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Championship Game Previews

This Sunday is Championship Sunday in the NFL. The AFC Championship will feature the Baltimore Ravens going into New England to face the Patriots. In the NFC it is the New York Giants traveling to San Francisco to face the 49ers. Before I get to the breakdowns of each game I am going to go through and rank the 4 possible Super Bowl matchups by level of intrigue. The criteria is a mixture of game with most hype and the competitiveness of the matchup.

4. Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants

Not many story lines here for this matchup. The Ravens beat the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, so it would be a re-match. The game has the potential to be a 17-10 snooze-fest with two good defenses facing one very mediocre and one could go either way quarterback.

3. Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers

The reasons I have this game ranked higher than the Giants Ravens Super Bowl is because this game would feature the 2 best middle linebackers in football and the Harbuagh brothers coaching against each other (the annoyance of this possibility may lead me to not turn on any pregame talk for 2 weeks). The rumor is if Ray Lewis wins the Super Bowl this could be the last year so what more fitting way would it be for him to go out by beating the Niners and handing the torch over to Patrick Willis as best linebacker in football?? Then again a ALex Smith and Joe Flacco Super Bowl could leave people losing interest quickly once the game gets started.

2. New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers

Tom Brady facing the best defense in football. Ya this is pretty intriguing. Throw in the hundreds of stories about Tom Brady cheering for the 49ers as a kid growing up in Northern California and the Patriots quest for another Super Bowl in the Belichick Brady era and this game will grab people’s attention.

1. New England Patriots and New York Giants

The more intriguing rematch BY FAR of the two possible Super Bowl rematches if the Giants were to win this Sunday. David Tyree better get ready for the interview and television requests if this were to happen. The storylines would be through the roof. Let alone how good the game should be. Can the Giants pressure Brady the way it did a few years ago? Can they stop Gronk and Hernandez? Can ELi come through in the clutch? How about can Eli pass his brother in SUper Bowl rings on his brother’s own field? Can Brady and Belichick win a ring on Peyton Manning’s own field?? How about Peyton’s brother facing his number one nemesis for the Super Bowl?? This is the game we need to be rooting for on Sunday.

AFC Championship

Baltimore Ravens 23 at New England Patriots 27

The Ravens always play the Patriots close and this game will come down to the final minutes as they always do. The key for the Patriots to win is to control Ray Rice on defense. Joe Flacco can not go 1 on 1 with Tom Brady in a shootout. If the Patriots can control Ray Rice they will be able to outscore the Ravens. The Ravens meanwhile need to stop Tom Brady to give themselves a chance in this game. That means getting pressure on Brady and taking away his go-to targets this year, his tight ends. The X-factor is that this game is in New England. Baltimore’s losses to the Titans, Jaguars, and Seahawks cost them a chance from hosting this game and in effect probably cost them a shot in the Super Bowl. The Ravens can win this game, but the safe bet is on the Patriots.

NFC Championship

New York Giants 27 at San Francisco 49ers 17

This is the way this game should go, but I highly doubt it will. Deep down, no matter how much I hate to admit it, I know it is the 49ers season. It is just their season and there is no other way to explain it. How else do you explain Alex Smith scoring a touchdown on a 30 yard bootleg call on a 3rd and 8??? Really?? Anyways I have to admit I was wrong all year about them and must congratulate them for what they have achieved this far. For the game, this is a tossup call, but I feel the Giants are 10 points better in this game. It is always tough to beat the same team twice in one season. The Giants have also been here before and know how to handle themselves. The 49ers just played in one of the more emotional games you can be apart of and that could be tough for them to duplicate again. Just ask the Broncos about that. Both teams have very good defenses, but are vulnerable in the secondary. The Giants have the better offense by far if they can get the run game going. If the Giants can run on the 49ers strength, their run defense, they will win this one by two scores. Both teams believe it is their destiny to win this game and we should be in for a great hard-hitting football game.

NFL Divisional Playoff Picks

I hate my computer. I was almost finished with my entire column  and my computer randomly shut off on me. Unfortunately I do not have the patience or time to rewrite my entire post nor do I remember what I wrote so I am going straight to the picks for this weekends games with very basic reasons to why.

Saturday

New Orleans Saints 27 at San Francisco 49ers 16

Drew Brees has been there and done that and has bigger goals to accomplish. Alex Smith is happy to finally be playing in January. Take out the fact that Brees is night and day better than Smith and the Saints have the better team. Do not be surprised if Saints win this one easily.

Denver Broncos 14 at New England Patriots 31

Tom Brady + Bill Belichick + Foxboro in January + facing Tim Tebow on the road – the Patriots defense – the 3:16 effect + Gronk +Tom Brady= A Patriots victory

Sunday

Houston Texans 13 at Baltimore Ravens 24

5th round rookie out of North Carolina going to Ray Lewis and Ed Reed’s house. Need another reason??

New York Giants 27 at Green Bay Packers 30

This game can and will come down to the final minutes. I would be terrified if I was a Packers fan. Can the Packers Offensive line give Rodgers time to throw? If they can then the Packers may not have much problems. If that answer is no then the upset alert is on.

Playoffs 3-1

Playoff Power Rankings

I am way to nervous to go in-depth with picks for this weekends games and because of that I am just going to put out a playoff power ranking system with my picks at the end. Here is how I look at things…. On the outside it looks like easy money for 3 of the 4 games. TJ Yates or Jake Delhomme are starting so you automatically think Cincinnati. The Saints are at home so who they play is insignificant due to their dominant ways at the Superdome. You got the banged up Steelers facing the Broncos, a team which their fans want a quarterback change to a guy who has not played a snap all year going into the playoffs. Then you got the Falcons and Giants which is a tossup whatever way you look at it.

You dig deeper though and realize that the Texans and TJ Yates just beat the Bengals on the road. They can just as easily do it at home in the playoffs. (If for whatever reason Jake Delhomme enters this game all bets are off and check my twitter feed @jesanders11 for some Gus Johnson excitement like tweets) The insignificant team the Saints are playing is the Detroit Lions who are very similar to them and if they can play football and keep their heads on straight will keep it close enough to steal. The Broncos are at home and who knows what Tim Tebow will pull out against a VERY banged up Steelers team. My warning to everyone out there is to save your gambling money this week because ANYTHING can happen this week and nothing will surprise me.

12. Cincinnati Bengals

They can very easily win a first round game, but that is their limit in the playoffs this year. There is no way they can keep up with Tom Brady in round 2 if they pull off the Wildcard upset in round 1. Andy Dalton spent the other day in the hospital due to an illness so he may not even be 100% come Saturday afternoon. Marvin Lewis earns a huge congrats for the job he did to lead the Bengals into the playoffs this season.

11. Houston Texans

How good would they have been if they had Mario Williams, Matt Schaub, and Andre Johnson all season?? The Texans had to of been the unluckiest luckiest team in football this season. Lucky because they were in the weakest division in football and unlucky due to the injuries that will cost them any chance of a deep run in January.

10. Denver Broncos

I do not think I have ever seen a bandwagon fill up so quickly and break so quickly as I have the Tim Tebow bandwagon. Kurt Warner was on the Bickley and MJ radio show today and there was a question asked to Warner about if Cardinals quarterback John Skeleton could improve his accuracy and he gave an answer that relates to Tim Tebow. He said, “that he was a very firm believer that if you have gotten to this point as a not very accurate passer, then it is very difficult to make yourself an accurate passer.” Tebow is never going to throw the ball efficiently and that is just how it is. What Tebow does best is the intangibles and for those to come into play the game needs to be close in the 4th quarter. If it is close than Tebow will always give you chance. He will never be a good and efficient passer and most people need to realize that and accept him for what he does best not bash him for what he does not do best.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers

Way too many injuries this season. They just lost their starting running back and Ben Roethilsberger is still only 80 percent. I would not be as confident as most Steelers fans are this week. You guy are without your leader on defense Ryan Clark for this week and on the road in Denver. The other X factor could be overconfidence. If the Bengals win on Saturday then the winner of Broncos/Steelers would face Baltimore. It is human nature for the Steelers to begin to overlook this game for another rematch against the hated Ravens. I am not bold enough to call the upset I am just putting the upset alert tag on.

8. Detroit Lions

Same deal here with the Lions. Stafford and the offense can definitely score enough to beat the Saints. The question is can they control their emotions to give them the chance to beat the Saints? Even if they do beat the Saints they would have to go back to Green Bay where they just lost to their second stringers. Odds are low for a Super Bowl run, but hey, your back in the playoffs for the first time in 12 years!!

7. San Francisco 49ers

This team has caught the most breaks of any team in football this season. They played almost every team on their schedule at the EXACT right time to play them. David Akers attempted 50 field goals this season. I do not think any other kicker even reached 40 attempts. Alex Smith will need to prove he can win a playoff game for me to believe it because odds are high he will be facing Drew Brees in 2 weeks and field goals will not beat the Saints.

6. Atlanta Falcons

The goal for them this year is to win A playoff game. They will be putting so much into beating the Giants this week that even if they do I do not think they will have enough to beat the Packers in round 2.

5. New York Giants

Does anyone have a good feel on this team?? Anyone?? Bueller….Bueller???? They lose to the Redskins at home in between beating the Cowboys twice and the Jets. They win at Arizona and lose at home to Seattle. They win at Philly and lose at home to Philly. How can you ever beat a New York Giants game? They have a Super Bowl winning quarterback and coach plus experience from a defense that beat Tom Brady 4 years ago. I would not doubt that they have another run still in them.

4. New England Patriots

The patriots do not have the defense to win a Super Bowl. Winning a Super Bowl means beating Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers inside a dome. They would study New England’s secondary and be overcome with excitement. The Patriots can very easily make another Super Bowl. The road to Indianapolis runs through New England in the AFC.

3.Green Bay Packers

If this helps Packers fans I actually think they are the second best team, but this is a top 12 of best chance to make the Super Bowl so I have to put an AFC team number 2.

2. Baltimore Ravens

Can Joe Flacco be a Super Bowl quarterback? My answer to that is if Jake Delhomme can do it then why can’t Joe Flacco!! The Ravens always play Tom Brady tough to begin with so they do not face any demons there unless they somehow face the Steelers which is very possible. If that is the case I would also like to switch this pick because it is almost IMPOSSIBLE in the NFL to beat a team 3 times in one season, especially your hated rivals and a team that has knocked you out of the playoffs 2 times in 3 years…just ask the Suns how long it took them to beat the SPurs.

1. New Orleans Saints

My hidden secret has come out. I have a love affair for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. I do not care that they will have to win in Frisco and in Green Bay. I do not see anything stopping the Saints other than themselves. I honestly believe they are the best team in football right now and will be the one’s celebrating in Indianapolis on February 5th.

Wild Card picks

Saturday

Cincinnati Bengals 17 at Houston Texans 20

Detroit Lions 27 at New Orleans Saints 38

Sunday

Atlanta Falcons 16 at New York Giants 26

Pittsburgh Steelers 17 at Denver Broncos 13

NBA Preview plus Week 17 NFL picks

Since it is the holiday week I have decided to combine my week 17 picks with a NBA belated preview. Week 17 is also a week where most teams either rest their players or have nothing to play for, therefore, there is really not many games with any playoff implications. If you want my picks scroll down to the bottom of this column. Otherwise enjoy my NBA season belated preview.

With a 66 game schedule and a very compacted schedule I once thought of this season to be very difficult to predict. What teams will benefit and what teams will suffer from the schedule complications? Will younger teams with fresher legs like Indiana or Minnesota get a better seed than teams like Boston or the Lakers who are older and have some players who may not last through the schedule? There are many intriguing questions that could lead to some very outrageous predictions so I am going to keep things simple and break down the league into 4 tiers. The contenders, teams that can contend, borderline playoff teams, and the teams in the lottery. Lets start with the lottery teams.

Lottery teams

Toronto, Cleveland, New Jersey, Detroit, Washington, Utah, Phoenix, Golden State

These 8 teams are the long shots to do anything this year. Toronto and Cleveland are still recovering from the summer of 2010. New Jersey is waiting for Dwight Howard and is willing to give up the season to wait for him, Washington and Golden State are too young and do not play any defense though I think Golden State with Curry and Ellis have the best shot of these teams to stay competitive throughout the year. Utah just does not have the chemistry or enough talent to be successful.

That leaves the Phoenix Suns who by far have the worst team of the Robert Sarver era. This may even go down as the worst season in the history of the franchise. In the NBA you need guys who can score and guys who you can count on in crunch time to get you a basket when you need it. The Suns do not have a player who can do that. Steve Nash has been awful in the first two games this season. Same to Channing Frye and Grant Hill who have not stepped up at all. The center position seems to be the Suns strength with Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat, but both are not go-to scorers and do not threaten the defense in the final 5 minutes of a game when most NBA games are decided. They have no shooting guard unless their recent signing of Michael Redd can provide them with something. Jared Dudley is one of the best bench players in the league, but when he is starting your team has problems.

The bottom line is this….the Suns are still recovering from not resigning Amare Stoudemire and they can not contend again unless they bottom out and get lucky in the lottery. Any team that loses a perennial All-Star for nothing goes through this. The Suns need to trade Grant Hill to a Chicago or New York for either a first round pick or a young rotation player and need to trade Steve Nash for a solid rotation player AND a first round pick, preferably a lottery pick. That way you will have 3 first round picks plus your own which would be a top 5 more than likely. The Suns also would have enough cap money to sign to max contracts. The Suns could be contending for a playoff spot again by next year if they make the correct trades with Nash and Hill. Or they keep both and win enough games to miss out on all the top prospects in the draft then lose both of them for nothing and be awful again for another year. With how Sarver runs things why do I think that this rebuilding process will last a few years??

Borderline playoff teams

Indiana, Atlanta, Orlando, Boston, Philly, Charlotte, Minnesota, Sacramento, Houston, New Orleans, Dallas, Denver, Portland, Denver

This is a very big group with some very good teams in it, but the bottom line here is none of these teams have a shot of winning the championship.

I am sure everyone wants to know why the Boston Celtics are in this group. The Celtics are a very flawed team this season that I think will struggle to even make the playoffs. They have very little depth on this team and can not afford ANY injuries to their big 4. For example they are starting Sasha Pavolvic with Paul Pierce missing the first 3 games of the year which resulted in a 0-3 start. Doc Rivers will also be forced to sit Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and even Pierce throughout the year to keep them fresh enough for a playoff run. There is no way I can this team can stay healthy and fresh enough to make a run in May with a short compacted schedule and are probably one of the teams hurt most by the lockout.

Dallas has looked absolutely awful to begin the year. Mark Cuban might have made his worst personnel decision by letting Tyson Chandler go to New York. Dallas has been totally out of sync to begin the year. There is still plenty of time to get things together, but Dallas has lost chemistry and defense from last year’s championship and I do not think they will be repeating.

Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, Philadelphia, and Charlotte are all wildcards. They all have young and fast paced teams that with this schedule I think can out run some of the older teams and steal a few wins that they wouldn’t with a normal schedule. I think Indiana and Minnesota will have legitimate teams this year and both teams will be the surprises of the year. It would not shock me at all if Indiana even gets a 4 or 5 seed in the East. They have 2 all-stars in Danny Granger and David West to go with some very solid young rotational players. The only thing missing is a consistent point guard and there is one that could be on the trade block in Phoenix that could make the Pacers a championship contender.

Possible contenders

New York, Both L.A. teams, Memphis, San Antonio

These are 5 teams that could win the championship or at the very least make it to the finals, but they each are flawed enough to lose a 7 game series to any of the other teams.

New York has star power and 2 players who can score at will. They have one of the top defensive centers in basketball and some very young and intriguing guards. Their flaws are chemistry between Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire as they still try to co-exist. Defense and their bench are also some very big flaws that will leave them just short of Chicago and Miami this season.

Memphis I think is good enough to contend and if EVERYTHING falls their way they can get to the Finals, but there is no way they are beating Miami in a 7 game series. The Spurs will always be right there in the end, but will also be hurt like the Celtics with the compacted schedule due to their old age. The Lakers will also always have a chance as long as Kobe is healthy. The Clippers are the wild card of this bunch. They need to trade either Chauncey Billups or Mo Williams for some more depth elsewhere and to avoid chemistry issues. It is also not a good thing if Brian Cook is playing heavy minutes for you. If they can make the right deal to add another player they can definitely make a run to the Finals, but there is still plenty of work they need to do.

Contenders

Miami, Chicago, Oklahoma City

All 3 teams bring back most of the same team and all of their core players from last season. They have combined 4 of the top 5 or 6 players in the league on their teams. They are all fairly young and all have yet to taste a championship. One of these three teams will be celebrating with the Larry O’brien trophy in June.

OKC big issue will probably be getting Russel Westbrook to concede that Kevin Durant is the best player on that team. The deal that should happen, but never will is a swap of Rondo for Westbrook. OKC would get a pass first PG which would fit that team better than a shoot first Point Guard. Boston needs more scoring from Rondo to be successful this year and they would defiantly get that from Westbrook. Both players also need a change of scenery it seems like and makes sense all the way around. I will be interested if any rumors ever come out of a Westbrook for Rondo swap this season.

Chicago has the same exact team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals last season with an upgrade of Rip Hamilton at shooting guard. They have the defense to shut down Lebron and Wade and if Rip can provide 15 points a night they will give Miami a run for their money in a Finals rematch this season.

Miami season can not be judged until after the first two rounds of the playoffs. They are going to win 55-60 games this season unless Wade or James miss an extended period of time. Their chemistry issues are more than likely figured out by now and we all know that Wade is the go-to guy in the final minutes and Lebron seems willing to defer to Wade in the crunch time which will be huge for their championship hopes. The only thing they need to figure out is their role players and who can be trusted coming off the bench come playoff time. Everything else is already a known. We all know that Lebron and Wade are the best talents in basketball. We all know that Lebron is the best regular season player and has the most talent of anyone on the planet. Those are obvious facts that are not worth arguing anymore. The arguments involving Lebron is can he lead a team to a championship. We already know he needs help, that is also an obvious fact. Can he be mentally tough enough to not shut down during the playoffs when his team needs him the most when the times get tough. The last two years he has been a frontrunner, so to say, playing his best when it is easy and playing his worst when it becomes a challenge. This season could be a cake walk for the Heat or it could be another disaster for Lebron. It really is up to him to decide the Miami Heat’s fate and we will not know what Lebron decides until May.

Finals prediction

Miami over OKC in 6

MVP

Kevin Durant

Coach of the year

Rick Adelman (Minnesota)

Rookie of the year

Kemba  Walker

Now my quick Week 17 picks…I do not have scores since this week is so hard to predict with not knowing about if teams are playing their guys or mailing it in.

Philly over Washington

Detroit over Green bay

Minnesota over Chicago

Atlanta over Tampa Bay

New Orleans over Carolina

Frisco over St. Louis

Jets over Miami

New England over Buffalo

Baltimore over Cincy

Pittsburgh over Cleveland

Arizona over Seattle

Jacksonville over Indy

Tennessee over Houston

Oakland over San Diego

Kansas City over Denver

Giants over Cowboys

Last week: 10-5

Season 105-69

NFL week 16 picks

This has to be one of the best weekends that any calendar year can come up with. It is Christmas weekend with the bonus of having the NFL and opening day of the NBA all in one weekend (check back next week for my NBA preview). Can anyone come up with a more perfect weekend? Tomorrow morning we get to spend the day watching the NFL unless you have last second shopping to do which I would recommend doing today. Then after a full day of football it will be Christmas Eve and a night to be with your families and celebrate the holiday. Then on Sunday you get to wake up and open all of your presents from Santa and after that you get to watch 5 NBA games featuring probably 8 or 9 of the most interesting teams in the league. I almost forgot, you also get another football game to watch Christmas Night as well. I challenge anyone to come up with a better weekend than that. Football basketball, Christmas, family, Santa, gifts, traditions and fantasy. I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend and Merry Christmas to everyone.

Back in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes

Minnesota Vikings 17 at Washington Redskins 21

St. Louis Rams 6 at Pittsburgh Steelers 23

Thanks to the Texans for playing the most conservative game in recent memory and to Dan Orlovsky for being on a mission to not lose his backup job to some rookie prodigy the Rams and Vikings are right back in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The Colts play the Jaguars next week and with the way both teams are playing I am betting Colts which means if the Rams or Vikings lose out they will have the number one pick. For the Rams that probably means trading it and getting 4 or 5 extra picks. For the Vikings maybe the same maybe not. They just took Christian Ponder last year in the first round so I am not sure they take another 1st round quarterback. For the Colts I am benching Dan Orlovsky immediately and getting Curtis Painter back out onto the field.

Tampa Bay Buccanears 14 at Carolina Panthers 27

Raheem Morris is probably the next head coach to be getting the pink slip. It happens when you don’t win a game after October 16th. The Panthers are going to be a very good team for the next decade as long as they build a defense to go with Cam Newton and that run game.

Upset of the Week

Denver Tebows 17 at Buffalo Bills 23

I think it is hilarious that we finally have a city who could care less about Tim Tebow and that is Buffalo, New York. Buffalo as of Wednesday had not sold 24,000 of its tickets meaning it will be blacked out in the local area. This is my upset pick of the week mostly due to my gut instinct. My gut told me to take the Colts as I said on my Twitter @jesanders11 before the game, but of course I did not. Sorry Tim, Im going with my gut on this one.

Lock of the Week

Miami Dolphins 23 at New England Patriots 34

A win and the Patriots clinch a bye in the first round. That is all Tom and Bill need for me to make this the lock of the week over a tough Dolphins team.

Flip a Coin

New York Giants at New York Jets

Would anyone in their right mind even bet a dollar on this game? You are literally flipping a coin when picking this game. I will say Jets, but I don’t even have a score for you. Both teams have been major disappointments, yet the Jets with a win will probably get the 6th seed which means a game against the Houston Texans. After that would be a trip to face the Patriots who they eliminated last year. Jets fans you are welcome for that sliver of hope…Giants fans you are on your own.

Arizona Cardinals 20 at Cincinnati Bengals 16

Walking around the mall with my brother the other day we walked into the sports memorabilia store when we saw an autograph photo of Adrian Wilson. This wasn’t just any autograph photo either. This is what me and my brother agree on is Adrian Wilson’s greatest hit ever. The hit came on Bills quarterback Trent Edwards in 2008. The Bills came into the game 4-1 I think and they were the talk of the NFL. First series of the game on the 3rd play Dubs comes untouched and knocks out Edwards with a crushing hit. Pretty much ruined Edwards career and is probably the greatest hit in Wilson’s career. It was $25 well spent plus another 10 for a frame and it is now one of the prized possessions of our Cardinals room in our house. Here is the you tube link to the hit… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjpANEVexhY

Cleveland Browns 10 at Baltimore Ravens 21

Hopefully Anquan Boldin is only out the remaining two weeks and will be back come playoff time. The Ravens and Joe Flacco need him in that offense to have any success in the playoffs. I kind of feel like the Ravens spent so much time, energy and focus into beating the Steelers this year that every other game does not seem as important and that is why you see the losses to the Jaguars, Titans and Chargers among others. If they are not careful they could blow the division and have to go on the road again in the playoffs.

Jacksonville Jaguars 16 at Tennessee Titans 20

What is new owner Shahid Khan’s first move going to be for the Jaguars? A. Announce the team will eventually move to Los Angelos B. Hire a new coach or C. get rid of Blaine Gabbert and pretend he never existed in the franchise and trade the next 5 future first round picks to draft Andrew Luck??? Correct Answer is C.

Oakland Raiders 10 at Kansas City Chiefs 13

This is another game I have no idea of who to pick. I will take the Chiefs since they are at home and have the better defense. Where has Darren Mcfadden gone for the Raiders?? That one injury has probably cost the Raiders the division and first playoff berth since 2002. Very unfortunate for Raider Nation I feel for you guys.

San Diego Chargers 31 at Detroit Lions 24

The Chargers just do not lose in December. It is just not conceivable for Philip Rivers and Co to lose a game in December. This year may be the time where it is too little too late for them.

Philadelphia Eagles 26 at Dallas Cowboys 23

Here is how the Eagles win the NFC East…They win out, and the Giants lose this week and beat the Cowboys next week which would create a 3 way tie and the tiebreaker would belong to the Eagles. Dream Team is not out of it yet Ladies and Gentlemen!!!!!

San Francisco 49ers 20 at Seattle Seahawks 24

This is not another “I hate the 49ers pick.” This is a I am picking logically pick. The Seahawks can be almost impossible to beat at home when they are playing for something important which is for their playoff lives. Also, Seattle was only down 2 points before Ted Ginn took back a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the final five minutes to blow the game open in Week 1. This is one of my more for sure bets of the week. Take Seattle at home and thank me later.

Christmas Night

Chicago Bears 7 at Green Bay Packers 24

Josh McCown is starting for the Bears this week in Lambeau Field. McCown has not started a NFL game since 2007. McCown started for the Cardinals back when they won 4 games a year almost a decade ago. Ladies and Gentlemen Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday Night Football

Atlanta Falcons 21 at New Orleans Saints 30

I am not sure why everyone is penciling in the Falcons for the playoffs. There is no way they win here in the Dome this week and next week they play Tampa Bay, which yes they are awful, but they will get up to play their hated rivals if they can knock them out of the playoffs. The Saints are my Super Bowl pick as of right now. Their only deficiency is playing on the road which they may have to do twice, but they are a good enough team to win 2 on the road and make the Super Bowl.

Last Week: 9-6

Season: 95-64

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Week NFL Picks

I’m getting straight to the picks due to my computer shutting off after I was half way done with this post. I do not have time to rewrite everything I had written here so since I am on a time deadline onto the picks.

Saturday night

Dallas Cowboys 35 at Tampa Bay Bucs 16

The Bucs have given up on this season. I do not think even Blaine Gabbert himself thought he could put up 41 points in a NFL game himself. Meanwhile, there is no better comedy in sports then seeing the Jerry Jones face as the Cowboys are blowing a game on national television. If you have ever watched a Cowboys game you know what I am saying. I hope the Cowboys get to the playoffs just to see more of the Jerry Jones losing face. Hilarious!

Washington Redskins 17 at New York Giants 21

This has classic Giants written all over it. Getting a big win on the road then coming home and losing to a bad team. The only reason I am not picking the Skins is because they are so injury ravaged that I think no matter how hard the Giants try to lose, they will end up pulling out the win at home.

Seattle Seahawks 16 at Chicago Bears 10

If I was a bears fan I would probably have punched myself in the face at least 50 times after that loss Sunday to the Tebows. Also I want to give Barber a .55% of a break for running out-of-bounds. My reason…why did the Bears even call a stretch run toward the sidelines in the first place??? Just knee it four time for crying out loud!! Not even Jesus himself could throw a 80 yard pass with ten seconds. That game was a huge sucker punch to all Bears fans and I can feel your pain…you guys were TEBOWED!!

New Orleans Saints 38 at Minnesota Vikings 21

The Vikings secondary was shredded by Tim Tebow… What is Drew Brees going to do to it??

Lock of the week

Cincinnati Bengals 27 at St. Louis Rams 10

Steve Spagnuolo deserves a better fate than what is being dealt to him. He is the coach of a depleted and awful football team and he deserves a better fate. The Rams have won 15 games in the last 5 years. How would you like to be a St. Louis football fan??

Miami Dolphins 20 at Buffalo Bills 27

Ryan Fitzpatrick is now 1-6 since signing his 50 million dollar contract extension. Can they return that contract to Wal-mart???

Upset Special

Tennessee Titans 17 at Indianapolis Colts 20

Yes, I am calling it…. The Colts will win and avoid going 0-16 this week. Hasselback will probably be out this week meaning Jake Locker will start for the Titans. With the Texans winning the division last week it gives the Titans little to play for this week and I feel like the Colts will play this as their Super Bowl. I am going to pick the more desperate team in this one and the Colts have some very prideful veterans who will not accept a 0-16 season.

Green Bay Packers 31 at Kansas City Chiefs 13

Packers keep rolling toward a 16-0 season with an easy one against the Chiefs.

Carolina Panthers 17 at Houston Texans 23

When the Panthers get a good defense they will be a very scary team. Cam Newton can only do so much. Arian Foster and Ben Tate will run all over this defense and the defense will slow down Newton just enough for the Texans to pull out yet another win.

Detroit Lions 24 at Oakland Raiders 28

The Lions need to lose one of the next two games and HAVE to lose the Packers game to finish 9-7 and give the Cardinals the tiebreaker over the Lions if they both finish 9-7 for the playoffs spot. Why am I getting my hopes for this??

Cleveland Browns 13 at Arizona Cardinals 20

This game is not as much as a lock as it seems. It all depends on if the Browns come to play or not. There are talks Browns coach Pat Shumar will be getting the pink slip after just one year due to players tuning him out already and not listening to him, If that is the case the Cards should pull out easy. If the Browns decide to come motivated this will be a game. Remember the Cardinals could have easily loss almost all the games that they have won on this streak meaning they could just as easily be 2-10 rather 6-7. If they take care of business though they will be back at .500 which is remarkable given where they were.

New York Jets 21 at Philadelphia Eagles 17

Yes I will actually pick Mark Sanchez to win a big game on the road. Yes I am picking Mark Sanchez because I have Shonn Greene and Santonio Holmes on my fantasy team and need a few touchdowns from them.

New England Patriots 28 at Denver Tebows 21

Ummmm ya I better not try to say anything intelligent and move on.

Sunday Night Football

Baltimore Ravens 23 at San Diego Chargers 28

Here comes the Chargers run in December towards the playoffs. Unfortunately for them they are going up against the Tebows and Jesus this time.

Monday Night Football

Pittsburgh Steelers 14 at San Fransisco 49ers 15

Even if the Niners beat a beat up Steelers team without Roethilsberger and Harrison does not change the fact this team is limited on offense and can not score touchdowns. They have only scored 4 touchdowns in their last 20 trips in the red zone. The Niners lucked into a few wins and played a few teams at the right time which has given them this 10-3 record. Yes they have a good defense, but not much else. Please San Fransisco, give Alex Smith an extension…the rest of the NFC West is begging you.

Last Week: 10-5

Season: 86-58

Week 14 NFL Power Rankings/picks

With 75% of the NFL season complete I think it is time for another power rankings to take us down the home stretch. The small number on the right of every team is where they were ranked during my last power rankings post back in week nine. As far as my picks are concerned, which you can find at the bottom of this page, may seem kind of crazy to you. I am leaning toward the home underdog in many of my picks this week. Every so often you will have a week of games that just makes zero sense and I feel like this will be that week. If it wasn’t for the Browns lack of offensive power they would have started out the week on the right track for my “crazy week” prediction. This could take a while so let’s get on to my rankings.

Andrew Luck Division

32. Indianapolis Colts (32) 0-12

When you have not won a game all year then you probably are not going to be moving up in the rankings. Lets get a quick analysis of the Colts remaining schedule to find a possible win on there. @ Baltimore, vs Tennessee, vs Houston (Thursday), @ Jacksonville.

My quick take is they might even win 2 possible games. Both home games are very winnable games given the Texans quarterback situation now and Jacksonville might actually be worse than the Colts. If they somehow win 2 games, depending on the tiebreaker system might lose them Andrew Luck considering….

31. St. Louis Rams (24) 2-10

The Rams only have two wins themselves and no healthy quarterbacks. They could possibly start a guy named Tom Brandsteter at QB due to injuries to Bradford and Feeley. If the Rams have the first pick, even with Bradford could they still take Luck? Bradford only has thrown for 6 touchdown passes all year and without the trade for Brandon Lloyd it could be even less. With his struggles maybe he is not the savior of the Rams and if the Colts somehow get hot and lose Luck, it will make for a big decision down in St. Louis.

Blaine Gabbert division

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (28) 3-9

Ladies and gentleman, Now taking the field for the 2014 NFL season your Los Angeles Jaguars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

29. Minnesota Vikings (26) 2-10

You want to know a secret that has gotten no coverage?? The Minnesota Vikings do not have a stadium to play in next year. Their lease with their stadium runs out after this year and has yet to be renewed. A Minnesota columnist has even been tweeting things on this could be the final year in Minnesota if they refuse to vote for a new stadium. What happens then? Is it possible a team with a huge fan base and so much history can move?? Browns fans are nodding their head in shame. Art Modell is laughing hysterically.

Offensively inept division

28. Cleveland Browns (23) 4-9

A quick history… Art Modell moved the storied Browns after the 1995 season due to not being able to get a new stadium to Baltimore where he won a Super Bowl just a few years later. The Browns got an expansion team in 1999 and have made the playoffs once since then. They have had about 20 different quarterbacks with no hope in sight.

27. Washington Redskins (22) 4-8

Why, how, really??? are the questions I ask myself as to how the Cardinals lost to this team 22-21 back in week 2. Those are also the questions Redskins fans ask themself when they see Rex Grossman or John Beck play quarterback.

26. Tampa Bay Buccanears (15) 4-8

The Bucs took one of the biggest drops in the rankings. That is what happens when you have a historically tough schedule with a young team that overachieved a year ago. Head Coach Raheem Morris could be in some trouble if they don’t win a couple more games to close out the season.

25. Kansas City Chiefs (19) 5-7

In their last 5 games since their miracle MNF win against the Chargers the  Chiefs have scored a grand total of….2 touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was their prayer against Chicago last week. Yes, I agree I have no clue how this team has 5 wins.

Dream Team division

Buffalo Bills (11) 5-7

The Bills are 1-6since Ryan Fitzpatrick signed his contract extension….oops.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (7) 4-8

I think this guy says it all….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x4DUrMz1Vw&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL61709C6BAE665CB2

22. Carolina Panthers (27) 4-8

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are going to be pretty good. Whoever they play here on out needs to be on upset alert.

21. San Diego Chargers (18) 5-7

Here comes the Chargers run down the stretch and no one is rooting for it harder than I am. I have Phillip Rivers on my fantasy team so I think it is time for himt ogo on his 300 yard 2/3 touchdowns a game streak he goes on every December.

Rocky Balboa Division

20. Miami Dolphins (31) 4-8

Is Matt Moore an actual franchise quarterback?? Could Tony Sparano actually save his job?? Has Reggie Bush actually found a job as a starting NFL running back?? Has the Miami Dolphins actually become the one team no one wants to face???

19. Arizona Cardinals (29) 5-7

If the Cardinals win this week they will almost be guaranteed of 8-8 with home games against Cleveland and Seattle still remaining. How amazing would that be considering they were at 1-6 with the Rams coming on the field to kick a potential game winning field goal just a few weeks ago??

18. Seattle Seahawks (25) 5-7

Could the Seahawks win out along with the Cardinals and force NBC to put another NFC west game on Sunday NIght football to end the year as they fight for the final NFC playoff spot?? The Cardinal season ticket holder in me would like to think so!!

New York Division

17. New York Jets (17) 7-5

16. New York Giants (16) 6-6

These two teams have moved up/down exactly zero spots. Mark Sanchez interception total has increased by about 41 since then as well.

Not quite ready division

15. Tennessee Titans (21) 7-5

Chris Johnson, Welcome back to the NFL!

14. Oakland Raiders (20) 7-5

Carson Palmer, Welcome back to the NFL!

13. Cincinnati Bengals (13) 7-5

Andy Dalton to A.J. Green will be putting up big numbers for a long time. But, as the 35-7 beat down to Pittsburgh shows…this team still is a year from making real noise in the AFC.

12. Detroit Lions (9) 7-5

I hope no one has bought playoff tickets in Detroit yet and if you did I really hope there is a way you can get your money back. This team has lost all self-control and that falls on the head coach. I would not even be surprised if they lose to the Vikings at home this week. When they get composure they will be a very good team, but until then… a bottom out finish of 8-8 is likely.

Jake Delhomme division

11. Chicago Bears (14) 7-5

The Bears did something bad karma wise for potential season ending injuries to both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. They end up in the Jake Delhomme division because they have Caleb Hanie running plays for them with the potential of….Josh McCown, yes former Cardinal Josh McCown playing for the Bears this season. I feel like punching myself in the face and I could care less about the Bears!!!

10. Houston Texans (10) 9-3

It looks like T.J Yates might actually be decent enough to not blow the entire season for the Texans. But the legendary Jake Delhomme is looming and Vegas has to be TERRIFIED of the prospects of Delhomme in the playoffs facing Revis island and the NEw York Jets in round one.

Tony Romo Division

9. Atlanta Falcons (6) 7-5

8 Dallas Cowboys (12) 7-5

These two teams have all the talent to make a run to the Super Bowl, but there is just something missing with these two teams this season. I don’t think Atlanta has ever recovered from that Packers game last year. A game like that can really have a lasting effect on a franchise. The Cowboys meanwhile have the same issue every year. Something is just missing that you can never fully describe and if you watched them this week against the Cardinals I think you know where I am getting at. Super Bowl contending teams win games like that. The Cowboys are not contending for a Super Bowl this season.

God division

7. Denver Broncos (30) 7-5

You know the Denver Broncos are going to make a run to the Super Bowl…how else will a team with Tim Tebow finish off this season?? People are now starting the arguments how the defense or Willis Mcgahee are the facts that are winning games. Yes, factually they are the facts of what is winning games for the Broncos, but the defense and running game is not what is REALLY winning games. The belief that this team has and the confidence they have with Tebow at QB is what is winning games. The Broncos are at a point right now where they KNOW that Tebow will make plays to win a game down the stretch. They KNOW the defense will come up with a stop or turnover when needed. They KNOW  that they will win the game. When a team reaches this point they are very scary to play against and the sky is the limit for the Broncos this season. For everyone who says that the defense is winning games…ask them this… Are the Broncos 7-5 with Kyle Orton??

Alex Smith division

6. San Fransisco 49ers (8) 10-2

I will man up and take this space to congratulate the 49ers on winning the NFC West and making the playoffs for the first time since 2002. You guys deserve this and I wish you the best all the way to the NFC Championship game when we get to see Alex Smith in Lambeau Field in January. Comedy Central re-read what I just wrote….Alex Smith…in Green Bay….in January….

Contenders

5. New England Patriots (4) 9-3

Tom Brady gives the Pats a chance every year to win the Super Bowl, but the defense just is not Super Bowl worthy enough for me to have them any higher than number five.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (3) 10-3

That was a gutsy win and a gutsy performance by Big Ben and the Steelers last night. Numbers 2-5 could go any numbers of ways and I pulled Pittsburgh out of the hat for number four, so please, all frontrunner Steelers fans do not complain to me about them not being number one. Take the number four ranking like a man and if you don’t like it switch your favorite team to the Packers.

3. New Orleans Saints (5) 9-3

If they can somehow still the 2 seed from the 49ers…. Comedy Central are you paying attention????? Alex Smith….in the Dome….in January!!!

2. Baltimore Ravens (2) 9-3

The Ravens get up for the big games and play down to their opponents. In the playoffs every game is a big game, so the playing down effect can not happen for the Ravens. The only person that can ruin the Super Bowl chances for this team is Joe Flacco…. Umm O.K all frontrunner Steelers fans now have permission to question why those two are not swapped in these rankings.

Discount Double-check division

1. Green Bay Packers (1) 12-0

Aaron Rodgers has the same number of rings as Favre, a better regular season than Favre ever had, and maybe the greatest commercial which is the opposite of what Favre has. You get where I am going with this?? Aaron Rodgers will have a better career than Brett Favre and I do not think that is going out on a limb anymore either.

Week 14 predictions

Lock of the Week

Patriots 30 at Redskins 13

Vikings 21 at Lions 26

Falcons 20 at Panthers 27

Eagles 24 at Dolphins 17

Chiefs 6 at Jets 17

Texans 10 at Bengals 20

Buccanears 14 at Jaguars 10

Colts 14 at Ravens 31

Upset Special

Saints 19 at Titans 21

49ers 16 at Cardinals 23

Bears 17 at Broncos 20

Raiders 24 at Packers 34

Bills 21 at Chargers 38

Tossup/ Sunday Night

Giants 24 at Cowboys 27

Monday Night Football

Rams 3 at Seahawks 16 (Thanks ESPN)

Last week: 11-4

Season 76-53