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The Oratory's NFL Picks for Week 17
by John Canton (NFL)
Posted on January 2, 2010, 7:22 AM

John: Welcome to week seventeen of the Oratory's NFL Picks. I am John Canton joined as always by my fellow prognosticators James Deaux and Matt Henry. It's the worst week to pick games when only a handful of them really matter. Throw logic out the window and grasp at straws here. I'll bet on the four things that I mention at the end, but other than that it's a quiet betting week for me. I'm not THAT stupid. Am I? Note that there are no more Monday night games this year. That's a bit of a letdown. After all, who is going to tell me that "THIS GUY" or "THAT GUY" is a heck of a player like Jon Gruden does? I'm going to be so lost the rest of the way without knowing the skills of THAT GUY.

Last week's results:
Matt 11-5
John 10-6
James 10-6

The standings for the season:
James 164-76 (.683)
John 155-85 (.646)
Matt 153-87 (.638)

All game times are Eastern. Note that there's no Monday nighter this week. The regular season ends on Sunday.

Indianapolis at Buffalo 1:00 PM
James: This game is going to be beyond pointless with the Colts’ starters maybe not playing at all in the brutal Buffalo January cold. I’ll take Buffalo for solely that reason. Buffalo 17 – Indianapolis 13

Matt: No reason to care about this game, the Colts don’t, and I doubt that the Bills do either. I still think that the Colts are going to pay for disrupting the flow of their starting offense in the playoffs. By the time they play in a game that counts, the Colts starters won’t have had to really play football in almost a month. Is it wrong that I think that the Bills starters are worse than the second and third string Colts? Colts 24-20

John: I have little faith in the Colts backups to win even against a crappy team like the Bills. By the way, how funny is it that the Bills are so excited this week about moving forward with a new GM and the guy they hire is 70 years old? Moving forward...slowly. Bills 24-13

Jacksonville at Cleveland 1:00 PM
James: Jacksonville is somehow still in the playoff race, but even the National Guard couldn’t help them at this point. They’re terrible on the road, and Cleveland has been playing much better lately. Cleveland 28 – Jacksonville 14

Matt: The Jaguars are still in the playoff hunt if they win and four other teams lose this week. Playing the Browns should allow them to do that much, but having four of the six teams ahead of them do the same is a bit of a reach. I’m thinking this is going to be a bit of a shootout. Jaguars 30-24

John: I don't know here. The Browns have shown a lot of heart of late while the Jags have faded after being in the driver's seat for a playoff spot. I'll go Jags in one of those high scoring, no defense kind of games where everybody lets loose in the last game of the year. Jaguars 31-27

Chicago at Detroit 1:00 PM
James: Chicago looked like a completely different team last week against the Vikings, so logic says they should eviscerate the Lions. That’s the thing, though—this season has been completely illogical. I’m still picking the Bears in an ugly game. Chicago 23 – Detroit 21

Matt: The Bears complete the season with a win that gives them a win loss record that looks better than their season was. They need to make some major changes in the offseason to be competitive in the NFC next year. Jay Cutler can do so much more. Give him a few good players and this team is going to battle with the Packers for the top of the NFC North this year. Bears 27-12

John: You know what? I'm going Lions. No reason. I just am. Bears will have a new head coach next year too. My boy Lovie Smith (former DC on the Rams) is out. Lions 24-23

San Francisco at St. Louis 1:00 PM
James: San Francisco wants to see what Alex Smith can offer them, so they’re going to play this one tough the whole way. I don’t really see why considering they’re playing the Rams, but hey, go nuts. San Francisco 34 – St. Louis 13

Matt: This like the rest of the NFC games lacks much of any playoff implication. The 49ers ending the year with an 8-8 mark is better than most people had them in the preseason. A few breaks one way or the other this year and this is a playoff team. Did the draft holdout cause them to miss the post season? I’m not willing to believe that. Crabtree did become a contributor when he finally pulled his head out of his ass and realized that he was only going to get paid what his actual value was instead of what he believed he was worth, but the 49ers had a pretty good start to the season despite his absence. Expectations are going to be high for this team next season. The Rams..., well they are the Rams. I don’t expect much from them for the next few seasons. Poor management of the team has left them with nothing going for them currently, and not much to look forward to. 49ers 27-13

John: Thank God, the worst season in Rams history is over. I've never seen a team blow more close games in the fourth quarter. They really should have four or five wins. Me and the 13 other people that watch all the Rams games know this. Niners 31-10

Pittsburgh at Miami 1:00 PM
James: Neither of these teams is making the playoffs, but I’ll take Miami solely on home field advantage. Miami 27 – Pittsburgh 21

Matt: I like the Steelers much more at home this year. That said, this team has been a back against the wall and fight team for a few years now. There are few if any teams in the league that have been in as many do or die situations as the Steelers in the past two years. Although they have had mixed success in those situations this year, I can’t think of another team I’d pick to play strong under than them. In week 15 after the five consecutive losses against some of the worst teams in the league I picked the Steelers to upset the Packers for no logical reason. In week 16 I went out on a bit of a thicker limb and picked them over the Ravens based on the tenacity of the club. The Dolphins are the weakest of the three and being that the Steelers seem to match the level of the opposition, that worries me almost as much as the fact that this is a road game. The Dolphins can make the playoffs if they win and the Jets, Ravens, Texans and Jaguars all lose their games. Most preseason predictions picked the Dolphins to miss the post season this year, due to the high level of competition in the AFC East and in the AFC overall. The Dolphins are one of several teams that are one or two moves away from being elite in the league. Steelers 28-24

John: Pittsburgh will win, but the Ravens and Jets will also win meaning the Steelers will miss the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl for the second time in the last four years. Way to defend the crown, Men of Steel. To be fair, if Alge Crumpler didn't crumple Troy Polamalu's knee in week one they're probably in the playoffs. I think he's the most valuable defensive player in the NFL and his absence this year proved that. Steelers 24-20

NY Giants at Minnesota 1:00 PM
James: The Giants are simply awful and the Vikings are going to be hungry to avenge last week’s gut-wrenching loss. Minnesota 35 – New York 23

Matt: Some teams seem to shut down at the end of the season. Some seem to peak then. If the Giants were still in the hunt for a playoff slot, I might consider them for the upset here. Despite the recent woes of the Vikings, I can’t see them losing this one at home. This team is going to suffer for the late season breakdown by losing the bye week and facing the prospect of going on the road in the divisional round to play the Eagles. The Vikings need to find a way to get Peterson more involved in this offense again or they are going to be one and done in the playoffs. Vikings 28-17

John: The Vikes want to win this game to get the #2 seed that was in their grasp the whole way. I think they'll do it in part because the Giants have given up weeks ago. I'd love to see Adrian Peterson have a big day too just because I've got him in a fantasy NFL league where we count playoffs and I need him to get hot during January. So do the Vikings. Vikings 31-17

Atlanta at Tampa Bay 1:00 PM
James: As a Falcons fan, this game scares the hell out of me because Tampa has new life of late, and they really took it to Atlanta earlier this season. I don’t want to do this, but I’m picking Tampa Bay. It’s because the team has a chance to get its elusive back-to-back winning seasons that they will lose. Atlanta is a cursed sports town and things like this just happen to us. Tampa Bay 28 – Atlanta 20

Matt: Unlike the Saints the Falcons sort of have something to play for this week. The Bucs are going to get murdered this week. Falcons 28-20

John: Congrats Falcons, two straight winning years. Too bad that doesn't mean a playoff berth. And if not, who cares. If you're out of the playoffs that's what matters. The Bucs could win here. They are playing with a lot of heart, I give them that. Falcons 34-24

New Orleans at Carolina 1:00 PM
James: Drew Brees is the #3 QB in this game. Carolina is winning this one. Carolina 28 – New Orleans 14

Matt: The Saints have nothing to play for here and they travel to play an underrated Panthers team that has the chance to have a winning record at home if they get it done this week. Carolina could rise to be a serious contender in the NFC next season as they should have a reasonably weak schedule to contend with. This seems to be the safest pick of the week. Panthers 28-20

John: With Drew Brees relegated to #3 QB status this week, the starting QB for the Saints? Mark Brunell. That would be great...in 1996. They are not going into the playoffs on the right note. By the way Panthers, you'll end the year at 8-8 after this win. Why wouldn't you pull Jake Delhomme earlier in the year when he was playing so bad? I'll never understand. Panthers 28-13

New England at Houston 1:00 PM
James: Meaningless game for both teams, so I’ll take Houston since they really want their franchise’s first winning season. Houston 31 – New England 24

Matt: As tempting as it is to see the match up and pick the Patriots as a reflex, there are many variables that make this a very interesting matchup to end the season. Is the difference between being the #3 team and the #4 team enough for the Patriots to lay it all on the line against the Texans this week? I think not, but I consider team pride to be huge for this program. I think that the Texans can win this one even if the Patriots give it their all for two reasons. New England has shown to be very vulnerable to long ball teams. Houston could torch this limited secondary and rack up a ton of points, but they also have to slow the potent attack of the Patriots. I think their lack of a run game is going to hurt them because keeping the ball away from the Patriots offense late in the game is key. There can also be no discussion of this game without at least considering that the Patriots have been awful on the road this year. I have enough faith in the ability of the Texans to muck things up to predict a Patriots win this week. Texans 34-28

John: Great, another meaningless game. The Pats are the 3 or 4 seed. It really doesn't matter where you end up because you get a home game in playoff week one and have to travel in week two. Do you want to go to Indy or San Diego? Bigger question is do you want to risk the health of your guys? I say no. The Pats have said that Brady will play, but I have my doubts. There are no greater liars in the NFL than the Pats. This is the team that has had Brady on the injury report listed as "probable (shoulder)" for like six years now. You trust them to start their guys all game? I don't. Texans 31-20

Philadelphia at Dallas 4:15 PM
James: Holy crap, it’s a meaningful game amongst all the pointless ones! In years past, this would have been an easy choice, but Dallas actually resembles a good team now. I’m going to pick them because Philadelphia’s defense is simply not good enough. Dallas 29 – Philadelphia 26

Matt: This game is big for Dallas, but huge for the Eagles. Philadelphia is the #2 seed with a win and #5 with a loss and the expected Viking win. This is not a good matchup for the Cowboys at all, and I believe that not only does Dallas lose this game, but they lose it in impressive fashion. I’m not usually too keen on betting on divisional games because they are so unpredictable due to the familiarity of the teams involved, but I’m thinking that there would be money to be made here as somehow, the Cowboys are favored this week. Eagles 28-14

John: The winner of this game doesn't matter that much in the sense of home field advantage like most people think. What's so great about home field when 3 of the 4 teams that had byes last year got bounced in their first playoff game? The important thing is momentum. Both of these teams are playing well over the last month and considering that they'll be playing hard in this game bodes well for them should they play the slumping Saints or Vikings in playoff week two. It's all about the big MO, momentum. Win or lose, they both have it. I'll go Cowboys here. Cowboys 27-20

Kansas City at Denver 4:15 PM
James: Denver owned the Chiefs the last time they played one another, and I don’t see it being any different here. Denver 31 – Kansas City 14
Matt: This is another of the great traditional ugly rivalry games to wrap up the season. The Broncos have been all over the map this year. If they had managed to beat the Raiders, they would have secured their place in the playoffs already. As it stands, they could win here and still find themselves on the outside looking in next week. I’m thinking that the Broncos fold under the pressure here a bit and allow the Chiefs to play this one close. There was a time where both of these teams had such a tremendous home field advantage that it was unthinkable to pick against either one at their home. Broncos 24-21

John: How many teams have started 6-0 and then missed the playoffs? I don't know, but even after they win this week you can add Denver to that list. Of course if you told a Broncos fan they'd be 9-7 before the year they'd think you're insane, so they have overachieved in that sense. The Chiefs, despite their best efforts, just aren't very good on the road. Broncos 24-10

Baltimore at Oakland 4:15 PM
James: Baltimore has a tendency to no-show against lesser opponents, and Oakland can be a handful. I’ll take Oakland here just because it will further mess up the playoff seedings, and that seems to be the order of the season. Oakland 24 – Baltimore 20

Matt: The Raiders have been upsetting big time teams all season. The Ravens are going to be a bit banged up after last week, and they have to travel across the country during the holiday season. The Steelers need an upset here and I’ll be the total homer I am and call it. Raiders 20-13

John: If Baltimore wins this game they get in the playoffs. I know the Raiders are a pesky team and they've knocked off some pretty good teams this year. Not this week. The Ravens are the better team. They've been erratic a little bit, but they know what's at stake and with a lot of veteran leaders on both sides of the ball I see them getting up for this game big time. Too much of Ray Rice for the Raiders to handle. Ravens 24-17

Green Bay at Arizona 4:15 PM
James: These two teams could possibly meet in the playoffs, and neither would want to show the other anything, logically. I’ll take Green Bay ever so slightly. Green Bay 21 – Arizona 20

Matt: These teams might meet up again next week so I wouldn’t expect them to put too much out there this week in a game that doesn’t change anything. I’ll save the detailed breakdown for next week. Coin toss, Packers. Packers 24-21

John: Who cares less about winning this game? I have no idea. I'll go Packers just because I think they believe in that whole momentum thing and they might want to win this game to keep their hot play going. It would be fun to see this game next week too. Packers 23-17

Washington at San Diego 4:15 PM
James: San Diego has nothing to play for, but Washington still won’t win against the Bill Volek-led Chargers. San Diego 20 – Washington 17

Matt: Even if the Chargers take a break this week, they should handle the Redskins. Washington seems to have quit on the season that they never got started in. I wouldn’t want to bet on this one though. Chargers 20-18

John: I think Washington's so bad that even the Chargers backups are going to beat them. Then on Monday morning at about 9am you'll read: "Redskins fire Zorn; hire Mike Shanahan to be new head coach." They may do it after the game. Maybe DURING the game. That's how much they dislike Zorn right now. Go Redskins! Chargers 17-13

Tennessee at Seattle 4:15 PM
James: The Titans are playing solely for Chris Johnson in this one, and since they are playing the godawful Seahawks, there is a chance he could still break the rushing record. Easy call here, and I hope Johnson has a monster game. Tennessee 43 – Seattle 14

Matt: The Titans put up a good fight to get to playoff contention this year. The loss last week was heartbreaking, but not unexpected. They are yet another team that could be a major player in the AFC next year with a few right moves. The Seahawks need to do something about their injury problems, or you can expect more of the same as the past two years. Titans 28-10

John: If Chris Johnson gets 146 rushing yards he eclipses the 2000 yard mark (252 to break my boy Eric Dickerson's 2,105 from 1984). That means the Titans will do everything possible to get him that number of yards. Bad news for the Seahawks although do you think they even care at this point? I don't. Titans/Chris Johnson 31-20

Cincinnati at NY Jets 8:20 PM
James: The Jets are just about the luckiest team in football. The Colts gift-wrapped them a win, and the Bengals might just do the same thing. New York 24 – Cincinnati 14

Matt: Moved to primetime, but this game could end up being a dud as the Bengals will have to choose to risk their starters in a game that means nothing to them. The Bengals might also be in a position where a win allows their bitter division rival Steelers into the playoffs. Beating a team three times in a season is not an easy task, and the Steelers are a team that nobody in the AFC wants to see next week, or anywhere in the post season. I like the Jets here although I’d much rather be wrong about this one. Jets 24-10

John: If the Jets win they get in the playoffs. The Bengals will have Palmer at QB, Jordan Palmer – the backup that's the brother of Carson Palmer. I'm sure the Jets are scared. The Jets will limp into the playoffs after a hot start, a mediocre middle and then having the luck of playing against two playoff teams that lay down for them in weeks 16 and 17. What a way to get in. That's like having pocket twos, you go all in, another guy has pocket aces, he flops an ace, then you get your two on the turn and river to suck out the win. Congrats on the pocket twos, Jets. Jets 23-10

JC's Money Picks
Every week I'll pick four games against the spread or using the over/under. I was 2-2 last week. These odds come from pinnaclesports.com as always.

Season: 38-29-1 (.567)

Titans -4 over SEAHAWKS. Betting against Seattle more than anything.
Niners -9 over RAMS. And against my Rams. Not like home field matters.
TEXANS -8 over Patriots. The Pats don't care despite what they say.
COWBOYS -3 over Eagles. I wanted at least one pick on a game that matters.

Thanks for reading. We'll see you next week for wildcard weekend. Like I said last week, we will continue doing the picks all the way through to the Super Bowl.

Enjoy the games.

Contact James at xenomaster_17@yahoo.com
Contact Matt at Kane_matthews@hotmail.com
Contact John at oratoryjohn@gmail.com

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