Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Week 14 NFL Picks

On my list of things I never want to do again, taking a two and half hour flight with a mind crushing sinus infection falls somewhere between getting a vasectomy and spending two weeks in Carteret, New Jersey being trained to manage a Herman's Sporting Goods store.  (I think I know why they went out of business.  Flying a group of 25 year olds from everywhere east of the Mississippi to train them on the art of fitting a 12 year old for a jock strap may not have been the best allocation of their resources.  Especially when that "talent pool"of management trainees couldn't find a better job than one where they made $25,000 a year working 60 hours a week.  This will all be covered in more detail when I get around to writing the post for "Crappy Jobs I've Had....a 28 Part Series").

"You vill have your eggs
scrambled zis morning?!?"
At least it was worth it as I am now sitting in a bar next to a beach on Cat Island in the Bahamas at a secluded resort called Shanna's Cove which I highly recommend because (a) there are no kids, (b) it's hard to get to which greatly reduces the potential douche factor and (c) it's owned and run by Germans and Germans get shit done.  Imagine an island paradise including customer service delivered with the expertly engineered killing power of a Panzer tank.  (It just takes a few days to learn that "you vill have swordfish for ze dinner tomorrow" is a question and not an order).  Unfortunately there are certain things beyond their control (for now) and the internet service is wired together with coffee cans and kite string so this post has been written in about a dozen sittings, is all over the road and will be short on pictures.

On to the picks.  I did not have the benefit of Redzone, NFL Primetime, Inside the NFL or any of my other "research" materials this week so I'm kind of flying blind . . . and I'm drunk, but here goes . . .        

Pittsburgh by 14 over Cleveland:  The Pick - Steelers

I did get watch the feed for the Dolphins-Raiders game out of Miami.  What does this have to do with the Steelers?  Not much other than watching the Steelers dismantle a quality team on the ticker at the bottom of the screen is almost more frightening than seeing it live.  There really shouldn't be a debate about the best coach in the NFL because no coach has his team more ready to play in December and January regardless of the circumstances than Mike Tomlin.  Knoll, Cowher, Tomlin . . . is there a loophole in the constitution where we can just let the Rooney family pick our next president?    

Tampa Bay by 1 over Jacksonville:  The Pick - Bucs

In Baltimore when our team is 3-9 in December (which is fortunately rare) we go to the games anyway because, really, what else are we going to do?  Play golf dressed like Sir Edmund Hilary or hang more Christmas decorations?  Apparently Paul Tagliabue didn't consider this when he screwed over Baltimore to put another team in Florida.  Have all of the coaches from a state with three or more NFL teams ever been fired in the same season before?  We're one third of the way there in Florida, Sparano is as good as gone in Miami and Raheem Morris better hope that Cowher or Gruden don't start showing-up in the owner's box.  

N.Y. Jets by 9 over Kansas City:  The Pick - Jets

Assuming either the Ravens or the Steelers are going to take one of the AFC wild card spots, that leaves four teams at 7-5 fighting for the last one - the Jets, Titans, Bengals and Raiders (I'm giving the West to the team quarterbacked by our president in 2032).  The Jets have become that guy in college on Saturday night who everyone agrees not to tell where you're going and then he shows-up anyway right as you're getting ready to close the deal, knocks the girl out of the way and yells, "WE'RE DOING SHOTS!!!......but......WE'RE DOING SHOTS!!!"  (Two points of full disclosure: (1) I had and would still have no idea how to "close the deal", and (2) I always kind of liked when that guy showed-up).      

Detroit by 7.5 over Minnesota:  The Pick - Lions

Bad timing for the Lions that their semi-implosion coincided with games against the Packers and Saints.  Now they get what should be a breather at home against the Vikings before they have to close with games at Oakland and Green Bay.  They currently sit with the Bears and Falcons at 7-5 fighting for one of the two wild card spots (with the Giants lurking at 6-6).  The Bears are dead in the water and the Falcons are floundering.  This thing is going to take a couple more twists and turns before it's over but when you have Matthew Stafford throwing to Calvin Johnson and the teams you're battling have Caleb Hanie and Matt Ryan (more on him later), come on.

Baltimore by 16.5 over the Colts:  The Pick - Ravens

I have two sons ages 8 and 10 and despite the fact that I went all in on the Ravens before they were born, they are die-hard Colts fans.  This was born out of something of a perfect storm of circumstances: (1) My oldest son begins to take an interest in football sometime during the 2006 season; (2) The Colts come to Baltimore as underdogs in the divisional playoffs and beat the Ravens in what had to be one of the three ugliest games in NFL playoff history (I'm guessing on some of this because I saw the writing on the wall early, began drinking heavily in the first half and was persona non grataBillick deployed one of the worst offensive gameplans of his career, which is really saying something); (3) The Colts go on to win the Super Bowl with the most high profile quarterback of our generation; (4) The Ravens go 5-11 in 2007; and (5) The Colts go 13-3.  Game, set and match.

How do you explain to a six year old kid that he should root for a losing team that makes daddy angry over a winning team with a quarterback who's on TV every five minutes?  He's a kid not an idiot.  But I've been biding my time, waiting for Peyton Manning to retire and planting the seeds for change.  December 10th will be the tipping point as the Ravens push the Colts one step closer to 0-16 with my whole family in attendance.  The window of opportunity is going to be tight with Andrew Luck waiting in the wings and Jim Caldwell giving way to a coach with a pulse.  If the Ravens blow this for me, I may be in the market for a Cam Newton jersey.

Miami by 3 over Philadelphia:  The Pick - Dolphins

"Do you really think we should
air it out this week Andy?"
The Andy Reid farewell tour continued with him having Vince Young drop back to pass 29 times against the Seahawks.  As Ed Hocken said to Frank Drebin right after Frank shot him in the next with a cufflink tranquilizer dart, "Why?"  John Fox is showing everyone how to win with a running quarterback.  It's not like the footage is hard to come by.  I think the highlight of Tebow's run against the Jets is about to pass the Zapruder Film for most views all-time.      

New Orleans by 3.5 over Tennessee:  The Pick - Saints

Suddenly two teams with a lot to play for.  The Saints are clearly the second best team in the NFC but need to make up a game and a half on the 49ers to take the #2 seed which is actually a big deal because they do not want to have to go west to play the Niners in front of what will be a rabid crowd in the second week of the playoffs.  The Titans find themselves in the middle of the race for the final AFC spot despite the fact that they continue to define mediocrity on a weekly basis (they're the AFC version of the Falcons).

Atlanta by 2.5 over Carolina:  The Pick - Panthers

If the Falcons think they're going to win a Super Bowl with Matt Ryan, they better surround him with a butt load of talent because he is average.  He got by for a few years because he looks the part but it's becoming clear that he's just a modern day Trent Dilfer.  With a chance to throw a hammerlock on the the top NFC wild cart spot last week, the Falcons put up 10 points.  

New England by 8 over Washington:  The Pick - Redskins

"We can't run the ball or play
defense....so why are we laughing?"
The Patriots were favored by 21 over the Colts last week and you had to figure that when they were up 31-3 over Dan Orlosvsky, that that was a pretty safe cover.  I mean back when Bill Belichik was coaching like he was trying to win the cold war, that game would have ended 55-10 with the Patriots going for it on 4th and 6 from the Colts 9 yard line with less than a minute left.  Not anymore.  Now Belichik and Brady are so fat and happy that a 31-24 win over the Colts is ok and they wonder why they can't get out of the first round of the playoffs against tough teams like the Ravens and the Jets.  The Redskins are actually starting to show some signs of life which is what they always do when they get precariously close to a draft spot that might land them a legitimate quarterback.    

Cincinnati by 3 over Houston:  The Pick - Bengals

For the second week in a row I find myself looking to the Bengals for help.  Last week I blindly picked them and they came through on the wrong end of a 35-7 beatdown which left the Steelers tied with the Ravens for first place in the AFC North (and don't talk to me about tie breakers because the Ravens are poised to drop a mega dook against the Browns at home on Christmas Eve which means the children of Baltimore are in jeopardy of waking-up on Christmas morning to some really screwed-up toys).

Denver by 3.5 over Chicago:  The Pick - Broncos

There are currently seven teams in the NFL at 7-5 fighting for playoff spots.  Their quarterbacks are Tim Tebow, Carson Palmer, Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Matt Hassleback, Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford.  If you had to pick one of them to win a game to save your life, who would it be?  Yeah.  Me too.

San Francisco by 3.5 over Arizona:  The Pick - 49ers

Need to start wrapping this thing up before another passing cloud shuts down the internet again.  I think the 49ers just covered something like their 12th out of 13 tries this year so I'm going to keep riding the hot hand.  (I think I just called Alex Smith the "hot hand".  What is the NFL coming to?)    

San Diego by 6.5 over Buffalo:  The Pick - Chargers

"It's really ironic that I play for
an organization this stupid."
Explain to me again why teams hand big money to unproven quarterbacks and guys who have a good 6-7 game run after years of mediocrity.  Was $59M really fair market value for Ryan Fitzpatrick or do the Bills just like saying they have a quarterback who went to Harvard? "We lost four consecutive Super Bowls, we haven't had a winning record since 2004 and we play one of our home games in Canada BUT, have you talked to our quarterback? He's really smart. Ryan, come over hear and tell us the square root of 49. Watch this. It will blow your mind."

Green Bay by 11.5 over Oakland:  The Pick - Packers

Like I said, I watched a lot of the Raiders' game and for a team clinging to a one game division lead, they did not come to play.  It looked like there was enough film on Carson Palmer since his return for the Dolphins to make him look like he did in the end with the Bengals which was not very good.  

Cowboys by 3.5 over N.Y. Giants:  The Pick - Giants

The Cowboys had a shot to take some of the stench off of the NFC East and they blew it.  Meanwhile, the Giants took a legitimate shot at ending the Packers' streak like they did against the Patriots a few years ago and we all know how that ultimately turned out.  Time for Tom Coughlin to really crank-up the grumpy old man routine for the holidays.

Seattle by 6.5 over St. Louis:  The Pick - Seahawks

"I mean what is the deal
with the Seahawks?"
I mean who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?  This game has to be on Monday night because some jackass from Seattle or St. Louis spoke-up at the meeting where these things are decided and said, "remember last year when these two teams played the last game of the season with the NFC West title on the line?  That was awesome.  Plus, we have former No. 1 pick Sam Bradford."  They must have called for the vote right when lunch showed-up.

Last week:  10-6 . . . . Season:  61-49-2.