Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week 16 picks

Dallas Cowboys 26 @ Arizona Cardinals 27: Bah ha ha ha ha!! Sometimes I feel sorry for Cowboys fans. Then I remember they're Cowboys fans and I get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside knowing that they're going to be crying into their cocoa tonight. On the bright side, at least they're not Cardinals fans, which is good in a number of ways. Not least because the Cardinals suuuck!! They were gifted two fluky ass interceptions which they returned for touchdowns and at one point led the game by 21-3. And yet somehow, somehow they managed to let the Cowboys back in. Worse than that, the Cowboys even lost John Kitna to injury. So it was 2nd year quarterback Stephen McGee, who stepped onto the field for the first time in a regular season game, that lead the majority of the comeback. And they came so close. However a busted extra point set the Cardinals up to drive the field and kick a last ditch 48 yard field goal. Which they did. As a result the Cowboys lost a game that they could at least have taken to overtime. For the Cardinals it was a win that is almost inexplicable. They had just 10 first downs for the whole game. They were 2/11 on third downs. They trailed the Cowboys in total net yards by over 100. They held the ball for just under 22 minutes to the Cowboys 38. Personally I'm left with the distinct impression that had Miles Austin not slipped to let Rodgers-Cromartie make a pick and had Roy Williams not muffed his attempted catch into the hands of Greg Toller, then the Cardinals would have been beaten down thoroughly. I know, I know, you can't blame the Cardinals for taking advantage of the Cowboys mistakes. But man, when Ken Whisenhunt watches this tape back he's going to be wiping his brow and thinking "that was a lucky escape". The Cardinals 5 sacks and two interceptions on defense will be a positive, as will the 8 tackles and a forced fumble by rookie LB Daryl Washington (watch list). But the Cardinals have a hell of a long way to go before they resemble a competitive team again. All up and down the offense & all up and down the defense, the Cardinals need help. Otherwise 2011 is going to be a tragic and miserable season for Cardinals fans. On second thoughts Whizz, keep things just the way they are.... Right, on to Sunday's picks. New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills: As much as I like Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills, there is no damn way I'm picking against the Patriots in this one. With Brady playing MVP worthy football (much helped by the excellent pieces around him) and with that young defense that is really emerging, I just can't look beyond New England. Patriots win. New York Jets @ Chicago Bears: Quite a tough game to pick. The Bears defense continues to drive this team forward as it smothers opposition offenses just enough to give Jay Cuter some leeway for making mistakes. The Jets meanwhile don't do an awful lot well at the minute. Mark Sanchez is like a ticking time bomb, just waiting to explode and blow his own offense out of the game. The defense is not keeping games manageable. I never thought I'd have to say this at the start of the season but, Bears win. Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns: The Browns have made a lot of progress this year. But Baltimore right now just keep finding ways to beat teams, even if that means stumbling over the method blindly in the dark. Whatever works I guess. Simply put, if the Ravens play like they did against the Saints, then victory should be just 60 minutes away. Or 3 hours if you want to be realistic. Ravens win. Washington Redskins @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Having suffered at the hands of the Colts, the Jaguars badly need this win to keep pace in the AFC South. The Redskins need... to get a grip. The whole deal with Shanahan, Shanahan and McNabb (perhaps the worst sounding law firm in history) is just getting ridiculous now. Someone has to go and they have to do it quickly. At the beginning of the season I expected the Redskins to do reasonably well. That was a serious miscalculation. Jaguars win. Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs: After the Titans recent yo-yo in form, I'm not sure which Titans team we can expect to see on Sunday. Given that uncertainty and the fact that the Chiefs are fighting to keep their spot in the playoffs, I'd have to favour Kansas. The return of Matt Cassel gives them back one of the key cogs in their now tried, tested and proven offensive approach. With a tough defense to boot, I'm taking the home town Chiefs. Chiefs win. Detroit Lions @ Miami Dolphins: Oh Jesus. I really don't like Miami right now, but that said, how much do I really trust the Lions? On their day they can kick butt. But they can also have those days where they just fall flat on their face, stumbling through the game in embarrassing fashion like a young kid asking his first girl out on a date. And while the Lions D-line is solid, their back end is pretty vulnerable still, which is not good when you're facing Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess, among others. So with a little bit of regret, I'm going to have to take Miami. Maybe next year Detroit? Dolphins win. San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams: Why couldn't I have been a 49ers fan in the eighties? (because you weren't born till '84, idiot). The 49ers right now look so bad in so many places, but worse than that is the fact that they tease the potential of being good. They put up sacks every now and again. Sometimes they even look competent on offense. But it's all a charade, a loose collection of vaguely optimistic looking moments designed to keep fans coming back for more on a false promise of potential. When Mike Singletary took over it was looking so rosey. But what we didn't know back then that we do now is that while Singletary may have been an awesome linebacker and is currently pretty good at providing exciting and motivating sound bites, he just doesn't appear to have a handle on this whole "being a Head Coach" thing. Good news for Rams fans then, as they take another step closer to winning the worst division in football right now. Rams win. San Diego Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals: Terrell Owens is done for the year. Chad Ochocinco is apparently injured (and I'm not just talking about his pride after being thrown under a bus by his head coach). Enter then; Carson Palmer and Marvin Lewis. It's put up or shut up time. If Owens and Ochocinco are such cancerous members of the team, then surely now the way is paved with gold for Palmer and Lewis to go out and make a statement. Of course, we all know how that went in Dallas.... With San Diego fighting for their playoff lives, I fully expect them to knuckle down, batten down the hatches and come at Cincinnati like a bat out of hell. If I can think of any more idioms I will let you know. Chargers win. Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos: So the question I pose goes thus; which Houston team will we see? Will it be the Houston whose offense deserves to be playing alongside the defense of Pittsburgh or Baltimore (and whose defense deserves to be playing alongside the offense of San Francisco or Seattle)? Will it be the Houston defense that occasionally plays like it cares about the result? Or will it be the entire Houston team that deserves to be put in a barrel and thrown over Niagara Falls? Not that it really matters. The Broncos have to be the most underachieving team in the NFL right now. They have some very good players at a lot of positions, on both sides of the ball no less. But at times they play like a team of freshman college kids who are trying to figure out for the first time in their careers how to run something other than "32 blast" 40 times a game. I like the Broncos, but right now they're just a collection of players going through the motions. They're not a team. So, Texans win. Indianapolis Colts @ Oakland Raiders: This is a pretty tough one to choose I think. The Raiders on their day have shown that they can handle teams pretty roughly. The Colts in turn have shown a penchant for self-destruction this season. Is relying on the Colts to implode a sufficient reason to take Oakland though? I'm not so sure. I don't mean to demean the Raiders at all, they've come forward in leaps and bounds this year. But the Colts are still on a different plane when they put their minds to it. I have to go with Indy I think. Colts win. New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers: Matt Flynn has a test on his hands. Against the Patriots he didn't exactly face a furious pass rush. On the occasions that the Patriots did blitz, Flynn struggled. So how will he handle Tuck, Umenyiora, Pierre-Paul, etc in his face? I'm not sure right now, but I can't imagine it'll be pretty. Especially as the Giants as a whole need a kick up the butt after their shocking last second defeat in Week 15. A win would see the Giants into the playoffs, so expect them to come out all guns blazing. Giants win. Seattle Seahawks @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Last year this fixture was a week 16 game to miss, for oh so many reasons. This year this game has playoff implications. For both teams! It's stupid as hell, but there you go. So who wins. Honestly, it has to be the Buc's. I consider the Seahawks to be worse right now than the 49ers, and the Buc's shut the 49ers down not that long ago. Ergo, that should mean that Tampa will be able to shut down Seattle and open up an unassailable lead. It might not be quite that dominant, but I'm still backing a Buccaneers win. Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles: Please. It doesn't matter who is starting at QB for the Vikings. There are two simple indicators of how this game will go; the Vikings chronic 2010 defense and the Eagles high powered offense led by MVP candidate Michael Vick. That face off should end really badly for the Vikings, leading to an Eagles victory and their clinching of the NFC East. Eagles win New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons: Resting on this game is the NFC South title and the #1 playoff seed in the NFC. All the Falcons have to do is beat the Saints. Easy at that he says! And having seen the Saints/Ravens game from last week, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Falcons are already making plans. The Saints defense was roughly handled by a Ravens offense not known for it's high productivity this year. That bodes well for a Falcons offense that has been playing pretty well and pretty consistently so far. Add on a defense that has been surprisingly stingy (and somewhat under rated when compared to the offense) and you have a potential recipe for stopping Drew Brees. Potentially. I'm going to have to hedge my bets on this one and say that on balance I think the Falcons are just a little more rounded as a team right now. Falcons win. So there we go. All my week 16 picks on the board and already 1-1. For those of you who are headed out to games this weekend, please be careful. The weather forecast in the North-East basically just reads "blizzard", so wrap up warm, take your cell phones (with a full battery), stay safe and have fun.

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