Sunday, December 24, 2006

Season's Beatings (NFL, Week 16)

Things started off so promising last week. Through the first nine games I picked, I was 8-1 and things were looking mighty rosey. Then it got ugly quick (thanks, Saints) and I finished 1-6 over the final seven. A true closer I am. Anyway, that puts the season record at 99-105-5. In the NFL's never-ending quest to put football on as many days of the week as they can, we've already had a Thursday and a Saturday game. I would have taken the Packers Thursday night (and would've lost against the spread) and I would have taken the Chiefs last night (a win). So the mark is even heading into what promises to be a great Christmas Eve day of pigskin. Think about it - you're gathered with family, you're just getting ready to strangle your annoying-as-hell sister in law, and then the Pats come on the tube. Thank you, NFL, and Merry Christmas to all. And to all a good bet.

New England (+3) @Jacksonville: Let's get the big one out of the way. There are four games on the board today that should be entertaining - this one, Buffalo vs. Tennessee, the Pittsburgh-Baltimore bloodbath, and Denver-Cincy. The Patriots always play well when they absolutely have to, and while the Jaguars physicality (is that a word) scares me, David Garrard (a new member of the Reggie Cleveland All-Stars) doesn't. And their hummel, Fred Taylor, is sitting this one out. On the other side, we may see the return of Rodney Harrison and Laurence Maroney. I'm going with the Patriots to seal the AFC East and put themselves in the dance for the 27th year in a row. (TV, CBS, 1:00)

@Pittsburgh (-3.5) vs. Baltimore: Lots of folks are going with Baltimore, thinking the white-hot Steelers are due for a meltdown, but I'm not buying it. The Steelers still have something to play for, they're at home, and Bill Cowher deserves strong coach of the year consideration after the pitiful start these guys got off to. An old-time football game goes to the Steelers.

Carolina (+6.5) @Atlanta: I can't take the Falcons giving six and a half, ever, never. I hate them, and I can't imagine what it's like to be a Falcons fan. Carolina has been a huge disappointment this year (want a mulligan on that Super Bowl pick (Panthers vs. Dolphins) SI? The Panthers find a way to cover.

@Detroit (+5.5) vs. Chicago: There's nothing left to do in ChiTown but wait to see how bad Rex Grossman performs in the playoffs. In Detroit, the push is on to try and save Matt Millen's job - or is it? Wait, maybe I want a mulligan on this one. I'll stick with the Lions.

Indy (-9) @Houston: Indy is revving it back up just in the (St.) nick of time. There are still huge questions about their defense, but if Peyton and the boys can click like they did last week against the Bengals, the D can be soft and they can still win. The Colts are still playing for good seeding, so they'll demolish the Texans.

New Orleans (+3) @NY Giants: Two Jekyll and Hyde teams, and I wanted to kill the Saints last week. The way to succeed in picking NFL games this year? Take the big story/performance from last week and bet against it this week. The Saints have already backed into the playoffs and the Giants have been playing must-win games since October. I just don't think Eli Manning is good. Saints are the pick.

@Cleveland (-3) vs. Tampa Bay: Yucccch. Browns. Because we have to.

@Buffalo (-4.5) vs. Tennessee: Okay, this is a problem. These two teams have been stories for a couple of weeks now, with Losman-Evans and the tenacious D carrying the Bills, and Vince Young's legs carrying the Titans. This should be a pretty fun ballgame, but I think the Bills are more balanced on both sides of the ball. They get the call.

@St. Louis (-2) vs. Washington: Yucccch, part two. Rams. Because we have to.

@San Francisco (-4) vs. Arizona: Another guy who deserves coach of the year is Mike Nolan of the 49ers. San Fran hasn't been in the race all year long, but man they've been competitive. Maybe that's all Frank Gore, but it has to be more. It's the essence of moreness. (TV, FOX, 4:00)

@Denver (-3) vs. Cincinnati: While the skiiers here in the northeast complain about no snow, Denver just got about 15 feet of the stuff in the span of three days. People were stranded at Denver International Airport. The Bengals left on Tuesday in buses and are due to arrive at Mile High just before game time. They'll get whipped by the new John Elway and the Broncos. (TV, CBS, 4:00)

@Seattle (+4) vs. San Diego: This is where I'm going against a big story from last week. I know - the Chargers have been a big story all year long, but they may have peaked last week. Don't get me wrong - I like them and super-back LT in the playoffs, especially at home, but I'm thinking the Seahawks and their rabid fans might steal one here.

Philadelphia (+7) @Dallas: Game one of a Christmas Day doubleheader. The Cowboys, after being the story du jour the last few weeks, have come back to earth at the same time Jerry Garcia has been leading the Eagles back into playoff contention. I keep thinking about all those hardened Eagles bloggers who buried their team the day Donovan McNabb and his torn ACL were carted off the field. My how things have changed in a hurry. Philly's playing with renewed passion, and they should cover the 7 here. (TV, NBC, 5:00)

NY Jets (+1) @Miami: I'm picking both home favorites to lose. A must-win game for the Jets and they will find a way in a tough place to play. (TV, ESPN, 8:30)

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