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Week thirteen Picks, Pt. 2

December 1st, 2007

OK, so the Thursday night tilt didn’t go as I expected. Not even close. And yet somehow here you are wondering what I think about the games ahead for the rest of the weekend. One of us isn’t thinking things through very clearly, wouldn’t you say? Here’s what not to expect.

San Francisco (+2.5) at Carolina
It’s one thing to wonder if the Miami Dolphins might not actually lose eight home games this season, but you’ve gotta figure a team like Carolina that can win on the road is eventually gonna find a way not to disappoint the home crowd at least once, right? This seems like as good a time as any for the Panthers to win in Carolina. I mean, there are only so many times you can expect Tully Banta-Cain to fall on a loose ball in OT, right? Panthers by six.

Jacksonville (+7) at Indianapolis
I’m having a hard time seeing this as a make-or-break game for either team. I mean, obviously, it’s a big deal for both. If the Colts can come out on top, they pretty much wrap up the AFC South title, since there’s little chance of the Jaguars making up three games in four weeks. And if the Jags can pull off the upset, the win and the momentum it would give them might be enough to lead them to a division title (though they’ll still have work to do even after this weekend to make that happen). But let’s face it, both squads are making the post season. So it’s really just a matter of where they seed — and maybe, for Jacksonville, something of a test of whether they’re ready to get over the hump. Just can’t see that as a big deal. All that said, however, this is still a game that pits two division rivals, and more important two excellent football teams against each other. My heart wants to pick Jacksonville, not because I dislike the Colts (though I do), but because I’ve seen the Jaguars playing their butts off week after week and I want to see them succeed. My head keeps telling me to pick the Colts, because in the end I think they remain the better team. There is this other little part of my head that keeps telling me the Jags are traveling to Indy at a great time, a time when the Colts are banged up and possibly vulnerable. But when I look at the stats, I can’t help but conclude that the little part of my head is just ganging up with my heart to make things difficult. So, much as I’d like to do otherwise, I’m taking the Colts straight up, though I will split the difference and take the Jaguars with the points. (And I still hope Jacksonville wins it outright.)

San Diego (-5) at Kansas City
The Chargers haven’t done anything this season to make me believe they ought to be giving five points in Arrowhead stadium. But the Chiefs haven’t done anything to make me believe they can beat their division rivals. So I’m taking the Chargers to win and the Chiefs to cover.

NY Jets (+1) at Miami
How awful do you have to be to be getting points from the 0-11 Dolphins? Exactly as awful as the Jets. Miami finally pulls out a win — by a score of 10-9.

Detroit (+3) at Minnesota
Adrian Peterson is expected back, which points to a fourth straight loss for the foundering Lions. Minnesota by a touchdown or more.

Tampa Bay (+3) at New Orleans
You can’t touch this game with real money, because the outcome depends entirely on whether Jeff Garcia can play. If Garcia goes, the Bucs win outright. If he doesn’t, the Saints probably get themselves back into the division race, though it’s a push against the spread even then. Since it’s looking like Garcia will be back, I’ll take Tampa Bay, but only on paper.

Seattle (+3) at Philadelphia
Do I think the Eagles are really as good as they played vs. the league’s best team last Sunday night? Nope. But I’m pretty sure they’re just good enough to squeak past the visiting Seahawks. So there’s that. Philly by an extra point.

Atlanta (+4) at St. Louis
While the Falcons have been busy countering claims that a guy who’s headed to prison, probably for a decent stretch, should get to keep money he took in exchange for a promise to play football for the team for the next several years (as opposed to, say, causing the team no end of headaches and embarrassment), the Rams have been becoming a better and better team. St. Louis demonstrates the difference here, winning by 10.

Houston (+4) at Tennessee
You’ve gotta figure the Titans are gonna start playing up to their talent level sooner or later. And this game’s as safe a bet as any. Titans by three.

Buffalo (+6) at Washington
Seems like only a few weeks ago the Buffalo Bills were being sold as exciting up-and-comers who were getting it done in spite of injuries. Now, with the injuries continuing to pile up, the only excitement to be had from the Bills comes in watching the game of musical quarterbacks unfold. Redskins by a touchdown.

Cleveland (pick ’em) at Arizona
I’m taking the Browns. Just because I like them. OK, that and because I like Jamal Lewis to have a huge day against an Arizona defense that gives up better than 100 yards a game on the ground and hands out rushing touchdowns left and right (and, you know, up the middle). Cleveland by three.

Denver (-3.5) at Oakland
If I know the Raiders have the worst run defense in the league, and you know that the Raiders have the worst run defense in the league, what do you suppose the odds are Mike Shanahan knows the Raiders have the worst run defense in the league? Right you are. Denver by 14.

NY Giants (-2) at Chicago
This is a major test for the Giants. Win here and they’re in the catbird seat in the NFC wild card race with four weeks to play, a two-game cushion, a chance to eliminate two challengers (Philadelphia and Washington) over the next two weeks, and a week 16 home game against Buffalo that they should win. Lose it, and they’re exposed as frauds, the Eagles and Redskins games start to look like trouble and the odds of one of those teams plus Minnesota, New Orleans or even Chicago sneaking in and stealing their spot increase dramatically. I think New York will rise to the occasion. Giants by four.

Cincinnati (+7.5) at Pittsburgh
What could you possibly be looking for from me here? The Steelers are the better team by a long shot. If this is news to you, I’d recommend watching some football. Pittsburgh by 17.

New England (+20) at Baltimore
Yeah, I’ll give you a blueprint. Here’s your blueprint: The Ravens can’t throw the ball or run the ball worth half a damn. They can kinda stop (or maybe it’s more like slow) the run for a while, but they can’t stand up to the pass, certainly not when they face a team like the Patriots. And even if they had a better defense, there’s only so long a D can stay on the field before it starts to break down. That’s a blueprint for disaster. Patriots by 27.

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