Saturday, December 14, 2013

The FGR Week 15 NFL Picks

Well I blew-off the individual game commentary last week and went 11-5. That's the good news. The bad news is that I walked out of Ravens stadium last Sunday with two minutes left in the game after watching Dennis Pitta catch what I thought was the game winning touchdown. As it turned-out, Pitta's touchdown was just the flicked cigarette at the Exxon station and, in the time it took me to walk to my car, the Vikings and Ravens combined to score twenty-eight more points. But hey, at least we beat the traffic (sheesh).

In my defense, I had a bunch of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 at the game with me, the temperature was in the 20's and it was sleeting (isn't this fun?). I'm very tempted to break the FGR rule of no specific references to family or friends and post the picture of my six year old daughter's face from halfway through the 4th quarter but that's a line I won't cross. I will say that her expression was a combination of "I hate you more than a tetanus shot right now" and "when I'm 15, I will date a motorcycle riding 17 year old with more tattoos and piercings than Dennis Rodman who plays drums in a Sex Pistols cover band to make you pay for this."

Inspired by that uplifting prospect and my disastrous Thursday night pick, let's do this.

At Atlanta by 6 over Washington: The Pick - Falcons

"You know, I've been thinking a
lot about what you said and maybe
the answer does lie in Scientology." 
Look, no one enjoys a complete Redskins meltdown more than me but this situation in D.C. is turning into the high school prank that got way out of hand. When we jokingly sent the hooker from Craig's List to RG, III's house, we never thought it would end with a stab wound, a dead dog and a meth fire. At some point in the next few months, Jon Gruden, Lovie Smith or Josh McDaniels* will step-up to the podium and become the eighth head coach in the fifteen year Dan Snyder era. Keep searching Danny. You'll get to the root of the problem eventually.

San Francisco by 5.5 at Tampa Bay: The Pick - 49ers

Greg Schiano Job Security Check: The Bucs have won four of their last five and, before that run, they took the Seahawks to overtime in Seattle. More importantly than that, however, is the fact that, if they do try to replace Schiano, the Bucs are going to be in a high leverage market for coaches along with the Redskins, Texans, Jets and possibly the Vikings, Titans, Falcons and Giants (Tom Coughlin has nothing left to prove and he's got to be getting tired of this grind and the face chafing so a graceful exit this offseason is probably 50/50). Good luck landing your first choice against the Giants and the wheelbarrows full of money the Redskins, Jets and Texans can roll-out. Though in the cases of the Skins and the Jets, it may take eight digits a year for Jon Gruden to come run your clown college.

Arizona by 2.5 at Tennessee: The Pick - Cardinals

I predicted a 10-6 finish for the Cardinals (my 2013 sleeper team) and now they're just a 2-1 finish away from achieving it with the mediocre to average Titans coming-up this Sunday. That's the good news. The bad news is that they finish with Seattle on the road and then home against San Francisco. Missed it by THAT much.

New Orleans by 5.5 at St. Louis: The Pick - Saints

Since opening with a win over the Cardinals, the Rams have gone three losses, two wins, three losses, two wins and are now on a two game losing streak. Going with the formula almost seems too convenient but, in this case, it was meant to be.

Seattle by 7 at N.Y. Giants: The Pick - Seahawks

There was a part of me that thought the long road trip coming-off a really physical loss to the 49ers for the Seahawks combined with the fact that the Giants have actually won five of their last seven could make this a competitive game. And then I looked at quality of those five wins by the Giants and realized that, on the day each of those games were played, they were up against one of the three worst teams in the NFL. How is this for timing? They got the Packers after Aaron Rodgers was hurt. They got the Vikings for the three hour Monday night Josh Freeman comedy showcase (which has since been cancelled). And they caught the Eagles in the last week of the Matt Barkley/Michael Vick turnoverama experience. Their other two wins were over the Raiders and the Redskins (enough said). To reverse paraphrase Gordon Gecko, "if the Giants owned a funeral parlor over those seven weeks, everyone would have died."

At Cleveland by 1.5 over Chicago: The Pick - Browns

Only on a team that has had 27 different starting quarterbacks in the last 25 years would the head coach bench the guy with the 110 passer rating in favor of the guy who hasn't played in a month with the playoffs on the line. I had the Bears in this game until Marc Trestman made that move. On the other side, you have Rob Chudzinski who has kept the Browns competitive despite having to go from Brandon Weeden to Brian Hoyer to Weedon to Jason Campbell to Weedon and back to Campbell. As a Ravens fan, I'm really hoping the Browns swing and miss on the quarterback they will inevitably take in the draft because Chudzinski has proven he can make caviar out of corned beef hash (I was going to put a picture of corned beef hash here but oh my God who eats that?).

Buffalo by 2 at Jacksonville: The Pick - Jags

This is the only game of the week with absolutely no playoff implications. At the start of the season, who would have thought you could say that in Week 15 about a Buffalo-Jacksonville match-up? (Oh right . . . everybody). So let me take this opportunity to vent about something that's been grinding my gears for the better part of six weeks and I'm going to borrow from the teachings of the great 20th century philosopher, Harold Callahan (his friends called him "Dirty"):

Not sure the Jags are long for
this continent. I sure hope you
speak British sweetheart. 
"No, this stuff isn't getting to me, the shootings, the knifings, the beatings, old ladies being bashed in the head for their social security checks, teachers being thrown out of a fourth floor window because they don't give A's.** That doesn't bother me a bit . . . or this job either, having to wade through the scum of this city, being swept away by bigger and bigger waves of corruption, apathy and red tape. No, that doesn't bother me. But you know what does bother me . . . you know what really makes me sick to my stomach? . . . It's ordering a Harvest Salad from Chick-fil-A and finding strawberries on it . . . nobody . . . I mean nobody puts strawberries on a salad."*** (Click here for the full Dirty Harry rant, it's worth it).

New England by 2.5 over Miami: The Pick - Dolphins

Just when the Patriots are in a position to actually help the Ravens with a win over the Dolphins, down goes Gronk (nice move Cleveland . . . very clever . . . we owe you one). This is going to play out one of two ways: (1) The Pats slip-up against the Dolphins and then come to Baltimore next week and beat the Ravens on a last second drive aided by three consecutive dubious pass interference penalties, or (2) the Patriots take care of business this weekend and then come to Baltimore and get absolutely manhandled by a Ravens defense that appears to be rounding into shape (if you don't count what appeared to be their attempts to tackle Toby Gerhart and Cordarrelle Patterson last Sunday). I know these teams too well. There is no third option.

At Indianapolis by 6 over Houston: The Pick - Texans

Did you know that Wade Phillips' career record as a head coach is 82-63? And if you take out the nine games where he had to step-in as the interim coach of a floundering team, that career record improves to 79-57. And in 48 games as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, he was 29-19 . . . and then they fired him. (The Bills' record since is 78-125). And did you also know that the Colts have allowed over 31 points per game over their last seven and that they haven't beaten a team not named the Tennessee Titans since November 3rd? Oh yeah, did you also know that the Colts' scoring differential is -3? Well now you do. I like the Texans to pull the upset in a "why can't Wade Phillips be our coach? . . . please Mr. Owner, please, we really like him" effort.

Philadelphia by 4.5 at Minnesota: The Pick - Eagles

The success of my last fantasy team standing rides on this game as my long term gamble on the Chip Kelly offense has started to pay dividends with Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy. On top of that, we may even give Toby Gerhart a start because nothing strikes fear in the heart of your opponents like the sight of a big lumbering white running back in your flex spot. (That actually sounds kind of painful).

At Carolina by 11 over N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Panthers

Really? another hot teacher pic? Ok.
Geno Smith on the road against one of the league's best defenses which was just humiliated by Drew Brees and Co. on national television. I think I would give the points on this one up to about 20 because it wreaks of a 31-6 beatdown. Here's a fun stat. The Jets are only one game under .500 but somehow have a scoring differential of -111. Their last six losses have been by an average of 23 points and their six wins have been by an average of 5. I'm no statistician but I don't think that's the sign of a team trending in the right direction.

Kansas City by 4.5 at Oakland: The Pick - Chiefs

I must be missing something with this line considering the Chiefs just manhandled the East Coast version of the Raiders last week in Washington. After starting with their traditional "hey, the Raiders might not completely suck this year" 3-4 record, they have lost five of their last six with the only win coming against a Houston team that went on strike for better cafeteria food but forgot to tell anybody.

At Dallas by 7 over Green Bay: The Pick - Cowboys

OK Cowboys, since Josh McCown was apparently way more than you could handle, we've dumbed down the test even more for you with Matt Flynn instead of Aaron Rodgers. If that's still too tough, we've got the Redskins lined-up for next week. If you can't win a game in December under those conditions, then Jerry Jones has to replace the current general manager with someone who can find some clutch players (what? . . . he is? . . . oh that was awkward).

Cincinnati by 3 at Pittsburgh: The Pick - Steelers

A Bengals' loss combined with a Ravens' win puts us on a collision course for a week 17 game in Cincinnati for the division title so Raven fans find themselves in the awkward position of rooting for the Steeooolers . . . the Stee . . . the St . . . oh fuck it, I can't say it.

At Detroit by 6 over Baltimore: The Pick - Ravens

"Come on Meat. Just one more
pick and we get January off."
I honestly don't have any problem with Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam calling-out Calvin Johnson for being "old" (doesn't mean I understand it but I don't have a problem with it) and getting Megatron all fired-up because the Lions may be the worst big game team outside of Dallas so anything that makes them want to win more can only help their opponent. I'm a little surprised that Matthew Stafford hasn't picked-up the nickname "Nuke Laloosh" yet.
 
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Last Week's Record: 11-5 . . . Season Record: 113-91-3

Endnotes

* Don't rule-out a guy like McDaniels for a few reasons: (1) Gruden and Smith are too smart to walk into the shit show that is the Redskins organization so it's going to be someone desperate for a head coaching gig or someone who is cocky enough to think he can overcome the structural deficiencies - McDaniels is both, and (2) with previous head coaches like Mike Shanahan, Joe Gibbs and Steve Spurrier, Dan Snyder has proven that the splashiness of the hire may be more important than the quality. Now that I think of it, I wouldn't rule-out Ditka.

** Kids in San Francisco were throwing teachers out of windows for not giving A's? Were these gang kids with high aspirations or nerds with anger management problems? Either way, you have to give them credit for being so passionate about their grades.

*** I mean seriously Chick-fil-A, there are two kinds of salad. There's vegetable salad with lettuce and carrots and shit and then there's fruit salad and never the twain shall meet (that's Rudyard Kipling and Dirty Harry in the same rant bitches). The only exception is the Waldorf Salad because its name is badass. No one fucks with the Waldorf Salad . . . not even the Cobb (truth is, the Cobb is kind of wuss).