I’m sort of pressed for time this week, so in the tradition of my surprisingly well received “what I’m thankful for” post last month, here’s a look at my holiday wishes for teams and fans around the NFL.
San Diego (+3) at Tennessee
I wish the Titans a productive off-season. As for the Chargers, let’s go with a post-season rematch with the Patriots, with all the success they’ve had in those games in seasons past. San Diego by three.
Tampa Bay (+14) at New Orleans
My wish for the Saints is that they enjoy clinching the NFC one-seed. God knows they’ve earned it. I have no wishes for the Buccaneers themselves, but I do wish for their fans that the team will realize you can’t win in a league of parity when you spend 75 percent of what ever other franchise does on player salaries. Saints by 23.
Kansas City (+14) at Cincinnati
I wish the Bengals a happy AFC North title and the Chiefs a smoother ride in 2010. Cincinnati by 20.
Buffalo (+9.5) at Atlanta
I wish the Bills’ defense good luck finally slowing down an opponents’ running game and the Falcons’ offense a ton of fun exploiting the Bills failure to pull it off. Atlanta by nine.
Houston (+3) at Miami
I wish the Dolphins at their fans one last week of hoping to steal the final AFC playoff spot. I wish the Texans a successful search for their next head coach. (Oddly enough, I think the Texans are probably the better team in this matchup, but they’re not winning.) Dolphins by a point.
Seattle (+14) at Green Bay
My wish for Green Bay is that the Vikings slip to the three seed, giving the Packers the opportunity to be the team that eliminates Minnesota from the playoffs. My only wish for Seattle remains that I might stop having to give them so much as a second’s thought. I guess that’s just a bit more than a week away. Packers by 10.
Carolina (+7) at NY Giants
I wish the Giants the best of luck in trying to thread the needle and qualify for the post-season (it’s not happening). And I wish the Panthers and their next head coach good luck with the whole trying to get out from under Jake Delhomme’s ridiculous contract thing (it ain’t gonna be easy).
Oakland (+3) at Cleveland
I wish both teams an off-season filled with false hope and a 2010 season loaded with constant portents of near-mediocrity. Huzzah! I’ll take the home team and give the points. Because I can’t figure out which squad, if either, is gonna show up, so why not?
Jacksonville (+7.5) at New England
I wish the Patriots a grand old time taking advantage of the Jaguars’ pitiful pass defense and a muted celebration of their return to playoffs as AFC East champs. For the Jags, I wish a peaceful season finale in Cleveland. New England by 13.
Baltimore (+2.5) at Pittsburgh
I wish the Baltimore Ravens all the joy I know they’ll derive from eliminating the Steelers at Heinz Field (and from taking a big step toward locking up a wild card berth). And I wish Pittsburgh fans all the joy of watching their team charge headlong toward an 8-8 finish. Schadenfreude makes a great stocking stuffer. Ravens by six.
St. Louis (+14) at Arizona
For the Cardinals, I wish a lovely last opportunity to pick on the NFC’s bottom dwellers. It’s only gonna get tougher from here. My wish for the Rams is a successful contract negotiation with Jimmy Clausen. Arizona by 17.
Detroit (+12) at San Francisco
My wish for both of these teams’ fans is the same: That some day their squads will figure out how to play NFL football. (Niners fans have a prayer of that wish coming true.) San Francisco by 10.
Denver (+7) at Philadelphia
My wish for football fans everywhere is that the Eagles manage to snag the NFC three seed. Because that would set up a very high likelihood of a Philly-New Orleans conference championship, which I think would be a fantastic football game. My wish for the Denver Broncos is that their failure to get it done when they should have doesn’t bit them in the collective ass. (Though I have to say that last one’s a bullshit wish, since I really don’t care if Denver makes the post-season.) Eagles by 10.
NY Jets (+5.5) at Indianapolis
I wish the Colts starters a happy second half off, and the Jets’ fans a fantastic celebration of the big win. (Hey, it’s Christmas, and this is the last happy moment these folks are likely to have until their team wins the fourth game of the 2010 pre-season and the New York media declares them a sure thing for Super Bowl XLV.) Jets by three.
Dallas (-6.5) at Washington
I wish Cowboys fans the wisdom not to get too prideful about their team winning two straight games in December. Because January’s coming. And two straight losses with it. I wish the Native Americans happy housecleaning. Dallas by four.
Minnesota (-7) at Chicago
For Minnesota fans, I wish a relatively painless visit to the land of Brett Favre’s giant ego. For Chicago fans? Well, it could be worse. You could have traded the franchise for Favre. I wish you the peace of knowing that. Minnesota by four.