Brad's Picks was 9-7 last week for the second week in a row. Here's the good, bad and ugly from that:
Colts 35, Jacksonville 31 (TNF) - Most of the Colts' starters played the whole game. Ten lead changes and the Jags had a chance to win with a minute to go but David Garrard threw to a Colt.
Tennessee 27, Dolphins 24 (OT) - Dolphins trailed 24-6 in the 3rd, but tied the game on a two point conversation (a run by Ricky Williams) to send it to OT.
Cardinals 31, Detroit 24 - Cards had a 17 point lead at the half, but the Lions tied it up at the end of 3, then the Cards got a TD, then the Lions got a TD, then the Cards got a TD with 1:54 remaining. So, 7 TD's and 2 FG's in a wild game.
Texans 16, St. Louis 13 - Matt Schaub threw for 367 yards and Andre Johnson had 9 catches for 196 yards but the Texans could only muster one TD.
Patriots 17, Buffalo 10 - Randy Moss found his happy face and gained 70 yards on 5 receptions, including a 13 yard TD.
Browns 41, Kansas City 34 - Joshua Cribbs returned two kickoffs for TD's, both of at least 100 yards. He now has the all time NFL record for kickoffs returned for TD's with eight. And Browns RB Jerome Harrison ran for 286 yards (on 34 carries), breaking Jim Brown's team record by 49 yards (and coming up just short of the NFL record of 297 yardds set by Adrian Peterson in 2007).
San Diego 27, Bengals 24 - Nate Kaeding kicked a 52 yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining to give the Chargers their 9th straight win.
Baltimore 31, Bears 7 - Jay Cutler had a 7.9 QB rating.
Philadelphia 27, Forty Niners 13 - Check out this video of what happened to some Niner fans last week in the City of Brotherly Love:
Cowboys 24, New Orleans 17 - Cowboys led 24-3 at the end of 3 quarters, and held on for the win in a very noisy arena.
Falcons 10, New York Jets 7 - Mark Sanchez threw three INT's; Matt Ryan didn't throw any.
Raiders 20, Denver 19 - Raiders played harder than the Broncos and deserved the win.
Pittsburgh 37, Packers 36 - Ben R's last second TD handed the Packers their first loss in the last 6 games. Ben was sacked 5 times, Aaron Rodgers just once. Neither team could get a ground game going but they sure gained a lot in the air - 848 in total (472 by the Steelers, 376 by the Packers). Neither QB threw an INT.
Bucs 24, Seattle 7 - Matt Hasselbeck turned it over 5 times.
Carolina 26, Vikings 7 - It was Vikings 7, Carolina 6 at the end of three quarters.
Giants 45, Washington 12 - Eli Manning threw three TD passes as the Redskins laid down for a rout.
Brad's Picks is 145-63 on the season. AFC 3, NFC 1 last week. On the season, it's AFC 34, NFC 25. Visiting teams had a good week, going 10-6. On the season, it's Home teams 128, Visitors 96. 224 games have been played, 32 games to go.
In the AFC, only Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland, and Buffalo have been eliminated from playoff contention.
In the NFC, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Minnesota and Arizona are in the playoffs. Only three teams (Green Bay, Dallas, and the Giants) are still in contention for two wild card spots.
This week: Friday's game (5:30 MST):
San Diego (11-3) at Tennessee (7-7) - The Christmas Day game. Titans have been giving up a lot of passing yards lately, and here comes Philip Rivers and the great passing game of the Chargers. Chargers just about have the number two seed in the AFC locked up, and don't really need this game. But it's on prime time, and I think they'll go for it. Titans still have a shot at the playoffs and will certainly go for it. Weather should be decent (low of 27 or so, a little cloudy). Vince Young threw for three TD's last week against Miami, and Chris Johnson ran for 107 against a tough Dolphins defense. Johnson is on pace for 1,977 yards. He should up that a bit against a bad run defense. I'm taking the Titans at home. They're 7-1 in the last 8 games, the loss being 27-17 at Undee in Week 13. A caveat - Titans have lost starting LB Keith bulluck for the season with a torn ACL. But then, the Chargers have lost Center Scott Mruczkowski (and yes, I spelled that correctly - use spell check if you don't believe me). They hope to get Nick Hardwick back (yes, I spelled that correctly also), but they signed a journeyman center named Eric Ghiaciuc just in case (and no, I did not make that up). Hardwick was the starter but went out in game one. How hard can he play if he can come back?
the 11:00 Sunday games:
Buffalo (5-9) at Atlanta (7-7) - Falcons were out of the playoffs before last week's game at the Jets, but they played hard and beat a tough Jets team in cold weather. I think they can beat the Bills in their warm home dome, especially since the Bills are down to their third string QB, Brian Brohm, who they just signed in mid-November. Falcons are trying to notch back to back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history (44 years).
Houston (7-7) at Miami (7-7) - Houston is 4-0 versus Miami. Vince Young was able to pass the ball on Miami last week, and here comes Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Neither team has been eliminated from the playoffs, but it would take a whole lot of losses by teams like the Broncos, Ravens, Jets, etc., to get in. Houston can't run the ball very well, so I'm going to take the Dolphins. But I expect a close game, especially since young Miami QB Chad Henne, while playing real well lately, has also thrown 8 INT's in his last four games.
Seattle (5-9) at Green Bay (9-5) - Seattle is 1-5 on the road (the win was at St. Louis) and got pasted at home last week by the 2-12 Bucs. Packers lost a close one in Pittsburgh last week, so they are 5-1 lately. Packers should win this one.
Carolina (6-8) at New York Giants (8-6)) - Giants are off a huge win on MNF. Carolina is off a huge win over the Vikings. Panthers QB Matt Moore has played well in place of Jake Delhomme (now on IR with his injured finger) and Moore has been finding Steve Smith lately. But you gotta take the Giants, who are fighting for a playoff spot, and who have been playing a little harder lately.
Baltimore (8-6) at Pittsburgh (7-7) - Division game. Steelers had lost 5 in a row before pulling out a one point win at home against the Packers last week. Ravens have lost starting CB Lardarius Webb, but QB Joe Flacco seems to be healthy again, after struggling through November with assorted owies. Steelers may get Troy Polamalu back, but probably not for another week, but Hines Ward should have a few catches against the Ravens secondary. Should be a good, tough, hard, physical game. Not to mention mean. Both teams are still in the playoff hunt. Weather will be decent for this time of year. In 2008, the Steelers won both games, one by 4, the other by 3 (in OT). It was Baltimore 20, Steelers 17 in OT in Week Twelve earlier this season. Ben R did not play in that game, but Dennis Dixon played very well in his place. Steelers have given up 121 points in the 4th quarter, second worst in the league, so you can wear them down. I'm taking Joe Flacco and Ray Rice and their Ravens to win a big one at Heinz Field.
Tampa Bay (2-12) at New Orleans (13-1) - Division game. Saints lost to the Boys at home last week, but won't lose two in a row in the home dome.
Oakland (5-9) at Cleveland (3-11) - Browns had 318 yards on punt and kickoff returns last week at Arrowhead (mostly by Joshua Cribbs), and 351 rush yards on 49 carries (7.2 average). Okay, that was against the Chiefs, and Brady Quinn managed only 66 yards on 17 attempts, but Quinn just went on IR with a foot injury, so Derek Anderson will start. Raiders had a huge win at Mile High last week, and will be congratulating themselves about that for the next couple weeks or so. I'll take the Browns at home, mostly because of Cribbs. Also, the Raiders QB situation - Bruce Gradkowski, who played real well for a couple weeks, will likely sit again because of his sprained knees, and Charlie Frye will get the start, in spite of his concussion at Mile High. Oh, did I forget to mention that Jerome Harrison rushed for 286 yards for the Browns last week at Arrowhead, breaking Jim Brown's franchise record by 49, and just missing the NFL record of 297 set by Adrian Peterson in 2007?
Kansas City (3-11) at Cincinnati (9-5) - Chiefs yielded 318 return yards and 351 rush yards at Arrowhead last week (but you knew that). Bengals barely lost at San Diego and are the much better team.
Jacksonville (7-7) at New England (9-5) - Jags played a heckuva game at the Unplace last week, with the Colts trying real hard to win the game. Patriots had their hands full at Buffalo. But the Patriots are practically unbeatable at home in December, at least with Brady at QB, so there you go. Should be a good game though, since the Jags are still in the playoff picture.
the 2:05 MST games:
Detroit (2-12) at San Francisco (6-8) - Niners are out of the playoffs after a loss at Philadelphia last week, but it's not like they had a lot of hope of getting in anyway. Niners are the better team and should win the game, but I like the Lions to play hard, as will the Niners. Next years jobs are on the line. Lions' rookie QB Matt Stafford has been placed on IR - he'll need minor surgery on his knee. He's going to be a good QB for the Lions in the coming years.
St. Louis (1-13) at Arizona (9-5) - Division game. Rams QB's Boller and Null have combined for 4 TD's and 11 INT's lately. Take Arizona. Cardinals are currently the 4 seed in the NFC, but could move to the 3 seed if the Eagles lose a game or two.
the 2:15 MST games:
New York Jets (7-7) at Undee (14-0) - This is a hard call, because you don't know what the Colts will do. Jets still have a shot at the playoffs, and one analyst has suggested that Jets Coach Rex Ryan should blitz the heck out of Manning to get Colts Coach Caldwell to pull Manning. One problem with that is that Manning is very good against the blitz. Colts will likely play all their starters that aren't banged up, and Manning would like that 16-0 thing (dare I say 19-0 thing). So, I still don't know what will happen here. Ask me Sunday night. I do know that the Jets will run and run, with rookie QB Mark Sanchez playing poorly, and the Jets defense will play well, but I'm going to take the Colts at home, because I think Manning wants this game (and the next four) and make no mistake, Manning runs the show in the Unplace. I'm expecting Sanchez to make mistakes in his first trip to the Unplace.
Denver (8-6) at Philadelphia (10-4) - Eagles have a playoff spot, but want to make sure they win the division and get a first round bye, or at least a home field advantage in the first round, which is certainly not assured with the Cowboys and Giants close behind. Broncos really got outplayed last week at Mile High by the Raiders. Broncos may use that loss as a wake-up call, and they are still in the playoff hunt, but I can't get excited about their chances on the east coast. Eagles have won their last four, and may get Brian Westbrook back. It will be interesting to see what happens when Brian Dawkins takes the field against his old team. Should be a good game, but the smart bet is the Eagles win.
the SNF game:
Dallas (9-5) at Washington (4-10) - Division game. I'll take Dallas after watching the Redskins take a fall last week at home against the Giants, and after watching the Boys whup the Saints at New Orleans..
the MNF game:
Minnesota (11-3) at Chicago (5-9) - Division game, and the last MNF game of the season. Vikings are skidding a bit lately, especially against the run, since MLB E.J. Henderson went out a couple weeks ago. They also have had problems running the ball, but that's against teams with a good defense (Arizona and Carolina). Luckily for the Vikings, the Bears have neither a good defense nor a good run game.