The 2009 NFL Picks
Week Sixteen


Get ready for a simply insane week. Why do I say that? Well…

The Dogs have plowed their way back into contention. They turned in an 11-4-1 mark last week, bringing their fourth place situation to a record that is now over .500 and is just 2 games outside of the top three.

In last week’s games, the favorites got destroyed, 4-11-1. Keep that in mind when…

This week the spreads go crazy. Who will play? Who won’t play? Who’ll be motivated though out of it? Who’ll be motivated while doing nothing more than trying to stay sharp? And if you wonder about these questions (or others) and whether or not they matter, then try coming up with a better collection of thoughts to explain why Tennessee is favored over San Diego. Or why the Jets are traveling to Indy, with the Colts favored by a mere 5½. In fact, look over the listing and you’ll see that 14 home teams are favored… and the ones that aren’t involve Dallas and Minnesota traveling.

Seriously… the Colts favored by just 5½? The Jets still have a shot at the postseason, but after last week’s pitiful showing against Atlanta, let’s just say the playoffs shouldn’t be something they expect to celebrate early in 2010 if they want to be happy with a warm sense of accomplishment. Play this game about four weeks ago and the Colts would be favored by at least a touchdown and probably 9+. (As a reference point, New England was favored by 10½ over the Jets the week after losing to Indianapolis.)

In the end, we are left with a slate of games where none of it makes sense when you try to make sense out of it, which means anything is even more possible than it normally is. (Hi Molly… Hi Gus… enjoy picking without having to be concerned by any of this.) And if history tells us anything, it’s that a team is going to win this week (unexpectedly… perhaps the Jets) only to have it’s playoff hopes dashed next week. Some team is going to lose this week (likely unexpectedly… perhaps you Pittsburgh… or maybe the Giants) only to find out that if they had won, the fourteen things that needed to happen to get into the playoffs actually do happen, except they didn’t win both games to take advantage of it. (Think more AFC for this one, since, as we’ll see, the NFC is down to three options for playoff possibilities.)

And in the middle of all that… we have a race going on. Dad and I are tied. Mike is 2 games behind. Dogs 4 games behind us and 2 behind Mike. 32 to go… and as noted… toss some flower petals into the breeze to make a decision for all the help the spreads offer and sound research might provide.

For this week’s film… we’re actually going to switch things up and go to television shows to keep the holiday theme going and combine four classics… Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Santa Claus is coming to Town, and The Year without a Santa Claus

San Diego at Tennessee (3)“Would you walk home with me?” “Uh-huh. Rudolph? I think you’re cute.” “I’m cute! I’m cute!” And right here, in the first game, we have a summary of everything I was just babbling about. The Chargers have clinched the second seed in the playoffs… they can’t catch Indy, hold the tie-breaker over Cincinnati, and I believe they would win a tie-breaker against New England, but I will admit to having not looked deeply at “who wins a second seed tie-breaker between the Chargers and Patriots” scenarios. (Maybe next week if the Chargers lose and Pats win. For now, they currently have a better conference record than New England, with this being the last AFC contest for San Diego. I think it’s leaning their way.) For the Titans, well, they will be going home after playing their final regular season game… unless, by my research and count, every AFC team loses their final two games. And while that isn’t completely right, the Titans pretty much control nothing… with two teams in front of them (Baltimore and Denver), and other 7-7 teams holding tie-breakers over them. (Jacksonville has a better division record, New York beat them… so that’s two with better chances of making it, but at least they are looking better than Miami and Houston right now.) What all of that means is, good luck sorting this one out. Tennessee needs it… San Diego doesn’t. And yet with a bye week pretty much in place, San Diego isn’t likely to shut it completely down and have a month of rust pile up. Here’s what I can tell you: Tennessee will hand the ball to Chris Johnson about a million times. Slight exaggeration, but what I am saying is that both teams will have limited possessions in a game that should keep the clock moving. I’m going to take the Chargers here for two reasons. (1) Even though alot of their recent victories involve close games, they aren’t the favorite here. A 1… 2… 3-point win for San Diego is a win against the spread. (2) The Titans are getting banged up. Overcoming an 0-6 start is brutal, and it makes every thing more difficult. At some point, exhaustion sets in because you aren’t facing the same thing as your opponents. It’s a different pace… burning up all of your energy just to get back into contention. Didn’t they lead Miami by 15 at one point last week? Barely closed it out. And they have some injury questions to deal with.
Bob: San Diego
Terry: Tennessee
Dad: Tennessee
Mike: San Diego
Molly: Tennessee

Seattle at Green Bay (14)“Hey, what do you say we both be independent together, huh?” “You wouldn’t mind my… red nose?” “Not if you don’t mind me being a dentist.” “It’s a deal.” Entering the game with a 9-5 record, Green Bay hasn’t qualified for the playoffs yet. End the season today and they get a wild card slot along with Dallas… but there are still two games to go. So who can catch them? The Giants… one game behind. And that’s it. (Yup… would you believe that every NFC team has either wrapped up a playoff spot (Philly, Minnesota, New Orleans and Arizona are all in) or been eliminated (everyone except Dallas, New York and Green Bay is done).) That said… with a better conference record in their favor, one victory should seal it for Green Bay. (We’ll get to Dallas and New York later.) And for their qualify-for-the-playoffs challenge we have… the Seattle Seahawks… the team that can’t travel. Seattle is 1-6 on the road… with a victory over St. Louis that they tried very hard to lose. Forget that Rams game and the Seahawks have lost every road game by a minimum of 11-points. I’m good with my thoughts here.
Bob: Green Bay
Terry: Seattle
Dad: Green Bay
Mike: Green Bay
Gus: Green Bay

Oakland at Cleveland (3)“I just don’t like to make toys.” “Oh well if that’s all… What? You don’t like to make toys?” “No.” “Hermey doesn’t like to make toys.” In the AFC, only four of the sixteen teams have been eliminated from playoff possibilities. Here’s two of them. Cleveland has been playing better lately. Not brilliant… or even better than average football… but better. They defeated Pittsburgh, had some offensive runs while playing Detroit a few weeks ago and in beating Kansas City last weekend, and even managed to hang in the games against San Diego and Cincinnati (even if the final score was closer than the actual game in those contests). What I’m saying is… the Browns haven’t packed it in on the season or the coach. Good to know. Out in Oakland I will grant you they defeated Denver last week. But the Raiders are still a club unable to really put more than 20-points on the board (and even 17-20 is optimistic of what they’ll score, not a reasonable goal). They’ve also won five games… and been blown out the week after all five victories. And the teams that really kick their behinds this season are the ones that won’t be going to the postseason this year.
Bob: Cleveland
Terry: Oakland
Dad: Cleveland
Mike: Cleveland
Molly: Oakland

Kansas City at Cincinnati (14)“I am the official sentry of the Isle of Misfit Toys.” “A jack-in-the-box for a sentry?” “Yes. My name is…” “Don’t tell me. Jack.” “No. Charlie. That’s why I’m a misfit toy. My name is all wrong. No child wants to play with a Charlie-in-the-box, so I had to come here.” There is no way Cincinnati covers this spread. None. Zero. Oh… I’ll grant you… most playoff-like teams (Denver, San Diego, Philadelphia) have killed the Chiefs. But I’m never one to read too much into divisional contests… and the Chiefs gave New York (Giants) and Dallas fits… leaving only the Philly game (the same Philly team that choked against Oakland) to judge the Chiefs by. Not much there to consider. The actual reason I believe they won’t cover is that Cincy simply doesn’t have the ability to level anyone. In fact… get this… Cincy hasn’t covered a spread as the favorite by more than 1½ all season. I’m serious. 6 times they’ve been favored by 4 or more… they didn’t cover once. They’ve lost 2 straight… take out the Chicago demolition (Cutler on the road… overpowers every other factor) and their largest victory is 10-points. And that is like… you know… 10-points over the offensive powerhouse Lions. (Yes… yes… and by 10 over Baltimore. Ugh. Stay focused people. Cincy wins by 3 week after week, always close games.)
Bob: Kansas City
Terry: Cincinnati
Dad: Cincinnati
Mike: Cincinnati
Gus: Cincinnati

Buffalo at Atlanta (9½)“I’ve been looking for you, big brother. Will you please write a letter to Santa Claus for me?” “Well, I don’t have much time. I’m supposed to get down to the school auditorium to direct a Christmas play.” “You write it and I’ll tell you what I want to say.” “Okay, shoot.” “Dear Santa Claus, How have you been? Did you have a nice summer? How is your wife? I have been extra good this year, so I have a long list of presents that I want.” “Oh brother.” “Please note the size and color of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself, just send money. How about tens and twenties?” “Tens and twenties? Oh, even my baby sister!” “All I want is what I… I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share.” Difficult game to judge. Last week the Falcons defeated the Jets by 3-points, 10-7, in a yawner of a contest. Go back past 2 losses, and they defeat Tampa Bay by 3. then go back past 2 other losses, and they defeat Washington by 14. And that game against the Redskins is the only one for the Falcons since mid-October that combines good play and a big victory. The Bills on the other hand have been giving everyone fits for weeks. The large victory over Miami may prove to be the unexpected loss in the final six weeks that keeps the Dolphins out of the playoffs. The Jets and the Patriots couldn’t get score more than 17 against them or pull more than a score away from them in December contests. I think the Bills can win this one, and definitely don’t expect the Falcons to roll.
Bob: Buffalo
Terry: Buffalo
Dad: Atlanta
Mike: Buffalo
Molly: Buffalo

Houston at Miami (3) “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!” A few weeks ago I clapped my hands together and smiled. I wasn’t happy that the injury bug had hit the Dolphins. In fact, I was impressed with Ronnie Brown and how they were overcoming a group of wide receivers that have trouble catching a cold, never mind a football. What I was happy about was Ricky Williams being on my fantasy team and picking up extra carries and more points. But even then… I knew it wouldn’t last. I hoped it would… but deep down I knew. By the end of the year, he would be toast. Now… wins over New England and Jacksonville will tell you otherwise… but an overtime loss to Tennessee (which they struggled early and had to climb back from a large deficit just to send it to overtime) and a pasting from Buffalo makes you wonder. Are the Dolphins too tired to finish this off? Which team shows up to play the Texans? Well… they’re 4-2 at home. They lost to Indy and New Orleans. No shame there… except that they literally should have won both of those games. Houston struggled against the Rams last week and… I’m sorry… you know, I wanted to try and support the underdog, but I can’t do it. Everyone beats Seattle handily when the Seahawks travel. So I’m not taking much from a 34-7 whomping of the Seahawks. The Texans lost 4 games before that… when they had a good shot at the playoffs. A win in any of those four games would have put them right out in front for a playoff spot… potentially knocked Indy from the position of undefeated… or at least shut down Jacksonville or Tennessee. I know… divisional contests… take from them what you will. Still… my point… when the stakes were raised and Houston looked good to at least win something, they crapped out every time. Here we are talking about them again… as more than an 8-8 club with impressive moments… and they struggle against the Rams. So… you know… not good. Now… the really funny thing is that both of these teams still have playoff hopes. The trouble is… they have a game to make up on both Denver and Baltimore, and they both have games they’ve lost that could cost them tie-breakers (for example, the Texans lost to the Jets… the Dolphins lost to the Titans). I simply think Miami will be better prepared for this game and deliver a better effort. I trust them more in this situation. And that’s really about it.
Bob: Miami
Terry: Houston
Dad: Miami
Mike: Miami
Gus: Miami

Carolina at New York (Giants) (7)“I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.” Last week, with the season effectively on life support, the Giants pummeled the Redskins. I really don’t think there is a way you could control a first have any more than New York did without a turnover or additional offensive possessions. It was ugly. It was a dismantling. It was a ripping out of the heart and stomping it flat demonstration. The Redskins looked like they wanted to leave… and in fact, if their mothers had been on the sidelines as the clock closed in on the half, I think they would have been hugging them while softly weeping into their shoulders. I honestly haven’t seen a more effective and surgical 30-minutes of football in a long, long time. If that’s the team that shows up again this week, the Panthers might have a chance to win the coin toss, but that will be about it.
Bob: New York
Terry: Carolina
Dad: New York
Mike: New York
Molly: Carolina

Tampa Bay at New Orleans (14)“I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that.” “What is it you want?” “Real estate.” The Saints need to get their swagger back… and I think they do.
Bob: New Orleans
Terry: New Orleans
Dad: New Orleans
Mike: New Orleans
Gus: Tampa Bay

Jacksonville at New England (7½)“Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.” Did you know Jacksonville has been outscored this season by 60-points? I’m not kidding. That’s hardly rare this year… for some amazing reason a couple of teams are at even records while being outscored. Miami… Houston… Tennessee are the others. And that’s just one reason I can’t take the Jaguars seriously as a playoff-bound team. Did they look good against Indy last week? Yes… they did… in a game where they played about as perfectly on offense as they ever might. But in the past four games they’ve gone 1-3… and check out their point output… 3… 23… 10… 31. Way too inconsistent. New England needs a win to wrap up a playoff spot… and they also need some quality play to get things in order if they want to have a postseason run. I expect them to respond with a solid victory this week.
Bob: New England
Terry: New England
Dad: New England
Mike: New England
Molly: Jacksonville

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (2½)“Listen, all of you! You’ve got to take direction! You’ve got to have discipline! You’ve got to have respect for your director! I oughta slug you! Ugh! I’ve been kissed by a dog! I have dog germs! Get hot water! Get some disinfectant! Get some iodine!” It was a very good victory last week… but they almost gave it away. This Steelers team is not playing the way we’ve recently seen Pittsburgh teams play. This is a lost season for them. And while trying to apply some sort of logic to this particular game, especially after how they played a few weeks ago, might not work in any year… I just simply think between Ray Rice and other areas, the Ravens are the better team right now.
Bob: Baltimore
Terry: Baltimore
Dad: Baltimore
Mike: Baltimore
Gus: Pittsburgh

Denver at Philadelphia (7)“You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout.” “Why?” “I’m telling you why. Because I came to town.” While they could still lose the division, Philly is in the playoffs. And, they have been playing very well lately. Denver has been up and down, and consecutive losses to Indy and Oakland doesn’t help their chances here. What I’m wondering though is whether or not the Philly offense is really unstoppable. I don’t think it is. Personally, I think they can be stopped. I’ve heard these kind of things before about Philly… and someone always stepped up and stopped them before. I expect them to be stopped again. I just don’t know if Denver is the team to do it. The Broncos have been shaky on the road most of the year. Since starting out 6-0 they’ve gone 2-6 (1-3 on the road). While they beat the Chargers and Patriots (and Cowboys), the reality is that Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Washington… physical defenses and pounding offenses… were able to beat Denver up and win the game. And maybe that’s what Philly is missing, since they will likely throw the ball to win. I can see this game playing out at around 27-21 Philly… or even 31-28 Denver. (Heck… I’m not kidding anyone… this one could go a number of ways, from 17-16 to 38-34. But when you look at that 2-6 stretch… and see 5 of the losses by 10 or more… it doesn’t look wise to take the Broncos.)
Bob: Philadelphia
Terry: Denver
Dad: Philadelphia
Mike: Denver
Molly: Denver

St. Louis at Arizona (14)“I’ll bet you know their names.” “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen!” “Don’t forget Rudolph!” “No, that’s another story.” I’d like to make the case for the Rams here, but it just doesn’t seem to work on the first glance. Despite keeping things close against Houston last week, they only scored 13 in a 16-13 loss. So there is no way you can predict that they might win this thing. There are injuries to consider… personnel moves necessary for next year that look just way too obvious to think anyone believes they are playing for a roster spot in 2010 (or a long term contract they can feel good about). And yet… all of that said and even more to consider… we’re talking a 14-point spread against a club that has very little to gain from playing hard. Arizona isn’t changing their playoff seed regardless of what happens in the next two weeks. (A miracle, likely involving wise men and a stable would be necessary for them to move out of the fourth seed… and honestly, with the wild card so up in the air, it doesn’t make any difference if you’re the third or fourth seed). Arizona has also been awful at home. That’s right. I said it. Awful. Sure, they beat Minnesota at home. Overall they’re 3-3 at home. None of the 3 victories… despite one involving Seattle… have been by 14-points. I like the Rams to keep this close.
Bob: St. Louis
Terry: Arizona
Dad: Arizona
Mike: Arizona
Gus: Arizona

Detroit at San Francisco (11½)“Toys are hereby declared illegal, immoral, unlawful and anyone found with a toy in his possession will be placed under arrest and thrown in the dungeon. No kidding!” I feel bad about this, because I like alot of the things I’ve seen from the Lions this year. But they’re 0-7 on the road this season. Cincinnati… the team that beats everyone by 3-points… beat them by 10 in Cincinnati. That’s the closest the Lions have been to anyone on the road. Lost by 18 to the Saints… 24 to the Bears… 26 to Green Bay… 12 to Seattle… 17 to Minnesota… and 45 to Baltimore. And I don’t see how they can possibly score more than 10 to 14 points in this game. On the other side, while the 49ers may not be playing for much, I do think they’ll be motivated to play hard. Not much of a basis for picking a game… but for these two teams, I’m not sure there is much else.
Bob: San Francisco
Terry: Detroit
Dad: San Francisco
Mike: San Francisco
Molly: San Francisco

New York (Jets) at Indianapolis (5½)“All right. What are you up to?” “Up to? Do I look like I’m up to something?” “No, you don’t look like you’re up to something. But whenever you look like you’re not up to anything, you’re up to something.” I’d like to pick the Jets… tough defense and all that… but come on. Haven’t I thrown enough games away picking the Colts to lose? (Granted… I’ve won a couple when they didn’t cover… but this is bordering on ridiculous.) If the Jets can win this game, then they deserve all of the time and research I’ll need to do next week in finding out “what does New York need to have happen in order to make the playoffs” for the last game of the regular season. (J-E-T-S… Jets… Jets… Jets!)
Bob: Indianapolis
Terry: New York
Dad: Indianapolis
Mike: Indianapolis
Gus: Indianapolis

Dallas (6½) at Washington“He’s Mister White Christmas, he’s Mister Snow. He’s Mr. Icicle, he’s Mister 10-Below.” “They call me Snow Miser. Whatever I touch, turns to snow in my clutch. I’m too much.” This game has me baffled. See… Washington getting crushed last week doesn’t really bother me. Normally you could take that result and move on. But it’s the end of the year. And that was an amazing first half they suffered through. It wasn’t just getting crushed. It was getting thoroughly controlled. Dazed and staggered really does come to mind here. Shell shocked is a phrase I’m thinking of. And then we must consider that Dallas played a monster game against New Orleans. This is not the December Cowboys of recent years. Not that I love them or trust them… but their defense was ruthless. Was it a one-week thing? Or is this what we can expect from the Cowboys? If the Giants hadn’t been almost flawless two nights later, I would say the Cowboys turned in the most brilliant defensive effort of the weekend. And since the Giants did that to the Redskins… well… I could see this being a long day for Washington regardless of how they’ve played most of their recent games. Here’s what we know… Washington is going to score 17 points. And that’s it. That’s what the Cowboys give up every week… that’s what the Redskins score every week. And the Dallas offense will score more than 24 to cover the spread.
Bob: Dallas
Terry: Washington
Dad: Dallas
Mike: Dallas
Molly: Washington

Minnesota (7) at Chicago“He’s Mister Green Christmas, he’s Mister Sun. He’s Mister Heat Blister, he’s Mister Hundred-and-One.” “They call me Heat Miser. Whatever I touch, starts to melt in my clutch. I’m too much.” I know what I tell you about Chicago and Jay Cutler. I know it very well. But don’t worry about that in this game. Instead… 4-3 at home. Arizona spanked them… but most the other losses were (I suppose, at this point) reasonable, including a 24-20 loss to Philly. Everyone is talking about the disappointing Bears in recent days. The Vikings have not been dominant in recent weeks and have literally between zero and nothing to play for. (Well… that’s not true. There is actually a scenario involved where they could lose control of the bye week they currently have. Still… I think we have the upset of the week in this game.)
Bob: Chicago
Terry: Chicago
Dad: Minnesota
Mike: Minnesota
Gus: Chicago

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dad – Last week 6-9-1, season 115-106-3
Bob – Last week 8-7-1, season 115-106-3
Mike – Last week 5-10-1, season 113-108-3
The Dogs – Last week 11-4-1, season 111-110-3
Terry – Last week 9-6-1, season 100-121-3

Molly: Last week 5-2-1, season 60-50-2
Gus: Last week 6-2, season 51-60-1

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