I scratch and claw my way all season, finally compiling a record that I could be somewhat impressed by, and then just watched it crumble down these last couple weeks. I'm not exactly sure what's happened here. Maybe with my time off of work, my brain has just shut off? That can't be it since it was never really on to begin with. I'm still getting the winners correct, as I'm hanging on in my confidence pool, but against spreads, my picks have just gone south.
Fortunately, I'm fairly certain there's nobody reading this blog, much less basing wagers on my suggestions, so I can take solace in the fact that nobody will be coming after me with an aluminum bat.
Looking back, I've noticed that the weather has definitely played a role in several of the games I've gotten wrong, keeping matchups closer than I would have expected. Or in the Bears' case last week, the Packers complete inability to cleanly punt the ball came back to haunt me, although I enjoyed watching it.
Another factor that I've noticed is the picking of games on Wednesdays. I did okay the first week or so when the schedule changed, but not so hot of late. Of course, since I'm flying out to Pasadena to see my Illini play in the Rose Bowl, I can't exactly wait until Saturday for this week either, so here we go again, as I try to stay over .500 for the season in the least predictable week there is... Week 17.
New England (-14.5) at New York Giants - The Giants will most likely be sitting their starters, as they've secured the #5 seed in the NFC. I would think that the Patriots would rest their starters at some point as well, but not before Tom Brady gets at least two touchdown passes to claim the season record. And knowing Bill Belichick, I'm guessing he'll get Brady at least three, just for the hell of it...
Buffalo (+7.5) at Philadelphia - The Eagles have been playing solid football of late, I'll give them that. But I still feel the Bills are a team that will compete until the end, and ultimately give themselves the worst possible draft pick without having actually made the playoffs. I've seen it too many times before with Dick Jauron.
Tampa Bay (+2.5) vs Carolina - I hate these games, and not just because the Panthers are involved. Will the Bucs just roll over in this one, knowing their playoff spot is secure? Will they want to recover from last week's loss to the 49ers to head into the playoffs on a high note? I'm guessing they don't want to back in on a losing streak so they'll hold off the Panthers at home and whoever ends up quarterbacking for Carolina.
Cincinnati (-3) at Miami - Carson Palmer has a lot of work to do next year to return to the status of elite quarterback. And here I thought I got a bargain in the 3rd round of one of my fantasy drafts. But in the end, the talent on offense for the Bengals is far and away better than that of the Dolphins. I think after winning against Baltimore and then fighting division rival New England, the 'Fins are pretty much spent on this season.
Washington (-8.5) vs Dallas - Here's another play-or-sit games. I would assume that the Cowboys would rest up, but with a bye week next week anyways, shouldn't the starters go for a little bit just to keep sharp? And wouldn't you want to get Terry Glenn some snaps with Tony Romo before the playoffs? I'm thinking this one will be close until the 3rd quarter, when the Cowboy starters sit and Todd Collins takes control of the game... If the Redskins make the playoffs, does that mean we have to stop making fun of Joe Gibbs?
Green Bay (-3.5) vs Detroit - How far has Detroit fallen after their solid start to the season? Well, they're an underdog to a team with nothing to play for... and I'm picking against them. The Packers were embarrassed last week and will try, at least for a half, to kick start themselves before playoff time. That'll be enough time for the Packers to take control of this game. Mike Martz will go pass-happy playing catchup, and the Packers' lead will just increase...
Jacksonville (+6.5) at Houston - I gave the Texans a chance last week, but they pretty much just mailed in that game, which makes me think that they've mailed in the season, which makes me think that even the Jaguar backups will be able to handle this Houston team. The Texans showed plenty of life against the Broncos a couple weeks ago, but I think that's more of a reflection on Denver than anything Houston is doing.
Chicago (+2.5) vs New Orleans - When this game was first put on the schedule, people were thinking it would help determine home-field advantage in the NFC. Wow, was that way off... I'm still sticking with the Bears and Kyle Orton, mostly because this will be played outdoors in the cold and hopefully they can get a repeat performance of last week. I like Drew Brees but I think that the rest of the team will just be looking to go home for the offseason.
Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Baltimore - Willie Parker is lost for the season, which brings on Najeh Davenport into the full-time picture. Willis McGahee is also out, which brings... who exactly? The Ravens are in absolute ruins while the Steelers look to keep sharp going into the playoffs. Here's another game where I don't expect to see the Pittsburgh starters in the second half, but the Ravens offense is so inept, it won't matter.
Seattle (+2.5) at Atlanta - The Falcons showed they won't go down without a fight, as they took the Cardinals to overtime last week. But looking deeper into that matchup, it was the Cardinals... The Arizona Cardinals... That is nothing to brag about. I mean, I did pick the Cardinals to cover, but that's because I'm dumb. Seattle takes care of this one, even with nothing to play for. Atlanta stumbles into what will be a very interesting offseason.
San Francisco (+10) at Cleveland - No matter what Cleveland does in this game won't matter as the Titans-Colts matchup will basically determine if the Browns make the playoffs or not. A few weeks ago when I said I didn't trust the Browns, even though they'll still probably back into the playoffs... Yeah, I may not have been right about a lot these last few weeks, but I was dead on on that one...
Tennessee (-6) at Indianapolis - Vince Young in the playoffs... It's been an interesting way to get there, but with a win over a team that's used to resting starters at this point in the season, that's exactly where VY and his Titans will be. Personally, I don't think they really belong in the playoffs, and their stay is going to be short, but with the Colts resting up for a likely trip to New England, the Titans path is rather clear.
Minnesota (-3) at Denver - I thought about this one for quite a while. The Broncos, despite their awful season, definitely play better at home. And the Vikings may already be eliminated by the time they play this game. But the Broncos had high expectations coming into the season, the Vikings had no expectations. I'm thinking the last game would be a lot easier to get up for when you think you're building to next year rather than questioning what the hell just happened.
San Diego (-8) at Oakland - I've been picking a lot of road teams these last few weeks, which might have something to do with my horrible record in December, but I can't change that philosophy in this matchup. I wanted to pick the Raiders, as the Chargers will most likely only play their starters for a half, if that. But they took care of the Broncos last week doing just that, and JaMarcus Russell will be making the start... It's not going to be pretty for the Raiders this week, but at least they're getting him some playing time.
St. Louis (+6.5) at Arizona - Barely scraping by the Falcons at home is not a good way to close out the season. It doesn't get any easier in the final week for the Cardinals, as the Rams, who have nothing to play for and have already gotten past their "what just happened" portion of the season look to build towards next year. With everybody healthy, this is a better team than the Cardinals, and they'll show it this week.
New York Jets (-6) vs Kansas City - This is the last regular season game I'm going to predict? Really? Well, that's depressing. Um, this is probably the end of the line for Chad Pennington. Um, Larry Johnson is still out. Uh... that's all I got. Is anybody going to watch this one anyways? I could make up a final score Sunday night and nobody would challenge me on it. Oh well, it is what is it...
Last Week: 5-10-1