Saturday, December 02, 2006

Nostradamus-san (NFL picks, Week 13)

In the spirit of the sudden movement to sign Japanese ballplayers to come work in the Hub, I offer you this Japanese term to describe the trend line in my NFL predictions: kaizen. That's right, gradual improvement. Two weeks ago, it was 9-7. Last week, 10-6. So the pressure is on to go 11-5 this week. The season mark has climbed to 77-79-5. One small disclaimer before we get to the picks. I didn't get this up in time for the Thursday night Cincy-Baltimore bore-a-thon, but I have my witnesses who will vouch for the fact that I liked the Bengals giving three points. So I'm counting that one as a win.

Minnesota (+9) @ Chicago: I think the Bears win this battle of Norris Division rivals, but the Vikings cover the 9. Back when Rex was on a roll - which seems like eons ago - the Bears steamrolled the Vikes and some Minnesota players took issue with Grossman's trash-talking during that game. Can you imagine Rex Grossman trash-talking anyone? Anyway, the Vikings are using Rex's actions for motivation this week which could translate into a modereately competitive game. If Grossman submits another dud, it will be fascinating to see if the 'play Griese' debate ratchets up.

@Pittsburgh (-7) vs. Tampa Bay: This one's tough to call because both squads are D-O-N-E. Two fiery coaches in Cowher and Gruden. Two QB's who played their college ball for small Ohio schools - Roethlisberger at Miami and Gradkowski at Toledo. And two good RB's in Willie Parker and Cadillac Williams. If both teams had played to their recent standards, this would be one of the better games on the board. Sadly, it just doesn't matter. Take the Steelers at home just for pride's sake.

@St. Louis (-6.5) vs. Arizona: The Rams are still alive by the slimmest of margins so this one's a call for the team that still has something to play for. The Denny Green death march moved into a new phase this week, with breathless rumors that USC coach Pete "Jacked and Pumped" Carroll might be a good fit in the desert with Matt Leinart. Honestly, if you were Pete Carroll - and could recruit anyone you want and hang around with a bevy of hot Southern Cal women - would you go coach a crappy football team run by an inept owner? Money talks, but I think I'd stay in Cali. PS: Has anyone seen Edgerrin James?

Indianapolis (-7.5) vs. Tennessee: The Colts looked awfully efficient Sunday night against a depleted Eagles team, and that was with Peyton handing off more than he actually passed. Joseph Addai officially announced his presence with authority. The Titans have been playing everyone tough, and Vince Young is going to be a treat to watch for many years to come - but I'm thinking Indy wants to put on a better show than the last time they met the Titans, when they won by one point in Week 5.

@Miami (-1) vs. Jacksonville: If Joey Harrington hasn't caught a cold from his Gatorade shower on Thanksgiving vs. the Lions, this one should go down as a W for the Dolphins. They're not going to be playing in the Big Game in their own city - as some national publications predicted - but they have been playing better. Plus, Jacksonville just plain sucks. I hate them and their stupid, suit-wearing coach. (see explanatory comments in Tennessee vs. Houston, Week 8)

@New Orleans (-7) vs. San Francisco: The Saints have a one-game lead on the Jekyll and Hyde Panthers, and they should be ready to protect that lead at home against San Francisco. Speaking of suit-wearing coaches, with 49er man Mike Nolan be decked out again? I'd love to see a weekly theme - maybe this week wear the Bear Bryant houndstooth hat to cap it off. Designed by Reebok, of course.

@Washington (-1.5) vs. Atlanta: The Redskins' win over Carolina last week made you wonder what the wise guys in Vegas knew that the rest of us jamokes didn't. The Panthers were favored by 6 on Monday and the line gradually shrank down to 4. I'll go with the 'Skins in this one, as they'll give the double-bird to Mike Vick and the fraudulent Falcons.

Kansas City (-5.5) @ Cleveland: The Chiefs are my pick of the week. I still haven't gotten my arms around Larry Johnson's white coach/black coach comments (something about how it's hard for black players to take orders from white coaches?) so don't know what effect that hubbub might have on the game - which coincidentally pits two black coaches in Herm Edwards and Romeo Crennel. I just know the Chiefs have been playing pretty well and the Browns are in a state of disarray.

@New England (-13.5) vs. Detroit: Little bit reluctant to give this many points because the Patriots typically don't blow anyone out. But then my mind goes back to the Green Bay thumping, and we all know the Lions are way worse than the Packers. After all, Matt Millen - the guy who infamously battled with Pats' owner Pat Sullivan 30 years ago - is still somehow calling the shots in Motown. This could be ugly, and we could see Tommy Brady laughing and joking on the bench by the start of the fourth.

San Diego (-6) @ Buffalo: Along with the Pats and Chiefs, the Chargers are my next favorite pick this week. They tangled in a close one with the Raiders last week and this week they're getting Shawne Merriman back. They're also vying for a playoff bye and home-field advantage, and they're 5-0 at home. Lots on the line. LaDainian Tomlinson. Chargers.

NY Jets (-1) @ Green Bay: As much as it pains me to say this, I'm impressed with what the Jets and Eric Mangini have done this year, especially their defense. Green Bay is coming off a short week, which is always tough. I like the Jets to keep hope alive.

Dallas (-3.5) @ NY Giants: There's a tide of thought that thinks the Giants rise from the ashes this week and that the Cowboys have to lose sometime. I just can't logically see it happening this week. Of all the NFC slop, Dallas has looked the best by a long shot over the last four weeks. They also don't have Vanderjerk to kick around anymore.

@Oakland (-3) vs. Houston: Can you imagine being an underdog to the Oakland Raiders? What a slap. I can't bring myself to offer any coherent thoughts on this one, which will probably end up being the greatest game in the rich history of the National Football League.

@Denver (-4) vs. Seattle: Mile High or whatever the hell it's called these days will be buzzing for the long-awaited debut of Jay Cutler. Seattle got its thoroughbreds back last week, so this should be a very fun, competitive game. The Broncos take it on the backs of their rowdy fans and their new-found QB.

Carolina (-3) @ Philadelphia: Carolina's like a box of chocolates. They should be truffles on Monday night against Jeff Freaking Garcia and the Eagles. Take the Panthers and the three. But don't hold me to it.

i'll vouch for the cinny pick, but there was still a hedge tease with the Ravens and the Under.
Life is all about hedging, Voucher. I'm liking the Pats, Chargers, Jets and Chiefs today. Skippy will probably have the Pats line at 15. Bah-stard.
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