Who are you picking to win the week 15 games?

Posted Dec 14, 2017

Who are you picking to win the week 15 games?


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Denver (4-9) at Indianapolis (3-10): The best thing they could do for this game is install a snow machine at Lucas Oil and get us a replay of Sunday's game in Buffalo. Apparently Denver complained this week that the coaches' tape of that game was useless, since from the top of the stadium the Colts in their white unis disappeared into the snow. As if the Browncos were going to learn anything about what the Colts might do if there weren't four foot snow drifts on the field. Indy should have won that game, by the way. Chuck Pagano's decision to try the two point conversion (and run the same play that just got the touchdown, only to the other side) was spoiled by a totally bogus OPI call on Kamal Aiken, who wasn't even committing an illegal crack-back block. It's been that kind of year for Indy, and the only good news is that Aqib Talib is highly unlikely to try to grab anyone's chains, as he's only just back from suspension. I hate Thursdays even more than usual this season, as it always seems to be the obvious favourite who has the shorter week and travel, which may explain why I'm only 9-7 on Thursday this season, after hitting 16-2 last year. So take this with a grain of salt. Pick (posted yesterday @carlsonsports): Broncos

FRIDAY'S FOOTBALL FUNK: 90 yards of offense in the second half, after leading 10-0 and 10-7. Allowing CJ Anderson 158 yards rushing. Allowing Brock O 12/17 194 2 TD no INT. I felt sorry for the Colts after the Snow Bowl Sunday, but really they are a bad football team. With both the Primate Passer, Trevor Siemian, and Paxton Lynch injured, Vance Joseph said the team wouldn't sign another QB, as 'there are none out there'. In the physics of the NFL, Colin Kaepernick is anti-matter.


Chicago (4-9) at Detroit (7-6): Watching the Bears roll to their best game of the season in their rout of the Bengals, I realised that what Commissioners call parity physicists examining the NFL would label entropy, the tendency of a system to reach uniform inertness. Or, as I learned from Thomas Pynchon when I was a kid, the heat death of the universe. Substitute Mitch Trubisky for Brock Osweiler and Jordan Howard for CJA and see if heat death can strike twice in the same metaphoric space. The Lions were up 21-7 before their D started to let Tampa back into the game: a lead like that will be harder to the Bears to chase; their game plan has to be to get a lead through the run and keep it through the run. But in Detroit, pick: Lions

Los Angeles (7-6) at Kansas City (7-6): Two weeks ago the Chiefs got big plays from Kelce and Hill and lost. Last week they got Kareem Hunt back on track as a runner, involved a wide receiver, and played good D and won. Albeit against Oakland, whom they tried to let back into the game, but the Raiders weren't having any of that. The Chargers are on a four-game roll, unlike David Carr Phillip Rivers can throw downfield, and they can disrupt the line of scrimmage. But against KC, your crucial line of defense is your linebacking. So Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown might be key figures defensively. A KC win pretty much clinches the division for them. Their biggest problem is going to be protecting Alex Smith, and somehow defending Keenan Allen, who is back to being one of the very best, and most consistent threats in the NFL. Pick: Chiefs


Miami (6-7) at Buffalo (7-6): The first of four matchups of teams with Palindromic Records! In the old days, the citizens of Buffalo used to show up early to shovel the snow; now the question is whether last Sunday's drifts will be cleared. The Dolphins, like Bears, are coming off their best game of the season, and Jay Cutler has played in Denver and Chicago so cold weather is nothing new to him. Tyrod Taylor will probably start for Buffalo, as his bruised knee is healing, but Sean McDermott ruled out signing Colin Kaepernick, who could be renamed Colin Kryptonite if we switch from physics to comic books. Pick: Bills

Green Bay (7-6) at Carolina (9-4): One of two games this week where your take depends on how much you love the starting quarterback. Aaron Rodgers gets a lot of love, and though Cam Newton doesn't get much, they are similar in the sense that their teams depend on their ability to make plays out of seemingly nothing. The Vikes held Carolina in check for all but three plays: Jonathan Stewart's surprise 60 yard TD; Cam finding Funchess for a TD, and Cam's 622 yard option run. But that was all it took with Carolina's D playing almost as well. The Pack aren't the Vikings, so the question is how much Rodgers will elevate them—though after Brett Hundley led them to OT wins two weeks in a row (albeit over Tampa and Cleveland) someone pointed out that Rodgers is 0-28 when entering the 4th quarter down 10 or more; while Hundley just won a game doing just that! Pick: Panthers

Baltimore (7-6) at Cleveland (0-13): It may be that there's an interesting science programme of NPR that Hue Jackson is listening to through his headset during the second half of Browns' games, I dunno. But when he looks at last week's tape, the Ravens laying 38 points on the Steelers, 38!, and losing, losing! he might decide to download it and listen later. Along with the lowlights of this game. Pick: Ravens

Houston (4-9) at Jacksonville (9-4): Palindromic Records! at this stage of the season often indicate mismatches, though TJ Yates could give Houston a better shot than the immobile Tom Savage. The Jags were lucky in some ways to beat Seattle, in what was a case of the apprentice besting the master at his own tricks. Though they did it with D and a crucial run by Leonard Fournette, the interesting thing is watching Blake Bortles playing a better game, making better decisions and avoiding turnovers. Pick: Jags

Cincinnati (5-8) at Minnesota (10-3): The Vikes completed their three game road trip (Detroit, Atlanta, Carolina) 2-1, and at home after the Bengals rolled over like tabby cats to have their bellies scratched by the Bears, they ought to be able to get back on the winning track in the chase for home-field advantage against the Eagles. Pick: Vikes

New York Jets (5-8) at New Orleans (9-4): The Saints lost by 3 in Atlanta last Thursday, in a game where 11 penalties (to the Falcons' 4) and injuries hurt them. They've had time to get some of the casualties from that game healthy. Drew Brees said it was '100% a product of Thursday night football', which you can see, for example, in Marshon Lattimore reinjuring himself by coming back before he was fully healed. Alvin Kamara will likely play, and they will get at least one starting lineman back, and maybe Ted Ginn, whose downfield threat helps open things up. AJ Klein is still questionable, which hurts the run defense. Josh McCown will be acting as a player-coach for the Jets, although since he's not playing it would more accurately be called a 'coach', and Bryce Petty will need all the help he can get. Could there be a Hack sighting in Nawlins? Pick: Saints

Philadelphia (11-2) at New York Giants (2-11): What was I saying about Palindromic Records and mismatches? Although with Nick Foles at QB, the Eagles are not the team they were, and the Giants' one great skill should be rushing the passer and forcing mistakes on which the secondary can capitalise. It could be that Spags' impact as head coach and Sully's as offensive coordinator could take a week to sink in, and though Foles and Eli have a lot in common these days, Carson Wentz was making a lot of things happen for the Eagles that likely won't even with Foles playing at his best. Pick: Eagles

Arizona (6-7) at Washington (5-8): You have to admire the way the Cards have fought, and last week's 12-7 win over the Titans, while less compelling offensively than the Bills-Colts snowball fight, was a huge accomplishment. The Skins, on the other hand, just ran out of gas in the LA suburbs somewhere. They're back in Landover, and maybe refilled the tank with hi-test? Pick: Skins

LA Rams (9-4) at Seattle (8-5): This is a huge game, because the Seahawks have that early season 16-10 win in LA, so they would get the playoff tie-break with a sweep. Getting Goff out of his comfort zone is a key for Seattle, while stopping Russell Wilson from making those big scramble plays late in the game (if you can get away with tackling his receivers as they get behind you, as Aaron Colvin did last week, it helps) is crucial for the Rams. Here's a case too where the crowd noise could be a factor, as Sean McVay has been calling the plays at the line of scrimmage in Goff's hat, and that has to be transmitted to the team, which will be harder to do in the deafening crescendo in Seattle. Pick: Seahawks

New England (10-3) at Pittsburgh (11-2): Starting late in the afternoon, which will make it colder, ought to add a little piquancy to this one. The bookies have the Pats favourites, which must be overlooking last week and looking back to last year's playoff game, which, as I keep pointing out, required a goal line stand by the Pats, drops by Coates and Hamilton (neither still with the team) and an injury to LeVeon Bell (admittedly held in check to that point). The Steelers laid 39 on the Ravens, whose defense is more talented than the Pats. The Pats might get Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy back from injury: it's an indication of their talent level that these are their two most crucial front-seven guys. Martavis Bryant has never played against the Pats, and the four Killer Bees are a level of playmakers that no team in the NFL can match. Joe Haden is likely back for the Steelers, which is very good news, and I'd expect them to not sit back in zone like they did last year, but play press-man outside, commit to pass rush, and maybe keep Sean Davis aware of Gronk. This is fascinating: it's like a slugger versus a puncher; a power hitter against a junk-ball pitcher. Pick: Steelers

Tennessee (8-5) at San Francisco (3-10): Jimmy G is still undefeated as a starter in the NFL. This is the other game where the man-crush on the QB will decide how you call it. The bookies are certainly under the spell, with the Niners favourites over an 8-5 team, and honestly, after watching the Titans' inept offensive showing against Arizona, you can see why. You'd like the Niners more if they had another downfield target, especially because the Titans' can play D, but unless Mike Mularkey can get a 100 yard game from either Henry or Murray, you have to go along with the bookies. Pick: Niners

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Dallas (7-6) at Oakland (6-7) Palindromic Records! You can bet NBC wanted to flex either Pats-Steelers or Rams-Seahawks into this slot, but the other nets had their blocking set (there is a formula for that). As it is, the six loss teams in the NFC need to win out and hope for help, so their playoff hopes aren't dead, or at least not as dead as the Raiders looked against KC. Speculation on whether Jack Del Rio goes or if another coordinator is thrown under the bus have eclipsed team news in Oakland, but theoretically 9-7 could get someone into a wild card in the AFC. Pick: Cowboys

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Atlanta (8-5) at Tampa (4-9): The Falcons weren't quIte resurgent last Thursday against the Saints, but they are only a game behind the leaders in the NFC South, and play at New Orleans and home to Carolina in the last two weeks, so a win here keeps their destiny in their own hands. Tampa rank as one of the disappointments of the season, a team who looked poised to take their game to the next level, which the Saints and Panthers have done this year while they've regressed. Pick: Falcons

LAST WEEK: 11-5 SEASON: 138-70

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