NFL Picks for Week 15
by John Canton(NFL)
Posted on December 14, 2006, 8:26 PM
John: Welcome to week fourteen of our weekly NFL picks column. I'm tired and cranky, so I'm going to be brief with my comments this week. Here's the Q man with his thoughts.
drq: The race is getting a little more clear-cut now, with just three games left to play. Before long, we'll have narrowed the contenders down to twelve and the short jaunt to the Super Bowl will be upon us. After that, the waiting... oh, how I despise the waiting. For thirty one teams, the eight months between the end of one season and the beginning of the next are painfully lengthy. For the other... well, sure, it's still a painful separation, but at least they get a neat T-Shirt and endless Sports Illustrated commercials out of the deal. I see several potential barnburners this week, so I'll cut the opening theatrics a bit short and just scoot this show along to the picks themselves.
Brett: Sorry I don't have time for explanation for my picks. Work sucks right now.
Last Week: Brett Berliner: 10-6
John Canton: 9-7
Brett's up three with three weeks to go. As for Drq well...he's still picking games!
San Francisco at Seattle 8:00 p.m. (Thursday) drq: I boldly called a San Francisco win the last time they met (thank you very much) and I'm somewhat less boldly calling a Seahawks rebuttal this time around. The Niners have faltered in recent weeks, dropping three in a row after their big win against the Hawks, while Seattle has slowly returned to near full strength. I think Frank Gore and a resilient defense will keep them close, but this division is the Seahawks' for another season. I just can't see them giving up any more ground to a divisional foe on their home turf. Seattle: 20 - San Francisco: 17
Brett: San Francisco 21, Seattle 20
John: I think Seattle's going to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl again. They've got a really good defense right now that's going to do the job against the Niners here. Gore might get his yards, but that doesn't mean touchdowns. Seahawks 24-9
Dallas at Atlanta 8:00 p.m. (Saturday) drq: I don't know that I'd call either team a real Super Bowl contender right now. Atlanta seems to have righted their ship after a four game skid, while the Cowboys are beginning to teeter following a high-profile blowout at the hands of the Saints. It's tough to beat the Falcons at home, but not impossible, however I think Dallas is too iffy on offense to make enough noise this week. I need to see more diversity out of Tony Romo and more hands out of Terrell Owens before I'm ready to crown the Cowboys just yet. Atlanta stays in the hunt with a shocker. Atlanta: 24 - Dallas: 20
Brett: Dallas 30, Atlanta 20
John: I'm not a Romosexual. In fact, I think teams are figuring the guy out and by the time the playoffs get here the media will be getting off his nuts. Or I'm wrong and he'll light up the Falcons for 350 yards passing and a win. I'm going with the ATL, though, even without a running game. I just think they're going to find a way to win a primetime game like this against a conference rival. Vick will get it done. Falcons 26-16
Cleveland at Baltimore 1:00 p.m. drq: The Browns gave Baltimore a tough scare the last time they met, leading throughout the game and very nearly escaping with the win over what was then an unbeaten club. Cleveland is a really tough team to get a read for (it seems they aren't the only ones, this season) as they'll fail to score a single point one week, then come back the next and go buck wild. Charlie Frye is questionable for the game, but I'd be surprised to see him play. That alone is reason to go with the Ravens, even though Derek Anderson hasn't looked all that bad as his momentary replacement, since Frye nearly single-handedly lifted them to the victory in their last meeting with the Ravens. Baltimore continues its march to the post-season. Baltimore: 21 - Cleveland: 6
Brett: Cleveland 17, Baltimore 13
John: Browns on the road? No thanks. Ravens win. Big. 30-6
Detroit at Green Bay 1:00 p.m. drq: Oh man, that's right, these teams are in the same division. That means we get to watch them face off twice in the same season! The Lions are just putrid right now, having managed their second five-game losing streak of the season, while Favre and the Packers have shown no hesitation at hanging large numbers of points on the opposition, assuming said opposition isn't all that stiff. The Lions aren't what I'd deem to be stiff competition, and I think the end result of this second meeting is pretty much the same as the last. Green Bay: 27 - Detroit: 13
Brett: Green Bay 28, Detroit 20
John: Let's go, Favre! I'm starting him on a fantasy team because I love this matchup for the Packers. Detroit's 2-11 right now and this may actually be the worst team they've ever had, believe it or not. Brady Quinn, welcome to Motown. Packers 31-17
Houston at New England 1:00 p.m. drq: This is a game that the Patriots should be able to win running away, but so was last week's match with the Dolphins. The fact of the matter is, New England is a banged-up dynasty on a slow downward slope. Their roster has been picked clean almost every season, and no team can survive that kind of pillaging year after year without some kind of dire effects. If Houston had an individual playmaker on defense, or at RB, or even at QB, they'd have a serious shot at sneaking away with this one. At those positions, however, I don't see a single name that I like. Even David Carr, who began the season with an unusually high QB rating, has been making some poor choices lately, and the Patriots will always make you pay for that, regardless of health. New England: 28 - Houston: 10
Brett: New England 30, Houston 13
John: Man, ANOTHER blowout this week? These games freakin' suck this week. Pats 27-7
Jacksonville at Tennessee 1:00 p.m. drq: This is exactly the kind of game the Jaguars have been losing this season. Seven days removed from a huge, emotional home victory, matched up with a divisional bottom-dweller, riding a wave of critical approval. Four times already this season, they've followed an enormous, impressive win at home with a dire, sickly performance that only leads to questions and headaches. They shut out the Steelers on Monday night in week three, then fell to the Colts in week four. They stomped the Jets, 41-0, then fell 7-27 to the Texans. They crushed these Titans by thirty and manhandled the giants by sixteen, only to follow up those performances with three point losses to teams that will not be in the playoffs. If the Jags could play consistently, they'd be an extremely dangerous team. As is, I see no reason to pick against Vince Young and his miraculous Titans this week. Tennessee: 14 - Jacksonville: 7
Brett: Jacksonville 17, Tennessee 10
John: It's just too hard for me to go against Vince Young at this point. All he does is find ways to win. I'm not picking against that guy. Titans 17-16
Miami at Buffalo 1:00 p.m. drq: Interestingly enough, the AFC East is the strongest division in football right now, as far as wins and losses are concerned. Both of these teams are just one game under .500, and they're duking it out for the bottom position in the division. Both defenses have awakened in the second half of the season, and are keeping them in games they don't really have a reason to be competing for. The Bills are fresh off a surprise victory against shared divisional rival New York, while the Dolphins just upset the mighty Patriots. With Ronnie Brown's status uncertain and the surprising disappearance of Chris Chambers, it's going to be a tight game, no matter which way the final score leans, and my intuition tells me the home team is due for one right here. Buffalo: 17 - Miami: 14
Brett: Buffalo 20, Miami 18
John: I think Miami's the better team, even in the Buffalo cold. I like their defense too much. Dolphins 13-10
N.Y. Jets at Minnesota 1:00 p.m. drq: Another couple of teams that are so inconsistent, it's tough to get a guage of their capabilities. I liked the Jets' chances at the post season right up until their crushing defeat at the hands of the Bills last week. Both teams are on the fringe of the playoffs, despite their struggles throughout the season, but Brad Johnson has been making some bad decisions lately and nobody seems to know how healthy Chester Taylor really is. I'm giving the nod to New York. New York Jets: 17 - Minnesota: 13
Brett: Minnesota 21, N.Y. Jets 10
John: Good luck trying to figure these teams out. I'm going to pick the Jets because I think they're the better team from the better conference. I don't really care about home and road anymore. Jets 17-16
Pittsburgh at Carolina 1:00 p.m. drq: OK, a quick poll - raise your hand if you had both of these teams missing the playoffs this year. Anybody? There's an eerie similarity between these two this season. Both finished second in their division and snuck into the playoffs on a wild card last season, both have had major problems at QB this season, and both are on the cusp of being eliminated from contention this week. They're losing games they should be winning, and getting blown out when they should at least be competitive. Well, good news for both teams - one of you has to win this one. Unless they tie, which would be utterly hilarious and somehow fitting. Even though there's a question mark over Jake Delhomme's head, I like the Panthers here. They're at home, they're healthier and they've got Steve Smith. Carolina: 14 - Pittsburgh: 10
Brett: Carolina 30, Pittsburgh 20
John: The Panthers suck at running the ball and Chris Weinke might be playing again. I like the Steelers to continue their second half surge here thanks to Willie Parker's legs and Ben Roethlisberger finally playing like he did a year ago. Steelers 20-17
Tampa Bay at Chicago 1:00 p.m. drq: Last year the Bears handed Tampa one of their few losses, 13-10 after the Bucs missed a last-second 29 yard gimme of a field goal. Honestly, the Buccaneers should've won that game. Chicago's offense was doing nothing all game long (their only touchdown came following a Chris Simms fumble deep within his own territory) and the Bucs were dominating a worn-down Bear defense in the fourth quarter before the miss. Of course, that was during a division championship season for the Bucs and right in the middle of the Kyle Orton affair in Chicago. These teams have taken surprisingly different directions in the year since, with Tampa falling fast and hard, and Chicago looking unbeatable for much of the first half of this season. Recently the Bears have looked very mortal, and if the old Bucs defense was still intact, they might have what it takes to use Chicago's offensive difficulties against them and win the game single-handedly. This isn't the same Buccaneer defense, however, and I think the boys from the windy city are about to have a lot of fun at the visiting team's expense. Chicago: 34 - Tampa Bay: 6
Brett: Chicago 10, Tampa Bay 0
John: The Bucs are still in the NFL? Bears 35-3
Washington at New Orleans 1:00 p.m. drq: The Saints made a huge statement with their win over Dallas last week, and could be ripe for an upset. The Redskins are far from the least talented team in the league, so it's not completely out of the question to expect this one to be competitive throughout, but at the end of the day I think New Orleans is the better club. They're also talented enough to see a trap like this one coming, and to plan accordingly. I don't think the Saints will be taking anyone for granted this season, and I see them eventually pulling away at the end of this one. New Orleans: 27 - Washington: 15
Brett: New Orleans 38, Washington 14
John: Yet another blowout this week. Yuck. Saints 40-10
Denver at Arizona 4:05 p.m. drq: The Cardinals are beginning to play up to their potential on offense, where the Broncos haven't looked this bad on that side of the ball in years. They've dropped four straight, fallen to third in their division, switched starting QBs, and look completely confused when they're trying to move the ball. Their vaunted defense has given up at least two scores in all but one game since the Indianapolis loss, and isn't performing nearly as well as its reputation would lead you to believe. All the signs are pointing to a message-sending Cardinals win here, which is usually about the time they decide to trip over their own feet and collapse into a pitiful mess. They'll keep it close, but I don't give them any kind of a shot at victory. Denver: 24 - Arizona: 20
Brett: Arizona 28, Denver 14
John: The Cards are playing good enough to save their job, and I think good enough to win this game too. The Broncos are sliding. Cards 23-20
Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants 4:15 p.m. drq: The Giants returned to form last week, clobbering the Carolina Panthers, but the Eagles made clear their intentions to continue to compete in the East this year, delivering an impressive victory of their own against Washington. Jeff Garcia is starting to look really good right about now, and against a greatly weakened Giants pass rush, that's good enough to keep them in it right up to the closing moments. I just don't think an Eagles defense that allowed Joseph Addai to score four times has any kind of a prayer against Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs. At the end of the day, that's what's going to make the difference here. I see the Giants scoring twice in the first half, allowing the Eagles to get back into it in the third and fourth, but eventually hanging on and running the clock out at the end. New York Giants: 14 - Philadelphia: 13
Brett: Philadelphia 20, N.Y. Giants 17
John: Tough game to pick. I think they're even teams at this point with each side without key guys due to injuries. Garcia's playing good for Philly while Elijah had a nice game for the Giants last week. I'm going to end up going with the Giants due to home field advantage, which I think is significant in December most of the time. Last minute field goal does the job. Giants 24-21
St. Louis at Oakland 4:15 p.m. drq: Hey John, the Rams are actually the underdogs in this game! I guess that makes two weeks in a row, then, that the Rams are a part of one of the week's easiest money-making opportunities. Last week, despite heavy odds, it was easy to pick the Bears over them, and this week their role has flip-flopped. As bad as the Rams may be this year, I really can't imagine they're bad enough to fall to the Raiders. Oakland's defense has improved, but the Rams moved the ball with some regularity against the Bears, who I'd classify as being in another league when compared to the Raiders, so they should have no difficulty getting some points on the board in Oakland. Bulger keeps making good decisions, Steven Jackson keeps making bold runs, and the Raider nation keeps losing faith. St. Louis: 20 - Oakland: 7
Brett: St. Louis 35, Oakland 30
John: Hell if I know anymore. Let me put it this way: The Rams are by far my favorite team in any sport and they always will be. I love the NFL and I have loved this franchise since I first laid eyes on Eric Dickerson's jeri curl 22 years ago. However, this team is playing so bad right now (1-7 in the last eight) that I barely want to watch them. It feels like the '90s all over again. Trust me, that's not a good thing, especially when you look at this roster and wonder how you're only 5-8 right now. As bad as things are, I'll never pick the Raiders. Rams 27-20
Kansas City at San Diego 8:15 p.m. drq: San Diego is the team to beat in the AFC right now, and with good reason. With Philip Rivers easing right into the starting QB position, LaDainian Tomlinson setting new records every week, and a relentless defense that would just as soon knock your head off as look at it, this is a truly frightening team. A victory here makes eight in a row (wow, why hasn't that little stat garnered any more press?) and virtually guarantees a first-round bye for the squad. More importantly, though, it also gives them a measure of revenge against a team that handed them their last defeat, way back in mid-October. I don't see any reason to choose against them. San Diego: 31 - Kansas City: 14
Brett: San Diego 30, Kansas City 28
John: I think this'll be a typical Chargers game where they play it close in the first half and then crank it into that second gear that good teams have and run the Chiefs out of the building by the second half. Should be a fun running back duel here, too. Chargers 31-17
Cincinnati at Indianapolis 8:30 p.m. (Monday) drq: Oh, how it pains me to say so, but the Colts' best days appear to be in their not-too-distant past, and an unwelcome future looms dark. Last year's improved defense appears to have been little more than a fluke, and Peyton Manning is playing as though he has to single-handedly win the Super Bowl on every down. I was watching some tapes of this team in 2004 and 2005 (thanks to the completely awesome "History of the Colts" DVD I treated myself to this week) and the difference in attitude and fluidity is noticeable on offense. When they were in their prime, this team was uncanny, both in their execution and in their demeanor. Lately, it's beginning to appear as though the pressure of never breaking through to that final level is getting to the entire team. They're forcing plays that used to come naturally, and that's beginning to lead to mistakes. The Bengals' defense is no champion themselves, but they can and will take advantage of whatever you give to them. I expect several early doses of Rudi Johnson, followed by three or four successful deep balls in the first half. That should give the Bengals the lead they need to just rush it down Indy's throats for the rest of the evening. I hope I'm wrong, but this doesn't look promising. Cincinnati: 38 - Indianapolis: 28
Brett: Indianapolis 48, Cincinnati 45
John: Hey, a good Monday game. That's nice to see. I'm interested in seeing if the Colts are going to improve on the last couple of losses or if Cincy is going to just run the ball down their throat all game. I just can't see Indy losing again. They need this one too much. So does Cincy, I guess, but I like Indy more. Colts 36-30
JC vs. The Spread I'll use the line that TheGreek.com provides and I'll pick four games that I think you should bet on for the week.
Last week: 2-2 - Another 2-2 week. Tired of being average!
New Orleans (-9.5) over Washington I'll take this with a smile. It should be double digits.
Green Bay (-5) over Detroit It's just really easy to bet against the Lions at this point...or any point really.
NY Jets (+3) over Minnesota Haven't picked an underdog in a while. I like this one.
Baltimore (-11) over Cleveland Big spread, but I don't see this being close at all.
Until next week (when we post the column before the Thursday game again), for Drqshadow and Brett Berliner this is John Canton saying enjoy the games. You know we will.