Tampa Bay over Atlanta
-Atlanta clinched homefield throughout the playoffs last Saturday. The second string should play most of the game. Tampa Bay has been very average in recent weeks. Doug Martin isn't actually the greatest running back ever; he just took advantage of the Oakland Raiders run defense. It's risky picking Tampa since Atlanta probably wants that 14th win and claim the best record in the league. Nevertheless, I'll forget about this game ten minutes after it ends. It's all about the divisional round for the Falcons and proving themselves in the playoffs.
Buffalo over New York Jets
-Tim Tebow said he wouldn't run Wildcat plays for the Jets. Tebow then said it was misreported and that he'd do anything for the team. The national media didn't run to the Jets practice facility with torches and pitchforks, because they're hypocritical. If Cam Newton did this, he'd be insulted by every national football writer with an audience; in fact, a columnist defended Tim Tebow, stood up for him, and, well, yeah, Tebow's a sympathetic figure for he was lied to and deceived. Let's remember the man is still well-compensated for what he does, and that Matt Flynn basically got a raw deal, too. I don't know. I don't really care. The Bills need to change things up in the off-season. They are a wonderfully mediocre team. Their offense is fun to watch, but they don't win more than 6 games. They seem potentially good every September, but, by December, they're wonderfully mediocre. Also, Mark Sanchez is starting for the Jets. McElroy's 11 sacks taken left him with a concussion.
Cincinnati over Baltimore
-Both teams clinched a playoff spot last week. Baltimore won the division. Cincy beat the Steelers by 3 and secured the sixth seed. Thus, this game is absolutely uninteresting.
Chicago over Detroit
-The Bears need to beat Detroit and hope the Vikings lose to Green Bay, the latter probably won't happen. Detroit shouldn't be a problem to beat. They'll run plays for Calvin Johnson alone as he goes for 2,000 yards receiving. Matthew Stafford's 446 yard game was met with derision and disgust by the media because it was mostly garbage time yardage. Whatever. Stats are already difference because of rule changes. Folk can't slam Stafford and Johnson for what happened Saturday night and then marvel at all the 5,000 yard passers like it's different, because it's not. The Bears just need to stop Megatron and not suck like they do in important late-season games with everything on the line. Lions coach Jim Schwartz received an extension through 2015, which was a curious decision by the front office since the level of play has been bad since December 2011.
Tennessee over Jacksonville
-Mike Mularkey harped on the Patriots' hard cadences at the line of scrimmage and bemoaned the referees lack of action. The Jags practiced for it all week, and it was all for nothing. Honestly, Mularkey's quote confused me. A bigger problem for the Jaguars struggles winning is, you know, that they're the Jaguars. Sunday's loss officially solidified their status as the worst team in franchise history. They completely failed on their last drive against New England. My friend and I decided to play a Jaguars vs. Jaguars game of Madden and it was as unwatchable as Jaguars practice, I imagine. The Titans, meanwhile, are a strange team because they aren't strong in any phase of the game. There's not one aspect of the team I could tell someone was their strength. Chris Johnson's hit and miss, the receivers are streaky, and the defense got bad. I'll remember the 2012 Titans fondly, though, for that wild game in Week 3 against Detroit.
Houston over Indianapolis
-Chuck Pagano is back on the sidelines for this game. Hm. Seems incredibly stupid to pick against the Colts given that fact. I will, though, because I think Houston's yet to secure home-field advantage, but I'm not sure about that. Houston needs to show their a team to fear. They aren't feared. They are the Falcons of the AFC. A sweep of the Colts should help with that.
New Orleans over Carolina
-Carolina's in damn fine shape to finish 6-10 for the second consecutive year. New Orleans' 2012 season will be remembered for the bounty scandal. The close high-scoring losses will not be remembered. Steve Spagnuolo was the most sought after defensive coordinator, but he's overseen a horrible defense that did not help the team. The defense is the difference between playing for the playoffs this week and this week just being a requirement because of the schedule and revenue and all that.
Philadelphia over New York Giants
-If this is Andy Reid's last game as the Eagles head coach, I hope he knows he oversaw the greatest era of Eagles football since the Glory Days of the late 50s. Andy Reid didn't irritate me like he irritated other fans. I wasn't even a teenager when he arrived in Philly. I'll be 26 on Sunday. Many fans have been respectful towards the coach. One needs to remember the media and WIP are a small, albeit very vocal, percentage of Eagles fans. The majority of fans will remember Coach Reid fondly. I can't convey how much I loved his teams from 2001-2009. The last three seasons haven't been the best. It's fitting Mike Vick gets the start on Sunday. Andy, you gave me the best football I've ever seen.
Pittsburgh over Cleveland
-I watched ESPN's Greatest Games show on Christmas because I had no choice. The show documented the Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl. I remembered why I dislike the Steelers during the program. I'm now glad they won't play in the post-season. I missed last week's game, but I saw Mike Tomlin's typically intense post-game press conference. Steeler nation wants him fired, which is completely in line for them. Don't fire Mike Tomlin, Steelers.
Denver over Kansas City
-Denver should carry a near three month winning streak into the playoffs, assuming Kansas City loses, which is pretty much all they've done in 2012. My fantasy football team didn't lose for two months then closed out the season on a four game losing streak. Peyton was my quarterback. These two things have nothing in common.
Minnesota over Green Bay
-Mike McCarthy's going to rest key players in a key game for Minnesota and the NFC bubble teams. McCarthy explained his decision reasonably well, basically saying he'll field the best team he can but he won't risk hurting banged up players in a meaningless game for them. Minnesota should win. I expect Adrian Peterson to get the ball a lot as he tries to break Dickerson's single season rushing record. I don't really want the Vikings in the playoffs. They aren't fun to watch if AP gets shut down. Christian Ponder struggles. Percy Harvin's hurt. It won't be good, but they're in control of their playoff future.
New England over Miami
-The Red Sox traded for Joel Hanrahan. Hanrahan struggled in Washington. Washington traded him to Pittsburgh where he became a dominant All-Star closer. Pittsburgh's an easy place to succeed because fans don't care and there isn't pressure like there is in Boston, the most annoying sports city in the United States. So, I wonder if Hanrahan will continue pitching dominantly or if the pressure'll get to him, causing him to regress to his National days. I never doubted a Phillies rally if Hanrahan came on to close for Washington with a 1 run or 2 run lead. Anyway, New England's great in meaningless Week 17 games. Miami had an encouraging season--just never agree to Hard Knocks again.
San Diego over Oakland
-The Starting Line played in Philadelphia last night on their 10 year anniversary tour for Say It Like You Mean It (which is my least favorite TSL record actually). Men in Flyers shirts, hoodies, and basketball jerseys, thrashed during their set because, apparently, no band's as hardcore as The Starting Line. The thrashers had all the intensity of Oakland's defense, though. It was mostly embarrassing. Mark Davis should keep Dennis Allen because I want to read the pre-season stories that'll continue the forced narrative about what he brings to the team and how he got them to play the right way. Norv Turner lauded the Chargers' big play passing on Sunday. Why?!? It was like he wanted the owner to know no offense throws the football like a Norv Turner offense, which will be irrelevant if the Eagles fire Andy Reid and if San Diego hires him. No team underachieves quite like Norv's Chargers.
San Francisco over Arizona
-Larry Fitzgerald buried his head in his hands after scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the Super Bowl, as if he couldn't bear watching the last 2.5 minutes. So close, so far. Now, his quarterback is Someone. An off-season QB acquisition of Alex Smith or Joe Flacco should help the team. I'd still give Kevin Kolb a chance. San Fran wins the West with a win, right?
Seattle over St. Louis
-The winning and amazing offensive production won't stop now, even if the Rams play division teams well. The Rams were surprisingly competitive this season. Sam Bradford's being re-evaluated through the lens of Robert Griffin III and the trade St. Louis made where they announced Bradford was their guy. I don't have a worthwhile opinion on the matter as I haven't watched the Rams closely this season.
Washington over Dallas
-Dallas rallied from a two score deficit only to lose in OT. A fumble they caused ended up screwing them. It sort of encapsulated their season. They're not a great team, they make mistakes, but they've hung around and had a chance to be in control of the NFC East. A fumble, though, gets recovered by Jimmy Graham at the Cowboys 2. The Saints win. Dallas needs to win to get in the playoffs. Washington's gotten all the breaks. RG3 gets hurt, Cousins steps in flawlessly. Dallas doesn't get the breaks. So, they will lose this game. Enjoy the playoffs, Washington, and may it be less embarrassing than the Nats' short playoff run.
Last Week: 11-5
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK