Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Week 15 NFL Picks

Like most adult males, I have an attention span of maybe an hour.  I can push it to two hours for a really solid movie, a competitive college basketball game or if I'm sitting at a large table for dinner and someone has overindulged to the point where the booze has become truth serum and they start prefacing outrageous statements with things like "Come on, let's be honest" and finishing them with, "you know I'm right."  (Followed soon thereafter by "don't tell me to be quiet goddammit!") 
Are these from history or biology?
This was always an issue in college and law school when I'd find myself in those classes that went for 75 to 90 minutes.  By about the 50th minute, my notes would start looking like Sanskrit and the teachers would know not to call on me because my answer would only make the rest of the class stupider.  (OK, I took some liberties with that one because (a) I never took notes and for that matter (b) I never went to class.  Exam time was always a little stressful but then again, it was a great opportunity to meet new people). 

So I struggle at NFL games where the pace of play and commercial timeouts have become almost unbearable.  By the end of the first quarter my mind starts to wander and this was never more true than at the Ravens-Colts game last Sunday because I had my kids there so I wasn't drinking and the Colts made it clear from the outset that they were taking a personal day (more on this later).

"I have an idea."
At some point I became fixated on the first down chain crew.  The Ravens were driving and the crew kept running down the field trying to keep up which was not easy considering the players are world class athletes and the chain gang is made up of 70+ year old guys carrying two giant orange ice cream cones connected by a 30 foot chain (apparently experience is a key factor in the chain gang hiring process).  It was like watching the basketball scene in Cocoon: The Return only without the everlasting youth.  I especially liked when the guy with the line of scrimmage stake got to his spot out of breath, looked out to where the ball was spotted and put his stick in the ground a couple times trying to eye it up before saying "ah fuck it, close enough."  If only we had the technology to make the measurement process more precise.  Oh well, maybe in a few years.  On to the picks:                  

Dallas by 6.5 over Tampa Bay:  The Pick - Cowboys

The two greatest non-game days in Ravens' history - April 21, 1996 which was the day they decided to draft Jonathan Ogden instead of Lawrence Phillips and later took Ray Lewis with the 26th pick; and January 17th, 2008 which was the day Jason Garrett turned-down the Ravens head coaching job and decided to stay with the Cowboys.  I think we can officially replace the expression "deer in the headlights" with simply "Jason Garrett."  With that being said, the Bucs really seem to be getting back to their mid 70's roots and are basically unpickable at this point.

N.Y. Giants by 6.5 over Washington:  The Pick - Giants

I'm glad the Giants came back and beat the Cowboys on Sunday because it's really awkward calling a quarterback elite when his team is riding a five game losing streak.  (Don't you agree Peter King?)  Two of the Redskins' best players (and I use that term loosely), Fred Davis and Trent Williams, were recently suspended after repeatedly testing positive for marijuana.  Mike Shanahan has to be looking at his paycheck every five minutes saying, "it's too much money to quit, it's too much money to quit."          

Atlanta by 11 over Jacksonville:  The Pick - Falcons

So what if I "smell
my own jock strap."
This is the part of the season where the Falcons go on a little roll, take the top wild card spot and get everyone to pick them as their dark horse because they are so "balanced on offense" and "well coached" and because they "don't own a toothbrush" or "wipe properly."  Then they'll get blown out of the first round by the Saints or Giants and everyone will say "huh" and move on.  (Man I miss Chris Farley - Bennett Brauer)

Green Bay by 13.5 over Kansas City:  The Pick - Packers

The Chiefs fired coach Todd Haley despite the fact that they won the division last year and this year they've lost their best offensive player, defensive player and quarterback to injuries.  I like Haley so I am going to choose to believe that he told everyone in the room to go fuck themselves and slammed the door on his way out because that is what I choose to believe I would have done.  (Ironically, I've never been fired though I have had a few resignations happily accepted). 

New Orleans by 7 over Minnesota:  The Pick - Saints

The Vikings have one of the worst pass defenses in the league.  Drew Brees is on pace to throw for 5,376 yards which would crush Dan Marino's record of 5,084.  Brees is the quarterback on my undefeated fantasy team heading into the semifinals of a league where I have made it at least this far five times in a row and never won.  I have no doubt the Saints will win this game 13-3 with Brees going 25-32 for 178 yards, no touchdowns and 2 picks.  Fantasy football is truly a wicked mistress.  

Chicago by 4 over Seattle:  The Pick - Seahawks

Don't look now but here come the Seahawks with an outside shot at the playoffs which is frightening considering they lost to the Browns 6-3 back in October.  The loss to the Redskins at home two weeks ago will probably be their downfall and rightfully so.  Losing to the Browns and the Redskins should disqualify you from the playoffs like watching any of the Twilight movies disqualifies you from being a man.

Buffalo by 1 over Miami:  The Pick - Bills

ESPN Magazine recently asked eight athletes from different sports on a scale of 1 to 10 "how knowledgeable are fans of your sport?"  Six responded with numbers between "6-10" including a runner who gave the fans a "7" (apparently there's more to running than starting in one place and then trying to run faster than the other runners to another place).  Reds pitcher Sam LeCure gave the fans a "4" because, you know, baseball is such a complex sport with all of the throwing, catching, hitting and drinking in the clubhouse during the games.

"Look coach, left is red and right is
blue so I don't have to guess anymore."
But the best was Dolphins linebacker, Kevin Burnett, who gave the fans a "1" and said "they're fans for a reason.  They have no knowledge of what we're doing and how we're doing it."  And all along I thought they just showed linebackers a ball and the other teams' jersey and said "when this is holding this, tackle it."  Apparently it's more like splitting an atom than I thought and Lawrence Taylor met that 16 year old girl at a MENSA meeting.  Who knew?

Oh yeah, they're calling for snow in Buffalo on Sunday so I'm picking the crappy team that's not from Florida.

Houston by 6 over Carolina:  The Pick - Panthers

The Texans are now two home wins and one road win against the Colts away from potentially taking the #1 seed in the AFC and they've won three games in a row with a rookie 5th round draft pick quarterback who probably didn't get to run a play in practice until a month ago.  It's a great story and one the Steelers or the Ravens will ask their coaches to tell them over and over again at bedtime if they get to play at Houston in the playoffs.             

Tennessee by 6.5 over Indy:  The Pick - Titans

"You call that castling?!?  Just give him the
king....GO AHEAD GIVE HIM THE KING!!!
Anyone who thinks the NFL over protects its quarterbacks has not paid to see the Colts play this year.  I've seen chess teams enter the arena with more passion than the Colts did against the Ravens last Sunday (not really, but you get the idea).  The Ravens-Steelers rivalry is fierce but there is no team Ravens' fans want to beat more than the Colts because most of them are bitter former Colts fans or the kids of bitter former Colts fans who've been raised to believe that March 29, 1984 (the night the Mayflower vans rolled out of town) is Baltimore's personal Pearl Harbor Day.  To put it into perspective for those who have not lived in Charm City, the Baltimore Colts' Marching Band stayed together for the twelve years when Baltimore did not have a football team and did not change its name to The Marching Ravens until two years AFTER the Ravens arrived.  M&T Bank Stadium is one of the loudest in the league in part because you can still feel the anger when the crowd gets charged-up.

All of that good hate was wasted last Sunday because by about the start of the second quarter the game was over and the fun of watching Dan Orlovsky bounce passes off of Dallas Clark's shins had worn off.  By the third quarter, it had dawned on the crowd that we were just helping the Colts draft the guy who is going to torment us for the next fifteen years.  We were kind of left holding the phone like Richard Dreyfuss in Tin Men when he tells Danny DeVito "I just poked your wife!" and DeVito fires back with "well that's just fine by me.  She's a pain in the ass, an albatross around my neck . . . . you're welcome to her.  Keep her, and may you both rot in Hell!"                   

Cincinnati by 6 over St. Louis:  The Pick - Bengals

"Next time just chop my freakin'
head off why don't ya."
Can't manufacture any commentary on this game so instead let's recognize the headliner 2012 inductees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:  Guns N' Roses, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the Beastie Boys and Donovan.  (For those not familiar with Donovan's work, think of the scene in Goodfellas when De Niro and Pesci were beating Frank Vincent to within an inch of his life to the chorus of Atlantis which had to inspire Gus Van Sant's use of Baker Street during the playground fight in Good Will Hunting.  The producers of The Soprano's were so impressed with Vincent's performance that they hired him to play Phil Leotardo and then killed him off by having a car run over his head at a gas station.  Can we please get off this tangent and back to the original tangent?)

That is a very solid modern line-up especially when you consider that last year's headliners were Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Dr. John and Tom Waits (apparently The Little River Band just missed the cut).  Playing the always fun music to sports parallel game, this class matches-up pretty well with the NFL Hall of Fame Class of '92 with Lem Barney (Donovan), John Mackey (GN'R - because someone had to be GN'R), John Riggins (the Chilli Peppers) and Al Davis (the Beastie Boys).  Couldn't you picture Al screaming this at the other owners and Pete Rozelle when they tried to keep him from moving the Raiders to L.A.: "I can't stand it I know you planned it, I'm gonna set it straight this Watergate, I can't stand rocking when I'm in here because your crystal ball ain't so crystal clear, so while you sit back and wonder why I got this fucking thorn in my side oh my, it's a mirage I'm tellin' y'all it's sabotage."  Yeah, me neither but if you ever need a song on your Ipod to get you through the last three minutes of a treadmill death run, that's a good one and it's also one of the last great MTV videos - Sabotage.                    

Detroit by 1 over Oakland:  The Pick - Lions

Has any trade ever gone from "worst trade ever" to "great trade" to "worst trade ever" faster than the Carson Palmer trade and the best part is that if you had asked any serious NFL fan to take five minutes and ponder how this was going to play out he would have said: "It will probably take Palmer a few games to get back into form, then he'll play a few good games riding the high of being with a new team and then he'll revert back to the B- quarterback he was in Cincinnati."  I hope Raider fans enjoyed that winning record while it lasted.
 
New England by 6 over Denver:  The Pick - Patriots

"If you're reading this caption,
you're kind of missing the point."
Tough call on this one because the logical thinking would be that the Patriots are going to put up 20+ points which would be enough to beat the Broncos most weeks.  Logical thinking would also lead you to believe that Bellichik will come up with a way to stymy Tebow.  The problem is that when teams play the Broncos these days, they turn into the high school science club when a hot chick walks into the room looking for directions to the girls' locker room.  "Uhhhh you want to head down the hall in that erection....I mean direction."  I think the guy married to the super model is going to be able to handle it better than most.      

Philadelphia by 3 over the N.Y. Jets:  The Pick - Jets

I know I speak for every fan of an AFC playoff bound team when I say that I would like to see the Jets go away because you know if they get in, their playoff path is going to be at Denver where they are not going to let Tebow beat them again and then at Houston against T.J. Yates.  The next thing you know they're in the AFC Championship game again and we're subjected to three weeks of Rex Ryan who has become a parody of himself being a parody of his father.

Arizona by 6.5 over Cleveland:  The Pick - Cardinals

Nothing to see here.  Go ahead and devote the time you were going to spend reading this to another glance at the picture of Giselle.

Baltimore by 2.5 over San Diego:  The Pick - Ravens

Welcome back.  This game is a perfect storm for the Ravens and their fans.  A night road game with huge playoff implications against a quarterback who knows what he's doing.  Those factors should be enough to chalk this one up as a Ravens' loss.  However, the only team that currently has a winning record that the Chargers beat this year was the pre-Tebow Broncos and they were awful.  Speaking of Tebow, would it be sacrilegious to add him to the Nativity set in our living room?  What if we don't put him in the manger but just have him Tebowing next to it? 

San Francisco by 1 over Pittsburgh:  The Pick - 49ers

"You'll have plenty of time to think
about this loss when you're livin'
in a van down by the RIVER!!!"
This is as big a game for the Ravens as it is for the 49ers (and yes, it is all about me and my favorite team) so I'd like to see John Harbaugh pull out all of the stops for the pregame speaker.  "Gentlemen, this set me back a few bucks but this game was worth it.  I've brought in a motivational speaker named Matt Foley.  Now he's been sitting in my office drinking coffee for about the last four hours so he should be ready to go...."    (Man I really miss Chris Farley - Matt Foley).



Last week:  7-9 . . . . Season:  68-58-2.