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Week Sixteen, The Rest

December 24th, 2011 Comments off

Here’s your chance to guarantee yourself a Merry Christmas. Bet against these picks. Or, put another way, here’s what not to expect.

Miami (+9.5) at New England
You know, I’ve long had the feeling that we wouldn’t see one of the Patriots’ units start truly firing on all cylinders until near the end of the regular season. I just never thought that unit would turn out to be the offense. Yes, the Dolphins are much better now than they were when back in week one when they were dismantled by New England in Miami, but so are the Patriots. The outcome is the same: New England wins by 14 (and sews up a first-round bye thanks to Houston’s inability to finish off the Colts on Thursday night).

Jacksonville (+7.5) at Tennessee
At 7-7, the Titans are no longer legitimate playoff contenders. But they haven’t been mathematically eliminated yet, which should give them reason to play just well enough to hold off the Jags at home. Tennessee by a field goal.

NY Giants (+3) vs. NY Jets
This game shouldn’t have mattered to the Giants. If they had managed to top Washington last week, all New Jersey blue would need to do is beat the Dallas in week seventeen and the NFC East title would be theirs. Of course, they didn’t beat the Native Americans, so now the Giants face this reality: Win here and they have a shot at the division and the playoffs; lose and chances are all they’ll be able to accomplish next weekend will be to help the Eagles become division champs. Is that likely to make a difference? No, not really. The reality of the Giants is that there’s just no telling what you’re going to get. They’re a better team than the Frat Boys. And they should be able to win this “road” game, regardless of whose fans are in the building. But the Giants keep not winning games they ought to win and I can’t see this one turning out any differently. New Jersey green comes out ahead by a touchdown.

Tampa Bay (+7.5) at Carolina
You know what’s almost interesting about this game? The fact that while both of these teams are going exactly nowhere, they are, at the same time, headed in completely different directions. Carolina by six.

St. Louis (+14) at Pittsburgh
What does it say about you when you’re visiting a team that’s locked in a battle for first place in its division, but that team resolves nonetheless to rest its ailing quarterback. Hint: It doesn’t say that your opponent takes you very seriously. The oddsmakers clearly don’t, either. The Steelers win, 10-0.

Cleveland (+12.5) at Baltimore
The Browns don’t score. The Ravens don’t allow opponents to score. I don’t care about division rivalries, this game is only going one way. Ravens by 14.

Arizona (+4) at Cincinnati
If the Cardinals had any ability to hold on to the damned ball, they’d be a serious threat to the Bengals’ post-season hopes. They aren’t, so they’re not. Cincinnati by six.

Minnesota (+6.5) at Washington
I’m still trying to get my head around how the Native Americans beat the Giants last weekend. Because, really, Washington has no business beating much of anyone. Except for the really awful teams. You know, like Minnesota. And even then, I’m not giving six and a half. Washington by a field goal.

Denver (-3) at Buffalo
Last week, we learned what happens when the Broncos have to face a real football team. That’s almost certainly gonna prove problematic if the Broncos make the post-season. Hell, Denver may have some difficulty in their week 17 matchup with Kansas City. And here, traveling on a short week … ah, never mind, the Bills clearly have packed it in for the season. The Broncos can go right back to that thing where they don’t even bother to field an offense until the last two minutes of the game and still fall ass-backward into a win. Denver by a point.

Oakland (+2.5) at Kansas City
Hey, I don’t know if you’ve heard about this, but the Chiefs accomplished something last week that no one had been able to pull off all season. Pretty impressive, but I’m not sure it indicates that interim head coach Romeo Crennel truly has the team turned around. What I do know is that the Raiders are in full-on collapse. This is Oakland completes the fall and all but officially falls out of the playoff chase. Kansas City by four.

San Diego (+2.5) at Detroit
There’s no room for error left in the Chargers’ schedule. If they’re going to fight their way up the AFC West standings and into the playoffs, they’re going to need to perform here and next week against Oakland the way they did Sunday night versus Baltimore. (And even that might not be enough. The Chargers will need help from the Bills and/or the Chiefs in order to catch up with the Broncos.) The Lions have room for a loss, but they have to consider the strong possibility that there’s a loss coming next week in Green Bay. At the very least, they have to figure that their odds of winning and clinching a playoff spot are better here at home than they will be facing the league’s best team on the road. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Packers, with an undefeated season no longer a possibility and the one seed about to be wrapped up, may well choose to rest starters in week 17. But you can’t go counting those chickens.) And that’s not to mention the fact that the difference between the five and six seeds in the NFC will be that five gets a wildcard weekend trip to face whichever squad bumbles its way to the NFC East title while six has to take on San Francisco or New Orleans. Of course, none of this stuff really matters. What matters, I think, is that the Chargers probably don’t have two straight great games against playoff teams in them. That and the fact that the Lions know how to hold on to the ball, while the Chargers just don’t. Detroit by a field goal.

Philadelphia (+1.5) at Dallas
Jerry Jones should be scared. The Eagles have figured out how to play football at a high level. Jones’ team has not. And it’s going to make the difference in which team goes to the playoffs. Philadelphia by a touchdown.

San Francisco (+2.5) at Seattle
The Seahawks have a chance here to make life difficult for a division rival and to ensure that they’ll finish with .500 record at worst. That’s not the playoffs, but it’s something, right? Thing is, I’m not sure it happens. Seattle thrives on forcing turnovers. That’s a great approach. Trouble here is, the Niners do it better. San Francisco by two.

Chicago (+12) at Green Bay
In which the Packers sew up the NFC one seed and eliminate the Bears from playoff contention. Angry Green Bay by three touchdowns.

Atlanta (+6.5) at New Orleans
I just don’t think the Falcons’ offense can keep up here. Maybe if they get back to New Orleans in two or three weeks, they’ll … actually, no, they’ll lose then, too. New Orleans by

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Week Sixteen, Thursday Night

December 22nd, 2011 Comments off

Busy week, what with the last-minute shopping and all, so I’m probably only gonna get to the one game before kickoff tonight. Here are my misleading and almost certainly inaccurate thoughts on that.

Houston (-6) at Indianapolis
Horrifically poor showing in week fifteen (and what it would at least appear to indicate about their ability to overcome their injury problems) aside, theĀ  Texans are still in the running for a first-round bye. The Colts, having dispatched the terrible specter of a winless season, have very little left to play for in 2011. I suspect the Indy players have packed their bags and I think the results here will reflect that. Houston by 10.

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Week Fifteen Picks, The Rest

December 17th, 2011 Comments off

I knew I’d get to the rest of this week’s picks eventually. This much wrong just has to find an outlet. Here’s what not to expect.

Cincinnati (-7) at St. Louis
The Bengals probably aren’t making the playoffs. They’re 7-6, like the Raiders and Titans, and a game behind the Frat Boys in the race for the final AFC wild card spot. They need to win out just to to stay in contention, and a week 17 appointment with the Ravens is going to get in the way of their achieving that goal. In the meantime, though, I expect to see Cincinnati play like a team on a mission, which is bad news for the sputtering Rams and their soon-to-be ex-coach. Bengals by double the spread.

Green Bay (-13.5) at Kansas City
Once the Packers wrap up the NFC one seed with their beatdown of the Chiefs, the media will start to talk about whether the team should make a push for 16-0 (and then 19-0) or rest starters and ensure they stay healthy for the playoffs. I don’t think it’s an either/or situation. I mean, it’s not like you want your best players sitting around getting rusty for three weeks. They’ve got to play some. And the fact is (with apologies to fans of the Bears and Lions), given that this is Green Bay’s last road trip of the season, there isn’t a game left on the Packers’ schedule that they can’t sew up with a solid half of play from their starters. I know, I know. Any given Sunday and all. That’s nice. But, come on. The fact is, 16-0 is effectively a done deal. And even if you don’t buy that, you’ve got to figure 14-0 isn’t going to be much of a struggle. Green Bay by 20.

Seattle (+3.5) at Chicago
I know I haven’t had a good thing to say about the Seahawks all season, but you know what? I have a feeling Seattle may pull off an upset here. I’m pretty sure Chicago’s post-season hopes officially fell apart with the Bears’ ridiculous performance in the closing minutes last weekend in Denver. And the Seahawks certainly have put together solid performances over the past couple of weeks, albeit at home against the Eagles and Rams. And I know the Seahawks are traveling on a short week. But still, I don’t know. I’ve just got a hunch. Seattle by a point.

Tennessee (-6.5) at Indianapolis
With 0-16 all but locked up, will the Colts rest starters? Titans by 10.

Washington (+6.5) at NY Giants
The Native Americans played the Patriots tough last weekend. So that’s nice for them. Doesn’t mean much, especially since they still lost but it’s nice. The Giants, meanwhile, worked their way into a tie-breaker with the Cowboys for first place in the NFC East. That won’t mean much in the long run either. Neither the New Jersey nor Dallas has any real hope of getting past Green Bay or New Orleans (and probably not even San Francisco) in the post-season. Maybe the NFC East winner will survive a home game against Atlanta, but that’s it. So, yeah, meaningless. But you do get to call yourselves division champs. And, right now, winning the division appears to be the only sure ticket into the playoffs for NFC East teams. And to win the East, the Giants need to win this game (and then beat Dallas in week 17). They’ll do that. New Jersey by nine.

Carolina (+6) at Houston
Sooner or later, all the injuries are going to catch up with the Texans. I know I’ve said it before, and it hasn’t proven true yet, but eventually it’ll have to. Right? Only maybe not this week, when a defense that picks off a ton of balls faces a quarterback who throws a ton of picks. And not next week, when the Texans travel to No-wIndy. So let’s go with week 17 vs. Tennessee. Or the playoffs. Yeah, the playoffs; that’s it. Houston by a touchdown.

New Orleans (-7) at Minnesota
With the Falcons breathing down their necks in the NFC South and a head-to-head matchup with Atlanta just a week away, the Saints absolutely must win this game. They will. There are very few teams that can stop the Saints from scoring 30 points. And there are very few teams that have trouble scoring 30 against the Vikings. It’s not hard to see where this game is headed. New Orleans by 14.

Miami (pick ’em) at Buffalo
I know the Dolphins are a team in turmoil and everything, but the Bills just plain stink. I think the visitors find a way to come out on top in this one. Miami by a point.

Detroit (-1) at Oakland
The good news for the Raiders is that the Lions are very unlikely to humiliate them the way the Packers did. The bad news is, that’s only good news. Detroit by six.

Cleveland (+6.5) at Arizona
The Cardinals have won three in a row. Hard to believe, right? So what are we going to make of four straight? Big day for Beanie Wells against one of the worst run defenses in the league as Arizona wins by 10.

New England (-7.5) at Denver
The Broncos have a great defense, right? And the Patriots have a lousy defense. That’s the word on the street. So how come the Broncos give up two more points per game, on average, than the Pats. Could it be that both teams have average Ds? Because that’s how it looks to me. So if that’s the case, and one team has a high-powered offense directed by one of the all-time great quarterbacks while the other has a largely ineffective offense steered one of the all-time most overhyped quarterbacks, what’s the likely outcome? New England by 17.

NY Jets (+3) at Philadelphia
If the Frat Boys win out, they’re in the playoffs. They’re not winning out. They’re losing next weekend when they “host” the Giants. But they’re winning here, because the Eagles are hideously uneven and virtually incapable of winning two straight. New Jersey by four.

Baltimore (-2.5) at San Diego
The Chargers think they’re still in the playoff hunt. They’re not. And this is when it becomes official. Baltimore by six.

Pittsburgh (+2.5) at San Francisco
Neither of these playoff teams can afford a loss. For the Steelers, a single loss could mean the difference between earning a first-round bye (and perhaps home field through the AFC playoffs) as AFC North champs or spending January on the road as the conference five seed. For the 49ers, a loss likely would mean the difference between the NFC two seed and a first-round bye and the three seed and a path to the Super Bowl that would likely go through both New Orleans and Green Bay. Thing is, one of these teams has to lose. I’m looking at the fact that the Niners simply don’t turn the ball over, considering that San Francisco is at home, and looking hard at the Steelers’ serious injury issues, and figuring the 49ers come out ahead by, oh, let’s say three.

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Week Fifteen, Saturday Night

December 17th, 2011 Comments off

They keep on coming in dribs and drabs.

Dallas (-7) at Tampa Bay
We interrupt our regularly scheduled December collapse to bring you this very special edition of “The Cowboys Look Like a Real Football Team.” Enjoy the presentation. And happy holidays. Dallas by 10.

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Week Fifteen, Thursday Night

December 15th, 2011 Comments off

Not gonna get to the full raft of games before tonight’s game kicks off (in, like, five minutes). So here’s what I’ve got for the nonce.

Jacksonville (+11) at Atlanta
Yeah, I guess the Jaguars did look pretty good beating up on the Buccaneers on Sunday. That’s nice and all, but I’m not sure it translates in any way to traveling (not far, but still) on a short week and finding a way to compete with an actual, playoff-contending NFL football team. Matt Ryan isn’t the league’s best quarterback, but he’s got a great football head and he knows how to control the game at the line of scrimmage. Against a defense like Jacksonville’s, which shows you exactly what you’re going to get, that’s a powerful weapon to have. Too powerful for the Jags to overcome. Falcons by 17.

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Week Fourteen Picks

December 11th, 2011 Comments off

Three quarters of the way through the season and other than having figured out that the safe thing to do is pick Green Bay every week, I remain almost entirely incapable of making heads or tails of the NFL. So, you know, here’s what not to expect in week fourteen.

Tampa Bay (pick ’em) at Jacksonville
If the Jags didn’t have an atrociously ineffective offense, weren’t operating on a short week, and weren’t coming off a humiliating Monday night loss, this game wouldn’t even be close. Because, look, you simply cannot commit the ridiculous number of turnovers that the Bucs have committed this season and hope to compete in road games in the NFL. But Jacksonville’s offense is awful and the Jaguars are playing under increasingly difficult circumstances, which is why they’ll only win this game by a point, when by all rights they should be Tampa by a touchdown.

Kansas City (+9) at NY Jets
Much as Rex Ryan may enjoy talking about his team’s post-season ambitions, the simple reality is that the Frat Boys are anything but certain even to make the playoffs. New Jersey is effectively three games behind New England in the AFC East with four weeks to play (they sit two games behind the Patriots in the standings, but New England holds the tie-breaker by virtue of a season sweep over their rivals). They’ve got next to no chance at overtaking the Pats. That puts them in competition for a wild card spot. More to the point, it puts them in a group of three contenders for the six seed. The loser of the AFC North race between Pittsburgh and Baltimore, each of which currently has three losses, will wind up with one of two wild card spots, and will almost certainly be the conference five seed. That leaves 7-5 New Jersey to compete for the last playoff spot with 7-5 Cincinnati, probably 7-5 Tennessee (unless the Titans can steal the AFC South title from 9-3 Houston, in which case the Titans will be even tougher for other teams to overtake for the six seed), and either 7-5 Oakland or 7-5 Denver (whichever team fails to win the AFC West title). That needle is going to be tough to thread. It means you really can’t afford to take a loss. And New Jersey has a tough out. They “host” the Giants in week 16 and travel to Miami to close out the season. They could lose both of those games. But that’s neither here nor there for the moment, I suppose. The topic of the moment is neither the final weeks of the season nor the playoffs. It’s this game, home against a Chiefs squad that’s plagued by injuries, playing on the road for the second straight week, and 1-4 in its last five games. That ought to be a win. It ought not to fill the Frat Boys and their fans with confidence, but I have little doubt that it will. New Jersey by 13.

Houston (+3) at Cincinnati
The Texans’ continued success notwithstanding, I have to believe that Houston’s never-ending string of injuries is bound to catch up with the team at some point. Maybe it’s here, on the road against a Bengals squad that’s in a crowd of teams scrambling for the AFC’s last playoff spot and that typically plays tough against the rush. That could pose a challenge for Houston; if the Texans have to go to the air, they’re going to be vulnerable. That said, Houston’s run D has been even tougher to overcome this season than Cincinnati’s. And when you throw against the Texans, you’re throwing into a secondary that’s picked off 17 balls this season, tied with New England and Kansas City for second most in the league (behind Green Bay). I think Houston should lose this game, but I’m not entirely sure they will. So I’m gonna take the Bengals straight up, but I’m gonna look for the Texans to keep it closer than three. Cincinnati by a point.

New England (-8) at Washington
Let’s be honest: The Native Americans didn’t have much hope of keeping up with the Patriots before they lost two key components of their offense. New England by two touchdowns.

Atlanta (-2.5) at Carolina
It’s starting to look like the only three teams in the NFC that really want to be part of the playoffs are the Packers, 49ers and Saints. It’s possible the Falcons will find a way to look like they want in this weekend (or at least more like it than they did a week ago). But you know what? I don’t think so. Panthers by a field goal.

Philadelphia (+3) at Miami
Both of these 4-8 teams have managed to disappoint fans by failing to live up to expectations, but at least one of them looks like it’s still trying. The Dolphins are 4-1 in their last five games. And, sure, they’ve only beaten one arguably good team over that stretch, but they’re not facing a good team this weekend, so that qualifier doesn’t much matter. I don’t care that Michael Vick is playing; the Eagles’ are done and they’re not winning here. Dolphins by six.

New Orleans (-3.5) at Tennessee
This could (really should) be one of the week’s most exciting games. Both teams are in the post-season hunt. The Saints can conceivably clinch the NFC South title with a win and a little help from the Falcons; the Titans absolutely need a win to hold position in the race for the last AFC wild card spot (they also have an outside chance of overtaking Houston for the AFC South championship). And while the Saints on paper are the better team, the Titans have at least a few factors working in their favor. To begin with, Chris Johnson appears finally to be playing at a consistently high level. That makes the Titans much more dangerous opponents than they’ve been through most of the season. There’s also the fact that the Saints performance on the road has been spotty at best. Two of New Orleans’ three losses on the season have come in road games against weak opponents, Tampa Bay in week six and St. Louis in week eight. If I thought Tennessee had a strong enough pass D to so much as slow down Drew Brees, I’d probably take the Titans to pull off the upset. But I don’t. So I’m looking for the Saints to win it by a field goal.

Indianapolis (+16.5) at Baltimore
Gee, I wonder if the Ravens will be able to dig deep and find a way to win and keep up with Pittsburgh in the AFC North title race. It’s a poses, isn’t it? Ravens by 20.

Minnesota (+8) at Detroit
After this game, the fading Lions travel to Oakland, host San Diego and close out the season at Green Bay (where they Packers will be looking to polish off a 16-0 regular season). If they can win the home games, they’ll finish at 9-7, which will likely be enough to earn them at least the six seed, possibly the five. And I’m pretty sure the Lions are winning their remaining home games. Detroit by 10.

Chicago (+3.5) at Denver
The only advice I can give on this game is, bet the under. Chicago’s defense should be able to hold Tim “Still Not An NFL Quarterback” Tebow to next to no production. And the Chicago offense likely would have struggled against Denver’s D even if they had a healthy quarterback (by which I mean a healthy quarterback who’s a legit NFL starter), which they don’t. Broncos win 9-6.

San Francisco (-3.5) at Arizona
The Niners are in a race for the NFC two seed. The Cardinals are in a race for the offseason. San Francisco by a touchdown.

Buffalo (+7) at San Diego
I’d really love to see the Bills come out of San Diego with a win, just so I could stop hearing about how the 5-7 Chargers (5-7, folks) are still legitimate playoff contenders. Because they’re not. But the Bills aren’t winning this game, no matter what I might like, and I’m going to have to continue to hear about the Chargers until the Ravens finally put them out of my misery in week 15. So it goes. San Diego by four.

Oakland (+11) at Green Bay
Let’s face it, the Packers are headed for 16-0. And there are probably only two or three teams with any chance of coming between them and 19-0. I mean, we’ll see what happens in January and February, but for right now, Green Bay by 14.

NY Giants (+3.5) at Dallas
In which the Giants pull even with the Cowboys in the entirely meaningless NFC East title chase. New Jersey by a field goal.

St. Louis (+5.5) at Seattle
Hey, look, they’re still pretending that the NFC West teams that aren’t the 49ers have a reason to keep playing football. Isn’t that cute? Seahawks by a touchdown.

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Week Fourteen, Thursday Night

December 8th, 2011 Comments off

Yeah, I’m not gonna get all my picks done before tonight’s exciting AFC North matchup kicks off (though given what a compelling game it’s almost certain not to be, I’m sure I’ll be able to finish the rest while I sort of watch), so here’s my take on that.

Cleveland (+14) at Pittsburgh
Here’s what you need to know about this game: Cleveland doesn’t score much (the Browns have averaged just better than 14 points a game so far this season. Pittsburgh’s D is among the best in the league at keeping opponents off the board (they’ve given up an average of just 16.3 points per game so far this season). The Steelers are neck-and-neck with the Ravens in a race for the AFC North crown, in which the winner probably gets a first-round by and may get home field through the playoffs, and the loser gets the near certainty of having to play all of its post-season games on the road. And the Browns defense couldn’t stop a one-legged dachshund with one bad eye and one blind eye from rushing for 150 yards. That’s the long way of saying this game is a disaster waiting to happen. Steelers by 20.

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Week Thirteen Picks

December 1st, 2011 Comments off

What can I tell you other than proceed with caution. Which is to say, here’s what not to expect.

Philadelphia (-3) at Seattle
Really, NFL? Really? This is what you’ve got for us on a Thursday night? I mean, OK, back when the schedule was made a lot of folks figured the Eagles would be contending for … well, for something at this point in the season. But the Seahawks? Was there really an idea that, had Philly turned out to be an actual “dream team,” Seattle would have been able to give them a game? Certainly not in my mind. Because, hey, while it might be hard to figure out why the Eagles have failed to meet expectations, I can’t say anything about the Seahawks’ 4-7 record surprises me in the least. Seattle’s offense can’t advance the ball on the ground or through the air. And their defense is middle of the pack at best. They hold onto the ball better than the Eagles, so I suppose they’ve got that going for them. But there are 28 teams in the league that hold onto the ball better than the Eagles, so it’s not much of a distinction. And, again, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone. So what was the thought here? I’m not gonna come up with an answer to that question. Another question I can’t answer definitively: Can Philly put a crushing loss that effectively ended their season behind them, travel across the country on four days rest, and find a way (or the will) to win? I think the answer is no. I think the Eagles are done, and they’ll be lucky if they manage more than one win over the final five weeks of the season. But I won’t swear by it. I suppose I’ve gotta make a pick, though, so I’ll go with Seattle and figure they win it by a field goal.

Oakland (+3) at Miami
I think Oakland is in trouble here. With the Broncos breathing down their necks in the AFC West title race, the Raiders can’t afford to drop any games, particularly not the “easy” ones (which is to say the ones against 3-8 opponents). But I’m not sure the Raiders can win this game. I mean, sure, Miami’s little three-game winning streak ended Thanksgiving day in Dallas. But only just. And, sure, the Cowboys’ drive for the game-winning field goal included a lot of DeMarco Murray. That’s certainly good news for the Raiders, who rely on their ground attack for the better part of their offense. But it remains the case that Miami’s stingy defense is stingiest against the run. You have to beat Miami through the air. And I’m not sure Carson Palmer is up to the task. Not at this point. If Palmer comes out throwing the ball well, and playing the way he did at San Diego in week 10, the Raiders will be OK. If he plays the way he did against Chicago on Sunday, Oakland’s going to struggle. And given that he’ll be traveling across the country to face a well-rested Dolphins squad, my gut says there’s a whole lot better chance that we see the iffy Palmer than the solid Palmer. Miami by one.

Atlanta (-2.5) at Houston
Man, it looked like the Texans had something going there, didn’t it? And, I don’t know, considering the state of the AFC South, maybe they still do. But, look, by and large, you don’t succeed in the NFL when you get down to your third-string quarterback. And, with all due respect to T.J. Yates, when you bring in a guy who’s been out of the league for most of a season (and who should have called it quits much sooner), it’s a pretty clear signal that the player you’ve got taking snaps isn’t a starter in waiting but just someone who’s good enough to hold a clipboard and run the practice squad. That doesn’t win division titles. It usually doesn’t even win games. Atlanta by a touchdown.

Cincinnati (+7) at Pittsburgh
Seven? As the spread? No. Sorry. I’d buy seven as the over/under in this game, but neither of these teams is outscoring the other by seven. Steelers by a point.

Kansas City (+8) at Chicago
Two teams. Half a starting quarterback. But, you know, at least the Bears play defense. Chicago by four.

Denver (pick ’em) at Minnesota
The Vikings’ run defense is better than most realize and that’s going to prove a problem for still-not-an-NFL-quarterback Tim Tebow. But only until the middle of the third quarter at which point, having been on the field all bloody afternoon (as their offense goes three and out over and over again), the Minnesota D is bound to start wearing down. Then watch for that purported Tebow magic (or the football rooting interests of Jehovah, or whatever the hell it’s supposed to be) to set in. Broncos by 10.

Tennessee (+1.5) at Buffalo
Any chance the Bills had of halting their November swoon was squandered last Sunday afternoon in New Jersey. The Titans, meanwhile, have new life in the AFC South. And, sure, that life may be largely a product of the Texans’ inability to keep a healthy QB on the field, but it’s life just the same. It should be enough to give Tennessee the edge. Titans by a field goal.

NY Jets (-3) at Washington
If the Frat Boys want fans to stop booing their hideously overrated quarterback, they might want to start playing better football. Or I suppose another option would be to play the Native Americans. You can’t help but come out of that matchup looking good. I expect the New Jersey faithful will be back to worshiping “Sanchize” and talking Super Bowl by the time this one’s over. Jersey by 13.

Indianapolis (+21) at New England
Poor, poor Dan Orlovsky. Patriots by 20. (See how I cleverly avoided predicting a team would cover a huge spread while still predicting a blowout? Pretty clever, huh? Means the Pats will actually win by 35.)

Carolina (+3) at Tampa Bay
Let’s see which quarterback can throw the fewest picks. I’m banking on Cam Newton, since he’ll likely throw the fewest passes. Panthers by a field goal.

Baltimore (-6.5) at Cleveland
I’m guessing the Ravens will score at least seven points in this game, so I’m gonna go ahead and give the six and a half. I’m just saying. Baltimore by 14.

Dallas (-4.5) at Arizona
Please, Tony, please find a way to lose this game. Because, you know, there’s some part of me that just really enjoys the idea of the NFC East officially laying claim to the title of League’s Biggest Mess. Of course, it’s not gonna happen. Dallas by a field goal.

Green Bay (-7) at NY Giants
The last time an NFL team had a legitimate shot of running the table, it was the Giants who got in the way. Can New Jersey play spoiler once again? No. This just ain’t that Giants team. Green Bay continued to steamroll with a win by no less than 19.

St. Louis (+13.5) at San Francisco
Now that Jack Del Rio‘s been put out of football fans’ misery, ask not for whom the bell tolls next. It tolls for Steve Spagnuolo. And the fact that Spags, unlike Del Rio, doesn’t really have it coming, doesn’t mean one damned thing. Oh, yeah, and this is where the Niners clinch their first division title (and first post-season appearance) in nine years. San Francisco by 16.

Detroit (+8.5) at New Orleans
Guess who’s doing the stomping this weekend? (Hint: It won’t be Ndamukong Suh.) New Orleans by 12.

San Diego (-2.5) at Jacksonville
Hey, look. An opponent the Chargers should actually be able to beat. Only, there’s that weird thing where bad teams win the first game after their coaches get fired. So maybe not. I’m taking the home team in the upset here. Jaguars by a point.

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