Thursday, December 16

NFL Picks: Week 15

Believe me, I hated tallying up a loss for all of us as a result of that preposterous Tennessee cover last Thursday night. What, other than screwing with gamblers and prognosticators nationwide, was Jeff Fisher trying to accomplish with that drive? You're down nine points, dummy. ESPN's Bill Simmons appropriately called it the "dumbest backdoor cover drive in recent football history." and added that, "We'll be telling our grandkids about it."

Simmons also nailed it with his discussion of Doom Boards at NFL stadia, where one has no choice but to "stare at them and wait for awful news." This is exactly how I feel every time I go to Cleveland Browns Stadium, especially last time I went, when the Browns barely eked out an undeserved one-point win and I watched my morning picks go 1-7. I've started using little strips of paper on my TV at home to block the little ticker at the bottom of the screen because monitoring the other games while watching the Browns gets a bit too frustrating at times.

Our performances last week were a microcosm of the season thus far; Figgs and Bucko extended their tie for the lead by a game over third place, while the rest of the field ended up ordering themselves for the week's picks as they entered it overall. We have a little more spread in the standings as a result, but it's still very much up in the air with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

Last Week
Andy: 8-7-1
Figgs: 9-6-1
Nick: 7-8-1
Bucko: 9-6-1
Gopo: 4-11-1

Nick's Money Picks ($): 2-2
Figgs' Money Picks ($): 1-2-1

Figgs: 106-94-8
Bucko: 106-94-8
Andy: 103-97-8
Nick: 101-99-8
Gopo: 97-103-8

Nick's Money Picks ($): 30-29-3
Figgs' Money Picks ($): 26-14-4

Thursday game, 8:20 pm
CHARGERS (-9) vs 49ers
Andy: Chargers. AFC West > NFC West, and I think SD's destruction of KC last week shows that they realize a backdoor division title is a very real possibility. Also, let's face it, I have a huge bias against this 49er team.
Figgs: Chargers, for reasons already mentioned.
Nick: Bolts. I think the Chargers still have a push left, and they're a much better team than their California counterparts. Oddly enough, the table's set for SF to win their last two games and still take the division. The NFL is weird.
Bucko: 49ers. I think the only reason I'm picking them is because I need a big game from Davis for fantasy.
Gopo: Chargers. Man, I blow at picking NFL games all of a sudden. I might just have to get my dog to pick for me this week.

Sunday games
1 pm kickoff

BENGALS (-1) vs Browns
Andy: Browns. Cincinnati has constantly screwed me this season - this is getting to be, as Channel 3 Lead Anchor Frank Vitchard would say, ri-god-damn-diculous. I don't pick anyone against my Brownies, but sure as hell not these deadbeats, even though there's the distinct possibility that they give Marvin Lewis one last hurrah as Bengal head coach.
Figgs: BROWNS!
Nick: Cleveland. Fucking. Browns. ($ +1.5)
Bucko: Browns
Gopo: Bengals. They have to win one more game the rest of the way through, right? And just for the hell of it: Carson Palmer is an awful QB - I'd take McCoy over him in a heartbeat.

COWBOYS (-6) vs Redskins
Andy: Cowboys. Wade Phillips' "performance" and subsequent firing has had a most interesting effect on Dallas for gambling purposes - as America's Team, they've consistently been overrated in the lines because so many fans pick them and Vegas needs to entice non-fans to wager against the opposition. But, since the adjustment has been slow to the Pokes' improved play in the Garrett Era, Dallas is currently undervalued if anything, having gone 4-0 ATS post-Wade. As such, I don't even have to give a TD to grab them at home against a reeling Redskin club, where last year this would have been like +7.5.
Figgs: Cowboys. Andy sold me.
Nick: Cowboys. Really like Big D here. They're playing like a playoff team, and Washington blows. ($ -6.5)
Bucko: Cowboys
Gopo: Cowboys. Not too much to add over what Andy said.

TITANS (-1) vs Texans
Andy: Titans. My least favorite game on the board, mostly because I can't fully explain Houston's shutout of the Titties when they've surrendered an average of 29.6 ppg in their other 12 contests. I mean, Tennessee can't be that bad on offense - they mustered 28 on the Colts last week and they're averaging 24.3 ppg in non-Rusty Smith games. Inasmuch as this is a non-Rusty Smith game, I'm writing off the 20-0 fiasco and taking the Titties.
Figgs: Texans. Andy wasn't as convincing that time.
Nick: Texans. I don't think I can take Tennessee the rest of the way.
Bucko: Titans
Gopo: Texans. I think the last quarter against the Ravens gave them some confidence - if they can just avoid putting themselves in a 14 point hole every game, they'd be in good shape.

COLTS (-4.5) vs Jags
Andy: Colts. Give Jacksonville some credit - they've played consistently, won some games they shouldn't, and currently sit in the driver's seat for the AFC South. At least until Manning and the Colts exact their revenge this Sunday from a tough loss in the swamp (is Jacksonville a swamp?) earlier this year.
Figgs: Indy. I said I was done with them if I lost my bet on them last week, but as Andy stated, it was such an absurd situation. I'll give them another shot.
Nick: Jagoffs. Over and over again. These games are always close, and Jacksonville's the better team right now. ($ +5)
Bucko: Colts
Gopo: Jags. It look almost the entire season, but I think I've finally come around on this Jags team. I just think the injuries have finally caught up with the Peytons.

RAMS (+1) vs Chiefs
Andy: Rams. The feel-good team of the 2010 NFL season! I'd love to see them take the NFC West this year after posting six wins TOTAL in the previous three years. It reminds me of the time the Browns had a few tough years, and then...never mind, they pretty much just stayed bad.
Figgs: Rams. I've been liking them to win this division all year long. They have the best player (Steven Jackson) and best QB (Sam Bradford).
Nick: Rams. Because it looks like we might just have another Brodie Croyle sighting.
Bucko: Chiefs
Gopo: Rams. I would have taken the Chiefs if Cassell was playing, but I can't back Croyle in good conscience.

DOLPHINS (-5.5) vs Buffaloes
Andy: Buffaloes. Have you ever noticed how badly the transitive property works in NFL prediction? Consider: the Browns lost to the steelers subsequently crushed the Patriots and Saints, then saw both of those teams handle Pittsburgh. It doesn't add up. This is an interesting matchup because the Browns just went to South Beach and edged the Dolphins then lost in Buffalo, thus Buffalo should have the advantage AND they're getting 5.5 points. Bearing in mind that this analysis never works, I'm rolling Buffalo anyway.
Figgs: Fish.
Nick: Fins. Buffalo can't win two in a row.
Bucko: Bills
Gopo: Dolphins. I read Nick's analysis and he made me switch my pick.

BUCS (-5.5) vs Lions
Andy: Lions. The cover magic is back! Tampa Bay will win this by three.
Figgs: Bucs. Tampa will win this by 10.
Nick: Bucs. Tampa's tough at home against bad teams, and Detroit can't win on the road.
Bucko: Lions
Gopo: Lions. Bucs have proven to be capable of beating bad teams, but the confidence of the Green Bay win combined with their ability to cover has me leaning towards the Lions.

PANTHERS (-2.5) vs Cardinals
Andy: Cards. For the past couple of seasons I've tried to guess the lines before looking at them, and I've never missed one worse than this one. Why, exactly, am I supposed to give 2.5 points to take a team whose winning percentage is - wait for it - .077. They are 1-12. One win. Twelve losses. Favored. I know Arizona sucks -really, I do - but I can't take Carolina on general principle here. Also, I enjoyed this from Arizona's box score last week: Jay Feely 5 Yd Run (Jay Feely Kick).
Figgs: Cards. No reason for a 1-12 team to ever be favored. Feely also had like 5 FG's in that game.
Nick: Cards. Carolina can't score points.
Bucko: Panthers
Gopo: Cardinals. I watched that Cardinals game last week and Jay Feely was an absolute animal. I think he is capable of single handedly beating the Panthers.

RAVENS (-1) vs Saints
Andy: Saints. They're blowing people up and the Ravens aren't closing teams out. If Matt Schaub could rally Houston and drag its porous D to overtime against the Ratbirds, then so can Drew Brees and a red-hot New Orleans club that's won six straight by an average of 13.5 points per contest. Fun fact: the second-place Saints would lead the NFC West by FOUR games.
Figgs: Saints. I need a big week from Brees for my fantasy playoffs. (If I made them)
Nick: Saints. Doesn't it feel like this Ravens team should be about 30% better than they actually are?
Bucko: Ravens
Gopo: Saints. I hate the Ravens and will look for any excuse to pick them. If the Texans can go hurry-up and march 90+ yards twice at the end of the game to tie, then I'm pretty sure the Saints with Brees are capable of spreading them out and attacking as well.

GIANTS (-2.5) vs Eagles
Andy: Eagles. I just went to Michael Vick's player card on ESPN in an effort to understand why New York is favored in this one, but didn't get any answers. I thought this'd be a pick'em or Philly by a point, but what do I know? The G-Men are a pretty unheralded top team this year, which is a weird thing to say about a New York team. Eh, playing in Jersey will do that.
Figgs: Philly. Just no reason to go against Vick and this offense right now.
Nick: Giants. It'd be easy to pile on the Eagles here, but this feels like a "go against the grain" pick. Contain DeSean Jackson and you win.
Bucko: Eagles
Gopo: Giants. I think the Giants have the 'nobody is picking us / nobody respects us' card to play in this game, especially with all the media attention on the Eagles.

4 pm kickoff

SEAHAWKS (+6) vs Falcons
Andy: Falcons. Are we sure this isn't 16? You do realize that Seattle got absolutely firebombed by San Fiasco last week, right? I know the 'Hawks are better at home, but can't understand why they're only getting six from the NFC's best team. If Alex Smith can carve up Seattle's D, I don't care how loud Qwest Field is for Matt Ryan and the Dirty Birds. I'm so confused.
Figgs: ATL. I'm not buying the "Seattle's good at home" line any more. I'm pretty sure they blow no matter where the game is.
Nick: Falcons. Don't understand this one. ($ -6.5)
Bucko: Falcons
Gopo: Falcons. I also can't believe this is so low - Falcons should take care of business easily.

STEELERS (-5.5) vs Jets
Andy: Jets. For one, I think they're better than they've played the past two weeks, and for two, I frankly just love picking against the steelers. Sports Hate is fun!
Figgs: Jets. Hopefully the Sanchize can play a little better than his embarassing performance last week.
Nick: Jets. This is too many points, but Sanchez has to play better.
Bucko: Steelers
Gopo: Jets. Too many points - also, banged up Rapist, no Polamalu, banged up line. If the Steelers win, it'll be last minute and within 3.

RAIDERS (-6.5) vs Broncos
Andy: Raiders. I'll take a good home team against a Denver club that got pantsed last week in Arizona, of all places, last week. Glad to see this one under seven. Fun fact: I'm taking Oakland even though I don't technically know who's currently quarterbacking them. What can I say, I have metal playing on my iTunes, and it's hard to pick against the Raiders when metal is involved. Jason Campbell - I thought that was the case, but thought maybe he was hurt or something, but apparently not. I'm a great fan.
Figgs: Raiders. I wonder if Nick will have a hard time picking against Oakland while listening to Justin Bieber.
Nick: Raiders. Baby, baby, baby...OOOOHHHH
Bucko: Raiders
Gopo: Raiders. That's a lot of points to give up for a team that isn't all that good. Then again, the Broncos are horrible, so...

Sunday Night Football, 8:20 pm

PATRIOTS (-11) vs Packers
Andy: Patriots. I'm a tad surprised that this one isn't closer to 2 TDs. It just seems easy - Patriots on a roll, at home, at night, against a backup QB...taking the Pack here just seems like a reach. Editor's note: it was -14 by kickoff, so I sort-of know what I'm talking about.
Figgs: Pats. I'm assuming this line means that Rodgers isn't playing. If the Matt Flynn-led offense could only manage three points against the Lions, this one could get real ugly in a hurry.
Nick: Pats. Bring your bib. It's gonna get messy.
Bucko: Pats
Gopo: Patriots. No way Flynn has a chance against Belicheat in a night game.

Monday Night Football, 8:30 pm

VIKINGS (+6) vs Bears
Andy: Bears. Is this the line on the game, or on how many times each time will bitch about the cold field?
Figgs: Vikes. Let the Joe Webb era begin!
Nick: Bears. I'm enjoying watching Favre's final season tarnish his legacy.
Bucko: Bears
Gopo: Bears.

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