Friday, December 30, 2005

Week 17 in the NFL

Week 17 in the NFL marks the end of the Coin Flip Challenge. Part of me is sad because it made the season more interesting for me and hopefully for you as well. The other part of me is elated because picking NFL games against the spread is so frustrating. Things that should happen end up not happening far too often. I feel fortunate to be one game above .500 entering week 17. It would not surprise me at all if I bombed the last week and finished below .500. My confidence level for week 17 as a whole is next to nothing considering how many meaningless games there are. As far as the Challenge, I am thirteen games ahead of the Coin Flip. We only have nine differences for our week 17 picks. That means the Coin Flip cannot win. I have clinched the Coin Flip Challenge Championship. I have not decided whether or not I’m going to rest my starters during week 17.  I failed miserably in my attempt to get rid of my Jalen Rose jersey. There’s always next year. Anyhow, I think it’s entirely possible that nobody reads this so I’m going to say that I’m really He-Man. I do have a Battle-Cat and I fight Skeletor on a daily basis. Happy New Year!

SD -10 den

Denver has nothing to play for which means Mike Shanahan won’t play anyone good. However, San Diego really has nothing to play for either. They can’t make the playoffs and they can’t keep Denver from making the playoffs. The only thing they can do is keep Kansas City from making the playoffs. If SD hates KC that much, then maybe they’ll come out and play like it’s the Super Bowl. I find that highly unlikely. As a result, I really have no idea how fired up San Diego will be. If San Diego played Denver’s second string in San Diego earlier in the season, they would win by three touchdowns. My guess is that Denver’s back-ups will have a hard time putting points on the board. That should allow SD to cover the spread.

nyg -9.5 oak

Unlike SD and Denver, the Giants have plenty to play for. They have to win to make the playoffs. There will be no shortage of motivation in their match-up with the Raiders. However, it’s important to remember that the Giants and Eli Manning, specifically, are far less potent on the road than they are at home. The Raiders still have the ability to score some points. I would not be shocked if the Raiders lost by more than ten but considering Oakland’s big play capability and the Giants stagnation on the road, I’ll take Oakland to stay within 9.5 points.

IND -7 ari

I found this line kind of strange. The only explanation that I can come up with is that the oddsmakers are convinced that the Colts will try to win this game to avoid entering the playoffs on a three game losing streak. The Colts’ second stringers should not be seven point favorites over Arizona’s first stringers. I think it’s possible that Manning and Co. come out throwing to put this game away early. However, the Colts don’t seem too concerned about the possibility of a three game losing streak. They’re convinced they can turn it on when it matters. This game doesn’t matter so my pick is Arizona to cover.

bal -3.5 CLE

I felt foolish after I returned from Italy and saw the Pittsburgh/Cleveland box score. My brilliant self picked Cleveland to cover a 7.5 point spread against Pittsburgh. Despite the fact that the game was in Cleveland, the Browns lost 41-0. Granted, hindsight is 20/20 but that doesn’t make me feel any better. I am clueless as to what will transpire in this game between Baltimore and Cleveland. The Ravens are starting to play a little better but they don’t have Ray Lewis. Kyle Boller is the Joey Harrington of the AFC.  He only plays well when the team has been eliminated from the playoffs. So, do I go with the team that has a quarterback like Joey Harrington and a defense that’s missing its best player, or do I go with the team that lost last week by 41 points? I’m leaning towards Cleveland. The Redskins lost 36-0 earlier this year to the Giants but bounced back aggressively. It would be embarrassing for the Browns to get blown out two games in a row at home. I’ll take the Browns to cover.

buf -1 NYJ

I understand that anything can happen in the NFL but does anyone really think that the Jets could’ve gone into Cincinnati last week and dominated the Bengals? The Bills did just that. Both teams are far from being good. Both teams started season with high expectations. The Jets are playing at home but I think Buffalo is good enough to beat the Jets by two points. I’ll take the Bills to cover in a game with big-time draft implications.

car -4.5 ATL

Most people would probably expect Carolina to come in with more intensity than Atlanta. In theory, that should probably be the case. However, my guess is that Atlanta doesn’t particularly care for Carolina. At this point in the season, the only thing the Falcons have to play for is the joy of seeing Carolina not make the playoffs. That alone should be enough to keep this game close. I would not be surprised if Atlanta won the game. Carolina has been far from a sure thing on the road. If they underestimate Atlanta, the Panthers will be sitting in front of their televisions come playoff time. I’ll take Atlanta to come out motivated to spoil Carolina’s season.

MIN -4.5 chi

I find it interesting that Mike Tice didn’t get fired when the Vikings were the worst team in the NFL at the beginning of the season with sex parties, whizzinators, and scalping football tickets. However, after he guided the team out of that mess by making a playoff run, he’ll likely be fired. That sounds a little bit like the Bob Huggins fiasco at Cincinnati. Coaches are milked for every last drop and then shown the door with the most ludicrous explanations. At least Matt Millen had the decency to fire Steve Mariucci as soon as it became clear that he didn’t want him around anymore. If you’re going to fire a coach, you should do it as soon as you decide, not when it’s convenient. That’s unfair to everyone involved. I’m not making a case for Tice, rather I’m expressing my distaste for made-up excuses for firing a coach when the coach wasn’t fired for far more convincing reasons earlier in the tenure. Chicago has nothing to play for. A few weeks ago, I thought this game would decide the division. A combination of the Vikings losing and the Bears winning made this game irrelevant. The problem that I’m having with this game is that the Bears second unit might be just as good as its first unit. Kyle Orton is not much of a drop-off, if any, from Rex Grossman. The Vikings turned their season around by feasting on terrible teams. They failed in virtually every match-up with a legitimate team. The Bears, even with their back-ups, are good enough to beat the Vikings. I’ll take Chicago to cover in a meaningless game.

KC -8 cin

I was troubled by the Bengals signing of Carson Palmer through 2014 and it has nothing to do with the contract. I had to do a double take when I saw “2014”. That made me feel incredibly old. I guess I never realized that 2014 was so close that current contracts are now reaching that year. That was a buzzkill. In the interest of keeping everyone feeling young, sports contracts should be limited to three years. As for the game, the Bengals actually have something to play for. They can take the #3 seed in the AFC with a win. If they lose and New England wins, the Patriots would get the #3 seed. My guess is that the Bengals won’t simply hand the victory over to the Chiefs. The Chiefs should win this game but this line is way too high unless the Bengals plan on benching everyone. I’ll take Cincy to keep this game close and cover the spread.

PIT -13 det

The Lions are ridiculous. I bet Joey Harrington was thrilled about beating the Saints. That victory dropped Detroit to the 10th spot in the draft. If it weren’t for the completely unnecessary and counterproductive last minute heroics of Harrington, the Lions would be at #5 with a great chance of moving into the top three. Instead, the Lions have five wins instead of four. Congratulations to the Lions. You stunk and have nothing to show for it except for a meaningless victory over the New Orleans Saints. The Lions would’ve ruined Vince Young’s career anyway. The Steelers should dominate this game. The Lions are bad. They have zero good attributes as a football team. The Steelers will destroy the Lions on both sides of the ball. I’ll take Pittsburgh to win by 1,000 points and cover the spread. On a side note, as I mentioned, I was in Rome for the last week. There were no American channels or English speaking channels with the exception of CNN International. CNN International has a ticker at the bottom of the screen. On the ticker is a “Sports Bar”. The Sports Bar devotes 99% of its information to European sports. If you’re lucky, you might see one tidbit about American sports. For example, the ticker said “Former MLB reliever charged with robbery” and another said, “Monday Night Football ends”. I didn’t find out that Jeff Reardon was the former MLB pitcher, or that the Patriots beat the Jets on MNF until we returned home. Anyhow, I was watching the ticker on Christmas Day and this rolled across the screen “New Orleans 12 Detroit 13”. I was trying with all my might to think of another sport that would pit New Orleans against Detroit. It didn’t specify that it was an NFL game. Then I started thinking that maybe it was a misprint. Slowly, I came to the realization that Detroit had beaten New Orleans. I felt like I was punched in the gut by Joey Harrington 6,000 miles away in Italy. I hate the Lions.

NE -6 mia

Miami always gives Tom Brady problems. I don’t know why this is the case but I do know that it is the case. The Dolphins can’t make the playoffs but they’ve known that for quite some time. That hasn’t stopped them from turning their season around. New England still has something to play for since the #3 seed is up for grabs. If the Bengals can beat the Colts in the playoffs and the Patriots can beat the Broncos, the Pats would much rather have Cincy come to Foxboro than vice versa. The Patriots should win this game but with Miami playing well, it won’t be easy. The Dolphins should cover. Watch out for Miami next season.

TB -13 no

Tampa Bay has a lot to play for. They can clinch a first round home game with a victory. The Saints have nothing to play except to hold on to the #2 pick in the draft that was gift-wrapped to them by the Lions. If the Saints have any sense at all, they will let Tampa blow them out. The Saints would then be guaranteed either Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, or Vince Young. That’s a cause worth losing for. I’ll take Tampa Bay to crush New Orleans.

hou -2 SF

What are the chances that one of these teams tries to lose? Nobody would ever come out and admit it but isn’t the temptation too great to not at least consider it? It wouldn’t take much to lose on purpose. For instance, the Lions could’ve easily dropped the game to the Saints without a heroic last second win and nobody would’ve thought twice about it. If I’m one of these teams, and I have the ball with one minute to go and I’m losing, I would call a conservative drive. People want to make such a big deal about having respect for the game and whatnot. That’s hogwash. There is nothing wrong with trying to get the #1 pick in the draft. There are no rules against losing the game on purpose unless you’re betting on that game. These teams should be doing everything possible to lose this game. It shouldn’t even be a secret. Can you imagine two teams trying to lose? You’d have teams giving themselves safeties time and time again just to lose. The last team with the ball would be the loser because they would give themselves the last safety. It would be great to watch.  Why would any team intentionally try to NOT get Reggie Bush? People make such a big deal about trying to lose a game but it happens all the time. How would that be any different than scores of NFL teams benching their starters in week 17 to rest them for the playoffs? Clearly those teams are not trying to win the game. Yet, that’s a widely accepted practice. Anyhow, intentionally losing will never happen because a). NFL people aren’t smart enough and b). there is a negative stigma attached to it for whatever reasons. The winner of this game will be a big time loser. I’ll take San Francisco to edge out Houston and lose out on the three elite prospects in the 2006 draft. Houston should send SF a nice bouquet of cheeses to show its gratitude.

JAX -3.5 ten

I’m actually considering just taking the loss on this game without picking a winner. There’s about a 3% chance that I’ll get it right. Neither team has anything to play for. Jacksonville finally broke out last week by crushing Houston at my expense. My completely uneducated and likely incorrect guess is that Jacksonville’s offense will stagnate without its starters allowing Tennessee to stay close. I’ll take the Titans to cover.

GB -3.5 sea

I want to make something clear before I go any further. The Coin Flip Challenge was a contest where I picked every game in the NFL. If I were actually betting on NFL games, I would likely pick the four or five games that I was most confident in each week. Considering that I’m slightly above .500 on the season while picking every game, I think I could fare better if I only picked games that I was confident in. I would never, ever bet on a game like this one between Green Bay and Seattle. I have no clue what’s going to happen. I have no idea how good Seattle’s backups are. I have no idea how motivated Green Bay will be or if that even matters. I will say that it would not surprise me if Brett Favre throws for 400 yards and four touchdowns because it’s a home game against a bunch of back-ups. I like happy endings so I’ll take Green Bay to trounce what amounts to the New Orleans Saints.

WAS -7.0 phi

I can’t believe that Washington and the NY Giants will both make the playoffs. Throw in the fact that the Chicago Bears made the playoffs too and I’m all but convinced that we’ve been transported to 1990. I can honestly say I didn’t see any of that coming. Despite this being a divisional game, I don’t see Philly having the talent to stick with the Redskins on the road. Plus, the Skins have been on a role with just Clinton Portis dressing up in crazy costumes. Now, the whole team dressed up. That’s not a good sign for the Eagles. On a side note, I love the Portis/costume thing. I am most entertained by the names he comes up with. I now find myself being a big Clinton Portis fan. I’ll take Washington to take advantage of the talent differential and cover the spread.

DAL -13 stl

Does St. Louis have a potent offense capable of putting up points, or do they have the worst offense in the league? I have no idea. They have Issac Bruce, Tory Holt, Stephen Jackson, Marshall Faulk and Orlando Pace just to name a few. Yet, they’ve been awful. This is another game that I’m clueless about. Dallas needs to win so they’ll probably open up the passing game again like they did against Philly earlier in the season. Thirteen points is a big number for Dallas. I’ll take St. Louis to stick around and hopefully lose by 12 points.

My picks:


Coin Flip’s picks:



Anonymous said...

A similar post a mere 12 minutes apart Jake, I mean He-Man? Don't worry, someone reads your posts. I actually enjoy them. And I occasionally even make some money off it as I take your observations into account.

So when's the inevitable comment on that less than stellar showing of our alma mater?

Jake said...


I thought maybe if I posted the same post twice, more people would read. =)

If what you're saying is true about occassionally making some money off of my observations, then that makes this whole thing worth it. However, if you really did take any of my advice, I am hoping that you took my advice on the over/under for Pistons wins this season. That looked far too low to start the season and now it seems like a sure thing that they'll reach the over.

I will definitely post something about our shared alma mater within the next three days. I've found that taking time to reflect makes me sound a little smarter.

I even gave UM a 26 confidence rating on Bowl Mania. Doh!


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