Thursday, December 24, 2009

Week 16 Picks

Sorry about not getting these up last week. Things get crazy, and I ran out of time. My picks didn't go great last week anyway, so I saved myself some embarrassment by keeping them offline. Hurray? Anyway, here are my picks for Week 16:

Upset Special
San Diego Chargers @ Tennessee Titans
Line: Titans by 3
What to Watch For:
I don't know how the Titans are favored in this game. Sure, they've been much better lately, have a legitimate MVP candidate in Chris Johnson, and are at home, but San Diego has won 9 straight and have played flat-out dominant football lately. The Titans have shown real weakness in the secondary all year, so I expect Philip Rivers and those tall receivers to absolutely pummel the Titans through the air. Tennessee also lost 2 starting linebackers for the rest of the year last week, so look for Antonio Gates to run wild in the middle of the field. Chris Johnson will get a ton of yards, even score a couple of touchdowns, but this will be an aerial assault from the Chargers that the Titans simply can't match. I like Vince Young, but this match up simply doesn't favor his skill set. San Diego won't just win this one, they'll win convincingly.
Chargers 34
Titans 21

Houston Texans @ Miami Dolphins
Line: Dolphins by 3
What to Watch For:
Keep a close eye on this injury report. Brian Cushing, Houston's standout rookie LB, has missed a couple of practices with a few little injuries. If he's out or limited, here comes Ricky Williams and the Wildcat. Miami's rookie cornerbacks have grown up a whole lot this year, so I think Matt Schaub might have some trouble throwing all over in this one. Coupled with their complete lack of run game, Houston could be in for a long day. Miami has run the ball very well all year, even with Ronnie Brown's season-ending injury, and I expect them to destroy Houston on the ground. The Dolphins' defense will be the key in this one, as a few timely defensive stops will let their offense grind a ton of clock, and keep the potentially explosive Texans off the field. Andre Johnson will score, but just not enough to rally against the Dolphins in Miami.
Dolphins 30
Texans 20

Most Interesting Game
Denver Broncos @ Philadelphia Eagles
Line: Eagles by 7
Both teams are jockeying for playoff position in their respective conferences, so expect both to bring their best game on Sunday. Throw in Brian Dawkins' emotional return to Philly, and this should be a heck of a game. I'm curious to see who shows up for the Broncos, as they've been a big-time Jekyll and Hyde team in '09. At times, they've looked unstoppable, at others they've looked like the Redskins (not fact, very stoppable). Denver has generally surprised a lot of people this year, but I just think the Eagles are too much for them. A big play offense coupled with a dangerous, aggressive defense will ruin Christmas for the Broncos and their fans. Philly will lock up the NFC East here, and Denver will go home hoping for some fortuitous losses by other teams to keep themselves in the playoff hunt.
Eagles 27
Broncos 17

Marquee Game
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Line: Steelers by 2 1/2
What to Watch For:
Neither team is what their were last year, but Ravens/Steelers will always be a Marquee Game to me. This game has huge playoff implications, as a Steelers win brings them even with the Ravens for the 6th seed with one game to play. Neither defense is as dominant as in years past, and both offenses have opened up the passing game possibly too much. The real difference here, I think, is Ray Rice. While the Steelers have all but abandoned their once-vaunted run game, the Ravens do continue to pound the rock while having Joe Flacco fling it deep. Rice has been great this year, and could be a star in this league if they keep using him right. Whereas the Steelers will enter the game one-dimensional, allowing the Ravens to tee off on their weak o-line and beat on Roethlesberger, the Ravens will show much more offensive balance. That balance will make an already struggling Steelers defense look even worse. Despite that, I think this game will again be very close, and surprisingly high scoring like last time. The Ravens, smelling playoffs, will put the hammer down and barely outduel the hated Steelers.
Ravens 37
Steelers 35

Last Week: 2-2 straight up, 2-2 against the spread
Overall: 40-19 straight up, 33-26 against the spread

For those who are curious, I do have the Panthers picked to Upset the Giants, but as I try not to pick Giants games, I went with the Chargers (a much easier pick, too).