Thursday, December 30, 2010

7 comments NFL Picks Week 17

I realized that I forgot to post my record for the season last week, in case you were wondering how illegitimate my picks are. My record is as follows:

Last Week: 10-6
Overall: 124-120-6

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-3.5) over Oakland Raiders

All indications point towards Todd Haley playing Matt Cassel for the entire game against Oakland. If he plays, I'll take the Chiefs at home (7-0 thus far). More importantly, how has Tom Cable's name evaded the annual coaching change rumors? It's not as if Cable has led the Raiders anywhere over the past few seasons. Only three theories can explain this phenomenon.

1) Al Davis is a deranged owner who still belives its 1975.
2) Al Davis also beats women and thus empathizes with Tom Cable.
3) All of the above.

I'll take #3.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-3.5) over Miami Dolphins

Tom Brady is only slated to play two quarters, but my faith remains for one simple reason: Brady and the Pats do not want to lose their home winning streak. Sparano may have the motivation of coaching for his job and the rest of the Dolphins may be auditioning for other teams, but the streak is always greater.

Before the game, the Pats should show/play every preseason quote proclaiming Chad Henne the next Dan Marino. It's funny how one season changes everything.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-10) over Tennessee Titans

It's remarkable how the chips continually fall into place for Peyton. The Jaguars had every chance to clinch the division and eliminate the Colts but could not. I do not expect the Colts to let slip an opportunity to clinch another playoff birth when the only thing in their way is Jeff Fisher. No matter who Tennessee hires as their coach for next season, the 2011 Titans will go one of two ways. On the one hand, the Titans Bud Adams/the next head coach's combined love of Vince Young could once again propel the Titans back into contention. Without a doubt, they have the offensive weapons to at least guarantee a wild card birth. On the other, an anti-Vince head coach would gut the roster, forcing the Titans to undergo a Saint Louis-like rebuilding process. Because Bud Adams' infatuation with Young is too powerful, I believe scenario one will emerge. But back to Bud Adams. His love of Vince reminds me of a grandfather playing with his rambunctious five-year-old grandson. Because this kid has all the energy that grandpa does not, he lives vicariously through him. For those of you keeping score at home, grandpa equals Bud Adams.

HOUSTON TEXANS (+2.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars - MJD - Garrard + Todd Bouman = Houston Texans victory.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+5.5) over CLEVELAND BROWNS

Mike Tomlin by himself is slowly destroying Bill Cowher's legacy. Already matching Cowher's Super Bowl total, he has made the Steelers a perennial Super Bowl contender as Cowher did. In Cowher's 15 seasons, he led the Steelers to two Super Bowl berths and six AFC Championship games. As impressive as these totals sound, they have a little too much Donvoan McNabb-like stench to them. For all his regular season success, he could only get over the hump once as an underdog Wild Card team.

Do not take this as an attack on Cowher's career. Simply that he left the door open for another coach to swoop in and make a bigger mark on the Steelers franchise. If Tomlin only ends up with one Super Bowl title, it's hard to imagine his legacy as greater than Cowher's. But if he gets even one more, his similar regular season success combined with greater playoff prominence will vault him above the famed spit-flying Steeler legend.

Cincinnati Bengals (+9.5) over BALTIMORE RAVENS

Only because I doubt Baltimore will care about this game.

2011 prediction: Carson Palmer is not a starting NFL QB next season. Once Marvin Lewis departs, the new coach will evaluate his current roster and realize that an aging, average QB in Palmer will not lead the Bengals to the promise land. The only choice, then, is to rebuild. Feel free to call me out when this prediction turns out to be completely wrong.

DETROIT LIONS (-3) over Minnesota Vikings

It's not often that a QB manages to juke two defenders so badly that they run into each other. I'll chalk up Michael Vick's unimpressive performance to mere chance. The constant blitz strategy that the Vikings employed was the same one as the Giants. The only difference was that Vick never managed to run around or through it as he did in the 4th quarter against the Giants.

Detroit's recent surge has me believing more and more that they will be next year's surprise Wild Card team. Most of their losses this season have been close. Turn two of those 4th quarter collapses into victories and they're sitting at .500 without their star QB for most of the season. Jim Schwartz has them going in the right direction.

New York Giants (-4) over WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Is anyone else pissed that Shanahan's move to Rex has worked out well? Where is karma when it's most needed?

Chicago Bears (+10) over GREEN BAY PACKERS

It seems that Vegas is unaware of Chicago's intention to play all their starters. The rivalry factor can never be ignored. Also, what kind of Giants fan would I be if I picked the Packers? I can't have conflicting motives here.

Dallas Cowboys (+6.5) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Phili's on a short week, Vick is ailing, Philly has the #3 seed all but locked up (meaning they won't get the #2) and Jason Garrett is coaching for his future with the Cowboys. As one Cowboys accurately described to me, "Jones better hire Garrett instead of a mid 50's coach holding onto past glory." Meaning, please don't hire Jeff Fisher, Bill Cowher (I know he's technically out of the running, but you never know) or John Fox. Garrett is young, invigorated and the perfect man to whip the Cowboys plethora of individual egos into a collective unit. Everyone knows that the team's demeanor starts with the head coach. Who better to instill a "team" idea than Jason Garrett, a man who hates the media and attention more than Bill Belichick?

NEW YORK JETS (-1) over Buffalo Bills

It appears that Mark Sanchez will play despite his injured shoulder. While I'm not one to openly support either resting starters or playing to win, I think this is the one situation where Rex's win-all-the-time attitude can be detrimental to the team. When everyone is healthy, you might as well play them (although I completely understand sitting them). But to play your injured, franchise QB when the other playoff QB options are Brunell and Clemens is too risky. I understand the impulse to have positive momentum going into the playoffs, but no momentum can overcome a Mark Sanchez torn labrum.

ATLANTA FALCONS (-14.5) over Carolina Panthers

Even without any semblance of a running game, New Orleans defeated Atlanta. But a bigger issue arose in this game which continues to bother me each week in the NFL: coaches punting when losing late in the game.

Facing 4th and 6 at their own 43 with 2:52 left, Atlanta chose to punt (they had all 3 timeouts). Mike Smith's decision indicated that he trusted his defense to stop Drew Brees from getting 10 yards in three plays as opposed to his offense gaining six yards in one play. On the surface, this seems like a logical conclusion. But consider the opposite scenario: Atlanta goes for it. Obviously, then, there are two outcomes. If, as is entirely possible, Atlanta does not convert, New Orleans takes over on the Atlanta 43. Because time is of the essence, one first down essentially seals the game. Therefore, even if Atlanta punts, New Orleans can end the game with a first down. If Atlanta manages to stop New Orleans, at best they are attempting a 50-yard field goal. Even though it is no longer a field goal game, Atlanta has over two minutes to win the game with a TD. However, if New Orleans has a 4th and 1 at the 34, they would most likely go for it to seal the game. A stop on 4th dow, gives Atlanta the ball back with plenty of time remaining and only a 3 point deficit. If New Orleans converts, the game is over and it is irrelevant where New Orleans had the ball in the first place.

My point, ultimately, is that teams are too conservative at the end of the game. Punting may be safe and conventional, but it does not give your team the best opportunity to win.


While Mike Smith's conservative play cost Atlanta, Sean Payton's aggressiveness sealed the win. Despite the proclamations of the MNF announcers, Payton had Brees throw the ball to win the game. If your QB is at all competent, you can tell him to only throw if the completion is guaranteed. Otherwise, take the sack or run out of the pocket and slide. Hopefully more coaches follow Payton's example.

SAINT LOUIS RAMS (-3) over Seattle Seahawks

Because I refuse to believe that an under .500 team can or will make playoffs. That and Pete Carroll's continued success (at USC and Seattle. Although this year wouldn't be successful had the NFC West not resembled Division II football.) for some reason infuriates me more than I can describe.

Arizona Cardinals (+6) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Firing Mike Singletary one game before the end of the season is like canceling a terrible TV show one week before the season finale. Yes, the show will not run for another season and has proven that it cannot do the job, but at least give it the dignity of allowing its storyline to finish. It's not as if firing Singletary will turn around their season: it's already over. Jed York's attempt at swift and decisive actions seems childish. Can the coach after the season. You're not saving any face by pulling his pants down a week early.

DENVER BRONCOS (+3) over San Diego Chargers

TIM TEBOW HOME FACTOR! TIM TEBOW HOME FACTOR! I said it last week and I'll say it again. Tebow is a lovable QB (if he's your QB). Fans are pumped to cheer for him, and not QB is more amped to receive praise than Tebow. If there's any QB that will be spurred on by home support over the next five years, it's Tebow. Plus the Broncos are a home underdog. That usually bodes well for gamblers.


Martin said...

Who is going to make the Panthers the best offer for their number 1 pick? I think that the Cardinals should, they have a good enough offense that a good QB, like Luck, could make all the difference, and ya know, might save Larry Fitzgeralds career...hehe there are other really good picks in the Top5, so if the Panthers don't go too far down, they can still get an elite guy, and maybe another pick or two.

Bengoodfella said...

If Luck comes out of the draft there is a 0.1% chance they trade that #1 pick. Of course it depends on the head coach a little bit, but from what I have heard they are like every other team and won't pass on Luck.

Martin said...

I sort of figured that, but ye gads, after getting Clausen and Pike last year, it's time to overturn the entire scouting dept. too, not just get rid of Fox. As is, in ten years they still only have Steve Smith to catch a ball.

Dylan said...

Martin, good point. They have attempted to use Mushin Mohammed as a stop gap for at least 5 times. You'd think once in ten years they'd find a long term replacement. There's only so much Fox can do when the roster is not up to snuff. I don't know how involved Fox was in personnel decisions, however, so that could change my opinion. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, I think that's unfair to say get rid of the entire scouting department. They've done a good job recently in drafting. Maybe not with Clausen specifically and this year's class looks pretty bad right now, I will give you that. David Gettis and Brandon LaFell don't look bad for rookie receivers though.

They were terrible this year but there is talent on the roster and it is talented that was drafted. They have definitely missed in drafting an impact wide receiver, but they also haven't really ever tried. John Fox, as his next team will learn, likes to use more than 4-wide receivers rarely. So they haven't tried to draft many receivers high in the draft until this year. Yes, it was a mistake at this point, but they have tried to give Smith help and failed at that.

Other than at the WR position they have been successful in drafting. This team was terrible due to injuries to impact offensive and defensive players and the fact the team got rid of all the veterans and relied on rookies. It was a terrible combination.

Dylan, John Fox was all over the personnel decisions until this past draft. He worked hand-in-hand with the GM Marty Hurney until this year and he hated this draft class. That's why the team drafted 3 WRs b/c Fox no longer had any say. Fox doesn't appreciate pass catching tight ends and doesn't enjoy spending high choices on wide receivers. He prefers veterans in those spots.

Bengoodfella said...

We can poop all over the Panthers in nearly every aspect, but the drafting has always been pretty good. This year was a perfect storm that resulted in the record. No one knows about the elements of the storm b/c no one gives a shit about the team so no one cares to report about Fox refusing to play rookies and his insistence on keeping his defensive and offensive gameplan that didn't match his personnel.

I could go on and on but I am boring myself. The drafting has been pretty good compared to other NFL teams.

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