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LOOKING AT WEEK 16 IN THE NFL
by Trace Armstrong on December 21, 2011 a 12:55 PM

I do think everyone would agree that several teams completely mucked up the playoff picture. There were too many teams in contention that lost and it has put teams that were all but out of it right back in the thick of things.

I trust all of you are doing well. I would like to apologize for my abbreviated column last week but I had my grad school finals last week and did not have time to go in depth on the week we had.

This past weekend I went 9-7 amazingly considering all the upsets bringing me to a healthy 148-76 on the year. Now, let’s look at what we learned in Week 15.

The Houston-Carolina game proved why the Texans will be one and done in the playoffs. The pitiful Panthers defense only allowed 13 points and the NFL’s #1 rated defense let Cam Newton and company drive the ball with ease all day. I know Houston is probably “resting up” and letting “nagging injuries heal” but there is still no excuse for how they played Sunday, none.

I learned to not bet on Buffalo at any point with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Watching that game (and I watched most of it locally) showed he really isn’t very good. He can do a couple of things alright but once he’s forced out or has to step up in the pocket, he can’t get it done. Beefalo made a HUGE mistake signing this guy to such a big deal. Also, Buffalo allowed Reggie Bush to have his best game since he joined the NFL. Pitiful, truly pitiful.

That brings us to Tennessee, the most inconsistent team I’ve ever seen. These guys are good. Really they are. However, you cannot be a PLAYOFF CONTENDER and lose to an 0-13 team when your playoff life depends on it! Chris Johnson ran like garbage, the offense played like garbage, and the defense let Dan OrRussianSomething and some running back I’ve never heard of tear them up. There are no excuses. I’ve ridden them all year but I’m finally jumping off the bandwagon.

The Bengals also showed why if they make the playoffs, they will be one and done. They let Kellen Clemens go 25-36 for 229 and 1 TD. You cannot let teams like the Rams using a third string quarterback be within one score of a win.

Seattle is actually really good. I know Chicago has battled injuries on offense but Seattle scored 38 points to the Bears 14. Seattle just might get in the playoffs. I can see it happening.

Drew Brees and the Saints are the Super Bowl favorites. New Orleans needs to pay Brees whatever it takes. If he leaves (and I think he’ll take a much more attractive paycheck from the 49ers or Redskins), the Saints will drop from dominating the NFC South, to handing over the divisional crown to Atlanta indefinitely. Without Brees, they don’t have the 2006 miracle season, win a Super Bowl, or be in the place they are this season. Why they don’t pay him is beyond me.

Kansas City proved what I’ve been saying for three weeks. The Green Bay defense is soft. KC did not allow Green Bay one turnover and it took short field opportunities away from the Pack. Couple that with THREE offensive line injuries for Green Bay (2 of which will probably be gone for the season), they are hurting. Good job by KC for pulling out such a huge upset win.

As a Redskins fan I have to ask 3 questions: (1) Where did that come from? (2) Would Washington be in the NFC East title hunt if they had not switched to John Beck? (3) How could the Giants choke away a game that would have put them one game away from making the playoffs? Can anyone help me out here?

Oakland remembered how to play football again and Carson Palmer had his best game as a Raider. Sadly, the Lions wanted it just a little bit more. Thankfully for the Raiders, both the Chargers and Broncos lost so they are still in the AFC West title hunt.

Once again, the desert Cards pull out a win. This time it was in OT against the Browns but beggars can’t be choosers.

Ok Philadelphia, where did that come from? The Jets playoff hopes were put on life support and all of a sudden Philly is back in the NFC title race again because New York lost. If Dallas and New York lose next week, then New York beats Dallas in Week 17, Philly owns a tiebreaker and goes to the playoffs. What a mess.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Patriots proved the point on the drawbacks of the Broncos game plan. New England did exactly what I said they should have done. Get those points. Denver had a chance but THREE fumbles in the second quarter cost them the game. All three of those fumbles led to points and put them down 27-16 going into the half.

The Steelers had no business letting Ben play on Monday night. It was clear he was hurting and his mobility was limited. The way he played, they should have pulled him out in the first half. Good win for the 49ers.

Lastly we come to Baltimore. I truly was guessing when I said it smelled like a trap game for the Ravens but I forgot one thing: the power of Norv Turner. This guy has been on the hot seat so many times but kept his job that it defies belief at this point. However, when his back is against the wall, his team somehow finds a way to pull off a win against a much better team. I think I will dub this win: Norvilicious. For the Ravens, this is disastrous….

Now let’s look ahead and try to predict Week 16…

Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts

The Texans SHOULD win this just as the Titans SHOULD HAVE won in Week 15.

Winner: Houston by 7.

Denver Broncos @ Buffalo Bills

Like I said in the Week 15 recap, I will not take Buffalo anymore so long as Fitzy is their quarterback.

Winner: Denver by 5.

Arizona Cardinals @ Cincinnati Bengals

How many of us thought this game would have playoff implications for both teams at the beginning of the year? *sigh* Arizona has a legitimate shot at winning this. Their road record may be 2-5 but one of the two wins is against Philadelphia. Also, three of those road losses were by three points or less against Washington, Seattle, and Baltimore. That’s right, upset special…

Winner: Arizona by 1.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans

I hate Jacksonville and I now hate Tennessee for their poor performance last week.

Winner: Tennessee by 1.

Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs

The AFC West Title winner is still a complete mess. It is entirely conceivable that if Kansas City wins their last two games (Oakland and Denver), Oakland and Denver loses their last two, and San Diego loses one more, the Chiefs win the division through tiebreakers because we would have Denver, KC, and San Diego all at 8-8. Because the Raiders road record has been unimpressive without McFadden, I must pick the home team.

Winner: Kansas City by 5.

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots

The Dolphins are a good team. However, they are not good enough to beat Brady and the Pats at home after just having been in Buffalo.

Winner: New England by 7.

New York Giants @ New York Jets

Both teams are in a must win situation to stay in the playoff hunt. Since it’s essentially a home game for both teams, anything can happen. Both underperformed last week but I think it comes down to who is the better quarterback, Manning or Sanchez. This week, it shall be Manning.

Winner: New York Giants by 3.

St. Louis Rams @ Pittsburgh Steelers

This is a real game? No seriously?

Winner: Pittsburgh by 10.

Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins

The Redskins win again at home to call into further question why the Shanahans switched to John Beck at all this season.

Winner: Washington by 7.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers

Tampa Bay is playing horribly right now and nothing can save them.

Winner: Carolina by 7.

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens can’t lay an egg two weeks in a row. They have put themselves into position for having to fight for the 2nd seed.

Winner: Baltimore by 3 (because you know they’ll have to keep this whole thing interesting).

San Diego Chargers @ Detroit Lions

This smells really badly. The Lions need to go 10-6 to make the playoffs which means they must win at home here or in Green Bay in Week 17. Right now, the playoff spot is theirs to lose. Other than Atlanta, everyone else will be at 9-7 or worse fighting for that 6th seed. Atlanta has New Orleans and Tampa Bay left. They could lose both games but realistically, Tampa won’t win in Week 17. That gets them in the playoffs at 10-6. Detroit must win here because there is no guarantee they can beat the Packers in Week 17 and tiebreakers will work against them if they lose both to go 9-7. That said Norv and the Chargers will find some magic to win at Ford Field. I can feel it.

Winner: San Diego by 3.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

The Eagles will win this to keep things interesting. I still think Dallas/Romo/etc. are all wayyy overrated.

Winner: Philadelphia by 3.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

Seattle has won 6 out of their last 7 against Baltimore, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Now they are getting the 49ers in a short week (this is being played on Saturday). I smell Sea Chicken upset because the Week 17 game has a “wait, the Cardinals-Seahawks are playing for the 6th seed in the NFC” feel to it.

Winner: Seattle by 3.

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers

Green Bay wins by a lot.

Winner: Green Bay by 14.

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

Brees is going for history by breaking Marino’s record. Watch it because Brees will almost certainly break it against the average Atlanta secondary.

Winner: New Orleans by 10.

Games of the week: Giants @ Jets, Chargers @ Lions, Eagles @ Dallas, & Falcons @ Saints.

Have a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you and yours celebrates!



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