Friday, December 19, 2014

NFL Week 16 Primer (With Picks): Losers Leave Town

It's been a down year for the Falcons and NFC South as a whole, but a win in New Orleans this week would lock up a season sweep of the Saints and, likely, a home playoff game for Atlanta.
 By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Atlanta at New Orleans. Baltimore at Houston. Kansas City at Pittsburgh. Indianapolis at Dallas. Seattle at Arizona. Denver at Cincinnati

All six of those games hold a tremendous amount of importance regarding either playoff berths or playoff seedings. The winner of the first will almost certainly win the NFC South. The loser of the second game will almost certainly miss the playoffs (and if the loser is Houston, they will). The loser of the third receives a shotgun-sized hole to their playoff hopes. The loser of the fourth almost certainly loses out on the No. 3 seed in their conference. The winner of the fifth will take the NFC West and a first-round bye along with it. And the winner of the sixth will set themselves up nicely for a first-round bye in the AFC bracket.

Let's not mess around. Let's get straight to the picks. Also because I'm 20-9-3 over the last two weeks and can see Joe in my sights.


Underdog Update:
Last Week: 7-7-2
Season: 108-112-5
Home Dogs, Last Week: 1-4
Home Dogs, Season: 29-36-1

Game(s) of The Week

We'll skip this section this week as all the important games were already listed in the intro.

Here Are The Picks We Agree On

JACKSONVILLE (-3.5) over Tennessee

JC: I'm proud to say that I made my pick and then didn't watch a single snap of this game.

JP: I begrudgingly picked between these two disasters, but I did actually watch the game. Holiday travel on JetBlue has made me watch some bad football, though it's usually in the form of irrelevant bowl games.

Philadelphia (-8) over WASHINGTON

JC: After losing last week, Philly needs a win to stay alive. And Washington needs to keep losing to try to nab a high pick. With Sanchez such an up-and-down quarterback, they'll likely let him keep throwing and run up the score to make sure he has confidence going forward.

JP: I see no reason to pick Washington the rest of the year.

San Diego (+1) over SAN FRANCISCO

JC: The wheels are officially off for the 49ers. They've been eliminated from the playoff race and Harbaugh might be gone next season. Against a San Diego team fighting for their life, I'm not optimistic.

JP: Team fighting for a playoff spot vs team mathematically eliminated for the first time under its sociopathic coach, whom everyone on said team hates. Yeah, I'll go with San Diego while Jim Harbaugh mulls over the Michigan coaching vacancy.

Green Bay (-12) over TAMPA BAY

JC: Two words. Statement game.


Detroit (-9.5) over CHICAGO

JC: Detroit's defense against Jimmy Clausen? Where do I sign up? Here? Okay cool. I'm signing up.

JP: And I'm starting Detroit's defense in one of my fantasy league championship games...

New England (-10.5) over NEW YORK JETS

JC: It's tough to reconcile the Patriots always somehow playing weirdly close games against the Jets with the reality that the only team able to stay within 20 points of them in the last two months is the Packers. I'm fully prepared to be wrong about this, but the Patriots look exceedingly locked in.

JP: I went with the Patriots last time against the Jets (and they failed to cover a 10+ point spread), but at this point they need to keep rolling into the playoffs. No hiccups for Brady and Co. this time around.

Baltimore (-6) over HOUSTON

JC: Houston is going to start either Thad Lewis or Case Keenum. This isn't a joke. With Baltimore fighting to stay alive, they'll come out swinging.

JP: Hey, Case Keenum was pretty good starting for Houston! Oh wait, that was the University of Houston. Ok. screw it, gimme the Ravens in a blowout.

ST. LOUIS (-6.5) over New York Giants

JC: The Rams' defense has given up 12 points in their last three games. I'm not sure I even need a follow-up here.

JP: I actually don't feel great about this pick, given that I'm beginning to think that Odell Beckham Jr. is already a Top-10 receiver, but St. Louis should be able to keep the Giants in check by getting after Manning, and Tre Mason SHOULD be able to run over this porous Giants rush defense. 

OAKLAND (+6.5) over Buffalo

JC: Oakland is better at home than people want to admit, and Buffalo has been overachieving for the last few weeks. This line is at least three points too high.

JP: So I guess we're both going down with the ship betting against the Bills, eh?

Indianapolis (+3) over DALLAS

JC: If DeMarco Murray isn't right, Dallas' whole team gets thrown out of whack. And I don't like the thought of the Cowboys' secondary having to protect a lead against Andrew Luck in the second half.

JP: I'd probably take the Colts and the points even if I was sure Murray was playing, so with his status in question, I definitely have to pick Indy.

ARIZONA (+9) over Seattle

JC: I don't care who is starting at quarterback or how hot Seattle is. You don't give nine points at home to an 11-3 team that hasn't lost at home.

JP: Went back-and-forth on this one, but in the end Arizona's defense is just too good, especially at home, to not keep the Cardinals in it. If this were in Seattle it would be a different story.

Denver (-3.5) over CINCINNATI

JC: Denver's running game should tip the scales against a secretly terrible Bengals run defense.

JP: I don't think Cincy's struggles up front on defense are a secret any more, nor is the brutally effective Denver ground game. Look for Peyton to take advantage by simply handing off to C.J. Anderson. 

Here Are The Picks We Don't (Home Teams Still In CAPS)

JC: PITTSBURGH (-3) over Kansas City

I'd bet a large sum of money that this line ends up pushing. But I'll take the Steelers because they have a win over a team that isn't the Raiders in the last four weeks.

JP: Kansas City (+3) over PITTSBURGH

This is partially me putting the jinx on (I'm a Steelers fan and, seemingly, whenever I bet against them, they win), but I also just can't bring myself to trust Pittsburgh on a week-to-week basis. This should be a close one between teams fighting for a playoff spot, so I'll take the points.

JC: Minnesota (+6.5) over MIAMI

The wheels might be off for Miami, too. Their only win in the last month was over the Jets.

JP: MIAMI (-6.5) over Minnesota

To be fair to the Dolphins, their other three games the last month were against Denver, New England and Baltimore. True, they didn't show particularly well in the last two, but I'm actually going to this game, and I'd love to watch the Dolphins win by a touchdown or more. So, for that reason, I can't bet against it and cloud my rooting interests.

JC: CAROLINA (-4) over Cleveland

If you actually gamble on this game, you need to start going to meetings. You have a problem.

JP: Cleveland (+4) over CAROLINA

I mean, I get that Carolina has won two in a row, but they couldn't even cover a small spread against Tampa Bay last week, and Cam Newton is playing with injuries from an actual car injury. Vegas must hate Johnny Football with this line, but I'll take the Browns to at least keep it within a field goal.

JC: NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) over Atlanta

I think I'm 2-12 picking New Orleans' games so far this season. I've been incredibly wrong about them, pretty much all season. So I might as well go down with the ship.

JP: Atlanta (+6.5) over NEW ORLEANS

Well, if you're that bad picking Saints games then I guess I should disagree with you. That, and the fact that Atlanta should have Julio Jones back with the prospect of taking a season sweep of the Saints.

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 9-5-2
Season: 111-108-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 1-1-1
Season's Disagreements: 28-33-1

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 9-5-2
Season: 116-103-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 1-1-1
Season's Disagreements: 33-28-1

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