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

Advertisements

Should I really let this irrelevant argument go on?

I apologize in advance to my outraged readers who are wondering why the fuck we're spending time discussing the NFL's worst franchises

(Editor’s Note: This is a painful post to put up.  Not because I have something against the Washington Redskins, but because an argument between a Redskins fan and a 49ers fan is just so unimportant when it comes to discussing good football.  It’s kind of cute actually, and I feel compelled to let it happen because Friedchips and Wernermania have been arguing about their teams since our college days when the Patriots were putting up Super Bowl banners on the regular.  And even though the 2011-12 season was yet another year where the Patriots were far more relevant than these god-awful teams, at least the 9ers got to the playoffs and now the Redskins are making news by trading their future for a top QB prospect.  I’m going to post this knowing many of you don’t give a rat’s ass about these two teams.  But that’s fine…the early offseason is a perfect time for this post.  Once the football season gets closer, we’ll put up posts about teams that actually have a chance in 2012.  It does seem a bit unfair to Friedchips that his team and his character are getting attacked so badly when all he tried to do was analyze a huge football transaction, but you need to know that Wernermania is an irrational sports fan.  He’s the type of guy who writes angry letters to his favorite teams with suggestions on how to improve.  So here we go.  Making his WBFF blog debut, I give you the foul-mouthed, dick-obsessed Wernermania.)

A Gentle Rebuttal to Friedchips’ Idiotic Redskins Post

Let me start with the most revealing portion of Friedchips’ argument against the recent trade by the Redskins to move into the #2 position in the draft and likely take Robert Griffin III:

“Does this seem crazy to anyone else?…if Griffin works out and becomes a franchise type QB, it’s worth it.”

That contradiction sums up why this trade makes sense for the Redskins, and also proves that Friedchips is, as those of us who know him have long suspected, retarded.

You see, to win consistently in the NFL you need a great QB (i.e. the Pats, old Colts, Saints, Packers).  The great running game/great defense thing works sometimes (i.e. Ravens, 49ers) but is increasingly difficult to sustain and not much fun to watch.  That’s why franchise QBs, or franchise QB prospects, are very rarely available (usually one or fewer per year), and very expensive to try and attain.  It’s the same reason that some team is going to guarantee Peyton Manning $30 million praying that he can last two years without really knowing if he can throw a pass harder than your mom, or even last a quarter without dropping dead the first time he gets hit.

Before I go any further, I will admit that I have a huge homer boner for the ‘Skins.  I have bought into many of their prior mistakes and have been justifiably ridiculed.  Our owner is bit of a douchebag and deserves a lot of the criticism he receives from ass-clowns like Friedchips.  We also have been mostly bad for the past 20 years; I won’t deny it.

The price is also pretty staggering, even if he does play football’s most important position and the new collective bargaining rules take a lot of the risk out of drafting young QBs in the top few picks (he will make $22 million over four years, about one-third of what Ryan Fitzpatrick will make in the same time period).  The price of trading up into the top few picks has always been expensive and has become more so over the years, and I think that this trade probably establishes the new value of those picks following the changes made in rookie salaries (proven by the fact that reports say the Browns offered the same package with a higher #1 this year after we had closed the deal).  Given that since 2006, six Super Bowls have been won by 1st round pick QBs (with the only exception being Brees, a 2nd rounder), I would also argue that calling drafting QBs a “crapshoot” is not accurate, even if it isn’t an exact science and there have been several failures.

Despite some of those issues, we also have the biggest fan base in the NFL, are in an important market, have won 3 super bowls, have a 2-time super bowl winning head coach, a good defense and $40 million in cap room.  And when we’re winning, we are the most profitable sports franchise in the NFL (the Cowboys edge us for now with their new stadium but we are going to build one in a few years and when we win we are bigger than them anyways) and second to only the Yankees in the world.  The Redskins, even as bad as they have been, dominate DC’s attention and RG3 just became the most important guy in town – in a town that has a lot of important people.  He most certainly does not “feel like he was just punched in the dick” and if he is what his potential suggests, he will become a god to several million people.

Now for some of my own dick punching: First off, Friedchips lives in and is from NY and yet roots for the 49ers because he is a front-running ass-sniffer who liked to beat off to Steve Young when he was little and thought that was more important than his home town.  As far as I know he’s only actually been to SF once, and that was about a year ago.  I have about as much respect for those types of sports fans as I do the French.  Let me also point out that SF was good for the first time in about a hundred years this past season; Friedchips is being a bit hypocritical calling the ‘Skins losers if you ask me.  On a side note let me also point out that Alex Smith still sucks despite people celebrating the fact that he shocked everyone by being average last year and will probably get a $40 million contract based on that fact. Also, SF will not make the playoffs next year – book it.

Wernermania out.