Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week 15 picks (part 2)

Five games left to pick, so let's get straight to business. Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks: Pick Seattle? Not a chance. No way in hell. Not when the Falcons have played as well as they have this season and the Seahawks have played as badly as they have. And the Seahawks have indeed played badly. While their offense occasionally splutters into life and Matt Hasselbeck is able to find receivers down field, or Marshawn Lynch is able to come up with a big run, in general the Seahawks offense is terrible. They can't block very well. Their pass protection often borders on the amateurish. It's just a complete and utter shambles that often gets masked by their ability to generate points in the return game and to occasionally play very good defense. Albeit very occasionally. Compare and contrast that with the Falcons, who offensively do a lot of things very well. As in, everything. Michael Turner is having a great year behind an offensive line that routinely manages to bundle defenses out his path. Matt Ryan has been summoning his inner Joe Montana at times to lead his team on beautiful last minute drives. And Roddy White is putting on a Pro Bowl caliber season. The Falcons defense is no slouch either. Their pass rush has excelled as Kroy Biermann poses a genuine threat opposite John Abraham. Curtis Lofton is the rock at the center of an improving linebacking unit. And every now and again, even the secondary pitches in with a big play or two. It's just a team that is playing good all around football. Unlike the Seahawks. Falcons win. Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders: I'm preparing for a storm. I suggest you do to. Tim Tebow, the very famous quarterback from the University of Florida, will finally take to the NFL field as a starter. God help us. Now this may sound odd because I really like Tebow, enough to stick him on my watch list. So why the concern? Because the Broncos suck right now and expecting Tebow to waltz onto the field right at the end of the season and perform a football magic trick is unrealistic. It's good for him to get playing time, but it's more of a test run that a final evaluation. Except we all know that's not how the press works when it comes to football. A lot of people are going to be expecting Tebow to just go out there and perform like he was still with the Gators. Certainly the Tebow haters will be waiting with bated breath (yes, that is the correct spelling, go and check) to pounce. I can hear the sound of a thousand knives being sharpened, ready to be plunged into Tim if he produces anything less than a 100 QB rating. It doesn't help that he'll kick off his starting career with a game against the Raiders, who -- other than the odd bout of temporary organisational memory loss -- are very good (ish). They have a good (ish) offense. They have a good (ish) defense. They even have a pretty good (ish) return game. And let's face it, the Broncos are the Broncos, which means everything possible that could go wrong probably will. Raiders win. New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers: This game has the potential to get real ugly, real quickly. Mark Sanchez struggled against the Patriots. He struggled against the Dolphins. What is he going to do against the Steelers? I think Dick LeBeau is probably sitting in his office right now, licking his chops and digging into his playbook looking for ways to force Sanchez into repeatedly making mistakes. He'll have to do it without Tory Polamalu though, who I understand will miss the Steelers final three games of the regular season due an Achilles injury. That's a serious blow to this defense, as we all know about the play making abilities of Polamalu. But they should be comforted by the fact that they have the best front seven in football right now. That should be more than enough to overwhelm the Jets unusually shaky O-line and it's 2nd year QB who is most definitely off form. If the Jets can just get their receivers to catch a few more passes, they might be in with a fighting chance, but that also presumes that Rex Ryan's defense will come up good. That for me is where the biggest surprise lays. Watching the Jets defense against the Patriots was almost painful at times. How did they fall apart so tremendously? Even against the terrible Dolphins they struggled. Very un-Ryan like defensive play. Not that the Steelers offense is bordering on anything approaching juggernaut status. But they do seem to have that knack of coming good at the right moments. Given a shot or two due to Sanchez mistakes, Roethlisberger and the Steelers could pounce mercilessly. Or they could fall flat on their face. I'm going with number 1. Steelers win. Green Bay Packers @ New England Patriots: Last week the Packers fell to the Lions after Aaron Rodgers found his head introduced rather abruptly to the cold, hard turf. Matt Flynn was his plucky replacement... and that didn't go so well. Now remember that the Patriots defense is one of the league leaders in interceptions and that the Patriots offense is light years ahead of the Lions offense that only managed 7 points (enough for a win) last week. I'll keep this one short. Patriots win. Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings: All hail Joe Webb! For he shall be the starting quarterback of the Vikings on Monday at TCF stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Vikings home away from home. At least until they get that retarded roof fixed at their proper home. Now, I actually happen to like Joe Webb. From what we saw of him in pre-season he appeared to have picked up the offense well, and very much unlike Favre he actually had some good mobility in his legs. Is that enough to beat the Bears? It depends. The Bears are not a team that indulges in a lot of fancy blitzing, preferring their straight and simple cover two look instead. That will help Webb. What would also help would be a hefty dose of Adrian Peterson, if only to take some of the pressure off of Webb and help him to settle into the game early. Even then, he still has to deal with a Bears defense that -- other than the odd blip -- has been very, very good this year. Very sound and very good at stripping ball carriers. The question for me is really whether the Bears offense can overcome the Vikings slightly more toothless 2010 pass rush and put just enough points on the board to win it? That could prove difficult as Jay Cutler isn't exactly firing on all cylinders this year. The run game had a brief Forte into the limelight (chortle, chortle) but has since fizzled out. I have a feeling this one will be a low scorer and Jay Cutler will produce just enough. Bears win. Have a great day everyone.

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