Click here for last week’s picks.
I refuse to do an NFL picks column on a Wednesday night.
Too many things can happen between Wednesday and Sunday. So I’ll never get a picks column written in time to pick the Thursday night game.
I also bowl on Thursday nights, which makes it hard to even watch the games, since the bowling alley doesn’t get the NFL Network (thank you Comcast!).
Lucky for us, I was snowed in Thursday night, and I DO have the NFL Network.
A couple of quick thoughts on Houston’s big win:
1) Mario Williams is already a better player than Reggie Bush or Vince Young will ever become.
2) When Sage Rosenfels is picking you apart, you’re not a playoff team.
3) Andre Johnson might be the best WR in football. Until he gets a real quarterback, we’ll never know for sure.
4) Darius Walker has a future in the NFL. Had he stayed in school another year, he would have been a second- or third-round running back.
5) I’ve seen John Elway. I watched John Elway play. Jay Cutler, you sir, are no John Elway.
With that out of the way, here are your...
Week 15 Picks
Cincinnati (-8.5) at San Francisco
Is Alex Smith a good enough player to be feuding with a head coach?
Seriously, what happened to the days when you actually had to produce on the field before you were allowed to run your mouth? Or is there just an issue with young players named Smith?
Frank Gore deserves a big game this week, and the Cincinnati defense may be just the thing he needs to make it happen.
Prediction: Cincinnati wins, but doesn’t cover.
New Orleans (-3.5) vs. Arizona
This week’s battle of the year’s biggest disappointments.
Arizona’s offense should have a field day against New Orleans’ defense. On the other hand, New Orleans’ offense should have a field day against Arizona’s defense.
The Saints are not a better team without Reggie Bush, but they are a better team without Reggie Bush at RB.
Bush is a dynamic player (a poor man’s Kevin Faulk, but still dynamic). He’s just not a feature RB. He’s a guy who should be moved around, used in gimmick plays, etc.
A big play guy—not a consistent running game guy.
Prediction: Saints win, but don’t cover.
Tampa Bay (-13) vs. Atlanta
I think Atlanta keeps this game close for multiple reasons.
First, they’re psyched to get rid of their awful, ridiculously overmatched head coach. Second, maybe the interim coach has met his Pro Bowl tight end, Alge Crumpler. Third, is Tampa Bay really good enough to be favored by 13 points over anyone?
Prediction: Tampa Bay wins, but doesn’t cover (running theme, eh?).
Baltimore (-3) At Miami
I’ll put as much effort into this game as the Ravens put into the Colts game last week.
Prediction: Miami wins their first and only game of the season.
Cleveland (-5.5) vs. Buffalo
Okay, raise your hand if you thought the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns would be playing a game in Week 15 where the winner would be in the driver’s seat to make the playoffs.
Now, everyone raise your hand if you thought they’d be playing to see who got the better draft pick.
Cleveland has a better offense, but Buffalo is scrappy. I really want to pick the Bills, but I don’t think they have anyone who can match up with Braylon Edwards.
This could be the best game of the week.
Prediction: Cleveland wins by 7.
Green Bay (-8.5) At St. Louis
Imagine Jennings, Moss, Donald Driver, and Donald Lee on the same offense. Good God. That’d give the Patriots a run for their money.
Prediction: Green Bay by a lot.
Pittsburgh (-3.5) vs. Jacksonville
On paper, this is the best matchup of the week.
Jacksonville, to me, is the best of the second-tier teams. This game will show exactly how large the gap is between the two tiers.
If Big Ben doesn’t play the game might be a little closer, but I still expect the Steelers to reassert themselves after a disappointing game last week against the Patriots.
I’m on the record predicting a New England–Pittsburgh rematch in the AFC Championship Game. I’m also on the record saying David Garrard is a fraud QB who’s never won anything in the NFL and probably never will.
Prediction: Steelers by 10.
Seattle (-7.5) At Carolina
What’s going on with Seattle’s defense? Kurt Warner hasn’t slept since last Sunday. Every time he closes his eyes he sees another Seahawk interception.
Carolina is just awful.
Prediction: Seattle by 28.
Tennessee (-3.5) At Kansas City
If Vince Young is a superstar QB, this is the type of game he has to win.
Herm Edwards is being considered for the head coaching job at UCLA...which means there are at least two people on the planet who believe Herm Edwards should be a head coach.
Prediction: Tennessee by 10
Indianapolis (-10.5) At Oakland
Is Marvin Harrison still alive? I thought doctors cleared him to play before the Patriots game.
The Colts will win and cover, but their weak recent schedule is covering some serious deficiencies. Think about what David Garrard was able to do towards the end of their game two weeks ago.
The Colts have no pass rush. Their corners are physical, but even the best corners can’t hold coverage forever.
If you can block the Colts, you can beat them. Right now, they’re extremely blockable.
Prediction: Colts by 20.
San Diego (-10) vs. Detroit
How in God’s name did Detroit lose that game last week?
That’s a killer loss. The type that can ruin an entire season. I just can’t imagine the Lions bouncing back.
It was, however, nice to see them running the ball effectively...or at all, for that matter.
San Diego is a classic poor-coach, high-talent team. When they put it together, they’re unstoppable. But too many times they look like they have no idea what they’re doing.
Plus, I think it’s clear that LT absolutely despises Philip Rivers. What a disappointment Rivers has been this season.
Prediction: San Diego by 7 (Detroit covers).
Dallas (-10) vs. Philadelphia
The Eagles’ season ended last week against the Giants. At this point, they’re just playing out the string.
Dallas needs two more wins to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This game won’t be close.
By the way, TO can yell and scream all he wants—Keyshawn was right. Bill Parcells deserves a ton of credit for what the Cowboys are doing this season.
He went against Jerry Jones and started Tony Romo over Drew Bledsoe last year. That move is more responsible for the Cowboys’ record this season than any coaching decision made by Wade Phillips.
Prediction: Dallas by 21.
NY Giants (-4.5) vs. Washington
I’m picking the NY Giants because I need Eli Manning to put up a ton of points so I can knock off the No. 1 seed in my fantasy football playoffs this week.
I’m thinking 280, three TDs. Yes, I realize I’m dreaming.
Prediction: Giants by 10.
Minnesota (-10) vs. Chicago
Adrian Peterson is nasty. The Chicago defense is struggling because of poor play up front.
It’s fashionable to question the high-priced Chicago linebackers, but when you’re getting hit by offensive guards all game, it doesn’t matter how good of a linebacker you are.
The Chicago defensive line needs to keep the opposing offensive lineman off of Brian Urlacher and Co. If they don’t, RBs like Peterson and Chester Taylor are going to continue to kill them.
Prediction: Vikings by 14.
New England (-21) vs. NY Jets
I covered this game in depth a couple of days ago.
I actually toyed with the idea of picking the Jets to cover because of the weather. In the end, though, I think the Patriots can score 24 points in any weather—and I’m not sure the Jets can score three regardless of the weather.
Eric Mangini had no idea what he was unleashing on the NFL when he turned the Patriots into the league for “spying” earlier this season. On Sunday, he sees it firsthand.
Prediction: Patriots by 52 points (it would be more, but it’s hard to throw the ball in the snow)