Pigskin Pick’em: Some NFL teams not feeling the holiday cheer

  • By Nolan Rose
  • Wednesday, December 17, 2014 8:25pm
  • Sports

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to watch football on Sunday! Hey! I know that’s a brutal lyrical attempt, but you get the idea. It’s that time of year again when every football fan is wishing for a playoff appearance under the tree. Which teams will Santa Claus deem naughty or nice this season? The Raiders, Titans, Jets, Redskins, Jags, and the entire NFC South will certainly find lumps of coal in their stocking. The Seahawks, Packers, Cowboys, Broncos, Patriots, and Colts are all hoping for the latest in fine jewelry, even a fancy ring perhaps! Santa’s take on the column is still to be determined. A capable 8-6-2 mark in week 15 boosts our season record to 119-101-4. The current 54% tally is a positive number, albeit a bit uninspiring. Will Santa bring the Sultan of Sides a heavy dose of Yule Tide cheer this Christmas?

Tennessee Titans @
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS -3

What better way to start week 15 than a riveting Titans-Jags matchup! Thanks, NFL! These two powder-puffs have a combined 4-24 record. First downs will be celebrated with the same vigor as a newly crowned Super Bowl champion. In a coin flip of awful football favor the home side. Plus, Tennessee seems intent on losing, while Jacksonville has been oddly competitive in recent weeks. Jags win 24-13

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ Washington Redskins +8.5

Chip Kelly’s Eagles have really struggled of late, and now find themselves battling for a spot in the postseason instead of home field advantage with two weeks to go. Fortunately, for supporters of the national bird, Robert Griffin and the Native Americans are the cure-all for unwanted losing streaks. It’s hard to imagine the atmosphere is actually worse in D.C. now than it was a year ago when embattled former coach Mike Shanahan was still waddling along the sidelines. Griffin recently claimed that “quitting” Twitter would help solidify the team. When your franchise flop quarterback is insinuating that Twitter is an actual reason behind losing professional football games… Wow. Eagles win 29-16

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS @ Santa Clara 49ers -1

What a joyful time in the NFL. The evil nemesis of the Seattle Seahawks has perished! Only the ghost of Jim Harbaugh remains after his 49ers failed in Seattle 17-7 last Sunday. The loss marked the first time San Francisco has lost three straight contests under Harbaugh. The 49ers will make it four in a row this week with the San Diego Chargers in town. The Chargers can’t afford a seventh loss if they hope to remain in the AFC playoff race. Reaching double figures in points might be all the Lightning Bolts need against an anemic Colin Kaepernick. You’d expect a Philip Rivers led offense to reach that mark. Chargers win 21-13

MINNESOTA VIKINGS @
Miami Dolphins -7

I’ve been really impressed with the job Mike Zimmer has done with this Minnesota Vikings team. Zimmer, a long-time defensive assistant, has turned the Vikings defense into a very competitive group as expected, but the real progress has been on the offensive side of the ball. The Vikings, with very little NFL talent, have been remarkably respectable on offense, especially considering the loss of Adrian Peterson. Rookie quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater has been inconsistent, but has performed admirably overall. The Dolphins have finally turned into canned tuna. Last week’s crushing defeat in New England all but ended Miami’s season. Give me the touchdown and a Vikings side trending upward over a discouraged Dolphins team. Dolphins win 23-20

BALTIMORE RAVENS @
Houston Texans +6.5

I’d be all over this Texans side +6.5 had nerd quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick not been lost for the season to a fractured leg. It’s a disappointing injury for a team that has now lost its top two quarterbacks in a three week span. J.J. Watt and company will keep the Ravens attack in check, but Houston won’t hold up for four quarters with a third string quarterback throwing passes. This is a nice break (literally) for a Ravens team battling for a spot in the AFC playoffs. Ravens win 27-9

DETROIT LIONS @
Chicago Bears +7

Lions and Bears oh my! These aren’t your fathers Bears. Chicago has been in hibernation since the hiring of Captain Canada Marc Trestman as Head Coach. Trestman must be yearning for his glory days in the Canadian Football League. It’s hard to understand why Detroit’s offense has struggled so mightily despite a plethora of talent on that side of the ball. Detroit’s struggles make laying a touchdown a bit unnerving, but there’s no way you can back the Bears right now with any confidence. Lions win 27-17

Cleveland Browns @
CAROLINA PANTHERS -3.5

I’m going to wait until the Johnny Manziel led Cleveland Browns score a point before siding with the Dawg Pound. Could Manziel’s first foray into professional football go any further astray? The Browns fell at home 30-0 to their rival Cincinnati Bengals. Keep in mind, The Browns defeated the Bengals in Cincinnati 24-3 with Brian Hoyer at quarterback earlier this season. In the NFL’s version of the Twilight Zone, the 5-8-1 Carolina Panthers are only a half-game out of first place in the NFC South. The Panthers captured a much needed win a week ago despite being without Cam Newton, I expect a similar outcome this Sunday. Panthers win 21-17

ATLANTA FALCONS @
New Orleans Saints -6.5

We’re still firmly in the Twilight Zone! Contingent upon the result of the Panthers-Browns game, this could be a battle for first place in the NFC South, despite both teams posting losing records. I was off the mark with the Saints again last week. I haven’t taken the time to go back and look but my ATS record in Saints games is pathetic. I have no idea what to do with this bunch. I’m taking the road side plus the candy, which means bet the farm on New Orleans. Saints win 30-27

GREEN BAY PACKERS @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers +10.5

I would take the Packers minus 20. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers struggled last week in frigid Buffalo where the Packers surprisingly fell 21-13. Before the loss Green Bay was favored by many to earn the NFC’s number one seed, now they sit in the sixth position of the hotly contested conference with two weeks to play. There is no way the Packers fail to qualify in what should be Rodgers’ second MVP season, and does anyone think the passer is capable of back-to-back duds right now? Tampa Bay is fighting hard for the draft rights to Marcus Mariota. A 13th loss is a must if the Bucs want to accomplish their goal. Packers win 41-13

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @
Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5

This may come as a surprise to some, but I have the 8-6 Chiefs travelling to Pittsburgh and defeating the 9-5 Steelers. Both teams are desperate for a win, but an up-and-down Steelers team is overdue for a dud performance. Kansas City can run the football, control the clock, and keep Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense off the field. Roethlisberger has a tendency to hold the football in the pocket. If the Chiefs jump out to an early lead, forcing Pittsburgh to throw frequently, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, two of the top pass rushers in the NFL, will have huge games. This contest will likely come down to the final possession, and my money is on a late field goal stealing a victory for Kansas City, Chiefs win 23-20

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS @ New York Jets +10.5

Can the Jets just forfeit this game so we can all move on with our lives? Patriots win 30-0

New York Giants @
ST. LOUIS RAMS -5

The lambs failed my Seahawks fandom last Thursday, falling to the Arizona Cardinals 12-6, despite Arizona being forced to play fourth string quarterback Ryan Lindley. St. Louis should get back to winning football games this week with Eli Manning and the New York Giants in town. Manning has a long history of throwing the football to the wrong team under duress, and he’s in line to see a lot of pressure facing a very strong Rams front seven. A costly turnover will be the difference in an otherwise even affair. Rams win 26-20

BUFFALO BILLS @
Oakland Raiders +6

How many times do I have to say it? Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills! In a must win situation, with the mighty Green Bay Packers in town, Buffalo pulled off an upset victory to remain in the AFC playoff hunt. Now, the Bills need to re-group and travel cross country to participate in a very winnable affair versus the Oakland Raiders. Oakland is in an interesting position. If the Raiders finish with the top pick in next year’s draft what will they do? Rookie passer Derek Carr has impressed, but is it enough to turn down Marcus Mariota? What does Carr’s trade market look like? What kind of loot could the Raiders bring in if they traded the rights to the number one pick? St. Louis netted three first round draft picks plus other goodies for Robert Griffin a few years ago. You have to think the price for Mariota would be even higher. Oakland cannot afford to win this game. Bills win 21-7

Indianapolis Colts @
DALLAS COWBOYS -3

“Coin flips favor the home side” failed me a week ago when Dallas edged the Eagles in Philadelphia, but I’m applying the same theory this week when the Cowboys host the Indianapolis Colts in a gigantic contest. Dallas earned the NFC East’s top spot for now with last week’s win. Can the Cowboys take it a step further and claim the NFC’s top seed? With the hapless Washington Redskins looming in week 17, certainly the Colts present Dallas’ final hurdle. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, despite all the wonderful play, has mysterious bouts of turnover-itis. If Luck plays a clean game the Colts will win, but lately the young passer has been unable to do so. Dallas’ uninspiring 3-4 home mark is a huge concern, but the Fighting Jerry’s will find a way on Sunday. (Don’t you think for a minute I’m not employing an anti-jinx play right here) Cowboys win 27-23

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS @
Arizona Cardinals +9

The top team (record-wise) in the NFC being a touchdown plus dog at home tells you all you need to know about Vegas’ thoughts on the Cardinals trotting out Ryan Lindley to throw passes. It’s amazing the Desert Bats are where they are in light of all the injuries to key contributors. Coach Bruce Arians has done a remarkable job of keeping this team afloat, but the latest injury to backup quarterback Drew Stanton will prove to be the straw that broke the Camel’s back. There’s just no way the Cardinals beat a red-hot Seahawks team with Ryan Lindley at quarterback. It’s impossible. Arizona will be hard pressed to post a single point on the scoreboard. Seahawks win 20-3

DENVER BRONCOS @
Cincinnati Bengals +3.5

Denver needs to win out and have the Patriots drop a game in the final two weeks to avoid travelling to New England to face Tom Brady and the Belichick’s in the AFC Championship game. The Cincinnati Bengals are a mysterious group. The team rests atop the AFC North with a 9-4-1 mark despite a very pedestrian plus-22 scoring differential. Statistically the Bengals are closer to a .500 team than they are a division leader. Relying on Andy Dalton to match Peyton Manning on the scoreboard is a fool’s folly. Broncos win 31-17

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