by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
Week seventeen is finally here, and although there are some cow patties in the yard there’s gold somewhere back in them there bird baths. We’ve seen it all this year, or at least if we haven’t we’ve been bullyed into saying that we have. This piece starts with a game involving the Carolina Panthers, which they should easily win. Even though Seattle is great they are probably the most complete and dangerous team in the NFL right now, I would like to take this space to say that from this point forward I am rooting for the Panthers. If you see me at the grocery store, I’ll be wearing a Seahawks hat because I paid damn near twenty-two dollars for it. But know that it is a complete pose, and that I am a total fraud. I am buying all sorts of clothing that is that awesome blue color they wear, and I wear it when I am in my apartment and work out to a cassette tape of “Let’s Get Physical”. My hand to the Lord, absolutely none of that is true but get used to people talking about Carolina. They are the truth, and the fact that they could finish 12-4 has to be the underdog story of the year in the NFL. But there are so many other storylines – Arizona one Saints loss away from being relevant again. The Saints – One Saints loss from not being relevant again. The 49ers – one skin of their teeth win from having the Cardinals game actually mean something this week will have to tell themselves that they are “focused on “this week”, when everybody in the country knows that the biggest game of their year happens nine days from now on the road. And this shit-fit of a gravel parking lot post bar-closing wrestling match will be real, while some 9-7 AFC playoff team may once again get the chance to win it all. It’s why we love this stuff, folks. So let’s take a look at what we think will go down in the last full week of the regular season.
Carolina Panthers (11-4) -5.5 at Atlanta Falcons (4-11) (45.5)
Coach: Hold tight Falcons fans, your season of misery is almost over. Although Atlanta played a tough game last Monday Night against San Francisco, the end result seemed to be a microcosm of their entire season: Disappointment. Atlanta can go into the offseason knowing that a lot of their problems stem from devastating injuries, but in the end 2014 will bring them questions and uncertainty. As much as the Falcons run away with being the biggest letdown of 2013 the Panthers are this years Cinderella capturing the attention and admiration of fans and players around the league. In a move much like last year’s Seattle Seahawks team they’re built on great defense and an impressive 7-1 record at home. Unfortunately for Panthers Steve Smith’s injury has raised questions going into the post season. As of now the Panthers are hoping that he only misses the last game of the season but you never know how a knee injury, even a sprain can affect a receiver. The injury shouldn’t cause too much of a factor against Atlanta who is just wanting to get through the last game of the season so their nightmare of a season can end. Carolina is guaranteed a first round bye to get healthy and will be one of the toughest outs going forward in the playoffs. The spread on the game is -7.5 Carolina and I think the Panthers will send one more message to the NFL that they’re not to be taken lightly.
Coach’s Pick: Panthers 31, Falcons 22
Meehan’s Pick: Panthers 28, Falcons 18
Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) +2.5 at Chicago Bears (8-7) (52.5)
Meehan: So Jay Cutler will once again start for the Chicago Bears in what is going to essentially be a job interview for his own position. But it’s hard to feel sorry for the guy, he’s pretty much put himself there since the day he showed up naked and hungover in a shopping cart. And he’s created a lot of questions about his attitude with his less enthusiastic press coverage. Bill Belichick sounds like Gilbert Gottfried compared to Cutler, and he’s got to come up with the game of his career in order to get a seed that will probably pair him up with a team that will destroy him the following week. But like I’ve said previously, this isn’t totally on him because he can’t suit up and play linebacker. The Bears need to figure out something defensively – and quick. It’s getting to the point where it’s becoming a punchline, and they could very easily go out there and make Matt Flynn look like John Elway on Sunday. The Packers won’t start Aaron Rodgers, I don’t care what they say. He has collarbone damage to the point where it would be way too risky to play their franchise quarterback just to get to a postseason where they have no chance of getting anything done. Either way, this is going to be an awful football game.
Meehan’s Pick: Bears 22, Packers 17
Coach’s Pick: Packers 24, Bears 21
Houston Texans (2-13) +7.5 at Tennessee Titans (6-9) (44.5)
Meehan: This game has already been settled behind closed doors, and I hate to spoil it for everybody but let’s just say the Texans don’t win. There’s no way Houston blows this golden opportunity to have the top pick. They’ve sucked the life out of that expensive stadium, and fans are pissed. They were so bad this year that they were the first NFL team to dump their head coach, and Matt Schaub might not be the guy down there going forward. The Titans also have some things to alter, but lucky for them that whole division blows homeless men in alleys for pocket lint so at 7-9 they’ll easily finish in second place this year. If you’re gambling on this one, you have way too much disposable income and/or free time on your hands. That being said, Tennessee covers easily and take the under for the total.
Meehan’s Pick: Titans 23, Texans 7
Coach’s Pick: Titans 26, Texans 13
Cleveland Browns (4-11) +7.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) (43.5)
Coach: As 2013 draws to a close so does another miserable season of Cleveland Browns football. In typical end of the year fashion the Browns have found new ways to lose and somehow the Steelers still have an outside shot at the post season. While in reality neither of these teams will be playing again until late summer there still is always the pride of winning a rivalry game and going out on a positive note on the line. To me this game unfortunately will be one sided with the home Steelers once again making Browns fans more sick than Aunt Bethany’s jello mold but the bigger question will be which players will be apart of this rivalry next year. I’ve said all year the Browns are on their way up with young talent while the Steelers are starting show their age and are on the decline but these teams have huge key names up for free agency. For Pittsburgh, Emmanuel Sanders and Brett Keisel are top on the priority list although I have to wonder how much juice Polamalu has left in the tank while the Browns are going to struggle to resign TJ Ward and Alex Mack. The spread on the game is -7.5 and although I see the Steelers getting the last laugh if the Browns play the offseason right with 10 picks in this years draft, next year could finally have a different result. Probably not but maybe.
Coach’s Pick: Steelers 30, Browns 26
Meehan’s Pick: Steelers 29, Browns 13
Washington Redskins (3-12) +3.5 at New York Giants (6-9) (45.5)
Meehan: Washington’s 3-12? It’s really kind of amazing how when you don’t check on things when they get to a certain point they can get to a completely different level of bad. They have lost seven in a row, but if you told me they’d lost 15 out of their last ten I’d totally believe you. The Giants are at a crossroads – They will be two years removed from their last of two improbable Super Bowl runs, and their head coach is probably on his way out. Guys get hurt by simply looking at each other in practice, and their running game might as well be referred to as a “light jogging” game. They’re playing good on defense, but still giving up big plays and committing more penalties than the opposition knows what to do with. Thankfully for them, they’ll be playing a team that has spent the better part of the year shitting into their own mouths so they’re going to look like a playoff contender. Well, I got news for you: I’m a fan; and they aren’t one. Don’t believe me? They’re only three and a half point favorites at home against a team that’s going to finish 3-13. What other proof do you need?
Meehan’s Pick: Giants 32, Redskins 14
Coach’s Pick: Giants 27, Redskins 23
Baltimore Ravens (8-7) +5.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) (44.5)
Coach: The AFC North historically has huge matchups to end the season and this year is no different. While the Bengals were able to wrap up the division the Ravens still are holding on to hopes of the playoffs. Granted this game would be the game of the week if Baltimore would have remembered they had a game last week against the Patriots. Baltimore has to go on the road, win the game, and hope that the Dolphins get upset by the Jets all of which is probably not going to happen. At the same time that doesn’t mean that this game isn’t going to be a down and dirty grudge match. Cincinnati has already come out and said they weren’t going to rest any of their starters but games like this have a tendency for those players to look ahead to the post season and try to stay healthy as opposed to playing like a bat out of hell. With a spread of -7 Cincy personally I would stay away from it on the gut feeling that the Bengals are going to get a completely different Ravens team than the football world saw last week. In the end I think the Bengals are going to head into the playoffs with a win but considering the last time they played it went to overtime don’t expect a blowout.
Coach’s Pick: Bengals 24, Ravens 23
Meehan’s Pick: Bengals 34, Ravens 17
Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) -7.5 at Dallas Cowboys (8-7) (52.5)
Meehan: Now that Tony Romo is “out for the season”, we have to find something else in Dallas to pretend like we care about. Thankfully for us, the Eagles will be down there and that is something to talk about for sure. Like how they wiped the Bears off of the face of the earth in a matter of three hours and destroyed any potential momentum that they might have had heading into the Green Bay game. Kyle Orton will start this game (and he’s been getting a lot of social media flack this week since the injury was announced) but are you sure that’s not a good thing? I think there is a chance that he could go out there and have the game of his life and Dallas will love him. Now, conversely I also think that he could just as easily go out there and throw six interceptions so this is a tough call. It’s one or the other – there’s no way it’ll be in between. He’ll either be genius or terrible, but either way I can’t pick against the Eagles the way LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles are playing. So they cover easily and I’m guessing whiskey Orton is the one who shows up.
Meehan’s Pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 13
Coach’s Pick: Eagles 30, Cowboys 10
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11) +13 at Indianapolis Colts (10-5) (45.5)
Coach: I’ll give it to the Jaguars as awful as they started off the season they currently sit at 4-3 since their bye week and seem a lot closer than experts thought going forward. Even though they are clearly better than what people thought there is still a major gap between them and the AFC East Champion Colts. The East is one of the weaker divisions in the NFL but the Colts have continually been able to raise their game to higher competition which was never more evident than last week when they went into Kansas City and smacked around the Chiefs. A lot of people (including Meehan) could pick this game as being one the Colts look past but they have a lot of key players who are returning to the lineup and they are going to be coming with a lot to prove. With a healthy offensive and defensive line going into the playoffs the Colts should be a tough out although Andrew Luck would love to have Reggie Wayne right about now. The spread on the game is -13 which seems to be a little too high for me but I will take the Colts with the win.
Coach’s Pick: Colts 29, Jaguars 20
Meehan’s Pick: Jaguars 20, Colts 11
New York Jets (7-8) +7 at Miami Dolphins (8-7) (41)
Coach: Leave it to Miami to almost blow their chances at the playoffs by having a disaster of a game against the Bills. I still think that when the dust settles the Fins are going to find their way to the postseason but last week can’t make anyone in Miami feel any sense of security. Luckily for the Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is practicing and is expected to play this week or else I would probably be picking the Jets. This game could finally see the end of the soap opera road that Rex Ryan has been on with the Jets which is New York’s only hope against a team that has one last shot to sneak into the post season. If in fact this is Ryan’s last game for the Jets he will get his team’s best efforts which if that means his team playing like they did last week against the Browns could make this game much closer than Fins fans want to hear. In the end I have to think that a rowdy (and rare) packed crowd in Miami will help the Fins get past the Jets which along with my picking the Ravens to lose to the Bengals should finally put Miami in the post season.
Coach’s Pick: Dolphins 26, Jets 19
Meehan’s Pick: Dolphins 17, Jets 16
Detroit Lions (7-8) +3 at Minnesota Vikings (4-10-1) (52)
Meehan: I’m glad that they are holding this theoretical sporting event for no other reason than so Jim Schwartz and Leslie Frazier can argue about who has the better travel agent. What I want to know is: Do ticket prices drop for a game like this so they can fill the stands? Because right now I can’t see any reason to go to something like this – it’s not really a pro football game. It’s somehow the biggest handjob in a week where the Titans are playing Houston. How in the hell do you end up being a three point underdog against a four win team when last week you were in the playoff discussion? Because you’re shit and you were overrated in the first place.
Meehan’s Pick: Vikings 24, Lions 20
Coach’s Pick: Lions 24, Vikings 21
Buffalo Bills (6-9) +10.5 at New England Patriots (11-4) (47)
Meehan: The New England Patriots have had one interesting year. They had their starting tight end go down in one of the shadiest murder scenarios in American history, and then they lost their other tight end to injury twice, the second putting him out for the year. Sound like an 11-4 team to you? It’s all very confusing. Julian Edelman has put that team on his back but at the same time he really hasn’t had any choice. The Bills are so used to mediocrity by this point I’m starting to think maybe that’s where Cutler might end up. It would be the perfect scenario for him, because nobody cares about Buffalo and 6-9 heading into week 17 is par for the course. I look for New England to really take care of business at home here, easily cover the spread, and show the rest of a very weakened AFC that they are still very much a Super Bowl contender.
Meehan’s Pick: Patriots 31, Bills 9
Coach’s Pick: Patriots 27, Bills 13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) +13.5 at New Orleans Saints (10-5) (47)
Coach: In another case of a team who just wants their God awful season to end we have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Greg Schiano’s future with the team doubtful at best rumors are already swirling linking him to several teams in the NCAA most recently Penn State. Although I don’t see that scenario happening I also don’t think the odds are in his favor to return next year. The Saints need to win this game to get into the playoffs and with it being in New Orleans I’m guessing that this probably won’t be that close of a game. The biggest news going into this game is the health status of Drew Brees who was listed on the injury report as probable with a knee injury. The injury isn’t supposed to be serious but if the Saints jump out to a big lead expect Sean Payton to have a short leash to make sure Brees goes into the playoffs healthy. With the Saints having such a huge home field advantage I would expect this to be a fairly safe game to pick even with New Orleans having a -13.5 point spread.
Coach’s Pick: Saints 31, Buccaneers 14
Meehan’s Pick: Saints 30, Buccaneers 17
Denver Broncos (12-3) -13 at Oakland Raiders (4-11) (53.5)
Meehan: The Denver Broncos were dealt a huge blow this past week when news was released that Von Miller would not be able to play for the remainder of the season. This is major news because if you’ve ever seen Denver try to play defense it’s likely that you have fallen over laughing while doing so. Peyton Manning has 51 touchdown passes this season to date, and he may need that many to get through two playoff rounds because this isn’t a leak you can plug with chewing gum. I get that they played the first six games without him due to his love of speaking jackin’ at rave parties, but they need him to beat teams like New England. (In case you don’t remember how that one ended) They won’t need him this week against Oakland, who are probably giving up close to 2500 yards a game in the air and have one of the least productive offenses in the NFL. Terrelle Pryor will start for the Raiders, which is an interesting story if you like stories about Terrelle Pryor starting for the Raiders. Denver will probably cover the spread but you never know. Wake me when it’s over. (It’s a figure of speech, don’t touch me while I’m sleeping…)
Meehan’s Pick: Broncos 26, Raiders 12
Coach’s Pick: Broncos 30, Raiders 13
San Francisco 49ers (11-4) at Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
Meehan: In my opinion this is the game of the week. While you’re being sold on this idea that the Bears / Packers is going to be a thrill ride when two of the least interesting quarterbacks in the league are starting that game, the Cardinals and the Niners will be putting on a show. And while you’re also being sold on this idea that you’re supposed to care about the Eagles going down to Dallas and blowing the doors off of the Cowboys, Carson Palmer will be quietly reminding everybody that he is still very much a success story in this league. Speaking of which, I’d like to discuss that for a second. The Arizona Cardinals deserve as much credit as anybody should throw their way, because they are solid as hell. Much respect to what that team has been able to do, and much respect to their fans for not giving up on them which was an easy out. San Francisco on the other hand really hasn’t performed to the level that one would expect out of them. What’s even worse is that Arizona could win this game and still miss the playoffs as 11-5. So while parity exists in the NFL, it’s a hard sell that said parity is not conference-specific this year.
Meehan’s Pick: Cardinals 27, 49ers 23
Coach’s Pick: 49ers 24, Cardinals 23
Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) -11.5 at San Diego Chargers (8-7) (45)
Coach: I thought the Kansas City Chiefs were going to have a rough second half of the season but after being embarrassed at home last week to the Colts there should be some major concern going forward. The Chiefs have dropped a staggering three straight games at Arrowhead and have lost four in a row to teams with a record over .500. Even with the rough second half the Chiefs are still in the playoffs due to their impressive 9 game win streak to start the season. On the other end of the spectrum sits the Chargers who still have a shot at the playoffs but need a lot of help including losses by both the Ravens and Dolphins. What really surprises me about this game is the -11 spread for the Chargers who barely squeaked out a win the last these two teams met. There’s a lot of talk about Alex Smith and possibly Jamaal Charles getting significant sitting time this week which I’m never a fan of. I know that starters playing brings the risk of injury but when you have a team that has had as many issues as KC has lately you need to take advantage of playing against a team that will be bringing playoff type intensity. I think in the end the Chargers will beat the Chiefs but there’s no way I’m taking them in the spread.
Coach’s Pick: Chargers 28, Chiefs 24
Meehan’s Pick: Chargers 31, Chiefs 28
St. Louis Rams (7-8) +11.5 at Seattle Seahawks (12-3) (43)
Coach: Believe it or not if the Seahawks don’t take care of business this week against a very underrated Rams team they could be on the road during the playoffs. The game is in Seattle so that should settle a lot of uneasiness but the last time these two teams met the game was much closer than people thought it would be. The Rams stingy defense was able to sack Russell Wilson seven times which is the most the Hawks have allowed this year. The Rams have a chance to finish 8-8 if they are able to take the upset on the road a feat that would be one of the more impressive finishes of the year considering the strength of the NFC West. Although there’s no way I’m picking against Seattle at home credit has to be given to St. Louis who is going to have a top three pick in the draft thanks to the genius that is Dan Snyder and the Redskins. There’s a spread of -12 Seattle on the game and I’m taking Seattle with the easy win but not that easy. The Hawks will go into the playoffs as the top seed but the Rams will go into the offseason as my early pick to be the most improved team in 2014.
Coach’s Pick: Seahawks 19, Rams 13
Meehan’s Pick: Seahawks 20, Rams 18
Bonus Comment for the Week:
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