Arses Five Favorites: Week 17 NFL Predictions

Well, I got back on the winning track in Week 16, and while it wasn’t a fantastic four win week like I’m always hoping for, 3-2 brings me to 17-13 during my six week run of free picks. The Falcons, Packers, and Patriots won and covered easily while the Dolphins just failed outright and the Eagles needed a late field goal to win by three. This week seems pretty easy to me. But I’m staying away from those meaningless games that some other people think are gimmies – listen, I know you play hard when you have everything to lose and if the Saints sit all their starters, it should be an easier game for Carolina – but it doesn’t always work out like that, and I’ll pick some games where I’m not relying on a good team to play back-ups. Final regular season week, and here we go, go, go…

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Chicago (-3) @ Detroit: The Bears are an easy pick, so easy that it makes my stomach lurch a little bit – but hey, Vegas can’t be right all the time, right? Right. The Bears need this game, really. They are the only crappy team in the NFL that actually needs wins. Their 1st round pick isn’t theirs, see, they need this one.

The 49ers (-7) @ St. Louis: The Rams are beat up bad, and they aren’t good when healthy. I doubt Steven Jackson gets thrown out there against Patrick Willis and that Niner run D, and without him the Rams are hornless.

Pittsburgh (-3) @ Miami: The Steelers are the better team, and they don’t need magic and religion to get into the playoffs – they need help, don’t get me wrong, but unlike Miami, they don’t need every single team in the NFL to lose on the same day. I see the Steelers, definitely a team that rides ups and downs, flying to their third straight win – but missing the playoffs anyway.

Ravens (-11) @ Oakland Raiders: The Raiders are brutal, and even the Ravens aging secondary should take advantage of that turnover prone passing attack. All the Raiders can do is run, and they can’t stop the run – that’s a bad combo when Baltimore walks into town.

Titans (-5) @ Seattle Seahawks: I can’t wait to see Chris Johnson out-gain the Seahawks on Sunday. The kid is going to go for 400 yards. There will be 12-15 Seahawks playing defense at one time, and he’ll still get his. The Titans should win easily, and Jim Mora should resign due to coaching how to quit.

Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills: NFL Week 17 Predictions

I hate to do this, really, the Bills favored by 7 points seems disgusting, but it’s going to be against Indianapolis and their second team, as I’m sure Peyton and crew won’t make it out of the first quarter. Will that be enough? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to bet that mediocre Colts run defense doesn’t stop the Bills rushing attack that has been solid of late (don’t get tricked by their relatively solid ranking, they are ranked high against the run because opponents are forced to pass against them).

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Just like last week when I was all over the Jets, this week should be more of the same. I know the Colts second string guys aren’t nothing, and maybe Indy will run the ball with some success against Buffalo – but the Bills have proven they can gang up on one aspect of an opponents offense and play pretty well – when one-sided offenses come to town, the Bills have some success. Well, I see the Colts coming in and trying to run more than they pass, and the Bills ganging up on that and holding it pretty well in check.

Buffalo doesn’t need a win and it will only pull them away from a better draft pick, but they’ll try to win, at least Jauron will, I mean it’s nice to win in your last game, right?

Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills (-7)

St. Louis Rams vs Arizona Cardinals NFL Week 16 Picks

St. Louis Rams vs Arizona Cardinals NFL Week 16 Picks: First and foremost, 15.5 points is quite the freaking mountain to climb in the NFL. Remember when your grandpa used to tell you he had to walk five miles to school, uphill both ways? That’s kind of like a 15 point spread. Now, with an offense as explosive as Arizona’s, it might just be uphill one way, but when that offense hasn’t been all that efficient down the stretch, we’re getting dangerously close to that impossible uphill both way scenario.

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The Rams can run the ball, that’s another hill the Cardinals will have to climb. Steven Jackson hasn’t been feeling his best, but the guy is amazing. Despite every defense doing everything they can to make St. Louis want to throw the ball, he’s still getting close to 100 yards every game and going work against the NFL’s best. After Arizona gave up and gaggle of yards last week to the freaking Detroit Lions, I have a feeling the Rams will be doing their best to exploit the Cardinals again this week.

And now for the kicker, I don’t see any reason for the Cardinals to play their key guys very long, or give that much effort to win these meaningless games. I mean, sure, they could play a little harder down the stretch, hope to be a high enough seed to be the NFC home team if the best teams get upset throughout the playoffs, but seeing how last year’s slow finish to the regular season had absolutely no effect on their post-season success, I don’t know why they’d risk injury to guys like Kurt Warner in games that will mean nothing.

All things considered, this is Lucky Lester saying, “uphill both ways sucks”.

St. Louis Rams (+15.5) @ Arizona Cardinals:

Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers Free Football Picks

I had the Steelers to win last week, and while they definitely played better football, and pulled out a win like magicians pull rabbits, they hardly deserved to walk away with victory after giving up 36 points to the Packers. But they did, they got me a win, got themselves a win for the first time in 6 weeks, and set themselves up for another loss to the Ravens.

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You don’t follow? That’s fair, and maybe my reasoning is crazy, but it is what it is and since this is my site, I will happily share my crazy, “this is why the Steelers will lose to Baltimore despite playing at home after winning an emotional game last week” theory. Whew, I need to think of a better name for that theory. Too long.

The Steelers lost 5 games in a row, eliminating themselves from playoff contention, finding blame for each other along the way, going through some tough stuff as a team, and losing a little bit of that Steeler flash and aggressiveness that had become second nature to their team. And while they seemingly had nothing to play for last week, losing 5 straight games played enough of a role to keep them motivated. But since winning last week, and getting that win less in a row monkey off their back, plus barely eeking that game out, and now playing against a Baltimore team that smells the playoffs, I don’t see that same motivation sticking around.

There it is, I hope it makes enough sense to follow.

Baltimore Ravens (+3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints Prediction

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints Prediction: New Orleans is awesome and it’s claimed they’ll be starting and playing their best players exclusively, not slowing their offense down over the last two weeks despite having home field locked up throughout the NFC playoffs, aka, the part of the playoffs that is actually important to have home field advantage in – because, well, home team advantage matters not in the Super Bowl, unless you think the team that wears white has a better chance to win. In which case you are a donkey.

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Despite New Orleans being awesome, and their coach claiming they would be going gung-ho for victory, I have a feeling the Saints won’t go all out in this one. If they game has proven a good enough tune-up by halftime, I think the Saints do begin to rest players. With that in their head, and the feeling they have after finally losing a game last week, I actually think the Bucs at +15 are a fine bet.

Tampa can be very streaky, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that they have a freshman project quarterback running their offense, a freshman youthful coach running their sideline, and an entire team full of youngins. But streaky isn’t such a bad thing against the Saints, a team that has shown an ability (or knack) for playing down to their opponents. 15 is a lot of points for a Saints team with absolutely nothing to gain from playing all out in this one. The Bucs are too young to think about all they don’t have to play for, so I like them to cover on the road.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+15) @ New Orleans Saints

Jacksonville Jaguars vs New England Patriots Free Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars vs New England Patriots Free Pick: It’s hard to lose faith in a team, but it’s happened. It takes me more weeks than most, but Tom Brady’s second half woes, the Patriots general effortless (not in a good way) play in the second half, and the teams inability to get the ball in the end zone, has me at a loss for faith. Yes, I no longer believe in my old saying, “Tom can cover anything, anywhere,” and hey, it happens to every team sooner or later.

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New England just hasn’t been able to score, and while they are still winning, and still close to a lock for the playoffs, their inability to put the ball in the end zone, teaming with the oddsmakers continuing to handicap them as if they are the Patriots of the record breaking offense during the undefeated regular season, makes them a fade right now. At least in my book they are.

Listen, you all know what I think of the Jaguars, not much. They don’t go about their business very well, they don’t run the ball as much as they should, and most of the time they underuse their best player, but this is still a team that can put up points. And despite their defensive woes, they can step up their attack in big games. There won’t be a bigger game for Jacksonville than this. Their season is on the line, and while I think the line ends this week in New England (where the Pats are undefeated this season) I still think it’s closer than 9 points. The Pats have found a way to win ugly, and I expect mediocre play from them yet again.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+9.5) @ New England Patriots

Carolina Panthers vs New York Giants ATS Pick & Preview

Carolina Panthers vs New York Giants ATS Pick & Preview: Maybe the Panthers are better than I give them credit for. Maybe there’s something to be said for a team as poorly coached and with as crappy quarterback play as they’ve gotten that can still manage a 6-8 record with a 7-7 ATS mark through 14 games. Maybe that secondary that has shut down opposing passing attacks is in fact pretty damn good, and not just lucky. Maybe. But I still don’t think so. Maybe I’m stubborn. Maybe I’m downright overconfident in my ability to accurately judge any given NFL team. Whatever it is, I certainly don’t believe in the Panthers.

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New York has climbed right back into the playoff race with 3 wins in their last 5 games, beating Atlanta, Dallas, and Washington to get to 8-6 with two to go. And right now, they control their own playoff destiny. Like good teams have done in the past, the Giants are playing some of their best football of the season. After losing 4 straight in the middle of the year, New York has started running the ball better and playing better defensively as well. They are still dealing with a lot of injuries, especially in the secondary, but if there’s one team that will have plenty of trouble taking advantage of that dinged up pass-defense, it’s the Panthers.

Listen, it’s nice to see somebody else throwing balls in Carolina, but Matt Moore is an interception waiting to happen, or five. He’s been pretty lucky thus far, but eventually, he’s going to get it for the decisions he makes. Why not this week?

Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants (-7)

Houston Texans vs Miami Dolphins NFL Week 16 Predictions

Houston Texans vs Miami Dolphins NFL Week 16 Predictions: About 60% of the public bet is on Miami, and while they are a better team at home, the Texans have shed their normal “road schmo” title, going 4-3 away from Houston so far this season. And despite the Dolphins ability to run the football with success against just about any opponent, I do happen to think Houston is the better team of the two. Not only can they throw the ball as well as any team in the league, but defensively they bring a lot more heat than many believe.

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This Houston defense has given up 21 points or fewer in 7 of their last 9 games. And while that normal late season swoon basically eliminated the Texans from post-season dreams, they are still playing for their first winning season in, well, in forever. They’ve been 8-8 each of the last two seasons, and while that’s a step in the right direction, a winning year is theirs if they can win out. With that on the line, I definitely expect this one to be a battle.

So it will come down to the little things, or the small details, and the fact that Houston has had just about the worst luck all season long has something to do with my decision. Yes, that kind of stuff evens out folks, and it should do that here. Houston lost their first game by 17 points. Since then, they’ve lost 6 other times. Since then, not a single loss has been decided by more than 8 points. Those one score games have killed them, but I think they get this one. The luck turns!

Houston Texans (+3) @ Miami Dolphins

Seattle Seahawks vs Green Bay Packers: Week 16 NFL Picks

Seattle Seahawks vs Green Bay Packers Week 16 NFL Picks: It’s amazing the way match-ups can make themselves special. Take this one, for example, the Hawks and Packers have a common link: they are the only two teams that have lost to Tampa Bay this season. Amazing.

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Listen, anything can happen, and it very well might, but Seattle on the road, going up against a pissed off Packers team that just lost by a point on the road with a last play touchdown – please. When you add on the fact that Green Bay has been lighting people up, winners in 5 of their last 6 games, and going up against probably the most pathetic playing bunch of no-effort, poorly coached, aggression-less clowns holding a 1-6 road record close to their heart – yeah, the Packers seem like a no-brainer.

And despite my insessent searching to tell me otherwise, I can’t find a good reason to go with the road dog here. I know just under 63% of the bet is on Green Bay, and that has to be a bit of a red-flag, but that can’t sway my bet. I know the Packers have only won a few games by more than 14 points, but Seattle seems to fit the bill of the lackluster opponents responsible for Green Bay’s biggest wins (teams like Detroit-twice, and Cleveland. Maybe talent-wise, Seattle is better that those teams, but effort-wise, I’d have to say everyone ranks higher than the Sea Chickens.

The Packers are 5-2 at home, and aside from one mishap against Tampa Bay, have stomped the lesser NFL teams so far this season. I like that trend to continue with a Packer win in Green Bay. They have more to play for, play harder, are more aggressive, and finally are a terrible match-up for Seattle’s soft offense.

Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers (-13.5)

Oakland Raiders vs Cleveland Browns: Expert NFL Picks

Oakland Raiders vs Cleveland Browns Expert NFL Picks: What the Browns have been doing lately depends very little on quarterback play, and even if it did, Brady Quinn wasn’t showing flashes of Bernie Kosar or anything crazy like that, so Derek Anderson should be able to step in and do a terrible job. In fact, this game is guaranteed to have some amazingly poor quarterbacking play. A couple throws and decisions made will surely perform like pepper spray in the casual on-watcher’s eye, so much so that I can’t wait to catch a glimpse. That’s right, I’ll have this game recorded for my complete viewing pleasure. Anytime I get sad football is over come this off-season, I’ll play the first few minutes of this game and feel better instantly!

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All jokes aside, I think the Browns are a decent bet here. They’ve played pretty solid football (sounds gross, I know) over the last 6 weeks or so. Maybe not solid, but there’s been something good coming from their team in all 6 of their last 6 games. Against Baltimore, their defense was stout. Against Detroit, their offense came alive. They lost by just 9 to Cincinnati in another tough defensive battle. They lost by a touchdown to one of the best teams in football (San Diego). They beat Pittsburgh straight up, and made it two in a row by laying 41 points on Kansas City in a game where their rushing attack (mainly James Harrison) torched the Chiefs for 300+ yards and a 41-34 score on the road.

Oakland has a better defense, but just barely. I’m not sure what I would have conceded first, teh Raiders winning two straight or Cleveland winning 3 in a row. But it looks like the answer’s Cleveland for me this week. At home, a solid run game, I’ll take them.

Oakland Raiders @ Cleveland Browns (-2.5)