in Chi-town and are still clinging to hope for a playoff berth. The Niners lock down rush defense will practically dare the Seahawks to throw on them. Since the Seahawks passing is mediocre at best and their strength is rushing the ball, that’s asking too much. The Niners will slug and slog their way to another win.
Sunday December 25 (Merry Christmas!)
Bears (7-7) @ Packers (13-1)
Lambeau Field, Green Bay 8:20 (NBC)
Favorite No Line (Bears QB in question)
Last Week Bears lost to Seahawks 38-14, Packers lost to Chiefs 19-14
Fast Fact The Packers gained a season low 315 yards in taking their first loss of the year last week.
Being the defending World Champs have their drawbacks, starting the season early and having to play on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the Pack come home in a less than festive mood after being ambushed at Kansas City. With their offensive line battling injuries and the receiving corps getting a bit thin, the Packers offense might not rip off a 30 point game as they have been but they still have more than enough to beat the Bears who’s offense is more rumor than anything. Turning to Josh McCown (Is HE still in this league?)the Bears are beyond desperate at the signal caller. The Pack’s defense is suspect at times but they should have more than enough to hold the Bears down.
Monday, December 26
Falcons (9-5) @ Saints (11-3)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans 8:30 (ESPN)
Favorite Saints by 7
Last Week Falcons beat Jaguars 41-14, Saints beat Vikings 42-20
Playoff Scenarios Falcons clinch playoff berth with win, Saints Clinch NFC South with win
Fast Fact Saints QB Drew Brees needs 305 passing yards to eclipse Dan Marino’s single season passing mark of 5,084 yards, Brees has thrown for more than 305 yards in 11 of the Saints 14 games
The weeks best game, should be a thriller. The high powered offenses of the Saints and Falcons will give any scoreboard operator a workout. Add the fact that these two regional rivals are getting a real dislike for one another puts more intrigue into it. Add that these teams have played uber tight games against one another lately it makes the matchup even spicer, when you add the fact that playoff positioning are on the line as well and well all you need is a national stage for it all to play out, not a bad setup for the final Monday Nighter of the season. The Saints offense has been humming, and while the Falcons may not have the flash they can put the point up as well. This game is a toss-up, but the Saints are just too tough at home to bet against.
Last Week: 8-8 (Lock and Upset Correct)
Overall: 137-87 (Thursday result not included)
From this side of the keyboard in the Hoodwood to yours here’s wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Prosperous Yule or whatever it is you celebrate at this time of the year. Make sure it is safe, fun and with the ones that you love.
Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!