I followed up my best week of the year with a buck wild 8-7-1 performance last week. As usual, some games boggled my mind, (For example; Miami upsetting a New England team that still had something to play for) but I managed to add to my winning ways pulling off an 8-7-1 record and moved my season record to 111-101-7. Who would’ve known TO would go down in Philly and Eli Manning would have a good day against the Steel Show? Not me. But to my credit, I predicted another fine performance by Billy Volek, also saying that Big Ben would do good things against New York. Both things happened while my bets went to the house. My wife didn’t send me back to the sofa bed though. Don’t know if that had more to do with it being cold at night or not but either way… Lester remains lucky, heh heh heh. Lucky’s money picks, Jacksonville over Green Bay, Larry Johnson over Denver, and New Orleans over Tampa Bay; went down as smooth as white rice. I’ve got two weeks to bolster my fine year, so let’s let it ride!Green Bay (+3) at Minnesota – Green Bay lost to Jacksonville last week, but so what? The Jag’s have been playing better than either of these two teams. The Vikings should have lost to the Lions a week ago, but pulled out a “W”. Randy Moss should be as healthy as he’s been all year, but even in a dome the Packer “O” should easily penetrate the gaping Viking defense. Ahman Green and company will get some much-deserved respect on the ground, and Brett will terrorize a secondary that finds itself at the bottom of the NFL food chain. Minnesota will always find a way to put up a fight, but I expect the Pack to win this game. Game Date: 12/24/04 15:00 ET
Oakland at Kansas City (-8) – The Chiefs are riding one of the hottest players in football, Larry Johnson. I must say I’ve loved the kid’s ability since his 2000 plus yard season back at Penn State. After gaining 104 yards rushing on just 7 carries two weeks ago against Tennessee, Vermeil decided it would be best to feed him the ball all day against Denver. He was right. Johnson carried the pig 30 big times for 151 yards. Big time. Johnson will get his share of yards against a poor run defense in Oakland. The spread is quite high, but the Chiefs have the offense to get it done.
Game Date: 12/24/04 17:00 ET
Denver at Tennessee (+4) – Denver has given fans reason to throw up. That’s right, the Broncos have done their best to fall right out of playoff contention losing 3 of their last 4. I love this stuff. I like to think Shanahan is doing his damnedest to test Bronco ownership. Jake Plummer has thrown a numbing 19 interceptions, most in crucial situations, and most leaving Shanahan’s face as red as a radish. His ability to ruin a completely productive rushing attack has me wondering why Mike doesn’t have Jake hand off more often. Did I mention their 1 win in the last 4 games came against Miami. Yikes! I’d love to see Billy Volek throw the ball around the “improved” Denver defense this weekend. Something tells me I might just get my wish. Either way, I can’t put money, or advise you to put money down on a team that has lost 3 of 4, and only beaten the Dolphins… by 3 measily points. Seems ridiculous right? Take the new version of the Run N’ Shoot, with emphasis on SHOOT!
Game Date: 12/25/04 20:30 ET
Atlanta (+4.5) at New Orleans – Atlanta doesn’t have much to play for, but should they be an underdog against the Saints? Oh no! The Falcons pulled out an overtime victory over a tough Panthers team last week. They won’t be risking the health of their players to long in this one, but long enough to pull out a victory against a New Orleans team that is done. Even though they seem to play their best when the season is over, I can’t find enough reason to take them as 5-point favorites. That’s just ludicrous.
Game Date: 12/26/04 13:00 ET
Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-5) – Pittsburgh won’t let up now that they have the best record in the AFC. They aren’t a let up kind of team. They did manage to play a close one with the Giants, who have been pathetic since their fast start. That’s a good reason for them to get back out on the field and remember how to dominate. They have a chance to put a big dent, if not an end to Baltimore’s playoff hopes by beating them this weekend. Ray Lewis and company always seem to find a way when their season is on the brink of extinction, but the Steel Show might be too much to handle. Big Ben played a good game last week, minus a couple of picks. On that note, he will be back to his old tricks, handing the ball off to Bettis and or Staley this Sunday. Look for Pittsburgh to win a war at home.
Game Date: 12/26/04 13:00 ET
Chicago at Detroit (-6) – What happened to Joey Harrington last week? After throwing for a total of 300 yards in his last three games, he almost single handily beat the Vikings last week with 361 yards. Though, often injured, Roy Williams is getting utilized again, and Joey is showing he might not be as terrible as he’s shown the last few weeks. They still lost though, so buyers beware. I’m taking Detroit here, not only because of their inspiring offensive performance a week ago, but also because of the pathetic team the Bears have turned out to be. I don’t care what they did to amaze me this year, they are still pathetic. Krenzel, Hutchinson, Jeff George, I don’t care who they put back there. All three of those guys don’t belong starting on Sundays. Detroit might very well win by default.
Game Date: 12/26/04 13:00 ET
Houston at Jacksonville (-7) – I like to bet on Houston because they are tough. They have a solid offense, especially when David Carr shows up, and a resilient defense, that gets better and every day their young guys get older. But, it’s not their year, and not their week. The Jags showed me a lot by beating the Packers last week. I see their goal, and Houston won’t stop the Jags from reaching the playoffs. Jacksonville has a born leader at QB as well as a stud running back who is playing his best football of the year. Their run D, which was mediocre last year, has returned with the health of Marcus Stroud. The feisty Texan team will find it tough to produce when their horse, Dominic Davis, can’t get free. This game is too important for the Jaguars to lose. Game Date: 12/26/04 13:00 ET
N.Y. Giants at Cincinnati (-6.5) – Eli Manning played pretty well against a Steeler D that has proven to be one of the tops in the league. But, like many rookies, Eli won’t be consistent week after week. In fact, I see him struggling against an improved Bengal team. Eli doesn’t have a defense to rely on, and it will show against a Cincy squad with some weapons. Game Date: 12/26/04 13:00 ET
San Diego (+7) at Indianapolis – I’m starting to realize why Eli Manning didn’t want to come to San Diego. He didn’t want to be stuck behind a Pro-Bowler. Drew Brees got voted in by fans and peers this last week, and he gets my congratulations. He’s not only a lock for most improved, but should finish in the top 5 for MVP voting. The MVP, of course, will be Peyton Manning. What a match-up this week. Both these teams would like to continue their winning streaks on into the playoffs, and if they meet in the AFC championship, this game could very well decide who plays at home and who travels across the US. Is that something to play for? Indeed. Though Peyton has burned my predictions, I can’t bet against the Chargers and 7 points. Their defense is better than an improved Colts D, and their offense is almost as good. Ladainian Tomlinson showed what he could do last week. The Chargers also showed they know how to win, throwing only 6 times last week, when running would get the job done. I like these Chargers. Game Date: 12/26/04 13:00 ET
Buffalo (-11.5) at San Francisco – The Bills are trying to sneak into the playoffs behind Willis McGahee. To bad he’s out this week, and probably next. Good thing they play the worst team in the NFL this week. I read an article this week that claimed Ken Dorsey and Tim Rattay should get a combat star for playing behind their pathetic offensive line. Sure, but the rest of the team should get some friendly fire protection for playing with those two guys at quarterback. Honestly, the more I look at the 49ers the more I believe USC could take them. Buffalo, even with Drew Bledsoe as their primary option, should be able to produce enough points to beat the horrendous Niners by 2 touchdowns. They might even slip it in the playoff backdoor, and if they do, ha, take that Cowboys!
Game Date: 12/26/04 16:05 ET
New England at N.Y. Jets(+2) – The Jet’s are underdogs at home… they must be playing New England. Last time the Patriots took advantage of costly Jet mistakes, but not this time. New York has found Chad Pennington, who has in turn rediscovered Santana Moss. I warned everyone earlier this year that, “If Pennington can find a way to get Santana into the offense, watch out.” Well, watch out! Consider Moss found. Moss doubled his touchdown receptions on the year, and collected 5 passes for 80 yards. Curtis Martin is still Curtis Martin, which means he’s dangerous. The Jets D remains stingy. Look for the Jets to give the Patriots their first losing streak in a long time. Game Date: 12/26/04 16:05 ET
Arizona at Seattle (-7) – Oh boy, Seattle, what can I do with you? Last weeks collision with a much better Jets squad leaves the Seahawks reeling through the playoff race. Fortunately, they could very well lose two of two and get in. But that won’t happen. The Hawks will have everyone back next week, including the return of Koren Robinson. If anything, that gives Matt more options. The Hawks might even make it to the Super Bowl. The Eagles are without the man (TO) who gave their passing game credibility, and everyone else is just average. If the Hawks can pick up a little confidence on their way in to the post season, they might just be able to pull it off. Everyone sees the talent except them. It’s time to realize what they are, and start playing like it. Game Date: 12/26/04 16:15 ET
Carolina (+3) at Tampa Bay – Carolina is good. They barely lost to the Falcons, who have already clinched a first round bye. They could still find themselves in the playoffs with two wins in the final two weeks. After their turnaround, I’ve got to admit, anything is possible, especially for them, even more so in the NFC. If they don’t make the playoffs, it won’t be because they aren’t one of the better teams in the NFC, it will be because of the injuries that killed them in the beginning of the season. Stick with a team with a chance here, not to mention a much better team in Carolina. Brian Griese has fallen back to earth, as expected, and so have the hopes of Gruden’s Buccaneer squad. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Phil Simms sometime in this one. Game Date: 12/26/04 16:15 ET
Washington(-2) at Dallas – The Skins are better than Dallas, although I’d love the Cowboys to win in hopes that their draft pick selection would get worse, I can’t ever really root for them. I definitely can’t bet on them. Yeah, one could argue that they put up a good fight against Philly last week, but let’s be honest; Philly was never worried about losing that game. They knew all along, all they had to do was walk down the field and dive in the end zone. That’s what they did. Washington has played better of late. The Cowboys struggle when they can’t run. If the Redskins have one thing, it’s a defense that is tough as nails. Now if they could just get a quarterback to show he’s worth something. The Skins will give the ball to a revitalized Clinton Portis this Sunday, who will in turn crush a defense that has been sorry all year.
Game Date: 12/26/04 16:15 ET
Cleveland at Miami (-7.5) – Talk about a pathetic game. If this game got canceled, I don’t think anyone would argue. The Browns have only looked more pathetic win since Butch Davis did the right thing by resigning. The Dolphins have only gotten better, but still have much to ask this year for Christmas. The Dolphins beat the Patriots on Monday Night, which, unfortunately, was their brightest moment of the year. While this game pits the two teams that have lost their coaches to frustration, the Dolphins have been better since the move, while the Browns have been horrendous. Look for Miami to dominate for the first time this year.
Game Date: 12/26/04 20:35 ET
Philadelphia (+3) at St. Louis – Even if TO is out, McNabb plays 2 quarters, Westbrook gets 7 carries, and the defense plays half their backups, the Eagles still shouldn’t be underdogs. The Rams are horrible. Hasn’t anyone realized this? Let’s look at their last five games…. Oh yes, there it is, 1-4 with their only win being against a real tough 49er team. Now do you see? The Rams aren’t worth a bet, ever. They got beat 31-7 by the Cardinals last week, for God’s sake. My prediction; Philly plays like a team that is looking for offense with their stud receiver out. They whip St. Louis early and often. Then their second string comes in and adds to the destruction. Underdogs? You’ve got to be kidding me. Game Date: 12/27/04 21:05 ET
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