Saturday, December 22, 2007

NFL Week 16

We head into the penultimate weekend of the NFL season with all the wildcard spots still to be settled, the AFC North now up for grabs and home field advantage still very much in doubt in the NFC.

Eleven of the 15 games this weekend have playoff ramifications of some kind, with only Detroit-KC, Arizona-Atlanta, Houston-Indianapolis and Miami-New England having no bearing on playoff spots, though the latter game of course still looms large as the Patriots roll on toward perfection while the Fish play in front of new boss Bill Parcells for the first time.

There was a glimmer of hope we'd get to .500 after the 12-4 showing in Week 14, but that obviously was an anomaly, as we slipped to 6-9-1 in Week 15 and now stand at 97-116-10 for the season.

As always, these selections are for informational purposes only and are not to be used as the basis for any actual cash wagers, especially if you're anticipating a Merry Christmas.

PANTHERS +10.5 Cowboys: Have to think Tony Romo's thumb will be affecting to him to some extent, though Cowboys have to win to maintain home field advantage. They may struggle, but Panthers, with last week being a rare exception, have been lousy at home. Cowboys 27-17

Giants -2.5 BILLS: Though eliminated from playoff hunt, Bills should get an emotional lift from Kevin Everett's expected appearance. Giants, however, facing possible disaster if they don't get this one, with New England visiting next Saturday. They're 6-1 on the road and usually play well after lousy performances. Lots of Brandon Jacobs expected. Giants 17-13

Browns -2.5 BENGALS: Surprising Browns in a position to clinch a playoff spot depending on how Titans do and Cincinnati has nothing to play for. Pride? They don't have any. Browns 30-20

Packers -8.5 BEARS: Midwest correspondent 3 wood checks in: "The Bears are awful and have nothing to play for except draft picks, the Packers are pretty good and want to go into the playoffs on an roll. Look for a Packer to be the offensive player of the week, for Favre to throw for three scores and over 300 yards. Packers win big." Even bigger if the Cowboys lose tonight. Packers 34-10

Texans +7 COLTS: Colts have locked up No. 2 seed in the AFC and usually take it easy at this juncture, so figure Peyton Manning and some other starters to get a rest after halftime, allowing young Texans to make it interesting. Colts 24-20

LIONS -4.5 Chiefs: Neither team has won a game in weeks and Lions were eviscerated in San Diego last week. Last shot at home redemption before another long off-season. Lions 27-10

JAGUARS -13 Raiders: Jags on a roll and looking at the No. 5 seed. Raiders are done, have nothing to play for and had to make a long trip. Jaguars 38-14

Eagles +3 SAINTS: Expected Eagles to pack it in after loss to the Giants, but they showed some grit winning at Dallas. Saints still in playoff hunt, but make too many mistakes and Eagles are looking to be a spoiler. Eagles 17-16

CARDINALS -10 Falcons: Can anything more go wrong for Atlanta? Of course, they still have two games left. Anyone watching this really should consider therapy. Cardinals 41-10

Buccaneers -5.5 49ERS: Bucs could still snag No. 3 spot in the NFC and after squeezing out a win last week, 49ers likely won't have much more inspiration. To add insult to a dismal season, the Patriots own San Francisco's No 1 pick, likely the fifth pick in the draft. Bucs 23-16

SEAHAWKS -10 Ravens: Thanks to lowly Baltimore, Miami escaped a winless season. Think they have any reason to show up after cross-country trip? Neither do I. Seahawks 38-7

TITANS -8.5 Jets: Titans still have a glimmer of playoff hope, and whether they're out of it by gametime won't matter much against a Jets team that left it all on the field in New England. Titans 27-13

Dolphins +22 PATRIOTS: New England has failed to cover three previous 20+ spreads, nearly losing two. Fish got their win last week and should keep it reasonable here, especially since Pats aren't likely to go full tilt the whole way. Patriots 30-17

Redskins +6.5 VIKINGS: Admire Washington's tenacity after loss of Sean Taylor and big win on the road at New York last week. Minnesota was fortunate to escape with turnover-filled game against the Bears last week and are due for a letdown after winning five straight, four of them against losing teams. As always, the Olbermann Rule is in effect. Redskins 23-21

CHARGERS -8.5 Broncos: San Diego has the offense in gear now and blew the doors off Denver, 41-3, at Invesco back in October. Maybe not as huge a spread this time, but they're aiming for No. 3 seed in the AFC and it should be a festive time on Christmas Eve. Chargers 34-13

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