Fold up the hide-a-bed, and buy the wife a pearl necklace; it’s time to move back into the Master bedroom. I went 11-5 last week. If you’ve followed my Luck at all this year, you noticed that my 11 wins in week 14 are the most thus far and pushes my season record to
103-94-6. It’s convenient that my best week followed my worst, but hey, that’s the way the pigskin bounces. Not only did I end up 11-5, I bet big on some big games. I took the Hawks to win in Minnesota at +250, the Saints to win in Dallas at +260, and the terrible Niners to beat Arizona for a huge payoff. So, with the little money I had left, I got a little redemption from my week 13 debacle. Heads up, because I’m firing up another go at a big week starting this Sunday. It’s getting down to the nitty gritty, and I’m going to take advantage of who’s tough and who’s Eli Manning, I mean… who’s not! If you listen carefully you might just come out on top, giving yourself an early return on your wife’s Christmas present.Pittsburgh (-10) at N.Y. Giants – You know I’ve got to go with the Steel City in this Saturday game where 12-1 collides with 5-8. The boys in Pittsburgh have kept up their tough play since the upsets of both New England and Philadelphia. The Giants finally get to see what they could’ve gotten without giving up next years first round pick, in the Steeler’s Ben Roethlisberger. This rookie has had his ups and downs, but the downs haven’t resulted in a single loss. This is not the week that changes. Unfortunately for Eli, his defense won’t feast on Big Ben like the Steelers will do on him. The Steelers defense is underrated, even though they are rated high. They take advantage of the ground it out running game that Bill Cower runs, and fly around the field when they aren’t watching Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis get first down after first down. The Steelers will dominate on Saturday, because that’s what they do to bad teams.
Game Date: 12/18/04 13:30 ET
Washington (-5) at San Francisco – I hate taking Washington ever, but like I’ve been saying the Niners are the most pathetic team in the league. Sure, they won a game last week, but that will be the last time that happens this year, I can almost guarantee you that. The Skins have started to realize how much they need Clinton Portis to touch the ball if they want to win games. He was throwing and receiving, as well as rushing the ball last week in Philly. Portis is the whole offense until Gibbs picks up a capable quarterback to lead his team. Luckily, the Niners couldn’t stop Drew Bledsoe quarterbacking The Replacements. Here’s to 2-12 Coach Dennis Erickson, Cheers! Game Date: 12/18/04 17:00 ET
Carolina at Atlanta (-3) – What has gotten into Mushin Muhammad and the Carolina Panthers. They’ve stopped looking like the pussycats that had been playing the first half of the year. For a team that has been decimated by injuries, they are putting on quite a show. Unfortunately, it’s going to end up all for not. Though one can argue that they are getting mounds of experience, all they are really doing is climbing down the draft order. Even though they have fought themselves into a playoff race, they have now moved behind 10 teams in the NFC alone when draft day comes around. I’d love to see them end with 8 straight wins and make the playoffs, but I don’t see it happening. With two sub par teams after Atlanta, they could make the playoffs even losing on Saturday. This week in Atlanta, the Falcons will show up for what will seem like the first time in weeks. Mike Vick should run around a defense that is still suffering from injuries, and the Falcon defense should do enough to get Atlanta the win on their home field. My heart says Panthers, my money says Falcons. Game Date: 12/18/04 20:30 ET
Buffalo (E) at Cincinnati – I’ve got to take the Buff in Cincinnati. Get this; the Bills haven’t scored less than 37 points in any game of their 4 game win streak. This is with the handicap of having Drew Bledsoe start at quarterback. In the stomping of the Browns, Drew managed to complete just 12-27 passing for 100 yards, a pick, and a TD. Luckily for Drew, his offense produced 215 yards rushing, 105 from Mr. Willis McGahee. With or without Drew, the Bills have been red hot, and are likely to shut down an offensive attack from the Bengals minus their rising star, Carson Palmer. While Kitna is a great back-up, he hasn’t played at all this year, and will struggle against a defense that allowed 14 net yards last week. Yes, 14!
Game Date: 12/19/04 13:00 ET
Dallas at Philadelphia (-12.5) – I have yet to bet on the Cowboys this year, and it’s really paid off. In fact, last week they improved my living situation all by themselves. Thanks for losing to a pitiful Saints team, Dallas. This week they won’t have to play like dog crap to lose, because they not only face Philly, a team that is known to destroy Dallas, but Terrell Owens as well, who makes his mark on the Cowboy secondary whenever he damn well pleases. Dallas can’t hang with the Eagles, regardless of a spread that nears two touchdowns. It’s good to see the Cowboys evaporating from the pathetic NFC playoff race. Game Date: 12/19/04 13:00 ET
Denver at Kansas City (+1.5) – Kansas City has ridden their running game, even without their holy man, Priest Holmes. Larry Johnson was phenomenal last week while only carrying the ball 7 times. The one-two punch of Blaylock and Johnson is turning in to a nine-punch combination. These two back-ups have shown us just how good Priest Holmes is to demand the touches he gets when healthy. The Chiefs are out of the playoff picture, but that doesn’t make them any less willing to sink the Broncos a little lower than their Shetland Pony status of late. Denver slipped past Miami last week by 3 measly points. I love the pathetic feeling I get when watching Denver. Plummer has been terrible, and their “much improved defense” has anything but. Shannahan looks to be on his way out, that’s too bad. Not! Game Date: 12/19/04 13:00 ET
Houston (+1) at Chicago – Houston gave it their all against Indianapolis last week, but fell short to the wrecking ball that is the Colts offense. David Carr has fallen from the horse he was riding earlier in the year, but should still lead his team past an offensively challenged Chicago squad. Chi-Town has been down right ugly this year, besides the game against the Vikings two weeks ago. As I predicted, they took a tumble in week 14, and will manage the same this Sunday. Dominic Davis has been astounding with the ball in his hands the last 5 or 6 weeks, and I see no reason for that to halt. Game Date: 12/19/04 13:00 ET
Minnesota (-3) at Detroit – I don’t care if Randy, Daunte, and Mike Tice have been questionable lately, there is no reason Joey Harrington should lead his team to victory over the Vikings on Sunday. Regardless of what critics think, they are still the same team they were earlier in the year when eyebrows were raised. Can they get back to that level and make some waves in the playoffs? I don’t know. But can they beat the crap out of the Lions in Detroit? You betcha! Moss will get on track with a couple touchdowns and Harrington will get benched for somebody, anybody, to stop Steve Marriucci from poking his own eyes out in disgust.
Game Date: 12/19/04 13:00 ET
San Diego (-10) at Cleveland – The Browns have been horrendous since Butch Davis stepped down as head coach. The Chargers have gotten better and better as the season has progressed. If you are still waiting for Drew Brees to slip back to his old numbers, you need to snap out of it. Drew has been damn good, enough so, that I voted for him to go to Honolulu. Brees has lifted his team and done everything he could to make them a good ball club. They have reacted. The Brees to Antonio Gates combination has impressed everyone, and it seems unstoppable. I don’t see Cleveland stopping much of anything. I don’t see them starting anything either. For a team that lost 37-7 last week to Buffalo, the 10 points against a superb Charger team seems like nothing.
Game Date: 12/19/04 13:00 ET
Seattle (+6) at N.Y. Jets – The Hawks stole one in Minnesota last Sunday, much to my big fat grin, and a nice pocket full of cash. Matt Hasselbeck has finally found his slinger, which is good to see if you happen to be a Seattle fan like me. The Hawks are a lot more dangerous if teams have to start worrying about 334 yards and 3 touchdowns coming from Matt’s arm. Shaun Alexander will play a big role against a good Jet team, but the Hawks are back, and are fixing to be what everyone thought they would be all year, NFC Champs!
Game Date: 12/19/04 13:00 ET
New Orleans (+8) at Tampa Bay – The Saints aren’t very good, but what they did to the Cowboys last week is good enough to make me a believer. It’s time for them to win anyway. They are far from playoff contention, even in the weak NFC, and have nothing to do but climb down the draft latter. They are good at showing up when the games no longer count. Tampa Bay is also fighting for a shot at a lower draft pick, so this game should be interesting. I don’t know how I’m taking the Saints when Deuce McCallister gained only 80 yards on 30 carries last week. Ugh! Let’s just call it a hunch. The 8 points helps too. Game Date: 12/19/04 16:05 ET
St. Louis at Arizona (+3) – My brain tells me to take St. Louis here, but they seem to be doing everything they can to remove themselves from post-season eligibility. That’s tough in the NFC, but they are managing it. I’m betting on another star-choking performance this week in Arizona. I think Dennis Green always likes to win ball games, and his team will beat the odds and take out a Ram team that has lost all confidence. What will happen in St. Louis this off-season? All I know is, right now, they stink, and it will show on Sunday when they fall to a ‘Zona squad that let Ken Dorsey beat them a week ago. Yes, that Ken Dorsey! Game Date: 12/19/04 16:05 ET
Jacksonville (+3.5) at Green Bay – I haven’t done that well betting the Packers this year. Brett Favre has either stepped up and threw touchdowns in my face, or thrown more picks than touchdowns when my money was riding his arm. Either way, when they’ve won, I’ve lost, and when they’ve lost I’ve lost. So, I’m taking Jacksonville here. Byron Leftwich is a leader. His team thrives around his poise, and they need a win this weekend. While both teams need a win, a loss all but eliminates the Jaguars from a tough playoff race in the AFC. I don’t think their young leader will allow that to happen. I’m going against my Green Bay roots, and taking Jacksonville in Green Bay.
Game Date: 12/19/04 16:15 ET
Tennessee (E) at Oakland – Do I think Billy Volek will post the numbers he did last week against Kansas City? No. But I do think he will toss the ball around the field against the Raiders. Billy has shown a little flare in his recent action, leading a brilliant performance on Monday Night. Drew Bennett, your average white quarterback turned NFL receiver had 233 yards receiving last week, enough to lead the league in a single game this year. Not bad. Oakland took a step back last week getting fingered by the Falcons 35-10. If anything, I’d like Oakland to lose just to see what Al Davis does with another high pick. It piques off-season interest. Game Date: 12/19/04 16:15 ET
Baltimore (+7.5) at Indianapolis – I’m betting against the Colts again this week. They couldn’t make the spread against a feisty Houston team, and the Ravens defense is up for the Manning challenge this Sunday. I think the spread is too high, given that the Colts D won’t do much to stop the average offensive attack the Ravens have. Boller isn’t a great quarterback, heck, he’s barely average, but the Colts secondary is way below average. Jamal Lewis will be back, and his return will mark the first time Jonathan Ogden and Lewis have been healthy together for some time. I’m predicting a lot of pounding from the rushing attack of the Ravens, limiting Manning’s time on the field, and keeping their defense fresh. Baltimore will surprise this week against a team that has already clinched their division. Game Date: 12/19/04 21:35 ET
New England (-10) at Miami – Miami almost pulled one out against a fading Bronco team, but will stand no chance against a Patriot team that’s eying a 15-1 season. New England pulled out a victory last week over a Bengal team that stayed in the game even without starter Carson Palmer. Belichick won’t let that happen against a much inferior Miami team in week 15. Monday night could be a boring night to watch football, as the game should be over by half time. Miami has no chance in this game, I don’t care how crazy and unpredictable this season has been. They have no chance at all!
Game Date: 12/20/04 21:05 ET
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