Six games. That’s all the remains.
After sixteen grueling weeks, picking nearly two hundred fifty games, our season-long quest for football prognosticating dominance has come down to one final week.
And I lead by six games.
Before I get to my final picks of the regular season, I’d like to thank everyone who participated both this season and last. I hope you guys had fun. Kevin Paul and I wholeheartedly thank you for your support.
For those of you who asked, and for those of you who didn’t, here are your results for both this year and last. Sorry if we embarrassed anyone but hey, you picked ‘em.
As we did last year, Kevin and I finished the season with our moms picking the very last week because, who better?
It was a great run. See you guys in the playoffs.
SPORTSCHUMP’S ALL I NEED IS TEN CORRECT WINS AND KEV’S OUT OF HIS MISERY PICKS
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (+2.5)
This one is simple. If the Jets win this ball game, they qualify for the post-season. That being said, there’s nothing their instate rival, coached by their former coach, would like more than to rain on their parade. If the Jets lose this game, that opens up the door for the Steelers to sneak into the playoffs which I thought would happen all along. I’d really like to think that Rex Ryan’s Bills could take this one but the Jets know their destiny is in their hands… and they’ll play like it. It’s about time I start believing in this Jets team considering I haven’t all season long. They win and cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-10.5)
Even at 14-1, the Panthers still would like this win to lock up home field advantage throughout the post-season. A loss combined with a Cardinals win might mean the Panthers have to travel to Arizona… if they get that far. Clearly they’d rather have the road to the Super Bowl go through the confines of their own stadium. However, a desperate Buccaneers team won’t roll over. Tampa would like to prove their mid-season hot streak was no fluke. They’ll do so by going into Carolina and covering the ten-and-a-half.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+10)
Like the Panthers, the Patriots lead their conference but still need a win to lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Like the Panthers, they have to play an in-state divisional rival from Florida to make that happen. The Patriots haven’t been healthy to start the season yet have still found a way to win. They’ll do so again on Sunday… but not by ten points.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-9)
The Ravens shook up the world last week by knocking off the allegedly playoff-bound Pittsburgh Steelers. If Pittsburgh misses the post-season, they’ll look to that game as the one that ruined their season. Andy Dalton or no Andy Dalton, the Bengals are not about to make the same mistake Pittsburgh did, especially with a two seed on the line. Bengals cover.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-4)
What a horrible game we’re forced to watch here. This is one of those Week 17 games where the commissioner should just wave a mercy flag so that a) we don’t have to watch it and b) the players don’t have to play in it. I’ll take the Falcons here only because the Saints are horrible and the Falcons finally proved how good they could be by beating the undefeated Panthers last week.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-6)
Here’s another game I could take or leave. Although, I must admit, I thought that the Houston Texans had clinched a playoff spot. Apparently that’s not the case. If they lose and Indy wins, they’d go to like the eighth tiebreaker to see who wins the crap heap known as the AFC South. With that in mind, Houston does not mess around with Jacksonville this weekend. They cover the six and leave no doubt that they belong in the playoffs even though they’re probably the second worst team, behind Washington, to get there.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (+10.5)
I don’t know what to tell you about the Steelers. It wasn’t long ago that we were talking about them being a team nobody wanted to face in the playoffs. Now it looks like nobody’s going to have to worry about that ‘cause they’re not getting in. You can thank the Ravens for that, as if Steelers fans didn’t hate Ravens fans enough. Rest assured the Steelers will be scoreboard watching as that Jets-Bills game holds their fate. They could beat Cleveland by forty and still not get in if the Jets handle their business. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, there is no such thing as impressive the voters in the NFL. They’ll probably roll into Cleveland and beat the crap out of the Browns, then fold when they see the Jets are doing their thing as well. Either way, I have a feeling a pissed off Steelers team will take out their frustrations on the Brownies by covering the monster point spread. Too bad it won’t matter.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
Chiefs are going to cover the touchdown. They still have some pretty important playoff seeding on the line. Imagine this. After losing five straight, they could still potentially be the third seeded team in that conference. They won’t take any chances. They beat the tar out of the Raiders and prove to be a team that nobody will want to play in the post-season.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (no line)
What a disaster the Colts are. They just dismissed their coach and they literally don’t have a quarterback to start this game. They’re actually considering starting Josh Freeman. Let that sink in. BUT, and you can thank the ice cream man for this knowledge, with a loss, the Titans stand to land the top pick. I’m going with my former bookie on this one. The Colts could start Homer Simpson at quarterback, which they might do, and it wouldn’t matter. Take the Colts no matter the number.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-4)
Not quite sure why the ‘Skins are dogs here. They’re locked into the four seed in the East but they’re still going to play their players. And even if they didn’t, the Cowboys still suck. I’ll take Washington and the points.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-1)
Does it surprise anyone that a Week 17 game between the Bears and the Lions means absolutely nothing other than draft position the next year? Eenie meenie miny who gives a crap? The Bears are 1-6 at home; the Lions are 2-5 on the road. I’ve already taken far too long analyzing this waste of a football game. I’ll take the Lions only because I don’t want to talk about it anymore.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-3.5)
Shall we call this the Battle for Sucksville? I think that’s a perfectly appropriate title. I’m going to spend very little talking about this game simply because, like the Lions-Bears game, it’s a complete waste of my time and yours. Giants cover.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3.5)
This one’s going to leave a mark for Minnesota. As good a season as they’ve had, they have one final game, on the road, in Lambeau, to win their division. They don’t get it done. Green Bay covers and ekes into the playoffs as we’d all thought they’d be: NFC North Champs.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-9)
Here’s where things get tricky. IF the Patriots lose to the Dolphins at 1 o’clock, the Broncos can swoop in and steal that top seed in the AFC. Who would have ever though that Brock Osweiler would be the man to do that? He’s going back in time to high five Wally Pipp. The only problem is that the Pats won’t lose to the Dolphins. The game is still important to them though as the AFC West title is still up for grabs. San Diego won’t go quietly despite how sucky they are.
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (+3.5)
I guess I shouldn’t complain about only having three shitty games this Sunday. Pretty much every other game is in some way relevant. This one is not. The Niners are a mess and the Rams finally started playing football. They’ve won three straight. I’m not sure if four straight will win Jeff Fisher his job back but they’ll still get it done. Rams cover on the road.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)
Seahawks are the sixth seed regardless so what looked like a fun Sunday night game won’t be, unless you’re into seeing second stringers. The Cards cover because Pete Carroll won’t want to reveal any surprises until these two face off in the post-season.
MOTHER OF SPORTSCHUMP KNOWS HER DAMN FOOTBALL PICKS
Happy New Year, dear SC readers.
The things a mother will do for her son. Even though I admittedly hate football… for many reasons…SC asked me to give my predictions for these upcoming games. I just hope I don’t hurt or offend the loyal readers of this award winning sports site.
Unlike SC who knows & understands sports… I take a more visceral approach to my predictions…and am always shocked & delighted when they are right. As the daughter of a gambler I learned NOT to bet and know firsthand that even the smartest men (who understand the games more than I ever would or could) are basing their wagers on “systems” and concepts that are really nothing more than hunches cloaked in theories.
So here are my hunches and the theories they are based on:
> New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (+3)
This one is easy… I predict that the New York Jets will win because Joe Namath use to play for the Jets back in the day & I liked him. Of course I love NYC & forgive the Jets from crossing the river over to Jersey. But the Sportschump & I lived in Jersey too many years ago…so in my mind, the Jets have my hometown loyalty.
> Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+10.5) vs Carolina Panthers
Oh this one is too easy… even I know the Bucs will lose. Never been fond of this team, even if they are here in Tampa. I think they’re an embarrassment. Panthers will win. Just say “yuck” to the Bucs.
> New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+10)
Love New England but think Patriot fans are a bit wacky…so I’m gonna go with the Miami Dolphns … cause Miami is beautiful, culturally exciting and has wonderful food.
> Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-9)
This one is tough but I’m gonna go with my gut… and because Ravens are kinda creepy & Bengals are beautiful animals. Also my Mom (Grandmother of Sportschump) was from Ohio…so Cinci is sure to win.
> New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-4)
Not sure on this one. I like both cities … but I will go with New Orleans because I love their music, beignets & chicory coffee.
> Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-6)
Another easy one. Love Florida, hate Houston. The Jags will win this one.
> Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (+10.5)
Now here are two places I would never want to live. But we had relatives who lived in Cleveland years ago… so here’s for our great Aunts & Uncles…go Cleveland.
> Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
Kansas City…because my brother Ross used to live there.
> Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (no line)
I think Tennessee will win this one… like the teams name, reminds me of something out of “Game of Thrones.” BTW… what does “no line” mean?
> Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-4)
Love DC… hate Texas. Still mad at Dallas about JFK. Sorry. Go Redskins.
> Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-1)
Easy-peasy … love Chicago. Was born there as was my Dad & his Dad, aka Grandpa Sam. So I’m channeling the spirit of these wonderful men when I say “go Bears.”
> Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-3.5)
Two reasons for this predicition:
1) I love NY and
2) a shout-out to JJ…the most crazed Giants fan I know & love. So go Giants.
> Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3.5)
No feelings on this one… except to recommend to these fans to get out of the cold & come down to Florida. It was sunny & in the 70’s today.
> San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-9)
I really like San Diego (great zoo) but my sister-in-law iives in Denver & she & hubby Bill are huge Bronco fans… so this one is for you guys… go Broncos.
> St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (+3.5)
Tony Bennett left his heart there…what a great, great city…you go San Francisco.
> Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)
The hubby’s best friend “Eddy Spaghetti” is a crazy Seahawks fan… so out of love & respect for him & because I dig the neon green I’m pulling for the Seahawks.
How’d I do? 🙂
KEVIN’S ONE LAST CHANCE PICKS
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
The Redskins have already locked up the NFC East (it’s still strange typing that, by the way) while the Cowboys are playing backups at a number of key positions, most notably QB and WR. Washington has had an extra day of rest, following its NFC East clincher against the Eagles. But any time the Cowboys are sending out Kellen Moore as its starting QB and Terrance Williams as the number one receiver, a sane person would tend to lean in the other direction. My Mom had me tested. Give me the division-winning Redskins and the points.
KP’s Pick: Washington Redskins
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (+3.5)
Here’s an interesting final week twist: Rex Ryan stands in the way of the Jets and the playoffs. Hasn’t he been there, done that prior to this year (tip your wait staff)? In another strange spin, Rex recently admitted to running his mouth too much. I know its cold out, but has hell really frozen over? As for the game, Bilal Powell is expected to miss it, which will be a tough loss for New York’s offense. Snow showers and below-freezing temperatures are expected, nothing these teams aren’t used to. LeSean McCoy is out, leaving Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee to face a Jets ‘D’ that is first against the run. Both are capable, but the Jets, building off the momentum from last week’s win against the Patriots, find a way.
KP’s Pick: New York Jets
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-6.5)
Sadly for Tennessee’s current coaching staff, the biggest story for the Titans is: Could Chip Kelly reunite with Marcus Mariota and take over the head coaching gig next season? As for Indianapolis, there is a very strange and convoluted Sheldon Cooper-like equation where the Colts could still make the playoffs. Bear in mind, you’d have a better shot solving a Rubik’s Cube in 14 seconds, but the postseason is still a possibility. So “you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance”? Lloyd Christmas reads ya. As for the game, Tennessee will be without the aforementioned Mariota, leaving Zach Mettenberger to run the offense. Also, with a loss, the Titans can clinch the top overall pick in the NFL Draft. That’s enough for me. Colts cover.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis Colts
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5)
The Bengals are coming off short rest following a disappointing loss to the Broncos. However, playoff positioning is at stake for Cincinnati, but that was also the case for the Steelers last week – and we are all too familiar with what the Ravens did in that game. Ryan Mallett was a surprise performer for Baltimore, but faces a stronger Cincy ‘D’. A.J. McCarron has been steady replacing Andy Dalton. All in all, while the Bengals have a big advantage on paper, Baltimore finds a way to keep games close. Give me the Ravens and the points.
KP’s Pick: Baltimore Ravens
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+9.5)
Should we credit the Jets last week or the fact that the Patriots were shorthanded? Perhaps we should continue to question New England’s desire to kick off in OT. C’mon, even Donovan McNabb thought that was a bad decision. Still, the Pats keep chugging along and have a shot at the AFC’s top seed. But the injuries keep piling up for New England and there are too many names to list. However, the Dolphins have been abysmal and don’t compare to the Jets on offense or defense. With so much on the line, expect Tom Brady to push the Patriots to a double-digit margin of victory.
KP’s Pick: New England Patriots
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-1.5)
The Lions, despite its 6-9 record, have been more efficient in recent weeks. The Bears are without Alshon Jeffery, which puts a major hit on its passing game. Mix in a Chicago defense that has just 8 INT’s in 15 games and it’s likely that Matthew Stafford will have a solid day. The weather will be cold, but shouldn’t get in the way otherwise. Plain and simple, Detroit has more firepower and in a meaningless game, the Lions finish the season on a high note. Oh and yes, Jim Bob Cooter, too.
KP’s Pick: Detroit Lions
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (+10.5)
Johnny Manziel is out of the finale with a concussion (are we sure it wasn’t a hangover?). All kidding aside, there are reports that Mike Pettine will be relieved of his duties, which adds distraction to the Cleveland sideline. Toss in a Steelers team that needs a win and still has a shot at the playoffs. Oh and this is the same high-octane Steelers offense that is likely to carve up a Browns ‘D’ that is ranked 19th against the pass and last against the run. DeAngelo Williams should have a monster day and Big Ben won’t be too shabby either. Steelers cruise.
KP’s Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-6.5)
T.J. Yeldon (sprained MCL) is out, but his impact will be minimal considering Jacksonville is a pass-heavy team. But there are two key factors in play: 1) Houston has yet to close the door on the AFC South, leaving additional motivation in front of its home fans and 2) Each team on third down, specifically the Jags allowing opponents to convert on 46.2% of third downs (Last in NFL), while the Texans are the toughest D on 3rd down (29.7% converted). Bortles typically keeps his team in games and can make big plays, but he’s likely to have a tough time against a Houston ‘D’ that has 37 sacks and features J.J. Watt. Texans by a TD.
KP’s Pick: Houston Texans
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-3.5)
The biggest story here is Chip Kelly’s firing and nothing to do about the game itself. It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles react on the field, considering some players are ecstatic while others are not. There’s also a likely different game plan. Toss in another major headline, the likely resignation (or dismissal) of Tom Coughlin. Eli Manning has already been quoted as saying that he felt he let Coughlin down. Odell Beckham has to feel the same way and will be returning from his one-game suspension. The entire game is tied to human emotions and change. Forget Philly’s extra day of rest. Of the two storylines, the departure of Coughlin is more likely to see a major impact on the field. Give me Eli and OBJ to have big games, sending Tom Coughlin off as a winner. Giants cover at home.
KP’s Pick: New York Giants
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-4.5)
People may be back on the bandwagon after the Falcons beat the Panthers last week, but let’s just remember that this team is flawed and inconsistent. Drew Brees, meanwhile, played last week with a torn plantar fascia in his foot… and only threw for 412 yards. Brees should have another solid day. On the other side, Julio Jones should be borderline unstoppable facing a New Orleans defense that is 31st against the pass and given up 43 TD’s through the air. Overall, it smells like a shootout that will come down to the wire. For that reason, I’m taking the Saints and the points.
KP’s Pick: New Orleans Saints
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-7.5)
The Chargers are playing with extra rest while the Broncos are playing on short rest, which may or may not affect the result. That’s because San Diego has been eliminated for weeks and is a team severely depleted with injuries, while the Broncos are still shooting for playoff positioning and a first round bye. The key will be how Philip Rivers handles Denver’s pass defense that is ranked first in the NFL. The Chargers have little to play for but the Broncos have been so inconsistent on offense, it’s hard to take Denver assuming Philip Rivers can find a way to get into the end zone at least once. Give me San Diego and the points (with little confidence).
KP’s Pick: San Diego Chargers
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (+3.5)
The Rams will be without Todd Gurley, leaving Tre Mason to anchor the run game. Neither team has much to play for and quite honestly, when the Rams are without its best offensive weapon, the Niners have a much better chance, especially at home. Give me San Francisco in an ugly, low-scoring three-point game. Oh, and take the under, too.
KP’s Pick: San Francisco 49ers
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)
The Raiders have had a few extra days rest, but will be facing the hottest team in the NFL on the road. Kansas City has held opponents to 14 points or less in seven of the nine games during its ongoing win streak. The Raiders were one of the teams to score more in a 34-20 loss at home in Oakland. But the Chiefs now have 21 INT’s on the season (only the Panthers have more) and will likely give Derek Carr headaches. Part of the defensive success is thanks to K.C.’s pass rush, which has 41 sacks on the season. Oakland has done a good job protecting Carr and if it can do so one last time, the Raiders should keep this one close.
KP’s Pick: Oakland Raiders
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-10.5)
Carolina, despite being 14-1, needs a win to secure the top seed in the NFC. The Panthers will likely be without both Jonathan Stewart and Ted Ginn, leaving players like Cameron Artis-Payne, Devin Funchess and Greg Olsen to pick up the slack. But the more interesting storyline will be how the Panthers bounce back after its first setback of the season. In the end, Vincent Jackson is on the season-ending IR, leaving Tampa Bay with Mike Evans as its top receiving weapon, alongside a solid run game (4th in NFL). Carolina is 5th against the run and Josh Norman will likely blanket Evans all day, leaving the Bucs frustrated. Don’t forget the Panthers are playing for the #1 seed. Therefore, injuries or not, I like Carolina at home.
KP’s Pick: Carolina Panthers
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-4.5)
The Cardinals still have a shot at the NFC’s top seed, but will need a win over Seattle coupled with a loss by the Panthers. The last meeting was surprisingly high-scoring, with Arizona winning 39-32 in front of the 12th man. Seattle has played much better in the second half, although last week’s performance was flat and uninspired. The Seahawks will be without Marshawn Lynch again, leaving Christine Michael and Bryce Brown to carry the running game. Seattle has something to play for as well, looking to take the 5th seed with a win, in what would be a matchup against the Redskins. A loss ensures the 6th seed and traveling on the road throughout the playoffs. With each team having a lot to play for coupled with the uncertainty of whether the Panthers pull away early in the 4 o’clock game, I’ll take the Seahawks to keep this game tight.
KP’s Pick: Seattle Seahawks
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3.5)
Here’s a huge regular season finale with two teams battling for a division crown. First and foremost, the weather forecast: 24 degrees with snow showers… not bad, in fact, typical for Green Bay during this time of year. Expect a lot of players in short sleeves, while I’m wearing long sleeves in front of my TV. Green Bay has been far from perfect this year and likely are fuming following a beat down at the hands of the Cardinals last week. But the Packers are really tough to beat at home and it’s hard to pick against them when playing at Lambeau.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay Packers