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NFL WEEK 17: Picks

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Saturday Night Special:

 

12-29-07, 8:15 pm, CBS, NBC, NFL Network

 

Game of the Week, Pt. 1

New England Patriots (15-0) vs. NY Giants (10-5)

Location: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

 

*Spoiler Alert*

Since all of the media outlets are making a big deal about tonight’s game, I decided to write a whole separate preview.  Hey, I’m a follower, not a leader.  So let me begin with this, 16-0 doesn’t mean squat diddley poo.  It means nothing.  If the Pats finish the season 16-0, then it only means that they are undefeated in the regular season.  La-di-dah for them, here’s a cookie.  Remember, The 1972 Dolphins’ record is 17-0.  That’s including the playoffs.  If the Pats do not run the table and win the championship, all of this hoopla is for nada. 

 

There is entirely too much hype being put into this game.  Let’s not forget, this is still a regular season game.  For one game to be shown on three different networks, it just doesn’t make any sense.  The game was already on the local affiliates in the respective cities.  The NFL would have gotten their numbers from that alone.  Now you have the game not only on the affiliates’ stations, but you also have it on CBS and NBC.  And if you have the NFL Network, then the game will be on four different channels in your household.  It’s really not that serious.    

 

The Super Bowl is shown on one network and one network only.  And that seems to work just fine.  I’m surprised the league didn’t set up a media day for this game like they do for the Super Bowl.  Come on, you got to be kidding me. I love the NFL to death, but enough already.

 

The Giants are playing not only for pride, but also for the distinct honor of being the team who knocked the “Big, Bad” Pats off of their undefeated pedestals. Honestly, I think the G-men will do it.  There’s a bigger picture here for the Pats. It’s not finishing the regular season undefeated; it’s to win the Super Bowl. 

 

With that in mind, the Pats will lose this game because Bill Belichick is smart enough to know that he needs all of the healthy bodies he can have for the playoffs and why risk injury in a game like this.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Belichick takes his starters out of the game before the 2nd half.  True, the opportunity to go undefeated for the season is a factor, but winning that 4th Super Bowl ring and sticking it to his critics is more important.  It’s “all hands on deck” starting next week.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin will bench his starters as well.  But I believe that the Giants starters and subs have a little more hunger in them than the Pats starters and subs in this game.  The Giants have something to prove. They have to prove that they can hang with the elite playoff teams as they had into the post season.  We know the Pats can hang, their record speaks for itself. 

 

The Giants’ defense and their running game has to be the key to victory in this match-up.  Defensively, the Giants have go after the QB.  The Pats like to throw the ball, and Belichick will not stray from his game plan in this game.  Since the Pats throw more than they run, they Giants’ D-line has to get to the QB and put pressure on whoever is taking the snaps at QB. They also have to take the WRs out of the game.  Disrupt their routes at the line of scrimmage once the ball is snapped.

 

Offensively, the Giants have to run the ball and control the clock.  They have to keep the Pats offense off of the field as much as possible.  They have to play smart football.  They can not  afford to make any mistakes and try any trickeration. 

 

If it’s 4th and 1 and the Giants are on the 10-yard line, kick the field goal.  Don’t go for it or try anything that will give the Pats ball.  Once the Pats get an opportunity, they will run with it and make you look like a fool.  The Giants also have to protect Eli Manning  as much as they can when he’s in the game.  Give him time to execute the play.  This is the type of game that allows you to give your QB the confidene he needs as your team heads into the playoffs if you’re a head coach.

 

The Pats’ defense has to go after Manning and scare the heebie-jeebies out of him.  Force him to make mistakes and turnover the ball.  They also have to shut down the rushing attack.  On offense, the Pats have to keep doing what they’ve been doing all year long.  The QB has to continue to spread the ball around on offense and keep the heads spinning on the Giants’ defense. 

 

For the Pats, the championship would be so much better than the undefeated record. It similar to when you go to a steak house.  The chef always put parsley next to your 24 oz.  Porterhouse Steak to make it look nice.  You may or may not eat the parsley; the choice is yours.  The real meal is that Porterhouse.  For the Pats, the Super Bowl is their Porterhouse, the undefeated record; garnish.

 

This game can be the biggest confidence booster for the Giants heading into the playoffs or it can be a shock to the system for the Pats.  I believe that the pressure is on the G-men more than it is for the Pats. Due to the fact that the majority of the league and fans are still carrying hatred for the Pats because of the “spygate” scandal.  The G-men will be the “kings of the world” among their peers in the NFL if they take the Pats down a notch before the playoffs.

 

My Pick: Giants 

 

Grand Opening:

 

Okay, here’s the scenario:

 

The Pats, Colts, Steelers and Chargers are in.  The Pats and Colts are seeded #1 and #2 in the AFC, so they’re good.  The Steelers have to win this Sunday to guarantee their #3 seed in the AFC.  If the Steelers lose and the Chargers win, then the Chargers will have the #3 seed and the Steelers will have the #4 seed. If both teams lose, then the Steelers will keep the #3 seed. 

 

The Jags are in the playoffs with the top Wild Card spot.  The Browns are holding on to the last Wild Card spot and their destiny is in the hands of the Titans.  It doesn’t matter if the Browns win or lose; all depends on what the Titans do.  If the Titans lose, the Browns are in the playoffs.  If the Titans win, then the Titans are in the playoffs. Are you with me so far?  I haven’t hit the NFC yet, so bear with me.

 

In the NFC, the Cowboys, Packers, Buccaneers, and Seahawks are in.  The Cowboys and the Packers have the #1 and #2 seed. So like the Pats and Colts, they’re good.  The Bucs have the #3 seed and the Seahawks have the #4 seed.  The Giants have the top spot in the NFC Wild Card, so they’re solid. The Redskins are currently holding on to the last playoff spot in the NFC with the Vikings and the Saints right on the Redskins heels. It’s going to take a little fate and some math to sort this out.  Now the fun begins: 

 

The Redskins are in with: 1) a win, 2) a Redskin tie and a Vikings loss or tie, 3) a Vikings loss and a Saints loss or tie.

 

The Vikings are in with: 1) a Vikings win and a Redskin loss or tie, 2) a Vikings tie and a Redskin loss.

 

The Saints are in if they win and the Redskins and Vikings lose.

 

Figuring this out is like a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.  I’ve had enough of this. My brain hurts.  So for now, let’s pick’em.

 

 

Sunday, 12-30-07

 

1pm games:

 

Seattle Seahawks (10-5) vs. Atlanta Falcons (3-12)

Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

 

This is the Falcons’ game to lose.  The Seahawks are in the playoff, so don’t look for them to play their starters throughout the entire game.  With a 3-12 record, this is a good time to get to 4-12 for the Falcons.  Woo-hoo.  If the Seahawks get a big lead early in the game, then the Falcons are done.  If the Seahawks keep it close, then the Falcons have a good chance of winning. 

 

The Falcons have to run the ball.  They have to let Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood run on the Seahawks defense.  Since the Seahawks will have most of their subs in for the majority of the game, it shouldn’t be a problem for the Falcons to run of the Seahawks defense.  On defense, the Falcons need to attack the Seahawks O-line a stop the running game.

 

A win in this game will be perfect for a Falcons squad who has had their fair share of hardship this season.  And with the home crowd behind them and a matchup against a Seahawk squad who are focused on the playoffs, this is their game to win.

 

My Pick: Falcons

 

New Orleans Saints (7-8) vs. Chicago Bears (6-9)

Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL

 

Can the Bears play spoiler for two straight weeks?  Last week’s win against the Packers helped solidify the Dallas Cowboys’ home field advantage for the playoffs.  This week, if the Bears beat the Saints, the Saints are out of the playoff picture.  There’s a lot on the line in this game.

 

The Saints will be without RB Aaron Stecker in this game due to a toe injury and Reggie Bush is still out with the leg injury.  So RB Pierre Thomas will most likely get the start.  The Saints have to still stick to their game plan on offense as if they still had Bush or Stecker in the back field.  Stick to what you know.  On defense the Saints have to put pressure on Bears QB Kyle Orton and disrupt the offense.

 

The Bears defense is the key to victory.  The did a great job in containing Brett Farve last Sunday and they have to do the same in this matchup.  The Bears have to go after QB Drew Brees and take away the passing game from the Saints offense. 

 

The Saints need to win this game to stay alive for the playoff, but after the performance the Bears defense put on last week against the Packers, their momentum is riding high, and is prime and ready to play spoiler.

 

My Pick: Bears

 

San Francisco 49ers (5-10) vs. Cleveland Browns (9-6)

Location: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, OH

 

Right when the 49ers get a two game win streak, fate rears its ugly head.  QB Shaun Hill is out of Sunday’s matchup with back spasms, so Chris Weinke will get the start at QB. Yes, that Chris Weinke.  Next thing you’ll tell me is that this is DE Bryant Young’s last game as a 49er.  Oh, it is?  DAMN!!

 

The 49ers have a good Secondary, but their D-line is suspect.  They have to shut down the run.  The 49ers also have to go after Browns QB Derek Anderson and knock him on his butt.  On offense, the 49ers have to run the ball.  RB Frank Gore is the guy on this offense who can get it going on the ground and set the tone for the offense.   Give the ball as often as possible to get you the big play.  The 49ers O-line also have the task in protecting the QB in this game.

 

The Browns have to continue to spread the ball on offense and on defense; they have to attack the QB.  The last time Weinke touched the ball in a game was Dec. 24, 2006.  Think he’s a little rusty?  The Browns defense has to take it to him all game long and knock him around.  Don’t look for numbers through the air in this game from the 49ers because Weinke will most likely have his face in the dirt all game long.

 

The Browns are going to play hard no matter what the outcome is.  Too bad they won’t know their fate until the end of the 8pm game.  But for now, fate has them beating the 49ers.

 

My Pick: Browns

 

Detroit Lions (7-8) vs. Green Bay Packers (12-3)

Location: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

 

The Packers looked terrible in last Sunday’s lost to the Bears.  The Lions are coming into Lambeau after a good win against the Chiefs last week.  It they have the chance to finish on a high not in this game.

 

As I mention before in the Seahawks/Falcons pick, the Packers as well as the other teams already poised for the playoffs, will most likely rest their starters in this game.  The have nothing to lose and gain in this game.  The Lions are playing to finish the season 8-8.  That’s a big improvement form last season.

 

The Lions offense has to take it to the air against the Packers.  With RB Kevin Jones done for the year with an injury, the Lions have to play like they did in the beginning of the season and move the ball through the air.  Defensively, the Lions have to get to the put pressure on the QB if they going to win this game.

 

The Packers have nothing to lose or gain in this game.  Look for the Lions to take advantage of this situation and finish the season 8-8.

 

My Pick: Lions

 

The “I Could Care Less” Game of the Week, Pt. 1

Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) vs. Miami Dolphins (1-14)

Location: Dolphin Stadium, Miami, FL

 

Both of these teams stink.  There is nothing “sexy” about this game at all.  To sum it up real quick, the Bengals will win because the have the better offense in this matchup.  The Bengals are faster on the offensive side of ball and will take it to the Dolphins defense.

 

The Dolphins can do whatever they want to do on offense because the Bengals defense is weak.  It’s ripe for the picking.  But whatever the Dolphins throw at them, the Bengals will answer back x2.  This may end being one of those games where each team will go “tit for tat”.  With the weapons Carson Palmer has on offense, the Bengals have the advantage.

 

My Pick: Bengals

 

Buffalo Bills (7-8) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (7-8)

Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA

 

This is another one of those games where each team is playing for pride.  The Bills will face off against their 2nd NFC opponent in 2 weeks. The lost to the Giants last Sunday killed any chance of them going to the playoffs. The Eagles pulled off a strong win against the Saints last week.  The Eagles hope to carry that momentum over from last week’s win into this Sunday’s game and finish the season on a high note.

 

The Bills defense has to stop RB Brian Westbrook and QB Donovan McNabb.  They have to shut down the Eagles offense and take those to players out of the equation.  On offense, the Bills have to run the run and control the clock. They cannot allow the Eagles offense on the field. 

 

The Eagles need to put pressure on the QB and disrupt the flow of the Bills offense.  The Bills have good, young talent on the ground and the air.  The will try to hit both ways and they love to spread the ball around on offense.  The Eagles have to eliminate as many factors on the Bills offense as possible.  Offensively, the Eagles have to let McNabb lose and let him find all of his targets.  The O-line has to step up and protect McNabb in order to give him time to execute the play.

 

With the home crowd behind them, and the possibility that this could be McNabb’s last game as an Eagle, look for the Eagles to “Fly, Eagles Fly” to victory.

 

My Pick: Eagles

 

Carolina Panthers (6-9) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)

Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL

 

This is another “rest’em” game.  The Bucs are in the playoffs, so they also have nothing to lose or gain from this game.  The big news coming out of the Panthers’ camp is the Vinny Testaverde will retire at the end of the season…Again.  This man has had more comebacks than Michael Jordan, Hulk Hogan, and Jay-Z, combined.

 

Since most of the Bucs starters on offense and defense will be on the bench for a good portion of the game, the Panthers running duo of DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams should get some productive touches on the ball and get some good numbers on the ground.  On defense, the Panthers need to take away the deep ball and play tight coverage on the Bucs WRs.

 

Most analysts have said that there would be at least one team in the playoffs with a 9-7 record, the Bucs look to be that team.

 

My Pick: Panthers

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (11-4) vs. Houston Texans (7-8)

Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX

 

Now if anyone needs to rest their starters, the Jags do.  Since their Week 4 bye, which was on September 30, the Jags have a record of 9-3 and have taken no prisoners on their quest to the playoffs.  Head Coach Jack Del Rio shouldn’t put his starters in the game.  Give them a break.  As a matter of fact, don’t have them come to the game.  Let them stay home and take a nap or something so that they can relax for next week’s Wild Card game.  These guys need a break. 

 

The Texans win this game.  It all comes down to what happens in the 1st half.  If the Del Rio benches his guys early, then the Texans can strike.  The Texans defense has to shut down the Jags running game.  On offense, the Texans have to continue to throw the ball and get their number through the air.

 

This game would have been a good matchup to see about a month ago.  With this being the last week regular season football, you hope to get that same excitement and intensity in this game.  I just don’t see that happening and the Texans will finish the season at 8-8 against a Jags squad who’s already looking at next weekend.

 

My Pick: Texans

 

 

4pm games:

 

Minnesota Vikings (8-7) vs. Denver Broncos (6-9)

Location: Invesco Field, Denver, CO

 

The Broncos were a major disappointment this year and they have a number of issues to address in the post season.  The Vikes were somewhat surprising this season.  There were not a lot of people who had the Vikes on their radars for the playoffs.  Now with a little help and some “NFL” math, the Vikes could get in the playoffs by the end of the day. 

 

To help the Vikes’ chances, they have to continue doing what they’ve been doing on offense.  QB Tarvaris Jackson has to continue to manage the game well and the Vikes have to utilize their rushing attack.  The have to eat the clock with the run game utilize their rushing attack to open up the play action pass.  Defensively, the Vikes have to put pressure on Broncos’ QB Jay Cutler.

 

On offense, Jay Cutler’s performance will determine the success of the Broncos.  He has to play smart football.  The Vikes have the best rushing defense in the league, so don’t look for numbers on the ground for Broncos.  It’s all about the air game.  The Vikes have to put pressure on Cutler and force him to make mistakes in the passing game.

 

Don’t but surprised if the Broncos give the Vikes hell in this game, but the Vikes will prevail.  They have the better rush defense and as long as Jackson stays focus, the Vikes will still be in the playoff hunt at the end of the game.

 

My Pick: Vikings

 

San Diego Chargers (10-5) vs. Oakland Raiders (4-11)

Location: McAfee Coliseum, Oakland , CA

 

The JaMarcus Russell era starts today in Oakland.  Russell will get his first start in today’s game and it couldn’t have come at a worst time.  The Chargers are trying to clinch the 3rd seed in the playoffs.  Sorry Mr. Russell, but be prepared to receive your 1st NFL loss.

 

The Raiders can run the ball.  And that’s what they have to do to win, run the ball.  If they run the ball and control the clock, they can keep the Chargers offense off of the field and set the pace of the game. Also, the Raiders O-line has to protect Russell.  The Chargers defense is ready to put it on this kat and welcome him to the NFL. On defense, the Raiders have to make sure LaDainian Tomlinson is not factored into the offense.

 

With QB Phillip Rivers’ game play being a little shaky as of late, the Chargers offense will only succeed according to what L.T. will do on the field.  He’s the catalyst of that offense, he sets the tone.  Utilize him, but don’t burn him out.  On defense, the Chargers defense is just looking to pulverize Russell.   They have to come at him and rattle his nerves.

 

With the 3rd seed in the playoffs at stake, look for the Chargers to play their starters for the majority of the game unless they jump out to a big league.  They Chargers will get the win and give Mr. Russell a harsh welcome to the NFL.

 

My Pick: Chargers

 

The “I Could Care Less” Game of the Week, Pt. 2

Kansas City Chiefs (4-11) vs. NY Jets (3-12)

Location: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

 

Chiefs Head Coach Herm Edwards will have a homecoming of sorts as he returns to East Rutherford to face his old team the Jets.  Both teams have had issues on both sides of the ball this season.  This game will really help the coaching staffs for both teams weed out the bad from the good.

 

On defense, the Chiefs have to put pressure on the QB and force turnovers.  On offense, the Chief can pick their poison.  They can stay on the round or go to the air, it doesn’t matter.  The Jets defense is weak.

 

The Jets have to take away the passing game from the Chiefs.  With the Chiefs rushing game hurting, the only thing they can do is throw the ball.  If the Jets can take that away, the Chiefs will have nothing.  On offense, protect the QB and open up the lanes for the run game.  If the Jets can establish the run game, they can win this game.

 

With Herm Edwards returning and the possibility of this being Chad Pennington’s last game as a Jet, emotion will be running high in this game.  Too bad Chad’s last game with the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets will come with an L-O-S-S, Loss, Loss, Loss.

 

My Pick: Chiefs

 

St. Louis Rams (3-12) vs. Arizona Cardinals (7-8)

Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

 

Although both teams are out of the playoffs, this game will be interesting.  Both of these teams are playing for pride.  The Cards, who started out this season a little shaky, stepped their game up towards end of the season.  The Rams have numerous issues to address in the off season and a win will help them figure their strengths and weaknesses. 

 

The Cards have a good offense that can move the ball through the air or the ground.  They have to continue to spread the wealth on offense against a weak defense. Defensively, the Cards have to play tight coverage on the Rams WRs and disrupt their routes.

 

The Rams have to attack the QB at the line of scrimmage and disrupt the flow of the offense.  On offense, the Rams have to use their run game and wear down the Cards defense.

 

The Rams have a long off season ahead of them while the Cards are starting to find out what some of the missing pieces are to make them (Cards) a complete team.  A win for the Cards will only help their chances in making that completion.    

.

My Pick: Cardinals

 

Dallas Cowboys (13-2) vs. Washington Redskins (8-7)

Location: FedEx Field, Landover, MD

 

WR Terry Glenn makes his long waited return in today’s game against the Redskins.  Too bad this will be more of a practice for the Cowboys if anything.  The Cowboys are in, so look for Head Coach Wade Phillips to rest his starters.  But he won’t rest them right away.  This is still a heated rivalry and with a playoff spot on the line for the Redskins, the Cowboys would love to hand the Skins a loss and knock them out of playoff contention.

 

The Cowboys have to continue to spread the ball around on offense.  With Terrell Owens out of this game with an ankle injury, look for Glenn to get most of the passes thrown his way on offense.  They also have to keep their rush attack involved in the offense.  Don’t stray away from the run game.  On defense, the Cowboys have to put pressure on the QB.

 

The Redskins have to attack the Cowboys’ O-line and not allow the QB to execute the play.  The have to stop the play in the backfield.  On offense, the Skins need to use their running game as well.  The have to wear down the Cowboy’s defense and try to open up the passing game.

 

Although the Cowboys will likely play their starters throughout the majority of, the Redskins know that all they need to do is win and they’re in.  Look for the Skins to bring it to the Cowboys in this game and take that last playoff spot in the NFC.

 

My Pick: Redskins

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5) vs. Baltimore Ravens (4-11)

Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD

 

The Steelers have something to gain or lose in this matchup.  The Ravens pride will be strengthened with a win.  Not gonna happen.  No matter who the Steelers put on the field, the Ravens can not matchup with them.

 

If the Ravens do win, it will have to be through their run game on offense.  On defense, the Ravens have to take away the Steelers passing game.  With RB Willie Parker done for the year, Najeh Davenport will carry the load for the Steelers rush offense.  They have to get at him and break up the play in the backfield. 

 

The Steelers need to win, so look for the Steelers to attack the QB on defense.  On offense, the Steelers will go to the air and try to get big numbers from the passing game.  This is the Steelers game to win, and since this is a divisional rival, the Steelers are going to prove why they are the tops of the AFC North.

 

My Pick: Steelers

 

 

8:15 pm game:

 

Tennessee Titans (9-6) vs. Indianapolis Colts (12-2)

Location: RCA Dome, Indianapolis, IN

 

How much does it stink to be a Cleveland Browns fan?  Your destiny falls in the hands of the Tennessee Titans and you have to wait until the end of the 8pm game to find out whether or not your team is going to the playoffs. Wow. That stinks.

 

On the good side, Peyton Manning will not play the entire game.  On the bad side, WR Marvin Harrison is returning and will play in this Sunday’s game. Maybe it stinks to be a Titans fan as well.

 

The Titans just have to win and they’re in.  So look for the Titans to pull everything out of their bag of tricks to get the victory.  The Titans have to continue to move the ball on the ground and make it happen in their run game.  Defensively, the Titans have to put pressure on the QB and take away the QB’s offensive weapons. 

 

The Titans can win this game.  It comes down to hustle and heart.  This game will leave will city rejoicing and another in tears.  Sorry Browns fans, time to get you Kleenex out.  We’ll see you next season.

 

My Pick: Titans

 

Grand Closing:

 

First off, the Pats didn’t win that game last night, the Giants lost it.  This was their game to win and they just collapsed in the 2nd half.  Besides the G-men’s annual “brain fart”, last night’s game was probably one of, if not the best, game of the year.  The momentum was on fire.  At the same time, you have to give the Pats their props.  They struggled some in the 1st half, and made the necessary adjustments in the 2nd half for the win. 

 

Now you have to ponder whether or not that game took a toll on the two teams.  Neither team had the opportunity to bench their starters in this game.  No rest for the weary.  What makes it worse is that the G-men have a Wild Card matchup next week.  Three players on the Giants were injured in this game and you have to wonder if those guys will be ready for next week’s Wild Card matchup.  We’ll have to wait and see.

 

 

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