The NFL playoff hunt is becoming more exciting than NHL negotiations, as teams that were expected to waltz into at least a wildcard spot are fighting for their post-season lives and teams that seemed to have no shot are having fans count the ways that their teams can trip into contention.
Week 15 should continue to destroy expectations. Who knows, maybe the Chiefs and Jaguars have a shot. Well, for the #1 draft pick, anyway.
Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Cincinnati Bengals @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles used all of their duct tape and bubble gum to hold their team together last week and defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I know this because I was there. I went to Raymond James Stadium, tailgated with some die-hard Bucs fans, sat in the cheap section that had more Eagles fans than Bucs fans, and left at the 2:00 warning because I believed the Eagles would fall apart at the seams. Now they face a former legitimate team in the Bengals. Former, since their all-but-assured playoff spot is now up for grabs.
LINE: Bengals by 4
Sunday, December 16th, 2012
New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons
This season is looking a lot like the 2011 season for the Giants and Falcons. The Giants fell apart in November only to come back with a vengeance in December. The Falcons have been coasting along and have lost to a non-contender to debut their December. Coincidence and speculation say these two will meet again in the playoffs, so this should be a good “nice to meet you” exhibition game.
LINE: Falcons by 1
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
The Bears managed to drop from their claim to the NFC North. This happened the last time they went up against the Packers this season. Now they hope to switch places at the top, again, to attain the Leap Frog award that professional football teams strive to stay clear from. The deciding factor may not be offensive or defensive matchups, but whether or not Cutler brings back the ‘stache for reasons other than Movember, because men with moustaches don’t cry, as Cutler proved.
LINE: Packers by 3
Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Browns
The debate about whether RG3 is more like Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham took another turn last week, as the rookie star sustained a knee injury at the height of playoff contention, putting his whole team in jeopardy, which is classic Vick all the way. Normally against the Browns, this wouldn’t be a factor, but Cleveland seems to have taken a liking to playing spoiler for teams late in the season in the hopes of one day becoming a legitimate contender.
Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams
The two most annoying teams in regards to lines collide, as the Vikings and Rams play for fading wildcard spots. It is believed that this game should just be Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson running at each other at full speed over and over again until one of them falls down.
LINE: Rams by 3
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins
This whole expansion team thing with the Jaguars and Panthers is a head scratcher, particularly when looking at this match-up against the Dolphins and Jaguars. The Dolphins are in south Florida, but are in the AFC East. The Jaguars are in north Florida, but are in the AFC South. Either traditional rivalries in the AFC East needed to be maintained, or the NFL is horrible at geography.
LINE: Dolphins by 7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints
I would like to take this time to apologize to Bucs fans. I wore my Alstott jersey proudly last week in an apparent Eagles Nest at Raymond James Stadium. I screamed my side of “Tampa Bay” like the rest of them. I ate a Tampa Dog. I saw the muffed punt. Then I had to leave at the 2:00 minute warning to make my plane. My friend and I had no faith that Nick Foles could derail Tampa’s defense. Even as I looked back at the jumbo-tron in the parking lot with the Eagles at the Tampa Bay 30-yard line with 1:22 left, I thought, “Nah, not happening.” So, I blame the silence I heard in the streets as I was driven to the airport on myself. I shouldn’t have left early.
LINE: Saints by 4
Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens
This game is a highlight for any football fan, regardless of your team. Most football fans either favor defense or offense, so seeing Peyton Manning lead his stellar Broncos offense against one of the most decorated defenses of the decade in the Ravens should become a bone-crushing game of chess that will be the game of the week. Even better, we may see this match-up again in the post-season.
LINE: Broncos by 3
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
Last Monday night’s debacle between the Texans and Patriots was probably the biggest let-down of the season since the replacement refs began officiating. The Texans seemed to be playing their own version of a Pro Bowl, complete with half-speed effort and vanilla play-calling. I’m not saying the Texans lost on purpose but, considering that was a potential match-up for the AFC Championship, not showing your hand to Bill Belichick in a game that has almost no consequence could be a safe call. Besides, the Texans should beat a Manning-less Colts team at least once to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, right?
LINE: Texans by 10
Seattle Seahawks @ Buffalo Bills
Greetings, Canadians! This week, the Bills give our northern cousins a taste of real NFL football, and not the CFL debacle that they barely follow. Maybe saying the Bills are a taste of the real NFL is a bit far-fetched, but they would do well to consider themselves “Canada’s Team” if only to sell more jerseys in the Yukon tundra.
LINE: Seahawks by 6
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals
To be honest, I was one of the critics that thought Ken Whisenhunt must have done some heavy drinking by selecting Ryan Lindley over John Skelton as the starting quarterback a few weeks ago. Surely Skelton could have driven the Cardinals to more than two field goals against the Jets! Unfortunately, we were proven wrong as Skelton put up a donut last week against the Seahawks. Maybe Larry Fitzgerald should start trying to throw to himself. What’s the line on this game, 30?
LINE: Lions by 6
Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have decided to take the role of so many teams they had played in past seasons as spoiler for playoff seeding by defeating the Steelers last week. The Panthers are doing the same after defeating the Falcons. With nothing to spoil, what could possibly be their drives to win this game?
LINE: Chargers by 3
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Dallas Cowboys
The Steelers and Cowboys are at the cusp of playoff contention. Unfortunately, there can be only one this week. Whoever wins will endure the wrath of analysts trying to figure out who’s going to be in these playoffs when the dust settles. Whoever loses will have rival fans dropping like flies when learning their team still has a mathematical shot for a playoff spot.
LINE: Steelers by 1
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
This, right here, is the game of the week, and maybe even the year. This is not because the Chiefs and Raiders are that good, but that they’re that bad as they fight for the #1 draft pick. The only game that could possible be better would be a Chiefs vs. Jaguars game. Unfortunately, or fortunately to those of you with no sense of humor, that game was not on the schedule this year.
LINE: Raiders by 3
San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots
The Kaepernick vs. Smith quarterback controversy has begun its assault on the Niners locker room, as Brandon Jacobs began complaining about his lack of playing time. The idea that Jacobs believes that he should have as many carries as Frank Gore is speculative and laughable but, considering his past with the New York Giants, not entirely impossible. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots continue their “potential post-season” exhibition games, this time against a team that has something to lose: home field advantage.
LINE: Patriots by 6
Monday, December 17th, 2012
New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans
With Braylon Edwards back in the Jets camp, many questions are raised. Will Sanchez finally look better while having a legitimate receiver to throw to? Will the Jets sign T.O. to flesh out the other side of their receiver corp? What the hell took so long for the Jets to make a move? The most looming question, however, is how did this game go to Monday night? Whatever happens, Jon Gruden will never be at a loss for witty jabs at these teams.
LINE: Titans by 1
Patrick Emmel is a football fan who began the manly pilgrimage of seeing an NFL game at every stadium two years ago. You can see more of his work at www.theineptowl.com or heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.
Patrick previously used his football knowledge to break down the best, worst and downright horrible draft picks in NFL history.
If you haven’t had enough NFL jokes, you can check out last week’s Asinine Analysis! —>