Friday, December 14, 2007

Week 15 - NFL picks

Denver (+0) at Houston - Two 6-7 teams that had playoff aspirations before the season began, but don't (realistically) anymore. Houston played well in beating a decent Tampa Bay team last week, but they were without their QB. Denver absolutely dominated the Chiefs, but it was, well, the Chiefs. This game is a pick 'em game, and that's probably right - Denver's a slightly better team, Houston's at home. Going to go with the home team.
Note: I do this exercise in two stages. First, I put the list together, then I write up the entries over a couple of days. I sometimes change the pick at that stage. I obviously did that here, as the text says Houston, but I highlighted Denver. I will count this one as wrong, even though I got it right in the end.

Updated with weekend games...

Cincinnati (-8) at San Francisco - Finally, the Bengals face an offense so bad that even their defense can hold it under 20.

Arizona at New Orleans (-3.5) - Somehow, both of these teams are still alive for playoff spots. The Saints are, I think, more alive than the Cardinals, but I don't know how you could confidently predict the outcome of any game involving either of them, never mind both. So I'll unconfidently predict New Orleans.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-12) - The Dolphins are winless, the 49ers are probably worse, but nowhere seems like the scene of a train-wreck more than Atlanta. When your franchise quarterback spends the fall in courtrooms and jails instead of on the field, when he's sentenced in a federal court the day before your coach quits, well, that's a bad scene. I can see Petrino's absence actually being a breath of fresh air in that locker room, but there's no particular reason to think that there's enough talent for it to matter much.

Baltimore at Miami (+3.5) - The Ravens played their best against New England two weeks ago, and absolutely melted down at the end. Last week indicated that they hadn't gotten over it. If Miami's going to win one, it'll be this one. So I'll make a pick I don't quite believe, and go with the Dolphins.

Buffalo at Cleveland (-5.5) - Buffalo's been tough and gritty, they're well-coached, physical, disciplined, and they've overcome a lot to be in playoff contention through week 14. None of that's going to be enough. Cleveland by a touchdown.

Green Bay (-10) at St. Louis - Will Bulger play? Will Favre take a half off? The Packers pretty much don't need this, and the Rams have been awful. Will it shock me if St. Louis keeps this close? No, it won't, but Green Bay's a two-touchdown better team, so I've got to go with them.

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh (-4) - Probably the best matchup of the weekend, two tough, physical teams playing, probably, in bad weather in Pittsburgh. If this game were in Jacksonville, I'd take the Jaguars. But it isn't, and that factor probably results in the re-match in the Wild Card round three weeks from now being back in Pittsburgh.

N.Y. Jets at New England (-24) - The hyperbole about this game has been fairly obnoxious. All the talk of the Patriots breaking single-game scoring and point differentials records is silly. That said, the Patriots are a much better team, and should win convincingly. 50+ is not out of the question, though the weather may have some impact on that.

Seattle (-8) at Carolina - The Seahawks aren't a great road team, but they're better on the road than Carolina is at home. The Panthers are just bad, almost San Francisco-Atlanta-Miami bad, and the home woes will continue.

Tennessee at Kansas City (+4) - One of the big mistakes that gets me in trouble picking games is to pick a team to cover that I don't expect to win. Here is an example of me making that mistake again. I don't think that the Chiefs can score against Tennessee, but I don't trust Vince Young as far as I could throw him. The Titans win a close game, keeping their playoff hopes alive, to the consternation of prospective playoff watchers everywhere.

Indianapolis (-10.5) at Oakland - Great team vs. Bad team. Hmm. What to do, what to do...

Detroit at San Diego (-10) - The Chargers haven't been great, haven't been consistent, haven't won all of the games that they should have won. But the Lions have basically played themselves out of contention over the past month, and there's no reason to expect anything good to come from flying across the country to play on grass against a team finding their stride.

Philadelphia at Dallas (-10) - Rivalry weekend in the NFC East, as all four teams are playing in the division. If the Eagles perform the way they did in New England three weeks ago, or if the Cowboys perform they way they did in Detroit last weekend, this is competitive. Otherwise, not. I'm thinking, "Not."

Washington at N.Y. Giants (-4.5) - The Redskins aren't out of it yet, the Giants aren't locked in yet. I'd love to pick Washington here, but I just can't come up with a good reason to do so.

Chicago at Minnesota (-10) - When these two teams met in week 6 in Chicago, the Bears were a 5 1/2 point favorite. And the Vikings won that one. And the difference between the two hasn't gotten any smaller. The Bears, who went to the Super Bowl last year, are playing out the string and trying to decide, this week, whether Kyle Orton is a real, live, NFL quarterback. Good luck with that.

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