NFL Picks for Week 16
by John Canton(NFL)
Posted on December 22, 2006, 7:56 PM
John: Welcome to week sixteen of our weekly NFL picks column. I apologize for not getting this posted before Thursday's crapfest of a game, but I've been extremely busy as I'm sure many of you have been as well and I was unable to get it done in time. I'm probably going to be quick again with my picks because Christmas is driving me nuts and I can't think of other stuff that much. With that said, Merry Christams to everybody reading this and thanks so much for supporting us throughout the season. Here's the Drqshadow man with his thoughts.
drq: I hit 10-6 again last week, which has basically assured me the .500 or better record for the season that I'd desired since week one. It pays to have low expectations, what can I say? As we come down to the stretch, it's truly incredible how many teams still have a shot at getting into the post-season. I think there are something like four teams in the entire league that have been eliminated from contention as of this writing, although that looks to change within the next few days. This is the best time of the year to be a football fan, when almost every game means something to both teams. This weekend should be absolutely crazy, and I can imagine I'll be spending a good portion of my Christmas Eve Day in front of the television.
Last Week: Brett Berliner: 10-6
John Canton: 10-6
We all tied last week, so nothing changes. Two weeks left. Can Brett be caught?
Note: We all got the Packers right, so we'll pick the remaining 15 games of the week. Brett's picks will be edited in when they arrive.
Kansas City at Oakland 8:00 p.m. (Saturday) drq: I can't think of anything to say about this game that wouldn't be tremendously obvious and boring. Larry Johnson will gain close to 200 yards on the ground, Trent Green will struggle early against a tough pass D, and the Chiefs should breeze to a gimme here. Kansas City: 35 - Oakland: 10
John: I said in week one that I wasn't going to pick the Raiders ever. That holds true here. I just don't see any reason why they can beat anybody at this point. I'm amazed that they even won a couple games. The Chiefs are stumbling down the stretch because they're the Chiefs and they love to finish with either 7, 8 or 9 wins for the season. Lots of Larry Johnson means a win here fairly easily, I think. Chiefs 26-9
Baltimore at Pittsburgh 1:00 p.m. drq: A lot of people are already making comparisons between the Steelers of 2005 and the Pittsburgh team of this season, and I really think it's far too early to even think of making that comparison. Sure, they're on a roll late in the year again. They've crushed their opponents by dozens of points in their last three games, and their defense has come to play. Unfortunately for the 'burgh fans, the road to the playoffs is about to get a whole lot tougher. After steamrolling through Tampa, Cleveland and Carolina, Ben's boys have to deal with both the Ravens here and the Bengals in week 17. I'd say an 8-8 finish would be outstanding for the team at this point, since I plan to pick against them in both situations. Defending champs though they might be, the Steelers aren't good enough for the playoffs this year. Baltimore: 24 - Pittsburgh: 10
John: Tough call here. The Ravens have played consistently good most of the year while the Steelers have looked like the Steelers of last year for the past month or so. They really are playing well on both sides of the ball, which is the opposite of the early half of the year when Roethlisberger looked like crap. The Ravens have a lot to play for in obtaining a first round bye while the Steelers need to win the last two in order to finish 9-7 and hope they get help to get into the playoffs. I'm going to ride the hot Steelers here. I think it's a tight one that they pull out on the last drive of the game. Steelers 24-20
Carolina at Atlanta 1:00 p.m. drq: Can anyone figure out what, exactly, happened to the Panthers last week? No matter how much they've been through, how many injuries they've endured, there really isn't any excuse for allowing yourself to be shut out by a team with a losing record this late in the season. Things are far from peachy in the Falcons' camp right now, but in comparison to what's happened to the Panthers in 2006, they've had relatively smooth sailing. These guys always play each other really tough, and the motivation of taking on a divisional rival should be enough to wake the Panthers a bit from their slumber, but the Falcons are undeniably the better of the two teams. If Vick's receivers can keep their hands on the ball, this won't even be close. Having said that, please take note of the fact that I think it'll be close. Atlanta: 10 - Carolina: 7
John: The Panthers look like complete garbage at this point despite having decent personnel and a wealth of playoff experience. The problem is a horrible running game as well QB issues. It's not just Delhomme being hurt. The guy was simply playing bad. The Falcons offense seems to be doing well, so I like them to be able to put the points up in order to win this one. Falcons 27-17
Chicago at Detroit 1:00 p.m. drq: The Bears' defense has been showing some troubling signs over the last few weeks. They aren't playing with the same intensity in the fourth quarter that they do in the first, and they're having significant trouble with closing out their wins. Take last week's razor-thin victory over the Bucs. That game was in their hands within the first fifteen minutes, but when the fourth quarter rolled around, the defense that had helped them gain a 21 point lead went missing. They gave up on the long balls, they went to sleep on the draw plays, and they almost gave another game away. Between that kind of inconsistency on defense and Rex Grossman's Jekyl and Hyde-style transformations from week to week, this team has a lot of fine-tuning to do before that first playoff home game. The Lions won't test them this week, and the Packers won't give them much of a fight next week, which means they could be going into the postseason without knowing what they're truly capable of. Chicago: 24 - Detroit: 6
John: Ha, Detroit. The odds here are 5.5 points for Chicago. I think it should be more. The Bears have clinched everything, but I doubt they sit everybody and frankly even their backups are better than anything Detroit has. Bears 17-3
Indianapolis at Houston 1:00 p.m. drq: The Colts dropped 40+ on this team earlier in the season, when they were having trouble with a lot of similar teams and David Carr was playing well. Now that they appear to have found a groove on offense and the Texans' QB situation is a bit murkier, I don't think this is even a game. Indy rolls to its eleventh win. Indianapolis: 40 - Houston: 13
John: That Colts team you saw killing the Bengals last week is the team that we saw in the first two months of this season. They got their wakeup calls with their losses and now they're going to take it out on a bad team like the Texans. Colts 30-20
New England at Jacksonville 1:00 p.m. drq: The path of the 2006 Jacksonville Jaguars continues to be filled with peaks and valleys. After each of their big wins, they've come out flat and lost an easy one. After nearly each of their big losses, they've returned to form and put on a big show against a team with serious playoff potential. I really like their chances to even the score with New England for their early playoff exit last season. Despite their big win last week, the Patriots are in serious trouble. With a few bad twists of luck, they could find themselves throwing away the division championship that they'd taken for granted in each of the last three years. They aren't as potent a team, neither offensively or defensively, and no matter who's catching the ball, I can see David Gerrard having a true breakout performance this week. Jags by a kick. Jacksonville: 20 - New England: 17
John: Tough call, man. These teams are rollercoasters that go up and down from week to week without telling us when they're going to mail a game in. That means when you try to pick these guys you have to try to guess who's going to actually play good and who's going to stink up the joint. Or maybe they'll both play good and they'll have a great game because of that. I doubt it. I think the Pats are better. Garrard doesn't impress me that much and I think Brady's confidence in his WR's is improving, so he should be able to lead his team to a win here. Pats 23-16
New Orleans at N.Y. Giants 1:00 p.m. drq: The Saints appeared to be on the fast track to the Super Bowl before their surprising loss to the Redskins last week, while the Giants are no strangers to adversity in 2006. New York has looked like both an unstoppable goliath at times, and a disorganized, helpless also-ran at others. If the former shows up to play on Sunday, they could easily run the Saints right out of town. If it's the latter, they may as well avoid the playing field altogether. Even in their loss, the Saints looked like a very good ball club, but I can't say the same for the Giants in their losing efforts. I'm expecting a great one here, and in the end I think the New York defense will be the deciding factor. They aren't at 100%, and they'd need to be in order to derail Brees, Bush and Deuce. The Saints win it comfortably. New Orleans: 28 - New York Giants: 17
John: I hate the Saints after last week. How the hell did they lose at home to freakin' Washington? I had lots of money on them, so it hurt to see them play like absolute shit against them. The Giants? Who knows? I think the Saints are better. They can become the two seed in the NFC, so they've got plenty of motivation to win this very winnable game. Saints 30-20
Tampa Bay at Cleveland 1:00 p.m. drq: Yeah, I said a few weeks ago that I was through picking the Bucs for the rest of the season. Sue me. I watched the Cleveland / Pittsburgh game on Thursday night a few weeks ago, and I also watched the Buccaneers spring to life under the watch of Tim Rattay, who's been named starter in time for this week's face-off. Rattay isn't a permanent solution, but he does appear to be a better fit for this team than Bruce Gradkowski was. I'm thinking the Bucs jump out to an early two-score lead, then sit on it for three quarters and eke out a boring win. Tampa Bay: 14 - Cleveland: 10
John: Two bad teams, but the AFC's got better teams as a whole, which means that the AFC's bad team is better than the NFC's bad team. Got that? I hope. I don't even know what I just said. Just pick the Browns because the Bucs are really freakin' horrible. Browns 17-7
Tennessee at Buffalo 1:00 p.m. drq: Both teams are playing a bit above their level right now, from where I'm standing. There's still something wrong with the Titans offense if the only players scoring for are on the defensive side of the ball, as was the case last week. Vince Young is playing very good football, but he's still a rookie and he can still be taken out of a big game. I think the Titans are overdue for a stomping, but I just can't see the Bills handing it out. The Losman / Evans / McGahee combination is on the verge of being something scary, but the Tennessee defense is playing really well right now and I think they can derail the Bills long enough to come away with the victory. Tennessee: 24 - Buffalo: 14
John: Both are better than I thought they were, but I'm not ready to crown either ass at this point. Titans are hot. I'm gonna pick them by a field goal. Titans 20-17
Washington at St. Louis 1:00 p.m. drq: Both teams won their games last week, although I doubt either has any misconceptions about their spot in the playoff race. The Rams have considerable offensive firepower, but they're bending over backwards to hand their games away on defense. Washington, meanwhile, is good enough to take advantage of those defensive miscues, but not quite good enough to slow down Bulger, Holt, Jackson and Bruce. I like the Rams here, as they continue their late-season march back towards .500. St. Louis: 20 - Washington: 14
John: I really want to pick against my team here, but I won't. The Rams will probably run Steven Jackson 25 times or more just like last week because they know they can run on this defense. Problem is the Redskins can do that with their running back Ladell Betts, who is playing better than many of us probably thought. I think this is a high scoring game with bad defense all over the place. Rams 31-26
Arizona at San Francisco 4:05 p.m. drq: This was a shootout that went the way of Arizona way back in week one, and I'm expecting a slightly different story this time around. Both teams have improved noticeably from where they were fifteen weeks prior, but the Niners' recent progress has been the more impressive of the two. Alex Smith and Frank Gore are about to become a big tandem in this league, and with the potential of a division championship still within sight, I can imagine them playing out of their minds here. This is no defensive battle. San Francisco: 35 - Arizona: 27
John: Too much Frank Gore. Cards can't stop the run. Niners 24-14
Cincinnati at Denver 4:15 p.m. drq: The Bengals are still a contender. I think they allowed themselves to get spooked during their game with Indianapolis, as Chad Johnson was dropping balls he'd usually catch, Carson Palmer was forcing the ball and TJ Houshmandzadeh was nowhere to be found until it was too late. Their defense is good enough to force a turnover or two out of almost anyone in the NFL, but opposite a driven, mistake-free Peyton Manning, they understandably fell short. I think this is a bounce-back game for the Bengals, and the Broncos are the perfect ammunition for them. A fast, turnover-hungry defense against Jay Cutler in his fourth start? Hm, maybe I should play the Bengals' D in my fantasy matches this week. Cincinnati: 21 - Denver: 13
John: Tough call. This is another one of those "which team will show up" type of games. When these teams are on they look as good as anybody, but they also can play as bad as anybody. You just never know. Ultimately though I'm going to go with the Bengals because of the more experienced QB and the better run game even though Denver is still a tough place to play especially in the month of December. Bengals 23-20
San Diego at Seattle 4:15 p.m. drq: The Seahawks have nobody but themselves to blame for their current situation. They started slow, found themselves hampered by injuries throughout the mid-season, and are currently attempting to finish slow. They're blessed to be playing in such a soft division, but now the Forty Niners are nipping at their heels, tiebreaker in hand, and the Seahawks have to deal with the hottest team in the league this week. If they're lucky, they'll escape without any major injuries. As far as the outcome is concerned - the key to beating the Chargers is containing LaDanian Tomlinson. I don't think the Hawks' defense has it in them, and as such I've got the Chargers winning handily.San Diego: 34 - Seattle: 20
John: Last week I wrote about how I thought the Seahawks had turned the corner, that they were headed for the Super Bowl again and then they play like total garbage at home to the 49ers. I don't understand! I like the Chargers here, but I think it'll be a tight one. Three TD's for that Tomlinson fellow. You may have heard of him by now. Chargers 27-24
Philadelphia at Dallas 5:00 p.m. (Monday - Christmas) drq: The Eagles have been playing extremely well in recent weeks, but they're bound to come back to Earth at some point. This is the same team that was just embarrassed by Indianapolis on a Sunday night several weeks ago, a team which Dallas just so happens to have convincingly defeated themselves in the not-too-distant past. It's been a lot of fun to watch Jeff Garcia's resurgence in the green and silver gear, but I think his success story hits a rough patch in the lone star state. With a victory here, the Cowboys will put the NFC East to bed, and I can't see this Eagles team giving them all that much of a fight. Dallas: 35 - Philadelphia: 24
John: I'll probably have this game on during the annual Christmas poker game at my house so while I won't pay close attention I'll have an eye on it. I've been impressed with the Jeff Garcia led Eagles the last couple weeks. I think Andy Reid's coaching has been phenomenal because he seems to be calling the right plays at the right time on a consistent basis. I see this being a close game that the Cowboys end up winning because I like their defense more. They make big plays and they'll make one at the right time here. Cowboys 31-30
N.Y. Jets at Miami 8:30 p.m. (Monday - Christmas) drq: Man alive, the Jets' final six games are pathetic. Since their embarrassment against the Bears in week eleven, they've beaten Houston, Green Bay and Minnesota, with this match and a face-off against Oakland still to come. The one bump in the road they've been asked to endure this winter was a loss in Buffalo. They should cruise into at least a playoff spot this season, and could potentially even take the division if New England falters in two very losable games of their own. Miami's D should keep it close, but the Jet's passing attack will be the ultimate victor. New York Jets: 17 - Miami: 10
John: Again, the inconsistent teams are matching up. I like the Jets offense more at this point especially without a solid running back playing for the Fish. Pennington's playing well, so I'm going to take the road team here in another close game this week. Jets 17-13
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. That's six in a row like that. Crazy!
Chicago (-5.5) over Detroit Ha. Detroit. Nuff said.
San Francisco (-4) over Arizona Don't like the Cards on the road and I like the Niners a lot at home, so this pick makes sense to me.
Tennessee (+5) over Buffalo Need to take a road dog and this one looks tantalizing to me.
Cleveland (-3) over Tampa Bay You know what kind of people bet on games like this? Compulsive gamblers. Like me.
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.