20 December 2007

Weekly NFL Related Humiliation (Week Sixteen)

It's getting towards the end of the season. The AFC is pretty much wrapped up, 7 of the 8 division titles are decided, but there are still plenty of teams fighting for the remaining wildcard spots in the NFC, so there will be plenty of games that count for at least one of the teams.

To break form these last two weeks, I'll scour the entire schedule and hazard a guess on each contest.

*UPDATE* 2007 DEC 22nd 10:28pm PST *UPDATE*

I completely forgot to pick on My Nemesis Bill Simmons™. He hasn't had a good season picking picks, his wife, who doesn't follow the game, is kicking his ass (to be fair, she kicked my ass this season as well). That would seem to give credit to Bill at So Quoted's (see comments to this very post) theory regarding the relative value of laboriously researched, meticulously reasoned picks by folks who seem to think they understand a thing or two about the chances of one team versus another (against the spread), and flipping a coin.

In addition to his picks this week BS also offers an entertaining breakdown of the craptacular state of the QB position in the NFL at the moment. By his estimation (with which I agree), there are a grand total of 7 QBs who can win the game for you on a regular basis (as opposed to the occasional great game). Add to that 2 QBs who do a great job managing games, and that's it. Everyone else is as likely to cost your team the game as to win it. What explains this? The complicated defenses, and more frequent substitions, and it's a much more difficult position to play than it used to be. I think having the coaches in their head the entire game doesn't help either. The QB is the only player who gets to have a direct audio link to the coach, but rather than making it easier for them to run plays, it just takes away their creativity and ability to think for themselves. Coaches should just let their players make plays, but there's so much scrutiny now, the urge to micro-manage becomes overwhelming, and the QB position is the most managed position in the game. The likes of Fran Tarkenton, Ken Stabler and Terry Bradshaw probably wouldn't even be given half a chance or be half as good as they were. They developed their instinct for the game through playing, and failing, and calling most of their own plays. Some day, there may be a coach with the guts to cut off his mic, trust a young QB, and allow him to develop into the position. I think a JaMarcus Russell, Vince Young or Matt Leinart would thrive under the old system, and they still may thrive under the current system, but I'd bet they'd be a lot more fun to watch if they were allowed to think for themselves, gamble a bit, and fail from time to time.

Thursday's game
Pittsburgh(9-5) at St.Louis(3-11) Pittsburgh -7.5 BS Picks St.Louis
Pittsburgh has been lousy on the road this season, piling up losses against pretty lousy teams. But the Rams are lousy enough to lose by two TDs against this Steelers team, and given that the Steelers are still trying to hold off Cleveland and win their division, they should have plenty of motivation to not only win, but win big.

Saturday's game
Dallas(12-2) at Carolina(6-8) Carolina +10.5 BS Picks Carolina
Carolina has had a bad season, and are 2-5 at home so far, while Dallas are perfect on the road, but they're coming off an anemic offensive performance against Philly, and their QB is damaged, but will still play. Romo will play, he'll play like crap, and Dallas will squeak by with a victory, but they won't cover a ten point spread in the process.

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!
NY Giants(9-5) at Buffalo(7-7) Buffalo +3.0 BS Picks Buffalo
The Giants still have a solid defense, but their offense is truly offensive at the moment. They won't win another game this season. They'll lose this game, lose to New England next week, and if they still back into the playoffs at 9-7, will lose their first round game. It's going to be an unpleasant off-season for Eli Manning. Buffalo lost last week in terrible conditions in Cleveland, a game that pretty much ended their playoff hopes. They'll play better this week at home, and should have no trouble with a Giants team that's on the verge of total collapse.

Green Bay(12-2) at Chicago(5-9) Green Bay -8.5 BS Picks Chicago
Chicago pulled off the upset last time these two teams played, but I expect the Packers to play better this week and keep the pressure on Dallas for homefield advantage in the NFC. Not much more to say, Chicago's offense is phenomenally inept, their defense is still pretty solid, but given the frequency of '3 and outs' by their offense, are on the field for far too much time each game. The funny thing is they really aren't that much worse than the team that made it to the Superbowl last year, they just didn't get the breaks like they did last year. They are a few last minute drives from being 10-4 instead of 5-9 this season.

Cleveland(9-5) at Cincinnati(5-9) Cleveland -3.0 BS Picks Cleveland
Cleveland should win this, and keep the pressure on Pittsburgh for the AFC North division title, but stranger things have happened, and the Bengals are better than they've played this season. The Browns should win, but I wouldn't be too surprised if the Bengals put together a decent game for a change and screw up their division, and intra-state rival's shot at the playoffs.

Kansas City(4-10) at Detroit(6-8) Kansas City +5.0 BS Picks Detroit
Both teams are awful right now, but I think Detroit will extend their losing streak, while KC will manage to break theirs. Both teams had surprsingly strong starts, Detroit was 6-2 at one point, while KC was 4-3 with a share of the AFC West lead. I feel sorry for the people in the KC and Detroit area who will end up having this sorry excuse of a game being broadcast into their living rooms.

Houston(7-7) at Indianapolis(12-2) Houston +7.0 BS Picks Houston
Indianapolis should win, but they have nothing to play for, they have the #2 seed locked up, and can't catch New England for #1. Manning and Addai, and plenty of other key starters are probably not going to play much, so I expect Houston to win this game to keep their slim chance at the playoffs alive, or at least keep the final score close. Or they could still get blown out by the Colts second string.

Philadelphia(6-8) at New Orleans (7-7) New Orleans -3.0 BS Picks New Orleans
Both teams have been up and down, New Orleans still has a shot at the playoffs if Minnesota slides, so they should play their best this week, but they've come up short other times when they needed to win, so who knows what will happen this game. I'm going with the home team, and the team that needs to win, but Philly's defense might force Brees into a bunch of turnovers and the Eagles could win big.

Oakland(4-10) at Jacksonville(10-4) Jacksonville -13.0 BS Picks Jacksonville
On paper, this shouldn't even be close, and I think the paper's right in this case. The Raiders have a solid young defense, but the Jaguars will still roll all over them on offense, and Oakland's inept offense will cost this team any chance they may have had of pulling off an upset, or even covering the 2TD spread. Plus the league was kind enough to give JAX just a little extra motivation by snubbing the entire team with regards to the Pro Bowl. Should make it a lot easier for the coaching staff to get the players fired up against a lousy opponent, they aren't just playing the Raiders this week, they're playing against league wide perception.

Atlanta(3-11) at Arizona(6-8) Arizona -10.0 BS Picks Arizona
I just don't care. I really, really don't care. The Cardinals should be eyeing a playoff spot right now, but they lost both games to the 49ers this season (!!!), and despite having a good mix of young talent and veterans, will miss the playoffs another season. I really do think they could have snuck into the Superbowl this season had they not lost 3 of their last 4. Atlanta is Atlanta, and the less said the better. Message to Arthur Blank, I'll take the job, but only if you let me be GM and coach. I'd institute a modified run n' shoot offense, make some trades, and make Devin Hester your featured wing back. It'd be back to the 30s, and back to the playoffs for the Falcons.

Tampa Bay(9-5) at San Francisco(4-10) Tampa Bay -6.0 BS Picks Tampa Bay
A blowout in the making. Tampa Bay will win by more than 20 points. They've been good at thumping the bad teams they've faced this year, this week won't be any different.

NY Jets(3-11) at Tennessee(8-6) Tennessee -8.5 BS Picks NY Jets
You have the Titans fighting for a wildcard, and the NY Jets fighting for nothing at all. Even though the Titans have looked troubled lately, and have dropped 4 out of their last 6 games, they should be able to beat an awful Jets team by two TDs or more.

Miami(1-13) at New England(14-0) New England -22.0 BS Picks Miami
New England may be perfect in the WL column, but against the spread they are a less impressive 10-4. They're at home, they're playing a team that just eeked out their only victory of the season, and they're coming off of a less than satisfying victory over the NY Jets. I expect blood in this one. Their biggest margin of victory this season was 46 points, I expect them to get close to or exceed that number this week.

Baltimore(4-10) at Seattle(9-5) Seattle -10.5 BS Picks Baltimore
I just don't care. Baltimore should be out for blood after being the only team that Miami managed to beat, but then again, they managed to lose to Miami, and Seattle has been pretty solid of late (ignoring last week's loss to Carolina), so I expect Seattle to win, and how in the hell is Baltimore on the road against a 9-5 team a "pick 'em" game?!? UPDATE: I knew that line was wrong, 10.5 points is more like it, I still pick Seattle to cover.

Washington(7-7) at Minnesota(8-6) Washington +6.5 BS Picks Washington
This is the game of the week? No really, it is. This is the only contest where both teams are fighting for their playoff lives. If the Skins can win out, they should get that last wildcard, if the Vikings lose this one, then they'll still have a shot at advancing. Minnesota looked terrible last week, even while beating the Bears. They won't get so lucky this week against Washington. The Skins will watch the tape from last week to learn how to contain Peterson, and with Bollinger starting this week, they'll have no offensive output at all if Peterson is contained. Still, there's bound to be ten different things better to do with your Sunday night than to watch this game. NBC must be thrilled that this was the best they could schedule even with their 'flex schedule' deal with the NFL. Is it spelled "parity" or "parody"?

Christmas Eve
Denver(6-8) at San Diego(9-5) San Diego -8.5 BS Picks San Diego
San Diego beat Denver by 38 points last time they played in Denver. The outcome shouldn't be any better for the Broncos when these two teams meet in San Diego. Denver's only hope is that San Diego rests some starters, but even then, they should be able to win by better than 2 TDs against a solidly mediocre Broncos team.


bill said...

Let's see how well I do with some random number generation. And how complicated can I make my description?

Ignoring records, colors of jerseys, and basically anything having to do with who is playing whom where, I flipped a coin. Specifically a American Buffalo 24-Karat Gold Coin. Ranked alphabetically, the lower team gets the buffalo and the higher gets the indian. For example, P is less than S, so a buffalo flip means Pittsburgh beats St. Louis.

Pittsburgh at St. Louis: St. Louis
Dallas at Carolina: Dallas
Oakland at Jacksonville: Jacksonville
Philadelphia at New Orleans: New Orleans
Kansas City at Detroit: Detroit
Cleveland at Cincinnati: Cincinnati
Green Bay at Chicago: Green Bay
NY Giants at Buffalo: NY Giants
Houston at Indianapolis: Houston
Atlanta at Arizona: Atlanta
Tampa Bay at San Francisco: San Francisco
Baltimore at Seattle: Seattle
Miami at New England: Miami
NY Jets at Tennessee: Tennessee
Washington at Minnesota: Washington
Denver at San Diego: Denver

bill said...

Make those against whatever point spread you're using. But you'll have to explain how well I did. I've never been able to understand the things.