Friday, December 10, 2010

NFL Week 14 Picks: Here Comes Theo Claus...

If I didn't know any better (and I don't), I'd be pretty freakin' sure that Theo Epstein was a regular visitor to  I mean, how else can you explain the sudden influx of top tier, free agent talent?  I call him out for his perceived lack of movement, and BAM!, he up and signs Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.  And sure , I guess you could point to the fact that it was because he was "at the Winter Meetings" OR that "this is the time of year that this stuff happens", but I'm choosing, per usual, to believe that I somehow had some sort of karmic and/or cosmic influence on the Red Sox latest signings...

But that's me, and I'm selfishly delusional when it comes to sports.  It's something I've been trying to work on as I advance in age, but believe me when I tell you it hasn't been easy.  Especially when I'm constantly bombarded with positive reinforcement such as this.  But like I said, that's my problem, and there's nothing about the latest news coming out of Boston that should prove even remotely problematic...

Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, baby.  It's been one Hell of a week...

And while I don't want to dwell on this news, and pick it apart right away, I will tell you that I'm officially beyond excited for the 2011 Major League Baseball season to start.  I mean, I would have been, anyway, but now I'm really pumped and more or less anxious.  IT's like a 1st day of school type deal, with Adrian and Carl serving as my new backpack and trapper keeper respectively.  These two players improve the Red Sox as much as any players possibly could, and believe me when I tell you their impact is going to go well beyond their numbers, and even beyond their play on the field...

Let me just put it this way.  I heard a fan say, in the wake of the Crawford signing, that "these moves make at least one of the Sox top pitchers a favorite for the Cy Young".  And you know what?  Not only do I agree with that statement, but I'm searching the Interweb as we speak to see if I can find pitching staff Cy Young odds so I can throw every penny I have on the Boston Red Sox.  That's the type of powerful and wide ranging impact I expect these two guys to have...

Yeah, it's gonna be epic.  SO epic, in fact, that I'm not even upset that these moves will throw a serious wrench in my Fantasy Baseball plans.  Then again, I'm sure I'll be able to say or do something in the meantime that could throw the cosmos back in my favor...

So good work, Mr. Epstein.  OR should I say, 'Theo Claus', and keep on keepin' on.  You make a lot of moves that I don't quite understand, but it's moves like these that serve as a constant reminder that there is indeed a method to your madness.  Which is always a good thing.  Even if sometimes your madness includes a gorilla suit and a guy named David Jonathan Drew...

Speaking of madness, it's getting down to it in the NFL, and with only a quarter of the season left to go, every play and every point becomes more and more magnified, and more and more significant.  So in an attempt to sort out the madness, and give you fine folks some extra holiday spending money, here are my picks for Week 14.  Enjoy...      

Week 14 Picks

New England Patriots (-3) @ Chicago Bears

I haven't yet had a chance to publicly react to the Pats thrashing of the Jets (unless you read my piece on, but let me tell you right off the bat that the win didn't excite me nearly as much as it seems it did everyone else...

Don't get me wrong, it was a huge win and an impressive performance, and during the game I was hootin' and hollerin' right along with everyone else.  But in it's aftermath, what did we really learn?  Well, we learned that when the Pats play a perfect game at home, and their visiting opponent plays like absolute ASS, then they're going to light it up it's dyn-a-mite.  Nothing wrong with that, it's just I'd like to see something more.  As I've been saying all week, I know it sounds dumb, but I would have rather the Jets played great and the Pats only beat them by 3-10.  At least then I'd have a good idea of how they're going to play in a playoff type atmosphere.  This week, they should get that chance...

On the road, against the 9-3 Bears, should prove every bit the test that the game against the Jets was supposed to be.  I know fans around here are to prone to chuckling when the names "Jay Cutler" and "Mike Martz" enter a conversation, but that doesn't make this team any less dangerous.  Add in the fact that the Pats are coming off a short week after playing on Monday Night, and that's all the more reason that this team and this game should not be overlooked...

Lucky for we Patriot fans, I don't think any of that is going to end up being an issue.  I know Bill Belichick has  spent all week, as is his want, polishing Martz's knob and making the Bears sound like the best team ever, but that still shouldn't take away from the fact that not only is New England the better team in this match up, but they're the ones that come in playing the better brand of football.  Even if they're only one game better than the Bears at 10-2...

Expect Tom Brady to continue his trend toward the Patriot offense of old, where he compliments the run game with short passes and spreads the ball around to his cache of weapons.  (Something, I might add, that he's been able to do so effectively this year due to the stellar play from the offensive line.)  That should keep the Bears off balance, and hopefully playing catch up right from the word go.  And we all know that's exactly the position you want Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense to be in.  You want them to have to pass the ball to beat you...

Problem for the Bears is, they most likely won't be able to.  Not because the Patriot defense is so prolific (though it has drastically improved), but because unlike Mike Martz offenses of the past, this Chicago team just isn't built that way.  This one should follow more to the script I provided last week, I just wouldn't expect quite as much scoring.  Pats run out to a big lead, then hold on in the 2nd half to win comfortably enough  that while you may fear them not covering the spread, you'll never be questioning whether or not they're going to win the game...

Patriots 30 Bears 24.  Bears get a late TD, but can't get the onsides kick, and the Pats become the 1st team in the NFL to nail down a playoff spot.  Matter of fact, I'm so confident in this one that I'm gonna return to form here and once again name the Patriots as my LOCK OF THE WEEK.  It's been the kiss of death around here, this season, but hopefully a playoff clinching road win will be just what the good doctor ordered...    

Green Bay Packers (-6.5) @ Detroit Lions + OVER 46.5

Much like the Patriots, the Packers are another team that's playing well at the right time of year.  Something I figure they'll continue doing this week when they visit Detroit.  And since I figure this one to be more or less a blowout, taking the OVER seems to be a good play here as well.  I figure either Green Bay runs out to a big lead, and Detroit scores enough there to get the back door cover, or it's a shady shootout where in the end Aaron Rodgers and the Packer offense prove too much for Detroit to handle.  That's why I like both the 6.5 and the OVER so much.  Any time you can picture a certain result coming for a number of different reasons, it's usually a good thing...

Then again, I probably just guaranteed that this thing will end 13-10, or some shit.  And if it does, maybe you'll be drinkin' the "Rooch unintentionally runs the sports world" Kool Aid, too.  Hopefully it won't come to that, but if it does, I have to warn you.  That Kool Aid may be delicious, but I'm fairly confident it's laced with something.  And by "laced", I mean the main ingredient is drain cleaner.  Hey, I figured if it works for Meth cooks, who am I to question it, right?  Right...

St. Louis Rams (+9) @ New Orleans Saints

The Saints offense does seem to be clicking right now, but that hasn't exactly equaled blow out wins as it did a year ago.  Combine that with the fact that I've had great luck picking the Rams as underdogs this year, and that more or less made up my mind to take ST. Louis and the healthy 9 point spread.  And while they're both probably going to win the awards respectively anyway,  an upset win here would all but nail down Coach and Offensive Rookie of the Year for Spagnuolo and Bradford...

New York Jets (-5.5) vs Miami Dolphins

Much like the Patriots, we'll know more what to make of that 45-3 outcome on Monday Night after the Jets and Dolphins do battle this week @ the new Meadowlands...

If the Jets bounce back, and I suspect they will, the Pats came may come to serve as a reference to a turning point of sorts in New York's season.  If they don't bounce back, and by that I mean they don't convincingly beat Miami, then the MNF game will still serve as a reference point, just not one that will ever be looked upon with joyous reflection.  Matter of fact, it's quite possible that we'll one day point to that game as the beginning of the end for Rex Ryan.  Where his 'ra-ra' style finally ran it's course.  I don't think we're quite there yet, hence why I'm not picking the Dolphins, but I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I still expect that to happen.  Just not this year, and definitely not this week...

Cleveland Browns (+1) @ Buffalo Bills (AKA the 'Remember When People in Our Town Had Jobs Bowl')

Maybe it's because they killed the Patriots, or because Peyton Hillis has been such a source of Fantasy intrigue, but it seems that week after week the odds makers give the Browns much less respect than they deserve.  I mean, I know they're only 5-7 and 2-4 on the road, but to list a team that's in seemingly EVERY game and riding a 2 game winning streak as a 1 point underdog against the 2-10 Buffalo Bills just doesn't seem to make a ton of sense to me.  And while I've taught you all in the past that a good secret to picking games is to always pick the opposite of what you think when you think the line looks a little weird, I'm choosing to throw caution to the wind and go with Hillis and the Browns...

The real question here should be; Whose fans are more miserable?  That would probably be a straight up "pick 'em", and I'm tellin' you right now I'd have to think long and hard before coming out with a winner in that Tedfest...

Dallas Cowboys (+3.5) vs Philadelphia Eagles + OVER 50.5

While I wouldn't go so far as to peg me as a guy who thought Jason Garrett would fail as head coach in Dallas, I've still be pleasantly surprised at his success.  Then again, I'm not going to go nuts over the performance of a guy that's essentially got nothing to lose...

That all being said, the fact that this team hasn't given up on it's season, despite all the issues they've had, has been pretty damn impressive.  I know they're professionals and whatnot, but it's still refreshing to see when so often it's not the case.  That's why I like their chances this weekend at home and on Sunday night against Mike Vick and division rival Eagles.  With Tashard Choice and Felix Jones finally providing a viable running game, and Jon Kitna proving to be a pretty effective game manager, they might not be playing at the Super Bowl level that many had them at before the season, but they've definitely been in the top 1/4 of the league since they cut ties with Wade Phillipps...

That's why I'm choosing to roll with them against the Eagles.  Neither team is "great" right now, so with the Cowboys at home and in prime time, I'm giving them the edge in what I predict will be more or less a shootout.  And while I know that "shootout in prime time" strategy has exactly been fruitful for me in the past, I see a real track meet in this one that could have that OVER/UNDER being tested at halftime...

"Let Dandy Don take the throw, Hank"
Oh, and you also have to love Dallas at home for the 1st time since the passing of former QB and Monday Night Football icon, "Dandy" Don Meredith.  The guy was on King of the Hill, for Christ's sake.  He was a Texas institution!  IF they don't win this sucker for him, well then that would just be downright un-Texas of them.  And we all know there's no motivation better than team pride, no matter how intangible, to but an underdog over the top in a big game...

Then again, Mike Vick's all about puttin' dogs "under", so this one could get real tricky if you read to much into it.  Which I'll conveniently avoid doing by moving on to the rest of this week's picks...

No college games on the slate this week, so instead of saucy coeds dressed in their Saturday sexiest, you'll have to settle for the silicon laden professionals.  Not that I don't like implants.  Hey, boobs are boobs.  It's just that when it's the college girls wearing the barely there team gear, it just seems to be a lot sexier.  Maybe it's the statutory-esque taboo attached, I'm not sure.../I'm sure, and that's exactly what it is...

Enjoy, my damies...

New York Giants (-1.5) @ Minnesota Vikings

Cincinnati Bengals (+9.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1) @ Washington Redskins

Atlanta Falcons (-7) @ Carolina Panthers

San Diego Chargers (-7) vs Kansas City Chiefs

Jacksonville Jaguars (-4) vs Oakland Raiders

San Fransisco 49ers (-4.5) vs Seattle Seahawks

Arizona Cardinals (+5.5) vs Denver Broncos

Monday Night

Baltimore Ravens (-3) @ Houston Texans

Rounding out the action on Monday Night, we have the Baltimore Ravens.  Or as I like to call them, the AFC's Atlanta Falcons.  I say that, because all I hear about is how complete and dangerous these teams are, yet I've never really seen it on the field.  And trust me, it's not due to not having seen them play...

So, while I'm leery of the fact that the (5-7) Texans might be treating this as their "last chance" to salvage their season, I'm more inclined to believe that this will be the showcase Baltimore's been waiting for to show the rest of the league just how good they are.  Besides, Houston's been a mess lately, losing 5 of their last 6, so there's no reason to think that just because it's Monday Night Football they'll be able to turn it all around.  Granted, stranger things have happened; like 340 pound Haloti Ngata (above) somehow getting in position to run with the bean.  I just don't see them happening this Monday Night in Houston...

Last Week: 10-8-0 (Top Picks: 4-4-0)

Top Picks: 52-44-3 (.540)

Overall: 111-84-4 (.568)

LOCK OF THE WEEK: 9-9-0 (.500)

There you have it, friends.  Christmas came early for Red Sox fans this week, and I hope that by heeding my advice, you too will get a little somethin' extra in your stocking this week just for good measure...

Ho Ho Ho, my pimply wimplys.  And have a great weekend...

Teddy Williams...



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