NFL Picks - Week 15

Sunday Morning

New England @ Cincinnati
Oh boy, the Patriots were caught possibly cheating again. And now it’s just getting desperate. Trying to get a competitive advantage over the Bengals?!? They’re the Bengals, that’s your competitive advantage right there. Some are outraged at another instance of New England attempting to work around the league’s regulations, but I am more intrigued by the fact that it happened at all. Have the Pats really sunk so low that they need to cheat to beat Cincinnati? With the way the Patriots’ offense has been playing, maybe it’s not so far-fetched. Over the last five games they’re averaging only 17.6 points per contest. What’s more, the Bengals have only given up 16.5 per game in their last four. Don’t look back any further on the Cincy schedule, because it will ruin the point I’m trying to make. Also, who cares about the start of the season? This is the NFL, where teams evolve over the course of a year, just like football espionage tactics evolve over the course of a decade. Obviously New England won’t lose this game, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see their offense continue to be stymied. Unless of course they really did learn all of the Bengals’ defensive play calls via their surveillance. How about this, if the Pats score more than 30 they obviously cheated and they must forfeit the game? Agreed? Great. 

Patriots 23-9

Tampa Bay @ Detroit
The Lions performance last week with third string quarterback David Blough was appropriately a little blah. Detroit has now lost six in a row, and nine of their last ten. Most of those have come without Matthew Stafford though, who surely would have shepherded this team to just below .500 as per usual. As it is though, the Lions could easily lose out and wind up with a top 5 pick in the 2020 draft, so at least they’d have something to show for this lost season. That is, until they botch their pick and eventually finish at 7-9 next season, which is really the most likely scenario. Tampa looks to be headed towards something similar this year. After starting the season at 2-6 they’ve won four of their last five. This will likely lead to an 8-8 finish and just enough signs of life from Jameis Winston to lure the Bucs into giving him a contract extension. So basically, meet you both back here next year? Same seats!

Buccaneers 38-30

Chicago @ Green Bay
Nobody seems to be talking about the Packers right now. They’re 10-3, and still squarely in the mix to get one of the NFC’s two byes in the playoffs. Yet the only chatter about them is coming from their fans’ teeth! Agagaga brrrrr! It’s cold baby! Any postseason discussion surrounding the Bears will be silenced with their next loss, because it will all but eliminate them from contention. And you know there’s nothing the Packers would like more than to force the Bears to the brink. That’s right, nothing. Not even world peace or an end to hunger. It’s a strange stance for the organization to take, especially considering they volunteered that information unprompted. That sentiment flies in the face of the holiday spirit, but it ain’t Christmas yet baby! Go get ‘em Pack!

Packers 24-16

Houston @ Tennessee
First place in the AFC South is at stake! Whoever wins here will ... likely have to win again when these teams play again in two weeks to close out the season. That’s right, due to a scheduling quirk this is the first match-up of the season for these rivals, and it comes at a perfect time, with both of them sporting identical 8-5 records. From the cursory at best amount of research I just did on a certain sports website’s Playoff Machine, it appears that if these teams split their head to head contests and finish with the same record, Houston will wind up as the division champs. That makes this game of the utmost importance for Tennessee, especially considering that their other remaining game is against the Saints, while the Texans have the Bucs in Tampa. So really the Titans should simply heed the words of their former owner Al Davis and “Just win baby.” Ok yes, Al Davis was actually the Raiders owner, but since Tennessee just trounced Oakland last Sunday they now get to co-opt their history. Sorry, those are the rules, I didn’t make them up. Ok, this one in particular I did, but let’s all just move past this and agree that this is what Al would have wanted. 

Titans 30-23

Denver @ Kansas City 
Last week the Chiefs got over the hump they could not surmount last season by beating the Patriots. However, you know what they say, the real humps come in the playoffs. So while this is a step in the right direction for KC, it will be a hollow accomplishment unless they can top New England come January. As it looks right now, those teams may be on a divisional round collision course. Though, there’s plenty to be done between then and now, starting this week against a Broncos team coming off their best game of the season. Denver pummeled the Texans in Houston, and ironically Drew Lock may have freed the Broncos from the shackles that have limited their offense all season. But was that breakout performance an anomaly or a sign of things to come? As usual, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle, because if this is the new norm Drew Lock will go on to be the greatest statistical quarterback in NFL history. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to confidently make that prediction. Look for Lock to lack some of the fireworks from last week, and for KC to keep moving forward. 

Chiefs 27-17

Miami @ New York Giants 
Move over Broadway, there’s a new biggest show in town! Dolphins and Giants baby! Start spreading da news! I’m actually wondering if New York is a big enough stage for a game like this. In fact, maybe this match-up can’t even be contained by this planet. I propose launching these teams into space and playing the game on some sort of barge orbiting our world. That’s great, but what’s the re-entry strategy you ask; how do we get these teams back to Earth? Shhhhhhh. But what about the ... They’re gone, alright?!?

Dolphins 27-24

Philadelphia @ Washington 
There’s a good chance that the Eagles could be in first place after this week. Then again, they could go out and play like they did against the Giants last Monday and fully squander their opportunity this time around. Washington actually hasn’t been that pathetic over the last three weeks, so there is some danger here. With the way the Eagles offense has been sputtering, and the way that Washington’s offense is terrible, don’t expect many points. In fact, most of the points in the stadium will be from Washington fans’ fingers as they direct security towards the Eagles fan in their section that has passed out in a pool of their friend’s vomit. Philly pholks are naturally disgruntled, so if this mess of a season comes fully off the rails with losses here and next week against the Cowboys, the entire city could revert to martial law until 2020 at the earliest. I don’t think they’ll lose this week, but you never know, so keep your head on a swivel everybody. 

Eagles 19-12

Seattle @ Carolina
For teams that aren’t in each other’s division these two sure play each other an awful lot. Since Russell Wilson entered the league in 2012 the Seahawks and Panthers have played 6 times in the regular season and twice in the playoffs. Interestingly, and perhaps nefariously, only two of the regular season games in that span have been hosted by Seattle. And if you’ll simply glance up to the header of this segment you’ll notice that they’re playing in Carolina again. What gives? The real answer is probably something to do with the way the league rotates its schedules, but I presume that this is just another case of the NFL showing favoritism to the Panthers. We all know that the league considers Carolina their marquee franchise and that they’ve just been dying to make Charlotte the epicenter of all things football for years now. Hell, they awarded the city the next five Super Bowls! This corruption has got to stop! And the only way for that to happen is for the Panthers themselves to fade further into irrelevancy. A loss here would certainly help. 

Seahawks 27-19

Sunday Afternoon

Jacksonville @ Oakland
“Hello ladies and germs, we’re the Jacksonville Jaguars, and based on play recently we feel confident in saying that we are the worst team in football.” 
“Not so fast!” Shouted the Raiders from the back of the room.
Yes, it’s debatable which one of these squadrons is actually playing worse right now, but they’re both unquestionably bad. The Jags are in more of a full freefall, having lost their last five games by the respective margins of 23, 20, 22, 17, and 35. Please note I said respective margins, not respectable. While Oakland’s current streak of futility isn’t as prolonged, it’s similarly repugnant. They’ve lost their last three games by a combined total of 83 points. It’s fitting that two teams from which no light can escape are playing in the final game in Oakland, home of the Black Hole. It’s for this very reason that I’ll pick the Raiders to win, because if they don’t, perhaps the team itself won’t be able to escape either. And yes, by that I mean that the fans in Oakland will kill all of them. 

Raiders 31-20

Cleveland @ Arizona 
I went from Cleveland, Arizona all the way to Tacoma, oh wait those aren’t the right ly-rics. But honestly that was the first thing that came to mind when I saw this match-up. The second thing was Baker vs. Kyler! Oklahoma QBs who have won the last two Heismans (as long as you read this before Saturday night). And I say since this game has little to no stakes, why not make it a little more interesting and put those Hesimans on the line? That’s right, whichever QB wins will now be a two-time Heisman winner. Archie Griffin will be none too thrilled, but who cares? This baby needs some juice! 

Browns 41-38

Minnesota @ Los Angeles Chargers
This game was originally scheduled for the Sunday night slot, but was flexed out by NBC. Boy I’ll bet the network is kicking itself now after seeing that beating the Chargers handed to Jacksonville last week. What’s that? They didn’t watch? No one did? Oh. Well it happened, and I’ve got the highlights to prove it. Hmm, I actually can’t seem to find any online right now. That’s weird, because I’m sure I saw some of that game last Sunday. Or at least I think I did ... Did the Chargers and Jags actually play? Is Avril Lavigne the same person she always was? The Vikings seem to be the same team they’ve been all season. They won again in Minnesota last week and are now the only team in the league who’s undefeated at home. Of course, that means that they have a less than sterling 3-4 mark on the road. But, good news for the Vikings, this game is at Dignity Health Sports Park, where every game is a home game, as long you’re not the Chargers. That being said, I have a feeling that the lesser-known LA team could be poised for an upset this week.

Chargers 23-20

Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas
This is an interesting match-up, with one of the teams scratching and clawing to get to a wild card spot, while the other continues to fail their way to a division championship. Theoretically the Rams could win out and still miss the playoffs at 11-5, while the Cowboys could make it in at 7-9 and host a first round game. It’s a peculiar and maddening situation, but sometimes it leads to GD miracles so I’m not too worried about it. In a league as cyclical as the NFL eventually everyone will get screwed over by a mediocre division champ, and that’s the type of random, unjust equality I can get behind. If the scenario I laid out earlier does come to pass this will be a fun game to point to as an example of just how unfair the situation is because of how the Rams rolled over the Cowboys. 

Rams 24-13

Atlanta @ San Francisco 
It’s a renewal of one of the league’s most perplexing rivalries. From 1967-2001 these two played each other twice a year because, starting with the 1970 merger, the Atlanta Falcons were in the NFC West. It makes sense though when you consider that the city of Atlanta used to be in Utah. A lot of people think it was just an odd man out situation in which the Falcons got stuck in that division because there just weren’t enough teams west of the Mississippi. But those people are wrong, it’s because it used to be Atlanta, Utah. The whole city moved prior to the 1996 Summer Olympics because Georgia offered them tax breaks. Once the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002 realignment moved the Atlanta (Georgia) Falcons to their more appropriate home in the NFC South. It’s safe to say that few, if any, of today’s players know that history, or the history of this rivalry, so don’t expect to see any of the familiarity-bred contempt you may have in past decades. 

49ers 35-25

Sunday Night

Buffalo @ Pittsburgh 
It's a clash between the AFC's current wild card teams. But just how wild will this one be? Let's find out what Cris Collinsworth thinks:
Whoa, a surprise cameo. What an honor. I'll agree with Cris and take Pittsburgh in a close, low scoring game.

Steelers 16-13

Monday Night

Indianapolis @ New Orleans
Seeing this match-up on the schedule in prime time conjures up a memory of their 2011 Sunday Night clash. Well, maybe clash is an inaccurate choice of words, though it was sort of a clash of styles in that one of the teams was playing football, while the other certainly was not. You see, the final score of that fateful game was Saints 62, Colts 7, and we were treated to it as a nation in prime time. For some added context, this was the season that Peyton Manning was forced to sit out with an injury, so what had appeared to be a great match-up when the schedule was made instead became a battle of former Purdue quarterbacks, with Drew Brees taking on Curtis Painter. The resulting debacle led NBC to create something called the “Painter Flex” which dictated that network execs could flex a game out of Sunday Night based on taking one look at the quarterback’s picture. It’s why Mike Glennon has never played on Sunday night. Odds are we’ll see a closer game this Monday, but with the Saints coming off a loss and the Colts continuing to slump, look for New Orleans to win by double digits. Also look for Curtis Painter to perform the ceremonial opening coin toss to commemorate his historic 2011 performance. Just don’t be surprised if one of the Saints players intercepts it. 

Saints 31-17


NFL Picks - Week 15 Thursday

New York Jets @ Baltimore 
The Ravens have won 9 in a row, and might not lose again this season. What they definitely won’t do is lose to the Jets. Despite (barely) beating the Dolphins last week the Jets’ season may have hit a psychological nadir due to a bowling scandal. Yes, LeVeon Bell was ruled out of last week’s game due to an illness on the same night that he was spotted in a New Jersey bowling alley. While hitting the lanes and hitting running lanes are not exactly comparable athletic activities, leaving the house and doing anything physical isn’t the best look. Bell dismissed the fervor over his excursion and even pointed out that he rolled a 251. Did he think reporting that score would help his cause? I’d say it has the exact opposite effect. If he had scored like a 47, ok I get it, this guy really is sick. But a 251?!? He definitely could have played against Miami. And yes, by saying that I absolutely mean that if you can bowl a 251, you can play running back in an NFL game. Somebody give Pete Weber some carries and prove me wrong. I’m not sure how much of a distraction this whole bowling issue will be after kickoff, but it’s not like the Jets would have much of a chance regardless.

Ravens 31-15 


NFL Picks - Week 14

Sunday Morning

Carolina @ Atlanta 
In 2018 the Panthers started out 6-2 then proceeded to go 1-7 in the second half of the season in a pitiful collapse. This year seems to be playing out in almost identical fashion. After a 5-3 start Carolina has lost four straight. There’s something about that midpoint in the season that makes the Panthers crumble. Maybe it’s the colder weather, or injuries, or perhaps just general fatigue. But I think the overriding factor is obvious: These cats got Christmas fever! They see the ads and the decorations start to pop up and they lose all focus. Most of their positional meetings are spent fine-tuning their Christmas lists and revising their letters to Santa. As you may remember, Cam Newton didn’t play in the last two games in 2018. It turns out, this wasn’t due to injury as originally reported. What really happened is that Newton peeked under the tree, and when he didn’t see the LEGO set he’d asked for he became so distraught that he refused to play for the remainder of the season. You’re probably thinking all of this sounds dumb, or made up, and sure, you’re probably right. But until I’m explicitly told by a member of the Panthers that that’s not the issue I’ll continue to propagate this narrative. 

Falcons 27-20

Baltimore @ Buffalo
After the Ravens grinded their way to a 20-17 win over the 49ers last week I heard multiple pundits say the close win may have given them even more confidence in Baltimore because it showed they could win a tightly-contested slugfest. I see what they’re saying, and I have to say that I ... disagree. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but to me blowing someone out is the more impressive way to win. That 3 point victory did go to show that no one in the NFL is invincible. Not since Mark Wahlberg retired anyway. Sure the Ravens have run roughshod over the league for months, but it would be foolhardy to believe they're unbeatable, no team is. Well that’s not true actually, any team from the past who’s since had a player die is now technically unbeatable since that original team can’t be recreated, but you get what I’m saying, right? Now does that mean I think the Bills will triumph over Baltimore on Sunday? Not so fast jocko, I didn’t say that. But, I wouldn’t be shocked. Stunned maybe, but not shocked.

Ravens 23-18

Cincinnati @ Cleveland 
After reinserting Andy Dalton at starting quarterback the Bengals finally won their first game of the season. There’s now an intriguing scenario in play here: could Andy Dalton win enough games to move Cincinnati out of the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft, meaning they couldn't get their desired college quarterback, and keep his starting job as a result? Absolutely. Dalton is out here fighting for his livelihood and he’ll destroy everything in his path, including his own franchise, if need be. Meanwhile, the Browns don’t need any help destroying their franchise, they have years of experience in that department. After a brief glimmer of hope last month Cleveland’s season is now all but over. A loss to the pathetic Bengals would be a fitting cherry on top of this brown sundae. Oh don’t be gross, it’s just chocolate ice cream. I swear. Go on, have a bite ...

Bengals 24-22

Washington @ Green Bay
What I’m about to tell you may shock and disturb you, so please brace yourself. Ready? Here it goes ... Washington can still make the playoffs. That’s right, two weeks ago they were 1-9 and now they’re two and a half games behind the Cowboys for the NFC East lead. More than anything that’s an indictment of the division and its receding standard. It’s not as if Washington suddenly quantum leaped into a much better record, they’re only 3-9. That’s the sort of divisional futility we’re dealing with here. In fact, it’s the worst divisional futility since a Pennsylvanian 10 year old named Carl Funch struggled his way through math class in the 4th grade. He just could not pick up the more advanced concepts. Washington’s slim, baffling playoff hopes will likely be snuffed out soon, but hey, it ain’t over until they’re mathematically eliminated. Just don’t ask Carl Funch when that will be, because he won’t be able to figure it out. 

Packers 31-13

Detroit @ Minnesota
Banged up Vikings running back Dalvin Cook insists that he’ll be able to suit up for this one. But should he bother? Minnesota is playing the Lions after all. Detroit is in the bottom 10 in the league in rush defense, and come to think of it, in the bottom 10 in the league in terms of winning percentage too. It would probably be wise for Cook to take the week off and heal up. I’m sure the Vikings can win with Alexander Mattison at running back. Hell, they could probably get by with Billy Mattison. Yes, I know the movie character is Billy Madison, that’s not who I’m talking about. I’m referring to Billy Mattison, SMU’s leading rusher in 1987. I’m not an idiot, ok?!? And if Dalvin Cook isn’t one either, he’ll sit this one out. 

Vikings 38-17

San Francisco @ New Orleans
Triple P alert! A possible playoff preview. The Niners conclude their extremely tough three game stretch with this trip to New Orleans that could end up determining who finishes the season with the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs. While these teams have identical records they’ve gone about getting to this point in different fashions. San Francisco outscores opponents by an average of 14, with both of their losses coming on last second field goals. The Saints only average 4 more points than their adversaries, and their losses have come by 18 and 17. So does this mean the Niners are a better team than the Saints? It’s probably more complicated than that, but maybe. Even with that possibility though, I’d hesitate to pick New Orleans to lose in the SuperDome. Though, the Saints did just lose to Atlanta there, so why couldn’t San Fran go get this win? Well, maybe Jimmy Garoppolo’s occasionally shaky play will be exacerbated by the hostile environment. Hmm, tough call. I’ll pick the road team and gladly regret it if necessary. 

49ers 23-20

Miami @ New York Jets 
Both of these teams have won three of their last five. Do you know what other AFC East team has won three of their last five? That’s right, the New England Patriots. Finally the rest of the division is ready to challenge the Pats! Unfortunately it’s far too late for these teams to do anything this season, but in 2020 ... Well they’ll still probably be nothing more than the third and fourth teams that are required to fill out a full NFL division. But, in the last five weeks these squads are in the same boat as New England. It’s an upgrade over their usual boat, which is just a bunch of barely buoyant logs loosely bound by twine. 

Jets 26-21

Indianapolis @ Tampa Bay
The first time most of us became familiar with Bruce Arians’ bulbous, red, probably constipated person he was on the Colts’ sideline in 2012 acting as Indy’s interim head coach. And now he gets a crack at his former employer. Though, I think we’d be misconstruing the situation if we called this a revenge game, seeing as how the sides parted amicably when Arians moved on to become the Cardinals full-time head coach. Safe to say there are no hard feelings here. Coincidentally enough “No Hard Feelings” is the name of the medication Arians takes for his constipation. The Colts have lost four of their last five and have all but played themselves completely out of playoff contention. Their slim hopes could be ripped to shreds by a Bucs team that is actually pretty decent when they can avoid catastrophic accidents. And as long as Bruce Arians doesn’t overdo it on the No Hard Feelings he’s able to avoid catastrophic accidents too.

Buccaneers 27-23

Denver @ Houston 
The Texans have won back to back big games and look to maybe be finally getting their footing. Of course that means that they’ll come out on Sunday and inexplicably lose to Denver. Just when you think you’ve got all the answers, the Texans ask a new, much more confusing question. Just look at their results pattern this season; starting in Week 1: loss, win, win, loss, win, win, loss, win, win, loss, win, win. Am I the only one that sees how obvious this is?!? Houston is going to lay an absolute stinker at home and lose to the Broncos! Then again, for a team that constantly defies expectations wouldn’t it somehow make sense for them to establish a season-long pattern only to break it now? Not surprisingly I’m more confused now then when I started writing. Let’s see, does one of these teams have a rookie quarterback making his first ever road start? They do? Oh, well then great. I’ll go with Houston and feel totally unsure about it all the while. 

Texans 23-13

Sunday Afternoon

Los Angeles Chargers @ Jacksonville 
Earlier this week I saw a headline on the ESPN ticker that said “Jacksonville Discontinues Football Program.” Turns out they were talking about the college, but for a second I assumed it was the Jags and thought, “Ah, that makes sense.” I don’t think any of us would be shocked if the Jaguars organization decided to call it quits. They are moving on from Nick Foles for the remainder of 2019, and it’s kind of a bummer. I mean, did he do a great job since coming back? No. But did he give them the best chance to win? Also no. So yeah, I guess this move makes sense from a performance standpoint. However, Jacksonville gave Foles franchise quarterback money this past offseason, so moving on from him after three full, albeit lousy, games seems a tad rash. Speaking of, have you ever had a rash on your tad? Not pretty. And neither is this situation in Jacksonville. Of course, they’ll probably get a win this week, because they’re playing the Chargers, who are bound and determined to continue losing the most improbable games in the most improbable ways. It’s like how Nickelodeon’s Wild and Crazy Kids would “Go anywhere, or do anything to find kids having fun!” Except with the Chargers instead of finding kids having fun it’s losing ridiculously. 

Jaguars 29-28

Tennessee @ Oakland 

Two weeks ago the Raiders were 6-4 and sitting squarely in the second AFC wild card spot. Since then they have plummeted back to earth. Then they drilled down further and nestled even deeper underneath the surface. Oakland has lost their last two games by a combined score of 74-12. I’m afraid the pressure may have been too much for them to bear. Now they’re back on the outside looking in, so perhaps they can play free and loose again. Or counter perhaps, this most recent stretch is more indicative of who the Raiders really are. We’ll learn more this Sunday when Oakland welcomes the Titans, one of the teams directly above them in the conference standings. It’s ironic that this weekend Tennessee will be heading toward Oakland, because lately they’ve been going in the opposite direction. The Titans have been taking care of business, without working overtime. And for Tennessee, that's working out. I expect the Raiders to continue their slide against what seems to be a clearly superior opponent. 

Titans 30-20

Kansas City @ New England 
In the words of Cris Collinsworth, “Ok, heeeeere we go again ...” It’s the same old Patriots narrative, and we’re not going to be fooled this time. Oh, the offense is struggling, and maybe Brady just won’t be able to make it work with this hodgepodge receiving corps? And oh oh, it’s time for these young quarterbacks in the AFC to unseat the Pats and end the Brady/Belichick dynasty? And oh oh oh, New England just doesn’t look like the Super Bowl favorite they did earlier in the season? Pfffffffft. Nice try jerk-ass, I ain’t falling for it again. We all know the Patriots are going to the Super Bowl like they always do, and that they’ll probably get there in some sort of miraculously infuriating fashion. That being said, if they lose this one to the Chiefs, that will mean their three losses on the season have all come against their likely main postseason challengers. It certainly wouldn’t bode well for them if they can’t compete with the other top teams in the conference. Hmm, maybe the Pats are in trouble ... NO! I’m not talking myself into this. I won’t let myself believe it could be. If I don’t let myself hope then I can’t be hurt again. Then again ...

Chiefs 27-24

Pittsburgh @ Arizona 
Let’s put the reliable old transitive property to work here. The Cardinals were blown out last week 34-7 by the Rams who were coming off their own embarrassing loss against the Ravens by a score of 45-6. Therefore, if the Ravens played the Cardinals Baltimore would win by 66 points! Wow, can you imagine that? Wait, these teams did play in Week 2, and the Ravens won by ... 6 points?!? What the hell? Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again right now, NFL scores don’t make sense. Trying to predict what they will be is a foolish endeavor entered into only by the truest dullards society has to offer. Anyway, here’s what I think this one will be: 

Steelers 25-17

Sunday Night

Seattle @ Los Angeles Rams
The Seahawks can clinch a playoff spot with a win, but the Rams can hardly afford a loss. So what gives? Let's ask SNF analyst Cris Collinsworth what he thinks:
Good news Cris, I don't think Ickey is a reader. Couldn't help but notice you didn't actually make a picks though. I'll handle it.

Seahawks 33-30

Monday Night

New York Giants @ Philadelphia 
Daniel Jones is injured, which means the Giants have to turn back to Eli Manning as their quarterback, possibly for the remainder of the season. It’s like a movie where the gang calls the specialist out of retirement for one last job. Except this time he’s coming back just to work in the bank, not rob it. There won’t be any fireworks or car chases, just an old gent playing out the string on his career, trying to make sure he qualifies for pension. The Eagles really need a win here, but they’ve needed a win for weeks, so clearly necessity doesn’t dictate ability in this case. If Philly loses to the Ol’ Eli Gang on Monday they should do the noble thing and recuse themselves from further playoff consideration. Save some face. A graceful exit is all that Eli wanted, but now the Giants have dragged him back in. This might be on their terms, but he’s going to end it on his ... Which of course means sloppy play, a handful of interceptions, a smattering of fumbles, and maybe one win. 

Eagles 24-10


NFL Picks - Week 14 Thursday

Dallas @ Chicago 
This season perfectly encapsulates Jason Garrett’s career: entirely mediocre, yet somehow still relevant. Despite the fact that he’s steered his seemingly very talented roster to a 6-6 record, Garrett still finds himself as the coach of a division leader. There’s a standard level of outrage about how much undeserved publicity and attention the Cowboys get. That fervor will boil over if and when Dallas makes the playoffs at 8-8. The Bears also enter this game at 6-6, but they’re in a decidedly different boat than the Cowboys. According to a statistics website, that I choose not to mention by name, Chicago has a 3% chance to make the playoffs, whereas Dallas’s odds sit at 65%. It’s not fair, but what is? Fairs I guess. But just by definition, think about those carnival games, they're mostly rigged. So really, while fairs are fairs they’re also not fair. I’ve gotten a bit derailed here. The point is, regardless of how just their position is, the Bears got themselves into this briar patch, now all they can do to escape is win and hope for the best. The Cowboys, on the other hand, can win or lose and assume the best.

Cowboys 24-20


NFL Picks - Week 13

Sunday Morning

New York Jets @ Cincinnati 
The bye weeks are over! We have a full slate of 16 games again! I don’t know about you, but I kind of wish the byes would come back. If they did maybe we wouldn’t have to deal with games like this. I’m pretty sure the Bengals and the entire city of Cincinnati would be fine with five consecutive weeks off to end the season. One man who won’t be getting any more time off is former Bengals’ starter turned backup, turned starter again, Andy Dalton. I’m guessing Dalton is none too thrilled about being thrust back into this situation, unless he’s one of those guys that just “loves the game” and “cherishes every opportunity to play”. Yuck, give it a rest pal, we get it. It could be argued that Dalton can use the end of the season as an audition for teams that may be interested in signing him next season. But come on, if you’re an NFL GM and you haven’t made your mind up about Andy Dalton yet I think you’re in the wrong line of work. That being said, I don’t know what else you’d do. What sort of other experience do you have? Would you be willing to relocate? Can you lift up to 30 lbs?

Jets 23-13

Tennessee @ Indianapolis 
This is a clash between two teams mired in the 6-5 muck. They’re joined at that mark by the Raiders and Steelers in a slog to decide the AFC’s sixth and final playoff spot. Who will rise up and lose in Kansas City on Wild Card Sunday? If that question makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up then be sure to tune into this one. Also, maybe think about giving your nape a quick buzz with some clippers, it just looks a bit sloppy. Of the aforementioned 6-5 teams, surprisingly, the Titans may be the smart pick. They’ve won four of their last five since switching to Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. That being said, they have to play the Colts and Raiders on the road, and then end their season with a game against the Saints sandwiched between two tilts with the Texans. With a stretch that difficult we’re going to find out if Tennessee is legit or we’re just making mountains out of Tannehills. 

Colts 27-23

Philadelphia @ Miami 
When I see these teams on the schedule once every four years there’s only one thing I can think of: Ace Ventura! For the unenlightened out there, this was the Super Bowl match-up that Dan Marino missed the first half of in the 1994 hit comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Two other interconference match-ups this week are Super Bowl rematches (Bills/Cowboys and 49ers/Ravens), and in a way so is this one. Eagles fans may not mind if Carson Wentz misses some of this game due to kidnapping after his abysmal, turnover-laden performance during which he and the Eagles’ offense were booed off the field on multiple occasions. Though, to be fair the Philly receiving corps was so injury-riddled that I think one of the replacement wideouts might have been an extra from that game in Ace Ventura. Regardless, the Eagles need a win, and the Dolphins desperately need a loss. I know, I know, I rag on Miami too much. Hey, in the words of Ace himself, “Somebody stop me, I’m smoking!”

Eagles 24-10

Green Bay @ New York Giants 
The Packers have one challenging game left this season: Week 16 @ Minnesota. If you want to include Week 15 against Chicago, then you’re probably a Bears fan, but ok, count that one too. Outside of those though it’s all just potential pitfalls. Though perhaps I shouldn’t assume anything with Green Bay after two duds against the Chargers and Niners in their last three games. This week they're taking on the Giants, who have lost seven straight games, so if the Packers drop this one it will be the ultimate of duds. Currently the title of Ultimate Dud belongs to the Gorilla Bomb, a firework my family got one 4th of July and saved for the finale only for it to give off about two measly shots. In fact, that’s what we’ll call this game if Green Bay does lose. Good luck avoiding the Gorilla Bomb Packers!

Packers 31-15

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh 
After nearly providing the Bengals with their first win of the season, Mason Rudolph was replaced with Duck(?) Hodges. In the days to follow Steelers coach Mike Tomlin announced that Duck(??) will be the starter this week. And thus, Mason Rudolph’s plan worked perfectly. Oh come on, you don’t think this was a coincidence do you? After the Garrett incident Rudolph knew that the Browns were on the schedule again in two weeks and his only chance to not have to play, and be subject to more swinging helmets, was to play so poorly in Cincinnati that his coach would bench him in favor of a quarterback named Duck(???). Now Rudolph can comfortably watch from the sidelines without any fear of illegal contact. Though, the sidelines aren’t exactly safe either. I say they take a page out of the professional wrestling playbook and suspend Rudolph in a shark cage above the field. It’s the only way to truly protect everyone involved and the integrity of the game. 

Browns 19-18

Washington @ Carolina 
If you had told me that one of these teams’ starting quarterbacks missed the final play of last week’s game because he was taking a selfie with a fan, I would have said, “Cam Newton’s back?!?” But no, as it turns out Washington’s Dwayne Haskins was the one cavorting with supporters after his first win as a starting QB. Is it unprofessional? Yes. But can you blame the guy when he plays for perhaps the most unprofessional organization in football? It’s all he knows. He learned it by watching you Daniel Snyder! Also, it’s probably the only time all year someone has wanted to get a selfie with a Washington player, so let’s cut the guy some slack. The Panthers, on the other hand, can no longer be provided any slack. At 5-6 Carolina would have to win out to have a shot at the playoffs. And if the season were only 13 weeks I’d say they have a great chance at doing just that. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they have four more games after this one. But hey, they’ll get back to .500 here, so there’s that!

Panthers 35-16

Tampa Bay @ Jacksonville 
With the Dolphins suffering through a truly pitiful season, this clash between 4-7 teams becomes the de facto Florida championship game. It’s a battle for the hearts and minds of Floridians, and really, by extension, all Americans. As I’m sure you’ve already heard, these teams will meet in the middle and play this game in a swamp in the Ocala National Forest. The footing is likely to be an issue, both because the ground will be mostly water and the players may be losing their feet due to what will likely be multiple gator attacks. In keeping with tradition, the MVP of the game will be presented with a brand new fan boat. Not for him to own, but he does get to use it one weekend a month for the next year. Also, win or lose, the surviving members of the Bucs will be rewarded with a trip to Disney World. Well, actually just a trip to Orlando, or more accurately through Orlando, strictly because it’s on the way back to Tampa. It should be quite the spectacle, but don’t count on watching it, because no television crews will be able to set up for a live broadcast in those conditions. Eventually we’ll know who wins when the team with the most remaining feet emerges from the swamp. 

Jaguars 30-28

San Francisco @ Baltimore 
Will this be a classic Super Bowl preview, or another Ravens ravaging? Baltimore has won their last five games by an average of 28 points, and four of those games were against the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans, and Rams. Sure the other one was the Bengals, but that doesn’t take away from how impressive the other wins were. Now the Ravens welcome in the team atop the NFC and their Super Bowl XLVII opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. I doubt that Baltimore will continue their blow out streak against the Niners, considering San Fran is coming off a high quality drubbing of their own over the Packers on Sunday night. Then again, doubting anything in regards to the Ravens at this point has proven foolhardy.

Ravens 24-16

Sunday Afternoon

Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona 
After being obliterated by the Ravens on Monday night the Rams can go one of two directions in this game. Either they come out with an edge in Arizona and show that they’re not done with this season yet, or they curl into the fetal position and show that indeed they have submitted. I tend to think that we’ll see something closer to the latter. Why? Well here's a fun fact, did you know that Jared Goff is the only quarterback to start all of his team's games this season that has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns? And this is a league where Jameis Winston is still starting games. What's more, the Cardinals have been a legitimately threatening team for the past couple months. I’m thinking Arizona might get the win on Sunday. I say that because, the Cardinals organization said they’d hurt my family if I didn’t pick them. It’s like I just said, the Cardinals are a legitimately threatening team. 

Cardinals 28-26

Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver 
Broncos Coach Vic Fangio has been very coy about who his starting quarterback will be this Sunday. Will they stick with Brandon Allen or give rookie Drew Lock a shot? Someone should alert Fangio that he doesn’t need to be so cagey, because, in fact, no one else cares. Seriously Vic, you don’t have to do this dance. If it’s that you’re trying to keep the Chargers off guard, don’t worry about it. There’s no real tape on Lock anyway, so it’s not like you’re obstructing LA’s preparation. Even if that was working it wouldn’t matter, because the Broncos are 3-8 and the Chargers are 4-7. In other words, just start Lock, what do you have to lose? Well, a 9th game I suppose, but again it does not matter. 

Chargers 20-13

Oakland @ Kansas City 
The Raiders really blew it. I’m not surprised, but still, they effed themselves good. Oakland had the inside track for a wild card berth and proceeded to have a 3 hour bout of public diarrhea in MetLife Stadium last Sunday on their way to a 34-3 loss to the Jets. Now they’re in a four-way tie for the last wild card spot in the AFC, and after their most recent performance they’re nothing more than a giant question mark. With all that being said, if they win this game they’re tied for the division lead in the AFC West. But with that being said, it’s just not going to happen. The Chiefs are coming off a bye week, and we all know that Andy Reid is 37-2 after a bye (can someone fact check those numbers for me?). Another benefit to the extra rest is that Patrick Mahomes should come back closer to 100%. He’ll also be ready to throw for 600 yards after everybody has shifted their QB crush from him to Lamar Jackson. Look for a statement game from the reigning MVP. 

Chiefs 38-24

Sunday Night 

New England @ Houston
The Texans need to keep winning to maintain their slim advantage in the AFC South. That could be a problem this week as they're set to face the Patriots on Sunday night. But don't take it from me, let's hear what the man calling the game thinks:
That felt like a justifiably rushed pick. It's not a bad one though, since New England almost always wins. For some reason though I have a feeling Houston takes this one. I have no real analytics to support that, but it's a Texans game, so I don't need to.

Texans 23-20


Monday Night

Minnesota @ Seattle 
Last week on Monday Night Football, ESPN analyst Booger McFarland said watching the Ravens destroy the Rams was like watching The Wire beat down Melrose Place. It was a strained analogy that was almost solely based on the setting of each show. As confusing as his argument was, he belabored it throughout the second half, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him take a similar tack this week. Of course he’ll have to choose TV shows that were set in Minnesota and Seattle, and the most obvious choices would be Coach and Frasier. But that’s really not fair. I mean, come on, Coach is about football and Frasier is a nerd! Sure, Martin Crane could maybe be a decent football coach, but Coach is a football coach; no maybe about it. Now, if the Vikings come out and play like a different show set in Minnesota, say ... Little House on the Prairie, then we might have a more competitive contest. I don’t know how entertaining that game would be, but it would at least be fair. 

Seahawks 26-24