Merry Christmas, y'all! Hard to believe that the final week of the 2012 NFL regular season is upon us. Coming off a great week of picking games against the spread (for a change), I'll ride that momentum into Week 17, with the "Game of the Week" being:
1.) (8-7) Dallas Cowboys (+3.5) @ (9-6) Washington Redskins: Good to see what was one of the most bitter rivalries in the game, heat up again. The winner takes the NFC East crown. The loser will likely be out of the playoff picture. Washington has won 6 straight games, and should make it 7. The Cowboys' have handed away games likes Santa hands out gifts: PICK: Redskins;
2.) (6-9) NY Jets (+3.5) @ (5-9) Buffalo Bills: Is there a sadder, more dreary place to end a horrific season, than Buffalo, NY? Games don't come much more more void of meaning than this one. Does amybody care? Will anybody show, especially if a snow storm hits: PICK: Jets;
3.) (7-8) Miami Dolphins (+10) @ (11-4) New England Patriots: Just two short weeks ago, was any team flying higher than the Patriots? The media was ready to fit them for SB rings. But, after back to back weeks of uninspired, lackadaisical play, who knows what to expect from this bunch? Meanwhile, the Dolphins have played pretty well down the stretch. With a win, they would notch a respectable .500 season. Don't like giving up 10 points: PICK: Dolphins;
4.) (10-5) Baltimore Ravens (+3) @ (9-6) Cincinnati Bengals: Both teams are coming off huge wins. The Ravens were impressive in desstroying the Giants, 33-14, while the Bengals eliminated the Steelers from playoff contention, with a 13-10 OT win. Both teams are in the play-offs, with Baltimore going in as AFC North champs, regardless of the outcome of this game: PICK: Bengals;
5.) (5-10) Cleveland Browns @ (7-8) Pittsburgh Steelers (OFF LINE): Who knows which team will rise to the occasion in this meaningless tilt. The Steelers have lost three straight, and need a win to finish .500. Because this is a rivalry game, both teams will try: PICK: Steelers;
6.) (12-3) Houston Texans @ (10-5) Indianapolis Colts (+4.5): The Texans own the tie breakers over Denver, but not over the Patriots. A win for them clinches a bye week, and the top seed in the AFC tournament. But, a loss combined with a Patriots' win will drop Houston to 3rd seed, and cost them a bye. Though this game holds no playoff implications for the 5th seeded Colts, the return of head coach Chuck Pagano to the Indy sidelines should serve to inspire. The Texans haven't play well of late, losing two of their last three: PICK: Colts;
7.) (2-13) Jacksonville Jaguars (+4) @ (5-10) Tennessee Titans: The Tuxedos were humiliated in Green Bay last week, 55-7. The Jags gave the Patriots all they could hanfdle last week, before losing their 4th straight game. Jacksonville holds a better conference record than the equally awful KC Chiefs. So, a loss likely won't help the Jags, should they intend to tank, to get the top pick in the 2013 NFL draft, as KC will surely lose at Denver: PICK: Titans;
8.) (4-11) Philadelphia Eagles (+9.5) @ (8-7) NY Giants: With consecutive stinkers against Atlanta and Baltimore, the Giants have seemingly thrown away what appeared to be a certain NFL East title, if not a playoff birth. In order for them to advance to the play-offs, they must beat Philly, and have Minnesota, Chicago, and Dallas all lose. But, this could happen, as Green Bay needs to beat the Vikings to earn a playoff bye. Washington must beat Dallas to win the NFC East crown, or face possible elimination. The up and down Bears have to beat the high scoring Lions in Detroit. Believe it or not, the biggest obstacle for the Giants may be beating the Eagles. QB Michael Vick returns for Philly. Look for him to put on a show in hopes of enticing another teams to invest in him, next season: PICK: Eagles;
9.) (9-6) Chicago Bears @ (4-11) Detroit Lions (+3): Though the Bears haven't exactly been world beaters of late, they know that a win this week gets them into the NFC tournament. They also know that a loss could spell the end of the Lovie Smith era in Chicago. The Lions have shown nothing also season...Megatron notwithstanding: PICK: Bears;
10.) (11-4) Green Bay Packers @ (9-6) Minnesota Vikings (+3): Having won four straight, including a 55-7 demolition of the Tennessee Titans last week, the Packers appear to be peaking, at the right time. The Vikings have won three straight, and boast MVP candidate, RB Adrian Peterson. Green Bay needs a win to beat out the 49ers for the second seed in the NFC, and a first round bye. Minnesota needs to win to make the play-offs: PICK: Packers;
11.) (6-9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ (13-2) Atlanta Falcons (OFF LINE): Who knows who will play, and for how long. That's why this game is off-line. Still, I look for the Falcons to play to win, in order to carry positive momentum into the play-offs: PICK: Falcons;
12.) (6-9) Carolina Panthers (+4.5) @ (7-8) New Orleans Saints: Carolina has won three straight, and both players and coaches appear to be laboring for their jobs, in 2013. For the Saints, their rocky, Goodellian tainted season, mercifully comes to a close. Though the Saints have issues defensively, few offenses can match their scoring capabilities: PICK: Panthers;
13.) (2-13) Kansas City Chiefs (+16.5) @ (11-3) Denver Broncos: Poor Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli. The wheels really fell off the Kansas City wagon this year. Denver needs to win in order to clinch a first round bye, and, perhaps, the top seed in the AFC tournament. No way they let all that slip away against the woeful Piolians. But, by more than 16.5 points?: PICK: Chiefs;
14.) (4-11) Oakland Raiders @ (6-9) San Diego Chargers: (OFF LINE): QB Carson Palmer is out for the Raiders. But, what do the Chargers really have to play for? Both GM A.J. Smith and Norv Turner appear to have run out of promises and second chances. Nonetheless: PICK: Chargers;
15.) (10-4-1) San Francisco 49ers @ (5-10) Arizona Cardinals (+15): After getting embarrassed by the Seahawks, the 49ers must win in order to secure the NFC West title. The QB-less Cardinals likely couldn't score 3 TDs in 60 minutes against a team of tackling dummies. Still, they are professionals, playing for their jobs, and for pride. This is their SB: PICK: Cardinals;
16.) (7-7-1) St. Louis Rams (+10.5) @ (10-5) Seattle Seahawks: Their is no hotter team in the NFL than Seattle. Over their last three games, they've scored 59, 50, and 42 points. Though the Rams have won 4 of their last 5 games, they've seen nothing like Seattle: PICK: Seahawks.
BEST BETS: Eagles, Bears, Packers, Chargers.
Some sky high point spreads make calling this weeks' games very challenging. As always, your comments and predictions are welcome...especially your thoughts on the Miami/Patriots game.