Revisiting Conclusions Previously Jumped To: Week 13 NFL Picks
Update: Saints-Lions has been flexed into the Sunday Night spot. Thanks to Eric for the tip.
The two people who read this column may recall that back in Week 2 (seems so long ago) we busted out the old Jump to Conclusions Mat and proceeded to jump away. Let’s go ahead and take a look at how those fearless predictions have fared (hint: poorly)
1. The Indianapolis Colts will finish last in the AFC South: Well we’re 1 for 1 so far, though to be fair, anyone who watched the Colts in Week 1 could have reached this same conclusion. Indianapolis will be starting its third quarterback of the season this Sunday night: former UCONN great Dan Orlovsky. You may remember Orlovsky from that time he sealed the 2009 Lions’ 0-16 season by running out of the back of his own endzone. The moral of the story is this; if you want to absolutely ensure that your team finishes 0-16, start Dan Orlovsky. I can’t wait for Andrew Luck to Elway the Colts and their fat-tard fans.
2. The Redskins will be one of the six worst defenses in the NFL: Washington places tenth in Football Outsiders’ defensive efficiency rankings, and the Redskins pass the eye test as well, so I’ll admit I was wrong here. What’s held the Redskins back from being a contender is their terrible offense (27th via Football Outsiders). Who knew that going into a season with Rex Grossman and John Beck as your quarterbacks was a bad idea?
3. The Detroit Lions will finish second in the NFC North and grab a wild card spot: The Lions have been very good, thanks largely to a ferocious defense, however they haven’t played very well since a loss to Atlanta in Week 7 and that defense figures to be de-clawed with Ndamukong Suh being suspended for two games. The Lions still have a chance to pass the Bears and take a wild card spot with Jay Cutler sitting with a broken thumb, but with a game this week in New Orleans and a visit to Green Bay still on the schedule it doesn’t seem likely.
4. The Denver Bronco’s Starting QB in 2012 will be Andrew Luck: Tebow magic as well as the Colt’s historic suckitude have ensured that this won’t be coming true. Enjoy another year or two of mediocrity Denver.
5. Todd Haley will be the first coach fired in 2011: Nope. That award goes to Jack Del Rio. It’s still unlikely that Haley is the Chief’s coach next season, but he should get to play out the last five games. Picks after the jump, co-written with Ryan:
Week 12: 6-9-1
Week 12: 7-8-1
Tennessee @ Buffalo (-1.5)
Asif: Tennessee is still two games in back of Houston and figures to be a long shot to make the playoffs unless TJ Yates is awful enough to offset the effectiveness of Houston’s rushing attack. That said, the Titans are perfectly capable of making the AFC South interesting especially now that Chris Johnson looks like he’s decided to try again.
Lost in all the self-righteous indignation from TV and print blowhards about Stevie Johnson’s Plaxico mocking and how it cost the Bills dearly (Dave Rayner’s coinciding ground ball kick-off cost them much more than the 15-yard excessive celebration but facts don’t matter when individuality must be stifled) was the fact that PLAXICO DESERVES TO BE MOCKED AT ALL TIMES. I know, I know, he served his debt to society (and was given a completely disproportionate sentence for his crime), but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s an idiot. HE SHOT HIMSELF IN THE FOOT WITH AN UNREGISTERED WEAPON! What’s that? No I’m not at all bitter about how the 2008 season turned out for the Giants. What could possibly give you that idea?
After watching the Bills last week I don’t think there’s anyway they’re pulling this one out. Titans cover.
Kansas City @ Chicago (-7.5)
Ryan: The Chiefs have determined that Kyle Orton isn’t quite ready to start yet and are going with Tyler Palko. This is excellent news for Bears fans.
Prior to last week’s game, Brian Urlacher suggested that the Bears try out the Tebow offense with Caleb Hanie, a mobile quarterback, but Lovie Smith did not abide. If any team in the league is suited to replicate what the Broncos have been doing, it’s the Bears. With their strong defense and running game, they could keep the game close, control the clock, tire out the opposing defense, and unleash the option in the fourth quarter when the other team’s defensive line is gassed from a healthy dose of Matt Forte. I doubt they will do it because it would make Mike Martz feel like less of a genius. Either way, the Chiefs are dreadful. Bears cover.
Asif: The Chiefs are awful, but I’m not convinced that the Bears are that much better when led by Caleb Hanie. For the record, I don’t think that there’s any chance that Chicago loses this game, but there’s definite spoiler potential here especially considering how close the Chiefs played the Steelers last week. Kansas City covers.
Oakland @ Miami (-3)
Ryan: Annnnnd we’ve reached the point where the Dolphins have transitioned from undervalued to straddling the line between fair value and overvalue. They’ve been particularly feisty for the past six weeks but I think this is where their cover streak ends.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but the Raiders are actually pretty solid. They should get Darren McFadden back this week which will make them even better. The Raiders absolutely need this game to stay ahead of the Broncos in the shockingly exciting AFC West race and I think they pull it out. Raiders cover.
Asif: The Raiders are in the pole position for the AFC West title, meaning we’ll all be subjected to Raiders fans in January, as well as writers and TV commentators reflecting on the greatness of Al Davis. This, more than anything, is proof that there is no higher power in the universe and that the world is an evil place full of pain and misery. I wouldn’t go as far to call the AFC West exciting–it’s more in the category of awful–but I can’t look away. Raiders cover.
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh (-6.5)
Ryan: The Bengals are reaching the same point as the Dolphins, which is to say everyone has now caught on that they were undervalued which has made them now fairly valued at best and possibly slightly overvalued. Value, value, value, value, value, value.
The Steelers were way too close for comfort last week against the Chiefs and I can’t say I blame them for not getting all hyped up to go to battle against Tyler Palko. They were disappointing enough, though, that Mike Tomlin should have them sufficiently motivated for this game. Steelers cover.
Asif: As much as it would pain the fan bases of both teams to admit this, the Steelers are a lot like the Ravens in the sense that they play dirty and inexplicably dog it against weak competition. I’m going with a young Bengals offense over an old Steelers defense. Cincy covers.
Baltimore (-6.5) @ Cleveland
Ryan: We will know by the end of the first quarter whether or not the Ravens will cover this spread–at this point we should know whether we will be seeing the good Ravens or the bad Ravens. Very little of it has to do with the Browns. If the bad Ravens show up this week, it will be infuriating because we saw how brilliantly they are capable of playing against the 49ers.
The Ravens played on Thanksgiving, which means that they are coming off a mini-bye for this game. I think 10 days should be sufficient to prepare for Colt McCoy. Ravens cover.
Asif: I can’t imagine how depressing it must be to root for the Browns. Even when they were up on the Bengals last week, you knew that it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped and Cincinnati took the lead. Given the level of competition here and the fact that they’ve won two games in a row, I fully expect Baltimore to dog it here. The thing is, the Browns suck so bad it shouldn’t matter. See? Depressing. Ravens cover.
NY Jets (-3) @ Washington
Ryan: So far, I’m 0-2 in my pick-blindly-against-the-Redskins decision. Rex Grossman is MUCH better than John Beck and anyone with eyes can see that. My friend Bauer, a die hard Bears fan, LOVES Grossman: “He is wildly entertaining. Usually awful, sometimes brilliant, NEVER boring!”
After two good ones, we’re due for one of his usually awful games now, right? Jets need this one and nobody beats up on sub-par quarterbacks like they do. Jets cover.
Asif: I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick Washington to cover. Why? Because the Jets would have lost last weekend if Dave Rayner hadn’t slipped on the kickoff following Stevie Johnson’s touchdown and subsequent taunting of Plaxico Burress. This is starting to look dangerously like the last two seasons, when the Jets slumped in the middle of the season, looked out of the playoff race, went on an improbable winning streak against sub-par competition/teams resting starters for the playoffs, won a few improbable playoff games and finally got pimp slapped by superior teams in the AFC Championship Game. We’ve seen this movie twice and it’s lost all its appeal, so I’m going to go ahead and predict that Sexy Rexy and the Redskins nip this business in the bud. I realize that I will likely regret this pick.
Atlanta (-2.5) @ Houston
Ryan: This line seems about two points too low considering that the Falcons have won five of six (only loss in overtime against the Saints who are VERY good) and the Texans need to integrate TJ Yates into the offense.
The Texans’ defense and rushing attack are great and will be enough to keep them in this game but not enough to win. Falcons cover.
Asif: I’d pick the Falcons even if Matt Leinart was still the Texans quarterback *pours out Natty Ice for one’s bro*. The fact that TJ Yates is starting and the Falcons appear to be hitting their stride makes this the easiest pick of the week. Atlanta covers.
Carolina @ Tampa Bay (-3.5)
Ryan: I have absolutely no sales resistance. Last night, some chubby kid was going door-to-door, selling fourth rate candy and cookies for some charity for $6.00 a box. I ended up buying a small box of generic thin mints because it was cold outside, he said he hadn’t sold any yet (I can’t imagine why…), and I admired his hustle. I of course regretted it immediately and will remember my weak backbone every time I stare at the box of cookies for the next six months because the cookies don’t even look like they are worth the calories. I hope the cause, the name of which now escapes me, is worthy. Tampa covers.
Asif: I looked at this match-up for a solid five minutes trying to think of a pithy comment. I’ve got nothing. This game bores me. Tampa covers, or something, I don’t care.
Detroit @ New Orleans (-8.5)
Ryan: I’m assuming that Donkey Kong Suh’s suspension will hold up and he won’t be playing. Not that it would make such a big difference because Drew Brees gets rid of the ball at an ungodly fast rate. It completely defies physics that his receivers are 12 yards down the field when he gets rid of the ball. Lions are in free fall, Saints are on the uptick. Saints cover.
Asif: Major blowout potential here. Saints cover.
Denver @ Minnesota (-1.5)
Ryan: Shouldn’t the Tebows be favored by at least a field goal in this game? How are they still undervalued? Just because their style is unconventional, doesn’t mean that their success has been illogical. Broncos cover.
Asif: Donovan McNabb just got waived. He was totally worth the sixth round pick it cost the Vikings to get him, if only because I drew immense joy from watching him waddle around and spike the ball at his receivers’ feet for five-and-a-half weeks. Next time I buy a McRib, I’ll think of you Donovan. Get it? Cause you’re fat.
This line is correct. I checked it twice. I have no idea why the Broncos are underdogs. But whatever, easy pick: Denver covers.
St. Louis @ San Francisco (-13)
Ryan: Potential letdown game for San Francisco after the tough loss to the Ravens. If I were on that team, I know that I would overlook the Rams. This isn’t to say that the 49ers will lose–they won’t–but I could see this being a game where the Rams somehow are in it or have a lead in the 3rd quarter before the 49ers buckle down.
That, and I’m tired of always taking the favorites in these huge spread games. Rams cover.
Asif: This line seems awful high unless you’ve actually seen St. Louis play football. They’re terrible. I wonder if Adrian Peterson looks at Steven Jackon’s career and realizes that it’s exactly what his own future will look like; wasting his prime on crappy teams. 49ers cover.
Dallas (-4.5) @ Arizona
Ryan: I had a stunning revelation last week during a political conversation/debate/argument between my father and grandfather at dinner the night before Thanksgiving. They were having some discussion about the nuances of ‘free enterprise’ and whether Obama believes in it and I was doing my best to stay out but got PULLED in. I don’t normally like to talk about politics on here because sports are way more interesting/important but in the course of being pressed for my opinions on this, I stumbled into an amazing discovery about the right wing media:
It is 100% in the economic best interest of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, and everyone else who makes a living saying the things that they do for Obama to win re-election. They are MUCH more profitable and relevant when they are in opposition to the current power and can blame the Obama bogeyman for anything that actually is wrong with the country or for stuff that they just make up. I’m pretty sure that they all know this, too. Considering that their political platform is based on selfish, heartless capitalism, is it so much of a stretch to think that it is their goal to produce a candidate so unpalatable to reasonable people that Obama wins and they get to keep complaining incessantly for the ensuing four years? Are they deliberately obstructing the party which THEY CONTROL from producing an opponent to Obama who is pragmatic, intelligent, and not a grandstanding demagogue? I don’t know, I’m just asking questions.
Mitt Romney is the only Republican candidate right now who has an ounce of national electability and he is the example of status quo politician that they rail so hard against. The Democrats suck but the Republicans suck more.
Sorry about that, I really hope I didn’t isolate any of my loyal readers–feel free to enlighten me via email or in the comments. And the Cowboys cover. (Asif: FWIW I tend to agree with Ryan, also I have no qualms about isolating anyone since I have no loyal readers)
Asif: Kevin Kolb is expected to start this game which makes no sense to me. JOHN SKELTON WINS FOOTBALL GAMES. The Cowboys probably shouldn’t have won against Miami on Thanksgiving, as the Dolphins got jobbed on a first quarter no-call when Terrence Newman mugged Brandon Marshall on what should have been a long passing play. That took at least a field goal off the board. Arizona covers.
Green Bay (-7) @ NY Giants
Ryan: What we saw in the second half of Giants-Saints on Monday night was the Giants QUITTING on Tom Coughlin. These two teams played Week 16 last season after the infamous Desean Jackson punt return for a touchdown and the Packers won 45-17 in a game that was less close than the score indicates. These two teams aren’t constructed too differently from back then. If anything, the Packers might be a little bit better (that is putting it conservatively–they haven’t lost since) and the Giants might be a little bit worse. I hope to hear Bang on the Drums at least five times at Will’s on Sunday. Packers cover.
Asif: Considering how poorly the Giants played last week against the Saints, this line seems really low. Although the Giants defense was terrible last week the real turning point of the game came in the first quarter when Eli Manning threw a pick in the endzone. Had the Giants scored there, the game could have had a completely different complexion as the Saints had just taken points off the board themselves with a failed fake field goal. After the pick, the Saints scored a TD and never looked back. The Giants are in free fall and I don’t see this one being close. Green Bay covers.
Indianapolis @ New England (-20)
Ryan: I am a little bit surprised NBC didn’t try to flex out of this game for Packers-Giants, Texans-Falcons, or Bengals-Steelers. Dan Orlovsky is starting for the Colts and I just can’t bring myself to go against my boy from the U-C-O-N-N. Colts cover.
Asif: Excuse me while I watch Boardwalk Empire instead. New England covers (yeah I went with the 20 point favorites, have you seen Indianapolis?)
San Diego (-2.5) @ Jacksonville
Ryan: One of the things that has been sort of lost as Jacksonville has gone 3-8 this season is that its defense has been rock solid. The Jaguars’ D ranks fourth in total yards and second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The Chargers have sent two of their offensive linemen–Marcus McNeill and Kris Dielman–to Injured Reserve and we have already touched upon their lack of overall depth and line toughness several times.
Because of their relative anonymity, we fail to realize how significant offensive linemen are to a team and how devastating it can be to an offense’s chemistry when they miss time. Perhaps at some point during the deep, dark offseason, I will try to figure out a way to research this extensively and quantify it. Probably not, though. Jaguars cover.
Asif: This week’s derp bowl is on Monday Night! I can tell you right now that I will not watch a minute of this game, because I’m trying out this new, revolutionary idea: from now on I’m only watching things that I find appealing. You want my patronage ESPN? FIX YOUR MATCHUPS! I would also settle for Erin Andrew in a bikini on the sidelines.
The Jaguars fired Jack Del Rio this week while simultaneously extending GM Gene Smith for three years. I thought this a tad unfair since its not like Smith has not done much to improve the Jaguars in his two years as GM. Then I remembered that I don’t care what goes on in Jacksonville and neither does anyone else, even the people who live there. San Diego covers because something good needs to happen to Philip Rivers, otherwise we’re all going to pay.