Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Week Fifteen Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on December 12, 2008

What a great game last night.  Who would have thought that the Bears would get an opening kickoff return touchdown and it wouldn’t be Devin Hester?  Or that the Bears would blow a sizable first half lead and watch the Saints take the lead with three minutes to go (naturally thanks to a Marques Colston sighting AFTER my fantasy team has been bounced from the playoffs)?  Who would have thought that Robbie Gould would make not only a clutch field goal to send the game into overtime, but also win it with another in OT?  The Bears defense did a very admirable job at least slowing down the Saints offense, including forcing Drew Brees into two picks.  Offensively, they did not get a great game from Matt Forte, but Kyle Orton did just enough to lead clutch drives at the end of regulation and OT.  Yes, the Bears benefited from a pass interference penalty on a deep ball, but the Bears took full advantage of the opportunity that gave them.  Make no mistake about it, the NFC North is not decided yet.  The Vikings may own the tiebreaker over the Bears, but Chicago still very much has a pulse.  For all of their faults, the Bears will not go away quietly.  As for the Saints, they are done.  How a team with so much talent can only be 7-7 is absolutely beyond me, but for starters they are going to have to figure out how to win at least an occasional game away from the Superdome next season.  Now, on to the picks: 

Last Week: 12-4 (.750)  Season: 132-75-1 (.634)  Season record includes last night’s correct pick

– Jets over Bills: The Jets have lost two in a row yes, but this is a must win game for them, at home in the division.  New York knows it’s in the midst of a three way tie for the division and can’t afford to slip up in this one at home in case it comes down to division record as a tiebreaker.  Buffalo is beyond fading, and probably will be forced into starting J.P. Losman again.  Even as much as Favre and company have struggled, they should win this one easily.  The Jets won pretty comfortably in the first meeting in Buffalo, so I see no reason why they would slip up here.  Watch for Leon Washington in this game, a hunch says he could be the X factor that makes the difference with the Bills loading up to stop Thomas Jones.  

– Dolphins over 49ers: This is definitely an intriguing game.  Miami is on the cusp of going from 1-15 to division champ if things break right over the next three weeks.  This is Miami’s final home game of the year, so they know they will need to take care of business.  Strangely enough, the Dolphins have had several close calls at home this year, surviving narrow wins at Dolphin Stadium against the Seahawks and Raiders in November.  San Francisco is definitely showing the promise that was expected of them early in the year, and with Shaun Hill at quarterback they are definitely dangerous for contending teams down the stretch.  The Niners have to be wondering if they wouldn’t be in the race had they gone with Hill the entire time the way he’s played the last two weeks.  While an upset is not out of the realm of possibility here, I think Miami will win a very close game.  The Dolphins will be able to run the ball, and Chad Pennington has proven he’s not normally liable for dumb mistakes to put Miami in a hole.  Miami’s defense has been superb and that will be the difference.  

– Patriots over Raiders: New England knows it is on the wrong end of tiebreakers right now for both the division race and the wild card.  All they can do is win their games and hope for some help over the next three weeks.  The Patriots do have the advantage of a friendly schedule down the stretch, so that will be working in their favor even if the tiebreakers aren’t.  Oakland has been a hard team to figure this year, for you never know when they will decide to care about a game or when they’ll just mail it in.  If the Raiders decide they’re going to play hard in this one, the Patriots offense could have trouble getting big plays.  If the Raiders decide to mail this one in, New England will have a field day.  Randy Moss makes his first appearance against the Raiders since leaving two years ago, so he will definitely be highly motivated for a big day.  I think the difference in this game will be that New England should have no trouble running the ball (start Sammy Morris if you’re still in the playoffs this week – trust me).  The Raiders are also not likely to get quarterback play no matter who is in there, and that will help the Patriots too.  It may not be pretty, but New England wins to keep their hopes alive.  

– Redskins over Bengals: Were it not for the Lions, Cincinnati would be the official joke of the league.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a Bengals fan.  No playoff wins since 1990 with complete ineptitude most of the time since then, and just when it looks like they get an explosive offense and a dangerous team, it implodes with embarrassing off the field behavior and a complete failure to take advantage of their talent.  Cincinnati really appears to have mailed this season in completely, and I still can’t believe Marvin Lewis could still have his job next season.  The listless Bengals are the only reason I’m picking Washington to win here.  I think the Redskins have faded also to the point where they aren’t considered a realistic contender anymore.  The Jim Zorn-Clinton Portis fight in the media can’t be a good thing either.  While I can’t blame Portis for being upset given that he was playing through all kinds of pain, Zorn is the head coach and therefore deserves Portis’ respect.  Despite all that, Washington is less of a mess than Cincinnati, and the Redskins will win an ugly game that I can’t imagine anyone in Cincinnati would actually pay money to see.  

– Ravens over Steelers: The unquestioned game of the week, and I won’t be able to see it because it is at the same time as the Broncos.  (Thanks a lot NBC for once again assuming anyone only cares about the NFC East).  I think there will not be many points scored in this one, think 13-10 or something along those lines, but it will be the most physical game of the year by far.  Pittsburgh is mad because the Ravens defense knocked out talented rookie Rashard Mendenhall for the year in the first meeting, while the Ravens for years have complained about Hines Ward’s blocking.  Needless to say these two teams don’t like each other, and if the first meeting is any indication (a Pittsburgh win in OT), this one should absolutely live up to the billing.  The Steelers were lucky last week against Dallas, getting a gift from a very poor decision by Tony Romo in the last two minutes, while the Ravens are really looking Super Bowl quality.  They completely shut down the Redskins last week, and they have an offense to go with their defense.  I don’t think they’ll explode in this one, but I do think Joe Flacco will outplay Ben Roethlisberger and that will be the difference.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Flacco is playing much better right now frankly.  If Baltimore wins, the AFC North is tied with two games to play.  Baltimore has been waiting for this game too long not to come out with a top effort,  and they will win at home.  

– Texas over Titans: UPSET ALERT.  Some of these have worked for me this year, others have not.  I do feel in this one that the Titans are looking very vulnerable.  They won against Cleveland last week but clearly didn’t look like they had their A game.  If they play like that against the Texans and their suddenly explosive offense, they will get beat.  Tennessee does have a very good defense, and their offensive line is among the best in the league, but something tells me that Matt Schaub is about to have his second big day in a row.  With Schaub back under center, the Texans are capable of putting up tons of points on anyone.  I really think Houston picked up a huge confidence boosting win in Green Bay last week, and I think that momentum will carry over.  The Houston crowd is always fired up for a home game against the Titans (remember they used to be the Houston Oilers, and Houston fans still haven’t forgotten).  I think that both teams will put up points, but in a shootout, and it sounds strange to say this, I would take the Texans’ offense over Tennessee’s.  This will simply not be the ground it out, control the clock game that Jeff Fisher loves.  Houston wins in a high scoring affair, and thus prevents the Titans from clinching playoff home field just yet.  

– Colts over Lions: Indianapolis by at least 30.  The red hot Colts at home against the 0-13 Lions.  Peyton Manning vs. a washed up Daunte Culpepper.  Detroit has no hope here even if the Colts have their entire starting offense AND defense forced out due to injury.  The Colts are the league’s hottest team and the Lions are making a run at the wrong kind of history.  Let’s just move on.  

– Packers over Jaguars: Two struggling teams in what was thought to be a good game at the start of the season.  I think Jacksonville is beyond hope frankly, and I really don’t think the Jaguars will win again this year.  It seems very foolish that I thought they would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl at the start of the year, but this is just not the same team we saw last year.  Jacksonville has been completely unable to run the ball, and their defense has not been near as good as in years past.  The Packers have struggled too (and it’s not because of Aaron Rodgers.  The Packers would not be leading the division with Brett Favre.  Unless he’s figured out how to play defensive line and stop the run).  Both teams are out of it, but I think Green Bay will find a way to get this one.  I think the Jaguars have given up on Jack Del Rio, and there is no way they will be motivated to play any game the rest of the year.  Even if Green Bay struggles defensively in this one, it won’t matter.  Packers win.

– Panthers over Broncos: I think this is Denver’s most difficult test to date.  The Panthers set a franchise record with 299 rushing yards last week in their win against Tampa Bay, as both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart topped 115 yards, each averaged over 7.0 yards a carry, and each scored two touchdowns.  The Panthers did that against one of the best run defenses in the NFL, and given Denver’s trouble stopping the run this season, even though it has improved lately, that does not bode well.  For the Broncos to have any shot in this one, Champ Bailey must play.  The Broncos can’t afford to have just seven in the box and hope to stop Carolina’s running game.  They must employ eight in the box to even have a hope of containing Williams and Stewart, which means they will have no choice but to single up Steve Smith.  If Bailey’s not in there, Dre’ Bly can’t be counted on to do that.  Carolina’s offensive line has been blowing people off the ball, so it will be interesting to see how the Broncos defense decides to play this one.  Denver does have the offensive weapons to keep up, but they are down to their sixth option at running back after the Peyton Hillis injury.  I think the Broncos will stay in it for awhile, but I just don’t see them winning.  Carolina wins to keep hope alive for the top spot in the NFC.  

– Chiefs over Chargers: UPSET ALERT.  I’ll be honest, I have no idea who is going to win this game.  San Diego finally looked the way they were supposed to against the Raiders, and they are still mathematically alive, even if it isn’t likely that they’ll win out while Denver loses out.  If the Chargers play the way they did last week, they should win easily.  Thing is, they have been woefully inconsistent all season.  We’ve been waiting for the Chargers to show some consistency this year, and they just haven’t done it.  The Chiefs have played very hard most of the year even if their record doesn’t show it, and they very nearly won the first meeting in San Diego if not for a failed two point conversion attempt at the end of the game.  Kansas City has good young talent, and if they can force the Chargers into mistakes, they will be very much in this game in the fourth quarter.  I do think Kansas City will win at least one more before the year is out, and I think the Arrowhead factor (even if it isn’t full) will be enough to sway the upset.  

– Cardinals over Vikings: This will be a very entertaining game.  Adrian Peterson vs. the Cardinals areal circus.  This will be an interesting contrast between Arizona’s high powered offense and Minnesota’s tough run defense.  Thing is, Arizona doesn’t run the ball much, so Minnesota won’t be able to play to its strength defensively.  Jared Allen will be able to pressure Kurt Warner, but since when has pressure ever bothered Warner?  The Cardinals receivers are guaranteed to put up big numbers at home no matter who the opponent is, so we know the Cardinals will put up lots of points.  The onus is on the Vikings to match them, and even with Peterson, I don’t think they have the horses to keep up in this kind of shootout game.  Minnesota is going to have do something to address its quarterback play in the offseason, because it really seems as though they have everything else they need.  It will be the lack of quarterback play that will doom them here.  Arizona wins, putting them in position for the three seed in the NFC, while the Vikings would still be in the North lead due to tiebreakers with a loss.  

– Falcons over Buccaneers: Another entertaining game in the south.  This could well end up being a play-in game of sorts for a playoff spot in the NFC.  It’s also very possible that both of these teams will get in.  Either way, both teams know this is a huge game.  Tampa Bay dominated the first meeting in Tampa in week two, but that was before Matt Ryan was very comfortable in the league.  This will be at the Georgia Dome, and Michael Turner has to be licking his chops after watching the Bucs’ defense get completely run over Monday night in Charlotte.  Is the Buccaneers’ run defense suddenly vulnerable?  You know they’ve worked on that all week, but even if they completely corral Turner, they still have Ryan and the passing game to contend with.  I think Atlanta will enough success in the passing game to put up points, and I really think the Tampa Bay offense is hard pressed to win high scoring games.  Antonio Bryant had the game of his life last week and it still wasn’t near enough.  Atlanta wins a very close game to put themselves in playoff position with two games to play.

– Seahawks over Rams: Seattle will win this one easily.  The Rams appear to be another team that has given up on the season, even with Steven Jackson back in the lineup.  The Seahawks will again start Seneca Wallace, but he actually played very well last week against the Patriots, and even he should be able to light it up against one of the worst pass defenses in the league.  Mike Holmgren has to be wishing he retired a year earlier, but he will have a rare win to enjoy here down the stretch of the season.  The Rams have had attendance trouble for years, and this will officially be a non-sellout and television blackout in St. Louis.  If you are one of the few in the country stuck with this game, I suggest finding a sports bar or using the time to catch up on yard work.  

– Cowboys over Giants: UPSET ALERT.  This will be a much better game than the first meeting, which the Giants won quite handily.  Dallas is in absolute must win mode to make the playoffs, and they will have no trouble getting up for a Sunday night game against one of their biggest rivals.  The Cowboys are coming off a frustrating loss in Pittsburgh, but they outplayed the Steelers for most of the game.  There are reports of friction between Tony Romo and Terrell Owens (is anyone surprised?) but Owens always gets up for big games, especially at home, and I really smell a monster game from him.  If he does come through, look out.  The Giants looked very exposed last week against the Eagles, and that showed the rest of the league that they can be beaten and aren’t invincible.  The Plaxico Burress mess seems to be affecting them more than first thought, and they still won’t have Brandon Jacobs in this one.  I still think the Giants have the inside track to the Super Bowl in the NFC, but it can’t be considered a foregone conclusion after their loss last week.   The Giants have all but clinched the division even with a loss here, so the Cowboys have much more on the line.  Dallas wins.  

– Eagles over Browns: Yawn.  ESPN must really regret that they are stuck with yet another Browns game.  How many is that now, 10?  I know it only seems like that many, but it seems like they get a night game every week.  How did anyone think Cleveland was a contender at the start of the year?  Yes, they did beat the Giants, but that was only one game.  This matchup should be case for extending flex scheduling to Monday nights, because really everyone knows how this game is going to go.  Ken Dorsey will look lost and confused, Brian Westbrook will run wild, and the Eagles will win by at least three touchdowns.  Philadelphia is dangerous, and they just might sneak into the playoffs.  That tie in Cincinnati and McNabb’s benching in Baltimore really seems to have woken them up and lit a fire under them.  The Eagles are not a team I’d want to see down the stretch, especially on the road.

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One Response to “Week Fifteen Picks”

  1. Doug Baker said

    I am holding you to your Patriots pick!!!

    Loved the YAWN on the Eagles-Browns game. EVEN I might not watch that one since the Browns are down to their third string QB.

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