Friday, December 03, 2010

NFL Week 13 Picks: Welcome to The Red Zone...

The Red Zone.

We hear that, as sports fans, and we immediately think of two things.  The area between the 20 yard line and the end zone, and that delicious channel that keeps us up to the second on everything going on in the NFL on game day.  Two very good things.  But may I suggest adding a 3rd meaning?..

I say "the Red Zone" should be added to the lexicon to represent the area we all find ourselves in right now.  The precious few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas that have come to define the holiday season.  I mean, for all intents and purposes, this is "the Red Zone", isn't it?  Pressure is at a yearly high, the color read is everywhere, and the much like on the football field, this is a time where risk and reward tend to go hand in tinsel draped hand...

So in the midst of all this Red Zone madness, allow me to yet again offer you respite by taking a few items off of your already piled high holiday plate.  And while I won't pick up that gift you meant to get for your 3rd cousin with the weird eye, or throw together a fruit cake that you can take to your Christmas party, I will set you up with all the picks you'll need to get your holiday season started off right, and to make sure your "Red Zone" doesn't quickly turn into a "Ted Zone"...

Also, I know I've made promises in week's past to keep you up to snuff on the MLB off season and the latest in college hoops, and while I won't be coming with it this week, I still advise you keep on eye open.  It seems Theo Epstein and the Sox are still "kicking the tires" on a lot of free agents out there, and when he finally pulls the trigger I'll be there to throw in my 2-5 cents.  And as for the college hoops scene?  Well as I've said before, I think pre season and pre conference rankings are asinine, so while I've got my eyes keenly centered on the NCAA hardwood more nights than not, you won't be getting any of my pearls of wisdom on the topic for another 2-3 weeks.  If you're still hungry in the meantime, just check out what ESPN's Jay Bilas has to say.  He eerily echoes my thoughts, more often than not, and seeing as they pay him handsomely on a regular basis he actually has to provide thoughts and analysis in early December regardless of whether or not he thinks it makes sense (I'm betting he doesn't)...

So stay vigilent, my damies, and rest assured.  When Theo makes a move (and signing Varitek doesn't count!) and when Fab Melo actually starts to become...well...Fab, I'll be here to answer all your questions and to keep you in the know.  Until then, I guess we're just going to have to make dues with football.  And lucky for us, there happen to be a few decent games on this week...

Welcome, my friends, to the Ted Zone...I mean "Red Zone".  Enjoy...          

Week 13 Picks

Monday Night
New England Patriots (-3.5) vs New York Jets

Before I give you logic behind this one (as if I need any to pick against the Jets!), let's just get 2 things straight:

1) IS this the biggest game of the 2010 season to date? Of course it is.

2) Will this become the highest rated football game in TV history? Of course it will.

3) Does this game represent a "must win" for either the Pats or the Jets? Of course it doesn't.

Yeah, that's right.  If the Patriots lose, they can still get the #1 seed in the AFC, and same goes for the Jets.  Will it be harder for whoever loses?  Of course it will.  But with each team having 4 games left after this one, and this being, I don't know, the freaking NFL where everything can AND tends to freaking happen, tagging this game as some sort of "end all be all" is just adding more hype to an event that definitely doesn't need it...

Look.  Both teams are 9-2.  They're in the same Conference, and they're in the same Division.  Oh, and they happen to be fierce geographical rivals.  Shouldn't that be enough?  And hey, I'm not stupid, I get that this is partly a media creation that feeds into the most passionate part of the fan mentality.  I'm just more or less warning you against thinking this game means more than it does.  Again, will the winner have a big leg up?  Of course they will, that's obvious.  But will they be handed the AFC East crown and a #1 seed?  No, no they most definitely won't.  So let's make sure to recognize this thing for what it really is.  Which, by the way, should be freakin' plenty...

As for the game itself, these two teams fit so well into potentially exciting formula that it has me moist in the midsection just thinking about it...

Against good teams, as was evidenced as most recently as against the Colts, New England has shown that their defense has the ability to make stops, just not really in the 2nd half.  Well, not until really, really late in the 2nd half.  The Jets, on the other hand, they've been making a living lately on 4th quarter comebacks.  You see where that's taking us?  Huh?  Do ya?..

New England will jump out to a 10-14 point lead fairly early on, until the Jets claw back.  The game will then turn into a bona fide shootout in the 2nd half, with Tom Brady will eventually walking off the field victorious after a game winning 4th quarter drive.  Complete with a game winning touchdown screen pass to the man in the middle of it all, Mr. Dan E. Woodhead.  FINAL SCORE: Patriots 34 Jets 30    

I figure I might as well put my prediction right on the #, since Vegas is always right, and might as well make it a Top 5 MNF game of ALL TIME while I was at it.  Mission accomplished, if you ask me, now let's go beat the GOD DAMN JETS!

St. Louis Rams (-3) @ Arizona Cardinals

Quick note to Arizona QB Derek Anderson:

If they have you on camera laughing, telling the press you weren't laughing isn't really such a hot idea.  But whatever, man, your team is so gross your meltdown was only news for about 14 seconds.  Matter of fact, I bet the Derek Anderson that used to play for Kentucky and in the NBA is still more popular on Google than you are.  Lord knows you're both thousands of hits behind Matt Leinhart, but last time I checked it's not a good thing that you're a well known man-whore...

Oh, and is anyone else shadily rooting for the Rams to make the Super Bowl?  I know I am (LOCK IT UP), and when I figure out exactly why, I'll be sure to let you know...

New Orleans Saints (-6.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals

I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that whenever the Saints play, and I pick their game, I'm going to visualize their match up by providing my audience with a picture of the curvacious Ms. Kimberly Kardashian. Mostly because the Reggie Bush connection, and mostly just because..well...why the Hell not?  I know there are hotter chicks out there, but she actually represents a spec of relevance when it comes to any game the Saints are playing in (at least to me), and I like to utilize what I deem as "sexy relevance" any and EVERY time I possibly can.  And Hell, in this picture she's even playing with a freaking football!  For her to have any more "sexy relevance"  she'd have to be licking Drew Brees' mole while getting tickling the Ivory and getting a Meach Around.  Now there's a sex tape!  Take that Brandy's son!...

Again, that's more about the picture than the game, but I do love the Saints in this one.  Lock 'em up, actually, as my 2nd LOCK OF THE WEEK.  That thing is strugg-fest 2K10, but I still have a few weeks to get it back in the realm of respectability.  This smokeshow should be helpful in that department.  That's right, I said smokeshow...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) vs Atlanta Falcons

You know how I know I'm not racist?  I don't think Tampa Bay coach, Raheem Morris, looks like he should be trying to stop me while I'm shopping at the mall and sell me a Virgin Mobile telephone plan.  I always though that about Pittsburgh head coach, Mike Tomlin, that he looked like a mall cell phone slanger.  But now that I've seen Morris, who more or less has the same physical make up and sideline demeanor (note: they don't ALL look alike), and I don't think that he looks like he should be cutting me off before I go into CVS to try and buy some pink 2 way texting phone, well, that's how I know I'm not racist.  And that, my friends, helps me sleep at night.  Not sure what it is about Tomlin, either.  I think it's that he always looks like he's checking a beeper, just like those fools at the mall.  Which is weird, because why would they be checking a beeper if they were working at a cell phone kiosk?  Yeah, that's probably why nobody ever stops to buy anything...

Another big game here, though, and with these two having met so recently, I'll give the edge to the non cell phone slanger and the home team.  I don't buy that Atlanta is elite, and while a loss here wouldn't prove that, it wouldn't exactly hurt my case, either...

Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5) vs Denver Broncos

Is there anything more pimp in the NFL these days than watching Dwayne Bowe take "a bow" after each touchdown? It's the coolest thing going.  And sure, I might be a little biased because my trading for him has helped propel my fantasy team to 9-3 and a playoff spot, but I still think in the age of the No Fun League, it's gotta be the best celebration there is.  I mean, think about it.  There are sports handicappers and radio personalities that would kill for a signature like that!  Why do you think they all change their names to "Steele" and "Locke"?  A guy whose name just so happens to go hand in hand with a signature move that's a perfect combination of brash and class?  Again, it just doesn't get any better than that...

As for the big spread in this one, just like the ATL/TB game, this one's all about revenge.  And in this case, the team seeking it, KC, has even more than the necessary motivation.  Yeah, because when division rivals run up the score on you, it doesn't tend to go over all that well.  This just in...

San Diego Chargers (-13) vs Oakland Raiders

To be honest, the Charges owe he here.  They'd covered in 12 straight @ Oakland before I picked them earlier this year, so gaudy spread or not they freakin' owe me.  You want a revenge game?  I'm gettin' my revenge right here, baby...

And on a side note, you can officially label me as a guy that's come around on Philip Rivers.  Granted it took him getting a lot of the "punk bitch" out of his system, but he seems to have done that and has now taken his place as one of the top QB's in the game.  And not just statistically, either.  Like I said, since he's stopped doing all those things that made him look like a whiny bitch, he's seemingly focused his passion, and been able to take his game to the next level.  We're talking "elite" here kids.  Like side by side with Aaron Rodgers, ready to take his place amongst the greats...

...and you know what, at the rate San Diego is going, he might not have to wait that long...

Pittsburgh Steelers (+3) @ Baltimore Ravens + UNDER 36.5

I read an article this week in which two columnists argued which was the bigger rivalry.  Ravens/Steelers OR Patriots/Jets?  I happen to think Pats/Steelers trumps them all, but as divisional rivalries go, those are undoubtedly the best the AFC has to offer.  Maybe even the entire NFL.  And while Jets fans might not agree, the savvy New England fan would tell you that when it comes to the last 10 years, there's no better divisional rivalry than the Steelers and the Ravens.  This year should be no exception...

Many people are looking at this game as a prime time for the Ravens, being at home with a chance to sweep the Steelers on the year, but I disagree, mainly for the reason I just discussed.  It's a rivalry.  Jets beat the Pats earlier this year, now the Pats are gonna get even.  Same thing here.  Sure, The Steelers might be on the road,  but in games like this that shouldn't even matter.  I know home field is important, but when the familiarity is so high, it almost seems to become less of a component...

Also, much like the Falcons, I'm having trouble believing that the Ravens are actually as good as a lot of people think they are.  OR heck, even as good as their record suggests.  This should serve as a good test to that, but I just like Pittsburgh, and their 5-1 road mark, to come out on top...

...and don't worry.  I'll page Mike Tomlin, let him know I picked his boys to win...      

Now feast your eyes on the rest of this week's slate, including shady covers by the 49ers +Tedskins, and a shootout in Indy, as the Colts try to salvage their season.  Oh and even though you only got 5 picks from me on Thanksgiving, you're just gonna have to go ahead and trust me that I went 9-5 the rest of the way.  Because, ya know, I did.  Sorry you couldn't benefit, but dems da breaks!...

Minnesota Vikings (-6) vs Buffalo Bills + OVER 44.5

Jacksonville Jaguars (pick) @ Tennessee Titans

Chicago Bears (-3.5) @ Detroit Lions

San Fransisco 49ers (+10) @ Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins (-4.5) vs Cleveland Browns

Washington Redskins (+7) @ New York Giants

Indianapolis Colts (-5.5) vs Dallas Cowboys + OVER 47

Seattle Seahawks (-6) vs Carolina Panthers

Last Week: 13-6-0 (Top Picks: 4-1-0)

Top Picks: 47-40-3 (.529)

Overall: 99-76-4 (.564)

LOCK OF THE WEEK: 7-8-0 (.467)

It's a big weekend on the college gridiron, with Conference Championships abound and BC bids at stake.  And seeing as the slate is so limited, I took the liberty of throwing in a few extra games for your gambling pleasure, as well.  Just be forewarned.  Give the Ole Ball Coach enough time to prepare, and he can be tough to beat.  I don't think he ends Cam Newton's Wild Ride, but I say he makes it close enough to make 'em all sweat and cover that #.  Let's just say the words "yee" and "haw" will be frequently used in succession before all things are said and done in that one, but that Big Fig and the Boys will live to fight another day...

NCAA Top 25 Picks
(1) Oregon (-16.5) @ Oregon St.

(18) South Carolina (+4.5) vs (2) Auburn (Atlanta, GA)

(10) Oklahoma (-3.5) vs (13) Nebraska  (Arlington, TX)

Utah St. (+39.5) vs (11) Boise St.

(20) Florida St. (+4) vs (12) Virginia Tech (Charlotte, NC)

Miami (OH) (+17.5) vs (25) Northern Illinois (Detroit, MI)

UCLA (+6.5) vs USC

Fresno St. (+5.5) vs Illinois

Washington St. (+7.5) vs Washington

South Florida (-1.5) vs UCONN

Pittsburgh (+2) @ Cincinnati

Last Week: 5-7-0

Overall: 82-64-4 (.560)

So there you have it, my friends.  I've given you what it takes to get you movin' through the Red Zone, and now the rest is up to you.  Try not to hurt yourselves out there this weekend in the holiday rush so you can actually make it to Monday night, and then make sure to survive that, too.  Oh and I'll be giving a good hard look at the atmosphere @ Gillette on Monday Night.  People talk about the mettle and temperament of Patriot fans?  Well it'll get it's best test on Monday Night.  Here's to hopin' that Razor's A Rockin' when the Jets come a knockin'...

Be good, friends...

Teddy Williams...



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