NFL Picks - Super Bowl LIII

New England @ Los Angeles Rams
It’s time for Super Bowl LIII and we’re all gonna barf. Some of us from nervous anticipation, some from disgust at another Patriots appearance, and the rest from going too hard at the Royal Rumble last weekend. Regardless of the reason, I think we can all agree that this is going to be an excruciating viewing experience. 
Of course there’s the prevailing story line of the old coach and quarterback against their young gun counterparts. As you may have heard, the Rams duo of Sean McVay and Jared Goff will be setting a record for the youngest head coach/QB combo in Super Bowl history, with a combined age of 57. They’ll be breaking the existing mark set in Super Bowl  XII by Broncos head coach Red Miller (age 50) and contest winner Mickey Sazeran (age 12). In retrospect, allowing their starting quarterback for the first drive of the game to be chosen by a sweepstakes was a critical error for Denver that led to a 7-0 deficit on the first play of the game. But Mickey (1966-'78) will live on in our hearts forever! 
As we all know, if Brady wins again he’ll extend his record for Super Bowl wins by a starting QB to 6. Though, you may not have realized, if New England is defeated Brady will match Jim Kelly for most SB losses by a starting quarterback with 4. If so, Tom Terrific will certainly be lumped in with the Buffalo Bills as the most notorious losers in NFL history. I feel sorry for him already. 
At a certain point we have to put aside historical factors and consequences and look at the actual game at hand. In their Super Bowl losses the Patriots have been beaten by the type of interior pass rush that LA can generate. So it’s feasible that New England could struggle to light up the scoreboard. Meanwhile, Jared Goff has been merely average in the second half of the season and who knows what kind of factor Todd Gurley will be after seeing limited snaps in the NFC title game due to poor performance? Now I’m starting to wonder if anybody is going to score points in this game. Eventually someone will have to, but it could be a grind. I’m talking myself in circles here; I need some sound advice, and there’s no one I trust more than the best analyst in the biz. What do you have for me CriColl?

Damn it Cris. Alright, what do I do here? Obviously it has to be a one-possession game either way, since that's been the case in every Brady/Belichick Super Bowl. I'd prefer a tie, but since that's impossible in this scenario I'll go ahead and say ...

Rams 23-20 


NFL Picks - Conference Championships


Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans
Oh baby, it’s the NFC title game that everybody wanted to see! Except for the fans of the 14 other teams in the conference. Though, I imagine even that contingent would begrudgingly admit that this should be an entertaining contest. When the Rams and Saints first met in the Super Dome in Week 9 it resulted in 80 total points and even more yards! Yep, more than 80 yards. Back in early November, prior to that first game a lot of wannabe analysts and purported NFL pundits opined that it could determine who would host the NFC championship game. Sadly, it turns out they were right. It’s just so aggravating when casual fans fancy themselves experts. Leave the analysis to people who really know what they’re talking about, ok?!? Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, I predict that there will be at least 100 yards of total offense in this game, probably by both teams. Going into Sunday this one looks pretty even, and, in fact, the score is currently tied at 0. I expect it to remain as such up until some point in the first quarter, unless the Rams successfully petition the league for a 3 point head start to counterbalance the Saints’ home field advantage. Don’t bet on it though, as the league has only agreed to such a request four times so far this season, and most of those involved the Raiders. In the end I believe that aforementioned home field edge will be exactly what pushes New Orleans over the top ... literally, when a Rams receiver gets confused by his indoor surroundings and loses a key pass in the lights.

Saints 31-24


New England @ Kansas City
Couldn’t we all see this coming after the first Pats/Chiefs game in Week 6? Well maybe not all of us, considering I predicted that both of these teams would lose in the Divisional Round. So as recently as last week I didn’t think either team would be playing in the conference title game. But really, I can’t say that I’m surprised, the Chiefs’ offense has been a runaway train all season, whereas the Patriots are more akin to a European train: on time, reliable, and filled with an inordinate amount of white people. This is the eighth straight AFC championship game appearance for New England, as opposed to the Chiefs who haven’t been here since January of 1994. And, believe it or not, this is the first AFC title game to ever be played in Kansas City. Couple that with a kick off of 5:30p local time and Arrowhead should be a madhouse. I originally thought the only thing that could tamp down the enthusiasm of the KC fans was a kickoff temperature in the teens.  Now, however, the forecast has improved to 30+, so we can probably through that factor out the window. I suppose the fact that the opposing team is the Patriots, who are usually pretty good at making it to the Super Bowl could be another buzzkill for the Arrowhead crowd. Taking everything into account I’m going to go with the Chiefs in a close game that’s not quite as high scoring as the 43-40 shootout we saw from these two in October. But don't be surprised if the Patriots win, because that's what always happens.

Chiefs 30-27

Unfortunately, these games will be broadcast on Fox and CBS, respectively, meaning that viewers won't be hearing from Cris Collinsworth this weekend. Luckily for you though, he has such an appreciation for this blog that he's provided us with some of his trademark, hard-hitting analysis for this Sunday's match-ups. Enjoy:


NFL Picks - Divisional Round


Indianapolis @ Kansas City
The Colts may be the hottest team still playing football. After starting 1-5 they've won 10 of their last 11 including a dominant Wild Card win in Houston last week. Now they travel to Kansas City where the Chiefs have been, well, not great in their recent playoff history. Will Patrick Mahomes be able to change that narrative? Why don't we ask the man who will be there in person to call the action on Saturday ... It's CriColl time:
Ok, this time you definitely didn't make an actual pick. I guess it's up to me. Andrew Luck vs. the Chiefs' defense + what should be a tense atmosphere in Arrowhead has me leaning towards Indianapolis. You can call me crazy, and wonder why, but don't be surprised if on Saturday the Chiefs make you cry.

Colts 30-27 

Dallas @ Los Angeles Rams
This season in the NFL, offense was the name of the game. Actually that’s not true, the name of the game remained “football” for the 135th consecutive year. Before that it was known "Pig Grab." But my original point, which I was about to get to before I was rudely interrupted by my own inanity, is that we witnessed one of the most offensive regular seasons in NFL history. But last week, in the opening round of the playoffs, the Cowboys were the highest scoring team with a modest total of 24. One could argue that postseason football is a different animal (a more sluggish, plodding animal akin to a koala or a sloth), where points are at a premium and defense rules. Though, I would argue that the four highest scoring teams in the league all had byes in the Wild Card round, an argument that would be factually correct. With the most potent offenses the league has to offer now entering the fray, keep your eyes on the scoreboard ... ok I didn’t mean just stare at it, obviously you should look at the game too. Yeesh, sometimes I’m not sure about you. I’ll pick the Rams to win, but not by much. If you look at their schedule, every time they’ve played a decent team they’ve either lost or won by one score (with the exception of a 12 point win over the Chargers in Week 2), so why should this be any different?

Rams 29-24


Los Angeles Chargers @ New England
Since the NFL adopted its current 12 team playoff format in 1990, the fifth and sixth seeds have never met in a conference title game. For the last 28 years at least one of the lowest wild card teams has lost before reaching the championship round. Well you know what they say, history was meant to be broken! Er, actually records were, but you get the point. Anyway, I say history will be broken this weekend! As you’ve seen above, I think the 6th seeded Colts will upset the Chiefs, and I hereby predict that the Chargers will go into Foxborough and defeat the Patriots. I’ll admit, some of this is wishful thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I actually believe both underdogs have a very good chance to win this weekend, but primarily these picks stem from a strong desire to see an AFC championship game played at the StubHub Center. We’ve waited 28 years to see a 5/6 title game match-up, what better place than the StubHub Center, what better time than now?

Chargers 24-21

Philadelphia @ New Orleans
The Eagles will not die. Philly got past Chicago last week thanks to a late touchdown and a Bears field goal attempt that ricocheted off of both the left upright and the crossbar. Fans across the nation were stunned by those ever so fateful and unlikely bounces, however, some of us were not so surprised. After all, this isn’t the first time that two doinks have played a pivotal role in determining the outcome of a major sporting event. Who among us could forget the WrestleMania IX showdown in which Kona, Hawaii’s own Crush was miffed by the appearance, and subsequent interference, of a second Doink the Clown? Many of you may be saying that you were never aware of such an occurrence, and that’s fine, but if you had seen it there’s no way you could forget it, much like the Bears’ timeline-altering miss last week. Now the Eagles move on to New Orleans to face a Saints team that destroyed them 48-7 eight weeks ago. Can Philly really go back into the Super Dome and manage to come away with a win this time around? I don’t know, is Nick Foles 42 points better than Carson Wentz? If you think that I’m over-simplifying things you’re probably not a regular reader of this blog. That’s what we do here! Anyway, my answer to that Foles question would be no, not quite.

Saints 31-19 


NFL Picks - Wild Card Round


Indianapolis @ Houston
The Texans have now won five AFC South titles in the last eight seasons. Some would say that this era has been defined by JJ Watt, however I would argue that the true hallmark has been Saturday afternoon playoff games in Houston. As you probably know, in the opening round of the NFL postseason two games are played on Saturday and two games are played on Sunday, with the least attractive match-up usually being scheduled as the opener on Saturday at 1:35p PT. Each and every time the Texans have made the playoffs they’ve had this time slot foisted upon them. Again, that means that come this weekend five of the past eight NFL postseasons will have opened in NRG Stadium in Houston. The Texans are 3-1 in such contests, so it would seem they don’t have many qualms about their positioning, but it has to sting at least a little. Haven’t they been in the playoffs enough to have earned a brighter spotlight? It’s like being a successful businessman but still having to sleep on a single bed when you visit your parents for the holidays. And it's not even a racecar bed or something cool like that. Then again, maybe the NFL considers the Texans to be such a marquee team that they can think of no better spot to open the playoffs than Houston. I mean that’s definitely not true, but that’s the spin I’d try to put on it if I were the Texans. That could serve be a much-needed ego boost after what I expect to be an opening-round loss.

Colts 27-24

Seattle @ Dallas
At the midpoint of the season these teams were a combined 7-9. Since then they’ve gone a collective 13-3. So over the past couple months these squadrons have played like potential Super Bowl contenders. However, their mediocre beginnings can not be discounted, they’re like a grizzled hero with a haunted past. What this game will come down to is who can learn from their history, move forward, and finally stop blaming themselves for letting her go. It’s not their fault! They had to make a choice and so did she. How were they supposed to know what would happen?!? Anyway, I think all of that and the added pressure of a judgmental home crowd gets to the Cowboys and leads to their demise.

Seahawks 23-16


Los Angeles Chargers @ Baltimore
A mere two weeks ago the Ravens went on the road and beat the Chargers 22-10. It was a statement win that ended up propelling Baltimore into first place in the AFC North, a position they would not relinquish in Week 17 on their way to a division title and a home game this Sunday. One might naively assume that since the Ravens beat the Chargers in LA they should be able to handle them in Baltimore. What that aforementioned dullard failed to take into account is that the Chargers only lost games in Los Angeles this season. And I’m not just talking about the StubHub Center, where opposing fans regularly occupy the 27,000 seats, the Chargers also lost in the Coliseum to the Rams. This proves that when in LA the Chargers are saddled with the shame of playing in front of a city that doesn’t want them. It’s only when they leave SoCal that they are freed from this burden and can play to their true potential. How else would you explain their 7-0 mark outside of their “home” city? Thus, picking against them in Baltimore seems foolish at this point. Almost as foolish as moving the Chargers to LA in the first place.

Chargers 20-17

Philadelphia @ Chicago
The defending Super Bowl champs scratched and clawed their way to the playoffs and have been rewarded with a trip to Chicago for their troubles. Who will prevail in this Wild Card clash? Let's check in with Cris Collinsworth to find out:
Pertinent stuff CC! I'd be a fool to dssent.

Bears 24-14


NFL Picks - Week 17

Sunday Morning

Miami @ Buffalo
Over the past couple months as the standings started to shake out and it was clear that some teams would offer no viewing value, be it in terms of entertainment or relevancy, I made jokes about how unnecessary it would be to tune in to certain games. Now, in the last week of the season, the need to watch many of these games had reached its nadir. There are no postseason implications, no fantasy implications, no familial implications (meaning even the players’ wives, parents, and/or children don’t need to see these). This match-up certainly falls into that category. I assume the game will be a sell-out, because Bills fans are maniacs and the only reason they’d miss a game is because they got knocked out in the parking lot on a botched flaming table spot, but outside of a select group of folks in western New York there won’t be a lot of eyes on this one. I’ll bet Buffalo win, because at this point they’re used to having nothing to play for.

Bills 23-16

Detroit @ Green Bay
The Packers have reportedly interviewed Jim Caldwell and Chuck Pagano in regards to their head coaching vacancy. So in other words, Green Bay is hoping to avoid the playoffs at all costs for the foreseeable future. Look, I’m not saying that those are uninspired choices, I’m saying that they’re lame, foolish, and uninspired choices. However, if the goal is to get Aaron Rodgers to retire then these coaching possibilities make a lot of sense. And to be fair, the Packers let their fans own the team, so it’s no wonder that this coaching search has gotten off to a bit of a scatter shot start. As far as I can tell any of the fan owners can simply call up and suggest a coaching candidate, at which point the GM must schedule an interview. It’s taxing and a waste of time, but it’s so cool to be able to say the fans own the team! 

Packers 31-17 

New York Jets @ New England 
Surprise! New England is back in line for a first round bye. It’s like death, we all know it’s coming, but that doesn’t make it less lame. The Patriots will surely win this game and enjoy next week at home sacrificing babies, or whatever it is they do for fun. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the fans in New England should be comfortable with the state of their team. The Patriots have been anything but impressive lately, and a potential second round match-up with the Texans, Ravens, Chargers, or Colts could present serious problems for Brady and Belichick ... and Edelman, and Gronkowski, and McDaniels, and ... sorry I was going to list the entirety of the roster and coaching staff, but you get the idea, right? In summation, rest easy New England, for now. 

Patriots 27-18 

Carolina @ New Orleans
The Saints have clinched the top spot in the NFC playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. On the other occasion, in 2009, the Saints went to the Super Bowl, so this bodes well for New Orleans. As a result of their confirmed status they now have the option to rest starters if they so choose. I, for one, believe they should at least sit Drew Brees, seeing as how their backup QB Teddy Bridgewater is still much better than Kyle Allen, who will be taking snaps for Carolina. Allen is starting in place of the Panthers' original Cam Newton replacement Taylor Heinicke, who was hurt during last week’s loss to the Falcons but returned to the game despite the fact that Allen looked better in his short appearance in fill-in duty. Perhaps the refusal to stick with Allen was just stubbornness. It’s like someone insisting upon only drinking Bud light over Coors or Miller. Look pal, they all suck, why are you so preoccupied with one over the other? Like I said though, neither one will be good enough to get a win here, even over a depleted New Orleans roster. 

Saints 23-17 

Dallas @ New York Giants
The Cowboys have no reason to start anybody in this game. Ok, well of course they’ll have to put at least 11 players on the field at a time, but that’s not my point. And actually saying at least 11 players is misleading and downright incorrect. 11 is the maximum amount of players they can put on the field. They can’t just trot 14 people out there and see what happens. Anyway, what was my point? Oh right, Dallas should not risk injuring any of their stars (meaning the players, not the logos) in this inconsequential game. That being said, Sean Lee hasn’t played much lately, likely making him a bit rusty and in need of plenty of reps to get prepped for the playoffs. And with Lee, Dallas doesn’t have to worry about an unnecessary injury because the guy’s an iron man on the level of a Gehrig, or a Ripken, or an Oden. I say throw him in there and let him get his hands dirty. What’s the worst that could happen?

Giants 24-9

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay 
Two seasons ago the Falcons were on the verge of a Super Bowl title. Last season they were on the verge of making it to the NFC title game. Now they’re on the verge of a cliff, and they’re about to fall off. Just hang on Atlanta, we have a helicopter in the form of a new season coming to rescue you. Um, ok we just talked to the pilot and it turns out he’s not going to be here until next September ... Sorry ... Can you wait until then? We’ll bring you some food in the meantime, what do you guys like? Uh huh; well we have Slim Jims, and store brand cola, so that will have to do for now. But we haven’t forgotten about you buds! Just hang in there! Literally! Haha ... Yes, I understand that that’s not very funny in this moment, I apologize. I mean, I think we’ll all laugh about it later, but yes, I should have read the room.

Buccaneers 30-27 

Jacksonville @ Houston 
A few weeks ago I theorized that we had seen Blake Bortles’ last start as a Jacksonville Jaguar. It now appears I was wrong. Gloriously, magnificently wrong. With Cody Kessler’s injury last week, all signs point to Bortles returning to the QB1 slot for one last hurrah. What should we expect from this beautiful boy in his grand finale? Six picks? Possibly. Five TDs? Probably not, but perhaps. A lackluster 220 yard, 1TD, 1 INT performance? No! I refuse to accept that. Something amazing or disastrous or amazingly disastrous must happen this Sunday, and I will accept nothing less. 

Texans 26-10 

Sunday Afternoon

Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver
The AFC playoff picture is like jell-o in a broken fridge, far from solidified. While four teams have clinched a spot, no one is currently locked into a seed. For instance, the Chargers could still end up as the #1 seed or remain in the fifth spot and start their playoff run next week on the road. So, as you can see the situation is a lot like jell-o in a working refrigerator, there’s still a whole lot of movement possible. 

Chargers 31-13 

Oakland @ Kansas City 
The only way for the Chargers to snare that top spot in the AFC, as discussed above, is for the Chiefs to fall at home to the Raiders. Yes, Kansas City has lost two straight, but losing here to Oakland is nearly inconceivable. Then again, when these teams met four weeks ago the Chiefs only won by 7, so perhaps it’s not as inconceivable as I first thought. Then again ... again, Patrick Mahomes can set an NFL single season record for passing TDs in a season if he throws for 8 scores in this game, which could mean that there’s even more incentive for the Chiefs to win in a blow out. Then again ... again ... again, 8 passing TDs in one game would be an NFL record in its own right, so maybe that’s not very realistic. Then again ... again ... again ... again, the Raiders did give up 7 TDs to Nick Foles back in 2013, which is almost a precedent, so who who knows? Then again ... again ... again ... again ... again, none of the Raiders who played defense in that game are still on the team, so that 2013 contest is probably irrelevant. Then again ... again ... again ... again ... again ... again ...

Chiefs 35-20 

San Francisco @ Los Angeles Rams
Over the past seven games, since Nick Mullens was made the 49ers starter, here’s how he compares with Jared Goff:
Mullens - 1,995 yds 10 TDs/7 Ints
Goff - 2,064 yds 11 TDs/7 Ints
So does that mean Nick Mullens has been playing well or that Jared Goff has not been great? Probably both. But when you look at Goff’s most recent four games, he’s thrown just 2 TDs and 6 Ints. Now those are first rate lousy numbers, and I imagine not encouraging for the Rams or their fans. But Angelinos can take solace in the fact that they have C.J. Anderson, who is averaging 167 yards rushing per game with the Rams. Granted, he’s only played one game with LA so far, and Todd Gurley figures to be fully ready to go for the playoffs, if not this Sunday, but at this point the Rams have to find silver linings where they can, because their season is completely coming off the rails. Anyway, I’ll think they’ll win here to finish this disaster at 13-3.

Rams 27-17

Chicago @ Minnesota 
If the Vikings win this game they’ll be in the playoffs and likely play the Bears again next week in Chicago. That begs the following questions: do the Bears unfurl a full game plan on Sunday, or do they hold their cards closer to the vest in case of a rematch? Also, would the Bears prefer to play the Vikings over the Eagles and, to that end, rest their starters here to aid in a Minnesota victory? Furthermore, what’s that smell? If it was you just say something, because I'm starting to assume you’re lying and I’m losing respect for you. In response to the first two queries, I would assume that Chicago goes for the win at least in the beginning of the game because they still have an outside shot at getting the #2 seed in the NFC and a first round bye. But if the Rams are pulling away from San Francisco the Bears may call off the ... bears and, in effect, escort the Vikings into the playoffs. So in other words there will be a lot of moving parts in addition to the normal ones, i.e. the players’ arms and legs.

Vikings 23-13 

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh 
The Steelers are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and they have no one to blame but themselves. Well, themselves and all the teams that have beaten them. Kind of a jerk move by those guys. I mean what the heck, Pittsburgh was just trying to go undefeated, why did everybody feel it necessary to get in their way? Lame. But the Steelers can’t worry about that now, their sole focus needs to be on the Bengals. Well actually they can probably afford to keep one eye on Cincy and the other on the scoreboard to monitor that Browns/Ravens game where they need a Cleveland win to help get them into the postseason. Will they get the assistance they require? Pittsburgh will have to wait until Sunday to find out. Or if they’re readers they can just skip ahead a couple of games and find out.

Steelers 30-19 

Arizona @ Seattle 
The Cardinals are one loss away from securing the number 1 pick in the 2019 draft. It seems obvious that they should take a loss here to secure that spot; I mean what reason could they possibly have to want to win? Oh I don’t know, how about saving Steve Wilks’ job?!? The Cards’ first year head coach is fighting for his professional life, and a fourth win could really push him over the ... actually, he’s probably screwed either way, so he might as well go out with a bang. I’m talking no punts, no extra point attempts. Of course, they may turn the ball over on every possession and not score any TDs, so those two might take care of themselves. Or Wilks could go the other way and remain completely silent and motionless for the entirety of the game. You think you can do this without me? Let’s see you try! Though that could completely backfire if Arizona ends up winning. I guess what we’ve learned here is that this is a no-win scenario for Steve Wilks, and that he’s probably better off just returning to hosting duties on his talk show. Wait that’s a different guy? Yikes, he’s really screwed then.

Seahawks 34-14 

Philadelphia @ Washington 
The Eagles’ Super Bowl title defense that seemed dead in the water for much of the season, and as recently as two weeks ago, has made it to Week 17 with its heart still beating. Sure they’re going to need a blood transfusion from Chicago to keep it pumping after Sunday, but if we’ve learned one thing from these Eagles over the last two seasons it’s that you should never count them out. If we’ve learned a second thing from them it’s that you should almost always go for it on fourth down. And if we’ve learned a third thing it’s that you can go your own way. Oh wait, I was thinking of the band Eagles, not the football team. And actually, “Go Your Own Way” is a Fleetwood Mac song, so really that last piece of information is completely irrelevant. Still, this team has taught us two things; pretty good, right?

Eagles 22-16 

Cleveland @ Baltimore 
Baker Mayfield seems to really enjoy pissing people off. So there’s likely nothing he’d enjoy more than knocking Baltimore out of the playoffs. Then again, his distaste for the Steelers is probably greater than it is for the Ravens, and if he lost in Baltimore he’d really ruffle Pittsburgh’s feathers. So actually it’s a win-win situation for Mayfield, either way someone’s going to hate him. The Browns have won five of their last six, however none of those were against a team above .500. In fact, their only win over such a team all season is their Week 5 W over these Ravens. On second thought though, these Ravens aren’t those Ravens. Meaning with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, and homefield advantage Baltimore should prevail this week and win the AFC North as a result. In the postgame press conference look for Mayfield to really stick it to Pittsburgh by talking about how stupid it is to put fries on a sandwich (his words, not mine). 

Ravens 23-20 

Sunday Night

Indianapolis @ Tennessee 
In what amounts to a play-in game, the Colts take on the Titans with a wild card, and possibly even a division title, at stake. Who's in and who's out? Let's ask the man who will be there to call the action, Cris Collinsworth:
Hey, he actually made a pick! Who am I to disagree?

Colts 28-23



NFL Picks - Week 16


Washington @ Tennessee 
Washington ended their four game losing streak last week and announced to the NFL that they are NOT out of the playoff race yet. To which the rest of the league replied, “Huh? What are you doing here? How did you get in my house? I’m calling the police.” Washington vacated the premises, but they’re not ready to do the same when it comes to the 2018 season just yet. Though this matchup against the Titans is looking less favorable by the week, with Tennessee running back Derrick Henry steamrolling defenses and uh, well I’m not really sure they have anything else going on at the moment, but maybe that’s enough. I’m guessing it will be this week. And after the game Washington will announce to the rest of the league, “We’re still not completely out of this, as long as we catch a couple breaks on Sunday. Now may we please use your bathroom?”

Titans 23-13 

Baltimore @ Los Angeles Chargers
This is a match-up between the two teams currently holding the AFC wild cards. If you ask me two wild cards in one game is too many. It’s like 5s and 6s? Uh ok, I have five of a kind ... and a full house. It’s just too ridiculous. In that vein, look for this game to be all kinds of nuts with both teams going all in on the first play and then one of them having to buy back in so that they can actually fill four quarters of action as mandated by league bylaws. Also the pizza hasn’t even arrived yet, so they should really keep playing. 

Chargers 24-19 

Sunday Morning

Cincinnati @ Cleveland 
There is still a path for the Browns to get to the playoffs. It is a winding path that still needs a lot of bushwhacking to make it navigable, but it can happen. Here’s the scenario: Washington beats Tennessee (it could happen), the Ravens lose to the Chargers (very possible), the Browns beat the Bengals here (likely), the Colts lose to the Giants (you never know with New York); then next week the Browns win in Baltimore (not impossible) and the Colts and Titans tie (uh oh). Ok, so any scenario that relies on a tie is precarious at best, but we’re talking about the Browns making the playoffs here, it’s a minor miracle that they’re this close so perhaps we shouldn’t rule out the seemingly impossible. Probably the easiest box to tick off on that checklist is Cleveland beating Cincinnati, and that’s exactly what will happen here. Or the Browns will spectacularly fall on their faces and we’ll all have a good laugh. 

Browns 31-17 

Tampa Bay @ Dallas
The Cowboys are on fire! You do not want any part of them in the playoffs. They’ve won five in a row, they have a stranglehold on the NFC East, aaaand I’ll be honest I didn’t catch their last game. Let me just check what happened ... Zero points?!? They didn’t score a point against the Colts. How did that happen? Alright, so perhaps we all got a little carried away on anointing Dallas as the most threatening team heading into the playoffs. Or perhaps not ... What’s more threatening than an opponent you think you’ve got beat? An asteroid heading directly for earth of course. I think that’s unequivocally more threatening. Didn’t you see Armageddon? Deep Impact? Anyway, if we’re talking in terms of football these Cowboys should still be considered highly dangerous and handled with care. In other words, whoever plays them in the playoffs should focus on beating them.

Cowboys 27-20 

Minnesota @ Detroit 
For the Vikings these next two weeks are simple, win both games and you’re in the playoffs. For the Lions the goal is perhaps even simpler, wreak havoc. Yes, Detroit is merely here to play spoiler this week, and if I were them I would attempt to take it to the next level. I wouldn’t just spoil the Vikings’ season I would spoil countless movies in the process. The audibles would be switched from “Omahas” and the like to “Bruce Willis is a ghost!” or “Spacey is Soze!” or “Spacey is a rapist!” That last one’s less of a movie spoiler and more of a news spoiler. Of course the Minnesota players would be freaking out and trying to plug their ears, they’d be in total disarray. That would allow Matt Stafford to slice and dice the Vikings’ D just like Billy and Stu in Scream. Spoiler alert!

Vikings 20-17 

New York Giants @ Indianapolis 
It’s possible for the Colts to finish 10-6 and miss the playoffs. That hasn’t happened to a team since 2015 when the Jets got squeezed out. Indy shouldn’t fret though, because those Jets used that near miss as a springboard to subsequent records of 5-11, 5-11, and now 4-10. Uh oh. Ok, so the Colts need to make the playoffs by any means necessary. I’m guessing they’ll send an operative to San Diego to poison the Ravens at their team hotel in an effort to ensure they lose to the Chargers. Nice try Colts! The Ravens aren’t staying in San Diego, they’re playing in Los Angeles you morons! Your franchise is doomed. 

Colts 28-17 

Jacksonville @ Miami
It’s a good ol’ fashioned Florida fracas! And since the three teams from the state all play on different divisions residents from the panhandle to the southern tip will be coming out in full force to have a look-see at this one. Of course this game will have the trappings of any intra-Floridian contest: a smattering of live gators allowed to roam the grass at their leisure, a ban on shirts for all males in attendance, and a concurrent NASCAR race with its track surrounding the field. And, as per usual, the winning team will be granted season passes to Busch Gardens. So crack a tall boy, grab a seat on the couch in your front lawn, and enjoy this showcase of America’s finest state.

Dolphins 26-14 

Buffalo @ New England 
This is it, the Patriots are finally through. They’re third in the AFC at 9-5, have lost back to back games, and are sputtering toward the postseason. This of course means they’ll win their last two and fall into the #2 seed at worst. Then the top team in the AFC will lose in the second round giving New England a home game for the conference championship, which they’ll undoubtedly win to move on to another Super Bowl. So yeah, nothing has changed here. 

Patriots 30-16 

Green Bay @ New York Jets 
The Packers are officially out of playoff contention. Perhaps they R-E-L-A-Xed too much. Now there’s speculation that Aaron Rodgers will be shut down for the remainder of the season. I for one happen to know that he will play, because there’s nothing that Rodgers enjoys more than playing through the pain and exaggerating how much it’s affecting him. 

Packers 23-20 

Houston @ Philadelphia 
The Eagles are back! And after beating the Rams in LA they’ve proven that they can go toe to toe with anybody in the playoffs. The only problem is that  they still need quite a bit of help to actually qualify for the postseason. But good luck telling Nick Foles he can’t do something. People have been trying that his whole life, and he used to listen to them. But after Super Bowl LII, no one can tell him what he can’t do. As a result Foles has committed a staggering number of crimes over the past  ten months. Most of them are petty thefts or involve unpaid restaurant bills, but I happen to know that he also drove a Ferrari off the lot and never came back. That trial is pending, but another trial awaits on Sunday. In this one he’ll be found guilty, of losing. 

Texans 26-23 

Atlanta @ Carolina 
A lot of people are criticizing Cam Newton for wasting 10 seconds celebrating a first down at the end of the first half in the Panthers loss to the Saints last Monday night. But I think everyone should lay off Cam, I’m sure he knows he did something stupid and that he’ll learn from it and grow as a person. I mean c’mon, this guy has a good head on his injured shoulders, he’s not just going to carry on celebrating like a moron while his team continues upon a devastating 8 game losing streak to finish the season. That’s not going to happen. Or at least all signs point to it not. Of course, that's because he’s not playing for the remainder of the season. Easy fix!

Falcons 27-15 

Sunday Afternoon 

Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona 
The Rams have to be glad to not be playing during prime time this week. They’ve lost consecutive Sunday night games and have to feel like the whole country is laughing at them. “Shut up! We’re actually good, we swear! No that’s not pee on our pants, it’s sweat! We’ve been playing a football game, that’s natural!” The rest of the nation likely rolled their eyes at this and continued to snicker. Unfortunately for Los Angeles the viewership on their game this week will be considerably lower, meaning they’ll just have to tell everyone that they blew out the Cardinals. Good luck convincing this skeptical country full of cynical bastards. We’ll believe it when we see it pals! And no, we won't be tuning in on Sunday! Nice try.

Rams 31-20 

Chicago @ San Francisco 
The 49ers gave played themselves out of the first pick of the draft. They have the heart of a champion but the brain of child, and not a particularly bright one. If they were smart they would’ve forfeited last week’s game once they got to overtime and proved they could be competitive. But alas, their pride got the better of them. Now though, a pride of Bears comes roaring into the Bay to decimate the Niners. And yes, I know that a “pride” is a group of lions, not bears, but answer me this: what is a group of bears called? Exactly! You don’t know. Well I got news for you, it’s called a “sleuth”. So see, it just wouldn’t have worked as well. Though I guess I could’ve said that a sleuth of Bears will be launching an investigation into a win. That does sound pretty cool ...

Bears 28-14 

Pittsburgh @ New Orleans
With the Rams’ loss last week the Saints now have to win only one of their two remaining games to lock up home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. This is a huge development, because going into New Orleans and winning is a difficult proposition for anybody not named Ryan Fitzpatrick. Meanwhile the Steelers need to keep winning to secure their spot in the postseason even after their big victory over the Patriots last week. So it would seem like something’s gotta give here, but not necessarily. Remember, I said that the Saints only need to win one of their remaining games to lock up that top seed in the NFC, so really all the Steelers need to do is convince New Orleans to hold off on that until next week and allow them to sneak away with a W here. If the Saints were chill they’d do it. 

Saints 30-27 

Sunday Night

Kansas City @ Seattle
It's a holiday spectacular in Seattle, and everyone's favorite color commentator will be there to shed light on it for all of us. Let's check-in with him now to get his thoughts going into Sunday. Cris?
I couldn't help but notice you didn't offer up a prediction there. Don't worry, I'll handle it.

Seahawks 27-23

Monday Night

Denver @ Oakland 
It’s Christmas Eve and the NFL apparently thinks we’ve been naughty because it’s gifting us a game that is the equivalent to a lump of shit in your stocking. I’m sorry coal, I meant to type “coal”. And in case you thought this match-up wasn’t lousy enough the Raiders signed Nathan Peterman this week. Merry Christmas ya filthy animals. 

Broncos 13-6