Moving to Los Angeles: Week 17 NFL Picks
One of the things that has always fascinated me about the NFL is how the league went from having two teams in Los Angeles to none. With LA being a city of transplants and the stadium situation less than ideal, the city isn’t as appealing a market as the pure population numbres would suggest. Still, with a number of teams playing before empty stadiums in dead cities, moving a team (or two) to LA, and soon, makes too much sense for it not to happen. Let’s take a look at some of the candidates to play in Hollywood in the near future:
This is the most natural move for any franchise. Jacksonville is the epitome of the Southern urban sprawl hellhole. It’s beyond bland, takes two hours to get from one side of the city to another, and the feature that made it seem an attractive market, population, is overstated due to the presence of a nearby military base. Although the Jaguars are a generally competent franchise, which just got a new, very rich owner, no one watches their games, ever. A move to Southern California would be awesome for the team, unfortunately it’s impossible. The Jaguars’ stadium lease makes it nearly impossible for the team to leave Florida before 2030, and by then the apocalypse will have occurred or all the attractive untapped markets will be taken, one of those two.
I think this one is happening. Despite the Vikings’ long and storied tradition of making Minnesotans cry, a move to Southern California seems in the cards. The Metrodome, where the Vikings play, is a mess, and their owner is a greedy, largely incompetent New Yorker. Sorry Vikings fans, but at least they won’t be able to hurt you anymore.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers’ situation is a lot like the Jaguars’, except for them moving is much more feasible. Like Jacksonville, San Diego’s population is artificially inflated by the presence of nearby military bases. The Chargers are a generally well run franchise and they generally draw well, but a large amount of their fan base in Orange County lives too far to regularly commute to the stadium. Sitting four hours South of a potential goldmine has to bother the Chargers to some extent and you have to figure that the NFL would give them first crack at moving to LA before moving a team from another part of the country.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams make sense and they don’t. They’ve played in LA before and they at least ostensibly had reasons for relocating the first time. Coming back after that may seem strange. That said, there is precedent, with the Raiders moving to LA and back to Oakland in the 90s. Additionally, the Rams aren’t in the greatest economic situation in St.Louis, where a good amount of fans still root for the Cardinals despite their move to Arizona. If the Vikings don’t go to LA, the Rams seem the next most likely NFC team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have won a Super Bowl in Tampa and their stadium has a pirate ship. That’s about the extent of their appeal to the geriatrics and meth-addicts who populate the surrounding area. Florida in general, and Tampa in particular have been absolutely devastated by the financial crash of 2008 and the Bucs aren’t drawing fans anymore. California was hit bad too, but nowhere got it as bad as Florida. To get an idea of how bad things are in Florida read this excellent New Yorker article from 2009. Things be sh*tty. Even if the Bucs don’t go to LA, expect them to move to a market like San Antonio or Portland in the near future.
Picks follow after the jump:
Week 15: 7-9
Week 15: 6-10 (woohoo back to mediocrity!)
Washington @ Philadelphia (-8.5)
Ryan: Along with the Panthers, the Eagles are looking to be the team we see every year that finishes strong and parlays the momentum into a good start for next season. Win or lose this week, they probably have done enough to save Andy Reid’s job but I expect it to come at the cost of Juan Castillo’s job at defensive coordinator. DOPE ON THE TABLE (pardon me, I spent all day yesterday watching Season 5 of The Wire so this probably won’t be the last reference to it).
That being said, this line seems a little bit too high for a game that is ultimately meaningless. Redskins cover but bear in mind that I don’t think I have picked one of their games right since like October.
Asif: Words can’t describe how much I hate the Redskins. They perfectly competent beating my beloved Giants two weeks ago and then they go and DERP away a game against the Vikings, even after Adrian Peterson had his leg severed. DIE IN A FIRE REDSKINS I HATE YOU. Eagles cover.
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (-12)
Ryan: The Buccaneers might be the worst team in football. Like, I’m not sure whether or not they would be favored on a neutral field against the Rams or Colts. They haven’t won since October 16th (the 12-year anniversary of my bar mitzvah) and have been outscored 158-64 the last four weeks. No bueno.
Even though they’ve already clinched the playoffs, the Falcons still have something to play for; they hold the tiebreaker over the Lions from beating them head to head. The higher seed plays the Giants or Cowboys while the lower probably plays the Saints. The incentivized Falcons cover.
Asif: As bad as the Bucs are, they have a long way to go to reach Rams territory. Raheem Morris has said that he would never fire himself, to which I reply, “No sh*t!” Thankfully for Tampa fans, it isn’t actually Raheem’s choice.
Forget last week’s annihilation at the hands of the Saints, no one beats New Orleans in the Superdome (I’m not calling it by its new name dammit). The Falcons are very good. Atlanta covers.
San Francisco (-10.5) @ St. Louis
Ryan: The 49ers need this game to hold off the Saints for the first round bye. The last time the Rams played the 49ers–four weeks ago–they didn’t get the ball inside the 35-yard line once. I wish I had the Elias Sports Bureau on retainer so I could find out how many times that has happened since the merger. I would guess less than five. 49ers cover.
Asif: The Rams are bar none the worst team in football. They’re way worse than the Colts. It’s going to be hilarious when the Saints level the Niners in the second week of the playoffs. San Fran covers.
Chicago @ Minnesota (-1)
Ryan: I thoroughly enjoyed the 2011 incarnations of the Bears and Vikings. Combined with the Packers’ near-perfection, it has truly been as close to perfect as a regular season can be.
It’s kind of whack that whatever bar I end up going to on Sunday is going to have the sound on for this game instead of Packers-Lions. At least I won’t have to hear Bear Down (the worst song ever written) again forever until September after Sunday. Bears cover.
Asif: This week’s derp bowl is extra derpy as it’s QB matchup features a guy who got benched for Jimmy Clausen (Josh McCown, or is it Luke? I always get the two mixed up) and a guy who has been consistently outplayed by a dude who was playing wideout two years ago.
I had a pretty spirited argument with one of my friends (who happens to be an FSU fan) last week about Christian Ponder (I know, I have no life). My buddy, let’s call him Goofus since he’s wrong, thinks that it’s too early to make a judgement on Ponder. I personally believed that if they had the chance the Vikings would have been wise to draft Andrew Luck. I think the fact that Ponder got outplayed by the Great Joe Webb last weekend means I win this argument. Of course it’s all moot since the Vikings one the game while Adrian Peterson was cut in two, costing them two franchise players in one game. PHYRRIC WINNING! Bears cover.
Detroit (-3.5) @ Green Bay
Ryan: This line is assuming that the Packers are going to rest their starters more than I assume they are going to. They play at least a half and if the game is close I don’t see them doing the kitties any favors.
I must say, though, I am impressed with the Lions’ resiliency late this season. After losing to the Saints Week 13 in the first game of NDonkey Kong Suh’s suspension, the Lions had lost five of seven and appeared to rack disciprine (to put it lightly). However, they’ve won three in a row and destroyified the Chargers 38-10 in a game that I didn’t see or read anything about but can only imagine resembled the score.
Back to my original point, though, which is that I think the Packers play harder to win this game than they are expected to. Packers cover.
Asif: I’m kinda just wishing that Ryan would get with the program and refer to Suh as “House of Spears,” which is an undeniably awesome name for a D-Lineman to have. The Lions have more incentive here than the Packers as they’re hoping to avoid a date with New Orleans in Week 1 of the playoffs. Detroit covers.
Carolina @ New Orleans (-8)
Ryan: With all the hype about the Packers, Patriots, and Tebows, the Saints have quietly been the best team in football since the beginning of November. They haven’t lost and won their games by 11, 3, 25, 14, 5, 22, and 29.
Still, you can never count Cam Newton out of a backdoor cover opportunity. The Panthers have won four of five and are really starting to come to form around Newton as a vocal leader. Saints win but the feisty Panthers cover.
Asif: New Orleans + in dome = slaughter. Tim Tebow had his moment in the sun, but it’s pretty apparent at this point that Breesus is our true Lord and Saviour. Exalted be His Birthmark and Glory to His Lightning Fast Release.
Saints by like 10,000.
Tennessee (-3) @ Houston
Ryan: In advance of the next few picks, The Big Lead’s Jason Lisk does a great job writing about all the AFC playoff tiebreaker scenarios if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Texans are pretty much slotted into the AFC 3-seed and therefore have nothing to play for. If, as is the most likely scenario, they end up playing the Bengals in the first round, it would be the least exciting NFL playoff match-up that I can remember. I’ll obviously still watch it because at that point, with just 11 sweet, succulent NFL games left before nuclear winter/spring/summer (last year I passed the time in July by watching women’s soccer. Women’s soccer!), beggars can’t be choosers.
Considering that they still have a puncher’s shot at getting into the playoffs, Titans cover.
Asif: The lustre has come off the Texans a bit, as should be expected. Titans cover.
Baltimore (-2.5) @ Cincinnati
Ryan: This game is the stunning combination of being perhaps the most important game of the weekend from a broader NFL perspective and terribly aesthetically displeasing to watch. If you like points, you will hate this game. I think Baltimore covers because there is a huge difference between playing two road games and getting a bye + hosting a 2nd-round game. Therefore, we see a motivated Ravens squad.
Asif: If the Bengals make the playoffs and no one watches, did it really happen? I’m really starting to resent the Ravens and their apparent lack of motivation against teams not from Pittsburgh. Ryan does a good job of breaking down Baltimore’s incentives in this game, I’m just not sure that they actually care. In other news, I remain incapable of spelling Cincinnati right on the first try, just thought I’d share that with the world. Bengals cover.
Kansas City @ Denver (-3.5)
Ryan: I didn’t get to see Denver’s colossal collapse last week against the Bills so that means it didn’t happen, right? The Chiefs have been feisty for Romeo Crennel, what with beating the Packers and taking the Raiders to overtime.
I never finished this pick and now, as I look down, Asif took my Kyle Orton revenge game joke. Great minds think alike, I suppose. Chiefs cover but this won’t necessarily eliminate the Tebow quite yet. See below, won’t you?
Asif: Kyle Orton revenge game? KYLE ORTON REVENGE GAME GRRRR!!!1! *pounds Jager, blasts Metallica*. In all seriousness, this game couldn’t be coming at a worse time for Denver. Tim Tebow blows more than the Whore of Babylon (Bible jokes are the best!) and here comes the drunkbeard, looking to pick a fight.
Since we’ve had so much fun comparing Tebow to Bible characters, who would be the biblical equivalent of Kyle Orton? I say Noah, because they’re both drunks, have bitchin’ beards, and I like to imagine Kyle Orton having random animals at his house. Kansas City covers.
NY Jets @ Miami (-2.5)
Ryan: No idea what happened to the Jets this year, but they’re in contention with the Chargers and Eagles for most disappointing team in the league. I still don’t think the Dolphins should be covered in this one, though. Jets cover.
Asif: What happened to the Jets is that Matt Sanchez sucks, Shonn Greene is overrated and no one in their secondary except Darelle Revis can tackle. That said, am I the only one who thinks that the Jets making the playoffs isn’t that far-fetched? They need to win and for Cincinnati, Tennessee, and either Denver or Oakland to lose. The Bengals are playing the Ravens, who for all my complaints about them are a good team, the Titans are playing in Houston, the Broncos are playing in the Kyle Orton revenge game right when God has forsaken Tebow, and the Raiders are the Raiders. Yeah, it’s still a long shot for NY to make the playoffs, but maybe not so long as it seems at first blush. Jets cover, Sanchez plays better in warm weather.
San Diego @ Oakland (-3)
Ryan: Because nothing helps misery like spreading it, it’d only be right if the Chargers came in and spoiled this for the Raiders. My dream scenario is that the Broncos back into the playoffs at 8-8 and end up hosting and beating the Steelers on a series of inexplicable calls and bounces. Chargers cover.
Asif: I was sooo ready for the Chargers to back into the AFC West title. I even sent Ryan an email about it after God forsook Tebow only for the Chargers to blow their chance a few hours later. Raiders cover because I don’t think the Chargers care all that much.
Pittsburgh (-7) @ Cleveland
Ryan: Pittsburgh needs game in case Bengals beat Ravens. Cleveland has lost five in a row. Spread should be double. Steelers cover.
Asif: I freely admit that I am not the manliest man in the universe. That said, I do have a base level of manliness. I have a sweet beard, I wear flannel shirts, and I know how to operate a chain saw. However, there is one thing keeping me from full manly man status: my abiding love of Bed Bath & Beyond. Seriously, that place is awesome. They have every kitchen gadget imaginable and they send me 20% off coupons every other week! My blender broke two weeks ago, so I went to the triple-B as I like to call it and picked up a Ninja blender, which is just as cool as it sounds. My favorite Christmas gift? A new 6.5 qt slow cooker from BB&B. As far as you know I will be eating nothing but pulled pork and drinking nothing but margaritas from now until the end of time.
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville (-3)
Ryan: May Asif have been premature in declaring Bears-Vikings to be this week’s derp bowl? Perhaps. Not quite sure why they are even bothering to send cameras and announcers to this one. With zero interest or conviction, Colts cover.
Asif: Nope, Bears-Vikings is still the derp bowl. Neither of those teams could be beat the Colts or Jaguars right now (unless the Vikings started the Great Joe Webb, which they refuse to do for some reason). Colts cover only because it’s going to be hilarious to watch the entire population of Colts fans try to chase down and murder Dan Orlovsky for costing them Andrew Luck, only to run out of breath after a quarter mile and decide to go to Steak and Shake for some chili cheese fries instead. Get it? Because people from Indianapolis are fat. *Obligatory joke about Jacksonville being a terrible city, whatever you don’t care do you?*
Buffalo @ New England (-11)
Ryan: The Bills’ laying the smackdown upon the Broncos last week makes absolutely no sense. Prior to that outburst, they had lost seven in a row and looked to be in contention with the Colts, Browns, and aforementioned Bucs as the worst team in the league. The Patriots never seem to let up in these types of games and, if for some reason, this is the year they do, I can live with it much easier than if I picked the Bills and they were down 14-0 six minutes into the game. Patriots cover.
Asif: Last week was likely a one time event for the Bills. That said, the Pats defense is still terrible and Tom Brady just got X-rays on his non-throwing shoulder. Still, I’m feeling a possible blowout in the making here. Pats cover.
Seattle @ Arizona (-3)
Ryan: The John Skelton Wins Football Games gravy train came to a screeching halt last week while the enigmatic Seahawks saw a three-game win streak end. The Seahawks are a compelling darkhorse in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. You heard it here third. For no good reason, Seahawks cover.
Asif: Gotta go with Marshawn Lynch and his Skittle powers. Check out these sick kicks:
Dallas @ NY Giants (-3)
Ryan: Disclaimer: I am fully aware that you don’t care about my fantasy team. That being said, allow me to vent. I had the agonizing choice in my FF finals of whether to start Tony Romo or Michael Vick, which was sort of ironic since they were playing against each other. Yahoo projected Vick to get slightly more points but for some stupid reason my gut said Romo. Either way, I was certain at the time that I made the decision that I was going to choose wrong and that that choice would cost me the game. I swear I said this to my family at the time.
Romo went 0-2 for 0 yards and an injured throwing hand (0 fantasy points) while Vick had 20.72. I lost by jusssst less than 20.
I think the Giants are a slightly better team than the Cowboys, they have home field advantage, and Romo is banged up. Also, I hate him for costing me $150 last week even though it’s obviously not his fault that his hand hit a helmet on his follow-through. Deserve got nothing to do with it though (Wire reference #2). Giants cover.
Asif: I’m afraid to say anything. Giants cover.