Cry Babies. Week 17 NFL Picks

The NFL blew the week 17 schedule yet all sports writers discussed was Pittsburgh “unfairly” being kept out of the playoffs. This made as much sense to me as chemistry. By day’s end on Sunday we’ll know who plays who and where. Hopefully, we’ll be treated to a Favre-Rodgers showdown on Wildcard weekend.

Last Week:  9 – 7 – 0
Season:       149 – 91 – 0

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Colts at Bills
The first three quarters of Buffalo’s season went exactly as planned. Since that point, not much else has. You know the story. Tom Brady and the Patriots scored two touchdowns in the closing minutes to shock the Bills on Monday Night Football. The Bills never recovered. Buffalo is in a terrifying position. They have no future quarterback. Without a quarterback to build around, improving in the NFL is an arduous task. Michael Vick anyone? The Colts, on the other hand, enjoyed a picturesque season for 14 and 2/3 games. Now, their fans despise the team (mostly the front office) for pulling the plug on a perfect season. Instead of preparing for a Super Bowl run, the Colts have been dodging grenades from their own fans. Not the momentum you want heading into the playoffs. Anything short of the Super Bowl will leave Jim Caldwell with plenty of questions to answer. Number one being, “Why did you quit?” And yes, “quit” is the correct word. Professional athletes don’t have an on/off switch. Well, unless you’re Kobe Bryant. BILLS

Jaguars at Browns
The Eagles winning would obviously be my first wish, but if I had a second, I’d wish the Jaguars into the playoffs. To be clear, I would not wish them in because I believe they deserve the spot. I simply want to see eight AFC teams finish 8-8. The Jaguars would own the conference record tiebreaker. Hey, if the Jets are getting in, I won’t lose sleep for hoping the Jags get a shot. If the Browns win here, Mike Holmgren HAS to bring back Eric Mangini. I already believe he’s earned a second year, but a win should ensure his return. JAGUARS

Bears at Lions
Who would you rather have on your team? A whiny quarterback that throws close to 1.75 interceptions  per game (Jay Cutler), or a shooting guard that takes the “shooting” in “shooting guard” a little too serious (Gilbert Arenas)? These are the difficult choices professional athletes face. The 2009 season has been a disaster for Chicago, but beating Brett Favre and the Vikings to close out MNF was a huge boost heading into the offseason. The Bears made that game their Super Bowl, and they won. They also won the 2009 “Philadelphia Kinda Loves You” award that was given to the Raiders in 2008. BEARS

49ers at Rams
Will Alex Smith remain in San Francisco after this season? Who will the Rams select with the top pick in the draft? Will anyone watch this game? 49ERS

Steelers at Dolphins
Even though I’m not a Steeler fan, I wanted Pittsburgh in the postseason. I like to see the best teams battle in January, especially when it’s the conference opposite my Eagles. I thought Pittsburgh was a sure thing until the Colts forfeited to the Jets and Houston upset Miami. Now they’re a lost cause. Pittsburgh players have been outspoken this past week about how nobody wants to see them in the playoffs. Unfortunately, that will be the only consolation they receive. STEELERS

Giants at Vikings
Losing three in a row heading into the playoffs would be disastrous, especially if the Green Bay Packers are their first round opponent. Defeating the same team three times in the same season is hard enough. Overcoming a degenerate quarterback, a witless coach, and all the 2009 drama between the two teams would be even more challenging. We don’t know which Giants team will show up on Sunday. If the Giants come to Minnesota angry and focused, things could get ugly for the Vikings. If it’s the soft, disinterested Giants, then the Vikings will have the second half to rest their players. VIKINGS

Falcons at Buccaneers
This is one of those games you watch simply to enjoy the “Sports  Grass.” (If you don’t watch Scrubs, just ignore that sentence. Essentially, there’s nothing worth watching here.) FALCONS

Saints at Panthers
The greatest thing about week 17 is watching Vegas scramble to adjust their lines based on who’s playing. After Drew Brees was reported to be the emergency quarterback, Vegas yanked every line from this game off the board. Congratulations to those of you that took the Panthers + points earlier in the week. At the start of the season, I hoped this game would determine the NFC South champion. I was wrong. Without Drew Brees, DeAngelo Williams, and Steve Smith, it’s barely watchable … barely. PANTHERS

Patriots at Texans
The media has decided to gang up on the Patriots and Bengals this week. News outlets are reporting that both teams will essentially forfeit their week 17 games to keep the Steelers out of the playoffs. I made this assertion earlier this week (see “Fumbling the Flex”), but that’s beside the point. What I don’t understand is the outrage. In case you’re not aware, the NFL does not reserve a playoff spot for the Steelers each year. The Patriots and Bengals have earned the right to do as they please in the season’s final week. If national columnists (Jason Whitlock) want to cry about the Steelers’ situation, that’s perfectly fine. Just please do not make New England and Cincinnati out to be the villains. If the Steelers wanted to reach the playoffs, maybe they should have beaten the Browns, Chiefs, and Raiders. TEXANS

Game I’ll Watch: Steelers at Dolphins
Game I’ll DVR: Giants at Vikings

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Packers at Cardinals
Aaron Rodgers vs. Brett Favre version 3.0 is an unlikely scenario next weekend, but not impossible. If the Packers and Vikings lose and the Eagles win, Favre and Rodgers would face off as the four and five seed, respectively. Good luck finding anyone who will object to that matchup. I refuse to insult the Cardinals in anyway shape or form heading into the playoffs. I don’t think they’re capable of last year’s run, but then again, I didn’t think they were capable of that run last year either. So I’ll refrain until further notice. This should be a great game, especially if the Vikings fall earlier in the day. Unfortunately, no one will see it because the PHI/DAL game is on at the same time when it should have been on later. Again, I’d be more than happy to assist the NFL with their scheduling. They clearly need the help. PACKERS

Redskins at Chargers
This will be our last chance to enjoy Jim Zorn’s array of confused faces on the sideline. Needless to say, I’ll tune in during commercials. I’ve bounced back and forth on this pick all week. Ultimately, it comes down to NFL starters vs. backup players. Redskins

Titans at Seahawks
One final chance to watch Chris Johnson before he undoubtedly falls short of expectations in 2010. Sunday may also be the final game Jim Mora Jr. coaches in the NFL. Mariners’ new pitcher, Cliff Lee has a lot of work to do in Seattle. He’ll have to overcome the Seahawks horrible season, the Sonics absence, and the miserable rain before fans feel the urge to cheer again. TITANS

Ravens at Raiders
The Ravens are a lock for the playoffs. Sunday presents a win-and-in scenario for Baltimore against the lowly Raiders. This will be easy, right? Tell that to the 2008 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Heading into the final week of the ’08 season, Tampa Bay needed a home win against the 4-11 Raiders to clinch a playoff berth. Well, things didn’t work out. The Buccaneers surrendered a 10 point 4th quarter lead with just over 11 minutes remaining via 17 unanswered points. Oakland running back, Michael Bush, rushed for 129 yards and a TD on 13 carries … in the 4th quarter. Baltimore coach, John Harbaugh would be wise to remind his players of Tampa’s collapse. RAVENS

Eagles at Cowboys
I was prepared to reverse jinx this game for two reasons. 1. Dallas’ defense is playing better than any defense in the NFC right now. 2. Despite their six game winning streak, the Eagles have yet to play a complete game on both sides of the ball. I used the reverse jinx earlier this season to perfection, so I thought why not do it again. At midweek I decided against the reverse jinx for two reasons. 1. Dallas CB Mike Jenkins decided to trash talk the NFC’s most dangerous WR. 2. The new Dallas Stadium provides about the same home field advantage as the Bills received when in Toronto. Goodbye reverse jinx. Hello outright victory. EAGLES

Chiefs at Broncos
Coaching 101. When your season is on the brink and you need a victory (and some help) to reach the postseason, you: A) Play your best players B) Cross your fingers and hope for the best C) Roll over and die a la the 2008 Cowboys or D) Alienate and bench your best player. Denver coach Josh McDaniels chose D. Someone in the Denver organization needs to leave the following memo on McDaniels’ desk: “Mr. McDaniels, please see Mr. Belichick’s handling of Randy Moss over the past month. Sincerely, Anonymous.” BRONCOS

Game I’ll Watch: Eagles at Cowboys
Game I’ll DVR:
Packers at Cardinals

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Bengals at Jets
The final dagger in “operation keep Big Ben and the Steelers out of the playoffs.” I’m just so excited that we all get to watch Cincinnati’s backups come incredibly close to knocking off Mark Sanchez and the Jets. I’m still waiting for a legitimate reason as to why this was chosen over the battle for the NFC East. Sadly, no reason exists. JETS

If I were Charles Barkley…

Weekly Reminder: I pick every game so I don’t look like a pansy and only pick the easy ones. The 2009 season has been my worst performance in three years. Fittingly, the final week will determine whether I finish the regular season above .500. My goal was to be around 60% at season’s end (whoops). As is the weekly custom, there is one over/under as well (because they’re too much fun not to have at least one).

Indianapolis Colts (+8)
at Buffalo Bills
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-9)
Jacksonville Jaguars (+2) at Cleveland Browns
Chicago Bears (-3) at Detroit Lions
New England Patriots at Houston Texans (-7)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins (+3)
New York Giants (+8) at Minnesota Vikings
San Francisco 49ers (-8) at St. Louis Rams
Atlanta Falcons (-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Philadelphia Eagles (+3) at Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay Packers (+3) at Arizona Cardinals
Kansas City Chiefs (+10) at Denver Broncos
Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders (+10.5)
Washington Redskins (+3.5) at San Diego Chargers
Tennessee Titans (-6) at Seattle Seahawks

Cincinnati Bengals (+10) at New York Jets

Last Week: 8 – 7 – 1
Season: 102 – 102 – 5

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals Over 44

Last Week: 1 – 0 – 0
Season: 7 – 8 – 1

(Lines as of 1/3, 12:19PM ET, frobodog)

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