The Oratory's NFL Picks for Week 15
by John Canton(NFL)
Posted on December 19, 2009, 6:57 AM
John: Welcome to week fifteen of the Oratory's NFL Picks. I am John Canton joined as always by my fellow prognosticators James Deaux and Matt Henry. This has been a weird season for me. My favorite team, the Rams, are having the worst season in the history of the franchise (and that's saying something). However, this is by far the greatest fantasy season of my life (and I've been at it for about 15 years now) and gambling wise it's been the best of my last five years without question. I think maybe I'm paying more attention to fantasy and gambling because my team sucks so much. I don't know what it is, but at least I've had something salvageable this season.
Last week's results:
The standings for the season:
James 146-62 (.702)
John 137-71 (.659)
Matt 132-76 (.635)
All game times are Eastern.
Dallas at New Orleans 8:20 PM (Sat) James: Iím going to go ahead and say itóNew Orleans is the most overrated (and luckiest) team in football. They won by a mere three points last week against an Atlanta team missing its starting quarterback, running back, and God only knows how many starters on defense. The week before, it took a missed 22-yeard field goal and overtime for them to win against a much worse Redskins team. And their schedule this year has been so laughably easy that I canít believe no one has mentioned the fact that they really havenít been tested in a truly difficult contest yet. Can you get the sense of why they donít impress me? Still, playing at the Superdome against a team that has no idea how to win in December means theyíll win again. Saints 35 Ė Cowboys 33
Matt: Dallas in December, on the road against an unbeaten team. No thanks. Saints 34-28
John: I'm not picking against the Saints at home. Maybe in the playoffs I will if they're home to the Vikes and if Minny looks good the week before, but other than that I think they have the best home field advantage in the NFL. Dallas is still trying to find themselves, which is not a good thing to be doing on the road against an undefeated team like this. Drew Brees continues his MVP march with a dominant performance here. I like the Saints to win and cover the number pretty handily. Saints 37-20
New England at Buffalo 1:00 PM James: New England is no longer the powerhouse that they used to be and itís obvious. Still, they should have no problem winning against Buffaloóa team they have routinely destroyed for a long time. Patriots 30 Ė Bills 20
Matt: The Patriots have been awful on the road against teams they should be beating. The Bills kept this matchup very close in Week 1 on the road. This is another game that could be looking to be a surprise upset. I just canít pick the Bills right now though because they just canít seem to get out of their own way when they have anything decent going for them. If I had any faith in the passing attack of the Bills Iíd be quite tempted to pick them in this one. As it stands, Iím thinking that the Patriots walk all over the Bills to earn their first win at an opponentís stadium this year. Patriots 32-20
John: Last year I went to Pats at Bills. It was so windy that when the Bills attempted a 25 yard field goal, it missed wide by about 5 feet because the wind carried the ball so far to the left. We left midway through the third and I spent the next three days curled up in a blanket because I was so sick from it. The Pats won 12-0 I believe. Worst sporting event of my life, no question. This year it's going to be cold there again although not as windy, so while I expect the Pats to win I think the Bills will cover. Patriots 24-20
Arizona at Detroit 1:00 PM James: Detroit has to have the most hideously difficult schedule this year. It seems like every week, they play some other team that is playoff-bound or at least over .500. Arizona will most definitely not have another turnover-fest like they did last week. Cardinals 39 Ė Lions 10
Matt: Hey Cardinals, think you can avoid losing at least one of these next two games to clinch your division? The Cardinals seem to be a very good football team that at times tends to play very poor football. If there is a winning record team that can manage to lose to the Lions or the Rams, it is the Cardinals. I highly doubt it will happen though. After last week, the Cards should shred the Lions. With the way the Cardinals have played though, Iím sure that the Lions cover the points just to screw with the bettors. Cardinals 28-18
John: What Cards team will show up? The dominant one that beat the Vikings in impressive fashon or the one that got destroyed by the Niners? I guess it doesn't matter that much against a terrible Lions team that is playing in the confines of a dome, which will suit the Cards passing attack just fine. Cardinals 34-14
Miami at Tennessee 1:00 PM James: This one should be really entertaining with Miami trying to keep pace in the playoff chase and Tennessee doing everything they can to get Chris Johnson the all-time rushing record. Iím going to predict a Dolphins victory here, but just barely. Dolphins 24 Ė Titans 22
Matt: Two fairly evenly matched teams battling for a playoff slot late in the season. The Titans fall completely out of the picture with a loss here, and the Dolphins move to a very precarious 7-7 record that puts them on the outside of the playoff picture. The Dolphins cannot afford a loss here with a game against another long shot playoff team to wrap up the season. The Dolphins are going to be looking to the air to win this game which doesnít bode well for a team that has seen much of its success due to the ground attack. The Titans will be doing most of their work on the ground as well I think, and the uncertainty over who will be starting at QB for the Titans will also hurt the Dolphins chances here. Kerry Collins and Vince Young are two completely different styles of QB, and you canít game plan for both of them and have success defending either one. Titans 24-20
John: This is a game with two defensive, running type teams fighting for the playoffs. I like how Miami's playing lately. The defense seems to be improved from earlier in the year, Ricky Williams is running well and Chad Henne's confidence grows by the week. For fantasy purposes I hope Chris Johnson has a fantastic game again for the Titans, but I'll pick against them. I like what the Fish are doing right now. Dolphins 23-20
Cleveland at Kansas City 1:00 PM James: Does anyone really care? Cleveland has looked better of late, and Kansas City has regressed since their win over Pittsburgh. I guess Iíll take Cleveland, but seriously, read the opening remark. Browns 24 Ė Chiefs 17
Matt: Two teams with upset wins over the Steelers match up at KC this week to play for the higher slot in the draft order. With no playoff implications whatsoever, this is pretty much a throwaway game. Coin flip, Chiefs. Chiefs 27-12
John: Chiefs are decent at home, and I'm betting on them. "Hi, my name is John and I have a problem. I bet on the fucking Chiefs/Browns game!" Hey, in the name of gambling, there's no bad game. Chiefs 24-10
Houston at St. Louis 1:00 PM James: Houston got back on track last week, but itís too little, too late for them yet again. They will have no problem winning against a terrible Rams team here, but they need to win out and get a ridiculous amount of help to get a postseason berth. Another tragic ending to what was once a promising Texansí season. Texans 42 Ė Rams 14
Matt: The Texans need a win here to hang around the outskirts of the playoff picture and hold out hope for a winning record for the first time in franchise history. What better way to get one more win than to play the Rams. That fact is the only reason why I can feel safe predicting the Texans implosion takes a break this week, but they are likely to drop at least one their final two games of the season and end up 7-9 or 8-8 anyway. Texans 34-18
John: My Rams are done. Backups at QB, backups on the OL and Steven Jackson might be out with the H1N1 flu. I hate this season. The Rams have little chance with Jackson. They have no chance without him. The Texans should win rather convincingly. Texans 37-10
Atlanta at NY Jets 1:00 PM James: Atlantaís season has come completely undone due to a hideous string of injuries, even though they really should have won last week were it not for the referees taking the game off while New Orleans was on defense. This week, they play the leagueís toughest defense and with Matt Ryan and Michael Turner both questionable, I donít see this being pretty for Atlanta. The Jets are turning to Mark Sanchez again, and maybe he can have a rebound game at home against Atlantaís weak secondary. Atlanta loses and their insane streak of no back-to-back winning seasons continues for another two years. Jets 21 Ė Atlanta 13
Matt: The Falcons are terrible on the road. Being outdoors against the Jets isnít going to help matters either. Add in the list of injuries and you have a pretty reliable pick for the unreliable Jets. Jets 28-10
John: I'm going Atlanta. No rhyme or reason, I just am. It's one of those games that jumped out at me as a good underdog pick. The fact that it's cold and might be snowy in the Jersey area means it'll be a low scoring, ugly type of game. Injuries don't matter as much in games like that. Plus, I really don't believe in the Jets. Falcons 14-13
San Francisco at Philadelphia 1:00 PM James: San Francisco really impressed me last week by forcing all those turnovers against Arizona. They will get a much tougher challenge on the road against Philadelphia, whose offense has been electric lately. The 49ers simply wonít be able to keep up with the Eaglesí offense. Eagles 34 Ė 49ers 21
Matt: Can the 49ers keep their nearly impossible playoff odds alive by winning two must win games against tough opposition in two weeks? If they pull this one off, they have a shot at falling backwards into the playoffs on a 4 game win streak as their last two games may be the lightest closing to the regular season that any team has ever had in the modern history of the league. The Eagles are in a playoff race as well, but they can feel confident that they have full and total control over their destiny at this point in time. Add the fact that the 49ers have been playing poorly on the road this year, and the Eagles come out of this one game closer to closing out the NFC East. Eagles 24-17
John: I made a mistake underestimating the Niners last week at home. They're pretty good when they play at the Stick. On the road is a different story. I think Alex Smith gets rattled a lot more. He's not experienced enough to have good games away from home in a tough environment like Philly. The Eagles are playing for a division as well as a potential first round bye if the Vikings slip up, so I think they'll have an impressive outing here. They're notorious for playing well in December too. Eagles 27-14
Chicago at Baltimore 4:05 PM James: Chicago hasnít been a factor in anything since roughly Week 6, while Baltimore is still hanging around the Wild Card race in the AFC. As long as Baltimore gives Chicagoís brutally bad defense a healthy dose of Ray Rice, they will be fine. Ravens 28 Ė Chicago 13
Matt: A Baltimore win here is crucial to their playoff aspirations since a loss puts them on the level with a pile of teams vying for that #6 playoff slot in the AFC. You donít want to be counting on tiebreakers to continue playing in January. The Bears come into this game looking to play spoiler and salvage a little bit of pride by avoiding a losing season. I like Baltimore here, but as Iíve said for the last five weeks as my Steelers lose game after game, Iím rooting against the entire AFC midcard right now. Ravens 24-18
John: The snowstorm that's devouring the eastern US right now is supposedly the worst in Baltimore, which is why they've moved this game from 1pm to 4pm. The reason is because they want to have more time to clean the roads to allow people to get to and from the game. Low scoring game here. Baltimore's the better team, though. Ravens 13-6
Oakland at Denver 4:05 PM James: What does it say about Jamarcus Russell that he is lower on the QB depth chart than both Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye? Denver has regrouped after their losing streak earlier in the season, and they are just about ready to clinch a playoff spot, assuming they donít have some monumental tragedy against the Raiders...and they wonít. Broncos 30 Ė Raiders 10
Matt: The Broncos should be able to maintain their spot at the top of the AFC wildcard race as they face the Raiders who are once more in disarray. Then again, that seems to be more of a continuation of their state than a resumption of one. Broncos win, but Iím thinking that the Raiders somehow manage to cover the 14 points. Broncos 24-17
John: Picked the Raiders last week. Never again. I don't think Brandon Marshall will catch 21 again going against the great Nnamdi of the Raiders, but they are too good defensively at home for the Raiders to do much. Broncos 24-10
Cincinnati at San Diego 4:05 PM James: San Diego is absolutely on fire right now and I canít see Cincinnati stopping them on the road, even with the added motivation of playing for the memory of Chris Henry. (R.I.P.) Chargers 28 Ė Bengals 21
Matt: If the Chargers donít underperform as they did earlier in the season, they should hand the Bengals a loss this week. I donít know if the loss of a teammate will provide a distraction or a motivation for the Bengals, and I think it isnít going to matter much on the field. The Chargers have too many weapons for the Bengals to be able to defend. Oh, and Ochocinco wants to fight Merriman. Iím thinking he pulls some kind of bullfighter stunt for this weekís fine. Chargers 32-27
John: This is the battle for the #2 seed in the AFC. I liked the Chargers the minute I saw the game. However, with the passing of Chris Henry this week there's a chance that the Bengals overachieve a bit especially on offense. Maybe they up their game in memory of their deceased teammate to the point where they pull out the win. Could happen. They are talented. I just like the Chargers more. Phil Rivers is playing at such a high level right now that it's hard for me to go against them at home. Chargers 31-14
Green Bay at Pittsburgh 4:15 PM James: A matchup of two teams going in completely opposite directions, I see this one going as it shouldówith a Packers win. Pittsburgh just has absolutely no sense of urgency during their 5-game losing streak and theyíve looked rather pathetic during it. (How do you lose to the Chiefs, Raiders, and Browns in a five-week span???) Packers 34 Ė Steelers 23
Matt: Going against all logic and reason, Iím picking the Steelers. Maybe the force of that will power will cause them to snap the losing streak. I promise if the Steelers lose this week, no more hope against hope playoff talk from me the rest of the way. Somehow the Steelers are favored? I just donít understand the process sometimes. Steelers 21-20
John: I'm tired of picking the Steelers and losing. I the Packers are one of the five best teams in the NFL (after the Colts, Saints, Vikes and Chargers in some order), so I'm going to pick them to continue their hot streak. The Steelers secondary is banged up. Against a good passing attack like the Packers have that's going to be a problem. Packers 24-20
Tampa Bay at Seattle 4:15 PM James: I wonder how many people in either city will watch this abomination of a game. But Seattle is at least adequate on their home field, while Tampa Bay is atrocious no matter where they play. Seahawks 24 Ė Bucs 12
Matt: This awful game matters to no one except elevenball and he clearly doesnít count. If this game is playing in your market, go to the afternoon church service instead. Seahawks 18-6
John: Long flight for Tampa. They're not any good at home. They're even worse on the road. I'll go with Seattle rather comfortably. Seahawks 31-10
Minnesota at Carolina 8:20 PM James: Carolina will again be without Jake Delhomme, but honestly, I donít think it really even matters anymore. Minnesota wins again and clinches a first-round bye in a rare bad matchup on Sunday Night Football this season. Vikings 31 Ė Panthers 14
Matt: The Vikings still have something to play for. Homefield advantage is still up for grabs in the NFC and the Saints have looked a bit iffy several times this year. Even if the Vikings were locked into the top slot, I still wouldnít take the Panthers right now. Vikings 24-12
John: Matt Moore against this defense? No thanks. Panthers have pretty much quit on coach John Fox, who is going to get fired in about three weeks. The Vikes need wins to clinch the two seed, so they should roll here as the Brett & AP Show continues to produce. Vikings 27-13
NY Giants at Washington 8:30 PM (Mon) James: The Giantsí defense is just awful, and their offense canít keep up with all of the holes theyíre put in every week. However, I have to believe they rebound against their hated rivals in Washington. When does Mike Shanahan take over this team and how much foaming at the mouth are the Redskinsí fans doing thinking about it? Giants 27 Ė Redskins 24
Matt: The Giants should pick up another much needed win this week. The Redskins do have the ability to sneak in the upset, but Iím not going to pick a team this inconsistent against the do or die mentality of the Giants. Giants 24-20
John: I like the Skins here. Wait, I should rephrase that. I donít like the Giants very much right now. That defense has become below average after being the best for most of last year. Even the Redskins should be able to pick it apart because they're passing the ball a lot better since bingo man Sherm Lewis has been calling the plays. Also, remember, Jason Campbell's playing for a contract and he's been decent the last few weeks. Redskins 20-17
JC's Money Picks Every week I'll pick four games against the spread or using the over/under. I was 3-1 last week (stupid Cards!). These odds come from pinnaclesports.com as always.
Season: 34-25-1 (.576)
Ravens/Bears UNDER 39Ĺ. By Sunday this number will probably be 33 or 34, so I'll gladly take the under at this number.
CHIEFS -1 over the Browns. Yes, I already know I'm a degenerate for betting on this game.
CHARGERS -7 over the Bengals. Wish it was 6Ĺ, but I think SD should be fine at 7.
Dolphins +4 over the TITANS. Rolling with the road underdog. I think they're the better team.
Thanks for reading. We'll see you next week for week sixteen.