Saturday, December 27, 2014

NFL Picks, Week 17

This week's NFL TV maps: 506sports

  • Both networks will carry NFL doubleheaders this weekend.
  • The CBS "national" late game is Carolina at Atlanta (winner wins the NFC South)
  • The FOX "national" late game is Detroit at Green Bay
  • The most-watched early CBS game will be San Diego at Kansas City
  • The most-watched early FOX game will be Dallas at Washington
  • The overall FOX early slate is pretty awful. Of the 10 teams playing, 1 team (Dallas) is in the playoffs, and 1 team (Houston), can get in if they win and get lots of help (San Diego and Baltimore losing). The other 8 teams are eliminated. 

The .500/.550 Watch: 
With my 8-8 showing last week, I can no longer get to the desired .550 bar. In order to remain above .500 for the season I need to correctly pick 4.5/16 games this weekend. If I can accomplish this, I will break .500 for my season-long NFL picks for the first time ever. So, let's get down to it. Home teams in CAPS.

HOUSTON (-9.5) over Jacksonville
The Texans have a chance to make the playoffs if they win this game, and I'm supposed to pick the team standing between JJ Watt and that chance? I can only hope that Case Keenum and the offense limps along for 3 quarters until JJ Watt finally snaps, runs out onto the field while Houston is on offense, throws Keenum off the field, and assumes the quarterbacking duties. What? Like he could do any worse than the garbage Houston has trotted out at the quarterback position this season?

Indianapolis (-7) over TENNESSEE
Sunday October 12 was Tennessee's last win of the season (over the Jaguars). Since then the Titans have lost by 2, 14, 14, 3, 19, 24, 29, 5, and 8. Even with the Colts locked in and likely to rest much of their team (read; Andrew Luck) for at least a large portion of this game, I don't trust Tennessee to mount much of a challenge. It helps that it is not at all in their interest to win this game.

BALTIMORE (-13) over Cleveland
About the only thing Cleveland can try to copy from Houston's demolition of the Ravens last week is letting their tailbacks throw passes so their QB just plucked off the street doesn't have to. Unfortunately, the Browns can't add the dominant defensive performance that made that gameplan work for Houston. Good luck, Connor Shaw.

NEW ENGLAND (-5) over Buffalo
Yes, New England has literally nothing to play for. They frequently have realistically little to play for in week 17, and they haven't lost a final week regular season game since 2009 (the game Welker blew out his knee on the Reliant Stadium turf).

MIAMI (-6) over New York Jets
There's no way Miami can play that poorly against the Jets again. Right? RIGHT?!?!?

Chicago (+6) over MINNESOTA
I don't understand why Minnesota is giving 6 points to a team that isn't in the running for the #1 overall pick. Yes, the Cutler factor scares me, as I have no idea how long he'll decide to care about the outcome of this game, but Minnesota isn't that much better than Chicago.

KANSAS CITY (-1) over San Diego
Last year San Diego simply needed to beat the Chiefs in week 17 to clinch a playoff spot. The Chiefs were locked into the 5th spot going into the game and as a result, rested many starters, including Alex Smith. The Chargers won the game...only because the KC kicker missed a less-than-40-yard field goal attempt late in the 4th quarter.

This year San Diego simply needs to beat the Chiefs in week 17 to clinch a playoff spot. The Chiefs need a win and lots of help they're unlikely to get to snag the 6th spot. As a result, the Chiefs will be playing all of their starters, save Alex Smith, who apparently suffered a lacerated spleen in last week's game against Pittsburgh.

If they could barely beat a Chiefs team that was barely trying in this situation last year, and Philip Rivers may be playing with a bulging disc in his back, and even with Alex Smith the Chiefs barely have a passing attack anyway, I'm not picking the Chargers in this one.

Philadelphia (-2.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS 
if we know anything about these Giants, it's that their run defense is an abomination. That matches up horribly with Chip Kelly's offense, even when he has to hand the reigns to Mark Sanchez.

Dallas (-5.5) over WASHINGTON
Last time, the Redskins won this game because they did what they always do (blitz incessantly), and somehow Dallas wasn't prepared to deal with it. There is no way they can be that woefully unprepared for something that should be 100% expected again. Right? Right?!?

NEW ORLEANS (-4) over Tampa Bay
The Saints are a waste of talent. The Buccaneers are just a terrible football team.

ATLANTA (-3.5) over Carolina
These are two pretty even;y matched teams. Mediocre offenses, terrible defenses. The Falcons have a decided edge at quarterback, both in health and ability, so I'm swinging my pick to Atlanta.

GREEN BAY (-7.5) over Detroit
The Lions have a terrific defense, but their offense has been pretty disappointing all season long. If Rodgers and the Packers can get a score or two early, this game could devolve pretty quickly.

SEATTLE (-12.5) over St. Louis
Shaun Hill has led the Rams offense into the toilet in the last month of the season. And now he has to face the Seattle defense in Seattle. Oh, and Jeff Fisher hasn't successfully pulled any special teams stunts in Seattle since taking over the Rams despite doing so almost every time the two teams play in St. Louis.

Arizona (+6.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
I know Ryan Lindley is terrible, you know Ryan Lindley is terrible. Everyone knows that Ryan Lindley is terrible. But Arizona's team is still very good. And while the 49ers should corral Lindley no problem, I don't see Colin Kaepernick recreating the offense Russell Wilson conjured last Sunday night.

Oakland (+14) over DENVER 
Something isn't right with Peyton Manning, and that means I'm not picking Denver as a 14-point favorite over anybody right now.

PITTSBURGH (-3.5) over Cincinnati
I trust Roethlisberger so much more than Andy Dalton in prime time.

2014 Midweek Picks: 13-5
Last Week: 8-8 (.500)
2014 Season: 122-114-3 (.517)

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