Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Week 14 NFL Picks

Train wreck. Dumpster fire. Sh!t show. Mongolian crap stand.* These are just a few ways to describe last week's picks. And what bizarre week it was. The Chiefs played under the cloud of staggeringly tragic circumstances, the Jets scored 7 points and the Steelers started Charlie Batch at quarterback. So of course they all won.

Last year's AFC Championship game will probably never be supplanted as my most depressing day as a football fan, but last Sunday may have set a new record for total number of undesired outcomes ranging from the disappointing to the demoralizing. The Ravens gagged against the Steelers, every single other AFC playoff contender won, I went 5-10-1 on my picks and, maybe worst of all, the most disastrous fantasy football team with which I have ever been associated completed its season with a 4-9 record and that is actually deceiving considering we finished 421 points behind the league leader.** Suffice it to say that my Phillip Rivers comeback season theory didn't pan out.

Washington by 2.5 over Baltimore: The Pick - Ravens

"Let's go with '42 Strip Sack Left'
wait, wait, wait let's mix it up and
go with '42 Strip Sack Right.'"
With the scored tied at 20, I sat in my seat at M&T Bank Stadium and watched Joe Flacco get strip-sacked by the Steelers in almost the exact same place on the field where Troy Polamalu got him one year, three hundred and sixty-two days earlier. I immediately turned to the FGW and said, "fuck this, I'm outta here" because I'd seen that movie before and I knew how it ended. I can tell you that the outcome was much more bearable sitting in a Mexican restaurant drinking a Pacifico with no knowledge that Cam Cameron had elected to remove Ray Rice from the game plan in the last quarter (no touches for Rice in the 4th, none, zip, zilch, blech). I think I speak for a lot of Ravens fans when I say that this situation has reached the point where either Cameron goes or we go. The Joe Flacco contract renewal debate is not so clear because the Cardinals continue to be a cautionary tale of what can happen if you decide to strike out in the NFL wilderness without at least a semi-proven quarterback.** Larry Fitzgerald would pay for 20% of Flacco's contract out of his own pocket. (Much more on this later). 

Cleveland by 6.5 over Kansas City: The Pick - Browns

Random stat of the week: the AFC North has the highest overall point differential of any division in football with a net 91. The overall success of the division can be attributed to the following: (a) the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals are all pretty good, (b) despite their 4-8 record, the Browns have been in every game, and most importantly, (c) the AFC North had the pleasure of playing the AFC West this year which has the worst point differential at -169 with the Chiefs and Raiders leading the way at -134 and -154 respectively. (The Raiders point differential is 324 points lower than that of the Patriots which translates to 27 points per game just in case you find yourself in a "worst team in the NFL" debate and need some ammo). 

Pittsburgh by 8 over San Diego: The Pick - Steelers

"I'm sorry . . . sphincter says what?"
It has been reported that Chargers coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith will be fired at the end of the season. It is also being reported that bears shit in the woods and the pope wears a funny hat. I didn't think Mike Tomlin could go up another notch in my mind but then he did it by stiffing John Harbaugh on the post game handshake last week because he was pissed-off about Harbaugh's post-game comments two weeks earlier in Pittsburgh. Let's hope we stay on this collision course for Ravens-Steelers in the first round of the playoffs. 

Indianapolis by 5 over Tennessee: The Pick - Colts

This game feels like a Tuesday . . . meaning that it has no feel. I'm pretty confident the Colts are going to win but they are the classic just scraping by team as indicated by their 8-4 record and -41 point differential (clearly my new favorite stat). With that being said, the Titans have become a non-factor evidenced by the fact that no one really knows who their starting quarterback is from week to week and no one really cares.

Tampa Bay by 7 over Philadelphia: The Pick - Bucs

The Phillies have won a game more recently than the Eagles. We have not seen anything lately that indicates that trend is going to change.

Cincinnati by 3 over Dallas: The Pick - Bengals

The Bengals just finished a three game sweep of the bottom of the AFC West so it's hard to tell how good they are. We do, however, know that the Cowboys were already a dysfunctional operation before the events of early Saturday morning.

N.Y. Jets by 2.5 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Jaguars
The Jaguars are a home underdog to a team that (a) won the ugliest game of the year last week 7-6 over the Cardinals and (b) doesn't know who their starting quarterback is. Considering that this game really has no playoff implications, couldn't the league let Tim Tebow switch teams to make it somewhat worth watching?

Chicago by 3 over Minnesota: The Pick - Vikings

Where's George Kennedy to rub
your back when you need him?
I highly recommend D.J. Gallo's recent article in which he acknowledges that all starting quarterbacks are "elite" but then delineates their varying degrees of "eliteness" - How Elite is Your QB? I bring this up here because (a) the article is awesome, (b) it's Saturday night and I am grinding-out these picks like I'm Paul Newman trying to down 50 eggs in an hour,*** and (c) because of this great statistical observation: "It happened this week: Adrian Peterson passed Christian Ponder in yards per attempt on the season. Unfortunately, as you may recall, Peterson is a running back and Ponder is a quarterback. Yet Peterson’s 6.2 yards per carry is better than Ponder’s 6.0 yards per passing attempt." Based on that stat, I'm counting on the Vikings sticking to the running game and keeping this one tight. 

Atlanta by 3.5 over Carolina: The Pick - Falcons

Going with the Georgia theme here and seven days later still wondering what the Bulldog coaching staff was thinking by not spiking the ball at the Alabama 8 yard line down by 4 with 15 seconds to play. That would have given them three shots at the end zone and a trip to the national championship game. Instead, they wasted about 7 seconds lining-up then attempted a fade pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and caught in bounds by a Georgia receiver as he went to the ground as time expired. Now I read that Georgia offensive coordinator, Mike Bobo, is being considered for the head coaching job at Southern Miss which will be a nice stepping-stone on his way to the NFL and the Andy Reid - Jason Garrett clock management hall of fame. I seem to remember someone advocating that coach's have a clock management nerd on the sideline to avoid situations like the Bulldog debacle - FGR's Week 16 Picks. It actually makes more sense in college where all you have to do is walk over to the math department, hold-up a football and hire the first person who can identify it. 

Buffalo by 3 over St. Louis: The Pick - Bills

It turns out that there is historical precedent for the Rams trading away the rights to RG, III and if you're a Rams fan, you're not going to like it. Sixteen years ago, the Charlotte Hornets traded the rights to Kobe Bryant to the Lakers in exchange for Vlade Divac. The Hornets would later move to New Orleans and are now planning to change their name to the Pelicans. Not sure I even need a joke here.

San Francisco by 10 over Miami: The Pick - 49ers

One of the great things about being both the writer and editor of the FGR is that when you clearly half-ass the last five picks of the week, there is no one there to bust your balls. The Niners are due for on of those home 27-6 games against a bad team. 

N.Y. Giants by 6 over New Orleans: The Pick - Saints

I am standing by my theory that this is one of the seasons where the Giants do NOT pull-out of their flat spin in December.

Seattle by 10.5 over Arizona: The Pick - Seahawks

The Cardinals had 137 total yards and 5 first downs last week against the Jets. I am now going to attempt to distract you from the fact that I don't have a point to make about those numbers with this giant picture.

At least the Cardinals have one scouting
department that knows what it's doing. 
Green Bay by 6.5 over Detroit: The Pick - Packers

Where do you go from here if you're the Lions? You built a team around a passing only offense, very suspect character guys on defense and a coach that annoys the crap out of everyone. Never a good thing when you're one bad draft from becoming the Raiders.

New England by 4 over Houston: The Pick - Patriots

I'm no conspiracy theorist*** but the Patriots had to play four division winners from last year and they got three of them at home including the Texans and the 49ers over the next two weeks. (But the Ravens got the same schedule set-up AND they played the Patriots at home . . . oh shut up). It pains me to say this but the road to the Super Bowl is going to run through Foxborough again. (No, not the Lee Evans flashback again. Excuse me, I'll be over here in the fetal position. Please shake me when Scott Hanson comes on at 1:00).

Last Week's Record: 5-10-1 . . . Season Record: 92-94-6

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Endnotes

* I made that one up. Has kind of a nice ring to it though.

** I could only find this video in Spanish which actually makes it more entertaining - Cool Hand Luke.

*** That's not really true. Someone conspired to make me say that.