One man's Week 15 NFL picks, made while trying to figure out if I should let my strength coach stand this close to the computer …
San Francisco (+9.5) over SAN DIEGO
Gotta love the NFC West. If the 49ers lose to the Chargers on Thursday night (and they will - the NFC West is 2-16 in road games outside the division in 2010) they'll be 5-9 and still right in the middle of the division race. If they can beat St. Louis and Arizona in the last two games I think they finish no worse than tied for first at 7-9. What a disgrace. I'm convinced that the Buffalo Bills are better than any team in the NFC West.
Houston (+1.5) over TENNESSEE
It's kind of depressing that Finnegan-Johnson II has more hype and interest than any heavyweight boxing fight in the last 10 years. And there's not much hype for it. I used to be an decent boxing fan - call it a 12 handicap - but now I can honestly name more members of the Kardashian family than current heavyweight boxers.
INDIANAPOLIS (-5) over Jacksonville
Last gasp. I'll buy into the idea that Peyton Manning is great enough to carry the Colts to a must win - at home - over a just better than average Jaguars team. I've already abandoned the "Manning over Brady" stance - after what we've seen this year from both guys there's no rational way to make a case that Manning is the better QB - but I have to believe that Manning will do enough to get a win here.
New Orleans (+1) over BALTIMORE
Quietest 10-3 season in history, right? But the Saints have won six in a row and are as good a bet as any to win the NFC. And you have to love Terrell Suggs. The best heel since Roddy Piper in 1983. His obsession with Tom Brady is getting a little creepy (if they ever dedicate a statue to Brady in Boston I demand Suggs breaks the ceremony up Clubber Lang-style and invites Gisele to his apartment) but if the Ravens and Pats meet up again in the playoffs it'll make for the easiest This Just In week in WEEI.com history.
Tampa Bay (-6) over DETROIT
Until the Bucs lose to a team under .500 or beat a team over .500 I'll stick to the script … would anyone be totally stunned if this were a 2012 NFC Wild Card game?
Miami (-5) over BUFFALO
No faith in this pick, none. Chad Henne was brutal in the win over the Jets (5-of-18, 55 yards) but I'm banking on the Miami defense (last five games: 17, 16, 17, 13 and six points allowed) to do enough to get the Dolphins to 8-6 and quietly in the thick of the AFC playoff race. Think about it: All that stands between the Dolphins and 10 wins is home games vs. Buffalo and Detroit (combined six wins) and a Week 17 road game against a Patriots team that should have the one seed locked up. Not a brutal path to 10 wins and I think that'll be enough to get in the postseason.
Cleveland (+1.5) over CINCINNATI
Just looking at the baseball-reference page of Bob Feller. You know, 1941 in baseball will always be married to Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, but let's look at what Feller did that year. He won 25 games (for a team that won 75), pitched 343 innings, had 28 complete games and six shutouts (two more than Josh Beckett has in his career). He finished third behind DiMaggio and Williams in MVP voting - his third straight top three finish. If there had been a Cy Young Award at that time he probably would have won his third straight in 1941. He had 108 career wins, was the best pitcher in baseball and was 22 years old.
He didn't pitch a full season again until 1946.
And it wasn't because he wanted to give Hollywood a shot or couldn't shake off a sore arm. Nope, Bob Feller decided to enlist in the Navy on December 8, 1941, the first baseball player to do so. I know it's not as cool as having a reality TV show or dating an MTV star, but it probably deserves some measure of respect.
(My favorite Bob Feller pitching line? August 7, 1941. 13 innings pitched, 13 hits, two earned runs, 11 walks, 13 Ks. And he pitched two days later out of the bullpen and an eight-inning complete game three days after that.)
Philadelphia (+3) over NEW YORK GIANTS
File Tashard Choice asking Michael Vick for an autograph 30 seconds after losing to the Eagles as example No. 38,446 why fans care about their team more than the athletes do. Not a big deal - he wanted the autograph for his nephew - but don't these guys ever take a step back and wonder how it's going to look?
ARIZONA (+3) over Carolina
It says it all about the NFC West that the 1-12 Panthers are a three-point favorite over the Cardinals. By the way, the Carolina Panthers in 2010: 164 points. New England Patriots the last four weeks: 157 points. I feel like the NFC West should adopt the Panthers for the rest of the season, they truly belong in the worst division in NFL history. A perfect fit.
DALLAS (-6) over Washington
The Cowboys have averaged 32 points a game since the Ginger Bill Walsh has taken over as head coach. The Redskins haven't scored 20 points in a game since Week 10 - and that was in a game they lost by 31 points. Just seems that the 'Skins have packed it in and the Cowboys are still showing up. The streak of guys with wooden teeth getting it done in Washington might be stopping with Mike Shanahan.
Atlanta (-7) over SEATTLE
Are you trying to tell me that a Pete Carroll-coached NFL team is getting worse as a season goes on? How can that be? The guy is friends with Lance Armstrong and Alyssa Milano - how can his team lose five of seven and give up 40 points last week to a 49ers team that hasn't scored 30 this season? This is great - it's 1998 all over again with a Pete Carroll team collapsing. I feel like I should be calling my dad to try and convince him that Chris Slade just needs another year to learn Pete's intricate system.
OAKLAND (+6.5) over Denver
Why exactly isn't Tim Tebow starting at this point? The season is over for the Broncos, might as well take a look at Tebow. Good or bad, I think we know what Kyle Orton is by now. Darren McFadden runs for 150 as the Raiders stay alive in the AFC West.
ST. LOUIS (PK) over Kansas City
Looks like Matt Cassel is a go. I've never had my appendix removed, but it sounds like the kind of injury a guy should be able to milk more than a week out of work with. Cassel must have a total jerk for a boss or he's just a suck-up. Thanks for screwing the rest of us, Matt.
PITTSBURGH (-6) over New York Jets
I was in New Jersey for the Jets practice on the Friday before the Monday Night game against the Pats. After the Rex Ryan presser we were allowed to go down to the locker room. One by one the players came in, all in practice shorts or sweats. No complaints about weather, just another day. About 15 minutes after everyone else had settled in Mark Sanchez made his way into the locker room. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that he looked like someone who had just entered the Death Zone while climbing Mount Everest. He was wearing a mask, shivering, shaking and actually couldn't speak. I half wanted to check and make sure the guy hadn't lost any fingers to frostbite. He just kept his head down and shuffled to the shower. He came back with a robe on and a towel around his head, just sitting at his locker for 10 minutes with his head still down, trying to warm up.
It was 38 degrees that day.
The next three weeks for the Jets? At Pittsburgh, at Chicago and home vs. Buffalo. It is not impossible that the kickoff temperature for the three games combined won't be 38 degrees. Hello to 9-7 and a rough offseason for Mr. Sanchez. Well, not so rough. He'll be back in Long Beach, where it's 68 and sunny every day.
Chicago (-4.5) over MINNESOTA
Kind of a low moment for me Wednesday. I had to call Medieval Manor and cancel the December 22, 2027 party I had planned in celebration of Tarvaris Jackson breaking Brett Favre's consecutive start record. They were actually quite accommodating.
NEW ENGLAND (-12.5) over Green Bay
Even if Aaron Rodgers played and this was the spread I still think I would have picked the Patriots. This isn't a knock against the Packers - who have played very well on defense the last six weeks (just under 10 points a game) - but the combination of how the Patriots offense has played plus the expected conditions plus the showing last week by a Bears team that beat Green Bay this season equals Brian Hoyer to Brandon Tate in the fourth quarter on Sunday night. Let's call it 38-14, Patriots.