Thursday, December 18, 2008

NFL Picks, Week 16

Indianapolis (-6.5) at Jacksonville - A win by the Jaguars would open up another potential avenue to the playoffs for the Patriots, so I'll be rooting for Jacksonville. That said, I do not see any realistic scenario by which the Colts lose this game.

Baltimore at Dallas (-4) - I hate the Cowboys. Tonight, I'm doing something that I almost never do - rooting for Dallas. (Seriously. I don't remember the last time I might have done it.) Circumstances compel it tonight, though. And, frankly, I expect them to win. Joe Flacco looks to be turning into a pumpkin, and the Cowboys are going through their annual "look like we're a legitimate Super Bowl contender" stretch.

Cincinnati at Cleveland (-3) - The Pete Axthelm "broken windshield" special of the week. Don't lock your car with tickets to this game on the dashboard - when you come back, you'll discover that someone's smashed the windshield and left two more. (I'm trying to limit myself to one usage per season. As Kansas City isn't playing Detroit, this seemed appropriate.)

New Orleans at Detroit (+7) - Our long national nightmare ends. No one goes 0-16, not no one, not no how.

Miami (-4) at Kansas City - I want to pick the Chiefs here. I really do. And I'll certainly be rooting for them. I just don't see it.

Arizona at New England (-8) - That's really a lot of points for an injury-decimated team struggling to reach the playoffs to give against a division champ. But. The division is the NFC West. The Cardinals have come to the east coast 3 times and lost each time, allowing an average of 37 points per game. The Cardinals are a dome desert team about to play in a snowstorm. The Cardinals do not need the game, the Patriots do. There's a lot to fear here for a Patriots fan, as the Cardinals throw the ball very well, and the Patriots don't defend the pass well. But there's enough going the Patriots' way to think that they'll win this and keep the playoff hopes alive for another week.

San Francisco (-5.5) at St. Louis - One of the teams in this game is the Rams. No further commentary necessary.

Pittsburgh (-2) at Tennessee - There are a couple of games that look fantastic on paper, and this is certainly one of them. If the Titans are what they looked like they might be earlier, they'll win this one at home and lock up home field throughout the AFC playoffs. I think that they don't.

San Diego (+3.5) at Tampa Bay - I got nothing. Nothing funny, nothing amusing, nothing insightful. Nothing. Chargers, I don't know why, win a game that means nothing.

Buffalo at Denver (-7) - There are two potential scenarios for this game. In one, the Broncos blow out the Bills. In the other, it's a close game throughout, and the Bills have a lead with under five minutes to go, and the Broncos come back to win on a bad turnover by the Bills and a bad call by an official. Either way, the Broncos definitely win and probably cover.

Houston (-7) at Oakland - At this point, it's kind of like picking Rams games. "OK, team A is an NFL team, team B is the Raiders. Team A covers."

N.Y. Jets at Seattle (+4.5) - This will be the Jets fourth trip west. They're 0-3 on the first three, including losses in San Francisco and Oakland. This will be Mike Holmgren's last game on the sidelines in Seattle, coaching a Seahawk team that hasn't given up, and gave the Patriots everything they could handle two weeks ago. I think that Seattle not only beats the spread, they win the game outright, preserving New England's division hopes.

Atlanta at Minnesota (-3) - Minnesota looked like a monster a week ago. I doubt that they'll look that good again this week. Have the Falcons hit the wall? This should be a good game, but it's easier to imagine the Vikings winning than the Falcons.

Philadelphia (-5) at Washington - It really is interesting to see the ups and downs of the NFL season. In a baseball season, 16 games means very little - in the NFL season, it's the whole kit and kaboodle. A month and a half ago, the Redskins were clearly, no doubt, a much better team than the Eagles. Today, the opposite is true.

Carolina at N.Y. Giants (-3) - Like the Titans-Steelers, this game is for home field through the conference championship game. Unlike the Titans-Steelers, the home team is the better team. The Giants, who have struggled the last couple of weeks, pick it back up and clinch the home field advantage.

Green Bay at Chicago (-4) - There are, I'm sure, some Favre apologists who blame Green Bay's disintegration on their failure to bring back Brett. And they have scored 23 fewer points through 14 games than they did in 2007. Of course, they've allowed 96 more, so I don't think that the QB change really accounts for it.

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