Brad's Picks was 9-7 last week, for the third week in a row. Here's the good, bad and ugly from last week:
Atlanta 31, Bills 3 - It really wasn't that close.
Green Bay 48, Seahawks 10 - Aaron Rodgers was only sacked one time.
Cleveland 23, Raiders 9 - Raiders committed 13 penalties and had two players ejected.
Cincinnati 17, Chiefs 10 - Both teams scored a TD in the 4th quarter - the later one was by the Bengals with 2 minutes left.
New England 35, Jaguars 7 - Jags had a few extra days to get ready for this one after playing tough against the Colts on TNF ten days before.
San Francisco 20, Lions 6 - Lions had to go with Drew Stanton and Daunte Culpepper at QB.
Arizona 31, Rams 10 - Rams are looking at the number one pick next April.
Cowboys 17, Washington 0 - Dallas is putting the "December swoon" thing to rest.
Philadelphia 30, Broncos 27 - Zebras were worse than terrible.
Texans 27, Miami 20 - It was 27-0 until Miami scored a FG with 7 seconds left in the 1st half.
Pittsburgh 23, Ravens 20 - A wild, exciting game. Ben Roethlisberger became the first Steeler QB to pass for 4,000 yards in a season.
Buccaneers 20, New Orleans 17 (OT) - A 23 yard TD run and a 77 yard punt return by the Bucs in the 4th tied the game. The OT lasted 7 minutes.
Chicago 36, Vikings 30 (OT) (MNF) - A wild one. Brett Favre threw a 6 yard pass on 4th down with not time left to send the game to OT. Bears missed a FG on their first possession, but got the ball back and Cutler made a 39 yard TD pass.
Chargers 42, Tennessee 17 (FNF) - Chargers have won ten in a row, after starting 2-3. Tennessee is out of the playoffs.
Jets 29, Undeeploplis 15 - Jets were losing 9-3 at the half, then the Colts pulled most of their starters. Peyton Manning still threw for enough yards to join Brett Favre, Dan Marino, and John elway as the only QB's to throw for 50,000 yards.
Panthers 41, New York Giants 9 - Giants were terrible, but hey, the Panthers are pretty hot right now.
Brad's Picks is 154 - 70 on the season. There were only two intra-conference games last week, and the NFC won both of the. On the season, it's AFC 34, NFC 27. Or thereabouts - there are 64 intra-conference games each season, and with just two this week, it means I missed one someplace. But I'm not going to go look for it. Home teams were 10-6 last week and are 138-102 on the season.
Here's the playoff scenario: in the NFC, Minnesota, New Orleans and Arizona have won their divisions. Green Bay will get one wild card spot. Philadelphia and Dallas play each other at 2:15, and the winner will win the NFC East, and the loser gets the other wild card spot.
In the AFC, only Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland, Buffalo, and Tennessee are eliminated. San Diego, Cincinnati, New England, and Undeeplis have won their divisions. The Jets and Ravens are in if they win (against Cincinnati and Oakland, respectively). Broncos, Miami, Pittsburgh, Houston, and Jacksonville still have hopes.
this week (all the games are on Sunday):
the 11:00 MST games:
Chicago (6-9) at Detroit (2-13) - Division game. Drew Stanton and Daunte Culpepper were pretty miserable at QB for the Lions last week, and Jay Cultler got hot against the Vikings, so I'll take the Bears. Or will I ? Stanton threw three INT's last week, but Culpepper wasn't too terrible when he came into the game in the fourth - 7-12-0-51. And head coach Jim Schwartz says he'll play the QB that gives the team the best chance to win. Meanwhile, the Bears are getting low on receivers - Darren Hester is out, and Johnny Knox, the good looking rookie, was carted off the field last week with an ankle injury, and DB/KR Danieal Manning is maybe out, and starting CB Charles Tillman was placed on IR a few days ago. I guess I'll still take the Bears - Jay Cutler plays well with nothing on the line.
Pittsburgh (8-7) at Miami (7-8) - Remember the last game these two teams played? November 26, 2007, in Pittsburgh on MNF. The game was played in torrential rains, and I remember seeing a punted football hit the ground and just stop in the slop. Final score was 3-0 Steelers. Anyway, right now both teams are still in the playoff hunt, but both need help to get there. Ben R is hot right now - he threw for 503 yards against Green Bay two weeks ago (a team record) and threw for 259 against the Ravens last week. He is the first QB in Steelers history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a year. Anyway, I think Ben is on a roll, and when he is, he can carry a team like no other QB in the NFL. Weather should be balmy. I'm taking the Steelers because of Ben, but this should be a good game. Dolphins are also playing well.
New England (10-5) at Houston (8-7) - Patriots have clinched the AFC East, and will be either the 3 or 4 seed, and who cares which - Bengals will be the other 3 or 4, and the only advantage to being the 3 is that you get to host the (presumably) weaker 6 seed in the first round instead of the much tougher 5 seed. The other advantage would be that if both the Patriots and Bengals make it to the AFC Championship game, it would be played at the number 3 seed's stadium. Too much "if" in all that to get real excited. Still Coach Belichick has a history of playing hard in the so-called meaningless games. But the Texans still have some shot at the playoffs, and also would like to post the first winning season ever. Texans have a great passing game, and the Patriots have little or no pass rush, and Tom Brady is pretty beat up so I don't think he'll play a lot, so I'll take the Texans.
Undeeanapopolis (14-1) at Buffalo (5-10) - Peyton Manning probably won't even make the flight. Just kidding - he has 192 consecutive starts so he'll suit up and start, but won't play for long. His backup, Curtis Painter a rookie from Purdue, was 4-11-1-44 last week against the Jets. Bills QB Brian Brohm was 17-29-2-146 last week at Atlanta. Weather looks to be about 20 degrees with snow showers. I can't see the Colts showing up for this one, not after crapping on a really good shot at a perfect season. I'm taking the Bills.
San Francisco (7-8) at St. Louis (1-14) - Division game. The Rams won't let the Niners derail them from their quest for the top draft pick in April.
Atlanta (8-7) at Tampa Bay (3-12) - Division game. Tough call. Bucs have shown some life lately. Falcons really want to end up at 9-7, to get their first back to back win seasons in their 44 year history. That's kind of pathetic when you think about it. Guess I'll take the Falcons here, even though Matt Ryan hasn't been real good against the Bucs (but that's just three games, right?).
New Orleans (13-2) at Carolina (7-8) - Division game. Carolina is peaking while the Saints are slumping. Carolina has outscored it's oppo 67 to 16 the last two games (Giants and Vikings) while the Saints have been outscored 44-34 by Dallas and Tampa. Carolina has the third best run game in the league (Jonathan Stewart set a team record with 206 on 28 last week against the Giants) while the Saints have given up 321 rush yards the last two weeks, and they have given up 439 total yards each of the last two games. Panthers 3rd year QB Matt Moore has thrown 7 TD's and just one INT since taking over from Jake Delhomme in early December. It's a shame that, just as Moore seemed to be getting in sync with WR Steve Smith, he got his arm broke. But Moore can still look to Muhsin Muhammad, who just gets better with age. Saints are trying to figure out what ails them. Weather should be just above freezing but mostly sunny in Charlotte, N. Carolina.
Jacksonville (7-8) at Cleveland (4-11) - Jags have lost 3 of 4, but two of those losses were at Undy and New England. Still, I'm going with the Browns at home - they've won 3 in a row and it's going to be snowing and about 20 degrees.
New York Giants (8-7) at Minnesota (11-4) - Vikings might have had the number one seed if they'd beaten Chicago on MNF, but now need a win and an Eagle loss to get the second seed and a first round bye. Since the Eagles play later in the day, I figure the Vikings will really try to win this one. Vikings haven't been playing well lately - the O line isn't good, and the run D has suffered a lot since MLB E. J. Henderson went on IR. But the Giants have been less than lethargic lately, so I'll take the Vikings.
the 2:15 MST games:
Tennessee (7-8) at Seattle (5-10) - Seattle has been terrible all year. They lost at hoem to the Bucs 24-7 two weeks ago, and Hasselbeck threw four to the wrong guys at Green Bay last week. Titans RB Chris Johnson needs just 128 yards to go over 2,000, and you can bet that the Titans want him to get it.
Washington (4-11) at San Diego (12-3) - Chargers are guaranteed the number 2 seed, so why play this one? Maybe two reasons: you don't want to get too rusty with a bye next week coming up, plus Norv Turner was fired as the Reds' head coach in 2000. That's a long time ago, but he might still like a little payback. I expect the Chargers will sit anyone that has a lingering injury (Shawne Merriman) or any of the aged (LaDainian Tomlinson) but play the rest of the team, who will want to win the game at home. Redskins have been pretty bad lately, and won't get better after a long flight to San Diego.
Kansas City (3-12) at Denver (8-7) - Division game. Broncos need a win and losses by Baltimore and Cincinnati to make the playoffs, and they won't know the outcome of those games until after this one. Chiefs have put together a couple of nice games late this season - the D showed up last week at Cincinnati, and RB Jamaal Charles has been maybe the best RB in the league after the Chiefs jettisoned Larry Johnson. Charles has gained 548 yards on 101 carries for a 5.4 average in his last five games. But the second of those games was against the Broncos, when he managed just 56 on 18. This will be a hard fought game between old divisional rivals, but you gotta take the Broncos at Mile High. Even though Brandon Marshall will not play in the game, either because of his hamstring injury or because of his attitude. And now we hear that TE Tony Scheffler will also be inactive, and this is because of attitude. Coach McD is taking charge, even though it might cost the game.
Baltimore (8-7) at Oakland (5-10) - Baltimore is in the playoffs with a win. They won on the west coast in Week Two, beating the Chargers 31-26. I'm betting they can beat the Raiders on the west coast in Week Seventeen with a playoff berth at stake. The weather should be dry and in the 50's.
Green Bay (10-5) at Arizona (10-5) - This could easily be a prevue of one of next week's wild card games. So, it's hard to figure what's going to happen here. The game could possibly have some meaning, since Arizona could end up with the number two seed if both Minnesota and Philadelphia lose. Cards will know the outcome of the Minnesota - Giants game by kickoff, and coach Whisenhunt says that will make a difference in how he approaches the game. Packers could affect whether they are the 5 or 6 seed, depending on the Eagles/Dallas game, but it's a headache to figure all that out. Packers are 6-1 lately, the lone loss by one point at Pittsburgh two weeks ago, and on a neutral field with something real at stake, I'd take the Packers for sure. But this is a fantasy game, and the Packers will be playing somewhere next week, and probably in a warm place although it could be Philly and really, you wanna go with the Cardinals here, because they could possibly have something big at stake (but that would mean the Giants won at Minnesota first, which is unlikely) so who do you take here? I'm gonna ask George - he's been resting most of the season so may have an answer. George says take the home team, which probably would have been my call without his help. So, Arizona wins this game, mos def. But keep in mind that Aaron Rodgers needs just 215 passing yards to beat Brett Favre's personal best of 4.413 yards in a season, and I think that he and the 2009 Packers would like that. Thank God we got George!
Philadelphia (11-4) at Dallas (10-5) - Division game. The winner wins the NFC East. The loser gets a wild card spot. If the Eagles win, they are the top seed in the NFC. Dallas can not only win the division but could get a first round bye with a Minnesota loss and an Arizona loss. Boys will know the outcome of the Minnesota game by kickoff, but the bye thing is not really a consideration. They want to win the game because it's the Eagles and because it means they will have home field in the first game and, well, it's the Eagles. Eagles lost their starting center in the first quarter of last week's game against the Broncos, but the Eagle O still played OK, scoring 20 points after Jamaal Jackson went out. Here's the way I see this game - it's huge, and it will come down to big plays, and the Eagles win that one. They have DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin at WR and Brent Celek at TE, and Brian Westbrook is back at RB and Donovan McNabb is playing great. For the Boys, Tony Romo is playing great, but his only real big play threat is Miles Austin. I'll take the Eagles in a real lively game. Total score should be in the 50's.
the SNF game:
Cincinnati (10-5) at New York Jets (8-7) - Bengals have clinched their division, and will be either the 3 or 4 seed in the AFC. This game was originally set for 11:00 but moved to the night spot. Anyway, Bengals are currently the number 4 seed, but could move to the 3 seed if New England loses at Houston in an early game. Bengals will know by game time if they have a shot at the higher seed, but Coach Marvin Lewis says his team needs to go all out anyway - they are too immature to take a break here. It gets interesting because a Bengals loss here means the Jets would be playing in Cincinnati next week. Jets have one of the best defenses and one of the best run games in the league, but they also have a rookie QB who has to be the worst QB of all the teams still in the playoff hunt. I can't figure this one at all, so I'll take the home team Jets.