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NFL Picks for Week 17
by John Canton (NFL)
Posted on December 30, 2006, 4:41 PM

John: Welcome to week seventeen of our weekly NFL picks column. I have mixed feelings about the season ending. On the one hand, it's been a headache inducing year for my beloved Rams right up to this final weekend. On the other hand, I love the NFL so much that I'm going to be very bored on Sundays once the season is over just like I am every year. With that said we do have picks to do and I'm hopeful to end the regular season on the right note. Before I pass it on to the Q man, note that last week road teams were 12-4 and the underdogs were 14-2 against the spread (depending on the odds you used). So tell me again why are teams fighting for home field advantage?

As a Rams fan I'm going to be honest when I tell you that I'm making my picks so that the Rams get in the playoffs. For that to happen I need the Giants, Panthers and Falcons to lose as well as a Rams win and then my boys will saunter into the playoffs with an 8-8 record as well as the six seed. Of course if the Rams don't get in I'm cool with that too because they've had more than enough chances to win games in order to get in. I'm just saying I'd prefer to see my team in the playoffs. Anyway, here's the Q man with some of his thoughts.

drq: I had my third straight 10-6 week in time for Christmas, my fifth such performance of the season. Strange, then, that it's the final week of the regular season and I don't feel that I have any more of an understanding of the hierarchy of things than I did after the pre-season. If anything, I know LESS today than I did on that innocent day, just sixteen weeks in the past. There's no shortage of competition in the NFL this season, and with no far-and-away front runners like there were in seasons past, (even the Chargers, Ravens, Bears and Saints have their problems) things are lining up for what could be a wild post-season. It's been good fun sharing my picks with my boys in Cleveland and the great white north this season, and while we'll be back for more picks in the playoffs, I just wanted to say so here, in our final sixteen-game pickoff of the season. It's been great fun, and I can only imagine what we're in for over the next five weeks.

Last Week:
Brett Berliner: ?
drqshadow: 10-6
John Canton: 9-7

Season:
Brett Berliner: 141-83 (.629)
John Canton: 147-93 (.613)
drqshadow: 137-103 (.570)

N.Y. Giants at Washington 8:00 pm (Saturday)

drq: The Giants have been on a slide of late, but I still think they're a better team than the Redskins. Eli, Tiki and Plaxico have a field day in the capital and the G-Men find a way to arrive in the playoffs despite their struggles. And, with the NFC being what it is, I don't even think a couple post-season victories are completely out of the question. New York Giants: 17 - Washington: 7

John: The Giants have the best chance of the 7-8 teams of losers to get into the playoffs, but I have lost complete faith in them at this point after saying for months that they were my NFC Super Bowl pick. Oops, guess I was wrong. The Skins have the better offense right now, so I'll go with Jason Campbell and Ladell Betts to do enough in order to pick up the win. Goodbye Tom Coughlin, it's time for you to go. Redskins 20-13

Carolina at New Orleans 1:00 pm

drq: I don't even know who's starting for the Panthers this week, Weinke or Delhomme. It doesn't really matter in the end, because both have been ineffectual this season for the surprisingly meek Panthers. They haven't been able to consistently stop anybody on defense, and their offense continually sputters along, occasionally breaking a long play but usually just breaking down. The Saints are too dangerous offensively to bet against here. New Orleans: 21 - Carolina: 10

John: Then there's Carolina. The most overrated team in the NFL from before the season right up until now. All this crying about injuries makes me laugh. The reason this team isn't better is simply because their running backs are below average. I could see it before the year and it held true all season long. Doesn't help that the line blows and Jake Delhomme throws way too many picks. The Saints got nothing to play for because they've locked up the two seed, but I need the Panthers to lose, so that's what I'm going to be picking. Saints 20-19

Cleveland at Houston 1:00 pm

drq: I don't know what happened to David Carr around the middle of the season, but his play has been just awful in the second half, following a very good start. Cleveland isn't the kind of team that's going to scare anybody right now, especially after rolling over against the Bucs on Christmas eve, but the Texans are no world-conquerer themselves. Houston seems to be the more healthy team, and their defense has the ability to stand up and halt an offense's progress from time to time. That's enough reasoning for me. Houston: 24 - Cleveland: 10

John: Cleveland is 4-11 and Houston is 5-10. Does it really matter who wins? Hell no. Take the home team I guess. Texans 23-13

Detroit at Dallas 1:00 pm

drq: Dallas is pretty much the embodiment of the NFC in general this year. One week, they come out and look dominant against a very good playoff team, the next they're tripping over their own feet and look incapable of winning a single game. The Cowboys are already in the playoffs, while Detroit is just playing for pride and draft positioning, which would lead you to believe the Cowboys aren't taking this game very seriously. Then you realize that, with some help, they could still win the East, and it starts to become clear that they actually do have something to play for. I don't know how the Lions can stop Dallas. Their best chance is to just stand back and hope the Cowboys implode on their own. Dallas: 35 - Detroit: 10

John: The media's favorite team, the Cowboys, will beat the living hell out of the worst franchise in all of professional sports. Why is Detroit the worst? Because they still employ Matt Millen despite the fact that he's the worst GM in the NFL and has been pretty much since the day he was hired. Cowboys can still win their division with a win and an Eagles loss, so they should come out strong here. Cowboys 27-6

Jacksonville at Kansas City 1:00 pm

drq: I think the Jaguars are about to get run out of town. The Chiefs aren't a playoff-calibur team this year, but they're game, and the game is in Arrowhead in December. That much-hyped mystique alone could be enough to derail a mentally-fragile Jacksonville team, and I see Trent Green taking advantage of it with an impressive game. By the time Larry Johnson comes out to eat up the clock, the Jags will already be three scores down. Kansas City: 34 - Jacksonville: 14

John: Tough call here. The Chiefs have that home mystique where people think they are this great team in Arrowhead while the Jags are either really hot or really cold when they play. I'm thinking they are really hot here because it's a favorable matchup for them. They can beat up the Chiefs on both sides of the ball, protect the ball for as long as possible with their run game and then find a way to come out with the victory in the end. Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter a whole heck a lot since I don't see either team getting in the playoffs. Jaguars 24-23

New England at Tennessee 1:00 pm

drq: The Titans are, of course, the fashionable pick here. And, at home, I do think they have a legitimate shot at a victory here. Of course, I was positive the Patriots were headed for a whipping when they met Jacksonville last week, and we all know how well that went over. The Patriots still have an outside chance at gaining the #3 seed in the AFC, with a win and an Indianapolis loss, so they've got something to be motivated about this week. I like the Titans to keep it close and cover the spread, but the Patriots to win it straight-up with another late game-winning drive from Tom Brady. New England: 17 - Tennessee: 14

John: It's too hard for me to pick against the Titans at this point. The Pats won their division. They can't get higher than the three seed. They probably know the Colts are going to win, so I doubt they try too hard here. Brady might sit in the second half in order to be ready for next week when it really counts. With that in mind I'll pick the Titans rather comfortably. Titans 19-10

Oakland at N.Y. Jets 1:00 pm

drq: I think Oakland puts up a fight in their last game of the season. The Jets still have some questions about their running game, despite Leon Washington's big game last week, and the Raiders seem to be clamping down on the opposition's passing game with some genuine ferocity. I think the Jets have enough gas to finish the job, and it'll only take one defensive miscue to put Oakland on their heels. New York Jets: 14 - Oakland: 6

John: The Jets are in the playoffs if they win this game. Congrats Mangini boys, you made it. Oh, and if the Raiders don't fire Art Shell they're automatically the worst team next season too regardless of what happens in the offseason. Jets 30-7

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati 1:00 pm

drq: Cincy needs the win and some help to get into the post-season, while the Steelers have already been eliminated from the possibility of defending their crown. You'd think that, coupled with a homefield advantage, would be enough to completely tip the scales in Cincinnati's favor, but I've seen the Bengals struggle in similar situations this season. I think that, ultimately, the Bengals are the better team, but Pittsburgh will do everything in their power to rain on their divisional rivals' parade. The Steel men keep it close, but the orange and black take the victory. Cincinnati: 21 - Pittsburgh: 17

John: Who would have thought before the year that we'd be in week 17 and neither one of these teams would be in the playoffs? Crazy. That's why you play the games. Unlike last year, the Steelers suck on the road, so I'll take the Bengals by a TD in this one. Bengals 31-24

Seattle at Tampa Bay 1:00 pm

drq: My buddy's going to this game, and he's completely pissed that the Forty Niners lost last week. Otherwise, this week 17 face-off would've been the Bucs' last chance to save face in a black season, potentially costing the Seahawks a division championship and an entry into the playoffs. Ah well, I guess the stars just don't align sometimes. I like the Bucs, actually, as I'd be very surprised to see Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck in the second half, and Tim Rattay has suddenly revealed that the Bucs' offense does know how to move the ball. Tampa Bay: 21 - Seattle: 14

John: The Seabags have nothing to play for, but the Bucs suck too much for me to ever pick them. Thus… Seahawks 16-13

St. Louis at Minnesota 1:00 pm

drq: I don't think St. Louis deserves to be a playoff team this year, not even in the sorry NFC. The Vikings are out of the postseason picture, but they're still a firm team that can punish you on the ground and give you a tough fight on D. The Rams should be able to best the Vikings' pass coverage once, MAYBE twice, but I think they're going to have to really shore up their defense in a hurry to have any chance of halting the Vikings' attack. I like Minnesota. Minnesota: 17 - St. Louis: 13

John: Let's go Rams! It's like this. If we can't win on the road against a team with a bad offense that's starting a rookie QB for the second time then we have no business being in the playoffs. The Rams offense is playing too well right now to lose this game. The defense never plays well, but they should be able to slow down this anemic attack enough to score the victory. Rams 27-20

Arizona at San Diego 4:15 pm

drq: If Matt Leinart were starting this game, I'd almost think about giving the Cardinals the nod. Behind poor old Kurt Warner, though, I don't think they stand a chance. LDT furthers his incredible touchdown record by one or two more notches, and the Chargers cruise into the postseason with 14 wins in the bag. San Diego: 37 - Arizona: 21

John: The Chargers have to win this to lock up home field, which is very important to them. That means a blowout, methinks. Chargers 38-17

Atlanta at Philadelphia 4:15 pm

drq: Tough game to call, since both teams have a tendency to either show up big or not at all in this kind of a game. The Falcons are one of those shitty teams at 7-8 who aren't technically eliminated yet, but need a lot of outside assistance to have a real shot at the playoffs, while the Eagles are already in and seek the division crown. Jeff Garcia should have time to operate in the pocket, and that's all he needs. Incredibly, Philly comes back from the McNabb injury and wins the East outright here. Philadelphia: 20 - Atlanta: 17

John: The Eagles are streaking the right way. The Falcons are streaking the wrong way. Wouldn't be surprised to see Jim Mora lose his job here. They should be a playoff team. You can't blame it on injuries. I think it's the offensive system. It's just not right for them. The Eagles on the other hand have the perfect system for their team. That's why they're going into the playoffs as division champs. Quite a finish for them. Eagles 26-17

Buffalo at Baltimore 4:15 pm

drq: Upset special of the week. I think the Ravens are complacent, taking this game for granted and paying more attention to the SD / Arizona game than their own matters. The Bills should be able to move the ball on the ground against the stingy Raven defense, and shouldn't need JP Losman to do anything besides avoid the big turnovers. The Bills leave the season with their heads held high, and the Ravens suddenly find themselves watching the scoreboard for another game - Miami / Indy. Buffalo: 20 - Baltimore: 17

John: Not every game can be a blowout, so while I think the Ravens are going to win this game I think the Bills have the kind of personnel to keep it close. They're a frisky team right now. They could be somebody to look out for next year. Ravens 20-17

Miami at Indianapolis 4:15 pm

drq: The Dolphins march to Indy with a guy named Cleo Lemon at QB, but if I'm on Play by Play, I don't worry too much about researching his history or statistics. The Dolphins are going to try the same strategy every other team in the league has tried against the Colts - running the ball 60 times a game and reaping the rewards. I haven't been all that impressed with Ronnie Brown this year, and I think the Indy run defense wants to send a message this week. The Dolphins' D should prove to be a good test for the offense, but at the end of the day the Colts are still a force at home. Colts by two scores. Indianapolis: 27 - Miami: 17

John: Colts can get the second seed if the Ravens lose, but I doubt that happens, so Indy's basically playing to be the third seed. I haven't been able to get a read on Miami all year. However, with Cleo Lemon at QB I have very little faith that they will win this game especially because Indy's at home and they should be pissed off after last week's loss to the Texans. I like the home team rather comfortably. Colts 31-13

San Francisco at Denver 4:15 pm

drq: I'm not sure if I would've taken the Niners here, even if they had a shot at the West title with a victory. The Broncos' offense has looked better, but their defense remains a force, while San Francisco is basically the opposite story. In Denver, with a Bronco playoff birth at stake, I can't go with San Fran. Denver: 35 - San Francisco: 20

John: If Denver wins they're in. I think it'll happen and rather comfortably too. Shanahan's too good of a coach to have his team do a letdown game here. I think they're a quick out in the playoffs, but they should be able to make it in here. Broncos 17-10

Green Bay at Chicago 8:15 pm

drq: This is a game the Packers can win, but ultimately I don't think they will. Chicago's a tough team to beat at home, and though they'll primarily be resting their starters here, I'm not really sure if the Green Bay starters are good enough to put a dent into the Chicago backups. Favre keeps it close, but eventually makes another high-risk throw at the wrong moment. If there's a team in the league who knows how to prey off of an offense's mistakes, it's the Bears. Chicago's D leads the way in the fourth quarter. Chicago: 21 - Green Bay: 14

John: Brett Favre, I love ya and I respect ya, but please make a decision about your future soon because I can't stand another offseason of will he or won't he come back. As for the game, again, it doesn't matter who wins. I'll pick the Bears just because I think their backups are better than the Packers starters. That's not even a joke. I really believe that. Bears 23-10

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. This is the worst week for picking games because you never know who's trying, so I'd advise against picking too many games.

Last week: 2-2 - Another 2-2 week. That's now seven in a row like that. Weird.
Season: 32-29-3

NY Jets (-12) over Oakland
Lots of points, but betting against the Raiders has served me well all season.

Indianapolis (-9) over Miami
This is the Colts statement game. I think they win comfortably.

Tennessee (-3) over New England
The Pats don't really care. The Titans do.

Washington (+2) over NY Giants
The Giants are a mess. Skins aren't horrible. I see them winning.

Until next week when we preview the four wild card playoff games, for drqshadow and Brett Berliner this is John Canton saying enjoy the games. You know we will.




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