First things first, I want to commend the NFL for allowing the Jets, Giants and Pats to pay tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre by allowing all types of decals on their helmets. The league has many times been all too willingly to be super strict on what goes on an NFL uniform and for once, the league isn't on the wrong side of an issue. We also see once again how great a person Victor Cruz is after reading this story about Jack Pinto.
We finally reached Week 15, a week filled with compelling matchups that will determine playoff seeding (Broncos-Ravens, Pats-49ers), division titles (Texans-Colts, Packers-Bears), and season survival (Steelers-Cowboys, Rams-Vikings). Some of the playoff picture will clear up, at least involving those well on the outside. Some losses today will be felt by teams in a couple weeks, even if today doesn't knock them out. Here's my picks.
Cincinnati (-4.5) over PHILADELPHIA- I didn't make any kind of pick on this one, so I'm not taking any credit or blame for the Bengals loss. So glad to be finished with Thursday Night games.
Giants (+1) over ATLANTA- Road game for the Giants with equals a statement game which equals a must-win for the team. I'm more worried about Philly in Week 17 than the Falcons today. Question is if Atlanta can avoid what happened to the Texans (though not necessarily 42-14 type happening).
BALTIMORE (-3) over Denver- Terrell Suggs is back for the Ravens this week. I think this is enough to get over with a win today. Besides, the Broncos would be staring down 11 wins in a row to finish the regular season (and maybe still not getting a bye) if they win.
Green Bay (-3) over CHICAGO- The Packers can clinch the division today with a win at Soldier Field. It's been a rough go for the Bears lately and this week isn't easier. The Bears should lose and suddenly open up the NFC Wild Card for all the 7-6 teams.
CLEVELAND (-3) over Washington- If RGIII was playing, I'd pick the Redskins. It's not that I don't think Kirk Cousins can help Washington win, it's that the Browns are playing some good football now and it would be difficult to beat them without your best player.
Indianapolis (+10) over HOUSTON- No way should the Texans be favored by double digits over anyone (well, the Cardinals), but especially not a 9-4 Colts team. If there's a better CHUCKSTRONG game, this is it as the AFC South is there for the taking.
Jacksonville (+7.5) over MIAMI- This is Chad Henne's revenge game! Alright, that's enough laughing. Henne at least puts the Jags in a position to win games, unlike Blaine Gabbert. The half point here is too enticing.
NEW ORLEANS (-3.5) over Tampa Bay- The Saints officially eliminate the Bucs today as Drew Brees will tear apart that defense. Expect plenty of scoring as Doug Martin gets to run against the Saints.
Minnesota (+2.5) over ST LOUIS- The Rams have been a nice story this year and Jeff Fisher has to be commended for turning the team around despite a weak offense. Adrian Peterson has been one of the top 3 stories of this season. He has a great chance for 2,000 yards and can carry the Vikings to the playoffs without a real QB. It won't be the Rams standing in the way of that.
Detroit (-6.5) over ARIZONA- It's nice to know that you are playing a team who isn't capable of rallying from a 14 point deficit. Which means all the Lions have to do is score like they have all year and not give points away and victory is a synch.
Seattle (-4.5) over Buffalo (in Toronto)- I know the Bills count these as home games, but this isn't a real home game. Fact is the Seahawks are better and should easily win. Bills get to start looking out for 2013.
SAN DIEGO (-3) over Carolina- Figure the Chargers continue their typical good play in December and hope the Steelers lose again, then beat the Bengals...oh who am I kidding. It's over for Norv. The death march continues, win or lose.
Kansas City (+4) over OAKLAND- Both teams have given up, but something tells me the Chiefs would be more motivated than the Raiders. Just stay away, but if you must, take the points and don't even watch this.
DALLAS (-1) over Pittsburgh- I might be making my most foolish pick ever, but somehow, I think the Cowboys get the win today. There's just something I don't like about the Steelers. Also, when in doubt, go with NFC > AFC.
San Francisco (+4.5) over NEW ENGLAND- Potential Super Bowl preview in Foxboro. Except at home against the Giants, the 49ers have come to play in their statement games. No better statement than to win in New England after the Pats put up 42 on a respected Texans defense (at least was respected).
TENNESSEE (-1.5) over Jets- The dream for the Jets dies in Nashville and that would be the best thing to happen for the team. They can begin a process to change the culture there or at least get rid of Mike Tannenbaum and get a better GM.
Last week: 5-11