Man, has any franchise ever suffered what amounts to a season long crotch kick like the Atlanta Falcons? From having its franchise player caught torturing and killing dogs and subsequently heading off to prison, to seeing its newly hired college coach gutlessly bail on the team after a Monday Nighter without telling his players in person, to the latest - being led to believe that Bill Parcells was en route to help straighten out the team, only to shaft Arthur Blank at the altar and grab a deal with the Miami Dolphins (whom he will no doubt abandon in a few years if something better comes along). Man, it must royally suck to be a Falcons fan right now.
The funniest part, though, is seeing the idiots carrying the "Free Michael Vick" signs at the last few home games. Um, folks, he actually admitted doing what he was accused of, and is serving his penance. Normally, the "Free" whomever signs are used when a person is wrongly being held, ya know? Jerks.
Speaking of kicks to the crotch, our picks have kinda felt like that of late. Another 7-9 mark last week, adding to the current misery of a 28-36 run over the past four weeks, has us in desperation mode. Knowing that the final weeks are usually filled with some unpredictable results (some bad teams have simply quit, others are bad but playing well, some good teams are coasting with nothing to play for, others are tuning up), we bravely submit the following:
ST. LOUIS (+7.5) over Pittsburgh
Steelers are a bad road team, plain and simple. Rams threw blanks in second half at home last week vs. Pack, but should be able to at least keep it interesting in front of a "national" TV audience. (See what we did there? It's "national" because it's on the NFL Network, which is in about 37 homes.)
Steelers 23 Rams 17
Dallas (-11.5) over CAROLINA
Yes, we know Tony Romo has "a thumb", and yes, we know the Panthers looked frisky last week in knocking off Seattle. We don;t care - it seems highly unlikely the 'pokes will put together back-to-back stinkers with home field advantage at stake.
Cowboys 34 Panthers 17
Kansas City (+4.5) over DETROIT
Two teams on a combined 0-12 run - something's gotta give! We'll take our beloved Chiefs to stay close and ultimately fall in some sort of disappointing fashion.
Lions 23 Chiefs 20
INDIANAPOLIS (-7.5) over Houston
Indy's tight win over Oakland last week, coupled with Texans' impressive home win over Denver probably helped keep this line down. No matter, Colts are back home and will roll, despite having next to nothing to play for.
Colts 30 Texans 20
JACKSONVILLE (-12.5) over Oakland
Everybody loves and fears the Jags right now, and with good reason. Who would have believed a few months back that the Jags, led by David Garrard, would be The Team Nobody Wants To Face in the Playoffs? Not us.
Jaguars 41 Raiders 10
Green Bay (-7.5) over CHICAGO
Pack still has a shot at top seed, and will go all out in the Windy City against a very bad Bear team.
Packers 27 Bears 10
BUFFALO (+3.5) over NY Giants
G-Men are very good on the road, but the weather conditions are forecast to eerily resemble the mess they played in last week vs. Skins, and we all saw how that turned out. Combine that with Eli Manning losing his safety net option in Jeremey Shockey, PLUS the return of injured Bill Kevin Everett, and you've got an ugly scenario for Tom Coughlin and his team. How does a must win game against the 15-0 Patriots next week sound to you, Tom?
Bills 20 Giants 17
NEW ORLEANS (-3.5) over Philadelphia
Saints have quietly moved up in the offensive ranks to #4, and are poised to move into a playoff berth which seemed like a pipe dream after an 0-4 start. Eagles are tough, and might stick around, but we like Brees and Co.
Saints 24 Eagles 20
Cleveland (-3.5) over CINCINNATI
Brownies will be happy to play in a non-blizzard, that's for sure. Bengals are still a mess (see last week's dismal performance in San Fran), and Cleveland has too much at stake to falter here. A repeat of the 51-45 shootout from Week2? Maybe.
Browns 40 Bengals 24
ARIZONA (-10.5) over Atlanta
Cardinals take out frustrations at missing playoffs (again) at the expense of the hapless Falcs, who simply can't wait for this nightmare year to finally end.
Cardinals 38 Falcons 10
SAN FRANCISCO (+7.5) over Tampa Bay
Niners, as they did last season, are suddenly spunky in December (recall the upset in Denver last year which propelled the Chiefs to an improbable playoff berth?). Is Shaun Hill the answer at QB? Probably not, but he's playing with house money here, and can keep the 49ers within this high number.
Buccaneers 20 49ers 14
NEW ENGLAND (-21.5) over Miami
Pats have had all kinds of issues covering these big lines (and we should know - we've laid the 20+, and lost, each time), but the weather looks like it will cooperate on Sunday, and Miami got their win last week. All signs point to a large win for the Pats on the road to 16-0.
Patriots 41 Dolphins 13
SEATTLE (-10.5) over Baltimore
Seahawks did a nice job screwing over all those who were finally starting to believe in them last week, dropping a nasty game to Carolina. Don't fret, we still believe, at least when they're back home against a craptacular team like the Ravens.
Seahawks 24 Ravens 9
NY Jets (+8.5) over TENNESSEE
Jets have been in just about every game they've lost, save for the ugly Thanksgiving game in Dallas. Titans are a crapshoot team that has been almost impossible to pick all year, so we'll take the touchdown plus.
Titans 22 Jets 17
Washington (+7.5) over MINNESOTA
Skins will know the results of Giants game by kickoff, and will be extra motivated if G-Men fail in Buffalo. Again, after watching the Vikes and Tavaris Jackson last week, it's hard to expect them to lay over a touchdown to a team that plays good defense like Washington.
Redskins 23 Vikings 21
SAN DIEGO (-9.5) over Denver
Broncos are woeful on the road, and the Bolts are looking to keep the engine chugging toward the playoffs. No signs of a letdown after cracking the 50 point barrier last week, we like San Diego in a runaway.
Chargers 37 Broncos 17
BEST BETS: Cardinals, Chargers, Redskins
Last week: 7-9
Season Total: 118-106 (52.7%)
Last Week: 1-2
Season Total: 22-17 (56.4%)