Asif: Ryan is on vacation this week so he gave me the password to his wordpress account so that I may bring the glory of our weekly mailbag to the masses. Anyway, you can read more of my musings at my own blog if you’re so inclined.
At the same time, it’s not hard to imagine the Vikings being good again with a competent QB. Even with Adrian Peterson missing a sizable chunk of the season they have the fourth best rushing offense in the league, which indicates that their O-line is still capable of mauling defenses. They also have an electric wideout in Percy Harvin so it isn’t as if their offense is one dimensional by necessity. It would be a huge mistake to waste Purple Jesus’ prime behind garbage like Ponder, especially if you have a chance to draft the next Peyton Manning. If the Vikings get the first pick they have to take Luck.
Rams: The Rams situation is a bit trickier than the Vikings and it all relates to the folly of drafting Sam Bradford first overall in 2010, a move that may lead to a long period of futility in St.Louis. Taking Bradford and his spotty medical history over Ndamukong Suh was a huge mistake and the Rams compounded it by giving Bradford $50MM guaranteed, at the time the richest contract in NFL history, prompting the league to insert a rookie wage scale in its new collective bargaining agreement.
Bradford’s first year was encouraging, but rather than taking a step forward this season, he’s regressed. His -171 DYAR rates him just slightly better than Christian Ponder, but unlike Ponder he can’t use being a rookie as a shield. Bradford has dealt with injuries this season, but injuries aren’t as great of an excuse when they’re your constant state of being as appears to be the case with Bradford. Like the Vikings, the Rams do have some talent on offense in Steven Jackson and free agent to be Brandon Lloyd. The Rams do have pressing needs on the O-line and on defense (Suh would have helped there), but passing on a consensus once in a generation talent like Luck to draft for need would be folly. Bradford’s contract makes him prohibitively expensive to trade, so the smart move is just to realize that he’s a sunk cost and cut him. St. Louis can take some solace in the fact that Luck, due to the aforementioned wage scale, will be cheaper than Bradford. What is absolutely certain is that first passing on Ndamukong Suh and then Andrew Luck all on account of Sam Bradford would be something that Rams fans would regret for a long time.
Ryan is enjoying himself on a family vacation in Borneo this week and I’m really hoping that he comes back with a pet Orangutan. It would be just like that Clint Eastwood movie, Every Which Way But Loose, except I imagine that their hijinks would be much less endearing and it would likely end with Ryan in the hospital. You have to be careful with Orangutans, they have the strength of 10 men, which makes them pretty poor pets.
In any case, the upshot of all this is that you’ll only have me for company. Don’t worry I won’t steal anything or ruin your furniture.
Ryan: Can’t get rid of me THAT easily! However, I do not have time or fast enough internet to do any research so everything is going to be completely off the top of my head. Let’s proceed, shall we?
Week 15: 7-9
Week 15: 11-5
Oakland @ Kansas City (-1)
Ryan: Was there any doubt when the Lions got the ball back last week against the Raiders that they were scoring? It really is a shame that Janikowski’s field goal got blocked at the end because I really wanted to see if he could hit from 65. I think the Chiefs’ win last week was a one-week anomaly that caught the Packers offguard. Raiders cover.
Asif: From the moment he entered the national consciousness, for yelling at Anquan Boldin on the sidelines during the Arizona Cardinal’s run to the Super Bowl in 2009, everyone has known that Todd Haley is an insecure dickwad who has no business on an NFL sideline. What we didn’t know was the absolute magnitude of his assholery, which apparently was so monumental that simply replacing him as head coach was enough to inspire the Chiefs to beat the previously undefeated Packers. It’s not even like Haley was replaced by a competent coach, KC’s interim coach is ROMEO CRENNEL. Apparently, firing Todd Haley gives your team 7 bonus points in their next game.
The Raiders aren’t going to recover from their last second loss to Detroit. Chiefs cover.
Denver (-2.5) @ Buffalo
Ryan: Unfortunately, the defensive blueprint that Belichick discovered for beating the Tebows–scoring a TON of points–isn’t something that the Bills possess the talent to replicate. Broncos cover.
Asif: Buffalo just looks awful. Although the Patriots basically chewed the Broncos defense up from the second quarter on last week, I can’t imagine the Bills doing the same. Broncos cover.
Jacksonville @ Tennessee (-7.5)
Ryan: I thought that coming all the way across the world, to Borneo, where I am now staying at a hotel that has one public computer with slow internet and no wifi, would be enough to escape Christmas music. Unfortunately, not so much as it’s in a constant loop.I HATE Christmas music and I especially hate All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey which is a part of this resort’s five-song rotation in the dining hall.
This line is too big. Jaguars cover.
Asif: Derp bowl. On one hand, the Jaguars got trampled 41-14 by the Falcons last week, on the other the Titans lost to the Colts. That’s a lot of fail to fit in to one game. In the end, the Titans have been consistently better than the Jaguars all year, but after last week I’m not comfortable giving them more than a touchdown. I’ll hold my nose and take Jacksonville and the points.
Arizona @ Cincinnati (-4)
Ryan: John Skelton’s magical, Tebowesque stretch of winning football games with paltry offensive output is going to come to a screeching halt this week when he is forced up against the Red Rocket. Bengals cover.
Asif: Arizona has quietly put together a nice stretch of football, winning six of their past seven games, during which their defense has been pretty stingy. At the same time, they needed overtime to beat the Browns at home last week, which is pretty sad.
Cincinnati is still in playoff position and it looks like AJ Green will play through a shoulder injury. Bengals cover.
Miami @ New England (-9.5)
Ryan: As I said in the introduction, I don’t have the ability to do research right now but my gut instinct is that the Patriots have been very good in December under Belichick. The loss to the Giants seems VERY long ago. Patriots cover.
Asif: Miami has been feisty of late, but the Patriots have a chance to lock up the top seed in the AFC with wins in the last two weeks. I don’t see New England taking their foot off the gas. Patriots cover
Cleveland @ Baltimore (-13)
Ryan: Not trusting the Ravens with this many points. Browns cover.
Asif: It’s hard to trust the Ravens as huge favorites, since they don’t seem to care unless they’re playing the Steelers. At the same time, they are playing the Browns, who were dumb enough to punt to Patrick Peterson in OT last week. Baltimore covers.
NY Giants @ NY Jets (-3)
Ryan: The Giants’ getting BLOWN OUT by the Redskins last week was a glaring hole in my “We Believe in Ourselves” theory. Seriously, though, the Eagles and Chargers think that the Giants have been bi-polar this season. My gut feeling is that the Giants are better than the Jets. Giants cover.
Asif: This one is easier than I thought it would be. Both teams got blown out last week, although the Giants’ loss to Washington is probably more embarrassing. The only reason I can think for this to be anything other than a straight pick is the odds-makers are giving the Jets home field advantage which of course is ludicrous. Sure, Jets rather than Giants season ticket holders will be in attendance, but the Giants do have a bigger fan base and Giants fans will make up at least 30% of the crowd. Here’s my rationale for this pick: with the game on the line who do you trust more; Mark Sanchez or Eli Manning. Easy choice, Giants cover.
Minnesota @ Washington (-6.5)
Ryan: I went on an awesome riverboat ride today through the rain forest in Mulu, Borneo. It went through beautiful nature, stopped at a couple amazing caves, and pulled off on the side for a little while for us to eat and swim. It stood in stark contrast to a riverboat trip my family took in Cambodia last summer where the water was as polluted as I’ve ever seen, there was no nature on either side, and there were poorly-constructed shacks up and down the river that will NEVER survive the inevitable flood. Both river trips made me realize how lucky I am and that I should never really complain about anything. Ever.
Those four weeks where Mike Shanahan started John Beck over Rex Grossman could very well have cost the Redskins a playoff berth this season. After getting burned repeatedly, I am flip-flopping on my pick-blindly-against-the-Redskins betting strategy. Redskins cover.
Asif: It’s a good thing that Christian Ponder is starting because the Vikings absolutely cannot afford to win this game. Redskins cover.
Tampa Bay @ Carolina (-6.5)
Ryan:Things that have happened since Tampa Bay last won a football game:
- Kim Jong Il died
- The NBA labor dispute had about 5,000 twists and turns
- The Raiders made a trade for Carson Palmer that looked so bad on its face that Asif compared it to AIDS, then it actually didn’t look that bad for a little while, and now it’s back to AIDS
I predict that Carolina is going to be the team this year that wins three of its last four, heads into next season with momentum and swagger, and continues its ascension towards being a playoff contender. This franchise is building a foundation such that it should be competitive for about a decade and I can’t wait to see what Cam Newton does has he continues to improve and the team gets him some new toys. Carolina covers.
Asif: Carolina is good. Tampa is bad. I’m going to pause for a moment here to say it one more time: I TOLD YOU SO. I have no idea who I’m gloating to at this point, I’m just so thrilled at being right about something for once that I may have lost my mind. Panthers cover.
St. Louis @ Pittsburgh(-15.5)
Ryan: One of the coolest parts about international travel is meeting other travelers from all over the world. Relatedly, some of the coolest other travelers are Brits. They are always interesting and interested. Also, I love the different words they use and am going to consciously try to incorporate wanker, holiday (vacation), and rubbish into my lexicon–written and verbal.
After losing by 27 last week, I don’t trust the Steelers to cover this line, even if the Rams are complete and utter rubbish. Rams cover.
Asif: I actually prefer Australians because they’re like British people except drunker. It was pretty obvious from the Steeler’s first drive that Ben Roethlisberger had no business playing last week and I have no clue why Mike Tomlin didn’t pull Ben after the power outages.
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Kellen Clemens is a MUCH better QB than Sam Bradford. As I explained in the intro, taking Bradford first overall in the 2010 draft may be a mistake that leads to a decade of futility in St. Louis. Still, there’s no way I’m trusting Pittsburgh with a line this high. Rams cover.
San Diego @ Detroit (-2.5)
Ryan: The Chargers are coming on strong but, like last season, their surgence (can’t call it a resurgence because they showed absolutely no fight for the first 3/4s of this season) is going to be too little too late. Unless the Broncos completely collapse which BETTER not happen because I want my boy Timmy Twinkletoes Tebow in a playoff game, preferably of the Steelers variety. Still, though, the Lions won last week but didn’t show me that they are any good. THEY ARE PLAYING TO IMPRESS ME AND THEY DID NOT. Chargers cover.
Asif: Ryan is clearly discounting the fact that God hates Chargers fans and will do anything to ensure that Norv Turner and AJ Smith keep their jobs. Chargers cover.
San Francisco (-2.5) @ Seattle
Ryan: What is this, a game for ants? The line should be at least…three times this size! 49ers cover.
Asif: This line is surprisingly low considering that San Fran handled the Steelers easily last week even without Patrick Willis. Yes, I do realize that Ben Roethlisberger was hobbled, but I still thought the 49ers were impressive. I know that Seattle has the best home field advantage in the NFL and Willis is likely to sit out again, but I don’t see the 49ers losing this one. San Francisco covers.
Philadelphia @ Dallas (-1.5)
Ryan: The Eagles are this year’s version of this year’s Chargers. Think about it, it makes sense. Eagles cover.
Asif: Philadelphia has a chance to throw a huge wrench in the playoff picture over the last two weeks. If the Eagles win in Dallas this week, they would hold the tie-breaker over both the Giants and Cowboys. If the Eagles win their final game and all three teams finish 8-8, then the Eagles would win the NFC East and the fourth seed in the NFC. This is so messed up that I have almost no doubt that it’s going to happen. Eagles cover.
Chicago @ Green Bay (-13)
Ryan: Schadenfreude – n. The feeling of immense satisfaction that has consumed me as a result of the Bears’ fate for the last month or so. Much apologies to my buddy Bauer who has had his inner soul ravaged by this collapse. Packers cover
Asif: I’m not sure that I’d take the Bears over the Colts right now, much less against a Packers team that should be out for blood after a tough loss to the Chiefs. Packers cover.
Atlanta @ New Orleans (-6.5)
Ryan: Saints are a little bit under the radar as being REALLY good. Anytime they play in a dome, watch out. Asif thinks the Falcons are really good, I disagree. I would say we will see who is right and who is wrong this week but I’m not going to be able to see the game. IF I CAN’T MAKE KNEE-JERK REACTIONS TO WHAT I THINK I SEE, THE JURY IS STILL OUT. Saints cover.
Asif: The Falcons are really good, but the Saints are invincible in the Mercedes-Benz – McDonald’s-Gatorade-Papa John’s Superdome. Speaking of the venue in which the Saints play, I hate the trend in corporate sellout stadium naming rights. The Superdome used to be awesome. It wasn’t just a dome, it was SUPER. Now it blows, at least partially because no one who lives in New Orleans proper can afford a Benz. Saints cover.