Poor Prognositcation: Let’s hug this out
With last week’s conference championships in the books, the college football regular season is all but over. The annual Army-Navy game caps it off, which means after this all we’ll be left with is about 40 or 50 bowl games. The picks struggle a bit last week, going just 4-6 to bring the overall record for the season to 55-52-4. I blame Oklahoma and Virginia Tech’s odd decision to take last week off and watch Oklahoma State and Clemson run up the score on them, but we can’t dwell on the mistakes of the past. This week, the picks are less numerous since the college season is done, but we have a good slate of games in the NFL that’s going to go a long way in clearing up the playoff picture. So with just two weeks before Christmas, let’s get Tebow-esque and hold the ones who help us most close as we give thanks for another fun college football season and gear up for what should be an exciting NFL playoffs. As always, picks are in bold.
Army @ Navy (-7)
Do you need a quick game to watch on Saturday? This may be your game then. The annual Army-Navy game pits the number one rushing team Army, averaging 350 yards rushing per game, against the number four rushing team Navy, which averages 313 yards rushing per game, so expect to see plenty of triple-option, clock chewing, ground attack from both sides. Navy has shown a greater ability to throw the ball down the field occasionally, averaging 92 pass yards per game to Army’s 48, so expect that to be the difference on Saturday. While you won’t see any NFL prospects in this game, it’s still definitely worth a watch, as after they leave the service academies, these men will be going overseas as officers putting themselves in harm’s way for the service of their country. I think the least you can do is tune in and cheer. Midshipmen by 13.
Houston (+3) @ Cincinnati
The Bengals are coming off a bad loss on the road last week to Pittsburgh, and their chances of making the playoffs largely hang on the outcome of this game. At 7-5, they can ill afford to lose too many more games with the surging Broncos and unpredictable Raiders out West also at 7-5. However, the youth that has served the Bengals so well up to this point will ultimately be their undoing towards the end of the season. Expect to see Andy Dalton press a little too much against the Texans this weekend and make a costly mistake. The Texans, meanwhile, will protect their rookie quarterback T.J. Yates and ride the running game of Arian Foster and Ben Tate to 10-3 and a stranglehold on their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Texans by 4.
New Orleans (-3.5) @ Tennessee
Chris Johnson has found his groove once again with back-t0-back CJ2k caliber performances and the Titans are hoping to make a push for the wild card, but Drew Brees and the Saints are going to have something to say about that. The Titans have undoubtedly played above expectations, especially with the lethargic start of Johnson in the backfield, but the Saints have hit their stride and their offense is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. New Orleans may struggle a bit on the road with an outdoors game, but I wouldn’t bet against Brees continuing his torrid passing pace and finding a way to put his team out ahead. Saints by 7.
Chicago (+3.5) @ Denver
The Broncos and Bears are two teams trending in opposite directions. Tim Tebow and the Broncos are winners of their last five games, and six of their last seven. The Bears, meanwhile, have lost back to back games in terrible fashion after starting quarterback, and former Bronco, Jay Cutler went down with a thumb injury. Caleb Hanie will get his third start, and it’s hard to say that he could do too much worse than last week, a 10-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. While I don’t think Hanie figures it out necessarily this week, I do believe the Bears defense is not going to let the Broncos pull away in this game. Five of the Broncos’ six wins under Tim Tebow have been by seven points or fewer. I expect this game to be low scoring, but I expect the Tebow magic to come into effect late and lead Denver to another close win. Broncos by 3.
New York Giants (+3.5) @ Dallas
Somehow, this is the first meeting between the Giants and Cowboys this season, and they play for first place in the NFC East. It’s been hard to say if either team actually wants to win it, though, as the Cowboys are coming off their embarrassing loss to the Cardinals last week (due to sabotage from within) and the Giants are currently on a four-game slide, though they played pretty well last week in a 3-point loss to Green Bay. Expect Coughlin to rally his team around their near-win against an undefeated Packers squad to play a solid game and Eli Manning to continue his solid season throwing the ball, while Jason Garrett and Tony Romo destroy the Cowboys from within once again (it’s a December tradition, after all). Giants by 10.
St. Louis @ Seattle (-10)
The Seattle Seahawks are a frustrating team to try and figure out…which makes me glad I don’t actively root for them. One week, they lose to the Cleveland Browns 6-3…the next they beat Baltimore 22-17. Then they lose to the Redskins at home, blowing a fourth quarter lead…only to close out the Eagles the next week 31-14. It’s hard to figure them out, but the Rams have not been difficult to figure out; they’re not very good. Outside of a win over New Orleans, in which they played out of their minds, the Rams have had a dreadful season. If not for a botched snap at the end of the game against Cleveland, the Rams might really be putting some pressure on Indianapolis for that first overall pick. The difference in this game will be Marshawn Lynch, provided he has eaten an adequate amount of candy. He’s scored in eight straight games and been running very strong lately and the Rams run defense is porous on a good day. Look for the Hawks to continue to make a push…into the middle of the draft order. Hawks by 14.