Thursday, December 11, 2008

NFL Picks, Week 15

New Orleans at Chicago (-3) - I've spoken before about the NFL's vast middle, where the teams live that can beat anybody or lose to anybody. These two teams are both 7-6, and if there's a compelling reason to think that this game is anything other than a crapshoot, I don't know what it is. The Saints have a better offense, the Bears a better defense. In the absence of anything approaching a good reason, I'll go with the home team here.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta (-3) - Is the home field a good enough reason to take the Falcons? It's going to have to be. There's a fear, however, that the clock's about to strike midnight for Matt Ryan and Atlanta. In which case, this pick will turn back into a pumpkin, too.

Washington (-7) at Cincinnati - The AFC North features two strong teams, and two that have thrown in the towel. The Bengals are part of the latter pair.

Tennessee (-3) at Houston - IFF the Titans decide to rest all of their starters after the first quarter, this could be a three point game. I don't expect that to happen.

Detroit at Indianapolis (-17) - So I said that the Lions were going to win one. And I said that I'd keep picking them until they did. So I lied. It's custom and cliche to say that "anything can happen." But there is approximately zero (0) chance that the Lions come out of Indianapolis with a win.

Green Bay at Jacksonville (+1.5) - A vote of no-confidence for the Pack.

San Diego (-5.5) at Kansas City - I've not been a big Charger guy, but I'm still shocked that the Broncos have run away with the West. San Diego has to be one of the bigger disappointments of the season. But the Chiefs are still the Chiefs, and any time they don't lose by a touchdown, it's a fluke.

San Francisco (+6.5) at Miami - I'm trying to decide whether I can legitimately pick the 49ers to win. Since the coaching change, they're 3-2, and one play against the division Champion Cardinals on the road from being 4-1. They've beaten Buffalo and the Jets in the last two weeks. Can they beat the Dolphins? Well, it would not qualify as one of the season's great upsets. But I suspect that picking them to win would fall into the category of "wishful thinking." I suspect that Miami walks away with one more close win.

Buffalo at N.Y. Jets (-7.5) - This pick says more about Buffalo than New York.

Seattle (-3) at St. Louis - Here's everything that you need to know about St. Louis' season: 2-11 Seattle is a 3-point favorite. On the road. And it doesn't seem like enough.

Minnesota at Arizona (-3) - This one's more important for the Vikings, locked in a tight division race with the Bears, than the Cardinals, who've locked up their division and a home playoff game. But the Cardinals are 5-1 at home while the Vikings are only 3-4 on the road (and one of the wins was in Detroit).

Pittsburgh (+2.5) at Baltimore - I may be wrong, but I believe that the Ravens have played over their heads this year. They're 4-0 against Cleveland and Cincinnati, and 5-4 against everyone else. A Pittsburgh win wouldn't prove that I'm right, of course, but it would be another piece of evidence.

Denver at Carolina (-7.5) - The Denver Broncos have, this season, lost to the Chiefs (by 14) and the Raiders (by 21). They lost by 34 to the Patriots. And they've virtually sewn up a terrible division. That doesn't make them a good team. Certainly not as good as the Panthers.

New England (-7) at Oakland - Oakland's offense is so bad that even the Patriots defense should be able to keep them under 20.

N.Y. Giants (+3) at Dallas - The Giants don't like the Cowboys, and won't play dead two weeks in a row.

Cleveland (+14) at Philadelphia - Too many points. Of course, Romeo's a dead man walking, and the Browns have conceded, so it might not be. The Eagles will certainly win, but I don't ever trust them not to play down to the competition, so I'll take the Browns to beat the spread.

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