Saturday, January 01, 2005

NFL: Week 17 Picks

New York Jets at St. Louis Rams… New York Jets (1)
Talk about a tough Week 17 game to pick. On one hand, the Rams are a decent team playing at home. They are 5-2 at home this season. However, last week’s win over the Eagles may have been an aberration. That win was over an Eagles team who wasn’t playing their best men. When I look at the Jets this season, I see a team that is able to beat mediocre teams but can’t quite hang with the NFL’s elite. I can’t express much confidence with the Rams team at the moment. Therefore, I like the Jets on the road in St. Louis.

San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots… New England (3)
Despite having nothing to play for in Week 17, the Patriots are a sure bet to beat the 49ers. It appears that this could be the last game of coach Dennis Erickson’s tenure in San Francisco.

Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles… Cincinnati (1)
The Bengals have more to play for in this one. With a win, they are poised for a second straight non-losing season. Philadelphia is unlikely to play their starters for any extended period of time. I expect Bengals RB Rudi Johnson to run all over this Eagles defense.

Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins… Minnesota (2)
It’s hard to say whether or not Minnesota chokes in Week 17 like they did last year. In 2003, all they needed was a season ending victory versus Arizona to make the playoffs. In that game, Cardinals QB Josh McCown orchestrated a late scoring drive to put Arizona over the top. Washington will make it difficult for the high-powered Vikings offense to score their usually high number of points. Something tells me that Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings defense does just enough to make it into the playoffs.

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers… Carolina (1)
This may not be as close as the experts predict. New Orleans has a terrible run defense that will have a hard time stopping Nick Goings. It says something about the sorry state of the NFC when you see two 7-8 teams competing for a wild card in Week 17.

Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens… Baltimore (2)
If a RB like Lee Suggs is able to decimate Miami’s defensive front four, it’s safe to assume that Jamal Lewis will do even more damage to Miami’s porous run defense. While Miami has played well under interim coach Jim Bates, Baltimore is a team still fighting for their slim playoff hopes. At the very least, a Ravens win would give them a winning season at 9-7 for 2004. Miami fans will finally get a chance to see Sage Rosenfels, the Dolphins 3rd stringer who’s rarely played during his tenure in Miami, start at QB.

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans… Houston (3)
After having been subjected to witnessing a Cleveland Browns game live in person, I can’t bring myself to even contemplate them winning a professional football game.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills… Buffalo (2)
Buffalo needs a win versus Pittsburgh AND help in order to make the playoffs. It appears that Ben Roethlisberger, Duce Staley, and Jerome Bettis may all sit out this game for the Steelers. Consequently, it looks like Pittsburgh is satisfied with their top seed and resting for a playoff game in two weeks. Even if the Steelers were at full strength, Buffalo would be a threat based on their potent offense in the second half of the season.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears… Green Bay (1)
The Bears have been a very poor home team this year, going 2-5 at Solider Field. The Packers have had an uncharacteristically poor season at home this season, but have made up for it with solid showings on the road. The absence of star LB Brian Urlacher will make it difficult for the Bears to stop Green Bay’s solid offensive unit. In fact, the only way the Bears will stop the Packers is if Mike Sherman decides to pull his starters and protect them from injury.

Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans… Detroit (1)
If anyone cares to add anything intelligent to the discussion about this epic Lions vs. Titans match up, feel free to do so in the comments portion of this Live Journal or Blogspot.

Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks… Seattle (1)
Reports are that Michael Vick will start at QB for the Falcons. It remains to be seen how much he’ll play. Matt Hasselbeck appears to be healthy and ready to play, but might not see action were the Rams to lose at 1:00. If St. Louis loses to the Jets, Seattle will have already clinched the NFC West. While Hasselbeck might have enough to deal with the Atlanta blitz, I doubt Trent Dilfer could handle it. Hesitantly, I’ll take Seattle at home.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals… Arizona (1)
Arizona seems to play fairly decently at home, while Tampa Bay’s won only one road game this season. Since this game has no playoff implications for either squad, it’s hard to say what will happen. I’m thinking that 6-10 will be seen as an accomplishment for Dennis Green’s young team. On the other hand, Tampa Bay’s almost identical record is a huge disappointment for a man (Gruden) who’s two years removed from winning the Super Bowl.

Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers… Kansas City (1)
I’ve searched around in pursuit of relevant information I can use to select a team in this game. On one hand, Marty Schottenheimer has to want to emerge victorious over the team he formerly coached. Working in Kansas City’s favor is the fact that the Chargers are expected to sit both QB Drew Brees and LaDanian Tomlinson. The word is that Doug Flutie will start, but rookie Philip Rivers will see much of the playing time at QB. If I had to choose a winner, and I guess I’m being forced to do so, I’ll go with the favored Chiefs.

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos… Indianapolis (1)
This is my big upset selection of Week 17. Conventional wisdom dictates that Denver, playing for their playoff lives, will come out and take care of business. However, Denver has struggled mightily in recent weeks and could have trouble with the Colts. Were Denver to win this game, they would likely face Indianapolis again in next week’s first round of the playoffs at the RCA Dome. The cynic in me says that Indianapolis would prefer Denver win, so they would avoid the red-hot Bills next week. I doubt Tony Dungy is that sinister, so I expect his team to give a good effort.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders… Jacksonville (3)
Jacksonville’s playoff fate may be decided by the time they hit the field at 4:15 ET Sunday afternoon. For the Jaguars to secure a wild card berth, they need to win and hope both Buffalo and Denver fall to their respective opponents. Nevertheless, I expect Jacksonville to emerge victorious even if their playoff hopes are terminated after the early set of games.

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants… Dallas (1)
Remember the days when games between the Cowboys and Giants were actually significant? Actually, those days were probably before I started following football. Bill Parcells looks to win another game against his former team, the Giants. I have high hopes that rookie QB Eli Manning goes through this season without a win. A loss by the Giants makes it likely that they’d be forced to send their 5th pick in the 2005 draft to San Diego as a result of the Rivers/Manning deal. I’ve hated Eli Manning ever since he refused to play for the Chargers and had Dad Archie orchestrate a deal to the Giants. I would love to see Manning injured in this game, but I’d settle for a simple loss.


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