Week 16 NFL Picks: Feeling Extremely Emasculated By My Girlfriend’s Dominance

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I wasn’t lying when I said in my week 15 recap column that I’d be abstaining from making picks entirely in week 16 and just letting my girlfriend handle that responsibility. I really saw no reason to continue with the charade of me pretending to know what the fuck I’m talking about. But then the demands from my readers started rolling in. They don’t want me to make picks because they actually value my opinion. They want me to make picks so they can laugh all day on Sunday as they watch Julie out pick me for the second consecutive week. You’re a mean-spirited bunch of assholes, readers. But since it’s the season for giving, I’m going to give you what you want.

But first, a quick look at some interesting playoff scenarios for week 16 that hinge upon some teams playing the early games on Sunday and some teams playing late…

  • If Miami loses at Buffalo in the early time slot, the Patriots will be awarded the AFC East title before they even take the field in Baltimore. But they’d still have plenty to play for because no matter what happens with all the other AFC Division leaders (who also all play in the early games), a Patriots win against the Ravens would keep them in the running for a 1st round bye.
  • There’s really no early/late implications for the other AFC contenders as Denver, Kansas City and Indianapolis all play in the early slot. There’s one other AFC situation worth monitoring and I’ll get to that in a minute.
  • In the NFC, Arizona’s only realistic shot to get into the playoffs is for them to win their final two and then they’d need either Carolina to finish with 11 or less wins (while not winning its division), or the Saints to lose their final two. Regardless of what happens in that Saints/Panthers early game, the Cardinals will be playing for something in Seattle (as if that makes a difference in the probable outcome when a team plays in Seattle).
  • If the Lions and Packers both lose earlier in the day, Chicago can lock up the division with a win over Philadelphia in the Sunday night game.
  • What makes this so interesting is that Philly might actually consider resting some starters and throwing this game. Why?
  • Because if the Cowboys win early on Sunday, then regardless of what the Eagles do in that night game vs the Bears, the NFC East will be awarded to the winner of week 17’s Dallas-Philadelphia game.
  • This same situation potentially exists in the AFC…If Cincinnati loses at home to Minnesota, then regardless of their outcome vs New England, Baltimore will play the Bengals in Cincinnati for the AFC North title in week 17.
  • It’s not crazy to think both the Eagles and the Ravens would take their week 16 games lightly if they knew all that really mattered was the outcome of week 17. Strange shit, right?

If things break right this week, we could be seeing a handful of games in week 17 where the winner gets into the playoffs…Baltimore @ Cincinnati, Philadelphia @ Dallas, Green Bay @ Chicago, San Francisco @ Arizona.

Exciting stuff.

Let’s get to the week 16 picks (you’ll notice I spent almost no time on my picks since I suck at this game).

Also, Julie’s comments are in quotes, mine are in parentheses.

Miami (-3) @ Buffalo

Julie’s Pick: “I’m gonna go Buffalo. I never pick them and they’re a wildcard. Plus they got all that snow.”

Ross’s Pick: Buffalo covers…a combination of actually agreeing with Julie that the cold weather-snow combo could affect Miami, and as a Patriots fan, we could really use a Dolphins loss. Buffalo wins 34-24.

New Orleans @ Carolina (-3)

Julie’s Pick: “New Orleans has not been coming through for me. Carolina’s been coming on strong, right? But I’m going with New Orleans.” (I informed her Carolina lost to New Orleans two weeks ago.) “Oh, I’m going the other way then. Carolina, revenge game.

Ross’s Pick: While I think Carolina is just as good as New Orleans, no team should be allowed to go from obscurity to a top-two seed in the conference. So just because I feel like the Panthers need to earn their stripes, I think they lose this game and end up as the #5 seed. New Orleans wins 28-21.

Dallas (-3) @ Washington

Julie’s Pick: “I’m just so sick of betting on Washington! Ugh! How many in a row have they lost?” (Six.) “Oh, they gotta win then. I’m betting on Washington.”

Ross’s Pick: Two reasons I’m taking Dallas…the Redskins are the worst, and I want to see Dallas blow it at home in week 17 to Philly. Dallas wins 30-17.

Tampa Bay @ St. Louis (-5)

Julie’s Pick: (Immediately after I said “Tampa Bay” and before I said who they were playing, Julie screamed “NO!”) “I’ll take the Rams. They won last week, winning streak.

Ross’s Pick: The Rams have won five games by double digits and have lost five games by double digit. Strange season from them. I think they win another one by double digits. St. Louis wins 29-17.

Cleveland @ NY Jets (-2)

Julie’s Pick: (And she pulls the reversal this time! Immediately after I said “Cleveland” and before I said who they were playing, she screamed “YES!”) “Always Cleveland, never the Jets.”

Ross’s Pick: Jets at home. Sure. Jets cover and win, 6-2.

Indianapolis @ Kansas City (-7)

Julie’s Pick: “Who’s the quarterback for Indy?” (Andrew Luck.) (40 second pause) “What’s Kansas City’s lucky streak been like recently?” (I guess she means winning streak??) “They’ve both won two in a row?” (Wrong, but I love how she’s gaining confidence in her knowledge even if that knowledge is incorrect.) “Indy, Indy, Indy, Indy, Indy….I wanna say Indy, but I’m gonna go with Kansas City. They’re rolling…in the lucky dough.”

Ross’s Pick: I’m buying what Julie’s selling. Kansas City rolling in the lucky dough! Chiefs win 27-19.

Minnesota @ Cincinnati (-8)

Julie’s Pick: “I’m just now starting to like Minnesota. Let’s go with them.” (I mention Minnesota plays in a dome. This week she’s aware that domes are heated and now she’s worried.) “Oooooffff…The warm heated dome team outdoors…Cincinnati has the non-dome advantage, but no, I don’t wanna change my mind. Minnesota it is.”

Ross’s Pick: Too many points for Cincy to be favored by. Minnesota is randomly playing well lately. This is a game that the Bengals would lose traditionally, and since I want to see another “winner takes all” game next week, let’s go with a Minnesota cover and win, 17-13.

Denver (-10) @ Houston

Julie’s Pick: “I need an upset of the week, and I really want Texas to win.” (I call her ballsy for taking Denver to lose twice in a row. She remembers she did that last week..) “Oh, nevermind, Denver won’t do that again. I’m taking the Broncos.”

Ross’s Pick: I’d love to see the Broncos lose this game, obviously. And with Wes Welker out, maybe their offense will struggle as much as it did in week 15. But there’s no way they’re losing this game. Houston will cover, but Denver wins 33-24.

Tennessee (-5.5) @ Jacksonville

Julie’s Pick: “Jacksonville. Because everyone’s gonna be visiting their grandparents in Florida for the holidays.”

Ross’s Pick: I agree…not with her ridiculous logic, but with the pick. Jacksonville is too mediocre to be a 5.5 point underdog at home. Jacksonville gets the win 23-20.

Arizona @ Seattle (-10.5)

Julie’s Pick: “The obvious cold weather factor, but I’m tempted to make this my upset. Yeah, I’m doing it. I’m taking Arizona over Pete Carroll. I like him, but he has a little bit of bad luck it seems.”

Ross’s Pick: Go Cardinals!! Suck a giant [expletive deleted] Seattle!! I’m taking Arizona to cover, and they’re going to win 173-0.

NY Giants @ Detroit (-10)

Julie’s Pick: “OK, OK, this is the upset special. Giants win.”

Ross’s Pick: Detroit might be the most untrustworthy team in football these days. There’s no reason they should lose to the Giants, but maybe they don’t win by a lot. Let’s say Giants cover, but Detroit wins 34-31.

Oakland @ San Diego (-10)

Julie’s Pick: “Oakland’s lost two in a row, right?” (Four, actually.) “Oh I gotta pick Oakland then. They’re angry and playing in their home state, so some fans will be there.”

Ross’s Pick: San Diego could be eliminated from playoff contention before this game starts, right? That makes me nervous about them winning by 10, but then again, I could see a pissed off Chargers team still winning big. San Diego it is, 34-21.

Pittsburgh @ Green Bay (-2.5)

Julie’s Pick: (I made her pick before we knew what the line was.) “It doesn’t matter what the spread is because I’m picking against whoever plays Wisconsin. They got so lucky last week, and they’re still unstable, mentally.” (She’s picking Pittsburgh.)

Ross’s Pick: I’m lucky enough to be picking this game after knowing Aaron Rodgers is out again. And I just don’t think the Matt Flynn train can keep “rolling” like it has. He’s due for a clunker. This will be it. Pittsburgh wins 24-17.

New England @ Baltimore (-2)

Julie’s Pick: “I really like that Baltimore coach. He’s the nicer twin, right? I gotta go Patriots this week. They won’t lose two in a row.”

Ross’s Pick: Patriots win 73-6.

Chicago @ Philadelphia (-3)

Julie’s Pick: “Always Chicago.”

Ross’s Pick: Samesies, always Chicago. Bears win 20-14.

Atlanta @ San Francisco (-13)

Julie’s Pick: “So many big spreads. I have to go with San Francisco. …But a lot of people are leaving for the holidays so it might not be as big of a crowd.” (Then, a sudden epiphany.) “No, but it’s one of the last games at their park. They’re moving, right? That and the combination of people coming into town for the holidays, means San Francisco covers.”

Ross’s Pick: Yeah, San Francisco takes this game 30-13. They’re just too good at home against a shitty Falcons team.

By the way, you’re not getting confidence picks this week because I have ZERO confidence in anything I’m doing related to football right now.

Enjoy week 16.

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Week 16 NFL Picks: Handing out Christmas Gifts to My Readers, Molly’s Final Pick and More

As a Christmas gift to all my loyal readers, I’m giving you the guarantee of a better-than-.500 record with my week 16 picks. I actually don’t feel like I need to give you anything more than that because I’ve been giving and giving since September. I’ve given you a 126-90-6 season record against the spread. That’s good for a 58% clip (or a $2,700 profit if you’ve put $100 down on every pick I’ve made in this column). I’ve also given you access to a dog who just might be smarter than any human when it comes to knowing football. Molly is now 11-4 on the season (73%). But fine, you get one final gift: this amazing week 16 picks blog.

Before we get to the picks, a couple things:

1). Aren’t we living through the greatest example ever of how irrelevant running backs are to a team’s success? Think about Adrian Peterson over in Minnesota, arguably having the best year ever for a running back (he may end up having the second best year ever, but either way). And yet his team is struggling to keep pace for the playoffs. In all likelihood they won’t make the playoffs (final games against Houston and Green Bay). Compare that to the quarterback position for a second…can you imagine if a QB was on pace to break Drew Brees’ single-season passing yards record or Tom Brady’s touchdown record and yet his team wasn’t going to make the playoffs? That’s never going to happen. Not that we needed further proof of this concept, but I just think it’s incredible that even the best running back year can only carry a team so far (looks like 8 or 9 wins for Minnesota), but give me a record-breaking QB and it’s almost a lock for at least 10 wins (usually more) and a playoff berth. More on this later.

2). I had a dream last night that Jim Harbaugh was working the front desk at a hotel I was checking in to, just as a side job during the week in between coaching the 49ers. So this was during the season that he was handing me my room key and towels, and I asked him who he thought the MVP of the league was. He said, “Adrian Peterson’s gotta be #1, then Brady and Manning would be tied for #2…and then after that, I think Ryan Fitzpatrick.” RYAN FITZPATRICK??? Sorry, Harbaugh, but you just lost all credibility with me from now til eternity. What a joke of a coach. Ryan fucking Fitzpatrick…

Let’s get on to the week 16 picks (home team underlined):

Detroit (+4.5) over Atlanta: The key to these final weeks of the regular season is to not put too much stock in any one game. Just a couple weeks ago I would have jumped all over Detroit with this line because they were constantly playing in close games or making spirited comebacks that just barely fell short. Meanwhile Atlanta was consistently letting bad teams hang around. So last week Atlanta demolished the Giants and Detroit lost badly at Arizona. I think this line is a bit high because many people will only think about last week, not the entire season. Give me Detroit to lose by just two or three.

Tennessee (+12.5) over Green Bay: Obviously the Packers win this game, that’s not up for debate. But you gotta pause and really think about this line. Green Bay’s only won three games this year by more than 12 points (including only one time in their past seven wins). Whether it’s because of injuries or because they’re just a little off this year, they really aren’t blowing teams out. I know they’re getting healthier, but I’m falling back on something I wrote weeks ago: the Packers will continue to get a spread attached to them that’s just a couple points too high because they’re the Packers, and people will bet them blindly no matter what they’ve looked like all season. I like Tennessee to keep it just under the 12.5 (while telling reporters after the game that losing by 10 to Green Bay shows real progress on their season).

Houston (-9) over Minnesota: Sorry, gotta say a little more about Adrian Peterson here. Poor guy. He’s on the cusp of having the greatest year a running back’s ever had in NFL history, but all he’s really doing is hurting his peers’ chances of ever getting big paydays again. Think about it what I wrote at the beginning of this column. Peterson’s almost on pace to break the single season rushing record, and yet the Vikings probably aren’t going to make the playoffs. If you’re an NFL owner or GM and you see this happening, doesn’t it only further solidify the notion that top running back talent doesn’t translate to wins and playoff appearances? Why would I ever pay to acquire a top running back or to keep an incumbent Pro Bowl running back on my team if it’s not going to guarantee my team’s success? Wouldn’t I spend that money on a quarterback, tight ends, receivers and an offensive line? Not only will an elite quarterback get me to the playoffs, but great passing puts asses in my stadium’s seats. It’s too bad, but it’s just the reality. I think Arian Foster signed the last big running back contract for a long time. Anyway, about this game…even if Peterson alone can keep it close in Houston, you just know J.J. Watt vs Christian Ponder is going to equal at least seven points for the Texans, and that defensive score is what makes me comfortable with Houston as a big favorite.

St. Louis (+3) over Tampa Bay: A game between “boom or bust” (Tampa) and “slow and steady” (St. Louis). I say that because Tampa either puts up a ton of points and wins, or doesn’t and loses; and St. Louis seems to play in a lot of tight, low-scoring games. I like St. Louis because they’ve been playing better lately, and quite frankly Tampa’s four-game losing streak reminds me too much of last year when they completely quit on their coach and mailed in the final half of the season. Steven Jackson playing well, Sam Bradford playing well, Danny Amendola healthy…yeah I like the Rams.

Philadelphia (+6.5) over Washington: You’d think I would have learned not to pick Philly after last Thursday’s turnover fest against Cincinnati. But I just think the Redskins go conservative against a team they should easily beat. Bring RGIII along slowly, don’t show any new wrinkles that Dallas (their week 17 opponent) can study on film…that type of stuff. Meanwhile I think the Eagles are in “evaluation mode” even for a guy like LeSean McCoy who’s making his return from a concussion. No need for Philly to risk getting anyone hurt or putting Nick Foles in tough situations. Call it a hunch but I feel like we’re looking at a pretty boring 17-13 win for Washington.

Dallas (-3) over New Orleans: Holy shit. I had no idea Tony Romo was playing so well over the past seven games. Since the start of November, Romo has 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He’s completed over 70% of his passes and has had a QB Rating over 94 in five of those seven games. Why aren’t we hearing about this all over ESPN and the web? Oh, because Mark Sanchez wouldn’t be getting enough coverage if that happened? Got it. Seriously, if I was Romo, I’d be forcing my way on to every ESPN and NFL Network show and throwing my stats in every analyst’s face. It’s like he hasn’t been worth mentioning since his four interception game on Sunday night against the Giants in late October. Poor guy (apparently I’m throwing that phrase around a lot these days). Anyway, Romo’s playing awesome, we know Dez Bryant can be effective enough with his finger problem now, and the Saints aren’t the same team on the road as they are at home. I’m extremely confident in Dallas right now.

San Diego (+2.5) over NY Jets: I feel like I shouldn’t have to pick this game until Rex Ryan names his backup QB. Only with the Jets would the #2 quarterback be so critical to figuring out who wins a game. If you’re comparing the Jets’ and Chargers’ respective bodies of work this season, I guess you gotta give the edge to the Jets. At least they’ve beaten semi-respectable teams like the Colts, Rams and Dolphins. But the Chargers did just go on the road two weeks ago and beat up on Pittsburgh…and Greg McElroy is making his first career start for a team with a ton of locker room issues and distractions…fuck it, let’s go with the Chargers because somehow Philip Rivers will be the best quarterback on the field.

Carolina (-9) over Oakland: On the road this year, Oakland has lost by 22, 31, 3, 35 and 14 points. The fact that they only lost that game in Atlanta by 3 should automatically disqualify the Falcons from the playoffs. On the other side, Carolina is “streaking” (a two-game winning streak for them must feel like an undefeated season). I can’t picture Oakland showing up for this game. I cannot believe how comfortable I am taking the Panthers to win by double digits.

Buffalo (+4.5) over Miami: I was going to start this pick off by saying, “Even though only one game separates these two teams in the standings, the Dolphins are actually so much better than the Bills.” But now that I’ve done the research, I don’t think that’s true. Miami may be able to run the ball effectively and play solid defense, but if you pick them to cover the spread, did you know you’re backing a quarterback who has taken almost every meaningful snap for his team this year and somehow only has 10 touchdown passes? And it’s not like Ryan Tannehill hasn’t thrown the ball a lot…even if you include his five-attempt game against the Jets in week 8, he’s averaging over 30 attempts per game this year. And he has 10 touchdowns??? We might wanna slow down on thinking the Dolphins have found a franchise QB. It’s possible a quarterback will throw more touchdowns this week in a single game than Tannehill has thrown all year.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) over Cincinnati: As much as I hate to admit that Ben Roethlisberger’s a good quarterback, I totally agree with his attempt to sorta kinda call Todd Haley’s play calling out in the media after their loss to Dallas. The guy’s got two rings and somehow tricked a woman into marrying him only a few months after he forced himself on another girl. Dude’s good at what he does. Sometimes you just gotta back off and let him be good. I think the Steelers attempt to make a statement in this game, and I also noticed that Cincinnati struggles mightily against Pittsburgh traditionally. Part of me thinks Pitt wins only by three, but I’ll roll the dice on them covering the extra half point (This game could be called “The Who Gets To Go To New England In Round One And Get Destroyed By a Pissed Off Patriots Team Bowl”).

Molly Pick

I should have known that by the end of the year I’d be so irresponsible with picking Patriots games that I’d have to hand the reigns over to Molly. But these picks are supposed to be made without emotion, and Molly’s the only one in this apartment who can pick the New England game without emoting it up. She’s pretty locked in so I have faith (and I didn’t even tell her that I had a dream last night that the Patriots only won 30-23 this weekend). Let’s see what she decided:

Indianapolis (-7) over Kansas City: I was so close to picking the Chiefs to cover. Then I remembered that I’m starting Andrew Luck and Vick Ballard in my fantasy football championship game, and obviously I want them to do well. Sometimes it’s that simple (also how can you possibly back a team that just got shutout by the Oakland defense?).

Denver (-13) over Cleveland: If you’re taking Cleveland and looking for something to hang your hat on, you can feel good knowing they’ve lost by more than a touchdown only once on the road this season. I’m not one of those people looking to take Cleveland. Bad matchup against a team firing on all cylinders who can pretty much lock up the #2 seed with a win.

NY Giants (-3) over Baltimore: I think Baltimore is bad. I think the Giants are OK. And I think I really want all three NFC East contenders to go into week 17 with 9-6 records.

Chicago (-6) over Arizona: For as bad as the Bears have looked in the second half of the season, can we all just agree that their defense—not nearly as good as it once seemed—is going to make Arizona, and specifically Ryan Lindley, look horrible in this game? Sometimes I just go with the “this team’s been so bad and the pendulum of public opinion has swung so far in one direction that it has to start swinging back the other way” theory. This is one of those times. The Bears right the ship, if only for a day.

Seattle (+1) over San Francisco: What a game this should be. How much do these two teams resemble each other, right? First year starters at quarterback, top-of-the-league defenses, power running games, head coaches who are both former PAC-12 coaches and current assholes (not to mention both teams were lucky to beat the best team in football…I’m talking about New England, don’t get cute and say “oh you mean Green Bay?”). I suppose I’m giving the Seahawks the edge because they’re at home, but I actually have no confidence in picking this game. I would love a tie almost as much as I would love Richard Sherman going down with a career-ending injury.

Week 16 Stats:

-Home Teams: 9

-Road Teams: 7

-Favorites: 8

-Underdogs: 8

-Home Underdogs: 4

-Road Underdogs: 4

-Road Favorites: 3