Saturday, December 16, 2006

Theo's Shopping List, NFL Week #15

Capping off a busy week in the nation, Sox GM Theo Epstein yesterday announced the signings of two setup men, both of whom toiled for the Angels last season. They traded minor league lefty Phil Seibel for Brendan Donnelly, and they also picked up lefty J.C. Romero, who was previously mentioned in trade talks with the Twins for the since departed Bill Mueller. One thing about Theo - once he sets his sights on a player, he's pretty damn persistent. Both Donnelly and Romero have probably had their best years, but they're still good pickups, and now the Sox may be able to move a young reliever to find the final piece on their off-season shopping list -- a bona fide closer. If Theo can somehow snag Chad Cordero from the Nationals, they become a clear-cut favorite in the AL.

Now let's talk some pigskin. After a promising start, last week's record finished at 9-7, so the season total is now 90-98-5. I am determined to get to .500. The 49ers came through on Thursday night so we're already one up. We've also got some Saturday night football on tap.

Dallas (-3.5) @ Atlanta: After getting embarrassed on national TV last Sunday night (what does Saints coach Sean Payton have against the Tuna? The onside kick was salt in the wound), look for Dallas to bounce back. Atlanta has started to play better, but the Cowboys simply have more talent on both sides of the ball. (TV, Saturday, NFL Network, 8 p.m.)

@Baltimore (-11.5) vs. Cleveland: The Art Modell Memorial Bowl series continues. I'm hesitant to take the Ravens laying this many points, but the Browns are trying to put themselves into the Brady Quinn sweepstakes. They have been God-awful lately. Meanwhile, Air McNair showed signs of his old self last week. Go with the Ravens.

@Green Bay (-5) vs. Detroit: I really like the Pack in this one. Last game of the year at Lambeau, Favre wants to put on a good show, facing a division rival that just lost its No. 1 running back. All signs point to a fairly decisive Green Bay win.

@New England (-11) vs. Houston: Last week's loss was hands down the most pathetic offensive display I've seen in the Belichick/Brady Era. The entire team looked like it had spent the previous night dancing on the bar at Mango's in South Beach. It's also been an interesting week for Brady. He called out his team on Wednesday, then ended his relationship with actress Bridget Moynahan. She's cute and all, but personally I've always felt he could do better. It says here the Patriots respond in a big way. And Tom and Bridge will be just fine. (TV, CBS, 1 p.m.)

@Tennessee (+3.5) vs. Jacksonville: Both teams have been playing well, and if form holds this should be an exciting game to watch. The Jaguars could be the proverbial team nobody wants to play in the postseason, but I'll ride the Vince Young bandwagon for at least one more week. The Titans are the call, and it easily could come down to a field goal.

@Buffalo (-1) vs. Miami: Who the hell knows? Both teams can look good, both can look dreadful. Could be a letdown game for the Dolphins, so I'll take the Bills to win at home.

NY Jets (+3) @ Minnesota: Both teams are still alive for a playoff spot. The Jets have had a roller-coaster year, but they've been able to bounce back from tough losses like last week's thumping at the hands of the Bills. The Vikings put it all together last week against the cowardly Lions, and may be starting to find a groove. In the end, I think a decent AFC team beats a decent NFC team. Jets are the call.

Pittsburgh (-2) @ Carolina: Not sure what the status is on Jake Delhomme's thumb injury but if the Steelers are facing Chris Weinke, this could get ugly. You have to give Bill Cowher credit. His team won't be playing in January, but he's still finding a way to get them fired up to win. I'll take the Steelers.

@Chicago (-13) vs. Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers may as well be sacrificial lambs heading into the Colosseum to meet their violent end. The Bucs are celebrating their 30th anniversary in style. Even though the Bears have nothing to play for, this should be a shellacking.

@New Orleans (-10) vs. Washington: Their performance last Sunday night showed just how good the Saints can be when they're clicking on all cylinders. They absolutely destroyed the Cowboys in Big D, and they did it without Joe Horn. Drew Brees should be the league's MVP this season. All they need is for their defense to be average and they could make a strong run from here on out. The Saints will keep the good times rolling.

@Arizona (+3) vs. Denver: Would you ever imagine that the lowly Cardinals would be underdogs by only three to the Denver Broncos? Arizona plays well in front of the hometown patrons, and look for Matt Leinart to outduel fellow rook Jay Cutler.

@NY Giants (-5.5) vs. Philadelphia: The Giants have gone through their near-death experience and lived to tell about it. They're getting healthier and should take this one against their hated rival. If they don't, Tom Coughlin's going to pop a forehead vein. (TV, Fox, 4:00)

Oakland (-2) @ St. Louis: Wow, has St. Louis fallen quickly in the last several years. This current Rams edition bears absolutely no resemblance to the great Ram teams of the late '90's and early '00's. I'm not saying the Raiders are any great shakes, either, but they will beat the hapless Rams.

@San Diego (-9) vs. Kansas City: Think there'll be a few handoffs in this game? LT should pad his new NFL touchdown record, and LJ may rise to the occasion to show the world that he's pretty good too. In the end, the Chargers beat a division rival at home convincingly. San Diegans can't wait for the playoffs to start. (TV, 8:00, NBC)

Cincinnati (+3.5) @ Indianapolis: Best Monday night game of the year, which isn't saying much. The Bengals have been in a major groove, while the Colts have been obliterated by injuries and can't seem to find their winning ways. Great QB matchup. Carson Palmer and the Bengals take it. (TV, Monday, ESPN, 8:30)

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