Archive for December, 2006

Week Seventeen Picks

December 30th, 2006 Comments off

This is remarkable. I can’t remember a single season in which so many teams had playoff hopes heading into week 17. And, sure, when you’re in the position of the Jacksonville Jaguars, there’s not a whole lot of reason to even talk about those hopes (or really even to call them hopes — they’re more like semi-grounded daydreams), but the fact that the list is so long and that also many teams have something to play for at this point sure does make things exciting. Makes you glad for Paul Tagliabue and his quest to promote competitive balance, too. Thanks, Paul. What it doesn’t do, particularly when you factor in the teams that, for one reason or another, have nothing to play for this weekend, is make for easy picking. Here’s my best stab at sizing up the final week of the regular season. Expect nothing you read here to happen.

NY Giants (-2.5) at Washington
Man, the Giants are in full-on collapse. Maybe the only thing crazier than the fact that New York can essentially clinch a playoff spot with a win is the fact that they can lose and still back into the playoffs at 7-9 (and losers of seven of their final eight games). I think they come up short in the end. And I expect to see Tom Coughlin standing on the unemployment line before the coin hits the ground in the first game of the post-season. Redskins by a touchdown.

Carolina (-3) at New Orleans
It can’t make teams like Atlanta too happy to know that the Saints, who have nothing to play for having locked up the NFC two seed (they can’t catch Chicago for the one) are probably gonna hand a win to the Panthers. Of course, it’s not like the Falcons have half a chance to win anyhow. New Orleans’ starters (minus a few banged up guys who are getting the whole week off) build a bit of a lead in the first half, but Carolina gets it back against the Saints’ backups in the second, and comes out on top by a point.

Cleveland (+4) at Houston
Yes, there is a reason to be excited about this game. When its over, we won’t have to think about either of these teams at least until draft day. So there’s that. Houston by six.

Detroit (+12.5) at Dallas
Quick, who’s more clueless, Terrell Owens or Matt Millen? OK, so it’s a trick question. The correct answer is William Clay Ford. The Cowboys lock up the five seed, and the opportunity to play for exactly one more week, with a 14-point victory over the Lions, who lock up the first pick in the 2007 draft, and a chance to ruin yet another high-potential college player.

Jacksonville (+2.5) at Kansas City
It’s the battle of the playoff longshots. Win and you’re probably still not in. I’m sad to say, I see Kansas City coming out ahead (by, let’s say a touchdown) which means we’ll once again have to spend a chunk of the off-season listening to Carl Peterson whine about how too few teams make the playoffs (when in fact 12 out of 32 is possibly too many and probably just enough).

New England (+3) at Tennessee
I’ve got no reason to believe this game won’t go to the Titans, who are playing for the remote hope of making the post season and with the very real goal of finishing this season on a very strong note (closing with seven straight wins and a 9-7 record after starting 0-5 would be rather impressive). And that’s got a lot to do with the fact that I have no reason to believe that the Patriots, who would be playing for nothing more solid than the off chance of snatching the three seed from Indianapolis (they’d need Indy to fall to Miami at home, which could happen but likely won’t), will actually show up to play. I can’t see Tom Brady (and a handful of other New England starters) spending much time on the field in this one. And still, there’s a little voice in my head telling me the Pats are gonna pull out an oddball win here. I’m not putting a dime on this game, but purely for fun, I’ll take the Pats to edge the Titans (and not care in the least when it turns out I was wrong).

Oakland (+12.5) at NY Jets
Seriously? Twelve and a half points? I can’t see the Jets scoring that many points against the Raiders defense, regardless of what’s on the line. Oh, sure, I expect the Jets to win, and to qualify for the AFC six seed in the process, but I expect them to do it by a score of something along the lines of 6-0.

Pittsburgh (+6) at Cincinnati
When all is said and done, this game will turn out to have been nothing but a battle between the season’s biggest bust and yet another also-ran squad from Cincinnati. While it’s going on, however, the Bengals will be playing for the hope of sneaking into the playoffs through the dog door around the side. And that should be enough to lift them over the Steelers. By four.

Seattle (+3.5) at Tampa Bay
Even with their starters in for much, if not all, of the game, it’s hard to imagine the Seahawks (who have sewn up the NFC four seed and can’t do any better) putting in much of an effort here. That bodes well for the Patriots, who have Seattle’s first-round draft pick and no doubt would love to see Deion and the gang finish 8-8. Tampa Bay by a touchdown.

St. Louis (-2) at Minnesota
Minnesota should have little trouble controlling St. Louis on the ground. And that’s nice for the Vikings. Thing is, the Rams mostly throw the ball. And having a miserable pass defense doesn’t tend to work out too well for you when you face a team that relies so heavily on its pass offense. So I’m gonna go ahead and take the Rams and give the two.

Arizona (+13.5) at San Diego
Do I have to say anything about this game? A win hands San Diego the AFC one seed. A loss and the Chargers probably drop to the two. That, and the fact that Arizona has allowed 115 yards a game on the ground this season when they weren’t facing maybe the best running back ever to play the game, is about what you need to know. Chargers by 20, minimum.

Atlanta (+7.5) at Philadelphia
I’ve never cared much for the Eagles, but I can’t tell you how much it delights me to see good old Jeff Garcia proving everybody wrong about him yet again. Right now, I look at the Eagles as one of two NFC teams with a legit shot of making it to Miami on February 4. This week, the Eagles bludgeon the Falcons.

Buffalo (+9) at Baltimore
You know, you’ve gotta respect what Buffalo has done this season. With the way they’re improving and the way the Jets are improving, you’ve gotta figure the AFC East is gonna be a very competitive three-team division next season (with the Dolphins left out in the cold). As for this weekend, well, the Ravens are one of the two or three best teams in football. Maybe they’re the best. And they’re playing to lock up the two seed. Baltimore wins this game by 10 or more.

Miami (+9) at Indianapolis
I’m not entirely ready to count Miami out of this game, given that the Fins have an impressive defense and a decent running game. Plus, you never know, maybe Cleo Lemon turns out to be a guy who lives up to his potential now that he’s been given a shot. Still, with the Colts playing to shore up the AFC three seed, and possibly for the two, you have to believe the Colts are gonna find a way to walk away with a win. I don’t see Indy coming out ahead by nine, but six or seven wouldn’t shock me.

San Francisco (+10.5) at Denver
The 49ers certainly appear to be a team headed in the right direction. And you kind of have to be rooting for Frank Gore to make it to 1,600 yards (he needs 58 here). But Denver’s playing for a wild card berth. And the Broncos are at home. That should add up to a Denver victory, I’m guessing by something along the lines of nine points.

Green Bay (+2.5) at Chicago
It won’t be clear until mid-afternoon whether Green Bay will be playing for a playoff spot here. I kind of think they will. But even if they’re out of it, I still think the Packers will be looking to ensure that Brett Favre’s career closes with a win. And considering the fact that the Bears have absolutely nothing to play for, having sewn up home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, I’m thinking the Pack has the edge. Green Bay by a field goal.

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Week Sixteen Picks

December 21st, 2006 Comments off

I’ll say this for competitive balance (parity, whatever you want to call it): I can’t remember a time when there were 24 teams with something meaningful to play for heading into week 16 (and one of the teams that has nothing to play for is the one that has clinched home field through the NFC playoffs). So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice. Now, if I could just get to the point where all the damned parity didn’t make it so entirely impossible for me to figure out what’s gonna happen in most games. Here’s what not to expect in week sixteen.

Minnesota (+3.5) at Green Bay
So ya think maybe years from now someone will note that Tarvaris Jackson’s first NFL start came in the same game as Brett Favre’s last start at Lambeau Field? Neither do I. Packers by a touchdown.

Kansas City (-6.5) at Oakland
Who cares about the outcome of this game? Well, Kansas City fans, certainly. And Denver fans. And, of course, Brady Quinn, Troy Smith and a select number of other young men who may be doomed to begin their careers with a team with no hope of becoming competitive any time in the foreseeable future. If the folks in Colorado and the 2007 draft class could will Oakland to win, they’d pull off the upset. But since that’s not gonna happen, Kansas City takes this game by six.

Baltimore (+3) at Pittsburgh
I don’t care who the Ravens start at quarterback or where the game is played. Baltimore’s a better team than Pittsburgh. The Ravens brutalized the Steelers just four weeks ago. And Baltimore’s playing for a first-round bye, while Pittsburgh is, at best, playing to keep the fantasy of a wild card berth alive for another six days. The Ravens probably won’t have quite the day they had in week 12, but they still win this one by no fewer than four.

Carolina (+6.5) at Atlanta
You could have looked at the schedule all the way back in August and felt certain that this game would have some kind of playoff implications. Maybe you’d have thought it would be the game to decide the NFC South championship. Or the game in which Carolina could clinch home field through the playoffs, or at least a first-round bye. But you’d never in a million years have guessed that this game would find the Panthers all but officially eliminated from playoff contention and striving to pull what’s left of the rug out from under the Falcons. And still, here we are. Falcons by three.

Chicago (-5) at Detroit
Lovie Smith’s claims to the contrary notwithstanding, something tells me there will be more Chicago starters than Detroit fans watching this game before all is said and done. And still I expect the Bears not only to win, but to cover. Nice work if you can get it, eh Matt?

Indianapolis (-9) at Houston
Wake me when it’s over. Colts by 17.

New England (+2.5) at Jacksonville
Yup, sure is nice for the Patriots that they were able to “right the ship” by pounding on the hapless Texans last week. (OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh. It was a good win for the Pats. But … well, you know.) Now let’s see New England put a hurting on a good team. Or at least turn in a solid performance and walk away with a well earned victory. If that happens, and if the team can find a way to start getting healthier, I’ll start truly expecting great things from the Pats in January. Facing the Jags just as they’re beginning to experience injury problems of their own should help, as should the fact that New England matches up fairly well against Jacksonville. I’m looking for an upset here, if a narrow one.

New Orleans (+3) at NY Giants
You know what? I was just typing the words “I’d love to believe the Giants have a chance to win this game,” and then it occurred to me that what I was saying was a load of bullshit. Because I’m done rooting for the Giants for the 2006 season. Done. I’ve put up with the team having not only a Manning, but the lesser (least, I guess) Manning (a guy who looks more and more like bust and whose name sounds more and more like Herschel Walker with each game) at quarterback. I’ve done my best to ignore the tiresome antics of King Douchebag. And maybe I’ll continue to do that (or resume doing it) next season. But right now, this minute, I’m done pretending Tom Coughlin is anything other than an overrated college coach who has no business running (or in this case failing to run) an NFL team. So I’m rooting for the Giants to lose their last two games in hopes a 7-9 finish will be enough to do Coughlin in and give the Giants a chance to turn things around next season. It should help that this week’s game pits New York against a New Orleans team that has them outclassed in ever conceivable aspect of the game. Saints by a touchdown.

Tampa Bay (+3) at Cleveland
Chances are one of these teams is gonna win this game. Merry Christmas, Cleveland. Browns by a point.

Tennessee (+4.5) at Buffalo
Both teams are looking to finish the season strong and build some momentum for 2007. One of them is at home. The other one allows more yards per game than any team in the league and more points per game than 26 others. So I’m taking the Bills to win it by a field goal. And if it turns out I’m wrong, I’ll neither be surprised nor terribly disappointed.

Washington (+2) at St. Louis
I guess when all is said and done I agree with the oddsmakers. St. Louis is about two points less bad than Washington. So there you go.

Arizona (+4) at San Francisco
The Niners are trying to play their way to a playoff berth, maybe even a NFC West championship (the latter’s unlikely given that Seattle has a two-game lead and closes at Tampa Bay, but possible just the same). Arizona is just counting down the days to the end of the Dennis Green era (the count should be no more than nine at the close of this game). 49ers by 10.

Cincinnati (+3) at Denver
Carson Palmer may or may not have a bum shoulder. Javon Walker definitely has a bum shoulder. And if Walker can’t catch balls, you probably can’t expect much out of young Mr. Cutler. And still, you have to feel like the Broncos can probably win this game, especially if Palmer’s hurt worse than the Bengals are letting on, based on the fact that Denver runs the ball better than Cincy (both teams stop the run rather well). On the other hand, since neither team defends the pass very well, maybe it’ll be the team that fares better in the air that’ll come out ahead. I didn’t know what to make of this game three days ago, and I still don’t know now. So I decided I’d pick the team with the better giveaway/takeaway ratio, which is Cincinnati (+7; while Denver is dead even). And that’ll probably sink me.

San Diego (-4) at Seattle
If you wanna pretend Seattle has a shot here, you go right ahead. Me, I live in the real world, the one where San Diego runs the ball down Seattle’s throat all afternoon and comes out ahead by 14 or more.

Philadelphia (+7) at Dallas
I know who I’ll be rooting for in this game. I’d love nothing more than to see the Jeff Garcia-led Eagles rip the division lead away from asshole Owens and the Cowboys. But it’s not gonna happen. Dallas by three.

NY Jets (+2) at Miami
You know how I know the Dolphins are gonna run away with this game? Because I keep hearing Jets fans talk about how winnable it is and how their team’s headed for the playoffs. Maybe next year, folks. Dolphins by a field goal.

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Week Fifteen Picks

December 14th, 2006 Comments off

Let’s see how many ways I can be wrong about football games this week. Fun, isn’t it?

San Francisco (+9.5) at Seattle
Man, I’d love to believe the 49ers had it in them to become the second straight NFC West opponent to catch the Seahawks napping and pull off an upset (completing a surprise season sweep in the process). But I don’t. To begin with, this round isn’t being played in San Francisco. And more important, the Seahawks are playing to clinch the division and to remain in contention for the NFC two seed (or at least the three). I will take the Niners to make it a bit of a game, however. I’m guessing they’re in it until just after halftime, and they ultimately lose by only a touchdown.

Dallas (-3) at Atlanta
In which Dallas, which matches up much better against Atlanta than it did against New Orleans, ensures that it will be able to hold on to its tenuous one-game lead in the NFC East for at least one more week (possibly longer depending on the outcome of Giants/Eagles on Sunday) and Atlanta, which matches up against Dallas rather less well than it did against Tampa Bay, reconvenes its slide to 8-8 or 7-9. I’m gonna go ahead and give the points.

Cleveland (+11) at Baltimore
The Ravens are gunning for the AFC two seed. The Browns are staring at the possibility of a top five pick on April 28. I don’t see any likelihood that this game throws either team off its current track. I’m not giving anything like 11 points, though. And I’m betting the under.

Detroit (+5) at Green Bay
I understand why there are once again questions about whether Brett Favre will be back in 2007 (he will). There simply always are. And I totally get why there are questions about whether Kevin Jones will be able to play next season (I bet he won’t; I’ve got an eight-year-old Lisfranc sprain that still hasn’t fully healed, and I don’t do anything one one-thousandth as punishing as playing running back in the NFL). What I can’t for the life of me understand is why there is any question about whether Matt Millen will still be running the Lions organization a month from now. How clear can it be that this guy is a bum? How stupid can the Ford family possibly be? “Indications are the Millen will be out”? Indications are? Why is he still in right now? The only thing sadder is the fact that the Lions are still better than the Oakland Raiders. (And only God can fire Al Davis.) Green Bay by a touchdown.

Houston (+11.5) at New England
What’s there really to say here? The Patriots had damned well better win this game, because the Jets still have a soft schedule and the Pats have to travel to Jacksonville and newly hot Tennessee in the final two weeks of the season, and chances are, the way they’ve been playing, they’re going to drop one of those games. Fortunately for New England, Houston is statistically even worse than Detroit. So that should make this one easy. (But I’m still taking the Texans to hold the margin to something more like 10.)

Jacksonville (-3.5) at Tennessee
Can hot-handed Uncle Rico lead the Titans to a fifth-straight win? Probably not, given that the Jags are playing to keep their wild card hopes alive and know they’ve got a tough finish ahead with a week 16 home game against the Patriots and a week 17 road trip to Arrowhead Stadium. That should prove motivation enough to boost Jacksonville over a Tennessee team that still has the league’s worst defense. The Jags hold off this week’s Titans comeback attempt and win it by a point.

Miami (+1) at Buffalo
If Ronnie Brown were healthy and playing, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to take Miami here. But Brown isn’t healthy and he may not be playing. So I’m hesitating, for exactly two seconds — ready, one … two … — and now I’m taking Miami.

NY Jets (+3.5) at Minnesota
I’d love to believe that the Jets won’t find a way to win this game. I’d also love to believe that the Vikings won’t find a way to lose it. But, much as the statistics favor Minnesota, I just know that this one isn’t going the Vikings’ way. The Jets pull off the upset and keep their hopes of overtaking the Patriots with a late push alive for another week (though quite likely just that).

Pittsburgh (-3) at Carolina
I only know one thing about this game. It’s not who’s gonna start at quarterback for the Panthers. It’s not which Carolina team or which Pittsburgh team is gonna show up to play. It’s that whichever team I pick is gonna lose. So I’m picking the Steelers, because what’s having the god-like power to affect the outcome of football games worth if you don’t use it to screw a team like Pittsburgh?

Tampa Bay (+13.5) at Chicago
Three points: a win here assures the Bears of a week-one playoff bye (not that they aren’t getting it anyhow, with the Lions coming in next week) and puts them one win away (again, Detroit) from clinching the one seed and being able to rest starters (and maybe, you know, get a peak at how Brian Griese can perform under center) in week 17. The Bears score more than twice as many points, on average, as the Bucs. And the Buccaneers allow half again as many points as the Bears. So shit yeah, I’m giving the points.

Washington (+9.5) at New Orleans
No, Drew Brees isn’t gonna be breaking Dan Marino’s single-season passing record. Not unless he manages something on the order of 400 yards here. And that’s not gonna happen. Brees should still be able to light up the Redskins for something on the order of 300, though. And in the end, since the goal is to win games and make the playoffs, not to set individual records, I’m guessing that’ll be more than enough. I’m giving the points.

Denver (-2.5) at Arizona
Darrent Williams says some of his Broncos teammates have given up on the season. Should that really come as any kind of surprise, considering Mike Shanahan did exactly the same thing two weeks ago? Still, it’s kinda hard to lose to the Cards. And I don’t think anyone on Denver’s roster is quite that quit yet. Broncos by six.

Philadelphia (+5.5) at NY Giants
Maybe if Philly had any ability to stop the run they’d have a shot at this game. But they don’t. So they don’t. I expect to see a lot of scoring. And I expect to see the Giants come out ahead by about four.

St. Louis (+2.5) at Oakland
I don’t know. St. Louis’ defense doesn’t suck as much as Oakland’s offense. So I guess I’ll take the Rams. Who cares?

Kansas City (+8.5) at San Diego
If this game were being played at Arrowhead, I’d take the Chiefs to win won in honor of the great Mr. Hunt. But it’s in San Diego. Plus, the Chargers are better than the Chiefs on both sides of the ball. And Kansas City barely managed to hold on and win when they did have San Diego in their stadium. So I’m taking the Chargers straight up, though I like the Chiefs with the points.

Cincinnati (+3) at Indianapolis
The Bengals need a win to ensure they’ll stay out ahead of the Jets, Broncos and Chiefs in the wild card race (no, Cincy isn’t catching up with Baltimore in the AFC North chase). The Colts need a win both to stay alive for the one or two seed (and the attendant playoff bye) and to stop their two game skid (and keep from falling to 1-4 since their 9-0 start). Indy can’t stop the run. Cincy can’t stop the pass. Both teams can put up points like there’s no goddamned tomorrow. I’m taking the last team to hold the ball … coin’s up, it’s down, it’s Cincinnati, to win it by a field goal. But the only bet I’m placing is on the over. Way, way, way the hell over.

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Week Fourteen Picks

December 7th, 2006 Comments off

Well, this isn’t getting any easier, is it? I have a feeling I may reach new levels of wrongness this week. Isn’t that exciting?

Cleveland (+7.5) at Pittsburgh
You know, it’d be nice to see Cleveland pull off yet another upset here. Not because the Steelers need to lose any more games. They don’t. They’re done. It’s just kinda nice not to have to deal with Steelers fans constantly crowing, and the more Pittsburgh loses, the quieter it gets. And, you know, with two of Pittsburgh’s best players out of the game, you’d almost think the Browns had a chance. But they probably don’t. And you certainly can’t pick ’em. I’ll take Cleveland to cover, but I expect the Steelers to manage a win.

Atlanta (-3) at Tampa Bay
Sure, the Falcons appeared to get back on track last week vs. the Redskins. And, yeah, Tampa Bay actually does suck even more than Washington (the Bucs allow about the same number of points as the Skins, but they score only about two thirds as many). But it’s still hard to pick Atlanta to win a second consecutive road game given how inconsistent the Falcons have been this season. I mean, I have to take Atlanta. I just don’t feel confident (or happy) about it. And I’m not giving three, though neither am I taking three (it’s a push, baby).

Baltimore (+3) at Kansas City
Shit, yeah, I think the Ravens can win this game. The Chiefs can’t do shit when they can’t run the ball. And I don’t care who your running back is, you don’t run the ball successfully against the Baltimore Ravens. Kansas City’s defense isn’t exactly soft, mind you, so I’m not expecting a huge day out of anyone on the Ravens’ offense. But I do expect the Ravens D, as usual, to force some turnovers and give the offense the opportunity to take advantage of a short field just enough to come out ahead by a point or two. That’ll bring the Ravens a step closer to clinching their division and make the Chiefs’ road to the playoffs a bit harder to travel (with the Bengals and Jets looking likely to win this week and the Jets facing a fairly soft schedule for the remainder of the season).

Indianapolis (-1.5) at Jacksonville
So this one’s a goddamned bitch. I mean, you tell me: are Indy’s losses in two of its last three games (and the week 13 loss to Tennessee, in particular) a function of the law of averages catching up with a team that started 9-0 in a highly competitive league, the inevitable result of late-season letup by a team that knows it’s headed for the playoffs, or the unavoidable fate of a team that doesn’t run the ball very well and can’t stop the run at all? If it’s option C, the Colts are in serious trouble, not just this week, but going forward. If it’s A, there’s no telling what might happen here. And if it’s B, the Jags are probably gonna get their asses kicked, since there’s no longer room for letup by the Colts, who are now in dire jeopardy of losing home field through the playoffs to the increasingly hot San Diego Chargers. But I can’t begin to guess what the situation really is, so assessing the possibilities ultimately doesn’t help me much. I also have no way of guessing whether Dave Garrard will look like a guy who should be starting every week, or just another career backup. Garrard’s managed to look like both by turns since he stepped in for Byron Leftwich and I simply haven’t seen enough of him to feel like I know which is the real quarterback. The smart thing to do, probably, is to take the 10-2 squad that’s playing for something concrete over the 7-5 team trying to hold on to the hope of making the playoffs. But I’m not doing the smart thing. I’m taking the Jags to pull off the minor upset. And I’m expecting to be disappointed.

Minnesota (+2.5) at Detroit
You know, I could try to find some intelligent way to break down this game, but I’m not going to. Because in the end, I still wouldn’t feel remotely good about picking either of these awful teams. So I’m just gonna pick the team I want to win. Or rather I’m gonna pick against the team I want to lose. That’s the one that needs to wise up and fire its CEO before things get even worse. Vikes by two.

New England (-3.5) at Miami
This game could have come at a better time for the Patriots. And for me. Because if the squad that played Detroit last weekend shows up in Miami, it’s gonna be a long, ugly afternoon. But if New England has somehow figured out that, more than simply needing to win in order to edge closer to clinching the AFC East and a home playoff game, it needs to continue to battle for the hope of bye week in January (not to mention just getting itself straightened out as the playoffs approach) then it should roll over a Miami team that’s increasingly banged up. Problem is, no one will know what’s up with the Patriots until this game is over. Me, I guess I’ll take my chances with New England straight up until I have a reason to do otherwise. I do like Miami to keep it to less than three, however.

NY Giants (+3) at Carolina
One of these teams keeps its playoff hopes alive for another week. The other gets to start planning for 2007. Now, you tell me which team is which, because I have no freaking idea. In fact, I can’t even tell you which of these teams is likely to show up to play. Maybe neither. Guess I’ll take the home team, for whatever little that’s worth, to win it by a field goal.

Oakland (+11) at Cincinnati
If there’s one hard and fast rule of picking NFL games in 2006, it’s don’t take the Raiders. So I’m not. And that’s the only bit of thinking I’m doing about this game. Cincy wins this one by 20.

Philadelphia (-1.5) at Washington
Good old Jeff Garcia. You know, I’ve always liked the guy and I didn’t think he could get it done under center in Philly. Glad I was wrong (not so much for the Eagles, who I don’t care about one way or the other, but for Jeff). And I’ve gotta figure that if Jeff can figure out a way to get things done against Carolina, he can figure out a way to get things done against Washington, a team that’s given up 25 more passing yards a game and six more passing touchdowns than the Panthers (and that apparently is back to having an offense that can move the ball, but can’t score). Philly by six.

Tennessee (+1.5) at Houston
It’s kinda starting to look like maybe Vince Young was the best quarterback taken in the 2006 draft, isn’t it? Titans by a touchdown.

Buffalo (+3.5) at NY Jets
I’m not at all sure this game is the gimme for the Jets that it’s being made out to be by the “experts.” Excitement about their playoff run aside, New York continues to have some fairly significant defensive issues (in essence, they don’t stop anything well or consistently). And I have a feeling those issues may allow Buffalo to stay competitive into the fourth quarter of this game. I do expect the Jets to manage a win here, and probably even to beat the spread, but I don’t think it’ll be over before the last offensive possession.

Denver (+7.5) at San Diego
This much became clear on Sunday night: the decision to start Jay Cutler under center isn’t about giving the Broncos their best chance to win this season. The team’s offensive line issues are clearly too great for them to have any real chance of advancing far into January this season no matter who their quarterback is. The Broncos may not be saying so, but they’re getting Cutler, and the team, ready for 2007. This game is already a Chargers win. By 10.

Green Bay (+4.5) at San Francisco
I don’t care about this game. And chances are neither do you. Niners by a touchdown.

Seattle (-3.5) at Arizona
Yet another opportunity for the Seahawks to play poorly and come away with a win. What fun. Seattle by four.

New Orleans (+6.5) at Dallas
Man, like I know Tony Romo is, like, god and everything, but are the Cowboys really so good with him at quarterback that they should be giving most of a touchdown to a Saints team that’s 8-4 and features a damned talented quarterback of its own? I don’t think so. I mean, I think Dallas wins, but not by six and a half.

Chicago (-6.5) at St. Louis
Just so you know, Lovie’s sticking with Rex at quarterback. And I’m sticking with the Bears — to win this week, to clinch home field through the playoffs, and to lose their first game after the January bye. But that’s more than a month from now. Right now, Chicago crushes the Rams, by two touchdowns or more.

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