Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NFL 2009: Week 16 Picks

"Heart-Breaker"

That defines the ending to the Packers- Steelers game last Sunday. The Steelers, although having only an outside shot at making the playoffs, played with a lot of pride. They managed to make some big-plays on offense, building up a 10 point lead (24-14) in the 3rd quarter.

Taking nothing away from the Steelers offense, that clearly had the number of hte Packers defense for most of the game , another reason for their pulling away from the Packers were the numerous drops by Packers receivers, tight ends and running backs, which stalled drives for the Packers offense. But that changed in the second half, when they started making those catches and Rodgers ended the game with a streak of 10+ consecutive completed passes. The Packers offense in the second half was really efficient, just as McCarthy envisioned it to be. The decision by Tomlin to on-side kick when they had the lead is a testament to how the Packers were methodically moving the ball in the second half. This could be another moment in Aaron Rodgers short career that proves to him and his team that he belongs to the big stage and deserves the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Although, the Packers lost this game, it was a remarkable comeback to get into a position to make the Steelers drive about 80 yards in 2 minutes to win the game.

All that lead to the Packers build a 36-30 lead with about 2 minutes left in the half. The Steelers needed a last TD scoring drive to win the game. Also, it was 4 down territory for the Steelers. This is when the clutch decision making of Big Ben hurt the Packers along with the inexperience of the rookie Underwood, who has been getting a lot of playing time since the injury of Al Harris. A penalty on Chillar that negated an INT by Underwood did not help the Packer's cause either. While, one might question the conservative play-calling by Dom Capers in this last Pitt drive, I do not think that was a problem as the Packers were a couple of missed INTs (balls that hit the hands of Packers defenders, but which they could not hold on to) away from sealing that game. Also that last TD throw to Wallace from Ben could not have been more accurate than was executed. Would a little more pressure on Big Ben have helped? Yes, of course, but I do not think we can fault Capers for trusting his team's coverage skills. I do believe that he should trust his LB group more than he does in such critical situations.

Not to mention how much a missed FG by Mason Crosby in the first half, if converted, could have affected the outcome of this game!

Playoff scenario

A quick check on the Packers (9-5) playoff chances after last week's gut wrenching loss to the Steelers:

Week 16: Seahawks
Week 17: at Cardinals

The other teams in the playoff push will be the Giants(8-6), the Cowboys (9-5) and although hard to believe, the Eagles (10-4). Although the Eagles have a one game lead over the Cowboys and the Packers, they still have to play Dallas in Week 17. If Dallas wins that, assuming they beat Washington this week, they might have the tie-break for the NFC East division over the Eagles. So the Eagles enter the wild card fight, in that scenario.

All this makes it imperative that the Packers win both their remaining games to have control of their own destiny. Obviously, if they lose both they are most probably out of the race. Even if they win only one, they will need help with a Dallas or Giants loss. The Packers have a tie-break advantage over Dallas, but they may not enjoy that advantage over the Eagles or the Giants (a tie-breaker with them will come down to Conference record or common games and then to strength of schedule).

From my short analysis of the situation, if the Packers do not win both their games, their season will boil down to 2 games in Week 17: Eagles at Dallas and Giants at Vikings. If either of Dallas or the Giants lose here, the Packers will make it to the playoffs with 10 wins. The caveat here is that Vikings may not play hard, resting their starters for most of the game, giving the Giants a good chance of winning. And Dallas, is hot after beating the Saints, and should handily beat the Redskins this week. Plus the Eagles game is in Jan (not Dec ....darn it!!).

Here's to hoping the Packers can win both their games and control their own destiny to crash the playoff party!

Week 16 Picks:

Chargers (+3) at Titans
Hard to believe the Chargers are 3 point underdogs. Maybe because Vegas thinks the Chargers have pretty much sealed the No.2 seed in the AFC and will not play hard. I still like the Chargers to fight hard and beat the Titans.
My Pick: Chargers

Seahawks (+14) at Packers
Packers need to take care of business here, if they want to be on track for a playoff spot. Also, they would like to give Mason Cosby a few FG chances to boost his confidence which has take na big hit the last few weeks.
My Pick: Packers

Raiders (+3) at Browns
The Raiders after upsetting Denver, are going to start Charlie Frye again. The Browns have Brady Quinn on IR and will start Derek Anderson. If the Raiders can hold off the Browns from running all over them, which the Raiders D is very much capable of doing, they should be pull this one off on the road.
My Pick: Raiders

Chiefs (+13) at Bengals
The Bengals should be able to take care of this at home. But I think KC will cover the spread on this one.
My Pick: Bengals

Bills (+9) at Atlanta
Atlanta has already been eliminated from the playoff race. But they should have enough motivation in them to beat the struggling Bills, even if Turner does not play.
My Pick: Atlanta

Texans (+3) at Miami
The Texans are supposed to have a very good offense, but they struggled to score against the Rams last week, managing to squeak out an ugly win. The Fins are going to have a better defense and the Texans might be hard-pressed to score against them too. Not to mention the fast growth of Chad Henne for the Dolphin
My Pick: Miami

Panthers (+7) at Giants
The Giants are riding a hot wave now. The Panthers offense will not have enough fire power to exploit the Giants secondary. They will just run DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart a ton at the Giants D line. Will be interesting to see how the Giants handle the Panthers defense that tormented Brett Favre last week.
My Pick: Giants

Bucs (+14) at Saints
The Saints are no longer undefeated. But they should be able to handle TB this week.
My Pick: Saints

Jaguars (+8) at Patriots
Home game for the Patriots! Expect them to all but eliminate the Jags from the playoffs.
My Pick: Patriots

Ravens (+3) at Steelers
The Steelers still have a lot of pride left in them, as they showed against the Packers. But can they keep that same level of emotion this week against the Ravens? Expect Micheal Oher to protect the "blind side" of Flacco, while the second-year QB rips apart the Steelers secondary (could not resist not using the Hollywood reference here).
My Pick: Ravens (will definitely cover the 3 points)

Broncos (+7) at Eagles
The Broncos will be playing for their playoff lives this week. Too bad for them the Eagles are red-hot at the moment. Add to that Brian Westbrook is expected to return this week.
My Pick: Eagles

Rams (+14) at Cardinals
The Cardinals are not going to rest their starters this week. But I would expect the Rams to cover the spread.
My Pick: Cardinals

Lions (+12.5) at 49ers
Little known fact: The niners, although out of the playoffs, have never been favored by double digit margin since 2003!! The Lions showed a lot of heart against the Cardinals last week. But with Drew Stanton starting for them, I do not expect them to show up.
My Pick: 49ers

Jets (+5.5) at Colts
The Colts may not play their starters the whole game. Not because they want to rest them, but because the game might be out of Jet's reach real soon.
My Pick: Colts

Cowboys (-6.5) at Redskins
The Redskins may not be able to get over last week's humiliating showing against the Giants. While the Cowboys are soaring after upsetting the Saints last week.
My Pick: Cowboys

Vikings (-7) at Bears
There has been a lot of coverage (in fact, too much coverage) about the rift between Childress and Favre. As much as people want to make a big deal out of it, they are going to kiss and make up and things will be normal between them before you even realize. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see if Favre can get back to playing like he did earlier in the season, or will the rest of this year be like the last few weeks for the vikings. This week though, they have the 12th man to help them: Jay Cutler, who is still getting used to spotting the color of his team's Jersey since he was traded to Chicago.
My Pick: Vikings

Record
Last Week: 9-6
Year to date: 157-66

3 comments:

  1. I am sorry but you are crazy for taking the Bills to cover.. the rest of the picks I LOVE, but the Bills are goign to get slaughtered..

    there 3rd string QB is playing and he joined the team just weeks ago... how can he be comfortable and have the offence down pat... HE CANT!!!

    check out what else theCoach thinks @ http://www.lionsdenu.com/category/sports/nfl-guide-2009-2010/

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  2. Do you want more interesting?
    The Dallas Cowboys will try and avoid a letdown on Sunday night football as they face the Washington Redskins at 8:20pm EST on NBC. The Cowboys are coming off their biggest win of the season last week as they handed the New Orleans Saints their first loss of the season 24-17 as 7.5-point underdogs in NFL Draft football betting. Now the Cowboys face the Redskins who are coming off their worst performance of the season as they were blown out by the New York Giants 45-12. Dallas is a 6.5-point NFL Draft betting favorite in Sunday night football odds with a total of 42 at online sportsbooks. The Cowboys actually can win the NFC East if they win against Washington on Sunday and then the following week against Philadelphia. The key on Sunday will be avoiding a letdown.
    Merry Christmas!And have a good time!

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  3. The NFL Draft is creating a partnership with researchers at Boston University who are studying the long-term effects of brain injuries on players, the Associated Press reported. “It’s huge that the NFL Draftactively gets behind this research,” Robert Cantu, the co-director of the school’s research program, told the AP. “It forwards the research. It allows players to realize the NFL Draft is concerned about the possibility that they could have this problem and that the NFL Draft is doing everything it can to find out about the risks and the preventive strategies that can be implemented.”
    Merry Christmas! And have a good time!

    ReplyDelete