Seventeen weeks ago, there was so much promise for each one of the NFL’s 32 teams as they would embark on a journey for the ultimate prize. Well, maybe not the Lions (easiest joke ever). Now, here we are, with many playoff spots and division titles still yet to be decided in what has been one of the crazy seasons in NFL history, mainly because some games were rigged.
I’ve decided that for the picks column this week I would mix it up one more time. And that doesn’t mean phoning it in and writing haikus. I’m going to forego the confidence picks aspect of the column as I basically have no chance in my pick ‘em league anymore. That means we’re going Simmons style and picking with the spread. Speaking of Simmons, this is what he wrote in his latest mailbag.
Why are you getting a holiday mailbag? Maybe I needed something to distract me from the terrifying realization that the Patriots' 2008 season rests in the hands of Brett Favre. Maybe I needed to make myself feel better after the Red Sox blew the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes. Maybe I needed a boost after the Celtics' 19-game winning streak came to a screeching halt on Christmas Day, thanks to Kobe Bryant and a gritty 15-man Lakers team (I'm including the refs).
Are you kidding me? As much as I love the guy, and as much as I campaigned for him to become the Bucks GM, I really hate when he complains about anything Boston.
Boston fans have had it made over the last decade. Sure, they have gone through some tough losses, but it’s a little easier to take when you have multiple championships to sleep with at night. If you think things are bad Mr. Simmons, might I remind you that the Packers not only don’t have a shot at the playoffs but could give the Lions their first win this weekend, the Brewers can’t sign anyone bigger than Trot Nixon, and Bucks fans are celebrating because we have a three-game winning streak.
On to the picks….
Pittsburgh (-10.5) over Cleveland
It’s going to be a long time before anyone seriously considers the Browns as playoff contenders again. What a disaster this season was for them. Even so, I’m still not sure Crennel actually gets fired. As likely as it is for them to get a big name coach like Bill Cowher for next season, isn’t it just as likely for them to keep Crennel? They are a team mired in ineptitude, so nothing would surprise me.
It’s too bad for Cleveland that the Browns have been horrible ever since they came back into the league in 1999. Especially when the Ravens have not only won a Super Bowl in that time, but have been successful throughout. Even though it’s been ten years since the move, they are still technically the remains of the old Browns franchise, and the Cleveland fans should be relishing in that success. Personally, I don’t like when teams move, but the history and records do not. Then again, I’ve never seen one of my favorite teams move… yet.
Oakland (+13) over Tampa Bay
There are a lot of high spreads this weekend, and I’m not sure too many teams will be able to cover. There are just too many close games in the NFL for me to confidently say a team can beat another team by two touchdowns. That’s probably one of the reasons I’m so bad at betting. Bucs will win this game though.
St. Louis (+14.5) over Atlanta
We’re seventeen weeks into the NFL season, and I still haven’t seen a down of Rams football. That amazes me.
Not much else about the game, so let me talk about the movie I watched last night, Hancock. Sometimes I go into movies either wanting to like them, or wanting not to like them. I wanted to like Hancock, which is probably why I was satisfied with it after it was over. Will Smith was convincing it in, and I generally like him in anything. But who doesn’t, really.
Even though there was something sort of missing from the movie that I can’t quite explain, I liked it because I wanted to like it. When it comes to movies, I usually judge a book by it’s cover. Not sure why, but I do. On the other hand, I did not want to like Transformers when I watched that the other day, but it wasn’t that bad.
Carolina (-3) over New Orleans
I would say the New York Giants have a 60 percent chance of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl, the Panthers have a 35 percent chance, and then the field has a 5 percent shot. The Saints, meanwhile, are basically the NFL’s version of the Dallas Mavericks and probably won’t win a title anytime soon.
Chicago (+3) over Houston
This game is pretty much even, but Houston gets the three points for being home. While a winning season would be welcome in Houston, it’s beginning to look like they’ll never get over that hump. The Bears are playing with the NFC North title on the line, and I still think that they are going to come through. As bad as they played last week, the team still found a way to win. Teams like that make the playoffs.
Giants (+6.5) over Minnesota
Are the Giants really getting 6 1/2 points in this game? I guess it could make sense, as the Giants really have nothing to play for besides momentum. But the Vikings have made a habit out of blowing their playoff opportunities, and I don't expect them to do any different this weekend. And then it's goodbye Brad Childress.
New England (-6.5) over Buffalo
There's been a lot of debate this season about how unfair the NFL's playoff structure is, but I disagree. Even though the Chargers and Cardinals could win their division at 8-8, these things ebb and flow, and everyone will get their shot at glory someday. You can't have divisions but then not guarantee the division winner a playoff spot. And if you take away divisions, then you might lose those great two-times-per-year rivalries.
However, it looks like the Patriots will go 11-5 and miss the playoffs, despite playing some really good football right now. Same with the Ravens. While a lot of people would love for New England to miss the playoffs, I want to see the best teams in the postseason.
I couldn't decide which position to take for this column, so I just decided to write them both.
Kansas City (+3) over Cincinnati
Sometimes I'm not even sure why they make the teams play these games. No one is going to go, no one is going to watch, and no one is going to try. This is a game that is still being played strictly for gambling purposes, and that is all.
Indianapolis (+3) over Tennessee
Attended a family function this weekend, and sometime in the middle of the evening the karaoke machine was brought out. Every karaoke experience I've ever had has been the exact same. First, nobody wants to sing. Someone will finally volunteer, either because they think they are a good singer or they just don't care about the humiliation. Then finally, someone really awful will sing, and everyone becomes comfortable singing. It's the same thing every time.
Also, no matter how many times people do it, everyone singing karaoke always sings like it's the first time they've ever done it. This video pretty much nails it.
Cardinals (-6.5) over Seahawks
The Cardinals are not going to let themselves go into the playoffs with a .500 record, no matter how much the Seahawks might want to win this one for Holmgren. Arizona has been laughable ever since they clinched the division in week five, but they are still a good team when they want to be. I'm betting they win this week, and their first playoff game. That's just how these things happen.
Jacksonville (+12.5) over Baltimore
I thought about the Ravens here, but I still just don't like those high spreads. Jacksonville is pretty awful though I guess. You think Packers fans had high expectations for their team this season, what about Jaguars fans? That is, if there were such a thing as Jaguars fans.
San Francisco (-3) over Washington
I have to be honest, I really didn't think the Niners would bring Singletary back next season. I really thought he was going to crash and burn, especially have the pants dropping incident. Maybe he might be a good coach down the road after all.
Miami (+2.5) over New York Jets
If the Jets win this game, it won't be because of their quarterback. And they very well could win this game, since there is not one person that seems to think they will win this weekend. Anyone want to guess why that is? This might be one reason.
And Jets fans, you might want to pick up one of these things. If not for after this week, certainly for after next week.
Dallas (+1.5) over Eagles
If you were hoping to start your 2009 without having to suffer through wall-to-wall Dallas Cowboys coverage on ESPN, think again. You know they will win this week, and then something will happen mid-week that draws attention to the team one more time, just like it was Roy Williams this week. Same old story. Time to buy a new book.
Denver (+9) over San Diego
San Diego is going to win, no question about it. But they won't cover, as this game will probably go down to the wire. San Diego might win the West at 8-8, but they could easily be anywhere from 9-7 to 12-4. The Chargers are a good football team, my preseason pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. If they get into the playoffs, they could do some damage. I'm already excited to watch that Chargers/Colts game in round one.
Packers (-10) over Lions
You want to talk about a terrifying realization, Simmons? How about the fact that in a year where the Packers were one game away from the Super Bowl and the Brewers made the playoffs for the first time in my lifetime, this is still one of the worst years in Wisconsin sports history. Seventeen weeks into the season, we are still a divided people. The Badgers are about to get embarrassed to Florida State, the Brewers have no promise for '09, and Damon Jones is going to suit up for the Bucks.
There's only one way 2008 can win the crown of worst year in Wisconsin sports history, and that would be a loss at home to the 0-15 Lions. I don't know how the Packers drew the short straw to possibly give the worst team in league history their first win, but that's what we're looking at.
Would not have seen that coming 17 weeks ago.