Friday, December 14, 2007

NFL 2007 - Week 15, Part II

BENGALS @ 49ers +8

What a dog of a game to start off the weekend, huh? Other than (maybe) in Cincinnati and San Francisco, I don't foresee a lot of guys begging off weekend chores and/or Christmas shopping with the wife in order to be able to watch this one. I'd rather mow a lawn, that's for sure.

SEAHAWKS @ Panthers +7.5

What do the Seahawks have to do before people will finally believe that they're a force to be reckoned with in the NFL, huh? Well, they're favored by more than a touchdown on the road this week, so, apparently the answer to that question is "Go to the Super Bowl, then come within an overtime loss of playing in the NFC title game the following year, then, the year after that, win five in a row to go to 9-4."

Meanwhile, Carolina may start undrafted rookie QB Matt Moore, who is neither incredibly old nor looks exactly like Superman. So let's just move on from him as quickly as possible.

Bills @ BROWNS -5.5

The Bills need to win to stay alive for the playoffs, and the Browns need to win to stay in the driver's seat for the final AFC Wild Card berth. So, this is essentially a playoff game. Now, who would I take if this were an actual playoff game, which this -- as previously noted -- essentially is?

The Browns.

TITANS @ Chiefs +4

This Titans team went from awfully good to awfully likely to miss the playoffs in the space of a month, didn't they? I wouldn't pick them (especially with the Madden Curse in mind), but, the Chiefs just haven't been any good either. May as well pick the team that has something left to play for.

RAVENS @ Dolphins +3.5

You'd love to think the Dolphins could win one at some point, but I just don't see it happening this week. The Ravens still have what passes for a tough defense, and if they could get up enough to almost foil the Patriots' perfect season two weeks ago, they should be able to get up enough to avoid becoming the first team to lose to the Dolphins.

Jets @ PATRIOTS -23.5

It's getting ridiculous, this whole Jets-Patriots thing. This week comes the shocking revelation that the Jets -- who had the audacity to point out to the league that the Patriots and The Great Bill Belichick were illegally videotaping on the sidelines during the the two teams' Week 1 meeting -- were discovered, last year, videotaping the Jets-Patriots playoff game from an end-zone camera angle in accordance with league rules after receiving permission from the Patriots to do so. How dare they!

The Patriots have decided to pretend to be outraged about this, much like they decided to pretend to be outraged after Pittsburgh safety Anthony Smith guaranteed a Steeler victory last week, or after the Jets had the temerity to point out the Patriots' Week 1 cheating to league officials. I guess you've got to stay motivated somehow.

My question is: why don't I hate the Patriots more? Oh, sure, it's fun to mock The Great Bill Belichick (who, I'm sure, is a dick), and it's fun to talk about how they cheated and everything. But, really, I still kind of like them. Couldn't tell you why.

Anyway, I think the Patriots will harness their fake rage and attempt to beat the Jets 100-0 this week. In the process, I'd imagine that they'd at least cover the 23.5-point spread.

Cardinals @ SAINTS -3.5

Interesting game here. Another "playoff" game, if you will; both teams are 6-7, with the winner retaining a sliver of post-season hopes and the loser being effectively (if not mathematically) eliminated. The Saints have had a weird year, losing to all sorts of teams they shouldn't have and then, like, beating the crap out of Jacksonville (of all things. Jacksonville's really good). Losing a big game to the Cardinals would, however (for the Saints or any team), be as weird as it gets.

JAGUARS @ Steelers -3.5

Both teams are 9-4, both teams are in the fabled catbird seat as far as playoff positioning goes, but for the loser of this one things get a tiny bit hairier. Jacksonville's only losses since Week 1 have been to the Colts (understandable ) and the aforementioned weird game in which they got destroyed by New Orleans for no particular reason. I think that game threw me off, as far as evaluating the Jaguars is concerned. Even really good teams have weird hiccups now and then (see Pittsburgh's bizarre Week 11 loss to the Jets), and I think that's what the Saints game was.

So, Saints game notwithstanding, and the Jaguars have actually been a little steadier, a little more solid, than the Steelers this year. Plus, the Steelers can win their division to get in the playoffs or settle for a Wild Card berth, while the Jaguars don't have that luxury (it's highly unlikely that the Jaguars, down two to the Colts with three to play, can catch Indianapolis).

Finally, there's a good chance that I will be watching this game with Beallsville, PA's own Joe Wright, so... we know what that means.

PACKERS @ Rams +9.5

The Rams just haven't beaten a good team yet, and the Packers need to keep winning to clinch a first-round bye. It's hard to imagine the Packers losing this one, and relatively easy to imagine them winning by 10 or more.

Falcons @ BUCCANEERS -13.5

Not a particularly great week in Atlanta Falcons history; their franchise quarterback got sentenced to two years in prison and their coach bolted back to the bosom of the NCAA with his tail between his legs. The Buccaneers shouldn't have much trouble, unless the Falcons decide to pull together to show that the coach was the problem all along. Which, come to think of it, is just what they might do. You know what? I'm picking the Falcons.

FALCONS @ Buccaneers -13.5

All they have to do is avoid losing by two touchdowns; they should be able to manage that, shouldn't they?

Anyway, the whole Bobby-Petrino-bolting-back-to-college mess brings up a topic of discussion: shouldn't NFL teams have learned by now not to hire college coaches? Yes, Jimmy Johnson won two Super Bowls with the Cowboys after coming over from the University of Miami, and Oklahoma's Barry Switzer won another for Dallas with the team that Johnson and owner Jerry Jones put together. Since then?

Not so much.

I don't know why, on the list of History's Greatest Blunders, "Never hire college coaches for your NFL team" doesn't rank right behind "Never get involved in a land war in Asia" and "Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line." Stop doing it, NFL teams! It just doesn't work out, so stop thinking it's going to!

Really, it's like dating a stripper. When you watch them dance on the pole (i.e., coach in the NCAA), they look incredibly sexy and you think, "Man, what I wouldn't give to have her in my bedroom (i.e., coaching my NFL team). The things she (i.e., he) would do... things my wife (i.e., current coach) has probably never even heard of."

Then you get her back to your bedroom and, after a flurry of initial excitement, all she ever does is smoke pot and cry about her dad. She's depressed, you're depressed, in the end you both feel like killing yourselves, she inevitably retreats to the welcoming arms of the titty bar and you come to your senses and hire some playoff team's defensive coordinator.

COLTS @ Raiders +10.5

You think the Colts are content to sail along unnoticed (unnoticed defending champs, at 11-2! Imagine!), wrap up that first-round bye, and quietly slip into Foxboro and play the game of their lives against a tight Patriots team terrified of screwing up a perfect season with an AFC title game loss?

Could be interesting...

Eagles @ COWBOYS -10.5

They really want to make this line high enough so that you'll consider taking the Eagles, huh? They probably should have made it at least 17, then. Tony Romo has clearly made the leap past Carson Palmer and Drew Brees into the Manning/Brady/Favre category of quarterback, rolling off of one blonde pop star or another just long enough to put up three hundred yards and three touchdowns every week. My official position has always been that I hate the Cowboys, but, I don't know. I can't help rooting for Romo. Maybe it's because he had to go to junior high (in Wisconsin, to make it even worse) with the last name "Romo," and now he's a rich, famous quarterback who's beating away horny lingerie models with a stick.

Lions @ CHARGERS -10

Hm. The Lions are currently in a freefall worthy of Launchpad McQuack, and the Chargers' win over Tennessee last week was incredibly lucky and undeserved (a classier team would have refused to accept it). But I can't see the Lions going into San Diego and giving this surging Chargers team a game, no matter how badly Philip Rivers (or Billy Volek) plays.

REDSKINS @ Giants -4.5

So, the Giants are now 3-1 over the course of their annual Tom Coughlin late-season choke job, and, as annual Tom Coughlin late-season choke jobs go, this has been their most successful. I say the annual Tom Coughlin late-season choke job really picks up steam this week, as the Redskins haven't given any indication that they're ready to roll over and play dead.

BEARS @ Vikings -10

Misery insurance. I need it now more than ever. Of course I think the Vikings are going to win big. Then again, being a Vikings fan... that's when they get you. But still.

The Bears have nothing left to play for, and the Vikings control their own playoff destiny.

[by the way, if I'd lapsed into a coma back at the end of October, come to, and read the previous sentence, I would have assumed that it had to be, at minimum, the year 2013]

The five I feel good (or, if not good, better than the others) about:

SEAHAWKS @ Panthers +7.5
Jets @ PATRIOTS -23.5
COLTS @ Raiders +10.5
Eagles @ COWBOYS -10.5
Lions @ CHARGERS -10


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