Week 16 recap:
9-7 straight up
8-8 against the spread10-6 over/unders
154-84-1 straight up (64.7%)
124-106-1 against the spread (53.9%)
67-60-4 over/unders (52.7)
Here are the week 17 picks:
Panthers (11-4) @ Falcons (4-11)Actual Line: CAR by 6
Predicted Line: CAR by 7
Predicted Line: CAR by 7
Since the Panthers started out 1-3 and I questioned whether Cam Newton had a future in the NFL, they have won 10 of 11, with the only loss in New Orleans. They dominated in 6 of those games and also beat three legit playoff teams along the way. They just might be the team to beat in the NFC. In this extra-meaningful game, they'll keep Atlanta looking hapless. Panthers 27-14.
Ravens (8-7) @ Bengals (10-5)
Predicted Line: CIN by 4.5
Actual Line: CIN by 7
Complete desperation for Baltimore; I gotta believe this spread is too high. Bengals 19-17.
Texans (2-13) @ Titans (6-9)
Predicted Line: TEN by 5
Actual Line: TEN by 7.5
For the longest time, it looked inevitable that Teddy Bridgewater would be quarterbacking the Jaguars for many years to come. Now, Houston can secure the #1 pick and make sure Bridgewater does indeed play in the AFC South. Incredibly, this will be their 14th straight loss. Titans don't cover the spread though, 21-16.
Jaguars (4-11) @ Colts (10-5)
Predicted Line: IND by 6.5
Actual Line: IND by 11
Whoa there. How are the Colts getting 11 points against anybody? Their defense is pathetic. Indy 28-24.
Jets (7-8) @ Dolphins (8-7)
Predicted Line: MIA by 4
Actual Line: MIA by 6
Dolphins still have something to play for, but the Jets would love to spoil their season. I like the points in this defensive matchup. Miami 21-16. Bonus prediction: Rex Ryan does NOT get fired.
Speaking of coaches being fired, Black Monday is nearly upon us. The list of coaches absolutely certain to be fired is quite small: Mike Shanahan. But the list of coaches with a better than 50% chance of being fired is extensive: Jim Schwartz, Greg Schiano, Leslie Frazier, Mike Munchak, whoever coaches Jacksonville and Oakland. Then there are many with a small chance of termination, including Jason Garrett, Tom Coughlin, Doug Marrone, Mike Smith, Rex Ryan, maybe even Mike Tomlin. It should be a Black Monday to remember. Heads will roll.
Lions (7-8) @ Vikings (4-10-1)
Predicted Line: DET by 2
Actual Line: MIN by 3
No AP, Matt Cassel at QB, and a stupid spread. Very tempting. Alright, fine: Lions 27-24 in Schwartz's final game.
Assuming Gym Shorts does get fired (which might be giving the Lions' execs too much credit), who are the best fits for his replacement? Someone known for disciplined teams, such as Lovie Smith, Tom Coughlin, Ken Whisenhunt? Or someone known for developing QBs, such as Gruden, Bill O'Brien, etc.? Or, a proven college coach, like Stanford's David Shaw or A&M's Kevin Sumlin? Many, many options out there. Most likely, it'll be a successful NFL coordinator who we've never heard of, not a big name like Lovie or Gruden. We shall see.
Redskins (3-12) @ Giants (6-9)
Predicted Line: NYG by 3
Actual Line: NYG by 3.5
Shanahan's final game as a head coach, Kirk Cousins's last chance for a 2014 audition, Eli's fnale to one of the worst quarterbacking seasons ever, and an end of misery for both fan bases. With Cruz out and Cousins playing well, I am taking the Skins in an upset, 26-23.
Browns (4-11) @ Steelers (7-8)
Predicted Line: PIT by 6.5
Actual Line: PIT by 7
Steelers need a win, and the Browns have been quietly tanking for a better shot at a top 5 pick. Looks like a blowout. 38-23.
Sidenote: Watch out for the Browns in 2015. With a franchise QB (like Manziel or Hundley) throwing to stud Josh Gordon, and a strong defense that will include whoever they take with Indy's 1st round pick this April, that will be a playoff team. Unless of course their franchise QB is a dud.
Packers (7-7-1) @ Bears (8-7)
Predicted Line: GB by 3
Actual Line: GB by 3
Rodgers is back! Cutler sucks! Packers are in the playoffs with 8 wins. How pathetic is that. Final score: Pack 34-27.
Broncos (12-3) @ Raiders (4-11)
Predicted Line: DEN by 11.5
Actual Line: DEN by 11.5
Don't know why nobody has talked about this yet, but Peyton Manning is going to break Favre's career TD record sometime in the middle of next season. He needs 21 more. He'll also break the total passing yards record if he plays two more seasons. (Needs about 6,000.) What's truly amazing is that Peyton has 117 fewer interceptions than Favre.
Also important: the Broncos need 17 points to break the '07 Pats record for points scored in a season. They've scored 150 more points that anybody else this season.
Lastly, a Broncos' victory clinches homefield throughout the playoffs. So put that all together, against a dead-duck opponent, and let's say Denver 37-13.
Bills (6-9) @ Patriots (11-4)
Predicted Line: NE by 9.5
Actual Line: NE by 8
Thad Lewis is starting for the Bills again. New England is gunning for the 2 seed. I'm not overthinking this one. Pats 28-13.
Bucs (4-11) @ Saints (10-5)
Predicted Line: NO by 12
Actual Line: NO by 12
A win clinches the playoffs. Saints won't be messing around. 37-20.
49ers (11-4) @ Cardinals (10-5)
Predicted Line: SF by 6
Actual Line: SF by 1
Great defensive matchup. The key: one of these quarterbacks is Carson Palmer. Niners 16-13.
Chiefs (11-4) @ Chargers (8-7)
Predicted Line: KC by 3 *Oops*
Actual Line: SD by 9
The "Nothing to Play for Chiefs" should roll out plenty of backups and treat this like a preseason game. Rivers will pick apart the backup defense, and the Chiefs' offense will do nothing without Charles. Chargers cover with a couple late scores, 31-20.
Rams (7-8) @ Seahawks (12-3)
Predicted Line: SEA by 12.5
Actual Line: SEA by 12.5
Rams defense is too good for me to take this many points. Plus, Zac Stacy can move the chains. Seahawks 24-17.
Eagles (9-6) @ Cowboys (8-7)
Predicted Line: PHI by 7
Actual Line: PHI by 7
I invented a game called The Romo Game this week. It works like this: you turn on sports radio, look at the clock, and see how many minutes go by until you hear the word "Romo." On average, it's about 30 seconds. Often, it's less than 2 seconds. With all the stories going on right now (Peyton smashing records, Rodgers coming back, 7 marquee quarterbacks going to the playoffs, etc) the only story worthy of The Talking Heads is Romo's injury. Seriously? The real story should be Kyle Orton. Heck, the real story of this game is Nick Foles. 25 TDs and 2 interceptions! That dude is incredible. The only way this game is close is if DeMarco Murray gets 25+ carries. But he won't. Cowboys are too stupid. Philly 31-17.