It’s been a wild ride in the NFL heading into Week 16. The excitement of team playoff hopes in the AFC has traded places with the routine that the NFC had earlier with more laughs than George Burns in 18 Again, or, at least Fred Savage in Vice Versa.
So while the AFC tries to figure out who has the top seed in the playoffs and the NFC tries to figure out who’s going to make it, we will break down this week’s games as we remind you that there is no Monday Night Football on Christmas Eve. Guess we’ll have to deal with family time instead.
Saturday, December 22nd, 2012
Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions
Both the Falcons and Lions have gone quite a few seasons with high expectations and low achievements with franchise quarterbacks. This season looks to be the same for both Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford besides sharing the same first name. Ryan is leading the Falcons through the NFC with ease. Stafford is completing more turnovers than touchdowns. The only real difference is that analysts still have high expectations from the Falcons this late in the season while the Lions were laid to rest long ago with the only light on the team being Ndamukong Suh appearing in Subway commercials.
LINE: Falcons by 4
Sunday, December 23rd, 2012
New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys
With all of the movement in the NFC East, the Cowboys seemed to be the only team that has stayed put in the standings at second place. Sure, this is due to incidentals like head-to-head matchups with the Redskins and the Giants since all three teams have the same record, but it is a testament to how Tony Romo’s Easy Rider nature isn’t really good or bad for the team. Meanwhile the Saints will be showing up in Dallas, which makes one wonder if Sean Payton will show up as well if only to talk to Jerry Jones about his future.
LINE: Cowboys by 1
Tennessee Titans @ Green Bay Packers
I guess the Chris Johnson jokes that were flying earlier in the season have finally been put to bed as he has amassed over 1,000 yards this season. He may get close to 1500 this year, considering it will probably snow in Green Bay, as it has for a millennia in December. Meanwhile, the Packers took the NFC North again and look to make as many other teams uncomfortable in the playoffs by forcing them to come freeze their butts off in Green Bay.
LINE: Packers by 13
Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs
It’s all but official: the Colts are going to the playoffs. However, one team stands in their way, ready to dash playoff dreams and begin the Colts’ run of…ahem…bad Luck: the Kansas City Chiefs. Therefore, the Colts are going to the playoffs.
LINE: Colts by 7
Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins
This game is all about pride. Pride in being a bit better than a basement dweller in the AFC East. While the Bills and Dolphins may not be able to overtake the hilarious mess that the Jets have become, at the very least they can show that they can move lower in the 2013 draft selection and move higher in the standings next year.
LINE: Dolphins by 4
San Diego Chargers @ New York Jets
The idea of “the same old Jets” is finally laid to rest. Not because the Jets have done anything spectacularly well, but because they have become the 3rd amigo to the Chiefs and Eagles in NFL comic relief. This is, of course, a term that neither fans nor players would take pride in, but it’s much better than just being lulled to sleep by mediocre game play and management. Mediocre doesn’t make up an hour-long special of football follies. This special isn’t official, or even rumored, but if it did, the Jets would probably be featured with such players as Mark “Butt-Fumble” Sanchez, Santonio “Ow My Foot” Holmes, and Tim “Why the Hell Am I Here” Tebow.
LINE: Jets by 1
Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
For the second game of the year, I will be in the stands, getting the feel of what it’s like to be a fan for another team, in another state. Unfortunately, I will be like a fan for another team in another state playing against a team in a state not too far away, which will probably have an equal amount of fans. This will probably be the case when the hapless Eagles take on the playoff contending Redskins in Philadelphia. I will be like most Eagles fans, reminiscing about the days of yore when even Randall Cunningham couldn’t get them a championship, but at least that team from the 90’s looked better doing it.
LINE: Redskins by 5
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s 2011 deja vu all over again, as the Bengals and Steelers play late in the season to find a place in the playoffs. Last year was a bit different, because both teams claimed the wildcard spots in the AFC. This time around, the Steelers are the team trying to claw their way into contention while the Bengals are all but assured their spot in the post-season. All the Bengals need to do is beat the Steelers like a red-headed step-child…with a red-headed quarterback.
LINE: Steelers by 4
St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week, the Buccaneers were embarrassed in New Orleans, much like many people who visit the Big Easy and end up on a plane home wondering what happened, how they got all these beads, and why random strangers are referring to you as “Shady Swinga.” I’m not saying this has ever happened to me, just as the Bucs are probably saying they really didn’t play that badly, because it’s a matter of pride. Meanwhile, the Rams are preparing to bring a smile to Steven Jackson’s face after he was showed up last week by Adrian Peterson.
LINE: Buccaneers by 3
Oakland Raiders @ Carolina Panthers
The Raiders score 15 points last week against the Chiefs. Usually this would be the score of a defensive-minded team who shuts out their opponent, scores a touchdown, and even finds a way to get a safety. Not with the Raiders. Five field goals. That was the excitement. Sebastian Janikowski tallied the most fantasy points of all the players on the Raiders combined. They may need to do a bit more against Cam Newton and the Panthers.
LINE: Panthers by 10
New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars
With the playoffs only a few weeks away, the Patriots will begin to fine tune their game, a.k.a. take their spankings from Tom Brady and Bill Belichick after a slow start against the 49ers last week. Their game against the Jaguars should be a reflective time for the team to lick their wounds and make a play for a second playoff game at home. This is provided that they even make it through the wildcard round. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
LINE: Patriots by 15
Minnesota Vikings @ Houston Texans
Adrian Peterson is a beast. He is slowly becoming this decade’s Barry Sanders: not in game play, but in being stuck on a team that seems to rev its engine in neutral year after year. If there was a place that Alex Smith could go and do what Joe Montana did for the Chiefs, it would be the Vikings. Houston came back after their sleeper game against the Patriots to put the Colts in their place: the wildcard. Now it’s just a matter of beating out their old friend, Peyton Manning, for the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
LINE: Texans by 9
Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos
It’s scary how good the Broncos became with Peyton Manning at the helm. It’s as if he was the perfect quarterback, acting as both offensive coordinator and game manager. One would think such a comeback would warrant a yearly award of some kind, maybe even cement a place in some sort of lodge, or hall, where athletes would be remembered in infamy. I wonder where such a place would be located. Certainly not near Cleveland…right?
LINE: Broncos by 14
Chicago Bears @ Arizona Cardinals
Jay Cutler reverted back to form last week, as his anxious whines could be heard by the upper decks of Soldier Field. His cries became a duet, however, as wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey cried big boy tears about how pass interference wasn’t called in favor of him at the end of the game after he had been called for it multiple times prior. Maybe he should cover Larry Fitzgerald. A wide receiver covering a wide receiver? Hey, it makes as much sense as Jeffrey’s sweater-collar in his post-game press conference.
LINE: Bears by 6
New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens
After giving the Giants a pass for the past month after breaking from their similar records in the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl seasons, I have to come back to it as they are once again clawing their way into contention after their November and December nap. Unfortunately, 9-7 may not be enough. Eli Manning may need to wake up for this game and not wait until the final quarter of Week 17 to say, “I got this,” and lead the Giants to The Promised Land. Meanwhile, Ed Reed has fully taken his place as Ray Lewis’ substitute for defensive leader, as was apparent by him kicking things on the sidelines during the Ravens loss to the Broncos.
LINE: Giants by 1
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
It’s hard to believe that only two years ago, the Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7-9 losing record as the 49ers lost to just about everyone at the end of the season. Now the Seahawks have a winning record, but just a little less winning than the 49ers. This game, in Seattle’s home of the 12th man, could decide who will take the NFC West crown, and who will be stuck in a wildcard slot. Whoever loses, the NFC West wins respect for the first time since Steve Young wore the red and gold.
LINE: 49ers by 1
Patrick Emmel is a football fan who began the manly pilgrimage of seeing an NFL game at every stadium two years ago. This week he’s heading to Philadelphia to have a cheesesteak from Pat’s in one hand and a cheesesteak from Gino’s in the other as he offers his shoulder to cry on to any Eaglettes he finds in the stadium. 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!